The Alma 5 interview. It seemed simple enough when Elder Ballard introduced it at General Conference. When I turned to the scriptures, however, I’ll admit, I was a little shocked. It’s probably no surprise to you, but there are fifty questions in this chapter! We aren’t talking about a quick interview, it’s an interrogation! LDS Scholar John W. Welch separated these questions into eight different sections.
- Remembering God’s Acts for His People (Alma 5:6-9)
Knowing the Essential Logic of the Gospel (Alma 5:10-11)
- Being Personally Converted (Alma 5:14-15)
- Imagining the Judgement Day (Alma 5:15-24)
Assessing One’s Spiritual Condition (Alma 5:26-30)
- Being Identified with a ‘Fold’ (Alma 5:39)
- Obtaining Spiritual Knowledge (Alma 5:45-46)
- Refusing to Repent: (Alma 5:53-59)
While I probably don’t have the credentials to disagree with an acknowledged scholar, I’m going to disagree with an acknowledged scholar… It is my theory that Alma had only one ‘category’ in mind for his questions. ‘Assessing One’s Spiritual Condition’. Elder Ballard introduces his concept of a personal Alma 5 interview by listing only three questions, all from the ‘Being Personally Converted’ section. For a moment, I thought that was the entirety of the interview he wanted us to undertake, but I now believe strongly he wants us to look at the whole process. I believe he wants us to look at each question in the light of how it fits into our overall spiritual condition.
Should We Break The Alma 5 Interview Down?
Obviously, the other categories are accurate. They do all relate to those more narrow topics. But I’m afraid that we get so eager to categorize the questions and pull them apart from one another that we fail to look at the intent of the inspired author. If Alma wanted to remind us of God’s acts for His people, he would have just taught about it. Goodness knows the man wrote enough chapters to his book! I don’t think we should assume that he had all these different intentions for his questions. I think we should look for the big principle he was trying to get at.
Unfortunately, that can easily take us back to my original feeling of overwhelm. Fifty questions is a lot of questions, after all. Especially when, honestly, those questions call for more than a quick response.
How To Tackle The Alma 5 Interview
I believe the Alma 5 interview needs to be taken head on and with a liberal dose of grace for yourself. Remember, the only kind of sorrow acceptable is the kind that drives you towards repentance, not the kind you wallow in (2 Cor 7:10). As is my advice in most scriptural studies, take your time to work through these questions. If you ‘don’t have enough time’ then take what time you do have. Stop when you have to. Pick it back up again when you can. Anything can be accomplished in 15 minutes. It’s just a matter of HOW MANY 15 minutes.
To make your life easier, I’ve built a printable PDF worksheet for the Alma 5 Interview. Click here to join our mailing list and instantly receive your interview worksheet! This way, you can print it at your leisure and take your time, whenever you have a moment, to work your way through the interview. Some of the questions may seem rhetorical. Others might be really easy to answer with a yes or no. I’d encourage you not to fall into either of those traps. If it seems like an obvious “No, Alma, I’m not a murderer”, look a little deeper. There is more to that question than meets the eye. Go deep in yourself to look for the answers. The reward is worth it.