“The Churches shall Say I I Am the Lords”

Bryan Richards

Nephi, in this chapter, is going to describe the sectarian churches of the last days. It is useful to make a list of the things which characterize these churches:

1) They declare, 'I am the Lord's' (v. 3)

2) They deny the Holy Ghost (v. 4)

3) They deny the power of God (v. 5)

4) They teach false doctrines (v. 12)

5) They have become corrupted because of pride (v. 12)

6) They rob the poor (v. 13)

7) They wear fine clothing (v. 13)

8) They persecute the meek and the poor (v. 13)

9) They have all gone astray save it be a few (v. 14)

10) They revile against that which is good (v. 16)

These characteristics describe more than just the churches of Joseph Smith's day. Millet and McConkie explain the fulfillment of the phrase I, I am the Lord's as follows:

"This prophecy was fulfilled with exactness in the early years of the nineteenth century. 'There was in the place where we lived,' Joseph Smith wrote, 'an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, 'Lo, here!' and others 'Lo there!' Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist' (Joseph Smith History 1:5). That is, 'upon inquiring [about] the plan of salvation, I found that there was a great clash in religious sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan, and another to another, each one pointing to his own particular creed as the summum bonum of perfections.' (HC 4:536.)
"Most religious orders in our modern day are prone to take a moderate stance toward a single true church; many claim that 'all roads lead to Rome,' that all churches teach the truth, and that because God is so merciful everyone will eventually inherit heaven's blessings. Doctrines are thus diluted and witnesses watered down such that (at least in the minds of a surprising number of modernists) all notions of 'one Lord, one faith, and one baptism' are nullified through an undiscriminating ecumenism." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 329)