Radio Free Mormon: 012: Murder Most Foul

Today Radio Free Mormon releases his newest episode newest episode “Murder Most Foul”.  Today RFM explores the slaying of Laban and all the motives and correlations that the Book of Mormon puts on display giving insight into it as a text and into the mind of Nephi.  After just taking us down the wrong roads, RFM now walks us back into a serious consideration of the Book of Mormon!!!


17 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 012: Murder Most Foul

    • Thank you so much, David!

      I can’t help but have a great deal of respect for a book that holds up so well against the classics of World Literature.

      At least in some respects.


  1. To think that 21 years ago almost, after being recently baptized I told God that if I found anything I didn’t like or didn’t feel the Holy Ghost when reading the first 100 pages of the book of Mormon I would break my commitment of being a Member of the LDS church.

    When I first read the book, I thought Nephi had spared Laban’s life, I guess I wasn’t doing a very good job of reading the book. Otherwise that might have been reason enough for me to not continue reading it. I hated reading back then when I was 17, but by page 16 after reading lehi’s dream and when I read 1 Ne 10:17, I was totally wrapped up in the Spirit of God.

    It was as if God himself told me to be a life long member dedicated to building his kingdom, and that the book of Mormon and everything else the missionaries taught were true. I believed it all… with little reservations.

    I’m still touched and consider myself privileged to call myself a Latter-Day Saint. How different my life would have been.

    There have been positive and negatives, but overall the positives have outweighed the negatives for me. Although currently, I’m ready for more nuance in my life, it wasn’t always so.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, David.

      I sometimes think God has witnessed to me the truth of things that will lead me along the right path.

      But I have too often interpreted the witness as “this is the place,” when it was really intended to be “drive on.”


      • Interesting, have I not been listening to God tell me to drive on? That’s scary. What does try on exactly mean? To what and where? Uncharted waters?

        I guess I’ll just say, no thank you.

        • “It is not down in any map; true places never are.”–Herman Melville, Moby Dick

          • Well, with financial security I’d go anywhere and everywhere I suppose. Unfortunately, drive on doesn’t seem to be a very safe option, but sure sounds exciting.

  2. This is the best interpretive analysis of the Book of Mormon I have read since Nibley. The duality and ironic distance of Nephi’s killing seems similar to the irony of Lehi’s dream where a man dressed all in in white is taken for an angel but leads Lehi into spiritual darkness from which he escapes not by help of an angel but by virtue of giving heed to the written word of God. The Book of Mormon’s subtlety includes an intended subversion of the ostensible and simple reading of the book. That certainly seems to have been beyond the capacity of a young Joseph Smith and is not a literary strategy that I can think Joseph used later in his ministry. I think Skousen might have been right that the Book was dictated. But not by God. Rather by some genius of Shakespearean or Miltonic stature imbued with 19th Century culture. So I Loved your very insightful references to Shakespeare and Milton. Who are you?

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      The Book of Mormon can, and often is, read superficially, and it can work for many members on that level.

      But a closer reading of the text can reveal depths which give added dimension and weight to what may seem at first a facile story.

      My experience with the Book of Mormon has convinced me it will wear me out long before I wear it out.

      As to your last question regarding my identity, I can do no better than quote the last line of a favorite movie:

      Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-Man.

    • That “man in a white robe who bade me FOLLOW Him,” Who Leads Lehi, then Nephi, seeing the same vision, dream, “into mists of darkness” (Nephi 8:5-8) can also be understood as leaders, intermediaries, even prophets, none of which can be intermediary or guardian at the gate of Christ and salvation. They are only guardians at the gate of Slave-ation, as warned of so many times by Christ and by the BoM and other scriptures. The true church always fell, due to this, and so is the story of the olive tree in Jacob 5, the same for our day too. Ether 8:24

  3. Forgive my asking, but does the “financial security” comment indicate you are employed in some capacity by the LDS Church?

  4. Thank you for your thought provoking analysis! I have wondered if perhaps Lehi’s dying words to Nephi are left out of 2 Nephi because he took opportunity to chastise Nephi for killing Laban and kidnapping Zoram.

    I have really enjoyed your shows RFM, and look forward to seeing new episodes in my podcast feed.

  5. Yes, parable… Excellent view of the story of Nephi murdering Laban and the accountability and “test” lesson we could learn from it. God does not need bullies, liars or murderers. Satan needs them though, as does Saint’n. Yes, a test… as is the story of Adam and eve the story of choice and accountability (not Adam’s fault, not Eve’s fault, so it is… Saint’n’s fault…).

    The warning of Satanism AND Saint’nism is scattered over the pages of the BoM, and we don’t see it? Eyes to hear, ears to see? Pearls before swine?

  6. RFM, I’ve listened to your Coup d’etat podcasts many times. Very well done! I thank you. The disappointing facts of history, as you carefully researched and organized, indicate that the Church leadership has apostatized, beginning at the very least with Brigham’s rise to the top. I do believe that many of the top leaders of the 20th century were good men, and just deceived. They sincerely believed they were called of God. But something big happened circa 2013 with the appearance on the scene of Denver Snuffer. As you mentioned, he testified he has seen both the Father and the Son, and that he has been commanded by the Lord to do a certain work. That work is now unfolding.

    You appear to be respectful or treading lightly around the question of Denver Snuffer, which tells me you are wise, but understandably cautious, as you’ve been burned once, 40 years ago (ironically the same number of years Denver was in the Church).

    There is something palpably different about today’s Mormon leadership since Denver was cast out. It was a significant moment in Church history. NEVER before has a true prophet come before the LDS hierarchy, much like Christ came before the Sanhedrin and like Abinadi came before the corruption of King Noah’s priests.

    In 2013, the LDS top brass COULD HAVE finally made things right. Confessions COULD HAVE been made. They could have confessed error, and fallibility. It could have been a think of beauty. They can’t say they weren’t afforded the opportunity to “repent.” The Sanhedrin had the same opportunity. Amulon and his partners in crime and King Noah also had the opportunity to repent. Just one member of their ranks did repent. I’ve expected one of “the Brethren” to come forth in these days, and likewise repent like Alma courageously did, but it hasn’t happened. The time it appears has passed, and sides have been chosen.

    I’m guessing you’re not a fence-sitter, so I presume you have made a judgment on Denver? I would be interested to hear your take, publicly in a podcast or privately. You’ve done your due diligence, think very clearly, are respectful in your disagreements, and you are very articulate and persuasive because of the aforementioned attributes.

    I’ve spent several hours today and yesterday listening to some of your former podcasts.

    I like your style and logical presentation.

    Elder Holland’s ‘wrong road’ analysis was excellent.

    I just listened to this podcast above (with a few interruptions so perhaps I didn’t get complete context), but it appears you’re saying that Nephi was inspired by an evil spirit to kill Laban, and that he included the story nevertheless in his sacred history.

    I’ve heard before the notion that Nephi was deceived by an evil spirit. I’m open to new ideas. Obviously, the question of Denver Snuffer proves I’m open to new ideas. But I think you’re way off the mark here. If I may ask, are you rejecting the BoM as the true word of God, now that you’ve awakened to the fact the Church leadership is apostate, and are in many cases knowingly lying to the people? Has the baby been thrown out with the dirty water? I’ve not listened to all your podcasts, so I’m asking the question, confessing you may have already answered my question.

    I don’t think Nephi is in anyway like Elder Holland who doesn’t have the trust in his ability to receive revelation. Like you said, he could have been led to that deadend to save a family on the brink of death. But he high tailed it out of there. Granted, it’s not virtuous to kill somebody. Nephi didn’t want to kill. He was against the idea. But there are doctrinal reasons for the slaying, under the Law of Moses and also under the Lord’s standards of judgment to vindicate the Lord’s decision to kill Laban. Nephi did not want to shed the blood of Laban. But he OBEYED the Lord. That’s the lesson. He obeyed. It’s worth noting that Laban was a thief. He stole Lehi’s family’s property. And he attempted murder. Thus the Law of Moses required his life. So in a legal sense, Laban was ALREADY guilty (in God’s eyes) and the only thing that remained was a formal sentencing, which he gave through Nephi. Nephi was the one who retrieved the plates, so they then legally were HIS plates, meaning the rebellious Laman and Lemuel had no legal claim to the plates, which was significant when Nephi fled into the wilderness with the plates and with the sword of Laban.

    True, it is not virtuous to kill. But we must not confuse lack of virtue with being unrighteous. You can be righteously obedient to God and not be virtuous. Nephi was repulsed at the idea of killing an unarmed man, but the Lord required it, and Nephi bent his will to God’s will. I think you may be drawing the wrong conclusion about which “spirit” was speaking to Nephi because your sense of virtue is offended by Nephi’s killing. If you give more weight to virtue over righteousness this could handicap your ability to serve God. Remember, Jesus Himself sounded quite rude and unvirtuous when he spoke in sharp rebukes to the Jewish leaders, as did John the Baptist, as did Elijah when he went on his mocking spree. God Himself has literally killed millions of people by pestilence, famine, earthquakes, war, etc. In that respect, God is the greatest mass “murderer.” Of course it’s not murder if He wills or commands it. Nephi didn’t murder anybody, he was the acting as the hands of God and administering justice. But, you are correct, if put on trial in TODAY’S courtroom, he’d be laughed out of the courtroom all the way to his prison cell if he dared to tell the truth of why he did what he did.

    One other thing, I believe you made a mountain out of a molehill about Nephi beholding the destruction of his future descendants being a curse. You say it was a cursing for him obeying Satan and murdering a helpless man, but isn’t that a classical logical fallacy, that you tend to point out when others do that? I say there is ZERO connection of that “affliction…great above all” (1 Nephi 15:5) to the slaying of Laban. You attempt to make the connection, but it’s just your assertion based on your premise that a curse is warranted due to a supposed murder. There was no murder, and therefore was no curse. Enoch too was traumatized by seeing the floods swallow up humanity. He refused to be comforted. Nephi too was traumatized. I’ve been traumatized by seeing death in a movie and in real life. It’s natural. But not a curse. And could not be a curse for obeying the Lord. In fact, his obedient slaying of Laban IS THE VERY THING (I’d say Nephi would testify it was the hardest test of obedience he’d ever encountered in his ENTIRE life) that prepared him to be brought into the presence of the Lord! Blessings, not cursings followed Nephi’s slaying of Laban, by command of the the Lord.

    I highly respect your research and thank you for your time. I hope we can be friends. And I look forward to more podcasts that you produce.

    I will conclude by saying that I’ve had spectacular witnesses of the Holy Ghost that the BoM is true and therefore Joseph was a true prophet. I like looking at the stories in the BoM from different angles. I believe the book stands up to scrutiny, unlike men who insinuate and pretend they are prophets, seers, and revelators. The modern Brethren have no fruit that proves they are “sent”. Denver’s message and writings are filled with so much truth that I cannot but proclaim he is a true messenger as well. And if that is true, I’m grateful for that, and seek a knowledge of God again, as I did earnestly, when I was baptized as an adult 30 years ago. Joseph’s testimony inspired me. And Denver’s does too. Perhaps the veil isn’t as thin as we think it is. I hope it’s not.

  7. Exodus 21:12-14.

    The Spirit was merely quoting scripture to Nephi.

    Was Nephi presumptuous in killing Laban? Nope.

    Did the Lord deliver Laban in his hands? Yep.

    Did the Lord prepare a safe space to flee? Yep.

    It’s interesting that Nephi’s actions were perfectly congruent with 7th century BCE manslaughter laws.

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