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In Alma 30 we get the substance of the teachings of Korihor. The purpose of this article is to show that the poison Korihor offered the people of Nephi is among us today. We need to recognize that his teachings are being offered everywhere in the world around us, and our personal safety requires that we be able to recognize these teachings for the dangerous ideas they are, so we can choose to follow the ways of happiness instead.

Nehor and Korihor

Nehor was the predecessor of Korihor. Korihor’s teachings are just another version of Nehor’s philosophies. The main thrust of Nehor’s teachings was that whatsoever a person did was not wrong, for God would save all in the end, so eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. He also promoted that those who taught such doctrine should be free to just teach that which was pleasing to the ears of the people, so the people should financially support those who preached to them. His doctrine was simple in that it required nothing of its adherents. All they had to do was to pay to have it preached to them and they were free to act as they wanted to without any fear of eternal punishment, for God would save everyone in the end.

Korihor extended Nehor’s teachings in that he denied the existence of God altogether, but he kept the philosophy that whatever a person did was no crime. His reason for this teaching was that we cease to exist upon death, so eat, drink, and be merry. In both cases they relied on relieving the masses of any responsibility for their behavior, and blamed everything that caused shame on the guilt produced by the traditions of those who led the Church of God. They claimed they were bringing liberty to the people, when they were, in fact, leading them into the bondage of sin.

Nehor’s teachings are outlined briefly in Alma 1:3-4. Korihor’s teachings are more specifically detailed throughout Alma 30. Let’s look at some of what he taught. Please keep in mind that these same teachings are being taught today through politicians, science, entertainers, and intellectuals. The teachings of Korihor have become almost universally accepted by the world. We need to be aware of all the sources we are being fed his teachings. If we don’t recognize them when we hear them, we are in danger of accepting them as truth, for they are wrapped and presented under many guises.

Korihor’s argument

Korihor was finally taken to defend himself before Alma and before the Chief Judge. Here is the first argument he presents.

13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

The first thing he does is try to shame the people about their current beliefs. He refers to their hope in Christ as “foolish and vain.” He asks why they feel they must “yoke” themselves with such “foolish things” when evidently it wasn’t necessary to do so. Why wasn’t it necessary? because they were looking for a Christ, a Redeemer, or Messiah to come and save them, but the obvious truth is that “no man can know of anything which is to come.” If you believe that last statement then his other statements are, or at least could be true. His argument relies on getting people to believe, or at least suspect, that he may have a rational and logical point.

The problem with Korihor’s line of thinking is that it completely dismisses anything that can be learned from the Spirit. His is a rational and intellectual learning model only. Nothing spiritual can be trusted to be true, so it is dismissed as “derangement.” He considered it to be foolish precisely because you couldn’t prove it in a laboratory or provide the empirical or scientific evidence that it is true. This is the same argument the world gives about God today.

14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.

15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.

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.

Honestly now, when was the last time you heard a politician, entertainer, scientist, historian, or any kind of researcher publicly teach that the prophecies of the scriptures are true? When was the last time you heard any of these people teach that we need to rely on the mercies of Christ? Oh, that’s right, they don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus was just a quaint historical figure that Christians base their superstitions around. For Christianity is the “opiate of the masses,” a way to keep the masses in line and doing what their leaders want them to do. Isn’t that the popular opinion of the Socialists and the Communists?

How do you argue with it?

For those who don’t have a strong testimony, personally gained through prayer and study then lived with life experience, these arguments of Korihor appear to have merit. I have a nephew who, just this week, announced to the world that after multiple years of trying to get an answer to his questions about the gospel has decided that not only is the Church not true, but God doesn’t exist. He proceeded to outline all of his reasoning and findings, and low and behold, he is following precisely in the footsteps of Korihor’s doctrine. My nephew ended his declaration or testimony of “truth” as being in the name of all reason and logic. In his mind if it cannot be seen and proven with a microscope or clinical study, it cannot have any merit. He has completely dismissed things like love and faith.

In order to stand against such teachings, we must have personal experience with the Spirit. We must be able to recognize when He is speaking to us, and when we are being led in a particular direction. Those who only believe in reason and logic cannot fit spirituality into their lives, for that is something they believe to be beyond human capacity, and therefore it is make-believe or superstition.

The logical effects of Korihor’s teachings

Let’s look at what happened to those who listened to and believed in what Korihor was teaching. Remember that this is still being taught throughout our society today, and the results are no different than they were in Alma’s day.

18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

Why would believing in Korihor’s teachings lead people to “lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms”? Think about it. If there is no God, and if death is the end of your existence then who is to say that whatever I do is a bad thing? In fact, if that argument is true then I can justify anything I want to do as being just as valid as anything you want to do. It is our belief in God that gives us a moral stand by which to judge our behavior. Take away that standard and you have a moral free-for-all. This is precisely why our society is in its current dilemma – no one believes they should be held accountable for their actions, for

… 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.

Look through your current news articles and tell me this doesn’t ring a bell.

Modern lies or ancient lies. Lies are still lies.

When does a lie cease to be a lie? Is there a statute of limitations that exonerates a lie after so many years? Is a lie in two cultures a lie in one and a truth in the other? In other words, if we can see that Korihor was lying to Alma about what Alma and the priests and teachers of the Church were doing then, why can’t we see that those same types of accusations are just as false in today’s society? Remember that belief in anything is a mental choice we each make. It isn’t based on logic, reason, or truth. Belief is simply a choice we make to accept something or reject it. We have all probably believed in something that wasn’t true, and rejected at one time or another something that was true. All this is based on our choice to believe. Why we choose to believe something or reject it is fodder for a whole other discussion. But belief still remains just a choice we each have to make.

When Korihor was brought before a tribunal to be questioned, he made some very serious accusations. The part about these accusations that woke me up was that I see this same thing happening today in our government and in spiritual circles. People make accusations that are complete fabrications. They don’t seem to feel they need anything to back up their accusations. All they need to do is to make the accusation and somehow that is supposed to stand as valid if they say it loud enough and long enough.

22 And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?

23 Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.

25 Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.

26 And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ. And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world—

27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.

One of the defining characteristics of today’s society and age is the ability of people to make wild accusations that have no evidence or concrete proof behind them, yet the public grabs on to them as though they are the latest revelation in truth, and the person accused is judged and sentenced based on something completely made up. And the amazing thing is that no one questions the person making the accusation. Instead they condemn the person who is accused. It reminds me of the child who doesn’t want to do something. When the parent says that they must do it, the child acts like if they say they don’t want to often enough and loud enough then they won’t have to do it.

This problem of unsubstantiated accusations is what Korihor was guilty of. He claimed the leaders of the Church were “glutting themselves” on the labor of the people. He knew that was not true, and the leaders of the Church knew that was not true. What his accusations did was to plant doubt into people’s minds. They didn’t know it wasn’t true, so Korihor’s insistence that the Leaders were getting “fat” off their labors was enough to cause them to stop believing their leaders and to believe the person screaming the lie. And because this gave Korihor an air of authority, because he had revealed what the leaders were supposedly hiding from their members, they more readily believed his other lies. He didn’t have to prove anything, only raise people’s doubts and suspicions. This is precisely how the media and politicians, etc. operate today. This is why it is so difficult to prove something in today’s climate. If enough people participate in the lie, it becomes almost easier to accept it than it is to prove it isn’t so.

Facing Alma and the Chief Judge

The court Korihor was in saw that his heart was so hardened against the truth that it would do no good to try to defend themselves, so they sent him on to the head of the Church, and to the Chief Judge of the land.

30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme.

31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people.

32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.

33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.

34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?

35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?

36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.

If you have a testimony of the gospel of Christ, you have personally felt the joy it brings. But the success of Korihor’s argument relied on people feeling like they had been oppressed and lied to by their religious leaders. In today’s society we see the same thing, we are told we have been lied to, oppressed, kept down, etc. We are told we deserve this or deserve that, all of which is being denied to us by those who currently lead us, whether it be in the Church or in the government. Korihor was peddling entitlement, which can only be done through discontent.

The next section is long, but read it through, for it makes a point that is important to recognize.

37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?

38 And he answered, Nay.

39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.

40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?

42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.

43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.

44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.

46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.

47 But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more.

One of the key points and teachings of Korihor was that there is no God. If there was a God then all of his own teachings would fall apart, so God could not exist in order for his whole philosophy to work. But when given one last testimony of God’s existence by the prophet, and being pointedly asked one last time if he truly believed that God didn’t exist, Korihor weakens. Like a child seeking to justify his actions based on the technicality that he didn’t personally steal that cookie (he got his sibling to do it), Korihor now tries to create a buffer for himself by saying that “if” what Alma was saying was true, he could claim innocence. He is splitting hairs and back peddling. This behavior alone tells me he actually did believe in a God.

48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe.

In one breath Korihor says he doesn’t deny there is a God, then he promptly denies there is a God, and that only a sign would make him believe. How many preachers, politicians, academicians, and philosophers do this same dance when it comes to committing themselves one way or another to God and His teachings?

The result

Korihor denied that God existed. Alma’s judgment on him was executed, and Korihor was struck dumb, which included being deaf. When Alma wrote to him and asked if he still denied God lived, Korihor finally confessed.

52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

This brings up an interesting question. What causes people to preach their false doctrines? I can’t imagine that all of them have had Satan’s angels appear to them and teach them what to say and do. But they have to have learned their “scripts” from somewhere. Might it be that we are being taught what to say and do in our public schools, our universities, and in our public forums? Is not the doctrine of Korihor being taught all around us? Those who don’t know any better really don’t have any other choice but to teach what they were taught. So Korihor lives on in the teachings of our modern society, for God has been discredited as being vengeful, uncaring, and an absentee creator. It is now considered to be a moral weakness to claim belief in God. Those who claim to rely on such a being must be weak minded and cannot be trusted.

The truth about Satan

God promises His people eternal joy and happiness. Those who believe in Him and keep His commandments are promised help in trials and peace in times of pain. Satan promises freedom from requirements and restrictions in this life from the demands of the commandments, which interestingly enough, cause bondage to sin. Since Satan cannot comprehend love, but only hate, anger, bitterness and resentment, he is satisfied only when we cause ourselves harm.

58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support.

59 And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram—and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead.

60 And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.

God promises those who are faithful to Him eternal reward. Satan couldn’t care less what happens to us in mortality, as long as we aren’t following Christ. Satan did nothing to help Korihor, who had taught what Satan’s angel had told him to teach. Korihor was literally “thrown under the bus.”

Today is no different than Korihor’s day. We are being taught that lies are acceptable, that God is unreliable or absent altogether. Those who believe in God are untrustworthy, because they believe in fairytales. To stand in today’s climate we must be like the people of Ammon. “… they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.” They weren’t going to bother to argue with him or listen to him, they just dismissed him from among their people and continued to be faithful to God. They didn’t let his teachings interrupt their happiness in Christ.

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Where Is Korihor Today?