Rameumptom – Weekly Affirmation

I’m struck with some of the similarities in the principles of Zoramite religious thought and contemporary thinking. I guess there truly is nothing new under the sun.

Alma and his Dream Team [1] were blown away by the Zoramite concept of religious worship. Worship for them consisted of a highly ritualized prayer that never changed and lasted about a minute, once a week. Once completed, your religious obligations were finished until next week and you could carry on without feeling further restrictions on how you acted. You were pretty much all set; you were chosen. Best of all, it was performed in a highly visible place: the Rameumptom or holy stand [2]. It would be evident to everyone watching your worship that you were important, chosen, holy and different from all the others that weren’t one of the select group.

It reminds me a little of an old SNL sketch called Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley (I’ve never been able to take Al Franken seriously since–he had more to offer as a comedian than a politician). If you practice telling yourself you’re awesome often enough, you begin to believe it. Chris Farley, a true comedic genius, also seized our misguided love-affair with motivational speakers as having all the secrets for successful living in his Mat Foley sketches.

Last weekend, motivational speaker Tony Robbins was at it again and had members of his 4-day self-empowerment seminar walk over red hot coals (and promptly sent 21 participants to the hospital for 2nd and 3rd degree burns). What is more surprising than the reports of howling fire walkers is the fact that many made the walk without injury. One logically concludes that learning how to ‘unleash the powers within’ can take you over the greatest obstacles of life without the need for God (the seminar doesn’t bother to go into the physics of heat conductivity of coals).  The merits of improving our confidence, motivation and self-reliance aside, the underlying message is pretty destructive in the eternal perspective.

Zoramite doctrine went out of it’s way to deny the existence of (or need for) Christ. Although believing in God, they saw whatever they did as right (cf. Lamoni) and therefore had no obligation to restrain themselves.  Instead of reliance on God, it was more about self. Success in life was to be gained by self-reliance, self-promotion and self-indulgence; the afterlife was simply not relevant to the pursuits of the day.

The Rameumptom was the grandstand for people embracing an amalgam of philosophies of, Stuart Smalley and Tony Robbins: you’re fine the way you are, and with a little training can get along just fine without Christ. Believe in God if you want, but don’t let it interfere with the work week.

Alma and Amulek boldly stood up and called them out. All the self-confidence and self-reliance in the world are not enough to redeem your sin.  Simply stated, you need a Savior: Jesus Christ. A faith that doesn’t bring about repentance is of no value in exalting man.

Said Amulek:

Alma 34:15-19
 15 And thus he shall bring asalvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
 16 And thus amercy can satisfy the demands of bjustice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of cjustice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal dplan of eredemption.
 17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your afaith unto repentance, that ye begin to bcall upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
 18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is amighty to save.

I could certainly use a little more self-affirmation and maybe even a course to help me unleash the power within.  With the Smalley-Robbins approach I become the same person with a series of gimmicks that can be very useful. That’s good stuff, but only to the degree that it makes me a better partner with Christ.  With him, I become a new person.  As I call on his name, he promises mercy which will overpower justice, salvation and faith to repentance. In the end I’m not just good enough, I’m good through and through.

[1] Imagine if your zone consisted of Alma the Younger, Amulek, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, Zeezrom, Shiblon and Corianton!
[2] For an interesting review of the Hebrew roots of this word see Book of Mormon Language, by Brian Stubbs.

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