The Fallacies of Nehor – Alma 1:3-4

Less than a year after King Mosiah’s death, during Alma’s first year as chief judge, a man named Nehor created some controversy in the land of Zarahemla, by advocating two principles which opposed the teachings of the church. Here are two false teachings which he promoted:

  1. The fallacy of popularity – Nehor taught that “every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people” (Alma 1:3). This type of celebrity preacher cares more about his or her reputation than about the well-being of their followers. In contrast, members of the church believed that “the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26). The truth is that prestige does not confer spiritual authority, and receiving more “likes” does not make your argument more accurate.
  2. The fallacy of impunity – Nehor taught that everyone will be saved. He said that the people “need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4). In contrast, church leaders taught the importance of repentance and the dangers of unrepented sins. As Elder Dale G. Renlund has clarified, “God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us…. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance” (“Repentance, A Joyful Choice,” General Conference, October 2016). The truth is that our choices have real consequences. God can help us overcome the effects of our sins, but this will only happen if we seek His help through sincere repentance.

Today, I will avoid both of the fallacies of Nehor. I will teach others out of love for them, not out of a desire for admiration. I will remember that I am accountable for my actions, and that I need to repent in order to receive God’s grace and be saved.

2 thoughts on “The Fallacies of Nehor – Alma 1:3-4

Add yours

  1. Nehor is not guilty of the fallacies you accused him of. Nehor claimed that it is in the best interest for teachers to be popular. He never claimed that prestige confers authority. Therefore, you have not demonstrated that he is guilty of argumentum ad populum. Secondly, fallacy of impunity isn’t a logical fallacy. If you Google search “Fallacy of Impunity”, your article is the first of the few search results. This hints to me that you made the term up.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I would be interested to hear more about your views on Nehor’s teachings. After reviewing Alma 1:3-4 today, I continue to see the same two fallacious beliefs which I highlighted in my post: (1) that gospel teachers should be “popular” and (2) that our actions do not have consequences. I believe that Mormon wanted us to be aware of these false teachings so that we could avoid being deceived by similar teachings. If you have a different interpretation, I would be interested to hear it. What lessons do you learn from the story of Nehor?


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