My husband and I were reading Mosiah 27 about the conversion story of Alma the Younger, and it seemed to me that it was impossible that he had not been taught the gospel by his father Alma while growing up. It’s easy to wonder where Alma the Younger started to go wrong.
Mosiah 26 describes a great purge of the church, when many members who were unrepentantly sinning were cut off. It is perfectly possible that Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah were cut off from the church for their wickedness at that time. Later, Alma the Younger himself later tells of how he and Mosiah’s four sons went forth with anger and mighty threatenings to destroy the church (Alma 26:18). That sounds very much like the anger of someone who felt they had been excommunicated unjustly, someone who rebelled against the authority of the priesthood.
Alma the Younger may have convinced himself that what happened to him and his friends was unjust and that the church needed reform.
So, part of what the angel’s visit would have settled for Alma the Younger and Mosiah’s four sons was that his father was right and was on God’s side, that God did have power and that Alma the Younger was wrong. And if he was wrong, then his efforts to fix the church were wrong and amounted to persecution and destruction rather than reform.
The cool thing about Alma the Younger’s conversion story is that it shows us that even an angry ex-member of the Church is not a lost cause. It shows us Alma the Elder’s example of praying for those who separate themselves from us and for those who have been cut off for transgression. They may yet be brought to the knowledge of the truth.