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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"We try to be neutral"

People have asked me about the Come Follow Me videos from Book of Mormon Central. My take on them is similar to my take on Book of Mormon Central overall. Around 80% of the material is great. It includes uplifting, enlightening insights into the Book of Mormon and its message.

The problem is the 20% that is driven by M2C and taints the rest.

I completely agree that the primary purposes of the Book of Mormon as stated by the prophets and the Title Page:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations...
(Title Page, 2)

The problem is, M2C (and its cousin SITH) cause people to become confused and disturbed in their faith. Plus, M2C and SITH contradict the teachings of the prophets, which erodes confidence in them. 

Of course, we are all free to believe whatever we want. A person could believe the Book of Mormon took place on the moon and still focus on its message. 

Those who believe the Book of Mormon is not an actual history--and apparently that's around 50% of LDS millennials and an increasing number of older members--can also still focus on its message. They consider it akin to the parables in the New Testament. 

That's all fine with me. People of many faiths find great insights and wisdom in parables, myths, legends, traditions, etc.

Many people, though--I think the vast majority of the world's population, and even many members of the Church--want to know the Book of Mormon is an actual history before they accept it as true and authoritative. By design, the Book of Mormon challenges the religious beliefs and traditions of people everywhere. It's unrealistic to expect people to abandon their own beliefs and traditions to embrace someone else's just because of a parable.

Joseph Smith wrote about physical evidence of the "divine authenticity" of the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdery wrote about the "facts" of Book of Mormon settings to refute the arguments that the Book of Mormon was fiction. Some of their contemporaries may have been overzealous in seeking extrinsic evidence, but none of them said such evidence was irrelevant. 

Today's intellectuals in the Church claim that extrinsic evidence is not that important, yet they promote M2C while professing "neutrality." 

Here's a still image of a "Come Follow Me" lesson from Book of Mormon Central. Like everyone else affiliated with Book of Mormon Central, these two professors are awesome people. I like them personally. They undoubtedly have the best of intentions. (I don't use names because I've agreed not to, and their identities don't matter anyway. It's content, not identity, that matters.)

 This still image is taken from the time when one of the professors said "We try to be neutral" on the question of geography.

They try.

But as Yoda said, "Do or do not... there is no try."

He couldn't say "we are neutral" because they are not neutral. After all, they are standing in front of the BYU fantasy map that teaches M2C.

Nothing prevents these professors or anyone else at Book of Mormon Central from being actually neutral. Yet they insist on imposing only one interpretation of the text--the interpretation created and publicized by the M2C promoters.

In an effort to convey a phony "neutrality" despite their M2C interpretation of the text, they developed this map with directions and distances that, they claim, "match the approximately 550 geography descriptions in the text as closely as possible." As though no viable alternative is possible.

The result is they are teaching the youth of the Church to understand the Book of Mormon in a fictional setting.

An integral part of the map is showing Cumorah far from any possible western New York.

Had he thought of it, Eber D. Howe would have loved to include such a fictional map in Mormonism Unvailed as part of his "attempt to prove it a fiction."

As we'll see in my upcoming video analysis of this episode, the good intentions of the M2C proponents don't matter one way or the other because they are imprinting an indelible and specific interpretation of the Book of Mormon on the minds of their viewers (and students) that reinforces M2C and SITH.

As a preview, here are some stills from the "neutral" video.


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