One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Is the "Mormon Jesus" Unforgiving?

Question: The Biblical Jesus is very forgiving. How can you say you believe in the same Jesus when the Book of Mormon Jesus is responsible for the deaths of uncounted thousands? 
The question arises from the Book of Mormon account of the wholesale destruction that took place in the Western Hemisphere at the crucifixion of Christ. Admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to understand why Christ or God allow, and even cause, some people to die. However, let us examine the words one pamphleteer uses to describe the Book of Mormon scene and see if the writer's slant is consistent with the text or whether something has changed:

The Book of Mormon tells us that those who killed and stoned the prophets and cast them out were spared, while innocent women and children died.

One wonders how anyone could arrive at this conclusion in light of the following chapter, in which the Lord tells why he destroyed so many cities:

And because they did cast them [the prophets] all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.

And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.
0 all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me. . . . (3 Nephi 9:11-13).

In 3 Nephi 9 the Lord wanted the following point to be so clear that he repeated the wording which follows five times:
[I have done this] to hide their iniquities and their abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them (3 Nephi 9:5).
Destruction of the people is never pretty; however, if the Book of Mormon's critics will compare this account in the Book of Mormon with the destruction recorded in Joshua, they may see why it is inconsistent to complain about the "Mormon Jesus" causing deaths of uncounted thousands.

The prophet Joshua, under direct command of the LORD (who is Jehovah, who is Jesus) destroyed all the kings, men, women, and animals in as many as thirty-one cities. Consider the report of Joshua chapter 6, when the Lord told Joshua, "See, I have given unto thine hand Jericho":

Joshua ordered his men to shout and told them that the Lord had given them the city! The city and everything in it was to be totally destroyed as an offering to the Lord. So the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the men heard it, they gave a loud shout and the walls collapsed. With their swords they killed everyone in the city, men and women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep and donkeys. But Joshua spared the lives of the prostitute Rahab and all her relatives. So the Lord was with Joshua. (Good News Bible)
In Chapter 8, the Lord told Joshua to take all his soldiers and go up to Ai to do to Ai and its king what they did to Jericho. The whole population of Ai was killed that day--twelve thousand men and women. The Israelites kept for themselves the livestock and goods captured in the city, as the Lord had ordered Joshua.

Then in chapter 10, verse 11, Joshua records that as the Amorites were running from the Israelite army, the Lord made large hallstones fall down on them all the way to Azekah. More were killed by hallstones than by the Israelites.

In chapter 11, the Lord said to Joshua, "Be not afraid of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel."

In Joshua 11:20, the text states that the Lord made the enemies of the Israelites determined to fight the Israelites so that they would be condemned to total destruction and all be killed without mercy.

The people destroyed by the Lord knew they were rebelling against God. They refused to repent and killed those who called them to repentance. When a people comes out in open rebellion like this, the most merciful thing God can do is destroy them so they cannot continue to heap wrath upon their own heads.

The Lord did this many times in the Old Testament and once destroyed all but eight of the earth's inhabitants because of wickedness (Gen. 7). Those who do not understand how a merciful God can destroy the wicked do not realize that he would be unmerciful only if he let them knowingly keep sinning.

It should not be forgotten that in the eternal plan, it is God's program that this mortal life is a time of probation and testing. Mortal life is brief in the eternal scheme when a thousand years is as one day with the Lord (2 Pet. 3:8). God's purpose is that death will come upon all mankind so that they can move on to the next stage of their eternal progression. He brings death to all, in accordance with his wisdom, mercy and justice.