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, October 27, 2016

In their own words

I think most members of the Church don't know what LDS scholars are actually teaching.

We're about to rectify that.

Starting today, my youtube channel features two series. One is titled "In Their Own Words" that shows you exactly what is being taught. The other is "How to find Mesomania in..." that shows you how to assess the various scholarly sources on the Internet.

It's an eye-opener, for sure.

Thanks to Mesomania, nearly every member of the Church has had Meosamerica imprinted on his/her mind from childhood. The Arnold Friberg paintings are a big part of this, but the Mesoamerican theory has been taught from Primary through Institute. It's what is still being taught at BYU campuses, albeit not as overtly as in the past. Mesomania has even been featured in the Ensign.

This is not the fault of the thousands of faithful, diligent teachers in the Church. For starters, none of them have been taught about what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery actually wrote about the Hill Cumorah in Letter VII.

Go to lds.org and google "Letter VII" and you'll see what I mean.

[You'll get one result from the August 1990 Ensign in connection with Oliver Cowdery's discussion of Moroni's visit. You have to go to the bottom of the article and click on "Show references" to see it. It's in footnote 4, and it's a reference to the Messenger and Advocate. Unless you know how to do Church history research (and I show you how on youtube, here), you'll never find the original. Here's a link to my video explaining how to go through these steps. Go to 2:48 to start with lds.org.]

Fortunately, you can search for "Letter VII" in the Joseph Smith papers and read it directly from Joseph's own history!

For whatever reason, LDS scholars and CES staff have successfully conveyed a false impression that the Church endorses a Mesoamerican setting, to the point that when faithful members of the Church want to discuss a North American setting, they are silenced, shunned, and ridiculed.

This behavior is unacceptable.

I'm going to provide some "ammunition" for those who are being treated this way.

If Mesoamerican advocates want to promote their ideas, fine. But they need to be up front in what they're really teaching, and they need to stop treating alternative perspectives--especially the statements of Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith--as if they are apostate.

That sounds strong, but people keep telling me that this is still going on. If you believe the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) is in New York, and you make that comment in your Sunday School, Seminary, Institute, or BYU class, chances are good that you will be rebuked or silenced. It's unbelievable, but try it and see what happens.

You're not offering your views to start an argument, but simply to explain what you believe. If necessary, you can emphasize that the Mesoamerican setting, based on the two-Cumorahs theory, is not Church doctrine and does not reflect Church policy, but we don't want to argue with anyone. We want to educate them, and let them think whatever they want, no problem.

But the ongoing suppression of Letter VII needs to end.

It's quite strange that it's okay for people to give firesides in chapels about Mesoamerica but not about the North American setting. Think about that one.

To be clear, I'm not saying that I think the Mesoamerican theory should also be suppressed.

In fact, I favor more exposure of the Mesoamerican position. I'd like everyone in the Church to compare the North American setting to the Mesoamerican setting. That's why I put a comparison table in my book, Mesomania. And on my consensus blog, here.

I think most members of the Church will be shocked to discover what has been going on for the last few decades in the academic realm of Book of Mormon geography.

It's not just that so many LDS scholars and CES staff have explicitly rejected Joseph Fielding Smith's views on this issue. I'm all in favor of academic freedom; people can believe and teach whatever they want.

But anyone who teaches in the Church has a very serious responsibility. Anyone who teaches the Book of Mormon and doesn't at least inform students about Letter VII, IMO, is doing the students a disservice.

Aside from the suppression of that important Church history, it is where the two-Cumorahs theories are leading the teachers--and their students--that is the more serious problem.

 In addition to many websites, here are some of the books and articles we're going to go through.


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