Among the notable challenges faced by the peoples described in the Book of Mormon was the influence of individuals who propagated erroneous doctrines. False teachers are mentioned as contributing to pride and the corruption of religious practices and beliefs, ultimately leading to societal decay. Second Nephi 28:12 specifically highlights the pernicious effect of these individuals on the spiritual well-being of the community: “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.”
False teachers are characterized by their persuasive teachings that closely mimic truth, deceiving not only the learners but at times even those considered to be elect in the faith. Their influence is noted as a perennial obstacle to the true prophets of God and a major cause of spiritual confusion. During the Savior’s ministry, He warned the people about false teachers described symbolically as wolves in sheep’s clothing (3 Nephi 14:15; Matthew 7:15), cautioning about the danger and extent of their deception.
These individuals stood in direct opposition to the constituted channels of communication with the Divine, as established by priesthood authority. By introducing unauthorized revelations and doctrines, false teachers led people away from the established order of the church and the commandments of God. Their emergence played a significant role in the tumultuous periods described in the Book of Mormon, culminating in the literal downfall of the Nephite civilization as internal dissensions increased due to the conflicts between true doctrine and false teachings (4 Nephi 1:34). Their prominent role in these internal conflicts serves as a cautionary tale for adherents in maintaining orthodoxy and the crucial vigilance required to preserve the integrity of their faith against deceptive ideologies.