I'm still hearing from people who want to see the indictment of M2C.
Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography (GTE-BofMG).
Time will tell.
In the meantime, I'll preview a few elements of the indictment that I will unseal in April if the M2C disaster isn't resolved before then.
Today we'll consider three elements: GTE-BofMG, Saints, and the Wentworth letter. I think that, had Church leaders been provided good information in the past, a lot of the problems we face today would never have developed in the first place.
There is one common thread to these issues: Church employees (CES, BYU, COB) giving leaders poor or incomplete information.
Church leaders are extremely busy, with more demands on their time than they can possibly meet. Elder Holland recent referred to "topics that absorb 15 of us who toss and turn when we would like to sleep and slumber.”
Surely, receiving poor information from people they trust and rely on doesn't help them fulfill their responsibilities or get good sleep.
The most important example I discuss today is the Wentworth letter. Had previous leaders recognized what Joseph Smith taught there, the Asian DNA in Latin America would never have been a problem.
1. First, let's consider the recent example of poor information given to leaders: the GTE-BofMG.
On its face, the essay appears reasonable and balanced.
However, the essay was drafted by a committee of M2C believers who relied on the M2C citation cartel. The essay uses a quotation from President Ivins that has been a staple among M2C proponents at FairlyMormon and the rest of the citation cartel, as well as by M2C proponents in the Correlation Department at COB.
As we've seen, GTE-BofMG
(i) takes President Ivins' quotation out of context,
(ii) inserts a misleading paraphrase, and
(iii) ignores President Ivins' specific and direct General Conference talk about the importance of the Hill Cumorah in New York.
Unsuspecting and uninformed readers of the essay would have no idea about these three problems because they assume and expect the authors provided full and accurate information (which they did not do).
This gives us two possible scenarios about the origins of the essay. You decide which is more plausible.
a. The drafting committee informed the Brethren about President Ivins' General Conference talk about Cumorah but the Brethren chose to ignore it and instead released the misleading paraphrase and out-of-context quotation on GTE-BofMG; or
b. The drafting committee did not inform the Brethren about President Ivins' General Conference talk about Cumorah and did not explain how the Ivins quotation in the essay was out-of-context and how the paraphrase was misleading. Instead they provided the GTE-BofMG as is and the Brethren, assuming they had been given accurate and complete information, approved it.
Anyone who has worked for a large organization knows the second scenario is routine. That's how organizations function. Staff does the research, then prepares reports, position papers, etc., and leadership approves, modifies or rejects the material, based primarily on organizational goals and direction. Leadership doesn't do its own research; that's the job of the staff.
The second scenario is even more likely in the Church setting because it is unimaginable that the Brethren would knowingly and intentionally publish such misleading material as the GTE-BofMG contains.
The editors admitted they created a false historical narrative present because of M2C, as I discussed here:
The M2C accommodation problem actually goes much deeper than that, as we'll see in the indictment.
3. One of the biggest challenges in the Church right now is the CES Letter, and one of the main elements of that is the problem of DNA and statements by Church leaders about Lamanites in Latin America.
This whole issue is a result of poor information provided to Church leaders.
The "Lamanites in Latin America" concept should have been extinguished when Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth letter.
By now, it is well known that Joseph adapted Orson Pratt's 1840 missionary pamphlet when he wrote the Wentworth letter.
Less well known is that Joseph explicitly deleted all of Orson Pratt's speculation about Central and South America. He replaced that speculation with the specific statement that "The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."
I detailed all of this in my book Brought to Light, but it's too much detail to explain in a blog post. If you're interested, you can compare the Pratt pamphlet to the Wentworth letter by going to the Joseph Smith Papers, here:
Joseph's simple yet profound statement corroborates D&C 28, 30 and 32. However, Joseph's contemporaries, especially the Pratt brothers, Benjamin Winchester, William Smith, and others, completely ignored what he taught.
I searched for this sentence in Journal of Discourses and General Conference addresses in WordCruncher (1839-1970 and 2008-2018) and found no hits.
Apparently Joseph's direct statement about the identity of the Lamanites has never been quoted in General Conference.
"Indians" were mentioned 1,066 times (3 times since 2008). "Lamanites" were mentioned 592 (43 times since 2008) times.
I was curious why this statement has never been quoted.
The answer, apparently, is that people didn't know about it.
The Wentworth letter is not found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which was first published in 1938 and for many decades was the primary source for Joseph's teachings.
Long-time readers here know the statement was deliberately censored in the chapter on the Wentworth letter in the 2007 manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.
Our M2C citation cartel doesn't exactly highlight this teaching, so you won't find it there, except in one astonishing article that uses sophistry to explain how Joseph's teaching about "this country" actually referred to Central America!
To find Joseph's teaching about the identity of the remnant, a Church leader would have had to read the original March 1, 1842, Times and Seasons (or Vol. 4, chapter 31 of Documentary History of the Church). The statement, as important as it is, would not likely stand out among the thousands of words in those two references.
That explains why no one has quoted it in General Conference.
[Fortunately, the censors missed one source. A careful student can read it in the 2017 Church manual on the Pearl of Great Price, which includes the entire, uncensored Wentworth letter.
https://www.lds.org/manual/the-pearl-of-great-price-student-manual-2018/the-articles-of-faith?lang=eng. That was a carryover from the 2000 manual, and probably a carryover from an earlier version. You can also read the entire, uncensored Wentworth letter in the 1878 Liahona, here
https://www.lds.org/liahona/1978/06/the-wentworth-letter?lang=eng. In 1978, Elder Mark E. Petersen taught the New York Cumorah in General Conference. Again, this was before the M2C censors took over. Sadly, most Church members today rely on the lesson manual that censored what Joseph taught.]
If Joseph's specific teaching about the remnant of Lehi's people had been embraced instead of buried, would we have accepted the idea that all of the indigenous people in North, Central and South America, plus the Pacific Islanders, were descendants of Lehi?
That seems unlikely.
Now we're in a situation where we can justify the hemispheric teachings only by inferring there were at least some migrations and intermarriages between the actual remnant of Joseph in North America and the rest of the hemisphere, but that's a weak argument, made worse by the DNA evidence.
By ignoring Joseph's teaching, people (both within and outside the Church) are left with confusion. We have no idea where the Book of Mormon took place or who the Lamanites are.
Many Church members are oblivious to the problem, but critics (and investigators) are definitely not. Here's an example that lays it out pretty well.
Getting back to GTE-BofMG, the essay is important because at least it stops the bleeding; i.e., it prohibits future teaching of M2C in Church settings.
But because of the poor information given by the employees to the leaders, the essay ignores the consistent, persistent teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and instead claims we have no idea about anything having to do with Book of Mormon geography.
|BYU's fantasyland map of the
Book of Mormon