3 Nephi chapter 7 records the destruction of the Nephite popularly-elected, judicial system of government based upon the law of Moses and the subsequent tribal anarchies that formed in its stead. (See Book of Mormon Anarchy.) From page one of the Book of Mormon, to chapter 7 of 3 Nephi, Mormon is emphatic in recording the governmental proceedings of the people of Nephi. But after 3 Nephi 7, neither Mormon nor his son Moroni ever mention another system of government among the Nephites.
Because they lived in anarchy.
One of the keys to understanding the Nephite concept of government, as taught to them by their prophets, is the repeated association of freedom and liberty and not esteeming one man above another with anarchy, while associating captivity and bondage with rulers and kings–the State (government.) This association was started by Alma, continued with Mosiah and even mentioned by Moroni to have been expressed by the brother of Jared: “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” (See Ether 6: 23.)
After the Savior visited the Nephites, things changed drastically. Nevertheless, the record is very brief in describing the changes. 4 Nephi is our only glimpse into life during those times, but Mormon was gracious enough to at least tell us the following:
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. (4 Nephi 1: 3)
“They were all made free,” says Mormon. As I understand the scriptures, according to the associations given in the Book of Mormon, this is referring to anarchy. This particular anarchy, unlike the anarchy of Alma, was not based upon the law of Moses, but upon the law of Christ. (See 4 Nephi 1: 12.) Whereas the people of Alma, who used the law of Moses, “did multiply and prosper exceedingly” (Mosiah 23: 20), the later Nephites, who used the law of Christ, “did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people” (4 Nephi 1: 10). Thus, they had a more excellent anarchy, as the tribal, customary laws they used were the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.
Three types of Book of Mormon anarchies
The Book of Mormon records three instances of anarchy, each one peaceful.
The lowest form of anarchy, recorded in 3 Nephi 7 was one in which each tribe made its own laws. (See 3 Nephi 7: 11, 14.) In other words, instead of using the law of Moses as their tribal, customary law, they scrapped that and made their own laws. This is why Mormon lamented the destruction of the government. The judicial, State government used the law of Moses, which was the law given by God to this people. When the State government was destroyed, the people rejected the law of God (the law of Moses) and established their own laws in tribal anarchy. So, it wasn’t so much the destruction of the government that was iniquitous, as it was the rejection of the law of Moses and substitution of that God-given law with inferior laws of man. Nevertheless, despite inferior laws of man in tribal anarchy, Mormon admits that these iniquitous people had peace.
The second or middle form of anarchy is Alma’s anarchy, established using the law of Moses. The account of this anarchy is found in Mosiah 23. (See The Anarchy of Alma.)
The third or highest form of anarchy is recorded in 4 Nephi and is based upon the celestial law, or law of Christ.
No matter which form of anarchy, though, was recorded by Mormon, all of them were peaceful and ordered societies, contrary to what statists teach. Counting all three anarchies, the cumulative time spent by the Nephites in anarchy was at least 300 years.
Next Anarchism/Anarchy article: The prophetic counsel against having kings (rulers)
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