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, 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.


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."


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.

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