Author: Matthew Watkins

The Remembrance Cycle

I like listening to my dad tell stories from his time in the army. One thing he observed is that the drill sergeants he had were very much like the drill sergeants you see in the movies: insulting, swearing, and strict almost to the point of abusive. And he saw why. Although my dad was a married, returned missionary with 2 kids when he enlisted in the army, the rest of his group were 18 and 19-year old boys. And they acted the part. The primary goal in basic training is to crush you and try and get as much of the silliness and horseplay out of you as possible.

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Something’s missing

I’m in the middle of the saddest part of the Book of Mormon. Throughout the latter half of 3 Nephi, Christ ushers in a period of peace and national righteousness that gives us modern readers a little preview of the Millenium. Then, 3 Nephi ends, and by the end of the very next chapter, the Nephites are largely corrupt and ripe for their final destruction. No gradual decline this time– they come out in open rebellion against God, the day of grace is past, and you know this is the end of the end. Each time I read the story of their self-destruction in my studies, it feels more sad and sickening than the last. This time through, I noticed some interesting details from the war accounts from Mormon 2 that I had overlooked before.

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The Immediate Atonement

This post first appeared on Power in the Book of Mormon The Atonement of Christ is the center of our faith. But it’s also the principle of our faith that is probably hardest to understand. Not just because it’s infinite beyond the scope of our mortal minds, but because the whole notion that Christ could pay for sins He didn’t commit just kind of blows our minds. I don’t know anyone who has claimed to look at the calculus of the Plan of Salvation and figured out how it all works out. Twisting the Atonement And that’s OK. We don’t...

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The restoration was MESSY (and that’s OK)

Years ago, I heard a Bishop say: “Brothers and sisters, the restoration was messy.” I didn’t think much about his wording at the time. But over the few years following (including my mission), I encountered a lot of people wanting to “educate” me about early Church leaders. Joseph Smith was the most common target, of course. They cited all sorts of stories about him that seemingly “proved” he was a lying, womanizing con man.

I mostly brushed off these claims during my mission. Those critics were not historians. I knew their agenda. I figured they were mostly lies, or at least huge distortions of the history. So, when I got home from my mission, I bought an 800-page history of Joseph Smith. It was written by an active stake patriarch and Church historian who worked on the Joseph Smith Papers project, so I figured his book would blow away all those false accusations with the fiery testimony of truth.

But I was surprised to find that instead of tearing down all the stories the critics had told me, history largely confirmed them. And you know what? That’s OK!

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