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, March 1, 2019

implying either prophetic or Church support

On this topic of Book of Mormon geography/historicity, I understand there is too much information and detail for most people. People are busy, so they tend to pick a side and stick with it. They simply assume someone must know what's going on, and that's good enough for them.

With that reality in mind, a preliminary question to ask is, do you pick a side that supports the teachings of the prophets, or a side that claims the prophets support their teachings?

Yesterday we looked at the new Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography, which stated:

Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories.

According to this policy, Book of Mormon Central and other members of the M2C citation cartel should cease promoting M2C immediately.

They won't, of course. But until they do, we'll keep pointing it how directly they are contravening the new policy.

Some people wonder how the M2C advocates are implying either prophetic or Church support for their theories. (Actually, they imply both.)

Today let's look at Book of Mormon Central, which I call Book of Mormon Central Censor (BOMCC) because they actively promote M2C and censor information that contradicts M2C.

It's very unfortunate, actually. I like everyone at BOMCC. I think they do a lot of good, and I use their resources all the time. But their focus on M2C taints everything they do. Readers and viewers can never be sure if they are reading/watching accurate information or editorial promotion of M2C. Usually it's the latter.

Their censorship of other viewpoints is anti-academic, the opposite of inclusive, and a direct violation of the Church's long-stated policy of neutrality.

They will never change because they've convinced themselves their theories are right and that they have prophetic and Church support for their theories.

Every theory of Book of Mormon geography has critics and supporters. I encourage people to believe whatever works for them. But I oppose censorship.

This is where I disagree with BOMCC: I encourage people to make informed decisions by learning all the facts, including the teachings of the prophets along with the various sciences.

I don't claim prophetic or Church support because the Church, "officially," is completely neutral on these issues. I censor nothing. I seek input and correction if I ever misstate a fact or misrepresent an opinion or theory. I'm not trying to persuade anyone of anything; instead, I encourage education and comparisons of different ideas. I even encourage people go to the M2C web pages and read their material to see for themselves. In this very post, I'm linking to BOMCC websites. I've linked to websites that promote other theories as well, so everyone can see what everyone else thinks.

Now, let's compare by seeing how BOMCC advocates the M2C theory and claims prophetic and Church support for their theory.

M2C advocacy

First, note that it's very logo shows it promotes M2C. It features four languages they think are scriptural: Egyptian, Greek, Latin, and Mayan.

BMAF logo showing M2C
Second, BOMCC is merely a legal front for BMAF, the 501(c)(3) organization that donors are actually contributing to. BMAF's corporate mission is "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

BOMCC promotes M2C through the selection of material it puts in its archive, through its articles called Kno-Whys, through its educational outreach programs, and through its art collection and contests.

I think it's great when people donate to BOMCC, so long as donors realize they are donating to support the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorah's theory which teaches that:

1. The events of the Book of Mormon took place entirely in Mesoamerica. The hill in New York where Joseph found the plates is not the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon. That hill is somewhere in southern Mexico.
2. Anyone who disagrees with M2C is naive, uninformed, and wrong.You have to be trained in Mesoamerican studies to completely understand and interpret the Book of Mormon and Church history.
3. Past prophets who taught that Cumorah is in New York were expressing their private opinions and were wrong. Instead of letting Church members know what the prophets have taught, it's better to focus on the teachings of current M2C intellectuals.
4. It's important to censor information that contradicts M2C so Church members won't be confused by other ideas and comparisons. It's also important to depict M2C in Church media, visitors centers, etc.

Again, I'm fine with people believing all of this--but it should be an informed decision, not the result of viewpoint-enforcing censorship and sophistry.

Among the considerations people should make when deciding whether to accept and support M2C are these:

1. M2C supports the arguments of the critics, such as the CES Letter.
2. No non-LDS Mayan experts see any connection between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica or the Mayans.
3. Teaching people that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah can impact faith. Long ago, Elder and President Joseph Fielding Smith warned that the idea of "two Cumorahs" would cause members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. We should ask whether we see that warning being fulfilled all around us.

There is no stronger advocate of M2C than BOMCC.

Claiming prophetic and Church support

BOMCC doesn't just imply prophetic and Church support; it outright claims it.

Their entire pitch to donors is based on their claim for prophetic and Church support!

Here's one of the FAQs on its web page, designed to solicit money from Church members:

Relationship of Book of Mormon Central to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

All BMC executives, board members, and employees are active, faithful, believing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of our volunteers are members of Community of Christ or Restoration Branch congregations. BMC receives no funds directly from the Church, only via the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation, and is not controlled in any way by the Church. The semi-official Church News ran an article about BMC in January, 2016. Most of our readership are Latter-day Saints. Church departments have met with us to understand precisely what we are doing. Lds.org links to bookofmormoncentral.org and we anticipate more links in the future. Some full-time CES employees volunteer with us. The Church has begun licensing the LDS scriptures to outside entities, and BMC received the first such license so that we can re-publish these sacred texts with engaging enrichment material such as art, music, explanatory notes, etc. We held our 2016 Moroni Day celebration in the Joseph Smith Building on Temple Square. The Church has sent some of their experts to consult with us and help us improve certain technical skills.

BMC is not officially endorsed by the Church, although we are a trusted independent organization. Members of the Twelve and the Seventy have keynoted BMC events. Church leaders and employees work with us both as private individuals and occasionally in official capacities. We hope our efforts help all of the religious organizations within the Restoration Movement who cherish the Book of Mormon. We hope our materials prove useful to missionaries working with investigators. We hope our approach helps many people stay in the boat as Elder Ballard taught in his October, 2014 & October, 2016 General Conference addresses. Our publications ultimately depend on research. Research is inherently exploratory and uncertain. Being completely independent empowers BMC to take calculated risks which the official Church would not be comfortable undertaking. If we are successful, the Church benefits. If we are not successful, the Church is not embarrassed. We support the Church’s mission to help more of God’s children feast upon the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon.

I think it's great when people donate to BOMCC, just so long as they realize they are contributing to M2C and to an organization that violates the Church policy of neutrality.

More screen captures from https://bookofmormoncentral.org/content/donate

No comments:

Post a Comment