We love everyone involved with Book of Mormon Central and share their stated objectives of sharing the gospel. However, we think their single-minded focus on the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) undermines their mission and contradicts the Church's policy of neutrality. Here, we explain why. They could fix the problem by recognizing that many members of the Church still believe what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, but they refuse to do so.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The philosophies of men
[Note: while I'm out of the country, we're re-posting the most popular posts from the last few years]
BYU "abstract map" used by BYU faculty to teach students that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah and that students should believe philosophies of BYU professors, mingled with scripture (as interpreted by those same BYU professors) Go to http://bom.byu.edu/.
Today I want to look at what is really being taught about Cumorah in our Visitors' Centers, at BYU/CES, in the Joseph Smith Papers, etc.
I don't know of a better description than this: what is being taught about Cumorah are the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.
The Book of Mormon itself warns us of this danger.
O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not... But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-29).
The entire premise of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) consists of M2C intellectuals setting aside the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah, supposing they know of themselves.
The M2C intellectuals think they are wise--wiser than the prophets and apostles. They have persuaded their students for decades that they (the intellectuals) are wise, while the prophets and apostles are naive speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York.
Now those trusting students themselves have become teachers at BYU/CES, historians, Church employees who set up the displays in the Visitors Centers, etc.
The M2C intellectuals are familiar with 2 Nephi 9:28. They teach it to their students and profess to believe it. They just don't apply it to themselves.
Instead, their confirmation bias is so strong that they honestly believe they are not setting aside the teachings of the prophets because, according to them, the prophets never taught that Cumorah was in New York.
Of course, that's walking in darkness at noon day. Letter VII and all the confirming teachings of the prophets and apostles are as plain as word can be. Yet, the intellectuals are imposing their falsehoods on the entire Church through their journals and publications, the Visitors Centers, the curriculum, the media, etc.
To confirm their M2C bias, they have invented a Church history narrative that not only is unsupported by historical documents and accounts, but outright contradicts them. This imaginary Church history is being taught at the North Visitors Center on Temple Square, as discussed here:
It's one thing for the Visitors Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to mislead people about what happened far away in New York, but they have replicated this exhibit in the Visitors Center at the Hill Cumorah in New York!
The thousands of visitors to the Hill Cumorah in New York are taught that the hill is important only because Joseph found the plates there.
Nothing in the Cumorah Visitors Center tells visitors (or missionaries) what the prophets and apostles have taught about that sacred location, apart from Moroni's stone box. Instead, the exhibits and artwork teach M2C.
Visitors are never taught about Mormon's depository or the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites.
This display of the "New York hill" (they refuse to call it Cumorah) shows Moroni burying the plates, along with the Liahona and the sword of Laban.
It's absurd on many levels. First, Joseph and Oliver each described the contents of Moroni's stone box in detail: plates, breastplate and interpreters. No one ever said the stone box contained the Liahona and/or the sword of Laban.
This exhibit is pure fiction.
The exhibit is accompanied by a film that actually depicts Moroni putting the Liahona and the sword of Laban into the stone box.
We're supposed to believe that Joseph either (i) carried these objects home, and then to Harmony, and then to Fayette, all without anyone else ever seeing or commenting about them; or (ii) left them in the stone box for several years, where all the people looking for treasure never found them.
Neither scenario is plausible, to say the least.
We all wonder, "Why would Church historians and media employees create this false narrative?"
The answer: M2C.
If the Visitors Center displays depicted the words of the prophets instead of the words of the intellectuals, we'd see Mormon's depository (Mormon 6:6) and Moroni's stone box in the same hill. This is what Joseph, Oliver, and all of their contemporaries and successors have taught.
It would look something such as this:
Instead, we get the false narrative that missionaries are forced to teach, even when they know it makes no sense. Members are confused. Investigators find it absurd.
No one actually believes Joseph found the Liahona and the sword of Laban in Moroni's stone box.
THIS NARRATIVE RAISES DOUBTS ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE ON DISPLAY IN THESE VISITORS CENTERS.
We return to the question,"Why would Church historians and media employees create this false narrative?"
The reason is the interplay between M2C and D&C 17:1, which promised the Three Witnesses this:
Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea.
A basic tenet of M2C dogma is that Mormon's depository is the "real Cumorah," somewhere in southern Mexico. But the Three Witnesses testified they saw the plates in New York, near the Whitmer home in Fayette. The M2C intellectuals claim these witnesses also saw the other artifacts when the angel showed them the plates near Fayette. Therefore, the M2C intellectuals claim, the other artifacts had to also be in Moroni's stone box.
See how convoluted your dogma gets once you reject the prophets and apostles? This is what we get when we mingle the philosophies of men with scripture.
The prophets and apostles have consistently taught that the depository containing the Liahona, the sword of Laban, and other artifacts and plates was in the same hill in New York from which Joseph got the plates. There was no need for Moroni to transfer these items to the stone box.
If we heeded the words of the prophets and apostles, we would never see such a false narrative in our visitors centers, let alone be expected to teach (and believe) such nonsense.
The Three Witnesses testified only about the plates. Joseph told his parents he was relieved because they saw the plates. And yet, the subsequent verses told the witnesses to testify about what they saw:
2 And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
3 And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;
4 And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.
5 And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them.
Because the Three Witnesses testified only about seeing the plates, are we to infer that they disobeyed the commandment?
I don't think so.
Notice in verse 1 the "and also" phrase that separates the plates from the other artifacts. It's certainly possible that they saw all these things at the same time and forgot to include them in their formal testimony. Or maybe they were told not to testify of these things after all; i.e., maybe the specific revelation in D&C 17 was superseded by a subsequent, unmentioned and undocumented revelation.
Historians know that David Whitmer later said he, Joseph and Oliver did see all these objects, along with the original plates of brass, the 24 gold plates of Ether, and other plates. This is the account that Church historians and M2C intellectuals rely upon.
Brigham Young and others related accounts by Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith about seeing these objects in Mormon's depository inside the Hill Cumorah. I think the depository is what David Whitmer was describing; IOW, he saw these objects on a separate occasion from the time when the angel showed him the plates. Of course, it's still possible that he saw all these other objects when he had the Three Witness experience.
Either way, nothing in any of the accounts supports the idea that Joseph found the Liahona and sword of Laban. That false narrative depicted in the Visitors Centers is purely a fiction contrived to support M2C and repudiate the teachings of the prophets.