Saturday, January 16, 2010

Captain Moroni's perfect understanding

And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding (Alma 48:11, emphasis added)
These are strong words about Captain Moroni, considering all the knowledge we have today that hadn’t even been thought of in his day. Yet Mormon, a disciple of Christ, considers Captain Moroni’s understanding “perfect”.

Can we aspire to this perfect understanding? Do we need to know everything in order to have this “perfect understanding”?

Mormon elaborates on what makes up Captain Moroni’s understanding.
…yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; (Alma 48:11)
Captain Moroni understood the sanctity of life. This suggests he understood the plan of salvation.
…a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; (Alma 48:11)
Captain Moroni understood the importance of agency. And he loved liberty not just for himself, but for his whole country.
Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; (Alma 48:12)
He had perfect understanding of all the blessings that had been bestowed not just on him, but on his people as well, and he understood exactly who he should be thankful to for those blessings. He also seems to have understood that it was okay to show his gratitude, because he allowed his heart to swell with thanksgiving, rather than trying to suppress it and choke it off.
…a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. (Alma 48:12)
Captain Moroni understood the principle of work and he practiced it. He also had a perfect understanding of his own responsibility. He understood there was much to be done for his people’s welfare and safety. No one understood better than he his people’s precarious situation, because he labored exceedingly; there was so much to do and so little time to do it in.
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ… (Alma 48:13)
He had a perfect understanding of the principles of the gospel and the need for Christ’s Atonement. He put his complete trust in Christ, achieving and retaining a remission of his sins and undoubtedly urging others to do the same.
…and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood. (Alma 48:13)
He had a perfect understanding of how covenants bind a person to act and how God assists his people to keep their righteous covenants, so he was willing to bind himself by covenant to defend his people, his rights, his country, and his religion, trusting that God would enable him to faithfully fulfill it even in the greatest extremity.

Based on this description, it seems that “perfect understanding” is possible and attainable. In fact, many of us are well on our way towards it! May we strive until we achieve that perfect understanding so that it can be said of us as it was said of Captain Moroni: “if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto [insert your name here], behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:17)

Image: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,,16842,4218-1-3-99,00.html.


Anonymous said...

I think a perfect understanding is not the same as a perfect knowledge.

To me, a perfect understanding is having the correct (meaning in line with God) perspective and balance in life. It doesn't mean you know everything, just that you do well and correctly with what you do know.

Your examples cite Moroni's perspective on his position and on the faith/country which of course were what made him such a great leader.

A perfect understanding is more important that a perfect knowledge (which is probably not possible in this life).

Michaela Stephens said...

Well said! Thank you for commenting on that distinction.

Dallin said...

Thank you for this post-- I really enjoyed it. MormonBudget's comment is very good, too.

It sounds like Mormon's descriptor "perfect understanding" is very close to 'wisdom'. Wisdom is required to apply knowledge in a meaningful way. Moroni didn't know everything, but he was able to discern and apply gospel truths and principles because he was wise.

I guess that's just saying the same thing over again-- but I agree that wisdom is greater than knowledge.