In fact, they claim the living prophets have hired them, these intellectuals, to guide the Church.
Here are two questions we'll keep in mind this week.
1. What is the correct term to use when an intellectual says the prophets are wrong?
The M2C intellectuals try to frame their position nicely by claiming all the prophets who have taught the New York Cumorah were merely expressing their opinions. Unfortunately, they were wrong because they, the M2C intellectuals, know that the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is somewhere in Mesoamerica.
Here's the google definition of repudiate.
The definition precisely fits the position of these M2C intellectuals. When it comes to the New York Cumorah, they reject, renounce, disavow, disown, deny, refute, contradict, and every other synonym.
If there's another term that better reflects the position of the M2C intellectuals about the New York Cumorah, I'd like someone to tell me. If it makes sense, then I'll use that term instead of repudiate.
But until then, it seems obvious to me and everyone who reads their writings that the M2C intellectuals at FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, etc., outright repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
I suspect we'll see plenty of examples at the conference this week.
2. What is the significance of the anonymous Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography?
There are two features of the Gospel Topics Essays generally that put them in a strange category, but this particular one on geography is in a category of its own.
1. The essays are anonymous. This means no one takes responsibility for them. They were written by a committee, which is obvious (as I'll discuss below). Once approved, the essays are just posted on churchofjesuschrist.org and everyone is supposed to think they are authoritative, but in what sense?
Presumably they fall somewhere short of the scriptures (although some contradict the scriptures in important ways). Are they more or less authoritative than General Conference addresses? What about General Conference addresses by members of the First Presidency? Do these essays override everything ever spoken or written prior to their undated posting on the Church's web page?
There are literally no answers to these questions that I can find anywhere. If someone knows of an official framework that prioritizes these essays over the scriptures, over General Conference addresses, or puts them in any sort of category that we can make sense of them, I'd like to know about it.
This is important because our M2C intellectuals cite the geography essay for the purpose of overriding all prior teachings about the New York Cumorah--even though the essay doesn't even mention Cumorah. They specifically confer more authority on the essay than they do on General Conference addresses.
I frequently hear from readers who have questions about the essays generally, and about this one specifically. I respond that, from what I can gather, they are intended as guidance but have no priority over the scriptures or General Conference addresses. Hence, these essays are a framework for further discussion and analysis, with individuals reaching their own conclusions. They were never intended to enable certain intellectuals to claim official endorsement of their positions that contradict the teachings of the prophets.
But again, I could be wrong. Maybe these anonymous essays are the most official of all Church doctrine, with everything else subservient. I just can't tell from any official source.
2. The essays are subject to change at any time without notice. As I've shown in the links below, this geography essay has already been substantially changed once without notice and could be changed again at any moment. Other essays have also been modified without notice.
What does this say for the authority of the essay?
In my view, the susceptibility to change makes these essays useful only as a starting place for discussion. How could they be authoritative if they can be changed at any time, especially without explanation?
The change to the first version of the geography essay corrected some obvious mistakes and misleading information, but the revision retained some of the mistakes. Such a process is an inevitable result of an anonymous committee writing the essay with input from only one point-of-view, that of the M2C intellectuals who have long since repudiated the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
I've discussed this essay several times already.
Original version: http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2019/01/gospel-topics-essay-on-book-of-mormon.html
Second version: http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2019/02/great-news-revised-gospel-topics-essay.html
The geography essay purports to establish an official position of neutrality. I've discussed how the so-called policy of "neutrality" is actually implemented and enforced to mean the Church is neutral about where in Mesoamerica the events took place. There is no evidence of any neutrality that even acknowledges, let alone accommodates, the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. Here's an example:
We could discuss other essays as well. The original objective, as I understood it, was to set out some facts and arguments regarding topics that have been discussed for many years without any official acknowledgement of the issues. In that sense, the essays are useful.
The problem is, the essays have taken one point of view and presented it as the "correct" interpretation. That creates all kinds of problems.
That's a topic for another day, but watch for this in the next few weeks and see what happens.