Rethinking Alma 32

Joy had been reading here. I was driving. She read to me in order to help me stay alert. It was familiar, but then, it wasn’t. We had to reread it four times. Once again, we spent our entire lives entirely missing the point. Sorry Alma.

I used to think the point was to experiment (v 27) and gain knowledge one seed at a time. Exercise faith to plant a seed (v 28); see it sprout (v 30); have perfect knowledge in that thing (faith fulfilled and now dormant; v 34); rinse, repeat and thus continue to grow in knowledge one seed at a time (not supported by this scripture!). Previously, I must never have paid attention to the rest of the chapter. Hearing, understood not… (Isaiah 6:9).

In case you’ve been caught in the same “Ground Hog’s Day” loop, let’s decompose a little bit with a few questions:

  • What is the tree of life? What is the fruit? What is the seed? What does that have to do with condescension? What about these: Who is the tree; Who is the fruit; Who is the seed?
  • After we enjoy a piece of sweet, white fruit (1Ne 8:11), do we throw away the seed? Or, perhaps we plant it, watch it sprout, pull it up and add it to our morning smoothie?
  • Is the seed compared to the word, or to The Word (v 28, 40-41)?
  • How does Alma demonstrate progression of faith? What is the end thereof (v 32:41-43; 33:1)? What are the trials to faith (v 38-39)?
  • How is Alma expanding upon Lehi’s (and Nephi’s) vision of the Tree of Life? How is Alma turning the parable/metaphor onto itself?
  • What roles do we play in this drama (there are several; entire chapter)?
  • What is the relationship between the original tree who’s seed is planted and the descendant tree that bears fruit like unto its parent (v 31)? Which Tree of Life are we supposed to partake? What does this say about who/what we should be destined to become (v 40)? Return to 1st question.

There is much more, but I’ll leave off there so you can integrate all of this into “one great whole.” It is interesting how Alma 32 and Lectures on Faith (especially Section 7) relate.

When men begin to live by faith, they begin to draw near to God; and when faith is perfected they are like him; and because he is saved they are saved also; for they will be in the same situation he is in, be cause they have come to him; and when he appears they shall be like him, for they will see him as he is.

Lectures on Faith, 7:8

…the glory which the Father and the Son have, is because they are
just and holy beings; and that if they were lacking in one attribute or perfection which they have, the glory which they have never could be enjoyed by them, for it requires them to be precisely what they are in order to enjoy it; and if the Savior gives this glory to any others, he must do it in the very way set forth in his prayer to his Father-by making them one with him, as he and the Father are one. In so doing he would give them the glory which the Father has given him; and when his disciples are made one with the Father and Son, as the Father and the Son are one, who can not see the propriety of the Savior’s saying, the works which I do, shall they do; and greater works than these shall they do, because I go to the Father?

(Lectures on Faith, 7:15

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