Alma 10:25 – LeGrand Baker – perceiving truth and light.
But Amulek stretched forth his hand, and cried the mightier unto them, saying: O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?
One might read this verse as something like a series of mixed metaphors, then just try to get the gist of its message, and read on. However an approach like that takes all the fun out of it. Besides that, it is completely out of character for Amulek to be that casual with words, and it is entirely inconsistent with Mormon’s style for him to include something of low quality on his laboriously prepared Gold Plates. Consequently, the characters of both the author and the compiler impose upon us the need to look at the statement more closely, and try to discover the depth of Amulek’s intent. I tried it, and this is what I came up with:
I began with the last phrase: It doesn’t say “according to truth.” It says, “according to their [the word’s] truth.” That seemed to be the key to the rest of what he had just said.
I read the scriptures with the belief that one can move throughout almost any of the scriptures to learn the meaning of words used in any of the other scriptures. Applying that principle, the best definition I know of truth is that it “is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (D&C 93:24) I understand that definition to mean that truth is a knowledge of reality — as God perceives reality as it is in sacred time. Amulek conveys the same idea by his asserting that his words are truth, meaning that the message they carry consists with eternal reality.
Truth is not an abstract, neither does its factualness vary from individual to individual. However, truth is knowledge, therefore truth exists only when and where it is known. That is, in the perception of each individual a truth does not exist until that person has knowledge of it. A simple example is that a computer is a meaningless box containing no information unless one has knowledge of how to turn it on and make it work. Even then, the abilities of the most powerful computers are actualized only according to knowledge of the user.
In our world, ephemeral reality is also called “true,” but under the Saviour’s definition it is not real truth. Let me give you an example. It is historically true that in the military of Victorian England, only officers could wear a moustache. An enlisted man would get into serious trouble if he did not shave his upper lip. That is historically true, but rules about moustaches have nothing whatever to do with eternal reality, so under the D&C definition, moustache propriety is not “truth.”
The Saviour’s atonement is truth. Our own eternal nature is truth—and the quality of that nature is a product of one’s willingness and ability to assimilate additional eternal truth. Like the computer in the hands of a learner has increasing abilities as its user’s abilities increase; so also, the saving power of the atonement toward an individual is expanded according to one’s repentance, knowledge of the Saviour, and charity—but, on the other hand, the saving powers of the atonement are limited according to one’s refusal to repent, indifference to knowledge of the Saviour, and a cantankerous nature.
In the final analysis, one’s eternal glory is a product of one’s repentance, knowledge of the Saviour, and charity. That is true because repentance brings one to the knowledge of the truth of the laws of one’s own being; knowing the Saviour gives one access to all truth; and charity is one’s being in tune with the truths that define all persons and other living beings. Consequently:
18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (D&C 130:18-19)
What I understand Amulek to have been saying was that his words had the capacity to introduce one to the knowledge of eternal reality.
In D&C 93, there is an addendum to the definition of truth:
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&D 93:24-25)
An example of a doctrine that is less than truth is Satan’s declaration, “I am no devil, for there is none.” (2 Nephi 28:22) An example of a doctrine that is more than truth is the notion that the Saviour will save everyone, and that he can do so because their actual conformance to celestial law is not really a requirement. That doctrine distorts both justice and mercy, and reaches far beyond the limits of truth.
The heart, in the thinking of those in the ancient world, was the cosmic center of a person, and as such, it was the seat of one’s emotions as well as of one’s intellect. If one loves God with all of his heart, the love is both emotionally supreme and academically secure. The powers, limitations, and agency of one’s heart are completely within the domain of one’s Self. It is an eternal truth that Satan has no ability to take our agency from us—but we, on the other hand, have absolute ability to give it to him. If we do so, we become his subjects and his slaves. If, as Amulek said, Satan had a great hold upon their hearts, then they were emotionally and academically shackled by his influence and refusal to understand.
In contrast, truth—when truth is assimilated by an intelligent being—empowers one’s freedom. An Intelligence (the fundamental part of each of us), when it assimilates truth, emits light—radiates an aura. The aura communicates.
For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. (D&C 88:40)
Even in this world, the light of one person is recognizable to the perceptive eyes of another. Few have the ability to see the aura, but most have the ability to recognize the “light” that shines from honest eyes. Light does communicate with light. It is one’s eye that first perceives the truth that shines from another person. After that, it is one’s heart that assimilates that truth, making their truth a part of one’s Self. Trust and enduring friendships are the product of that kind of mutual perception. If the people of Ammonihah had been capable— even willing— to see Amulek’s light, they would have perceived the truth in this words.
So, as I understand it, Amulek was not using mixed metaphors at all. Rather he was speaking with almost absolute precision when he said,
O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?
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