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.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Read Letter VII

I hope every member of the Church reads Letter VII during 2016. (We're having it translated for non-English speakers. Let me know if you'd like it in your language.)

If you haven't read Letter VII, you owe it to yourself to do so ASAP. If your family and friends haven't read it, tell them about it.

Much of the controversy over Book of Mormon geography would be resolved if everyone read Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII. (This is the letter that unequivocally states, as a fact, that the hill in New York was the scene of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites.) You can find it online here, but there's a lot of detail to go through if you read all the letters at that link. They're all great, but most people don't have time to wade through them all.

My short annotated version is widely available in bookstores (including Deseret Book) and on Amazon and Kindle. You can also read it free online at Book of Mormon Central here.

When you read the letter, remember these points:

1. Joseph Smith helped to write it.

2. Oliver Cowdery was his scribe for the Book of Mormon and much more.

3. Letter VII is one of 8 letters Cowdery wrote about Church history, and an excerpt from one is included in the Pearl of Great Price at the end of Joseph Smith-History here.

4. The letters contain details only Joseph Smith (and Moroni) could have known.

5. Joseph Smith had his scribes copy the letters into his journal as part of his own history.

6. The letters were published in the Messenger and Advocate (the Kirtland equivalent of today's Ensign) in 1834-5, the Times and Seasons (the Nauvoo equivalent of the Ensign) in 1841, and the Gospel Reflector (an independent Mormon paper in Philadelphia) in 1841) as well as in a separate pamphlet in the UK in 1844. During Joseph's lifetime, most members of the Church were familiar with the letters, including Letter VII.

7. The letters, including letter VII, were used to compile the official history that is now in the Pearl of Great Price as Joseph Smith-History.


In light of these facts, ask yourself why the Mesoamerican advocates continue to reject Letter VII. Is it because it is not reliable, or because it contradicts their ideology?

Read it and see what you think.

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