Principles for days of terror and war

You cannot reason with a hardened people, indifferent to justice and humanity, to liberty and freedom of religion. Evil is real and it isn’t localized in portions of Iraq and Syria. Radical Islamic Terrorists have taken their propaganda into other regions and are promising to infiltrate southern Europe and America. Reports confirm they are already on the move and Italy is on high alert. The Beachhead murders in Libya talked of their position “south of Rome” and how they “will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our Prophet, peace be upon him.”

Interesting how their logic supposes brutal murder of peaceful God fearing individuals brings peace to their prophet and honor to their God. Yet, they seem to have no shortage of recruits. I was taken back last night when someone reported that ISIS and their followers produce about 90,000 messages a day on social media.  

Speaking of messages, the Book of Mormon has an account of severe war that lasted over a decade (approximately 73 B.C to 60 B.C.). It details how dissenters and wicked men seek to conquer a people given to Christianity, liberty, good government, and freedom of religion. Most importantly it details how righteous leaders inspired the God-fearing people of humanity to prepare themselves against their enemies, defend themselves against their enemies, and destroy their enemies who sought most violently to “destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them.”

The account details how one wicked man (Amalickiah) led a rebellion which sought to destroy the foundation of liberty and the people of God. The account also details how a faction living among the people of liberty joined with Amalickiah’s movement to help them conquer. These dissidents (radicals) from within were called “kingmen.” They came from the elitist, self-proclaimed noble crowd who wanted to alter time tested civil laws which favored liberty and protected religious rights.

I believe a reading of this account, which is about 44 pages (the Book of Mormon is 531 pages), yields several principles as we consider how to prepare ourselves, defend ourselves, and perhaps destroy war driven terrorists. I suggest, even reading it as a non-believer, that the principles can help reset the foundation of liberty in so many broken American hearts and minds. Abraham Lincoln, as author Timothy Ballard has recently pointed out, gave the teachings of the Book of Mormon some thought as he faced terror and war.

Right in the middle of his conversion, while Willie was dying, while the Christian nurse was teaching, while he was passing through what he called his ‘process of crystallization,’ Lincoln had a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he himself had requested from the Library of Congress. Having kept it for nearly eight months, Lincoln finally returned it to the Library a mere seven days after issuing his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. (The Lincoln Hypothesis)

Consider a few principles from the Book of Mormon that may help us in our own days of war and contention (taken and adapted from LDS curriculum available online):

One wicked man can provoke much wickedness (we ought to be alarmed at the man who calls himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi). Conversely, one righteous man can bring to pass much righteousness. (The account in the Book of Mormon speaks of a Captain Moroni who rallied the people to a noble defense of God, family, religion, and liberty).

It is our duty to defend our families, our religion, our freedom, and the moral agency of others when barbarity threatens it.

There is an adversarial spirit (yes there is a Satan) trying to destroy us and entice us by degrees to lower our standards. Constant division and contention destroy peace.

If we follow righteous leaders and the servants of God we will be fortified against our enemies.

If we stand firm for what is right we can prevent evil influences (ideologies and physical movements) from gaining power over us. When we unite in righteousness with others, we are stronger in our battles against evil. Our righteous prayers can have a positive effect on our communities.

Faithfulness to God brings happiness, even amid turmoil. If we trust the Lord and obey Him with exactness, He will support us in our battles. If we turn to God in times of difficulty, we can receive divine assurance that can strengthen our faith and give us hope.

There is a polarization throughout the world. We see people promoting bondage, dependency, heavy government intrusion, restriction on freedom of religion. We also see people perpetuating fraud and deceit and people who make threats and use scare tactics. Some are more subtle, using flattering words and making shallow promises. The whole nature of these types of people reflects a thirst for power, a promotion of whoredoms and idolatry, and an untiring effort to justify wickedness. Often times they work by swearing secret oaths one with another.

On the other hand, there are those who promote liberty, independence, and the proper role of government. There are people who are honest in deeds and in words. There are no threats and scare tactics. They use plain and simple language, instead of flattery. The whole nature of these people reflects gratitude, genuineness and humility. They recognize that iniquity is the first enemy and seek to pull down pride in themselves—before others. They resist wickedness, and consider the wellbeing of other people. They unite, sometimes by covenant, to plant the standard of liberty in the hearts of others. “They renounce war and proclaim peace,” yet know it is their duty to defend their families, their religions, their freedoms, and the moral agency of man when barbarity threatens it.

There is a surge of terror and barbarity in the world. The Book of Mormon has remarkable principles to help us as we confront evil in our day.

You can read of the account of terror and war here.

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10 thoughts on “Principles for days of terror and war

  1. downtown dave

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

    1. Melissa

      In 2 Cor. 10 3-5, Paul is speaking of spiritual weapons, not of physical weapons much in the same way he speaks of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-17. Of course Paul would rather teach the gospel than fight in a war – who wouldn’t? But Paul was familiar with weapons of war and armor used in war because they were a part of the culture he lived in. He probably saw Roman soldiers dressed in armor with weapons every day. The fact that he uses them symbolically doesn’t mean that if his family or his people were being oppressed by enemies with physical weapons, he would not yield the physical weapons to fight them.

      War is inevitable – whether spiritual or physical. In the Book of Mormon, the young men fighting under Helaman’s leadership tell him “Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus (Alma 56:46).” No one wants war, physical or spiritual, but sometimes enemies will not “let us alone.” But, if war is a threat we better be prepared physically and spiritually like shown in The Book of Mormon.

  2. trytoseeitmyway

    Thanks for this essay – the Lincoln story is thought-provoking as are the principles distilled here from the Book of Mormon. The principle vice of “moral equivalence” (really, sophistic efforts to find moral equivalence where it does not exist) is that it omits critical moral distinctions, such as the distinction between aggression and defense. The distinction requires an understanding of natural (Thomas Jefferson wrote, “endowed by our Creator”) moral rights, which are themselves distinct from the ephemeral, legislated “rights” which are granted – or withheld – by political processes. The idea being taught here – that is, the idea taught by this essay and in the Book of Mormon – is that the resulting concept of liberty is deserving of defense from those who would take it away from us. This relates back to the Mormon idea of free agency, referring to the freedom to choose good over evil or evil over good.

  3. Morgan D

    Thanks for the great post Ryan. I might be a bit biased since I’ve served in the military, study military history, and have a book about military history in the Book Mormon ( ), but I think the war chapters are rich with insights, yet often overlooked. I would take it one step further than your good list, and argue that the book not only offers personal comfort and inspiration in war, but can be taken seriously and offers advice to policy makers and generals. It has a wealth of strategic insight, tactical implications, connections with government policy and taxation, and as you described, a strong voice of warning.

    It was a pleasant surprise to see this come up in the real clear religion section. Thanks again.

  4. micawber

    Mr. Jenkins,

    Can you give a cite for your reference to the moral agency of man, please? Where do you draw the line? Are we obligated to defend the moral agency of man in every case of suspected genocide, for example?

    1. Ryan C. Jenkins Post author


      The reference to moral agency comes from these verses in the Doctrine and Covenants (see Section 101:76-80):

      “….According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another….

      I don’t think we run into war for a nations who limits their citizens right to have many children, or who limit their internet capabilities, restrict citizens opportunities to publish and peaceably gather and protest (though I believe these are wrong). In my opinion there is a big difference between these controlling governments and pretended nations who push propaganda and war (like Hitler did), behead people, and burn people alive, etc.. and etc… These individuals need to be stopped in their cold blooded advancements. What we are seeing now doesn’t seem to be suspected genocide. They ISIS fighters have made it clear and have a record of their willingness to kill innocent people.


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