Monday, April 13, 2020

The M2C triumvirate and the fake Moroni-Mary Whitmer story, again

Yesterday, we studied the Come Follow Me lesson about Easter.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/come-follow-me-for-individuals-and-families-book-of-mormon-2020/14?lang=eng

Because the lesson focuses in part on the Resurrection, it reminded me of the post below that I wrote a while ago but didn't publish. I'm publishing it now because the fake Moroni-Mary Whitmer story contradicts the basic teachings of the resurrection, as we'll discuss below.

I was reminded of this quotation from Theodore Dalrymple I saw at the time.

When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. 

It may seem a small matter to be expected to believe it was Moroni who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer instead of Nephi. But this is such a blatant change to Church history, intended to accommodate if not promote M2C, that it undermines a host of other basic concepts.
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Mary Whitmer and Nephi,
one of the 3 Nephites,
falsely labeled Moroni
by the M2C intellectuals
What prompted my post was an article in BYU Studies that yet again perpetuated the fake story. As part of this disinformation campaign, Book of Mormon Central commissioned a beautiful painting of the messenger showing the plates to Mary Whitmer. Except they titled it "Mary Whitmer and Moroni."

See the article for yourself, here:

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mary-whitmer-and-moroni-experiences-artist-creating-historical-painting

We're not surprised to see this M2C-inspired phony story in BYU Studies, which continues to promote M2C even under the new editor (who was also involved with the Saints book, volume 1, that teaches the fake Moroni story to millions of Church members).

When I read this article in BYU Studies, I was impressed with the artist's detailed description of his work. It's a wonderful painting that seems historically accurate in every respect--except for its title. It is exceedingly unfortunate that the artist has been misled this way by the M2C intellectuals.
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We don't mind artists painting whatever they want. We don't even mind people claiming it was Moroni who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer.

What we object to is having such a fake story being taught as accurate Church history.

IOW, thanks to M2C, Church historians (in volume 1 of Saints and at historic sites) and the M2C citation cartel (BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, etc.) are teaching the world that resurrected beings can have multiple bodies.

People can believe whatever they want, of course. But it is (or should be) inexcusable for a theory of geography to cause Church historians to change history. And it's even worse for a theory of geography to change basic doctrine, such as the nature of a resurrected body.
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For some time now, I've discussed this point with several "seasoned" Church members, including employees of CES. When I point out the discrepancy between Joseph's description of Moroni and the description of the old man who showed the plates of Nephi to Lucy Whitmer, they usually shrug and say, "Well, I guess Moroni could appear as anyone he wants to be."

There are hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint youth being taught this new version of the resurrection in seminary and institute. There are millions of Church members who are learning this new doctrine by reading the Saints book and materials provided by the M2C citation cartel.

Compare this with the references in the Come Follow Me lesson regarding the resurrection, including these:

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time...

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body... 

I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.
(Alma 11:43-5)

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body....

I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided.
(Alma 40:23, 25)

Notice how, in the painting, the old man with the plates appears somewhat short and stocky, with a heavy white beard. That fits the description by David Whitmer. But it flatly contradicts the description of Moroni given by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

If the spirit unites with a resurrected body, never to be divided, how can that same spirit unite with a different body?

And yet, this is what our Church historians expect us to believe, all because of this fake Moroni-Mary Whitmer story.
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The doctrinal problem arises not only because of the obvious incongruity between Joseph's description of Moroni and David Whitmer's description of the messenger with the plates. The problem exists also because David explicitly stated that Joseph Smith identified the messenger was one of the Nephites.

In December 1877, Edward Stevenson visited David Whitmer. Here's what he wrote in his journal:

"I wish to mention an Item of conversation with David Whitmer in regard to Seeing one of the Nephites, Zina Young, Desired me to ask about it. David Said, Oliver, & The Prophet, & I were riding in a wagon, & an aged man about 5 feet 10, heavey Set & on his back, an old fashioned Armey knapsack Straped over his Shoulders & Something Square in it, & he walked alongside of the Wagon & Wiped the Sweat off his face, Smileing very Pleasant David asked him to ride and he replied I am going across to the hill Cumorah. Soon after they Passed they felt Strangeley and Stoped, but could see nothing of him all around was clean and they asked the Lord about it. He Said that the Prophet Looked as White as a Sheet & Said that it was one of the Nephites & that he had the plates."

As I've discussed before, it is significant that Zina Young asked Elder Stevenson to ask David about this event. Zina had met David Whitmer in 1835 when he and Hyrum were missionaries that baptized her family. There is no record of her having an association with David after that time, and certainly not after David left the Church in 1837-8. This suggests that Zina's question was prompted by her memory of what David told her back in 1835, possibly as part of his missionary message.

The key points from this interview:

1. Zina asked Stevenson to ask David about "seeing one of the Nephites."

2. David said "an aged man about 5 feet 10, heavy set" had a knapsack over his shoulders.

3. The man said "I am going across to the hill Cumorah."

4. Joseph "said that it was one of the Nephites  that he had the plates."

None of this says or implies that the "Nephite" was the resurrected Moroni. Nor does the account say or imply that the Nephite was going to Fayette.

But Saints teaches otherwise, using a fictitious quotation derived from a grandchild's belief that his grandmother, Mary Whitmer, was wrong when she said the messenger identified himself as "Brother Nephi."

You can read the rest of the analysis here:

https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-mary-whitmer-problem.html
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People ask, why would the Church historians concoct the fake Moroni-Mary Whitmer story when the accounts are so plain?

The answer: they concocted this story to accommodate M2C. It's the same reason why they changed history by purging Cumorah from the historical record.

If you're a new reader on this blog, you may wonder, what does M2C have to do with it?

M2C insists the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in Mexico, not New York. Therefore, it contradicts M2C to have one of the Three Nephites take the abridged plates to Cumorah in New York after Joseph had finished with them in Harmony, and then to have that same individual bring the original plates of Nephi to Fayette for Joseph to translate.

Rather than deal with the actual history, the M2C advocates simply changed the history by claiming instead it was Moroni who carried the plates directly to Fayette.

One member of the triumvirate, Brother Jack Welch, published a detailed account of the translation process from April through June, 1829. It is included in a chapter in the important book Opening the Heavens, which you can download for free at this link.

https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/opening-heavens-coming-forth-book-mormon-chapter-only

Incredibly, even in this otherwise detailed account, Brother Welch omitted the quotations from David Whitmer and created a false narrative to accommodate M2C.

I discussed this in detail here:

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2017/12/opening-heavens-but-censoring-history.html

In Opening the Heavens, Brother Welch wrote this footnote on page 108.

84. As reported by Joseph F. Smith, David Whitmer told him and Orson Pratt that Joseph prophesied to Oliver “a perfect description of what David did on the way” before David arrived. Joseph F. Smith, Statement, written April 25, 1918, typescript, 2, Church History Library, available on Church History Library, https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE4987096. They traveled on “an ordinary wagon with two long poles in it at each end across the end gates of the wagon box, and then two boards laid across that for seats on those hickory poles. Joseph and Emma were on the hind seat and Oliver and David on the front seat.” Joseph F. Smith, Statement, 2. The plates were carried to Fayette by Moroni in a bundle on his back. Joseph F. Smith, Statement, 3. “Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845,” book 8, p. 10, does not include Emma on this trip to Fayette (Waterloo). See also Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 114–15, 197

Notice the reference Brother Welch cited. It's not a "statement" by Joseph F. Smith (JFS). It's a typescript of part of the minutes of an unspecified meeting dated April 25, 1918. JFS was relating what he told a Sunday School in Los Angeles, going by memory.

According to the typescript, in Los Angeles JFS related his recollection of his meeting with David Whitmer in 1878, 40 years earlier. The transcript has JFS saying this: "Joseph informed him [David] that the man was Moroni, and that the bundle on his back contained plates which Joseph had delivered to him before they departed from Harmony, Susquehanna County, and that he was taking them for safety, and would return them when he (Joseph) reached father Whitmer's house."

The problem: this unauthenticated typescript of JFS's recollection contradicts what JFS himself wrote in a letter to President John Taylor on Sept. 17, 1878, 10 days after me met with David Whitmer (on Sept. 7). You can see the letter here:

https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=dca15baa-a0ac-4fc1-b2ec-7f3cd75e4906&crate=0&index=38

Furthermore, JFS and his companion, Orson Pratt, wrote a formal report to President Taylor and the Quorum of the Twelve that is nearly identical to the letter, with the changes indicated below. (Wording from the original letter is in red, additions in the report are underlined.)

When I was returning to Fayette with Joseph and Oliver all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old fashioned wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us, while traveling along in a clear open place [or prairie, we were suddenly approach by], a very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon who saluted us with, “good morning, it is very warm,” at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and by a sign from Joseph I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, “No, I am going to Cumorah.’ This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. [and] We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked round enquiringly of Joseph the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again.
J.F.S.—Did you notice his appearance?
D.W.—I should think I did, he was, I should think, about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches tall and heavy set, about such a man as James Vancleave there, but heavier, his face was as large, he was dressed in a suit of brown woolen clothes, his hair and beard were white like [bro.] Brother Pratt’s, but his beard was not so heavy. I also remember that he had on his back a sort of knapsack with something in, shaped like a book. It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony.


We can infer that the changes were prompted by Orson Pratt's contribution, since the letter, written by JFS in his own handwriting, was the first draft of the report the two submitted to President Taylor. Thus the report was the product of both men.

Later in the same interview, David Whitmer said, "The three Nephites are at work among the lost tribes and elsewhere." This suggests that to David, the three Nephites were an integral part of the work.
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There are several points to consider here.

The contemporaneous accounts from JFS and Orson Pratt are consistent with Elder Stevenson's account of his interview with David Whitmer the year before. All of these accounts are consistent with Zina Young's request to Elder Stevenson before he left Utah to visit David.

None of these mention Moroni. Instead, they refer to a Nephite who took the plates to Cumorah. The Nephite was an "old man" who was heavy set and five feet, eight or nine inches tall. David said it was this same messenger who showed the plates to his mother Mary.

Mary Whitmer claimed the messenger called himself "Brother Nephi."

There are no statements attributed to David Whitmer or anyone else to the effect that the messenger was Moroni.
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To support the claim that it was Moroni who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer, the historians rely on Mary Whitmer's grandson, who thought his grandmother was confused or wrong, and on this typescript of meeting minutes.

The unauthenticated typescript that mentions Moroni could be accurate or not. It's possible that whoever typed it inferred that JFS meant to say Moroni when he said "the messenger" or even "the Nephite," just as Mary Whitmer's grandson inferred that she was wrong about how the messenger identified himself.

If the typescript is accurate, it shows JFS contradicting his 40-year-old contemporaneous account that was corroborated by Orson Pratt. It also shows JFS contradicting Elder Stevenson's contemporaneous account and Zina Young's contemporaneous question. Perhaps at some point JFS had heard an account from Mary Whitmer's descendants who claimed it was Moroni, and then JFS conflated the two in his memory.

Beyond the relative credibility and reliability of these accounts, we still have the problem of a shape-shifting resurrected being.

There is sound scriptural reason to believe David Whitmer's version. We know from 3 Nephi that the Lord promised the disciples that they would die at age 70, except for the three who would tarry. It seems logical that these three would be transformed at the age of 70 as well.

We don't know the names of those three, but among the twelve, the leader was named Nephi. The messenger identified himself to Mary Whitmer as "Brother Nephi," so at least Mary Whitmer's statement is consistent with what we know about the Three Nephites. And remember, she met the messenger before she had ever heard of Nephi. The 116 pages had been lost, the plates of Nephi had yet to be translated, and the yet-unpublished Harmony manuscript was in the possession of Joseph and Oliver.
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The totality of the evidence, especially when considered in light of the doctrine of the resurrection, does not support the idea that it was Moroni, as a short, old, fat man, who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer.

I propose that the fake story be replaced with the authentic historical record, even though it means teaching members of the Church that the messenger took the Harmony plates to Cumorah.

That's a feature, not a bug, of the original accounts.
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Summary:

Thanks to our M2C intellectuals and revisionist Church historians, the millions of people who have read, are reading, and will read Saints, Volume 1, learn a fake story about Moroni that is easily shown to be false. Missionaries are telling this phony story to visitors at the Fayette visitors center in New York. We members, including youth, as well as nonmembers are expected to believe this, but even cursory review of the original sources shows it was Nephi, not Moroni, who showed the plates to Mary Whitmer.

Moroni-a resurrected man
The M2C intellectuals don't want people to know it was Nephi, because that means it was also Nephi who took the Harmony plates to Cumorah before bringing the plates of Nephi to Fayette. That means the repository of Nephite records was actually in the Hill Cumorah in New York, as Oliver Cowdery reported. And that means M2C is a hoax.

The Mary Whitmer/Moroni narrative promoted by the M2C intellectuals frames Moroni as a shape-shifter. He appears to Joseph Smith as a glorious resurrected being, but appears to Mary Whitmer as a aged, portly, short man with a long beard in an old brown wool suit.

Item by item, these M2C intellectuals and the revisionist historians are making the story of the Restoration less and less credible.

Not only are they saying the prophets have been wrong about the New York Cumorah, but now they're saying that Joseph didn't translate the plates after all, that the words he read off a seer stone in a hat were composed by someone in the 1500s, and that we should rewrite what Joseph and Oliver wrote about the translation to conform to their theories.

The original accounts by Joseph, Oliver and their contemporaries are far more credible than the revisionist versions created in recent years.
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Postscript re Moroni and Nephi.

Aside from the M2C-inspired effort to change Church history regarding the messenger who took the plates to Cumorah, there is another lingering issue that confuses Moroni and Nephi.

When originally published in the Times and Seasons in 1842, Joseph Smith's history said that it was Nephi who first appeared to him in 1823 to tell him about the plates.

Church historians later edited the history so that it now read Moroni, but this detail has led critics to claim that Joseph couldn't get his story straight.

I see it differently.

First, there's no doubt the 1842 publication in the Times and Seasons was an error. Joseph had identified the messenger as Moroni in the Elders' Journal in 1838. Oliver Cowdery had done the same in 1835.

So how can we account for such an obvious error in the 1842 Times and Seasons?

First, the publication of the error is evidence that Joseph Smith, who was the named editor of the newspaper at the time, was merely the nominal editor. He didn't review the paper closely, or at all, prior to publication.

Second, the history published in the 1842 Times and Seasons was not written by, and probably not dictated by, Joseph Smith. Instead, it was compiled by his scribes beginning in 1838. Of course, this raises the question, why would the scribes think it was Nephi who first visited Joseph and not Moroni?

The answer could be that they knew Joseph had multiple encounters with both Moroni and Nephi.

Brigham Young explained in a letter to his son that "There is really no discrepancy in the history about these names. It was Moroni who delivered the sacred records and Urim and Thummim to Joseph, but Nephi also visited him."

https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=b3c72fee-6f44-4ce6-8a9f-5cf38b6153d1&crate=0&index=387




By changing the historical narrative to omit Nephi and insert Moroni into the account of the messenger who took the Harmony plates to Cumorah and showed the plates of Nephi to Mary Whitmer, our Church historians have compounded the confusion that long existed over the claim in the 1842 Times and Seasons that it was Nephi who first appeared to Joseph Smith.

The sooner we correct this detail in Church history, the better.

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3 comments:

  1. The people that I’ve talked about this with are comfortable with the cognitive dissonance that this kind of situation presents. Many members of the church seem to be willing to lend themselves to the Saints book / Book of Mormon Central groupthink for security rather than think for themselves. In some ways, they lead us into a ditch if we let them. Other members that I’ve talked to about this issue simply don’t care. Close family and friends are freaked out that I’d dare question Saints or Book of Mormon study manuals produced by the Church. “Don’t you know that the people who wrote this stuff, it’s their job? Leave it to the professionals!” They’re willing to wait for general authorities to correct the record whenever (if ever) it happens, and are freaked out to question themselves, ignoring the source material that’s before them. It’s such a strange set of circumstances. There’s so much doctrinal truth to be had with this small paradigm correction dealing with resurrection, timing, Prophet’s telling the truth,etc. I’m surprised more people are content to just deal with not understanding, or accepting things and saying, “well, shoot. I guess that’s just the way things are.”

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    1. Great point. Upwards of 95% of people (LDS or not) prefer bias confirmation over seeking the truth. That's what makes conversion so rare. Most people just stick with whatever their parents and peers told them because it's easier that way.

      The problem here is that our missionary work is based on teaching truth. When our message includes concepts such as (i) resurrected beings can inhabit more than one body, or can shape-shift and (ii) our prophets were wrong about such as basic fact as the location of Cumorah in New York, our message is much easier for even interested people to reject.

      Plus, when outsiders see that we LDS are willing to believe whatever we're told, even when it contradicts our own scriptures and our own history, it's a major obstacle for conversion.

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  2. I see you're quite passionate about all this. Have you addressed this issue with your bishop...stake president...area authority...President Nelson? You might be wrong so instead of wringing your hands in public via this website, why don't you get satisfied privately first? You have drawn some conclusions that could hurt people who are trying to remain faithful during these troubled times. They are just trying to stay worthy to enter the temple and Moroni vs. Nephi or one Cumorah, two Cumorah may not be that significant in their lives as it obviously is in yours. Before you hurt one of God's little ones, I recommend you eliminate all the "why" in the article above.

    ReplyDelete