Alma the Younger is hindering the growth of the church of God. Remember that this is now a possibility because there is a difference between the church and the kingdom of Zarahemla. Thus it is possible that the church might not grow when the city does.
The last phrase is important in the Book of Mormon. We are told that Alma the Younger’s actions give “a chance for the enemy of God….” Who is this enemy? We have seen this very language in Benjamin’s discourse:
37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.
38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
In these verses, the “evil spirit” is the one who causes one to become an enemy to God. This “evil spirit” is clearly Satan, and we are being told that Alma the Younger is opening doors for Satan. What doors are being opened? What is happening is that Alma is preaching the “other” religion, which denies the atoning Messiah. No wonder Benjamin could say that such an action makes it so that “the Lord has no place in him.”
“Now the Sons of Mosiah Were Numbered Among the Unbelievers”
We are now introduced to the main characters of this particular story.
The sons of Mosiah and one of the sons of Alma are “numbered among the unbelievers.” The focus is on Alma the Younger at this point as a foreshadowing of the story of his conversion. What is most interesting for the Mesoamerican background of the text is that Alma the Younger is not simply an unbeliever, he is “wicked and an idolatrous man.”
The “wicked” might lead us to think of any number of possible sins, but why is Alma the Younger “idolatrous?” Clearly to be guilty of that sin he is not only an unbeliever in the Nephite religion, but is apparently a believer in an idolatrous religion. In the context in which we have been viewing these events, Alma the Younger has adopted the idolatrous “outside” religion. Having adopted that position, he actively encourages others to follow his lead.
Personal application: In this story many modern parents may take some small comfort and hope. We have all indications that Mosiah and Alma the Elder would have taught their children the gospel. They would have provided a home that was probably above standard, as Mosiah was king and Alma the chief priest. Nevertheless, both of these families had at least one child who rejected the teachings of their parents, and followed after ideas that were antithetical to their parents’ beliefs.
There are many in the modern world who must watch their children do the same. While these modern Mosiahs and Almas may or may not be able to witness the miraculous conversion of their children, they can at least take some comfort in understanding that such happens to even the best parents.