The chapter in Alma about Korihor may have a familiar ring. How about this? “And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever man did was no crime.”
It is very telling to me that Korihor first seeks to attack the atonement of Jesus Christ, the very root of a Christian life. It shows a cunning that reveals to us that Korihor knew right where to place his darts. He attacks both aspects of the atonement in that paragraph.
The Enabling Power of the Atonement
According to Korihor, whatever talents or attributes we have are not from any divine source, but are merely a fact of who we are. We see this lie all around us in the form of pride. How many truly great people give the credit for their greatness to the Lord?
Nothing gives the lie to Korihor’s notion better than the example of the unlearned young Joseph Smith, Jr., raised to do menial work, with only a brief and incomplete education. This very young man was able to translate, through the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the most important witness we have of the true nature of Jesus Christ. He could never have written it, much less translated it, on his own.
As the years have gone by, the discoveries of modern scholars have proved again and again that there was absolutely no way Joseph could have known even a miniscule amount of the information required to manufacture such a document. Then there is the time element. Sixty days of translating? It truly boggles the mind. Whenever anyone seeks to question the truthfulness of the Gospel, he need only be reminded of the fact that there were gold plates and they could only have become what we know as The Book of Mormon through divine means.
I have my own personal testimony of the enabling power of the atonement. Before I became dreadfully ill with depression, I was writing columns for Meridian and had published three books, which required a great deal of complicated plotting. They were not great books, but they represented a lot of planning and crafting.
When my depression worsened, it was a though a black Dutch oven was placed over my head. Everything inside me was black. There was no glimmer of creativity there. And what thoughts I had, simply could not get out of my head onto paper.
I tried. I wrote two novels. They were abysmal. I was certain that my depression had taken from me my ability to write.
However, when the Lord miraculously cured me two years ago, the very first thing that happened was that I found old manuscripts in various degrees of completion on my computer. One I had started 33 years ago. I prayed hard that the Lord would restore my talent and I went to work.
It was hard at first. I had forgotten all the principles I had so painfully learned about creative writing. Through the past five years, I have struggled with my writing. I know that I am nowhere near the writer the Lord wants me to be, but I know he is teaching me, and that through the enabling power of the atonement, he is making up the difference between the writer I am and the writer I could be. Slowly, the distance between the two is narrowing. He is teaching me line upon line, literally.
To deny the enabling power of the atonement in our lives, is to actually be a form of anti-Christ — to believe Korihor’s words that who we are and who we become is solely a product of our own genius. Many great men and women could be even greater if they supplicated the Lord for his wisdom and direction in how to apply their God-given talents.
Korihor has to believe that there is no sin.
If he doesn’t believe “that whatever man did was no crime,” things would not work out in his hypothetical reality, because he had stated that there was no atonement. This again shows his basic knowledge of the atonement.
To fail to acknowledge our sins and to repent of them, to refuse to plead with the Lord to allow the atonement to wash us clean, is anti-Christlike behavior. We may not believe we have done wrong, in which case, we agree with Korihor. Or we may not believe that there is a power in the eternities that could ever wash us clean. This is also a kind of anti-Christlike belief.
If we believe in the fact that Christ knows each one of us and loves us so much that he was willing to suffer for each and every wrongdoing on our part, big or small, then we are willing to set our pride aside and plead for forgiveness. We are willing to change our lives, to attempt to, with God’s help, set aside the natural man and pursue the spiritual in ourselves. (Mosiah 3:19)
This is what it means to take upon us Christ’s name. This is what it means to be His.
Korihor denies the very existence of Christ
As our world becomes increasingly secular, it is of supreme importance that we constantly remember our Savior. Each Sunday when we commemorate his sacrifice for us, we must stand clean before Him and once again take upon us His name.
When bad things happen in our lives or in the world, we must turn to the Lord, not away. We must seek his direction and guidance and succor. We must use our faith, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, to desire to believe.
As we detect the presence of Christ and Heavenly Father in our lives when our prayers are answered or our burdens lifted, we become men and women of Christ. Our faith becomes increasingly stronger, and instead of being secular, contented to live in a world without Christ, He becomes our anchor.
We are all in danger of becoming anti-Christian merely through complacency or neglect or pride. Let us watch ourselves. Let us continually petition to the Lord for directions to live our life His way, to take upon us His name, and to radiate His power in this increasingly Godless society.
These steps are the most important ones we can make in our lives.
Award-Winning Author of The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War