Korihor’s Teachings

Church Educational System

Korihor insisted on a strictly rational and scientific approach to all problems, anything else being but ‘the effect of a frenzied mind’ (Alma 30:13–16); he crusaded against the tyranny of ancient traditions and primitive superstitions, which led people to believe things which just ‘are not so,’ (Alma 30:16), calling for an emancipation from ‘the silly traditions of their fathers.’ (Alma 30:31.) He called for a new morality with the shedding of old inhibitions (Alma 30:17–18, 25.) He called for economic liberation from priestly exploitation (Alma 30:27), demanding that all be free to ‘make use of that which is their own.’ (Alma 30:28.) He preached a strict no-nonsense naturalism: ‘… when a man died, that was the end thereof,’ (Alma 30:18), and its corollary, which was a strict materialism: ‘… therefore every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature… .’ (Alma 30:17.)

From this followed a clear-cut philosophy of laissez-faire: ‘Therefore every man prospereth according to his genius, and … every man conquered according to his strength,’ with right and wrong measured only by nature’s iron rule of success and failure: ‘… and whatsoever a man did was no crime.’ (Alma 30:17.) It was survival of the fittest applied to human behavior, and the removal of old moral and sentimental restraints was good news to many people, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading many away … to commit whoredoms… .’ (Alma 30:18.)

Along with his attitude of emancipation Korihor cultivated a crusading zeal and intolerance of any opposition which has been thoroughly characteristic of his school of thought in modern times, calling all opposition ‘foolish’ (Alma 30:13–14), ‘silly’ (Alma 30:31), and the evidence of frenzied and deranged minds. (Alma 30:16.) And while for Alma a free society was one in which anybody could think and say whatever he chose (Alma 30:7–12), for Korihor the only free society was one in which everyone thought exactly as he thought (Alma 30:24)—which was also the liberal gospel of Huxley, Dewey, Marx, et al.

The philosophy of Korihor with its naturalism, materialism, and moral relativism, is the prevailing philosophy of our own day, as was foreseen in the Book of Mormon: ‘Yea … there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth … when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.’ (Mormon 8:31.)

Enormously proud of their accomplishments, ‘the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block.’ (2 Nephi 26:20.) Their own expertise is the highest court of appeal, as they ‘preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the faces of the poor.’ (2 Nephi 26:20.) The theologians ‘set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world,’ (2 Nephi 20:29), as they ‘contend one with another … teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost… .’ (2 Nephi 28:4.).”

(Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, pp. 416–18)

Book of Mormon Student Manual (1996 Edition)