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"This Great and Abominable Church", 1 Nephi 13:1-9

1 Nephi 13:1-9, see also 1 Nephi 13:26, 34 & 14:10(3, 9-17)

In this chapter, Nephi learns of a church that is described as both great and abominable, "whose founder is the devil," (1 Nephi 14:17, see also 13:6). The term "great" seems to apply to shear size of its existence and how it prevails throughout the kingdoms of the Gentiles. It is called "abominable", because of its wicked practices and desires.

This church that Nephi describes is an organization of material gain and personal gratification. So powerful were such ambitions that in the time period described, any saint that spoke out against it was destroyed (see 13:9). It is also referred to as the mother of abominations and the whore of the whole earth(see 14:10).

The benefit of hindsight in understanding of whom and what these verses are point to allows me to not focus on any one church in the history books. Though it is in reference to Christianity in general from the death of the apostles up until the time of Columbus.

It is interesting to note that in the general absence of a true religion upon the earth, there were yet saints abroad. Individuals in whom the quest for truth and principle was of greater weight than gold (see 13:8-9). These were they who with their limited scope had taken upon themselves the name of Christ, to live according to the precept of His doctrine the best they knew how.

In the history books these individuals were know collectively as the Reformers, though they were hardly a group in the any sense but the broadest. This is a topic that has been referenced extensively in recent years in our General Conferences.

Men like John Wycliffe, the courageous William Tyndale, and Johannes Gutenberg were prompted against much opposition to translate the Bible into language people could understand and to publish it in books people could read.

... We owe much to the many brave martyrs and reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Huss who demanded freedom to worship and common access to the holy books.
(M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Ensign, May 2007, 80–82)