They Began to Support Him with Money

Alan C. Miner

As Nehor spread his message, many of the Nephites "began to support him and give him money" (Alma 1:5). In view of the fact that all religions need money to operate, one might ask, What is wrong with being supported by money? According to Hugh Nibley, all religions are supported by money, but the immorality of it (as Plato shows in the Protagoras and the Gorgias) is when you start giving it to individuals. When you have a line veto that it be used for this [person] or that [project], then you are not giving it at all. If I give money to the church specifying that it can only be used for this, I'm not giving it to the Lord or trusting him at all. I don't specify what it's for; I just pay my tithing and that's that. If it's misused that's none of my affair; I've done what the Lord requires of me. . . . One might also wonder, What is wrong with winning souls [and money] for Jesus? The answer is that it requires rhetoric. This type of missionary must be a crowd pleaser. Truth tellers are something else, as we learn from Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, and people like that. We wouldn't need prophets at all if they told us only what we wanted to hear. We wouldn't need the scriptures if they told us only what we wanted. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, pp. 217-218]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary