The Book of Mormon and Liberation Theology

For those interested in the socio-political details of The Book of Mormon, this is a compelling article for consideration. http://research.uvu.edu/potter/bomliberation.pdf

The notion that The Book of Mormon has a thread of liberation theology in it was something I was recently considering and, prior to putting out my own thoughts on the matter, I wanted to see what was already out there. I find Dr. Potter’s assertions that the liberation theology in The Book of Mormon to be not just “a preferential option for the poor”, but also a stark warning to those with wealth and privilege to be most agreeable.


Bear in mind that while liberation theology shares with Marxism a criticism of capitalism, it by no means agrees upon the actions necessary to correct the abuses of capitalism and the social divisions and stratifications necessary to maintain a capitalist society. While Marxism would have workers of the world unite in a struggle, The Book of Mormon argues instead that the rich should humble themselves, give of what they have to the poor, and to use power in service, rather than to demand servitude.


As a church that has a long history of being predominantly white and English-speaking, with a patriarchal system, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is itself putting forward a message that it is worldwide, multicultural, and home-centered, with that home equating roles performed by husband and wife, particularly in terms of spiritual authority. It is a mistake to equate the Nephites with white Americans with conservative 1950s political views. It is a mistake both of history as well as self-perception.


It is even a mistake to equate the Nephites with the Church: how often do prophets preach to the Nephites because of their rejection of their message? Better to equate the Nephites with the Lamanites, both descended of the same parents, as well as parent-culture. Both can be blinded by lies. Both can be caught up in pride. And both can be redeemed by the same gospel message.


And so, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have this document that stresses the importance of community, of shared experience, and of material sacrifice, while condemning those who seek after riches, who place the self above the community, and who seek to create or perpetuate unequal social systems. I’m going to finish reading this document and will likely have more to say on this matter going forward.

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