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.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Already given: 116 pages and Cumorah

In the October 2022 General Conference, Elder Renlund reminded us of an important principle.

“When we ask for revelation about something God has already given clear direction, we open ourselves up to misinterpreting our feelings and hearing what we want to hear.”


In a courtroom setting, this is known as the "asked and answered" objection that is raised when the opposing attorney asks a question which has already been answered. The objection prevents attorneys from turning questions into argumentative rhetoric and from wasting time by hoping for a different answer; i.e., an answer they want instead of the answer already given.

In Church history, one of the best examples of this principle is the loss of the 116 pages. Joseph explained:

Some time after Mr Harris had began to write for me, he began to tease me to give him liberty to carry the writings home and shew them, and desired of me that I would enquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin if he might not do so. 

I did enquire, and the answer was that he must not. 

However he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should enquire again. 

I did so, and the answer was as before. 

Still he could not be contented but insisted that I should enquire once more. after After much solicitation I again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions...


A less well-known example involves the hill Cumorah and M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).

Although the prophets have long identified the location of Cumorah, certain scholars "could not be contented" with that answer. Instead, they reject what the prophets have taught and have asked and asked again, never satisfied with the answer we've had from the first time Moroni met Joseph Smith.

Consequently, as Elder Renlund observed, they hear only what they want to hear. They teach their own theories as the only acceptable interpretation, using their fiduciary positions as teachers to undermine faith in the teachings of the prophets and in the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Instead of accepting what the prophets have taught and interpreting the text of the Book of Mormon accordingly, they impose their own interpretations onto the teachings of the prophets.


The location of Cumorah was established the first time Moroni met with Joseph Smith. When questions arose about the historicity of the Book of Mormon, Joseph and Oliver responded by reiterating that it was a fact that the hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is the same hill in New York where Moroni deposited the plates in the stone box. Joseph's contemporaries and successors have consistently reaffirmed the New York site of Cumorah.

In the early 1900s, however, some RLDS scholars questioned the New York setting. To make their theory of a limited geography in Mexico work, they decided that the "real" Cumorah had to be in southern Mexico. This was the origin of M2C.

Certain LDS scholars adopted the M2C theory. They knew that prophets and apostles had reaffirmed the New York Cumorah in General Conference, as recently as 1975 and 1978. Nevertheless, in 1979, Jack Welch and other scholars organized FARMS to develop and promote M2C. 

They trained generations of young LDS students at BYU to think M2C was the only viable interpretation of the Book of Mormon. They taught that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah. They created a logo featuring a Mayan glyph to represent the Book of Mormon.

When they created Book of Mormon Central to replace FARMS, they brought the M2C logo with them. They have spent millions of dollars to emblazon M2C on videos, books, websites, and articles throughout the Church. 

By now, they have largely obliterated the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah, to the point where their followers accuse fellow Latter-day Saints who still believe the teachings of the prophets as apostates.

One of their tactics is to claim there has never been any revelation about Cumorah and that everyone who spoke about the New York Cumorah was perpetrating a false tradition.

But everyone can see that it was Moroni himself who identified the hill in New York as Cumorah. We can all judge for ourselves whether what Moroni told Joseph Smith constitutes revelation.

Lucy Mack Smith related that Moroni told Joseph Smith:

the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars of cement— then the angel left him

Lucy's account was corroborated as early as 1830 by Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt during their mission to the Lamanites. 

In 1827, Joseph referred to the hill as Cumorah even before he got the plates. In 1829, David Whitmer first learned the name Cumorah from the divine messenger who took the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah before bringing the plates of Nephi to Fayette.

In 1835, after critics claimed the Book of Mormon was fiction, Oliver Cowdery explained it was a fact that the hill in New York was the very hill Mormon described in Mormon 6:6.

All of these references and many more are readily available from reliable original sources, including the Joseph Smith Papers and General Conference reports.

Nevertheless, our M2C scholars insist the prophets were wrong--and they've managed to convince many of their students to follow them.


We all want more information about the historicity of the Book of Mormon to better understand its context. But how can anyone expect the Lord to reveal more information when so many have outright rejected what the prophets have taught about Cumorah?


31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

(Doctrine and Covenants 58:31–33)

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