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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The land of peace

In Ohio in 1830, a man named John Corrill heard about Mormon missionaries coming through his county. Someone gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon  He was skeptical. When he heard the missionaries had encountered the Campbellites in Kirtland, he was confident the missionaries would be sent on their way. Instead, most of the Campbellites were converted.

Upon hearing this, Corrill went to Kirtland and sought an argument with Oliver Cowdery, who refused. Instead he visited Sidney Rigdon, who "observed that he was now beyond the land of contention, and had got into the land of peace."

That's how I feel about the question of Book of Mormon geography. I hope everyone reading this blog has moved beyond the land of contention, into the land of peace.

There's really nothing to contend about.

It is simple.

It's just a choice.

People either accept Letter VII or they don't.

If they accept what Oliver Cowdery wrote, they enter the land of peace because when they accept the New York Cumorah, they realize everything else makes sense. They realize why Joseph adopted Letter VII as part of his own story, why he wrote to Emma about the plains of the Nephites, why he told the Great Lakes and Plains Indians that their fathers wrote the Book of Mormon and that they were the remnant of Father Lehi. They realize why Joseph wrote about Cumorah in D&C 128. They realize why the messenger David Whitmer met in 1829 said he was going to Cumorah. They realize why Oliver and others told Brigham Young about the room full of Nephite records and other artifacts that was in the Hill Cumorah. They realize why David and Oliver said the records had been moved from Cumorah.

If they reject Letter VII, it doesn't matter what else they believe about the geography issue.*

When I started this blog two years ago, I knew about the room in the hill Cumorah. There were a lot of other details to sort through, however, including the Times and Seasons articles and the many articles written by the LDS publications I've discussed here. I've tried to explain why I accept what Oliver and the others said and wrote about Cumorah, while also assessing the arguments and evidence presented by those who want people to reject what these early Brethren said and wrote.

I still hope that someday, the LDS publications I've discussed here will allow members of the Church to read about Letter VII and make an informed choice whether to accept or reject it. So far, only Book of Mormon Central has even made it available to its readers. Kudos to them.

In the meantime, I hope everyone reading this blog has read Letter VII and has told others about it.

It's pretty nice here in the land of peace.



NOTE: The story of John Corrill can be found in the Joseph Smith papers here. Among other things, Corrill noted that the 1830 missionaries, a group that included Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt, "had with them a new revelation, which they said had been translated from certain golden plates that had been deposited in a hill, (anciently called Cumorah,) in the township of Manchester, Ontario County, New York."

This is another example of how, as early as 1830, the missionaries were telling people the hill in New York was "anciently called Cumorah." The name was not a "late recollection" or a "tradition" started by unknown people.


* At the risk of being labeled contentious, I'll summarize some of the information I've gleaned since I started this blog. This list is not comprehensive. Based on published material, I conclude that people who reject Letter VII rationalize the evidence away. They claim that Joseph didn't know where the Book of Mormon events took place and merely speculated when he did write about it. They claim that Oliver "speculated" about Cumorah (that's a euphemism, really, because Oliver claimed it was a fact, which, if it wasn't true, means he lied). They claim that "if" Oliver was telling the truth about the room in the Hill Cumorah, he was relating a vision (and they ignore Brigham's statement that others also spoke about the room). They claim that David Whitmer conflated his memory about the messenger referring to Cumorah with a vague tradition about the name that was supposedly started by unknown persons at an unknown time. I'm not sure how they handle this, but I infer they also think David and Oliver made up the idea that the records had been moved from Cumorah, but was not far from that place (in New York).

In my view, rejecting Letter VII fulfills the words of Joseph Fielding Smith on this topic. How could people not be disturbed and confused when they are told by LDS scholars and teachers and professors that they should believe some of what Oliver said, but not all of it?

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