In yesterday’s post I mentioned briefly one of the verses (v10) in 1 Nephi chapter 14 that has always intrigued me regarding the great and abominable church. That phrase has been the subject of much study and debate over the years by many a student of the scriptures. I am certain it has been well discussed in priesthood quorums and Sunday school classes many times all over the church.
Here are verses nine and ten with Nephi quoting the angel:
“And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil. 10: And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
You are probably aware that in the first edition of the book Mormon Doctrine that Bruce R McConkie identified the great and abominable church as the Catholic church. He was taken to task for his writings by the presiding Brethren of the church, including President McKay. The second edition of Mormon Doctrine changed that identification to be a bit more generic and not so specific.
To quote from the present edition:
“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature – whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious – which are designed to take men on a course that leads them away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God.”
I recently received a copy of a treatise on the subject which presented an interpretation of the phrase that I had never before considered. The essay was written by Anthony E Larson a few years ago and published in one of his quarterly newsletters. To cut right to the heart of the matter, Mr Larson identifies the great and abominable church as orthodox science. I know, it sounds impossible at first, but think about in connection with Bruce R. McConkie’s definition.
What does orthodox science teach more than anything else? The ‘laws’ of science and the scientific method declare that logical, rational thinking and investigation are the only tools that lead to enlightenment and truth. The goal of science is to explain everything in terms of what can be observed – the empirical method. There is no place for God and his laws in orthodox science since religion employs faith rather than intellect.
To quote from the article:
“The science church established its own dogma or doctrine, which it promulgates through the universities. It found its ‘catechism’ in Uniformity or Gradualism as well as Natural Selection or Evolution. Its sacrament is Rationalism and Empiricism; the tenets of the Newtonian universe became its articles of faith. Latter-day Saints should readily recognize that all of the above named theories stand in direct contradiction to many tenets of the restored gospel.”
What do you think? Have you ever heard this identification of the great and abominable church before?