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, March 22, 2018

M2C technique 1. Suppressing and censoring the words of the prophets.

The other day I listed five techniques used by M2C* intellectuals to advance their theories. I was going to summarize them in one post, but instead I'm breaking it up into five shorter posts.

By using these techniques, the M2C intellectuals are systematically dismantling the best evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon--evidence consistently taught by modern prophets. 

The M2C intellectuals are leaving members (and investigators) with a choice between 

(i) a delusional Mesoamerican setting based on illusory "correspondences" between Mayan culture and the M2C interpretation of the text of the Book of Mormon, and 

(ii) the fantasy map setting currently being taught by CES/BYU that portrays the Book of Mormon as fiction.

This is a choice no member of the Church (or investigator) should have to make, because both choices repudiate the teachings of the prophets. Nevertheless, that's what is going on.

Let's see how this is being accomplished.

Technique 1. Suppressing and censoring the words of the prophets. 

The M2C intellectuals know that most members of the Church would accept the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah if they knew about these teachings. The intellectuals solve this potential risk to M2C by suppressing and censoring the words of the prophets.

This is not a new tactic. Like the M2C intellectuals, the Lamanites were constantly seeking to destroy the records of the teachings of the prophets.

Enos observed of the Lamanites that "they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers." (Enos 1:14)

Mormon wrote, "having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord." 
(Mormon 6:6)

Today, it is the M2C intellectuals who seek to destroy the records of the teachings of the prophets about the New York Hill Cumorah.

Recall that when Joseph Smith was alive, everyone knew Cumorah was in New York because Letter VII was so widely re-published in Church publications. The New York Cumorah was taught in Articles of Faith, the book by James E. Talmage that was published by the Church itself. It was taught in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards. These books were included in the approved reading list for missionaries.

In the 1930s, when M2C was first advocated, Apostle and Church Historian Joseph Fielding Smith observed that M2C sought to put Cumorah in Central America "notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years." Notice, he said "the teachings of the Church," not the isolated musings or speculative opinion of Oliver Cowdery. President Smith reiterated that observation when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The New York Cumorah was specifically taught in General Conference several times, including in 1975 and 1978.

Alma wrote, "it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways." (Alma 37:8) Letter VII and the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah would serve the same purpose today if they were well-known to Church members.

In recent years, however, references to the New York Cumorah have been purged from Church media, curriculum, visitors centers etc.

Pre-1981: Mormon and Moroni
together at he New York Cumorah
Post 1981:
Moroni alone in New York
For example, starting in 1961, the missionary editions of the Book of Mormon included photos of the hill Cumorah in New York and the Arnold Friberg painting of Mormon and Moroni together on the Hill Cumorah in New York.

In 1981, these illustrations were replaced replaced with the painting of Moroni alone at the hill, putting the plates in the stone box, which fits the M2C narrative.

I discussed this change in more detail here:

Look through recent LDS publications and see if you can find any references to Letter VII or the New York hill Cumorah. Go through the visitors centers and search for the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. You won't find them anywhere.

The Missionary Department deleted Articles of Faith and A Marvelous Work and a Wonder from the approved reading list.

BYU fantasy map of the
Book of Mormon
The New York Cumorah has been purged from Seminary and Institute manuals, replaced with the fantasy map of the Book of Mormon that depicts the scriptures as fictional.

BYU has done the same. Students at BYU taking the required Book of Mormon classes learn the fantasy map but never hear about Letter VII or the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. If they ask about the New York Cumorah, they are told those teachings are merely the "opinions" of the prophets, but those opinions are wrong because the scholars know better.

Most teachers throughout the Church, from Primary through Gospel Doctrine, will give the same answers if asked about Letter VII because they get their information from BYU Studies, FairMormon, Meridian Magazine, and the rest of the M2C citation cartel.

Consequently, future generations will have no idea how consistently and specifically the prophets taught that Cumorah was in New York.

But it is not only the New York Cumorah that is being suppressed and censored. Another egregious example is the lesson manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church--Joseph Smith. I've explained before how the Curriculum Committee deleted key passages from the Wentworth letter because these passages refute M2C. See here.

Future generations of Church members will refer primarily to this lesson manual to learn what Joseph Smith taught. Even if they notice the edits, most will never inquire about what was deleted.

I discussed the importance of this omission here: http://www.lettervii.com/2016/08/letter-vii-in-histories-volume-1.html

In the age of the Internet, the systematic M2C effort to suppress and censor Letter VII is doomed to fail. 

While the M2C suppression efforts mean that fewer and fewer members of the Church will learn at Church what the prophets have taught about the New York Hill Cumorah, they will learn about it through other means. Letter VII is in the Joseph Smith Papers. The conference reports are available online. Articles of Faith and A Marvelous Work and a Wonder are still available.

In mere seconds, Internet searches reveal the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah that people no longer learn in Church.

The M2C censorship initiatives are counterproductive. They feed the narrative that the Church hides its history.

The tragedy of this is, the New York Cumorah is consistent with archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography, and the words of the text of the Book of Mormon itself. 

Suppressing the words of the prophets is a serious problem in principle, but it is aggravated in this case because the M2C intellectuals are replacing the words of the prophets with their own M2C ideology.

When we compare the teachings of the prophets with the teachings of the M2C intellectuals, we should remember what President Benson taught:

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to his prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. … We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet and you’ll be blessed and time will show you have done the right thing...

The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet. …

… The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him.

*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that claims the New York Cumorah is a false tradition while the "real" Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 and the hill Ramah of Ether 15:11 is somewhere in southern Mexico. The two-Cumorahs theory is necessary for the limited Mesoamerican geography promoted by CES/BYU and Church staff, which has never been taught by the prophets. Instead, M2C contradicts the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

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