The 200th anniversary of Moroni's first visit to Joseph Smith reminds us that the entire controversy about Cumorah depends entirely on which assumption you make.
It's very simple.
All we need is clarity, charity and understanding.
1. Everyone agrees on the basic fact that President Oliver Cowdery, as Assistant President of the Church, declared it is a fact that Cumorah/Ramah in the Book of Mormon is the same hill Cumorah in western New York where Moroni deposited the plates.
2. Everyone agrees that Oliver's declaration was republished in Church newspapers during Joseph's lifetime and copied into Joseph's journal as part of his life history.
1. Some people assume Oliver told the truth.
2. Other people assume Oliver did not tell the truth. These people include both nonbelieving critics and believing LDS scholars who advocate the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C).
1. Those who assume Oliver told the truth infer he had good reason to know about Cumorah, such as his visits to the repository in the hill Cumorah and his interactions with divine messengers.
2. Those who assume Oliver did not tell the truth infer he was either (i) a liar or (ii) an ignorant speculator who misled the Church as a result of his identification of Cumorah/Ramah.
The ensuing theories are supported by evidence consisting of
- interpreting the text
- finding supporting historical references
- finding supporting archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography, etc.
Graphically, it looks like this:
Those who assume Oliver was wrong end up either (i) rejecting the historicity of the Book of Mormon or (ii) following the M2C logic as spelled out by Sidney Sperry, L.E. Hills, John Sorenson, and their followers.