341: Teachings about War in the Book of Mormon



As the LDS Sunday School Gospel Doctrine curriculum turns in coming weeks to the later chapters of the book of Alma and the stories they contain about Captain Moroni, the Stripling Warriors, along with various wars and war strategies, assassinations, and other accounts of events that unfolded between the Nephites and Lamanites, we are pleased to host this discussion that aims to assist with in-class experiences. Joining Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon are wonderful scholars and thinkers, and also current Gospel Doctrine teachers, Patrick Mason and David Pulsipher, for an examination of various ways to better understand some the messages about war within the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. How can we separate what is merely “descriptive” of events that took place within the history of Book of Mormon peoples from that which are “prescriptive” attitudes and actions that God endorses? How might understanding Mormon as the primary narrator of these sections give us a better sense of why certain things are there, or are presented in the way they are? In what ways might Mormon’s accounting for the events that take place also be evidence of his own journey that led by the time of his death to his having a different attitude towards war? How should we as Latter-day Saints engage D&C 98’s teachings about war and when violence is justified against one’s enemies in concert with the messages found within these sections of the Book of Mormon? And there is much more!

This is a fantastic discussion with great richness and wisdom for approaching these scriptures and setting up conditions for possibly very good discussions within our upcoming Sunday School classes. As well as in our own spiritual wrestlings, of course! We invite you to share your reactions, ideas, and experiences in the comments section below. Thank you!



Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman, War and Peace in our Times: Mormon Perspectives (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2012)

J. David Pulsipher, When We Don’t See Eye to Eye (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2014)

Patrick Q. Mason, Planted: Faith and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2015)

Patrick Q. Mason, The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Eugene England, Making Peace: Personal Essays (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995)

Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010)



5 comments for “341: Teachings about War in the Book of Mormon

  1. Clh
    August 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I like the idea of expanding and plumbing the gospel doctrine Sunday lessons through the podcast. Excellent discussion.

  2. Cheryl
    August 14, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I have read the Book of Mormon tens of time. And, it never occurred to me that Captain Moroni was a pre-atonement man. The insights given on this podcast are striking and amazing, I learned so much!!

    Thank you all, especially you, Dan, for the work you each so in furthering the message of the gospel via written and spoken word.

    You all are truly amazing!! Thank you!!

  3. Cheryl
    August 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I have read the Book of Mormon tens of times and it never occurred to me to look at Captain Moroni as a pre-Atonement man. That was such an amazing insight, and just one of many I received from listening to this podcast. Thank you to each of you for teaching me so much!!

  4. Jim
    August 15, 2016 at 11:42 am

    An example of what can happen when thoughtful people help lead us beyond the question “Is the Book of Mormon true?” to ask, instead, “Is it useful and insightful? Can it inform my life? Does it point me to The Way?” As Dan says, Good stuff!

    September 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Loved this episode. I like the question posed, is this descriptive or prescriptive?

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