Cataloguing Power in the Book of Helaman

By Emily Milner

Back in innocent January I wrote about finding lenses to help us read the Book of Mormon. I was excited to teach Gospel Doctrine this year, and one of the very minor but still unfortunate consequences of the pandemic is that I haven’t been able to. Helaman’s exploration of power, one of the lenses I talked about, interests me, and I want to outline some of my thoughts.

Types of power are listed in the order I thought of them, which isn’t necessarily the most logical. References are samples of the principle I’m talking about, but not intended to be comprehensive.

Negative/Evil Types of Power:

1-Secret combination power–Gadianton, Kishkumen, and everyone who is colluding together to be in charge of the government. They draw strength from hiding each others’ evil deeds. (Helaman 2:4-6; Helaman 6:18-21)

2-Satan--Mormon clearly discusses the fact that Satan is real, and has real actual power, and real actual influence over peoples’ hearts. This is not some fiction or fantasy or made-up story. With the benefit of hundreds of years of hindsight, Mormon sees clearly how Satan influences people right now. (Helaman 6:25-22).

3-Flattery and flattering words–this is how people gain political control. Samuel makes it clear that, as a prophet, he’s not going to speak flattering words to them. He’s going to say what God wants him to say, not what they want to hear. (Helaman 13:26-28)

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