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, August 17, 2023

BMC promotes Mormonism Unvailed again

SITH matching quiz. Put the number of the statement in the box with the actual author:



1. the plates of the Book of Mormon weren’t directly used in the process of their translation

Joseph Smith

2. I obtained them and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates.

Jack Welch

3. The plates, therefore, which had been so much talked of, were found to be of no manner of use… Instead of looking at the characters inscribed upon the plates, the prophet was obliged to resort to the old “peep stone,” which he formerly used in money-digging.

Dan Peterson

4. I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, Interpreters,’ the history or record

Eber D. Howe

5. The Urim and Thummim [were] handed down from one generation to another, and finally buried up in Ontario county, some fifteen centuries since, to enable Smith to translate the plates without looking at them !

Royal Skousen

6. We are informed that Smith used a stone in a hat, for the purpose of translating the plates. The spectacles and plates were found together, but were taken from him and hid up again before he had translated one word, and he has never seen them since — this is Smith's own story. Let us ask, what use have- the plates been or the spectacles, so long as they have in no sense been used?

Oliver Cowdery

7. Joseph Smith’s claim that he used the Urim and Thummim is only partially true; and Oliver Cowdery’s statements that Joseph used the original instrument while he, Oliver, was the scribe appear to be intentionally misleading.”

John Dehlin

It's a bit of a trick question. #2 is Joseph Smith. #4 is Oliver Cowdery. The rest are interchangeable; i.e., they could have been written by Dehlin, Welch, Skousen, Howe or Peterson, all of whom teach that Joseph didn't actually use the plates to translate but instead read words off a stone he put in a hat.

If this sounds incredible, read on.


(click to enlarge)


The first statement in the quiz actually comes from Book of Mormon Central, through its latest affiliate, Evidence Central.

In its latest set of Orwellian "Book of Mormon Evidence" articles, Book of Mormon Central insists "the plates of the Book of Mormon weren't directly used in the process of translation."


For many Latter-day Saints, that assertion is preposterous. But for the M2C scholars and critics mentioned above, the assertion is not only a customary but mandatory belief.

After all, the core value of both Book of Mormon Central (BMC) and Mormon Stories seems to be rejecting and repudiating what Joseph and Oliver claimed about the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon, replacing what they taught with the theories of scholars. 

Actually, it's not even Jack Welch and Dan Peterson and their followers who have come up with these theories.

Mormonism Unvailed published these theories in 1834. Statements 3, 5 and 6 from the quiz are from Mormonism Unvailed by Eber D. Howe. Although the statements read like the script from Dan Peterson's Witnesses movie, or any number of Jack Welch's "kno-why" or evidence articles, they are actually from Mormonism Unvailed, page 18, which you can see here:


and here


BMC is merely regurgitating the Mormonism Unvailed narrative and dressing it up so they can sell it to Latter-day Saints. They seem to think that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone and the Church would grow better by replacing their narrative with the Eber D. Howe narrative from Mormonism Unvailed.

We can all see that Joseph and Oliver denounced Mormonism Unvailed and explicitly refuted its claims about SITH.

See, e.g., http://www.ldshistoricalnarratives.com/2023/04/mormonism-unvailed-then-and-now.html



Nevertheless, our wonderful scholars at Book of Mormon Central (and the Interpreter) have decided that Mormonism Unvailed told the "true" history of the origins of the Book of Mormon.


Now BMC asks the same rhetorical question Mormonism Unvailed posed in 1834 (statement 6 above). 

Instead of responding the way Joseph and Oliver did--by explaining that Joseph did use the plates--BMC offers a set of answers that merely reinforce the absurdity of the SITH narrative.

You really have to read this explanation of the "Purpose of the Plates" to see how fully Book of Mormon Central has adopted and embraced the narrative from Mormonism Unvailed.

Book of Mormon Evidence: Purpose of the Plates


It is sometimes claimed that because the plates of the Book of Mormon weren’t directly used in the process of their translation, then they served no meaningful purpose. To the contrary, in a variety of ways the plates played a valuable role in the unfolding drama of the Restoration.

People are sometimes surprised to discover that, according to a number of historical accounts, the plates of the Book of Mormon were not regularly used during the process of its translation.1 While translating, Joseph Smith would typically place his face into a hat to block out ambient light.2 He would then, according to witnesses, read aloud the words which miraculously appeared in a seer stone, and a scribe would record them.3

As for the plates themselves, Emma Smith reported that they “often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth.”4 Other witnesses recalled that on a few occasions the plates were kept “in a nearby box under the bed or even hidden in the Whitmer’s barn during translation.”5 

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