Seeing our time, the prophet Nephi touches on some of the spiritual and organizational characteristics troubling the people (Gentiles) who would largely displace the remnants of his and his father Lehi’s descendants.
“…The Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor. And there are many churches built up which cause envyings, and strifes, and malice. And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things…” (2 Nephi 26:20-22)
-When seeing the weaknesses of the Gentiles, is Nephi focused more on the people of the United States and Canada? Does his critique also refer to the Latin American countries south of the United States? Is there also some reference to all nations throughout this fallen world?
-Are the churches Nephi is referring to Christian places of worship? Or, is his meaning more generalized to refer to all organizations that developed from the Christian churches and the related Enlightenment culture of Europe?
-What stumbling block is Nephi referring to in this passage? And, why does he refer to it as a great stumbling block? Is this a reference to the absence of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (because of apostasy) as these organizations formed?
-What are the organizations that have been “built up” to have the most power and influence in the United States in our time? Have similar organizations been built up in other countries in the Americas and throughout the world?
-Do these organizations focus on the power and miracles of God? Or, do they put greater emphasis on — and give greater credit to — what they perceive to be human power and human wisdom? Do many of these organizations take advantage of the poor?
-Are their many institutions and organizations that (inadvertently or intentionally) cause envying and strife?
-What are secret combinations? What are the consequences of having oath-bound groups in our society that do evil for their own worldly gain?