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, April 17, 2017

How to financially support the Mesoamerican and Two-Cumorahs theories

Questions have arisen about my post regarding Book of Mormon Central (BMC) and Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc. (BMAF). This post attempts to clarify the situation from my perspective. I welcome input/corrections by email.

I realize this may all sound a little confrontational, but I think it's important for people to know what is going on here. Not many people know what BMAF is, but BMC has done a lot of work and spent a lot of money to promote its message.

As always, I emphasize that I respect the views of everyone involved. On a personal level, I like them and am happy to work with them in any way possible. But I also think members of the Church and investigators should know that there is a specific agenda involved here that is not exactly listed on the splash pages of these organizations.

BMAF is a strident advocacy group for the Mesoamerican theory. They actively promote the two-Cumorahs theory and the idea that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah through Letter VII, etc.

BMC is merely a front for BMAF. People who donate money to BMC are donating money to promote the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theory.

It really is as simple as that.

I wouldn't bother bringing this up except that BMC provides material to promote their Mesoamerican theory that is spread throughout LDS culture, such as through Mesomania Magazine, aka Meridian Magazine.

Here is the Mission Statement of BMAF, found here:

If you can't read it, it says:

The Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum (BMAF) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization dedicated as an open forum for presentation, dissemination, and discussion of research and evidences regarding Book of Mormon archaeology, anthropology, geography and culture within a Mesoamerican context.  Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex, (2) to correlate and publish works of LDS and CofC scholars, (3) to help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon, and (4) to provide a forum where responsible scholars can present current ideas and discoveries. 

Of course, by "responsible scholars" they mean "scholars who promote a Mesoamerican setting" that supports the organization's mission.

I call BMAF a club for Mesoamerican activists, and if you read their materials, you see it clearly. They make no pretense about following the Church's official position of neutrality.

I have no problem with that because they are open about it.

That's not the case with BMC, though. They have pretended to follow the Church's policy in the past. But in reality, they are merely a front for BMAF.

Here is the explanation of how BMC is a front for BMAF, found here:

If you can't read it, it says:

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 1983.

Now, look at what BMAF wants people to believe about its mission:

Our Mission Statement

Book of Mormon Central (BMC) exists to invite all people, especially the rising generation, to:
  1. Build faith in Jesus Christ
  2. Learn and cherish pure doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
  3. “Remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon” (D&C 84:57)
  4. Access scholarly evidence from BMC to answer hard questions about the Book of Mormon, including its origins—so that they “may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5)
Those are laudable goals that I completely embrace, of course, but they forget to tell people about the mission of their corporate owner, BMAF, which I listed above.

We need to add #5 to the BMC mission statement:

5. Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex,

BMC's pursuit of this unlisted goal has been apparent for a long time, based on the editorial slant of the BMC "Kno-Whys" and other material. It's difficult for me to understand how they can build faith while promoting the Two-Cumorahs theory that undermines the credibility and reliability of Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery, but they have rationalized this in their own minds.

As with BMAF, I would have no problem with it if they were more up front about it. By pretending to be neutral, BMC is not coming clean with their readers.

BMC adopted this statement in June 2016:

Book of Mormon Central Policy on Book of Mormon Geography – June 2016

Book of Mormon Central at this time is officially geography neutral. We seek deep understanding of the Book of Mormon text. We hope diligent students work together to achieve working consensus on the geographic correlation issue. Until that happens, our selection of exegetical material is guided by these principles:
  • In our hierarchy of evidence, the text itself is primary because it is closest to the divine.
  • If profound and compelling location-specific insights shed light on the text, we highlight these regardless of their geographic provenience.
  • We favor authors with credentials in their areas of interest.
  • We favor formally published works from reputable presses.
We welcome good work from any geographic persuasion that is responsive to these principles.
In reality, of course, these wonderful sentiments are a smokescreen over the goal of BMAF "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex." The content of BMC's archive and the new material they produce is all designed to fulfill the BMAF goal.

In my opinion, it is tragic to have such a potentially valuable resource as BMC become nothing more than a souped-up version of BMAF

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