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, September 30, 2022

good information re: NY Cumorah

I like having multiple working hypotheses (MWH) to consider because I agree with President Nelson that "good inspiration is based on good information."

You don't get "good information" by censoring information, which is why I disagree with the approach taken by Book of Mormon Central, the M2C advocacy group masquerading as a scholarly organization.


Among those of us Latter-day Saints who still believe what Joseph and Oliver taught about the New York Cumorah, there are also multiple working hypotheses, which is awesome. 

We're all eager for additional good information, and there is an abundance of good information that corroborated the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

Here's an example that perhaps not too many people know about:


I don't agree with all of his assumptions and inferences, but that's the point: unlike the M2C citation cartel, I think everyone should consider multiple working hypotheses.

Here, for example, he has a section on Cumorah that responds to Palmer's Cumorah criteria.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Tragedy of Book of Mormon Central, part 3

On my Letter VII blog, I mentioned the visit Edward Stevenson made to Cumorah on September 28, 1888.


Stevenson, who had personally interviewed Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, knew the hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 was the same hill in New York where Moroni deposited the plates. After all, all three of those witnesses affirmed what Oliver explicitly stated in Letter VII, that it is a fact that the hill in New York is the same hill called Ramah and Cumorah in the Book of Mormon. 

Moroni himself identified the hill the first time he met Joseph Smith.

It's always a lot of fun to have our modern M2C scholars, along with their followers and employees, claim that the Three Witnesses were wrong about Cumorah. 

And, of course, our premier Cumorah-deniers are our friends and respected colleagues at Book of Mormon Central, as they remind us every time they plaster their M2C logo on a book, video, article, etc.


Think of how much good Book of Mormon Central would do if it sought to support and corroborate the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah instead of constantly denying and repudiating those teachings.


Here are some classic posts about how the Cumorah-deniers at Book of Mormon Central rationalize their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.


The infamous "Kno-Why #489" which I refer to as the "No-wise 489."


Here's a classic from FAIRLDS (formerly FairMormon), who are all great people who just have a different interpretation of the teachings of the prophets and witnesses about Cumorah.


As well as one from Brant Gardner (whom I like and respect, but just disagree with on the issue of Cumorah):


Friday, September 23, 2022

The tragedy of Book of Mormon Central, part 2

Another tragedy of Book of Mormon Central (BMC) is the deceptive way the organization presents itself. It's an M2C advocacy and lobbying group, not a legitimate academic or educational organization. 

Everyone affiliated with BMC has to accept, adopt, and promote M2C to be in good standing. BMC employees promote M2C formally by what they publish at BMC and informally through social media.

I've said before that I support about 85% of what they do. By that I do not mean that I agree with 85% of what they do, but I'm fine with people and groups that disagree with me. Disagreements are not my objection to BMC. And I readily agree that they offer some useful resources for research and study. 

The problem with BMC is their editorial stance, which taints the otherwise good work they do, and thereby contributes to the ongoing faith crises that we'll discuss later this week.

BMC's stated goals and mission statements are fine, generic as they are. But in practice, their guiding philosophy undermines their credibility and reliability. 


Let's look at the organization itself. Few Latter-day Saints (including donors) realize that BMC is a front for an organization that has long promoted the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs (M2C) theory of Book of Mormon geography. 

As we'll see later this week, M2C expressly repudiates what Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, their contemporaries and successors all said about the hill Cumorah in New York, thereby directly and deliberately undermining faith in their teachings.

From the BMC website: "The legal organization behind Book of Mormon Central is the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 non-profit public charity chartered in the state of Utah in 2004."

This is BMAF, which has a website here: http://bmaf.org/.

BMAF's logo is awesome:

It depicts the Book of Mormon with a Mayan temple, pursuant to the clear mission statement that it published for most of its existence. Their first goal was "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

(click to enlarge)

As we'll see, that remains the "first goal" of BMC today, although they are a little more discreet in announcing that to their donors and readers.

BMAF's "About" page, has a link to references that explain "Why we support the Mesoamerica theory for Book of Mormon lands."

Keep that in mind, too, when we look at BMC's purported mission statement.

A couple of years ago, when the original mission statement was publicized on this blog and elsewhere, BMAF edited their mission statement slightly to downplay the focus on M2C.

BMAF is "an open forum for presentation, dissemination, and discussion of research and evidences regarding Book of Mormon archaeology, anthropology, geography and culture within Mesoamerican and other ancient contexts." 

One glance at the content of BMAF's website demonstrates it is anything but an "open forum" for anything other than M2C promotion. 

As I mentioned above, BMC continues that editorial approach today, as we'll see. It's not a serious academic organization; it's purely an advocacy group for the personal opinions of its principals.

After I brought attention to BMAF's website, the organization modified their mission statement to omit the specific reference to the "ancient Mesoamerican codex" but still claimed it's an "ancient book or codex." Here's how it reads now:

The specific and primary purposes of the organization are: (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient book or codex... (3) to help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon...

Neither BMAF nor BMC makes any effort to "help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon" if said scholars and students don't accept M2C.

Tragically, BMC, and its owner BMAF, are polemic institutions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Moroni Day fundraiser by BMC

If you haven't heard, today (Sept 21, 2022) you can spend $250/plate to attend a fundraiser by Book of Mormon Central. 

$250/plate to add to the millions of dollars Book of Mormon Central is already spending to tell the world that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery misled everyone about Cumorah and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

It's inexplicable why anyone would donate money to promote the private theories of a handful of scholars who repudiate the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

The ad for the fundraiser features the M2C logo* along with some historians who, as awesome as they are, will not tell the audience what Moroni first told Joseph Smith, even though we can all read what he said in the Joseph Smith Papers. These historians know these accounts perfectly well, but they refuse to share them, especially not to the donors who support Book of Mormon Central and its Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs agenda.

(click to enlarge)

If Book of Mormon Central really wanted to be the central resource for information about the Book of Mormon, it would support and sustain the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah in New York instead of repudiating those teachings. 

At the very least, it would inform people about those teachings and the evidence that corroborates those teachings, instead of insisting that M2C is the only acceptable approach to understanding the Book of Mormon because Joseph and Oliver misled everyone.

Here are some of the things Moroni told Joseph Smith that the BMC audience will never learn about.

Moroni to Joseph Smith, 1823. "the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars of cement."


Moroni to Joseph Smith, 1823. He [Moroni] then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightned and intelligent people, possessing a correct knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.


Joseph to his parents, 1827. said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to <​be​> brought forth...


Oliver Cowdery, with the assistance of Joseph Smith. I must now give you some description of the place where, and the manner in which these records were deposited.

You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N.Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that rout. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round, and I am certain that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveller as he passes by.

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon120 you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (it is printed Camorah, which is an error.) In this vally fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites—once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope or doubt. A few had fled to the South, who were hunted down by the victorious party, and all who would not deny the Saviour and his religion, were put to death. Mormon himself, according to the record of his son Moroni, was also slain.

But a long time previous to this disaster it appears from his own account, he foresaw approaching destruction. In fact, if he perused the records of his fathers, which were in his possession, he could have learned that such would be the case. Alma, who lived before the coming of the Messiah, prophesies this. He, however, by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation. …

This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites The opposing army were to the west, and in this same vally, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood, in wrath, contending, as it were, brother against brother, and father, against son. In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellow men. Here may be seen where once sunk to nought the pride and strength of two mighty nations; and here may be contemplated, in solitude, while nothing but the faithful record of Mormon and Moroni is now extant to inform us of the fact…

In this vale lie commingled, in one mass of ruin the ashes of thousands, and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigerous systems of tens of thousands of the human race—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones and dust with dust!


20 And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. 

(Doctrine and Covenants 128:20)

For more references, see


The difference between the "Cumorah" taught by Book of Mormon Central and the real Cumorah taught by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and their successors in Church leadership is evident from the map below, taken from the Spanish edition of Book of Mormon Central.

(click to enlarge)


* The M2C logo features a Mayan glyph to represent the Book of Mormon. This teaches everyone that Joseph and Oliver misled us by saying that the hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 was in New York. Instead, the brilliant scholars at Book of Mormon Central have decided that the "real Cumorah" is in southern Mexico, while the idea of Cumorah in New York was a false tradition that Joseph, Oliver and their successors in Church leadership ignorantly promoted for decades.

If Book of Mormon Central was an honest and accurate organization, their logo would represent the actual language of the Book of Mormon, which is English.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The tragedy of Book of Mormon Central, part 1

This week we're going to discuss Book of Mormon Central in more detail. 

When people ask me what I think about Book of Mormon Central (BMC), I observe that I personally like and respect everyone associated with the organization. I assume they're all faithful Latter-day Saints with good intentions. But we all know the destination of the road paved with good intentions.

BMC is an advocacy group for the personal opinions of its principals instead of a legitimate academic organization. 

As established by their very logo, the principals at BMC are determined to establish the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) by spending millions of dollars promoting M2C. They mislead their donors and readers by claiming to follow the Church's policy of neutrality, when in practice they promote M2C exclusively.

On their Spanish-language cite, they are more explicit than they are on their English site.

The principals at BMC refuse to acknowledge, let alone explain, faithful perspectives other than M2C.

By focusing on M2C as the only permissible interpretation of the Book of Mormon and its historicity, they not only oppose the Church's position of neutrality on the topic, but they undermine faith in the Book of Mormon, as well as the teachings of the prophets, regarding the hill Cumorah.

Those Latter-day Saints who still believe the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah don't mind that others choose to believe M2C (or one of the other "two-Cumorahs" theories). We can all serve and love one another regardless of what we believe about these issues. We're happy for a diversity of views among faithful Latter-day Saints and we encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about the topic so we can all make informed decisions.

But Book of Mormon Central disagrees. They insist that the only acceptable belief is M2C and they don't want people to even know about what the prophets have taught, or how the extrinsic evidence corroborates and supports what the prophets have taught.

It's sad.

It's inappropriate.

It's amazing that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty would even work for Book of Mormon Central, let alone support the organization as currently constituted.

And we'll discuss the implications in upcoming posts. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

New Pages

To simplify access to the most important posts on this blog, I've made some of them pages on the main blog page.

For example, this page has a table comparing the 1 NY Cumorah to M2C.


As you'll see, there are lots of other pages there you can use and share as quick references.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The original M2C

Before discussing the original M2C (Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory), I note two new posts on my other blogs:




Although our modern M2C scholars (particularly those at Book of Mormon Central) make a show of their erudition and credentials as if they are offering something new, M2C was described nearly a century ago in a book by L.E. Hills titled New Light on American Archaeology.


He even provided photos for us to enjoy.

(click to enlarge)

Here he reveals the location of the "real" Cumorah, explaining that "You cannot get away from that fact."

Of course, the actual fact that M2C does get away from is the reality that the Cumorah in New York was identified by Moroni when he first met Joseph Smith. Joseph referred to the hill as Cumorah before he even received the plates. During his mission to the Lamanites in 1830-31, Oliver Cowdery explained to the Indian tribes that the hill was called Cumorah anciently by Moroni. Later, of course, Oliver specifically taught it was a fact that the hill in New York was the scene of the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites. 

You can read all of these references and more here:


But L.E. Hills decided Oliver and Joseph were wrong. According to him, they didn't understand geography and archaeology as well as he did. 

So Hills gave us M2C.

Now, in 2022, our intrepid LDS scholars and their followers pursue the same line of reasoning. 

Bizarre, isn't it?

There are lots of fun things to discover in Hills' book. Here, on page 141, he explains that "An Israelitish custom was to call a pyramid a tower." Joseph just forgot to translate it correctly. 

Our current experts at Book of Mormon Central have adopted the same line of reasoning for every part of the text that doesn't fit M2C.

Hills' book is replete with his own translation of the Book of Mormon. No wonder our M2C scholars have felt free to provide their M2C translation as well.   

Fortunately, we have the Joseph Smith Papers that let us read the original documents without the spin of the modern M2C and SITH scholars.

We can all see that there was only one hill Cumorah and it is in New York.

Monday, September 12, 2022

SITH - a sandy foundation

The ongoing renovation of the Salt Lake Temple reminds us of foundations.   

I took this photo in July 2021.

"Sandy foundation" is another non-biblical phrase that appears three times in the Book of Mormon.* Several passages in the scriptures explain the difference between a foundation of stone and a foundation of sand or earth. [examples at the end of this post]

The Savior told the Nephites, "But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall...."

What constitutes a "sandy foundation" in our day?

Recently I had a conversation with yet another LDS Bishop who told me how he had called in a faithful couple to extend a calling but they explained they not only could not accept the calling, but they were leaving the Church over issues in Church history. They took several other families with them when they left. 

In their cases, when the rain descends, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon them, their foundation of sand crumbled (or, as many like to say, their shelf broke).

By now, most faithful Latter-day Saints know lots of people who have experienced a "faith crisis" and who have either stayed in or left the Church. Some are PIMO (physically in, mentally out). Missionaries frequently meet people who consider joining the Church but are deterred by what they read on the Internet, particularly about Church history.

Among the sandy foundations, one of the most unstable is the claim that Joseph didn't really translate the plates but instead merely read words off a stone in the hat (SITH). After all, the 1834 anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unvailed described SITH precisely as certain LDS scholars do today. Yet Joseph described that book as full of lies, and his successors repeatedly reaffirmed what Joseph and Oliver taught about the translation--which was definitely not SITH.


The Preface to the Doctrine and Covenants explains how the translation of the Book of Mormon is one of the foundations for the Restoration.

29 And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.
30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness...
(Doctrine and Covenants 1:29–30)

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery laid a firm foundation through their testimonies of 

(i) the translation of the Book of Mormon with the Urim and Thummim that accompanied the plates, 

(ii) the divine authenticity of the account Joseph translated, including the fact that the final battles took place west of the hill Cumorah in western New York; and 

(iii) the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, along with the keys to the temple.

Nevertheless, some leading LDS scholars claim that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone about the translation and the historicity. Some even cast doubt on the restoration of the Priesthood.


A June 2013 report titled "LDS Personal Faith Crisis" discussed at length the issues that have led people to the type of faith crisis described by the Bishop I just mentioned. The report was a factor leading to the creation and publication of the Gospel Topics Essays. You can read the entire report here:


Page 31 features this graphic:

(click to enlarge)

By far, the top four reasons respondents gave for their loss of belief were they ceased to believe the doctrine/theology, they studied Church history and lost their belief, they lost faith in Joseph Smith, and they lost faith in the Book of Mormon.

Those reasons are axiomatic, really; few people leave the faith while still believing that Joseph Smith actually translated an authentic ancient record. 

Instead, those who leave have concluded that Joseph did not translate any plates. 

And yet, some of our leading LDS scholars are spending millions of dollars to convince everyone that Joseph didn't actually translate the plates, but instead employed SITH. 

The scriptures have long warned about the dangers of building on a sandy foundation. There can hardly be a more sandy foundation than SITH.


* As additional evidence that Joseph Smith actually translated the plates, the phrase "sandy foundation" was used by Jonathan Edwards to contrast with the certain foundation of true faith, as when he wrote about "a false and sandy foundation for faith" in the 1808 collection of his writings that was on sale in the Palmyra bookstore around 1820. He also wrote about being "built on a sandy foundation." 

Evidence that the non-biblical language in the Book of Mormon was part of Joseph's own lexicon supports Joseph's claim that he translated the plates.


Some scriptural passages:

24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

(Matthew 7:24–27)

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

(Luke 6:47–49)

For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
(2 Nephi 28:28)

39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
(3 Nephi 11:39–40)

24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
(3 Nephi 14:24–27)

12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.
(3 Nephi 18:12–13)

29 And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.
30 And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
(Doctrine and Covenants 1:29–30)

 1 Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:
2 Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true; wherefore you know that they are true.
3 And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;
4 For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.
5 Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.
(Doctrine and Covenants 18:1–5)

43 And now, I will show unto you a parable, that you may know my will concerning the redemption of Zion.
44 A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon this very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive trees;
45 And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard.
 46 Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower.
 47 And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?
 48 And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?
 49 Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things.
50 And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.
51 And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive trees.
52 Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?
53 Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?
 54 And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer.
55 And the lord of the vineyard said unto one of his servants: Go and gather together the residue of my servants, and take all the strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men, and they that are of middle age also among all my servants, who are the strength of mine house, save those only whom I have appointed to tarry;
 56 And go ye straightway unto the land of my vineyard, and redeem my vineyard; for it is mine; I have bought it with money.
57 Therefore, get ye straightway unto my land; break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen.
58 And inasmuch as they gather together against you, avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house and possess the land.
 59 And the servant said unto his lord: When shall these things be?
 60 And he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;
61 And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.
(Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–61)

36 For they killed the prophets, and them that were sent unto them; and they have shed innocent blood, which crieth from the ground against them.
37 Therefore, marvel not at these things, for ye are not yet pure; ye can not yet bear my glory; but ye shall behold it if ye are faithful in keeping all my words that I have given you, from the days of Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Jesus and his apostles, and from Jesus and his apostles to Joseph Smith, whom I did call upon by mine angels, my ministering servants, and by mine own voice out of the heavens, to bring forth my work;
38 Which foundation he did lay, and was faithful; and I took him to myself.
39 Many have marveled because of his death; but it was needful that he should seal his testimony with his blood, that he might be honored and the wicked might be condemned.
40 Have I not delivered you from your enemies, only in that I have left a witness of my name?
41 Now, therefore, hearken, O ye people of my church; and ye elders listen together; you have received my kingdom.
42 Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen.
(Doctrine and Covenants 136:36–42)

16 ¶ Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
(Isaiah 28:16–17)


True faith is built on no precarious foundation; but a determination that the words of such a particular text, were, by the immediate power of God, suggested to the mind, at such a time, as though then spoken and directed by God to him, because the words came after such a manner, is wholly an uncertain and precarious determination, as has been now shown; and therefore is a false and sandy foundation for faith; and accordingly that faith which is built upon it is false. The only certain foundation which any person has to believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel, is that the Word of God declares that persons so qualified as he is, are invited, and God who declares it is true and cannot lie. Religious Affections, Vol. 2, Part 3, p. 223; Kindle 29071

10. If it was possible for Christ to have failed of doing the will of his Father, and so to have failed of effectually working out redemption for sinners, then the salvation of all the saints, who were saved from the beginning of the world, to the death of Christ, was not built on a firm foundation. The Messiah, and the redemption which he was to work out by his obedience unto death, was the foundation of the salvation of all the posterity of fallen man, that ever were saved.... Also the dependence of those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, and waited for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25 and Luke 2:38), and the confidence of the disciples of Jesus, who forsook all and followed him, that they might enjoy the benefits of his future kingdom, was built on a sandy foundation. Freedom of the Will, Vol. 1, Part III, p. 287-8.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Credibility spectrum, part 3

Today we'll look at the credibility spectrum as it applies to what Joseph Smith claimed.

We explained the spectrum yesterday, here:


(click to enlarge)

People are free to believe whatever they want. The spectrum depicts a range of beliefs along a slope. This slope shows that when people reject what Joseph and Oliver taught about a few things, they find it increasingly easy to disbelieve all of what they taught. 


This table is a chronology of some of the key events regarding the truth claims of the Restoration, as experienced and recorded by Oliver Cowdery.  

A box filled in green indicates acceptance of the truth claim. Red means rejection.

Any individual may identify with any position on the spectrum, but for illustration purposes, this table shows three general categories:

A – Traditionalists (including neo-traditionalists)

B – M2Cers and SITH sayers (Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs advocates and those who promote the stone-in-the-hat narrative of Book of Mormon translation)

C – Nonbelievers

Comments on each number are found after the table.


Joseph Smith Chronology

















1823 Sep.

Moroni tells Joseph Smith “the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place.”





1827 Mar.

Joseph told his parents, “it was the angel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord.”





1827 Dec-1828 Feb

Joseph: “I copied a considerable number of them [characters], and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:62)





1829 May

Receives Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood from John the Baptist and Peter, James and John, respectively





1829 Jun

JS tells David Whitmer that the messenger who took the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah “was one of the Nephites & that he had the plates.”





1829 Jun

JS shows the plates to the Eight Witnesses.





1830 June

JS: “I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from

the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon.”

(Preface to 1830 edition)





1830 Oct.

JS sends missionaries to the Lamanites (Indians in NY, Ohio, Missouri)






Elders’ Journal: “Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the Book of Mormon?

Answer. I obtained them [the plates] and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates and thus came the Book of Mormon.”





1842 Mar.

Wentworth letter: “With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, and power of God.”





1842 Mar.

Wentworth letter: “The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”


1. Report from Lucy Mack Smith, here:


M2Cers reject Lucy’s statement because they think the real Cumorah is in Mexico and the New York Cumorah is a false tradition. Nonbelievers reject the reality of Cumorah and any supernatural origin of the Book of Mormon.

2. Report by Lucy Mack Smith.


M2Cers reject Lucy’s statement because they think the real Cumorah is in Mexico and the New York Cumorah is a false tradition. Nonbelievers reject the reality of Cumorah and any supernatural origin of the Book of Mormon.

3. SITH-sayers claim Joseph never translated anything, but instead read words that appeared on the stone in the hat (SITH). Nonbelievers reject both translation with the Urim and Thummim and SITH.

4. Joseph and Oliver claimed divine messengers restored the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods by the laying on of hands. Nonbelievers reject that claim.

5. M2Cers reject Joseph’s statement because (i) they don’t believe Cumorah is in New York, (ii) they think the messenger was Moroni, and (iii) they believe the messenger took the plates directly to Fayette. Nonbelievers reject the entire narrative about the messenger.

6. Joseph showed the plates to the Eight Witnesses (although none of them said any of the plates were sealed). Nonbelievers reject the reality of the plates.

7. SITH-sayers don’t think Joseph “took” anything from the plates. Nonbelievers reject any divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

8. D&C 28, 30 and 32 called Oliver Cowdery and three others to embark on a mission to the Lamanites. They visited Indian tribes in New York, Ohio, and Missouri/Kansas. Some believers reject that identification, as do nonbelievers.

9. SITH-sayers don’t believe Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates. Nonbelievers don’t believe the plates or Urim and Thummim ever existed.

10. SITH-sayers don’t believe Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates. Nonbelievers don’t believe the plates or Urim and Thummim ever existed.


11. M2Cers claim the Lamanites live in Central America instead of being “the Indians that now inhabit this country.” Nonbelievers don’t believe there ever were any Lamanites.