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.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

President Benson tried to fix BYU

The entire Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs (M2C) theory is based on one premise:

1. The prophets are wrong.

Ask any promoter of M2C and they will tell you the prophets have been wrong about the New York Cumorah.

The core group of M2C intellectuals is at BYU-Provo. Some have retired, others are about to, but they have plenty of followers among the younger faculty, so the repudiation of the prophets will continue for the foreseeable future--unless the students (and parents) reject what these intellectuals are teaching.

For a while now, I've pointed out that President Benson warned us about what these BYU intellectuals are doing.

"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." 


Notice, I've been citing the lesson manual. But actually, President Benson gave this address at BYU.


This was a Devotional Address on Feb. 25, 1980. President Benson was President of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time.

I was at BYU then. I remember how many professors were telling us that the prophets were expressing their own opinions, and I remember the reaction to President Benson's was not exactly warm. That's another topic, but my point here is that President Benson was trying to fix BYU.

If anything, I think today's faculty is even worse when it comes to following the prophets than the faculty I knew back then.

Of the fourteen fundamentals President Benson articulated, the eleventh is the one BYU faculty and students should ponder:

Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

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.

This was no isolated BYU devotional that we can all forget about. As I've pointed out, it's in the lesson manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson.

In June 1981, President Benson's talk was published as the First Presidency Message in the Liahona.


(So far as I can tell, this was the only time a First Presidency message was not written by a member of the First Presidency, although President Benson became President of the Church in November, 1985.)

In the October 2010 General Conference, President Benson's talk was cited twice.



In 1980, M2C was just getting started. True, President Joseph Fielding Smith had previously objected to the two-Cumorahs theory, accurately warning that it would cause members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. That has played out even worse than President Smith could have imagined.

Now our own visitors centers are teaching M2C!

But had the BYU faculty (and students such as myself) heeded President Benson's 1980 warning, M2C would have been halted before David Palmer published In Search of Cumorah, before John Sorenson published An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, and before the Correlation Department began enforcing M2C throughout the Church.

Today, had we heeded President Benson, the Church would be united at least about the New York Cumorah, just as it was when Joseph Smith was alive.

But instead, the M2C intellectuals at BYU rejected President Benson, just as they rejected all the prophets who taught the New York Cumorah.

And that continues today, with devastating consequences.

These M2C intellectuals tell their students that the prophets have been merely expressing their opinions.

No, that's too mild. Let's be clear.
BYU fantasy map that teaches LDS students
to disbelieve the prophets
The premise of M2C is that the prophets who have taught that Cumorah is in New York, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, have all been ignorant speculators who misled the Church by expressing their personal (and erroneous) opinions.

I won't name the M2C intellectuals here, but if you've taken a Book of Mormon class at BYU in recent years, you've met some of them. You know them because they teach students a fantasy map that teaches the prophets are wrong. 

I'll accept blame, myself. When I was a BYU student, I bought into the narrative that our professors were smarter than the prophets. It's not just BYU geography, of course; the intellectuals assert superiority over the prophets on lots of topics.

I don't remember knowing about Letter VII when I was a BYU student. I think if I had, though, I might have bought into the narrative that our M2C intellectuals were smarter than the prophets.

Only now, decades later, do I realize how completely wrong these M2C intellectuals are.

I wish I had heeded President Benson's warning all along.

I hope that this blog post might help some students (and maybe some BYU faculty) avoid the mistake I made way back in 1980.

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