We have a very popular scripture in the Book of Mormon that says “it is better that one should perish than that a nation should dwindle in unbelief”. Is this a valid point of LDS theology (doctrine), or is it just Nephi justifying his beheading of Laban? Also did you know almost the exact same words were used to justify the crucifixion of Christ? But in the Bible it is a wicked high priest Caiaphas that “prophesies” this statement. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead, and the Pharisees were afraid of what this could mean to their power.
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”John 11: 45-50 (NIV)
If you believe Nephi was an actual person as described in the BofM, then he said it about 600 years before Caiaphas said it. If you believe Joseph Smith wrote the BofM, then Smith just repurposed the saying that he read in the Gospel of John.
Lets assume the BofM is the word of God, and the “Spirit” pronounced this doctrine. This then raises some questions. First and foremost is that the promise is not kept. The entire nation does end up dwindling in unbelief 1000 years later. So was Laban’s death in vain?
If you study the causes of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, this doctrine can be found in some of the justifications.
How does this doctrine mesh with the parable of the Good Shepard leaving the 99 to go look for the one that was lost? We have the BofM telling us to let them die so they don’t infect the group, while the New Testament tells to do everything you can to find and protect them. Eventually they will see the light and come home. What about the larger issue that if the Sprit tells you, it is OK to kill somebody?
How does this doctrine affect us today in the church? While not actually killing people, does the Church distance themselves or excommunicate people that are perceive to cause members to dwindle in unbelief? How have you seen this doctrine applied?