long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mistake on lds.org needs to be corrected

If there's anyone from the Church Media Department reading this, (or if any readers know someone who works there), I'm asking you to correct a mistake on lds.org.

This painting represents Christ visiting people throughout the Americas--no problem at all. The official title of the painting is "Jesus Teaching in the Western Hemisphere (Jesus Christ Visits the Americas), by John Scott."

The painting is a melange or mixture of a variety of locations, with both Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu in the background. The damaged temple setting postdates Book of Mormon time frames.

Again, no problem. It's conceptual, not historically or geographically accurate. The scriptures support the idea that Christ visited people everywhere, including throughout the Americas. (One could argue the painting is misleading because nothing from North America is shown, but I like to think the clouds are from North America.) 


The painting is only a problem when it is incorrectly titled "Christ visiting (or teaching) the Nephites" instead of "Christ visits the Americas." Apparently some people in the Church Media department don't recognize the difference. Look at this link to the painting: https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/christ-teaching-nephites-39665?lang=eng.

The language in the link incorrectly names the painting, but worse, it contradicts the official Church policy of neutrality on Book of Mormon geography. Because nothing in this painting reflects a North American setting, titling the painting as "Christ teaching the Nephites" conveys a particular geography; i.e., it teaches that the Nephites lived in Central America (the obscure homage to Peru notwithstanding, because few people recognize that anyway).

Correcting the link should be relatively easy.

While you're at it, please also correct the information at https://www.lds.org/children/resources/topics/jesus-christ-visits?lang=eng. The title of the page is fine, but the artwork in the links depicts Christ visiting the Nephites in Mesoamerica exclusively, contrary to the official Church policy of neutrality.

Artwork such as this creates and reinforces historical narratives that are misleading if not properly titled and explained. This article in the October 2015 explains the problem with historically inaccurate paintings.

Long ago, Joseph Fielding Smith explained that because of the two-Cumorah theory on which the Mesoamerican geography depends, "some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon." Correcting the references to this painting to eliminate any mention that it depicts Christ visiting the Nephites will help avoid the problems President Smith identified.


  1. GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!

    Last time I visited the basement of the SLC Visitor's Center I was concerned about the diorama presented there also -- but now I can't remember, for sure, if it specifies "Nephites."

  2. GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!

    Last time I visited the basement of the SLC Visitor's Center I was concerned about the diorama presented there also -- but now I can't remember, for sure, if it specifies "Nephites."

  3. I'm not a believer in any pictures of deity actually because it is a violation of the 2nd commandment. But that being said if a picture were to be painted of the Nephites it should be in South America. There you will find all of the evidence that fit the scriptures perfectly.

    South America was mostly under water until the time of the death of Christ. The narrow neck was located at the Gulf of Guayaquil. The Amazon basin was under water at that time by a shallow sea. The distance from the gulf to the east sea (Atlantic) was a day and a half journey or about 75 miles. Perhaps the best picture would be that of Samuel on the wall of Zarahemla which now are the ruins of Pachacamac in Peru. The wall still exists along with the Temple of the Sun(Son) as it is called by the locals. The city is located near the sea west (Pacific Ocean) and this is where the Mulakites landed. So it all fits. The idea that the land of Zarahemla is found along the Mississippi River doesn't fit the scriptures at all and should be rejected by any thinking person. Would love to see a real picture of Samuel on that wall in Peru where it all took place. Ira