Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Head[waters] of Sidon

Promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory like to replace the phrase "head of Sidon" that actually appears in the Book of Mormon with the phrase "headwaters of Sidon."

Why?

First, because they think Joseph didn't translate the Book of Mormon correctly. He was supposed to translate a "Mayan codex" but goofed, so they fix the translation with substitute terms such as this, along with volcanoes, massive stone Mayan temples, tapirs, etc.

Why this particular substitute term?

Because they think that if the "headwaters" of Sidon are south of Zarahemla, the Sidon river must flow north; i.e., it originates in the south and flows north past Zarahemla.

Of course, the text doesn't say that, but promoters of the theory insist on it because their substitute term "headwaters," they think, excludes North America as the setting for the Book of Mormon.

And by excluding North America, they can justify their rejection of what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York.
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This is the type of cascading false assumptions you need to support the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

It's kind of fun to think that a major river such as the Sidon has a specific, identifiable headwaters area.

In the real world, rivers have many headwaters. Here's a nice description quoted by Roger Terry on his blog, here: http://mormonomics.blogspot.com/2017/10/recycled-high-council-stuff.html:


Harline begins his book by observing that trying to find the origins of Sunday is like trying to find the source of a great river. “The delta at the end and the long channel flowing into the delta are easily recognizable. Yet the farther one moves upstream toward the source of the river, the trickier the going: tributaries multiply, lead astray, or go underground. And when finally located, the humble source may bear so little resemblance to the massive amounts of water downstream that one will surely wonder what the beginning can possibly have to do with the end.”1

1. Craig Harline, Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 1.

I mention this in case there is anyone who still believes the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory because of the imaginary "headwaters" of Sidon that require the river flow north. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

FairMormon--the beginning of capitulation

There is a natural progression when paradigms shift, and we're seeing that now regarding Book of Mormon geography.

Most people believe their ideas are based on facts and logic. Contradictory ideas are "wrong," "uninformed," "ignorant," "irrational," etc. It's a problem for everyone, of course.

People also think that "experts" are better informed than they are, so they defer to experts they trust. And experts can make their arguments sound persuasive. But because we're not experts, we don't know what they're not telling us. (I blogged about this before here:
https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/01/science-and-history.html).

People in power are even more convinced that they are "right" and others are "wrong." And as I mentioned in a post yesterday, people in power seek to suppress and even censor contradictory ideas, but if these ideas escape anyway and get out where ordinary people can learn about them, the people in power insist the ideas be opposed and ridiculed.

Eventually, though, these efforts backfire if the contradictory idea itself relies on more persuasive facts and logic. It becomes evident to observers that the censors are seeking to protect an idea that cannot withstand comparison and scrutiny.

Eventually the people in power start to capitulate.

That's the phase we are entering now regarding FairMormon and Book of Mormon geography.
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FairMormon is an unusually extreme example of experts not telling us everything while insisting that those who do give us the important information (the things FairMormon censors) are "wrong."

FairMormon has a blog you can read here: https://www.fairmormon.org/blog. They also have a "Journal" that is not public. They send it to subscribers, so it is not as easy to access, but it has some great stuff.

And some less-than-great stuff.

Here's an unbelievably ironic passage in the latest iteration, FAIRMORMON JOURNAL, October 2017, with the original in blue and my comments in red:

Elder M. Russell Ballard used the story of one of our early pioneers, Jane Manning James, to talk about the gospel. He said about racism: “We need to embrace God’s children compassionately and eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism. Let it be said that we truly believe the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are for every child of God.”

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-trek-continues?lang=eng

He also said, “Be aware of organizations, groups, or individuals claiming secret answers to doctrinal questions that they say today’s apostles and prophets do not have or understand.”

[So far, so good. Elder Ballard's conference talk was awesome.]

There may be some who are wondering if FairMormon might fall into that category of organizations to avoid. 

[Remember, this newsletter is going to subscribers. From this statement we can infer that some subscribers are catching on to what FairMormon has been doing. That's a key element for a change in paradigm. 

Not only are there "some" who wonder about FairMormon, but there are more and more people catching on. The reason is that FairMormon actively promotes the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, which requires them to repudiate what Joseph, Oliver, and every other modern prophet and apostle has said about Cumorah being in New York. 

Any organization that claims our prophets and apostles are wrong about what they say in General Conference deserves at least close scrutiny. 

I think people ought to insist that FairMormon change their editorial policy on this issue of Cumorah in New York. They have a lot of good material on other topics, so it is tragic that they continue to mislead the Saints about this topic. Actually, it's even more damaging to faith for them to combine good, solid answers to gospel questions with their repudiation of the prophets and apostles on the question of Cumorah.]

I respond in three ways. First, we don’t claim any secret answers. We are here to support the brethren. I think the apostles understand and have everything they need. 

[If FairMormon doesn't "claim any secret answers," then why do they promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory? No prophet or apostle has endorsed the two-Cumorahs theory. Instead, they have specifically rejected it. 

By contrast, the intellectuals at Fair Mormon claim that Joseph and Oliver were speculators, that they were ignorant, and that they were wrong. 

FairMormon claims they "are here to support the brethren," but they constantly seek to undermine the credibility and reliability of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, President Ivins, President Romney, President Joseph Fielding Smith, etc.]

Secondly, if we start to claim authority over the brethren and what they say, you shouldn’t listen to us! 

[This is exactly my point! This is one of the indicia of capitulation. 

If FairMormon means what it says here, there are only two choices.

(1) FairMormon must change their editorial support of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, or 

(2) People shouldn't listen to FairMormon.

Either option is fine with me, but I'd prefer to see FairMormon stop rejecting what the brethren have taught. That would help produce unity in the Church.]

Third, if you have questions about FairMormon, go to LDS.org and type FairMormon into the search engine. You may be surprised. You can also check out this link. You will find us there. 
https://www.lds.org/si/objective/doctrinal-mastery/gospel-sources?lang=eng

[This is my favorite argument of the three. 

FairMormon is trying to persuade you here that the leaders of the Church endorse their positions (and I'm sure Church leaders would be very interested to see how FairMormon is using this link as an implied endorsement). But the link on lds.org itself explains that the Church is not endorsing their content. 

Plus in this very same "newsletter," FairMormon itself writes, "All responses reflect the opinions of the respondents only and not the official position of FairMormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

This is an example of how you have to read FairMormon very carefully. They keep their articles anonymous, and they never reveal their "official positions" so they can always say that material on their web page is not "official." But their editorial position is adamant that Cumorah is not in New York, to the point that they refuse to give their readers any material that contradicts their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.]

There are some led away by those who claim to have priesthood authority, or who claim special knowledge. 


[This is a serious concern that I share with FairMormon; there are groups popping up who are leading members of the Church astray. 

But it is FairMormon's own claim to "special knowledge" about the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that is most concerning to me, because it implicates the Book of Mormon itself as well as the reliability and credibility of Joseph, Oliver, David Whitmer, and all their contemporaries and successors.]

Others claim they have the only truth, and people who don’t agree with their position, no matter how trivial the issue, are unbelievers or apostates. 

[Coming from Scott Gordon, the President of FairMormon, this one is especially ironic because he has labeled those who believe in the New York Cumorah among apostates. Some people think this is a reference to my recent posts about the "unbelievers at FairMormon," but FairMormon proudly claims they don't believe Letter VII and all the prophets and apostles who have affirmed the New York Cumorah, so they can't be referring to my posts here.]

We need to focus on the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve. They have the keys given to them by Jesus Christ.

[See, this is an example of how FairMormon includes great stuff in their material. We all agree with these two statements--except FairMormon, which rejects what members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have taught in General Conference. I encourage everyone to focus on the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and not the sophistry on display at FairMormon--starting with the issue of the New York Cumorah.]

Friday, October 13, 2017

Free-Speech Lesson

Today's Wall St. Journal has an editorial about free speech titled "Justice Holmes’s Free-Speech Lesson" that everyone interested in Book of Mormon geography should read because it explains which sides of the geography debate are confident in their position.

Here's the link (although you may need a subscription to view it):
https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-holmess-free-speech-lesson-1507847318

The subheading to the article explains: "The more certain you are, the more you should resist the temptation to silence those who disagree."

On this blog, I frequently quote, cite, and link to the publications of the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. I encourage members of the Church to discover what these people are teaching. I think every BYU student, at whatever campus, and every CES student (and every parent) should know what is being taught.

But the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory take the opposite approach.

By now, readers of this blog know that these intellectuals (FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, etc.) are afraid to let members of the Church compare their theory to the North American setting (Moroni's America or the Heartland).

These intellectuals know that most members of the Church, once they learn about Letter VII and the teachings of the modern prophets and apostles, accept the New York Cumorah. 

That's why they continue to refuse to allow a comparison, or even a discussion, of the two theories.

The only way they can preserve their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is by 

(1) suppressing, arguing against, and ridiculing what Joseph and Oliver taught and 

(2) insisting that every modern prophet and apostle who has spoken about the Hill Cumorah in New York, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, was wrong.

Now the intellectuals at BYU are promoting an "abstract map" of the Book of Mormon to convey an impression that they are "neutral," even though their map teaches the Mesoamerican interpretation of the text and repudiates what the prophets and apostles have said about Cumorah in New York.

They don't want people to know about the North American setting. They don't want people to know about Letter VII. They don't want people to know what has been taught in General Conference.

Now, let's look at the WSJ article.
_________________

Excerpt:

"If you are absolutely certain that President Trump is or is not an idiot, that climate change is or is not the most pressing problem of our age, that abortion is or is not murder, that football players should or should not be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, that our nation needs more or fewer gun laws, welcome! Most of us feel the same way. Absolute certainty is common, as is the suspicion that anybody who is absolutely certain of the opposite view must be evil, ignorant or a gullible consumer of fake news.

"Along with absolute certainty comes the understandable impulse to regulate or ban the speech of your opponent. Why allow evil and ignorant people to infect others with falsehoods and dangerous ideas?"

The article discusses a pair of Supreme Court cases in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes changed his mind about free speech.

"Holmes’s dissent in Abrams gave birth to modern First Amendment jurisprudence, with its veneration for the marketplace of ideas. He began by observing that it makes perfect sense to persecute people for their opinions: “If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition.” The problem, Holmes realized, is that we are almost always absolutely certain of our premises, but sometimes we are wrong...

Holmes’s radical idea was that we are too often wrong. When we are wrong, the consequences can be dire. When we are not only absolutely certain but also right, what is the harm in allowing other views to be heard? The truth needs no protectors and will eventually win out, but nobody said it better than Holmes:

“When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death.”

Maybe you disagree with Justice Holmes. But thanks to the First Amendment, you are free to argue against him and let the best idea win.
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Because the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory refuse to "let the best idea win," each member of the Church--and each student at BYU--has the responsibility to investigate the facts for himself/herself.








Thursday, October 12, 2017

B. H. Roberts edits Letter VII

Letter VII has been a problem for Book of Mormon scholars for a long time.

B. H. Roberts included it in his book Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, but he combined portions of Letter VII and Letter VIII without indicating his edits and omitted all the references to the final battles and Mormon's depository of records in the New York hill.

https://archive.org/stream/outlinesofeccles00brobe#page/314/mode/2up

It's here in the 1902 edition:

https://archive.org/stream/outlinesofeccles00crobe#page/n297/mode/2up

No wonder Roberts had his famous problems with the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Because our modern LDS scholars are also claiming Joseph and Oliver were wrong about Cumorah, they are leading members and investigators to also question the historicity of the Book of Mormon, exemplified by the fantasy map now being taught at BYU.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Closed minds at BYU

Another frequent question people ask is, why do faculty at BYU (all campuses) and affiliated groups* refuse to accept what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York in Letter VII?

Here's what you need to understand.

Those who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory don't just refuse to accept what Joseph and Oliver taught.

They won't even consider it.

And they certainly won't tell their students about it.
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The reason is that they have convinced themselves that the New York Cumorah doesn't fit their "criteria" for the Hill Cumorah.

The process goes like this:

1. Assume the Book of Mormon took place in a limited geography in Central America (an idea that originated among scholars in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now known as Community of Christ, which by now has rejected the Book of Mormon as an actual history of actual people).

2. Develop a set of criteria  such as volcanoes to place Cumorah in southern Mexico to make the geography "work" in Mesoamerica,

3. Announce that the New York site identified by Joseph, Oliver, and all of their contemporaries and successors "doesn't fit" your criteria.

4. Teach your students that all of the prophets and apostles who have taught that the Hill Cumorah was in New York were wrong. They were merely expressing their opinions, but they spoke in ignorance because PhD scholars have figured out that Cumorah is actually in Mexico.

5. Refuse to teach your students what the modern prophets and apostles have said.

6. Censor, criticize, and ridicule anyone who accepts what the modern prophets and apostles have taught.

I know this sounds absurd (and I agree it is absurd), but this is the reality.**

That's why I say, do your own research, but start with what Joseph and Oliver said in Letter VII. And then consider what all the other prophets and apostles have said. You can start here: 

At this point, I can't think of a single reason to believe these intellectuals.
_____
*Groups affiliated with BYU include Book of Mormon Central (BOMC), which has BYU faculty serving in several capacities, as you can see here: https://bookofmormoncentral.org/directory, and affiliates of BOMC, which you can see here: https://bookofmormoncentral.org/content/affiliates.
With the exception of RSC, these groups all promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. 

**As we've seen, the legal organization behind Book of Mormon Central is the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc. (BMAF), a 501 (c) 3 non-profit public charity chartered in the state of Utah in 2004. BMAF's mission statement is "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex." http://bmaf.org/about/mission_statement

Everyone associated with BOMC shares the goal of "increasing understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex." This is why they developed the "abstract map" of the Book of Mormon as a pretext for teaching the Mesoamerican interpretation of the text. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why don't the Brethren just...

One of the most common questions people ask is "Why don't the Brethren just resolve the question of Book of Mormon geography?"

There are several ways to answer that.

First, no one can speak on behalf of Church leaders. We can only go by what they've previously said and by what is in the scriptures.

Second,  the problem of Book of Mormon geography was created by the intellectuals and they're the ones that need to change course. Why should we expect the Brethren to single them out for correction?

The Brethren have always taught us to follow the Brethren. If we do, then we don't listen to the intellectuals who are trying to persuade us not to believe the ordained leaders of the Church.

If we've fallen into the trap of listening to the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, that's on us. We need to change course whether the intellectuals do or not. 

We shouldn't need the Brethren to itemize each specific item about which the intellectuals (and others) disagree with the Brethren. There are innumerable examples, of which Cumorah is only one.

Follow the Brethren.

Third, to resolve the question of Book of Mormon geography implicates two distinct elements.

     Element A. Do we have any pins in the map, meaning any locations we are sure about?

     Element B. If we do have a pin in the map, do we know for sure about other locations?

__________

Regarding Element A, we do have a pin in the map. It is the Hill Cumorah in New York. Every prophet and apostle who has spoken officially about Cumorah has affirmed that it is in New York, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference. No prophet or apostle has taught otherwise.

[NOTE: FairMormon and other proponents of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory have tried to persuade people that Harold B. Lee said we have no idea where Cumorah is. See my analysis of that FairMormon claim here:
http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/10/fairmormons-famous-harold-b-lee.html]

Why should we expect the Brethren today to reiterate what has been consistently and repeatedly taught on such a basic point?

Another way of looking at it is, how many times do Church leaders have to repeat the teaching from Oliver and Joseph that Cumorah was in New York before our LDS intellectuals will accept it?

If you read FairMormon, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, Book of Mormon Central, etc., or if you attend BYU/CES classes on the Book of Mormon, you'll find persistent rejection of what the Brethren have taught about Cumorah. 

What more do you need to know? 
__________

Regarding Element B, we don't have any official statements beyond Cumorah.

Why should we expect more clarity on this issue when our LDS intellectuals have persuaded so many member of the Church not to believe the prophets and apostles about Element A?

In my opinion, unless and until we reject the intellectuals and return to the teachings of the prophets and apostles about Cumorah, we're never going to receive more direction on Element B.

That said, each of us can take our own initiative to see what makes sense, starting with the New York Cumorah. That's what I've done with Moroni's America. Others have proposed different models based on the New York Cumorah.

Some of the Brethren in the 1800s speculated about the location of Zarahemla, the land southward, the land northward, etc., but they specified that they were speculating. They didn't know and they didn't claim to know. Unlike the New York location of Cumorah, the location of other sites was (and is) an open question.

The best-known example is probably Orson Pratt, who wrote a pamphlet in 1840 that speculated about Book of Mormon places and people in Central and South America. When Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth* letter in 1842, he apparently borrowed some of Orson's material from the pamphlet, but he completely deleted all the speculation about Central and South America. Instead, he declared that "The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

Orson Pratt ignored the correction Joseph made to his hemispheric theory.

But he didn't ignore Joseph's teaching about Cumorah.

Pratt later divided the Book of Mormon into the chapters and verses we have today, which were first published in the 1879 edition. He included footnotes about geography. The notes qualified his ideas about Central and South America ("it is believed that"), but with respect to Cumorah, he made the declarative, unambiguous and unqualified statement that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.

The New York Cumorah has been taught in General Conference by members of the First Presidency. It was taught by Joseph and Oliver in Letter VII.

That's good enough for me.

Especially now that we can see how the text describes North America with Cumorah in New York.
____

*You can see the Wentworth letter in full here: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/07/the-wentworth-letter?lang=eng. Don't use the one in the manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith because the curriculum committee, influence by the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, edited out key portions of it, including Joseph's statement that I quoted above. You can see it here: https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-38?lang=eng.

Monday, October 9, 2017

FairMormon's famous Harold B. Lee quotation

This is one of the most important posts I've made yet. It's long, but if you are a teacher in the Church, you need to understand this.

First, my normal disclaimer. I admire and respect everyone who serves others in any capacity. Our LDS scholars and educators have done a remarkable job to bring to light many important aspects of the Gospel. They help educate and motivate members of the Church throughout the world, building testimonies and faith and good works. None of what I write is intended to be disrespectful or personal. And yet, IMO, some teachings that are being promulgated undermine faith and testimony. I fully agree with President Joseph Fielding Smith when he warned that these teachings cause members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. I use this blog to document my own thoughts on the topic. I welcome input and correction of any factual or logical errors that appear here.

Now to the merits.

For years, FairMormon has tried to persuade members of the Church that Church leaders have no idea about the location of Cumorah and that they have left it up to the scholars to figure out. They cite an obscure 1966 comment by then-Elder Harold B. Lee to support their position.

Today I'm looking at the quotation in context. It's in blue below. You won't believe how ironic this is.
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To frame the issue, we need to first look at another part of Elder Lee's 1966 talk. It is the essence of the responsibility we all have as teachers in the Church. 

If you're teaching the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, consider this very, very carefully in the context of the rest of his talk, which we'll look at below.

Elder Lee was speaking at BYU, addressing Seminary and Institute personnel, when he said, "Better that a millstone be tied about your neck and you be drowned in the depths of the ocean than to offend one of our Father's little ones. You're an ideal, you're a trained teacher. And if you're disloyal in your teaching, and if you lead them astray and put poisonous thoughts in their minds, it may be the thing that will keep them from ever attaining the high place in the kingdom." (emphasis added)

Although this blog often discusses issues of Book of Mormon geography and historicity, the main point of the blog is loyalty, which happens to be the title of Elder Lee's 1966 talk.

In my view, the question of Cumorah is a question of whether we are loyal to the prophets and apostles, starting with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Can you think of a more poisonous thought than the teaching that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were "mistaken" about Cumorah being in New York? More precisely, this poisonous thought portrays them as ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah.

Yet that is what professors at BYU are currently teaching. 

This poisonous thought is the foundation beneath the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, because if Joseph and Oliver told the truth, then there is one Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) and it is in New York--which means the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is false. 

That's why anyone who still teaches the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (or BYU's fantasy map that is Mesoamerica in thin disguise) needs to seriously ponder whether you are going to continue.
__________

I'm focusing on FairMormon because while they do a tremendous amount of good in addressing important issues, they are also a repository for and advocate of the teachings about the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

FairMormon wants you to think that Church leaders, beginning with Joseph Smith, have no idea where the hill Cumorah is. 

They cite an obscure talk by Harold B. Lee from 1966, in which he said,

"Some say the Hill Cumorah was in southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther) and not in western New York. Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think? And why bother our heads trying to discover with archaeological certainty the geographical locations of the cities of the Book of Mormon like Zarahemla?"

Harold B. Lee, “Loyalty,” address to religious educators, 8 July 1966; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), 65; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 172-173.

Here's the link to the FairMormon site.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Source:Harold_B._Lee:8_Jul_1966:if_the_Lord_wanted_us_to_know_where_it_was%2C_or_where_Zarahemla_was%2C_he%E2%80%99d_have_given_us_latitude_and_longitude%2C_don%E2%80%99t_you_think%3F

Now, let's look at the context.
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The talk is titled "Loyalty." President Lee (then Elder Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve) was speaking to Seminary and Institute personnel at BYU on July 8, 1966.

The whole talk is too long to put here, but it's important to understand the context of the quotation so here's the section that includes the quotation. It's still a long passage, but if you want to understand how FairMormon is misleading its readers, you need to read the whole thing.

All the bold parts are my emphasis added. Underlinings are in the original.

This is taken from the source cited above and the typewritten 1966 version, obtained from the Church History Library, which is apparently a transcript of the talk as given instead of prepared remarks.
_____

[start of quotation]

Now you as teachers are not being sent out to teach new doctrine. You're to teach the old doctrines, not so plain that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand.
...

Now I get quite a chance to take a test of you teachers. When I'm available, we take every missionary company, after they've gone through the temple for the first time, to the fifth room [sic] and the assembly room of the temple, and there for an hour or so they're permitted to ask questions. Some of the questions they ask are some of the things that some Seminary or Institute teacher has confused them about.

Things like, "Does the Church have possession of the Urim and Thummim?" And I said I don't know. Well, then they'll name a teacher who said the Church did, and I said in answer, "Fortunately he isn't troubled with any information on that subject." And sometimes a teacher talks about what he thinks he knows and no one can refute him because no one knows anything about it--not even himself. And so he has a Roman holiday out of that area.

Another one that they frequently ask is: "Is it necessary for one to receive his second endowments to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?" And I said, "Where did you get that from?" And you know a good many of them are traced back to one teacher. In nearly every class it seems to be a pet subject of his. And I've said, "What he's told you is absolutely false. So, that's something you'll have to unlearn."

Well, these are just illustrative. I could go on. I think I could have made my whole talk on this subject. For instance, some say the Manifesto relative to plural marriage was not a revelation. And yet President Wilford Woodruff declared it was, that he wrote as the Lord dictated and told him to write. Now if that isn't a revelation I don't understand.

Some say the Hill Cumorah was in Southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther and not in Western New York. Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was or where Zarahemla was, he'd have given us latitude and longitude, don't you think? And why bother our heads trying to discover with archaeological certainty the geographical locations of the cities of the Book of Mormon like Zarahemla.

Sometimes we've had men who are somewhat in a little higher level in position than you and somewhat a little lower than the angels. They've listened to a board of education and the board would instruct those that this is what the board wants and these designing men would say, "You pay no attention to that. This is what we're going to do." The men under you will never be loyal to you if they see that you are disloyal to those who preside in authority over you. Now, you can put that down as a certainty.

We had a teacher, thank the Lord we don't have him now, but we had one who boasted that if he were teaching a class and suddenly a visitor came, he could turn to the conservative element if this was a conservative visitor or he could turn to the liberal aspect just as quickly. And he was an adroit teacher, and he fooled everybody for a long time. But he wasn't fooling his students, and finally a group of students rose up in holy horror and said, "We can no longer take this."

We've seen this thing happening again and again, and that's the most disloyal thing that you can do, to let students see you make your teaching an expediency. You're teaching one day this and one moment this and someone comes in that would criticize, and immediately you shift into low gear or high gear as the case might be. That's disloyal to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Remember that the very worst enemies that we've had are those that are within the Church. It was a Judas that betrayed the Master. It was a William Marks. It was a Frederick G. Williams and Sidney Ridgon, to some extent, and others who thought about the accusations that resulted in the death of the Prophet Joseph. Today it's the same. The greatest and worst enemies we have in the Church today are those within our ranks whom we haven't caught up with yet. 

Now I sat in with one of our teachers who was rebelling. He'd written a text to be used in the Institutes and when it was turned down and was not acceptable because it was not correct, he just campaigned and he now has such a rank apostate attitude that he declares that he doesn't believe the Church was organized as Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants says it was. He doesn't believe that Joseph Smith had the vision as he testified he had. He thinks the Book of Mormon was written by somebody, but he doesn't know who. He is irritated by things that go on in the temple and the temple endowments and so on. Now all the spleen and the ugliness of his soul comes out when he's not longer sustained as a teacher, but while he was there, how many minds he poisoned.

Better that a millstone be tied about your neck and you be drowned in the depths of the ocean than to offend one of our Father's little ones. You're an ideal, you're a trained teacher. And if you're disloyal in your teaching, and if you lead them astray and put poisonous thoughts in their minds, it may be the thing that will keep them from ever attaining the high place in the kingdom. 

Brother Berrett had done well to have our attention called to this subject of loyalty. Time doesn't permit, of course, to elaborate on these, and much more might be said.... I am sure that if you will open your minds and your hearts, remember these prime principles that we are talking about on the subject of loyalty, you'll avoid many of the pitfalls that some who have preceded you have not been able to avoid....

You are dealing as President Berrett has said with more than 130 thousand young students. They have fertile minds, and you have the chance to plant the seed that will develop into faith, into knowledge, into testimony, and into certainty and perhaps keep them clean.

[end of quotation]
_____________

With this context, let's consider the FairMormon quotation (the one in blue above).

First, it is remarkable that FairMormon resorts to this obscure 1966 statement to repudiate the explicit and consistent teachings of ordained Church leaders from Joseph and Oliver in 1835 through at least Elder Mark E. Peterson, speaking in General Conference in 1978, all of whom have affirmed that Cumorah is in New York.

Second, it's unimaginable that Elder Lee intended this isolated comment as a repudiation of these consistent teachings, especially in a talk about Loyalty--and especially in a talk not made available to general Church membership that was never published in the Ensign and never quoted by any other Church leader. If not for FairMormon's effort to justify its Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, the comment would have been long forgotten.

Third, not only is the statement obscure and isolated, but the nature of the transcript suggests that in this section of his talk Elder Lee was not reading a prepared text, but was extemporaneously giving additional examples of false teachings. That makes the wording a little ambiguous, leaving FairMormon a little room to assert its interpretation that, in fact, Elder Lee was repudiating Joseph, Oliver, and all of their contemporaries and successors.

For those three reasons alone, the prudent course would be to recognize the comment as an off-the-record, unprepared extemporaneous expression that doesn't merit in-depth analysis.

Yet FairMormon has elevated the comment to a central position on its web page and in its promotion of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

So let's consider the comment in detail. Given the imprecision of language, every reader can decide which interpretation makes the most sense in context.
___________

Notice that Elder Lee itemized four false teachings he had to deal with, things that "some Seminary or Institute teacher has confused [students] about:"

1. Does the Church have possession of the Urim and Thummim?
2. Is it necessary for one to receive his second endowments to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?
3. Some say the Manifesto relative to plural marriage was not a revelation.
4. Some say the Hill Cumorah was in Southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther) and not in Western New York.

Notice the "some say" preface to the last two false teachings. He made this clear enough that no one can misunderstand--unless they want to.

FairMormon likes to emphasize the next sentence: "Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was or where Zarahemla was, he'd have given us latitude and longitude, don't you think?"

From this, FairMormon wants us to think the location of Cumorah is unknown and has never been known; i.e., Joseph and Oliver didn't know, so when they said it was a fact that the final battles took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill Cumorah in New York, they were merely speculating. And they were wrong because the scholars have established criteria for Cumorah that don't fit New York. Which means Joseph and Oliver misled the Church for decades, since Letter VII was republished so many times.

But look at the preceding sentence again. Elder Lee identified the teaching that Cumorah is not in New York as the problem. The next sentence, as I read it, says "if Cumorah is not in New York, he would have given us the latitude and longitude."

Of course, promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory will object and say, no, he was not saying Cumorah was in New York; he was saying he didn't know, and no other leader of the Church does. Only the Mesoamerican scholars know the truth about Cumorah.

I disagree. As I read it, Elder Lee's use of the parallel "Some say" phrase shows that he was referring to the idea that Cumorah is not in New York as a false teaching, just as the idea that the Manifesto was not a revelation is a false teaching. But if this point is not plain enough from what Elder Lee said, consider this additional context.
_____

On 23 January 1970, President Joseph Fielding Smith named Harold B. Lee as First Counselor in the First Presidency.

President Smith is the one who addressed the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory in these terms:

"Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico-the isthmus of Tehauntepec probably being the "narrow neck" of land spoken of in the Book of Mormon rather than the isthmus of Panama.

"This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case."

Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3:232–243.

FairMormon wants you to think that Harold B. Lee was either unfamiliar with President Smith's teaching, or that he disagreed with it--while giving a talk about loyalty.

Seriously?

It's true that in 1966, Elder Lee did not quote President Smith's comment about the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. But he certainly alluded to it in his list of false teachings. And he included it in a list of  "things that some Seminary or Institute teacher has confused them about."

President Smith said, "This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America... Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon."

President Lee said, "Some say the Hill Cumorah was in Southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther) and not in Western New York."

If you are a teacher in the Church and you want to believe that President Lee had no idea what President Smith taught about the New York Cumorah--or that President Lee was being disloyal to what President Smith taught--you're free to do so, of course. 

But I hope you'll think carefully.
______________

There's more.

On July 7, 1972, when Elder Lee became President of the Church, he named Elder Marion G. Romney as his Second Counselor. President Lee died on December 26, 1973. Elder Spencer W. Kimball became President on December 30 and retained President Romney as his Second Counselor.

In the October 1975 General Conference, President Romney discussed the Hill Cumorah. He affirmed that the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites took place right there, in western New York.

"In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation."

For links and more info, see my blog post here:
 http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/10/more-prophets-and-apostles-for-lds.html

As I wrote above, if you are a teacher in the Church and you want to believe that President Romney had no idea what President Lee taught about the New York Cumorah--or that President Romney was being disloyal to what President Lee taught--you're free to do so, of course. 

But I hope you'll think carefully.
______________

FairMormon and other promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theories want people to believe that not only Joseph and Oliver, but other Church leaders such as President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Marion G. Romney, were merely expressing their opinions and that they were wrong. 

Why were they wrong?

Because the scholars say so.

That is what you are teaching if you continue to teach the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.
______________

Every member of the Church--every teacher in the Church--needs to decide for himself/herself if you want to parse Elder Lee's comment so as to leave it open for you to embrace the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. I think that's pretty difficult to do in the context of the unambiguous teachings of so many Church leaders, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, but people find a way to rationalize pretty much whatever they want.

Just recall what then Elder Lee warned:

"Better that a millstone be tied about your neck and you be drowned in the depths of the ocean than to offend one of our Father's little ones. You're an ideal, you're a trained teacher. And if you're disloyal in your teaching, and if you lead them astray and put poisonous thoughts in their minds, it may be the thing that will keep them from ever attaining the high place in the kingdom." 











Friday, October 6, 2017

How much deference? Prophets vs intellectuals

In General Conference last week, several speakers emphasized the importance of listening to Church leaders.

Elder Ballard: "Do not listen to those who have not been ordained and/or set apart to their Church calling and are not acknowledged by common consent of the members of the Church."

President Eyring: "it takes faith to believe that the resurrected Lord is watching over the daily details of His kingdom. It takes faith to believe that He calls imperfect people into positions of trust. It takes faith to believe that He knows the people He calls perfectly, both their capacities and their potential, and so makes no mistakes in His calls."

Elder Oaks: "Converted Latter-day Saints believe that the family proclamation, issued nearly a quarter century ago and now translated into scores of languages, is the Lord’s reemphasis of the gospel truths we need to sustain us through current challenges to the family."

Elder Anderson: "general conference is one of the very important times He gives direction to His Church and to us personally.... In the commotion and confusion of our modern world, trusting and believing in the words of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve is vital to our spiritual growth and endurance.... We should not be alarmed when the words of the Lord’s servants run counter to the thinking of the world and, at times, our own thinking. It has always been this way."
______

To these I would add D&C 30:1-3:

1 Behold, I say unto you, David, that you have feared man and have not relied on me for strength as you ought.

2 But your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been called; and you have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you, but have been persuaded by those whom I have not commanded.


3 Wherefore, you are left to inquire for yourself at my hand, and ponder upon the things which you have received.
_____

We ought to ask ourselves, are we persuaded by those who are set over us (those who are ordained) or by those whom the Lord has not commanded?

How much deference do we give to the ordained leaders of the Church?
_____

Because this blog focuses on Book of Mormon geography and historicity, we often contrast the teachings of the prophets and apostles with the teachings of the intellectuals regarding the Hill Cumorah.

Not all intellectuals are the same, of course. Many LDS scholars and educators accept what the ordained leaders of the Church have taught about Cumorah; i.e., that the hill in New York where Joseph found the plates is the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6. 

This means that hill in New York is the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites and the location of Mormon's depository of Nephite records.

But other LDS intellectuals who promote the Meosamerican/two-Cumorahs theory are trying to persuade you that the ordained leaders of the Church are wrong.

For example, about six months after having been ordained as Assistant President of the Church by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery wrote Letter VII in which he unequivocally declared it was a fact that the final battles took place in the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Joseph Smith helped write these letters and endorsed them on multiple occasions. They were widely republished in Church magazines and quoted by Joseph's contemporaries and successors who were ordained leaders of the Church.

Here are some of the ordained leaders who have confirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah: Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, Anthony Ivins, LeGrand Richards, Marion G. Romney, Mark E. Peterson. Some of these spoke about the New York Cumorah in General Conference in their capacity as members of the First Presidency.

But some of our LDS scholars and educators, including some at BYU right now, teach the students that these prophets and apostles were wrong.

See, for example, this map that puts Cumorah in a fantasy land instead of in New York.


Or look at the home page of BYU Studies that puts Cumorah in southern Mexico.

https://byustudies.byu.edu/

Or look at the way FairMormon teaches the prophets and apostles were wrong, without even showing their readers what they said:

"Since the 1950s, opinion among Book of Mormon scholars has increasingly trended toward the realization that the Nephite Cumorah and the Hill in New York cannot be the same."

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Where_is_the_Hill_Cumorah%3F

FairMormon won't tell readers that in 1975 and 1978, in General Conference, the New York Cumorah was reaffirmed despite what the scholars were teaching.

One would think that the consistent teachings of the ordained leaders of the Church, from 1835 (Letter VII) through 1975, would answer the question, but the intellectuals continue to teach that the ordained leaders were wrong, and because of their position of influence at BYU, teaching thousands of LDS youth, their ideas have largely prevailed among the Saints.

Fortunately, when presented with the teachings of the ordained leaders of the Church, most LDS people side with the leaders.

But LDS intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory don't want members of the Church to know what the ordained leaders have said. 

That's why you'll never read what they actually taught if you read FairMormon, BYU Studies, the Interpeter, etc.

And that's why you won't learn what they taught if you attend BYU.

Instead, you'll learn a fantasy map designed as a ruse to teach the Mesoamerican interpretation of the text.
_____

So how much deference is due to the prophets and apostles? 

Think about that and we'll discuss it more in upcoming days and weeks.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BYU Studies and Mesomania

People ask why I include BYU Studies in my list of Mesomania publications.

To be clear, I love BYU Studies. I have years' worth of issues on my shelves. I use it all the time. Most of the articles are exceptionally well written and edited. And it rarely ventures into the realm of Book of Mormon geography.

However, right on its splash page, https://byustudies.byu.edu/, there are links to Mesomania materials and maps.*

If/when BYU Studies decides to offer its readers a fair and reasonable explanation that there are alternative proposals that actually support and corroborate the prophets and apostles instead of rejecting them, then we can consider it a responsible journal with respect to this topic. 

So far, that hasn't happened.
_______________

Look at this one, for example. It shows a map of Mexico as the "plausible" location of Cumorah:



To see it, click on this link:
and then this one:
https://byustudies.byu.edu/charts/159-plausible-locations-final-battles

Explanation on the web site:
Though evidence from the Book of Mormon is not conclusive, final battles of the Nephites and the Jaredites probably took place not far north of the narrow neck of land. As shown, the Nephites marched from Angola, through David, and eventually came to the city of Joshua (see Mormon 2:4–6). Nephite defense lines lay in Joshua for fourteen years; finally they collapsed, and Nephites retreated across the narrow neck of land, fleeing to various sites (see Mormon 2:16). The hill Ramah/Cumorah, upon which both the Jaredites and Nephites fought their last battles (see Ether 15:11; Mormon 6:4–6), is shown here on the northwestern edge of the Tuxtla Mountains in Mexico, about ninety miles from a narrow pass (see Mormon 3:5). Other Jaredite locations, including Omer's flight to Ramah (see Ether 9:3), are also shown here. Again, these locations are plausible, but not definite.
______________

This map and explanation tells every reader that Cumorah in New York is not "plausible," which means Joseph and Oliver were wrong when they wrote and endorsed and repeatedly republished Letter VII.

It means every prophet and apostle who has spoken about Cumorah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, was wrong.

All because of Mesomania.
______________

BYU Studies doesn't have to take a position on Book of Mormon geography, but it does. 

If it followed the Church's policy on neutrality, BYU Studies would offer readers an alternative to consider.

It could show maps of a proposed geography such as Moroni's America that shows Cumorah in New York and thereby corroborates and supports what Joseph and Oliver and all their contemporaries and successors taught.

It's true that there are hundreds of different maps and it would be impractical to show them all. But really, the maps boil down to two categories:

1. Cumorah in New York (Joseph and Oliver and their contemporaries and successors)
2. Cumorah anywhere but New York (various LDS scholars)

For whatever reason, BYU Studies has so far told its readers only about the non-New York Cumorah scenario. It features this on its main page as if there are no viable alternatives.

I remain hopeful that someday, BYU Studies will trust its readers enough to offer them an alternative view that puts Cumorah in New York and fully explains all the geographical verses in the text. 
______________

* scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see this:



Monday, October 2, 2017

Do you listen to LDS leaders or LDS intellectuals?

General Conference left us all with lots to think about, but one issue seems especially relevant to this blog.

Do we listen to LDS leaders or LDS intellectuals?

On this and other blogs, I've documented the numerous specific affirmations by modern prophets and apostles of what Joseph and Oliver taught; i.e., that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.

The promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Intepreter, Meridian Magazine, etc., keep insisting the modern prophets and apostles were and are wrong.

I can't think of a worse example of a set of LDS scholars seeking to impeach the prophets and apostles of the Restoration by resorting to nothing but their own private opinions.

I've blogged about this before, but I want to make a brief comment again to focus on Elder Ballard's talk.
________________

Yesterday afternoon, Elder Ballard gave a powerful talk on where our footsteps in life take us. Here's an excerpt from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/talk-summaries-sunday-afternoon?cid=HP_SA_23-9-2017_dGC_fBCAST_xLIDyL2-1_&lang=eng

We must be careful where our footsteps in life take us. …
  • Today I repeat earlier counsel from Church leaders. Brothers and sisters, keep the doctrine of Christ pure and never be deceived by those who tamper with the doctrine. …
  • Do not listen to those who have not been ordained or set apart to their Church calling and are acknowledged by common consent of the members of the Church.
______________

The overall question of Book of Mormon geography has not been settled. The Church is neutral and a variety of opinions have been expressed.

But the location of Cumorah in New York has been settled from the beginning of the Restoration. 

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught it unequivocally. All of Joseph's contemporaries accepted it.

Every modern prophet and apostle who has addressed the issue has affirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught; i.e., that Cumorah was the location of Moroni's stone box containing the plates, the scene of the final battles and the location of Mormon's depository (Mormon 6:6) and it is in New York.

This includes members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

By contrast, LDS intellectuals teach that the "real" Hill Cumorah is in Mexico, that the hill in New York "cannot be" the "real" Hill Cumorah because it doesn't satisfy their list of imaginary "requirements," and that therefore all the modern prophets and apostles who have supported what Joseph and Oliver taught were speculating and were wrong.

For more, see some of my previous comments on this topic:

E.g., http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/10/prophets-vs-scholars.html

http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/solving-cumorah.html

http://bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com/2016/12/burden-of-proof-and-lds-scholars.html

And speaking of footsteps, consider what course we're on:

http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-wrong-course-fairmormon-takes.html

Only known Nephite cement is in New York, not Mesoamerica

I'm getting questions about cement, so I'll repeat what I've said about one of my favorite "Kno-Whys" of all time.

The Temple of the Inscriptions, built hundreds of years after Book of Mormon times--
Mesomania in all its glory
You can see it here: https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/when-did-cement-become-common-in-ancient-america

I blogged about it before: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/cement.html. I have a few more comments below, but first, let's talk about the only known instance of Nephite cement.
_________

The only known Nephite cement was the cement that Moroni used when he built the stone box for the plates, as described by Joseph and Oliver.

Unless by now the Mesomaniacs have talked themselves into disbelieving what Joseph and Oliver said about the box, even they have to admit that Moroni used Nephite cement in New York. There is no other instance of Nephite cement that we can identify with 100% confidence.

"The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement." Joseph Smith-History 1:52.

Oliver Cowdery (who, according to Book of Mormon Central, was an ignorant speculator so you won't find this in any of their no-wise) described the situation on the Hill Cumorah this way:

"First, a hole of sufficient depth, (how deep I know not) was dug. At the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface being smooth. At each edge was placed a large quantity of cement, and into this cement, at the four edges of this stone, were placed, erect, four others, their bottom edges resting in the cement at the outer edges of the first stone. The four last named, when placed erect, formed a box, the corners, or where the edges of the four came in contact, were also cemented so firmly that the moisture from without was prevented from entering. It is to be observed, also, that the inner surface of the four erect, or side stones was smoothe. This box was sufficiently large to admit a breast-plate, such as was used by the ancients to defend the chest, &c. from the arrows and weapons of their enemy. From the bottom of the box, or from the breast-plate, arose three small pillars composed of the same description of cement used on the edges; and upon these three pillars was placed the record of the children of Joseph, and of a people who left the tower far, far before the days of Joseph, or a sketch of each..."

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/95

This was in New York, not Mesoamerica.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Moroni knew how to work with cement in New York; he and his father Mormon wrote the Book of Mormon while they lived in what is now New York. Moroni told Joseph that the record was "written and deposited not far from" his home.

_______________

The fun part about this no-wise is how the Book of Mormon never mentions the people building with stone (except one wall in Alma 48:8). They built with wood and with wood and cement.

Helaman 3:11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.

That's right. Wood. Cement.

Not stone.

And yet, all the evidence cited by the no-wise involves ancient Central Americans building with stone and cement.

This might seem like nitpicking, but it's an essential difference. If we're looking for the Book of Mormon culture described by the text, we're not looking for a culture that built with massive stones, engraved their history on stella, etc.

In fact, in a thousand years of history, exactly one engraved stone is even mentioned (Omni 1:20), and that was because its uniqueness made it so remarkable. And it wasn't even a Nephite or Lamanite who engraved it.

We're looking for a culture that built with earth and wood, primarily. They only used cement when they needed to let timber grow, because they preferred to build with timber. Only in one instance, Helaman 3, (again, so unusual it deserved special mention) with wood and cement.

IOW, the "cement" requirement describes ancient North American culture and excludes ancient Central American culture.

Of course the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs advocates cite "cement" as a "correspondence" between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica. I'd like to know of any human society that did not use a material that could be called "cement." It's another illusory correspondence, designed to support the rejection of what Joseph and Oliver taught about Cumorah in New York.
_______________

You can see archaeological reconstructions of ancient wood and cement structures at museums in Ohio.

And they are houses, just as the Book of Mormon describes.

Naturally, we don't expect much, if any, Nephite cement to exist today. Even modern cement doesn't last a long time where there is freezing and thawing.

Notice that Moroni knew this when he buried his stone box into the hill Cumorah and kept the moisture from entering.

We all wish Joseph or Oliver had kept a sample of Moroni's cement. But at least they left us this detailed account of it.

Which, in any rational world, would be enough evidence to tell us where the Book of Mormon actually took place.

_______________

Here's another perspective: http://www.bookofmormonpromisedland.com/nephite%20cement.htm


Friday, September 29, 2017

Conference thoughts - President Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson focused on the Book of Mormon when he became President of the Church. In October, 1988, the last conference at which he personally spoke, he gave the classic sermon, "Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon."


This has been a landmark year in the history of the Church in the use of the keystone of our religion—the Book of Mormon. This sacred volume of scripture has brought more souls to Christ, both within and without the Church, than ever before....

The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to “sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect.” (Moses 7:62.) This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work...

The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of the electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.
We have the Book of Mormon, we have the members, we have the missionaries, we have the resources, and the world has the need. The time is now!
My beloved brothers and sisters, we hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved.
Now, my good Saints, we have a great work to perform in a very short time. We must flood the earth with the Book of Mormon—and get out from under God’s condemnation for having treated it lightly. (See D&C 84:54–58.)
I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.
I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.
Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.
I do not know fully why God has preserved my life to this age, but I do know this: That for the present hour He has revealed to me the absolute need for us to move the Book of Mormon forward now in a marvelous manner. You must help with this burden and with this blessing which He has placed on the whole Church, even all the children of Zion.
Moses never entered the promised land. Joseph Smith never saw Zion redeemed. Some of us may not live long enough to see the day when the Book of Mormon floods the earth and when the Lord lifts His condemnation. (See D&C 84:54–58.) But, God willing, I intend to spend all my remaining days in that glorious effort. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
_______________

A lot of people are doing a lot of work to fulfill President Benson's vision.

Unfortunately, the greatest impediment is coming from within the Church, from LDS scholars and educators who continue to insist that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were wrong about Cumorah being in New York. 

They continue to teach the youth that all the modern prophets and apostles who affirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught were wrong.

Until this issue gets resolved, President Benson's challenge to flood the Earth with the Book of Mormon will continue to be muddled in confusion, disruption, fantasy maps (like the one they're using at BYU) and other disasters.