This week’s lesson talks about two antiChrists, Korihor and the Zoramites. Their whole belief system was anti Christ. Both denied that He would come and atone for our sins. One denied the existence of God, the other denied the mercy of God for all of God’s children, but them. We need to learn enough about the plan of salvation that when we hear a perversion of it we can reject that which is false and hold fast to that which is true.
Reading Assignment: Alma 30-31.
Two flavors. Same dish.
Korihor and the Zoramites are just two flavors of the same false-doctrine dish. If one method of deceit doesn’t work then Satan will use a variation of it until he hits on a winning combination. First, let’s look at what the two sets of beliefs teach.
|Teachings of Korihor||Beliefs of the Zoramites|
|There should be no Christ (meaning He does not exist like the prophets say)||There should be no Christ – God was, is, and always will be a spirit. There will be no Christ in the flesh|
|No atonement||No atonement|
|No man can know about anything he cannot see||Zoramites are saved while all others will be sent to hell|
|No such thing as forgiveness of sins (no need because sin doesn’t exist)|
|Prophecies are foolish traditions||Prophecies are foolish traditions|
|Whatever a man does is no crime||Zoramites had hearts set on worldly treasures|
|Death is the end of life. Man is not eternal.||Zoramites worshiped idols|
Teachings of Korihor
Korihor’s teachings focused on two main principles. The first thing he focused on was shame. He approached this from several angles. We’ll talk about this in a moment. The second principle he used to lure the people away from the church and from the law of Moses was a sense of entitlement.
I find it interesting that even though we are separated from Korihor by more than two thousand years, these same two principles, shame and entitlement, are still being used today to lead people away from the truth.
Shame is a powerful motivator. It was the first line of offense used on Adam and Eve. Satan got Adam and Eve to feel ashamed of their bodies in the garden of Eden. He still tries to get us to be ashamed of how we look, how we feel, what we do, and even be ashamed because we don’t do certain things. Satan is the master of shame. When we turn to the Lord and live the commandments and are forgiven of our sins, there is no shame. We feel accepted. We feel acceptable. We feel love.
If we ever find ourselves slipping into the realm of shame, this should act as a red flag or warning sign that we have crossed over into the enemy camp. Our Father in Heaven may require that we feel sorrow for the wrongs we have committed, but His love and forgiveness always bring peace and security, not shame and insecurity.
Korihor shamed the people by telling them with all his confidence and bravado that they were foolish for following the prophets. They were foolish for believing in something they couldn’t see. They were foolish for believing in a remission of sin and an atonement that only caused people to be embarrassed about things they had done. After all, men are the supreme creation, and anything we feel like doing is only natural. We shouldn’t be ashamed to lift up our heads and do whatever we want to do.
Korihor preached a religion of excess. This is why he was able to lead people into committing whoredoms. He convinced them that anything they did was no crime. It couldn’t be a crime, because there was no God to condemn their behavior. How pleasing to the ear this is. All our secret desires are actually worthy of pursuing. Any forbidden desire was now lauded as noble and worthy of our exploration.
Yet actually desiring to be obedient to commandments was a shameful thing. It was shameful because it required faith in something you could not see with your own eyes. His philosophy reduced humanity to the status of the brute beast. In Alma 30:17 he told them that every person needed to do whatever was necessary to get ahead. It was basically your “lie a little, cheat a little” speech. If there is no God, no Christ, no atonement, then any behavior that does not submit to God’s commandments is fair game.
17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.
How common is this philosophy today? How many believe that cheating is justifiable as long as you don’t get caught? Lying is justifiable if it gets you what you want. Taking something that belongs to someone else is justifiable because they are weak, and you are strong. Every single thing Korihor taught to the people of Nephi is being taught today throughout the world. This is especially true in the elite circles of the intellectuals, those who feel that their superior intelligence makes them better than others.
The other principle he used was a sense of entitlement. You deserve whatever you can get. When life ends, you’re finished. You only have a short time in this life to enjoy whatever you can enjoy, so don’t waste time with principles and a worship of things you can’t even see. Time is running out, and soon you will be dead forever. Grab what you can and live life to its fullest. I believe the current expression used is “Yolo,” you only live once.
The Zoramites are defined by their overarching pride. They will be saved because they are the choice and chosen people of God. All others will be sent to hell because they are displeasing to God. This is backed up in the next chapter by the people who come to Alma asking how they can worship because the Zoramites won’t let them come into their synagogues to worship. They are too poor to be allowed in. Evidently the kingdom of God is like a country club that only the wealthy deserve to enter.
This flavor of the dish of false doctrine focuses on worldly pride and power. Possessions and importance is everything. There is nothing to hinder their view of their own sense of self importance because God is only a spirit that has no mortal or physical counter part. Their pride is ruthless, casting out the poor from among them, even though it was the poor who built their churches for them. Their only focus was on their worldly possessions.
Each week, and ONLY once a week, they would come and socially admit in prayer that they were better than everyone who wasn’t a part of their select society, then they would go home and never discuss their religion again until the following week on their day of worship.
I hope you can see the Zoramites alive and well in our society as well as the followers of Korihor. The more fractured our society becomes, the more versions of the false doctrine dish can feel free to thrive. The important thing is that we need to be able to see these falsehoods for what they are so we can avoid them.
Alma gave the reason for the foolishness of the Zoramites in Alma 31:9-10. Those who became Zoramites “outgrew” the church. They didn’t feel they needed to pray every day to be able to avoid temptations. They felt they knew better than those who taught them the gospel of Christ, and they stopped observing the performances of the law of Moses. With this freedom to do what they wanted, because they weren’t tied down by the rules of the scriptures, they felt free to interpret the scriptures how they wanted.
9 But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses.
10 Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
We are no different than our counterparts were two thousand years ago. Humans are the same from generation to generation, in that we will always fall into temptations and paths of error if we don’t study the gospel, keep the commandments, and pray daily that we will stay strong in the word of God.
We need to see Korihor and the Zoramites for the lessons they have to teach us. The prophets have laid out what we need to do to stay strong in our testimonies. We do not have the right or the ability to change what is required of us by the Lord in order for us to stay on the straight and narrow path back to our Father in Heaven. Only by keeping the commandments, and by studying the gospel of Christ so that we recognize counterfeits when we see or hear them can we remain safe from the wiles of Satan and his kind.
Here is a video clip made by the Church about the story of Korihor.