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, January 24, 2020

Implementing the "Gospel Topics Essays"

Here's the latest example of "neutrality" as implemented by our M2C scholars.

Some of us remember when the anonymous Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography was supposed to be a declaration of neutrality, but it was obvious the day it was released that the essay would not slow down the efforts of M2C intellectuals to claim prophetic support as they continue to imprint M2C on the minds of the Latter-day Saints.

Since then, Book of Mormon Central has spent millions of dollars in the effort. Other M2C intellectuals continue to lend their support to the cause.

Here's an upcoming example. January 30 at BYU-Idaho.

Chris Allison teaches Book of Mormon classes at BYU-Idaho. This means he's already teaching his students M2C because he's using the infamous BYU/CES  maps which teach students to think of the Book of Mormon in a fictional fantasy world, with the Hill Cumorah far, far away from New York.

Now Brother Allison is making "A Case for Meso-America" right on the campus of BYU-Idaho.

It's a good title. It fits with Brother Callister's M2C-approved book A Case for the Book of Mormon.

It's not difficult to make a case for anything, of course. Any lawyer can make a case for any side of any issue. Making a case has nothing to do with truth; it's a matter of making arguments based on a particular interpretation of selected facts.

I'm curious about this "making a case" trend. It works great as a bias confirmation exercise, but what does it do for open-minded people?

Doesn't "making a case" invite readers, listeners and viewers to seek out the "other side of the story" or at least other perspectives? Thanks to the ongoing censorship by Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, and other M2C organizations, the only "other side of the story" to M2C that most members hear about is CES Letter, Mormon Stories, and others who claim the Book of Mormon is fiction.

A truly "neutral" position would allow alternative perspectives to be presented at BYU and CES. Let Brother Allison make his case for "Meso-America" and let someone else make a case for the New York Cumorah. Then let students make up their own minds.

BYU fantasy map, teaching a fictional
setting for the Book of Mormon
That would be a big step forward, but it will never happen as long as the M2C intellectuals have their way.

Aside from those who merely seek to confirm their biases, the question for undecided people is whether the case is persuasive or not. The unpersuasiveness of M2C is evident; outside of a handful of M2C intellectuals, their employees, and their followers, no one believes M2C.

I encourage everyone attending BYU-Idaho to attend the event. You'll surely learn some great reasons why the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are wrong.

It's virtually certain you'll hear that the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles were written by Joseph Smith. Those ridiculous articles are the entire premise for M2C. Those who have read Mormon's Codex and the related M2C literature from the citation cartel recognize that everything else is bias confirmation and sophistry (not that there's anything wrong with that, because if you want to believe M2C, that's fine with me).

You probably won't hear that M2C originated with RLDS scholars, but you'll hear about the ways the Book of Mormon was mistranslated because Joseph didn't realize the Nephites lived among the Mayans.

You probably won't hear what Joseph and Oliver and their contemporaries and successors taught about the New York Cumorah in Letter VII and elsewhere, unless it is to explain why they were all wrong.

If you go, let me know what he has to say.


  1. Brother Neville, thank you for allowing me to comment on your most interesting blog. I have followed your blogs for over a year in my attempt to learn more about belief in a Heartland setting for the Book of Mormon. It was only last week that I realized youre own experience with perceived censoring would allow you to tolerate the comments of someone who hasn't yet adopted your view of Book of Mormon geography.

    I understand that your blogs are private and I am a guest reader who can comment only with your permission. I for any reason you prefer me not to comment in your blogs please let me know - and of course I will comply.

    As I mentioned, I have not yet found your views on Book of Mormon geography, translation and similar matters to be convincing - but on the other hand I have also not adopted a Mesoamerican view of those matters after having read some about their views. I actually don't have much interest in Book of Mormon geography, but I am intensely interested in the doctrines and messages found in the Book of Mormon.

    I'm particularly delighted that your blog today references the "Gospel Topic Essays" located on the First Presidency's website. Earlier this year I was reading their statement on Book of Mormon Geography when I realized I could embrace their statement without reservation.

    I suppose I was an unconscious believer in a NY Cumorah since 1954 when as a 10 year-old I spent two evenings at the Hill Cumorah Pageant with my parents. It was thrilling and I never forgot the wonderful feeling I had standing on the hill where those plates lay buried for so long. Now, many years later, I understand there are other explanations for how those ancient events depicted in the Book of Mormon played out - but I have not sought nor found an explanation that satisfied me until I read the First Presidency Gospel Topic statement.

    In the last year I have learned more than I want to know about the ongoing "Book of Mormon Wars" waged between Heartlanders and Mesoamericans, and none of their writings on the subject brought peace to my soul until I read the Church's statement on its website. I want you and your readers to know I accept that statement without reservation and hope one day your warring factions will unite behind this statement from our living prophets.

    Of course this is your blog, and I don't want to be presumptuous, but in light of the Savior's statement to his followers that to be "His" they would need to be "One" - a statement echoed by the First Presidency in their Gospel Topic Essay when they said all parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters - it seems that tempered (rather than strident) rhetoric is always called for. I sometimes forget that in my own writings - but that small voice seems to pull me back and urges me follow Joseph Smith's revealed word to his father in D&C 4 that says: "Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence."

    If you ever sense that my comments on your blogs have lost the essence Joseph's admonition I hope you will respond and remind me. I have only the highest regard for Joseph Smith and see him as a seminal instrument in the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. It would be tragic if I ended up paying lip service to his life and work but neglected to follow his profound counsel.

    In a similar vein, when I sense that your writing on these blogs begins to reflect more "temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, charity and humility" - especially toward those you deem ideological opponents - I hope to be the first person to raise a cheer and shout "Huzzah for Zion."

    Yours in faith,

  2. Brother Neville,

    Your "Moroni's America" blogpost on Jan 23 related somewhat to the above topic on the Gospel Topics Essays. I took exception to that blogpost in a comment I attempted to post, but alas you, as moderator of the blog, apparently refused to publish it.

    I'm shocked!

    You have repeatedly lamented the abominable practice M2C has of "censoring" your views, so I would have never imagined you would "censor" the views of a reputable follower of Christ whose opinions and views differed from your own. Isn't there a word for that, when someone complains about another's actions and then brazenly does the same thing himself?

    At any rate, since you apparently hide behind the "moderator" shield it's clear you only want to hear "good news and public accolades." Surely as a lawyer you assume due process should give all interested parties their day before the public, but perhaps you prefer to give your orations to the jury in an echo chamber. It's certainly safer and more pleasing to the ear and the ego.

    The post you censored was on a very sensitive subject: "Are you or are you not a critic of the Church who is right now and an ever increasing fury sowing seeds of doubt among the Saints about their ability to know "who" speaks for God and "where" to find those truths."

    I will attempt to cut and paste that censored post here - but alas, I know moderators have great power over the words of the humble follower, so my attempt may ultimately be foiled. But if that is what you do - just know the world is watching and will take note.

    This was the censored post (it may take 2 comments to cover the post):
    Brother Neville,

    It seems you are determined to offer your faith filed readers only false, faithless choices. It is disingenuous for you to suggest, as you do in this blogpost, that if someone discovers a mistake or inclusion or omission in the material sent by today’s Prophets and Apostles to members around the world - that it is a sign the barbarians (M2C) are at the gate or that Prophets and Apostles don’t know what is going on…or they didn’t read it before it was published…or they didn’t approve publication…or it doesn’t represent their views, etc.

    “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” The title page of the Book of Mormon makes it clear misstatements or mistakes, even in scripture, can be made by anyone who labors for Zion. So I’m willing to give our current Prophets the benefit of the doubt and believe they are as concerned as anyone about the topic Elder Stevenson commented on.

    You should take more care in what you write. Your post “condemns the things of God” in order to justify your paranoia about M2C and gain leverage for your ideological position that an evil cartel is out to get you and undermine Oliver Cowdery. The fact you are willing to throw our First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities under the bus to advance the Heartland Movement is no credit to the Movement.

    You ask “how did such an error show up in the most important manual of 2020” then answer your own question by laying the blame on the cartel that now includes “General Authorities” who are approving revisionist history because they are part of the cartel.

    Are you even listening to yourself? You’re saying the Saints can’t trust the Brethren all of the time but they can always trust you! WOW!

    (more to follow in a succeeding comment)


    This blogpost confirms to me that you are a critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it’s leaders. It’s there in black and white. You are telling your readers they can’t trust some General Authorities because they have motives that fit with your conspiracy theories. Can you tell us which of the General Authorities that speak in the upcoming General Conference we can trust and which ones we should tune out because they are part of the conspiracy?

    It’s pretty clear you are willing to create a division among the Saints by undermining unnamed Brethren we can’t trust - sowing seeds of doubt that weaken our confidence in living prophets - just so you can score cheap points for your conspiracy theories and Oliver Cowdery. It appears at this point there is little difference between you and Abner Cole or Eber Howe or (dare I say it) Oliver Cowdery...all critics of the Church.

    The obvious answer given by every faithful member of the Church to the question of how the error you referred to shows up in the most recent Come, Follow Me manual is the simplest answer (not the convoluted and conspiratorial answer you proffer) and is simply stated by a former member of the First Presidency: “There have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

    Why can’t your blog EVER take the most faith filled course toward harmony and unity instead of continually criticizing the Church, its leaders or even it’s faithful, hardworking and devoted employees, for their failings? Why does it always have to be about M2C? Why can’t your writings fill our hearts with confidence in our dear Prophets today instead of promoting what those long-since dead supposedly said?

    Jesus Christ stands at the head of the Church that bears His name, so your continuing drumbeat about faithless employees and conspiracies from within and Prophets and Apostles and Seventies who are ignoring you and Oliver Cowdery is simply a demonstration of your lack of faith in Him and His interest in preserving His Church. Do you think He wasn’t paying attention when that manual was written either? Do you think those “messengers” He called to teach His people weren’t minding the store? Are they just another example of subordinates who have gone rogue? You seem to have conveniently forgotten that He is currently in charge of this Church and He is not easy to deceive. He is the one who said His Church will roll forth to fill the whole earth - whether or not the prophets today “get it right” about a NY Cumorah.

    As one who has spent almost four decades within the walls of the Church Office Building and Church Administration Building - not ever as an employee, but with callings and assignments form the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve - I can assure your readers that Satan himself is cheering wildly when he read what you have written today. Your closing comment at the end of your blogpost that it would be a mistake for the Saints to believe everything they read in Church manuals, the Ensign or Gospel Topics Essays is sure to make the Devil smile.

    You would rather have the Saints be forced to pick and choose which Brethren to believe; or which General Conference talks to listen to and which ones to tune out; or whether or not to study Come, Follow Me (because someone found a mistake there once); or whether or not to study the Ensign (because some of it might be M2C toxic or the artwork depicting palm trees is offensive; or whether or not to believe the Gospel Topics Essays are the words of Prophets and Apostles (instead of the frenzied mind of conspiratorial M2C supporters); etc.

  4. The bottom line is that you are willing to sow seeds of doubt among the Latter-day Saints - seeds that will cause them to question “who” really speaks for the Lord and “where” they can find His word - for the simple purpose of advancing jyour ideology. Coincidently, that’s exactly what Satan is busy doing, but you will be pleased to know that he is doing just fine inthat regard and doesn’t need your help any longer. You are now free to devote your writings to topics and words that don’t throw living Prophets under the bus or condemn them (or their fellow-workers) for a word.

    I am one of those countless souls you are condemning for a word. For more years than you have been alive countless, nameless disciples who were called of God by holy Prophets and Apostles have worked and labored, researched, created, drafted, edited, refined, discarded, started-over, and done everything in their power and under the power of Heaven to make an offering to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve that would spark an affirmation from the Holy Ghost to THEM that it was a proper, sacred and acceptable offering they could make to HIM and thereafter publish to the world in HIS NAME.

    How could you so thoughtlessly cast into doubt ALL the efforts of disciples and Prophets to make an acceptable offering to the Lord - just so you could score cheap points with your followers? Your words show utter contempt for the Lord and His laborers today.

    I have been a steady of your blogs for over a year - but the heresy you are promoting in this post has crossed a line and classifies you as a “critic of the Church” and leads me to plead with you to stop this nonsense before you find yourself on the outside looking in.

    Your stock is falling to a new low as your posts continue to disappoint those of us seeking to build our faith in Jesus Christ.

    No “Huzzah for Zion” today.