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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

"as plain as words can be"

By now, most Latter-day Saints presumably understand the distinction between "Book of Mormon geography," which is subjective and speculative, and the well-known and established prophetic teachings about the Americas and Cumorah.  

The Essay on Book of Mormon Geography focuses on the subjective and speculative aspects, as I discussed here:


Simply put, the prophets have long taught that (i) Book of Mormon events in the New World took place in "the Americas" and (ii) the Hill Cumorah/Ramah is the hill in western New York where Joseph obtained the plates. Thus, neither of those elements is the subject of speculation and are not encompassed by the term "Book of Mormon geography" as used in the essay.

In other words, the prophets have established these two elements "in plainness, even as plain as word can be" (2 Nephi 32:7).

The question every Latter-day Saint should ask is whether we will or will not "understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7)


One of the "plain and precious" truths regarding the Book of Mormon relates to its divine authenticity as an actual history.

In 1835, President Oliver Cowdery spelled out this truth "as plain as words can be" when he wrote the first detailed history of the Restoration with the assistance of Joseph Smith. Responding to critics who claimed the Book of Mormon was fiction, President Cowdery emphasized the fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill where Moroni had deposited the plates; i.e., the hill Cumorah in western New York. 

We can all read this account right in Joseph Smith's own history, here:

The contemporaries of Joseph and Oliver knew about Cumorah because Moroni had identified the hill as Cumorah when he first met Joseph, as Joseph's mother Lucy Mack Smith explained when she related what Moroni told Joseph. 

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

One of the reasons we know the events took place in the Americas and that Cumorah is in New York is because Moroni explained that to Joseph Smith the first night they met. 

He [Moroni] gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country...
He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.

Church leaders who knew Joseph and Oliver, as well as those who succeeded Joseph, reiterated the truth about the Americas and Cumorah repeatedly and consistently. A partial list is here: https://www.mobom.org/modern-prophets-on-cumorah

With all this "great knowledge," we repeat the question every Latter-day Saint should ask: will we or won't we "understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7)

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