The Meaning Of “Two Churches Only”
The idea that the church of the devil is merely a term for “all the evil in the world” comes from an erroneous interpretation of three key passages of scripture. Those passages are found in 1 Nephi 14:10, 2 Nephi 6:12, and 2 Nephi 10:16, where one was written by Nephi, and the other two by his brother Jacob. A careful look, at those verses, shows that they must be read in their proper context, otherwise they serve only to confuse and sidetrack the reader from gaining a correct understanding of the nature and identity of the great and abominable church of the devil. In the paragraphs below, a careful, but brief, analysis of these scriptures will be undertaken in order to show their meaning in their context.
Confusion from the first passage of scripture (1 Nephi 14:10), which Nephi wrote, results from the reader focusing on the part where the angel tells him that “there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb, and the other is the church of the devil.” If read strictly in that context, the LDS reader is logically forced to conclude that if one is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then by default one must be a member of the church of the devil.
But to understand what the angel meant exactly by “two churches,” the reader must consider that statement in light of its surrounding verses (see 1 Nephi 14:7–17). In reference to the last days, the angel starts by telling Nephi, “For the time cometh” (1 Nephi 14:7). He then asked Nephi if he remembered the “covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel” (1 Nephi 14:8). (This key question will come back into consideration in a moment.) Switching from that question, the angel directed Nephi’s attention to the great and abominable church of the devil (1 Nephi 14:9), and then made his “two churches” statement (1 Nephi 14:10).
Showing Nephi that the whore of the earth would cover the earth in the last days, and have “dominion,” or control, over the whole world (1 Nephi 14:11), he then showed him that it would “gather together multitudes” (1 Nephi 14:13) to fight against the saints. Nephi saw that as the Lord poured out His spirit upon the saints (1 Nephi 14:14), He would also pour out His wrath upon that “great and abominable church” (1 Nephi 14:15). As that happens, “all the nations which [belong] to the mother of abominations” (1 Nephi 14:16) will dissolve their political ties to that world organization and will go to war one with another, with the sword falling upon “their own heads” (1 Nephi 22:13). Returning to the “covenants of the Father” theme, the angel then told Nephi that when the Lord pours out His wrath upon the mother of harlots, then will “the work of the Father…commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants” (1 Nephi 14:17). Thus, the covenants of the Father made to the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:8) will not be completely fulfilled until the Lord pours out His wrath upon the devil’s church, an event that is yet future. Therefore, taken in its context, there will be in the world, “at that day,” only two churches. But is this view correct, and in harmony with the revealed word?
A modern day prophet’s witness offers corroborating testimony that it is. That testimony also helps to place Nephi’s prophecy into sharper focus. Speaking in his last personally delivered General Conference address, President Ezra Taft Benson said,
“I testify that as the forces of evil increase under Lucifer’s leadership and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus Christ, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation. As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested. God’s wrath will soon shake the nations of the earth and will be poured out on the wicked without measure.” 1
By comparing President Benson’s testimony with Nephi’s vision, it is evident that both of them spoke of the same things. Both foresaw the dividing of mankind into two groups in the last days. Both saw that there will be battles between the two.
Eventually, as everyone takes sides, the division will be complete. But when Lucifer’s forces, which are more numerous, begin to destroy God’s people, His wrath will be poured out upon the nations of the earth.
John the Beloved saw a similar division occur in mankind, but in his view of the future, he fixated upon the fact that people will not be able to “buy or sell,” unless they have the “mark” of the “beast” (Revelation 13:16–18). Just as Nephi saw a political union of nations comprise the “whore of the earth,” John saw a world power control the earth’s goods and the economy associated therewith. Nephi’s and John’s descriptions dovetail perfectly in that both entities would have near total political and economic control over the inhabitants of the earth.
There is still another witness that supports this view of Nephi’s vision. The story of Noah and the ark serves as a Biblical type and shadow for the last days concerning the idea that there will only be two churches. For in Noah’s day, the Antediluvian Mahanic secret combination, under Satan’s direct
guidance, shackled the whole earth with one big chain of slavery using corrupt government (see Moses 7:26). As such, all those who did not repent and enter the ark, but rejected Noah’s warning, were destroyed by the Flood. Thus was the division of those days.
The Savior said that prior to His return, the earth would become as it was in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26). Tying that into the Book of Moses, the writings of Nephi, and President Benson’s statement, will there not be a great division between mankind again as in the days of the Flood? Is there not a great latter-day secret combination that seeks “to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” (Ether 8:25)? The difference between then and the present time is that instead of being drowned in a global flood, they who comprise the great and abominable church at that time will be consumed by the devouring fire (D&C 29:21) of God’s wrath. The next two scriptural statements that were made by Jacob, found in 2 Nephi, will now be examined. Jacob’s words, often used in connection with Nephi’s “two churches” statement, are misleading when taken out of their proper context as well.
However, using Nephi’s writings as a template to understand Jacob’s statements helps to clarify what he meant, and also adds another scriptural dimension to Nephi’s “two churches” statement.
The first one states, “for behold, if it so be that they [the Gentiles] shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved…” (2 Nephi 6:12). Since it is commonly held that the “great and abominable” church of the devil is all of the evil in
the world (and since salvation is only found in Christ’s true church), then that line of thinking naturally assumes that those who fight “against Zion” lie outside the ranks of the true Church, and therefore are members of Satan’s kingdom. However, like Nephi’s vision of the last days, Jacob’s statement when seen in its context does not support that view.
In a sermon to the “people of Nephi” (2 Nephi 6:1), Jacob confirmed that the prophecy regarding Jerusalem being destroyed by Babylon had been fulfilled, and that some had been “carried away captive” (2 Nephi 6:8). He then predicted that the remnants would “return again” (2 Nephi 6:9). And after that, they would reject “the Holy One of Israel,” and “crucify him” while he was in “the flesh” (2 Nephi 6:9). Because of that, the Lord’s “judgments” would “come upon them,” and once again they would be “smitten and afflicted”(2 Nephi 6:10), but this time by Rome. After their long dispersion among the nations of the earth, being “scattered and smitten,” the Lord would cause that they be “gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance” (2 Nephi 6:11).
After the branch of Judah is gathered together in the last days, it is in that context that the Gentiles will be blessed if they repent and do “not unite themselves to that great and abominable church” and “fight against Zion” (2 Nephi 6:12). And in words similar to that which the angel told Nephi (see 1 Nephi 14:8, 17), Jacob wrote, “the Lord God will fulfill his covenants which he has made unto his children” (2 Nephi 6:12). Therefore, in its proper context, the blessing to be poured out upon the Gentiles, that is a fulfillment of the Father’s covenants, will happen when they help build and establish Zion, and refuse to unite themselves with the other “nations which [belong]” to that “great and abominable church.”
The second of Jacob’s verses, which is the last one to be examined, states: “wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God” (2 Nephi 10:16). Because of the wording “they who are not for me are against me,” with its seemingly universal application to all people at any given time, it is easy to get locked into the “two churches only” mindset when reading this verse. But just like the two that precede this one, if one does not have membership in the Lord’s true church, such does not necessarily mean that by default one is a member of Satan’s kingdom.
In its context of surrounding scriptures, this verse opens up the floodgates of understanding regarding the things that will happen in the last days, and how there will come to be only “two churches.” In speaking concerning this nation, which the Lord said would “be set up as a free people by the power of the Father” (3 Nephi 21:4), He declared, “Behold, this land,” “shall be a land of thine inheritance and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land” (2 Nephi 10:10). Who can dispute that America has afforded more material blessings, and more freedom, than any other nation on the face of the earth?
Concerning what the political system of this nation was to be, the Lord said, “And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 10:11). So that the Church might be shielded from the scorching rays of persecution directed at it by Satan and his hosts, the Lord said concerning America, “And I will fortify this land against all other nations” (2 Nephi 10:12). But, lest it be forgotten, that blessing is contingent upon the Gentiles’ fidelity to the Lord’s covenant of freedom, that America remains a “land of liberty.” It is sobering to consider that in light of America’s current abandoning of its Judeo-Christian heritage and Constitutional foundation, that particular promise could be revoked, so that this nation may not remain “free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven” (Ether 2:12).
Foreknowing that the enemies of liberty, both within the borders, and without, shall seek to destroy the Lord’s base of freedom in these last days, the Lord warned, “And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words” (2 Nephi 10:13–14). At that point in the revelation to Jacob, the Lord made a statement which sets up all of the preceding (and the rest) of the verses in their context. “Wherefore,” He said, “for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations” (2 Nephi 10:15).
These verses taken together show several things. America was foreordained to be a land of liberty. The Lord decreed that America was not to have any kings (or dictators, for that matter). The Lord also said that He would fortify America, and any that fought against “Zion” would perish, for He will be this nation’s king, and none other. But, like the anti-Christ king Jacob, and his band of old, who sought to destroy the Nephite free government and to establish a king over all (3 Nephi 6:21–7:10), there exists a modern day secret combination (Ether 8:24), that fights “against Zion,” and also seeks to destroy liberty by establishing a king (or a dictator), not just over America, but over the entire world. And in order to fulfill His covenants He has made, the Lord has declared that such a conspiracy must be destroyed.
It is in the context of all these divine utterances that the statement, which Jacob made, becomes all the more plain. He said,
Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God. For I will fulfil my promises which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh… (2 Nephi 10:16–17).
In other words, both the conspiracy, as well as the supporters of corrupt government, are they who fight against Zion, and who constitute a part of the “whore of all the earth.” Special note is also made here regarding that repetitive phrase appearing once again, concerning the covenants of God, that they “may be fulfilled” (2 Nephi 10:15). It is true that the Lord will fulfill His covenants that He has made with His faithful, regardless of Lucifer’s efforts to thwart Him. But, that does not absolve Latter-day Saints from their responsibility of doing everything within their power to protect America’s freedom.
Piecing together all of these prophetic statements into one whole, several things immediately become evident.
First, when the prophets spoke of the day in which there will be only “two churches,” it was in the context that a worldwide division will occur in the last days. This will happen with the fulfillment of the Father’s covenants with the house of Israel (which is the establishment of Zion), and immediately prior to the Lord’s Second Coming.
Second, the freedom of the United States of America (with the rest of the world’s freedom being contingent upon the outcome) is at the center of this whole conflict.
Third, there is a secret combination that will use prostituted government to “[raise] up a king,” and endeavor to enslave the entire earth’s inhabitants, by seeking to have “dominion” over the whole world.
Fourth, the Lord’s covenants will not be completely fulfilled, until this band of evil men, with its accompanying corrupt government of worldwide proportions, is destroyed.
Fifth, all of those who are in support of this secret combination’s evil agenda, which is to destroy the Lord’s base of freedom in America (Zion), and to enslave the human race through prostituted world government, “are the whore of all the earth.”
Sixth, the way the Gentiles can save themselves from that global scourge, in part, is to extricate their nation from the clutches of that world-wide evil, by not “[uniting] themselves to that great and abominable church.”
And last, by not letting their freedom slip away from them through negligence and indifference (by “hearing the Lord’s] words”), the Gentiles will have the Savior to be “their king,” and to be a “light unto them forever.”
It is only in this context, after examining these verses’ interrelated meaning with each other, that Nephi’s and Jacob’s statements make sense to the reader. Without taking all of those details into account, their writings can be easily misconstrued, which in turn produces a distorted understanding concerning the identity of the church of the devil.
In conclusion, and by way of clarification, it is by no means advocated, in any way at all, that membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a prerequisite for obtaining salvation and returning to live with Heavenly Father.
On the contrary, it is wholeheartedly affirmed, and testified to, that membership in the Lord’s true Church is absolutely necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. And as such, the author invites all those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who might read these words, to take upon themselves the covenant of baptism by one who is duly ordained and authorized with the holy priesthood to perform such.
One final thought is offered to the skeptic. To those members who, after having read this, are still adamant about the “two churches only” position (that all who are not Latter-day Saints are members of the church of the devil), please consider that the Lord Himself recognizes that there are “doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils” (D&C 46:7).
1) President Benson, “I Testify,” p. 87.