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.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Kno-Why 739

This Kno-Why 739 deserves a separate post. The pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding requires us to focus on clarity first precisely because without clarity, there can be no understanding. (Charity always applies, and we assume here, as always that the authors of this Kno-Why are acting in good faith.)

I first commented on it at the end of my previous post, but it's a little buried there. And I didn't point out another important point.

Let's look at KnoWhy 739, released just a few days ago.

Here's the link:


Actually, there's no need to read the whole thing. Just search for "Cumorah" and you'll see it's exactly what I predicted in my previous post.

It's all about "Book of Mormon geography" and never once explains or even cites the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

Instead, we get these two references.

Even the location of the Hill Cumorah, where the Jaredites and the Nephites were destroyed, was not considered a settled matter—certainly many assumed it was at the hill in New York, but at least one person proposed that it was in Honduras.[4]

[4] See “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor, New York, 7 March 1832; Plain Facts, [1887], 3, [5]. Plain Facts is the earliest published suggestion that the Hill Cumorah, traditionally assumed to be in New York, may have been in Central America.

This KnoWhy, like so many others, is an insult to our intelligence. 

Rather than quote or even cite the teachings of the prophets, the KnoWhy dismisses Cumorah by saying "many assumed it was at the hill in New York." 

As if the prophets are a bunch of know-nothings who merely assume things they teach as facts.

It's beyond ridiculous, but it's consistent with the way some LDS historians violate their standards of professional ethics by refusing to cite, quote, or even address historical sources that contradict their theories.

Even the sole reference to Cumorah is laughable. The authors can't be bothered to give us a link so we can see the cited source in context, but it doesn't matter because we can all see it's absurd. 

In fact, if the article from 1887 accurately quotes the article from 1832, it should be obvious that when President Cowdery wrote Letter VII in 1835, specifically declaring it is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah is the hill in New York where Joseph obtained the plates, he was not only refuting the claim in Mormonism Unvailed that the Book of Mormon was fiction but was refuting this non-Mormon claim that Cumorah was in Honduras.

And yet, this Kno-Why passes for scholarship in some circles....

Now you know why I used to call these "No-wise" instead of Kno-Whys.


Here's the clincher. Look at their graphic:

Not only do they feature the M2C fantasy map, but they actually quote 3 Nephi 26:9!

As if the Lord is promising us "the greater things" if we will only accept this fantasy map!

It's astonishing. Maybe the pinnacle of M2C hubris.

(We hope.)

The M2C cognitive dissonance blinds them to the simple reality that this verse applies directly to the setting of the Book of Mormon. 

Instead of traipsing around southern Mexico in search of the "real Cumorah" and concocting myriad theories about why the prophets were wrong about Cumorah/Ramah in New York, what if these scholars actually received and believed what the prophets have taught?

In my view, Joseph and Oliver taught the New York Cumorah originally because that's what Moroni told Joseph the first time they met and because they had visited the repository of Nephite records in the same hill. It's simple. We can all read the historical sources for ourselves.

Then, in response to claims the Book of Mormon was fiction (the Spaulding theory), Oliver and Joseph memorialized Cumorah as a fact in Letter VII, which was copied into Joseph's personal history and republished in all the Church-affiliated newspapers during Joseph's lifetime.  

Then, Joseph's successors in Church leadership reiterated the New York Cumorah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

In terms of 3 Nephi 26:9, we could say "this" refers to the New York Cumorah, which the prophets gave us to try our faith. But because our scholars have rejected the prophets, and because many Latter-day Saints have chosen to follow the scholars instead of the prophets, "the greater things" have not been made manifest, just as the scripture warns.

But there is still time for all of us, as Latter-day Saints, to embrace the teachings of the prophets, with or without the scholars, in the hope and expectation that if/when we do so, the greater things will be made manifest unto us.

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