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 23, 2018

Ministering and Cumorah

The new emphasis on ministering is awesome. But there is a very serious problem going on that nobody wants to discuss. It has to do with ministering and the Book of Mormon, and the problem has developed because we've veered off the course that Joseph and Oliver established long ago.

LDS scholars have repudiated the prophets, many Church employees have followed their lead, and until we as a people decide to reject the scholars and embrace the prophets, this problem is only going to get worse.

Almost 40 years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson said, "The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to “sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect.” (Moses 7:62.) This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work."

October 1988 General Conference, "Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon,"

He went on to say,

The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of the electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.

It's fair to say that the Church has done more to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon over the last 40 years. There are over 160 million copies in print, and essentially infinite numbers of electronic versions. Verses have been posted on social media billions of times.

And yet, what are the results? Not what President Benson anticipated. According to the statistics,

LDS membership growth rates have decelerated to their lowest levels since 1937 at a mere 1.48% during 2017... The number of convert baptisms in 2017 was the lowest reported by the Church since 1987 when there were 227,000 converts baptized.


Why would flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon lead to declining baptisms? Why are most baptisms in areas where people don't speak English and have little access to the Internet?

Because certain LDS intellectuals have repudiated the prophets, and employees in Church departments follow the intellectuals instead of the prophets regarding a key, fundamental point about the Book of Mormon.

Early Church leaders knew the importance of physical evidence as proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. During Zion's camp, Joseph Smith  recounted "the history of the Book of Mormon" while passing through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, which he said were "the plains of the Nephites." He described "roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity."

On another occasion, President Cowdery responded to reports that the Latter-day Saints disbelieved the Bible. He wrote, "We believe that sacred record from the evidence we have of its divine authenticity, and because we believe it a consistent book, when taken in its true meaning." (Messenger and Advocate, October 1836, p. 385).

Evidence to support the divine authenticity of the Bible was just as important as evidence to support the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph thought "proof of its divine authenticity" was important during his lifetime, so why would it not be important now?

The answer, of course, is that it is even more important now than ever before.

Apart from Joseph's teachings during Zion's camp, what else did Joseph and Oliver teach about physical evidence?

They taught that the hill Cumorah was in New York.This means the site of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites, Mormon's depository of Nephite records, and Moroni's stone box containing the abridgment of those records.

Certain LDS scholars have rejected the New York Cumorah. Thanks to their efforts, students at BYU and CES, along with Church employees in various Church departments, also reject the New York Cumorah. 

How can a sincere, knowledgeable investigator take the Book of Mormon seriously when LDS intellectuals and employees throughout Church departments teach that our own prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah? 

These LDS intellectuals and employees promote a Mesoamerican setting that claims there are actually two Cumorahs: a false one in New York, and a real one in southern Mexico. To repudiate the prophets, these intellectuals cite illusory "correspondences" between Mayan culture and their strained interpretations of the text of the Book of Mormon.

Meanwhile, there is abundant evidence that supports the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. The text itself describes North America. The archaeology, geology and anthropology support what the text and the prophets teach. 

More and more, potential investigators (and many Church members, especially the youth) are saying, "Get your act together on the Book of Mormon first if you want us to take the book seriously."

Once we do this--once we return to the course long established by the prophets about the New York Cumorah--that unity will generate new energy and power as we minister to members and nonmembers. 

Then President Benson's vision will be fulfilled.
We have the Book of Mormon, we have the members, we have the missionaries, we have the resources, and the world has the need. The time is now!

My beloved brothers and sisters, we hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved.

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