Thursday, January 18, 2018

Watching Conference with BYU Professors--President Romney edition

In 2017 the most popular post on this blog was "Watching General Conference with your BYU Book of Mormon professor." Today I'm releasing a youtube version of the post. It's at this link:

Many members of the Church don't realize that some intellectuals at BYU/CES continue to promote the Meosamerican/two-Cumorahs theory ("M2C"). This is the theory that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were mistaken when they taught that the Hill Cumorah was in New York.

Instead, the intellectuals claim that Cumorah is in southern Mexico (or somewhere else) because they know better than Joseph and Oliver did.

Of course, the problem with M2C is that the New York Cumorah was established as a fact in 1835 when President Cowdery of the First Presidency wrote and published Letter VII. This teaching has been consistently and repeatedly taught by members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve for over 150 years--including in General Conference--and has never been contradicted by any member of those quorums.

The only ones who have contradicted the New York Cumorah are a handful of intellectuals in the Church. Unfortunately, these intellectuals have widespread influence because they've been teaching at BYU and CES for decades.

This video depicts the thinking of anonymous BYU-affiliated scholars, as reflected by their writing. Of course, not all BYU/CES faculty agree with the views depicted here, but these views reflect the "consensus" of the intellectuals about Book of Mormon geography.

Here's a screen shot from the video to give you an idea:

People ask me for the names of those who promote M2C, but this isn't a personality issue or an ad hominem argument. I personally like and respect these intellectuals, who are all faithful Latter-day Saints. I've had classes from some and have learned a lot from their books and articles. I cite them in my own work.

I just think they are mistaken about this one issue.

And it's a core issue for those who believe in the Book of Mormon and want to share it with the world.

I think M2C is destructive for the same reason Joseph Fielding Smith said; i.e., that it causes members of the Church to become confused and disturbed in their faith. I also think it impedes missionary work for the same reason. Because it relies on the premise that the prophets and apostles are wrong, it's a gateway drug to disbelieving the prophets and apostles on other issues.

To see M2C on display, read the web page and material put out by Book of Mormon Central America here: They have a lot of good material, but they insist on M2C and thereby cause needless harm because they're teaching people to disbelieve the prophets and apostles.

It is no secret who promotes M2C. They are publicly associated with Book of Mormon Central America, which you can see here:

You can also see M2C on display at Meridian Magazine, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, and other groups affiliated with these intellectuals. A good guide to promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is the Interpreter Foundation, here:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Friction, missionary work, and the Book of Mormon

Everyone who loves the Book of Mormon agrees that the spiritual messages are more important than questions about historicity/geography. But that doesn't mean historicity/geography is unimportant to most people.

In fact, the only ones who don't care about the historicity/geography are a subset of those who are currently active in Church. Let's say 40% of Church members are active. That's about 5 million people. Of them, maybe half don't care about historicity/geography. That's about 2.5 million people in the world of 7.6 billion people.

While it's great that so many active members have such a strong spiritual testimony that they don't care about historicity/geography, the numbers speak for themselves.

We saw recently on this blog that the British Mission in the 1840s baptized more members than they had copies of the Book of Mormon. [With over 150 million copies in print today (plus millions of electronic copies), an equivalent result would be over 200 million members instead of the reported 16 million.]

How did the Apostles accomplish this in the British Mission?

Parley P. Pratt, who published the Millennial Star, explicitly recognized that some people may need to know of physical evidence before they can exercise faith enough to read the book and receive a spiritual witness. Among other things, he published Letter VII, which declared unambiguously that the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in New York. This grounded the Book of Mormon in reality.

When they wrote Letter VII, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery knew how important it was to ground the text in reality. Ignoring or rejecting what they wrote leads to confusion and doubt. This creates friction that deters people from reading the Book of Mormon.

The other day I heard a comment about friction.

Image result for friction"Any time you add friction to a process, people do less of it. So for example if you have a restaurant that doesn't have good parking, you will get fewer people coming, even if you knew that they could all get parking, but in their minds they thought, 'It's kind of hard to park. It might take me a few minutes.'"

"If you add friction to anything, people change their behavior--and it doesn't even take much friction."

Let's consider friction in terms of missionary, retention and activation work.

We all want people to read the Book of Mormon. That's a major point of doing missionary, retention, and activation work. But as we all know, people have a lot of demands on their time--as well as distractions.

Anyone who considers reading the Book of Mormon compares that activity with their alternatives. E.g., read the Book of Mormon or watch TV?

People make cost/benefit decisions. What are the costs of reading vs the benefits of reading? The higher the cost, the less likely they are to read. Or, the lower the anticipated benefits, the less likely they are to read.

Think of costs in terms of friction. Like in the restaurant example above, additional costs or impediments make people less likely to read the Book of Mormon.

Imagine an investigator who is looking at a copy of the Book of Mormon, wondering whether to read it. She has talked with the missionaries, maybe, or a friend. They told her the book relates the appearance of Jesus Christ in the Americas. Naturally she asked, "Where and when did this happen?"

They told her, "Soon after his resurrection."

"But where?"

"We don't know. Somewhere in the Americas. Probably in Central America, as the painting in the book shows." The missionaries or friends show her the John Scott painting in the book they gave her.

Not knowing any better, she accepts that explanation. Maybe she is curious enough to read. Maybe she likes what she has heard and that's enough motivation. But people today have all been trained to research things on the Internet.

She goes to the Internet and quickly sees a variety of opinions about the Book of Mormon that boil down to the question: Is it fiction or real?

If she looks into it more, she'll discover that while all the prophets and apostles have taught that the Hill Cumorah is in New York, certain intellectuals in the Church teach that such a location is impossible. They teach the prophets and apostles were wrong.

Is that going to help our investigator believe the Book of Mormon is true? Or are the teachings of these intellectuals introducing friction to the process, creating impediments for investigators and less active members of the Church?

When we reject what Joseph and Oliver said in Letter VII, we are introducing friction to the process. We will have fewer people read the book as a result.

And the only reason we're rejecting Letter VII is because of the work of a handful of intellectuals who think they know more than all the prophets and apostles who have endorsed and taught what Letter VII proclaims about the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Preview of upcoming video with President Monson

In 2017 the most popular post on this blog was "Watching General Conference with your BYU Book of Mormon professor." Next week I'm releasing a youtube version of the post.

As a preview, and in honor of President Monson's funeral today, I'm sharing a still frame from the video that shows young Elder Monson sitting next to young Elder Hinckley. They are in the lower left corner, next to the silhouettes of our BYU faculty who are watching General Conference with us.

It's an interesting shot because there are four Presidents of the Church visible: Kimball, Benson, Hinckley, and Monson.

President Romney is at the podium, with President Kimball to his right and President Benson to his left behind him.

President Hunter was present, but not visible from this perspective.

BTW, sitting next to President Benson behind Pres. Romney are Mark E. Petersen, Delbert L. Stapely, and LeGrand Richards.

In front of them you can see Boyd K. Packer and just a glimpse of Marvin J. Ashton.

For context, here are the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve at the time. President Monson outlived all the others.

First Presidency

Spencer W. Kimball, President
Nathan Eldon Tanner, 1st Counselor
Marion G. Romney, 2nd Counselor

Quorum of the Twelve

Ezra Taft Benson
Mark E. Petersen
Delbert L. Stapley
LeGrand Richards
Hugh B. Brown
Howard W. Hunter
Gordon B. Hinckley
Thomas S. Monson
Boyd K. Packer
Marvin J. Ashton
Bruce R. McConkie
L. Tom Perry

Monday, January 8, 2018

In defense of scribes and Pharisees

In the New Testament, the Jewish scribes and Pharisees are portrayed negatively, to say the least.

But does that mean they had bad intentions? Were they trying to do the wrong thing, to subvert their own religion, to defy God?


They had been trained from their youth to study the scriptures and strictly adhere to the law, as they understood it.

They "searched the scriptures," not realizing that they testified of the very Christ who lived among them. Their study kept them from recognizing Christ because the interpretations they had learned their whole lives were deeply imprinted on their minds.

They could not "unsee" their own ideas of what Christ would be like. They had expectations, based on the scriptures. There was a scholarly consensus.

They couldn't be wrong.

They were the experts.

The PhDs of their day.

And they convinced themselves they were doing the right thing because they had developed their consensus from the text itself.

Can we blame them for following the traditions of their fathers (and their teachers)?

We have a similar situation today in the Church.

Many of our best LDS scholars believe their own interpretations of the text of the Book of Mormon instead of the declarations of the prophets and apostles. They, like the scribes and Pharisees in New Testament times, have developed a scholarly consensus based on their interpretation of the text.

They claim they have the best, most accurate interpretation of the text, which allows them to produce a fantasy map to teach BYU and CES students, based on their M2C interpretation.

That's because they "can't unsee" Mesoamerica in the text.

They have, with their eloquence, persuaded thousands of LDS people to also reject the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the Hill Cumorah in New York.

They have established M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) as the default (unofficial) position of the Church regarding the Hill Cumorah.

Because they have trained thousands of Church members to believe M2C--including most Church employees--they have managed to incorporate their dogma into Church media, visitors centers, etc.

When we understand that the Biblical scribes and Pharisees were doing what they believed was correct, based on their traditions and their adherence to their interpretation of their sacred texts, we are more empathetic. But our empathy does not cause us to accept what they taught. Instead, we follow the Savior and his Apostles.

In our day, we are also empathetic with the latter-day scribes and Pharisees who are also doing what they believe is correct, based on their traditions and their adherence to their interpretations of our sacred texts. But our empathy does not cause us to accept M2C.

Instead, we follow the prophets and apostles, who have consistently and repeatedly taught that Cumorah is in New York.

There's a simple cure for the approach of the scribes and Pharisees.

Just read President Cowdery's Letter VII.

You can read it in Joseph Smith's own history here:

Then read the teachings of the prophets and apostles who have consistently and unanimously taught that Cumorah is in New York. You can read Articles of Faith by Elder James E. Talmage or A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by Elder LeGrand Richards. You can read or listen to conference talks on the topic and lots of other sources.

Finally, decide whether you want to believe the prophets and apostles or instead you want to believe the latter-day scribes and Pharisees who promote M2C.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Speculation vs certainty-James Talmage edition

One of the favorite rhetorical tactics used by the promoters of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory is to pretend everything about Book of Mormon geography is speculative.

This enables them to assert what they consider to be their academic superiority as greater authority than what the prophets and apostles have clearly taught from the beginning of the restoration.

Of course, I'm referring to FairMormon, BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, BYU and CES faculty, etc.

For example, these intellectuals reject Letter VII as merely the "opinion" or "speculation" of President Cowdery, who, at the time, was the ordained Assistant President of the Church, writing with the assistance of Joseph Smith, President of the Church.

It doesn't matter that President Cowdery and President Smith were called and ordained as prophets and apostles; these men were, according to the intellectuals, merely farmers speculating about an obscure hill in New York.

It doesn't matter that President Cowdery and President Smith had actually visited Mormon's depository in the Hill Cumorah in New York; no, these men were, according to the intellectuals, merely farmers speculating about an obscure hill in New York.

It doesn't matter that in these letters, President Cowdery and President Smith specifically distinguished between fact and speculation; no, these men were, according to the intellectuals, merely farmers speculating about an obscure hill in New York.


Okay, you already know this.

What you may not realize is how carefully other prophets and apostles have also distinguished between the certainty about Cumorah and the speculation about the rest of the geography.

This is the point that our LDS intellectuals keep trying to obscure. 

They want you to believe that because the prophets and apostles have noted that there is uncertainty about the location of Lehi's landing, the land southward, Zarahemla, the River Sidon, etc., that means there is also uncertainty about where Cumorah is.

That is not, and has never been, the case. This alleged "uncertainty" about Cumorah is purely an invention of latter-day scribes and Pharisees who have determined, based on their own wisdom, education, and bias confirmation, that all of the prophets and apostles were wrong.

Former "Missionary Reference Library"
Today's example is from Elder James E. Talmage's Articles of Faith. This book was included in the "Missionary Reference Library" for many years.

It is not included in the current "Missionary Reference Library" presumably because the current generation doesn't read as much.

Current "Missionary Reference Library"
Or maybe it was removed because Articles of Faith, like A Marvelous Work and a Wonder which also used to be in the Missionary Reference Library, both affirm Letter VII by teaching, unambiguously, that Cumorah is in the New York, which contradicts the intellectuals' Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

Here's the passage from Articles of Faith that describes the people and places of the Book of Mormon. The entire passage is taken directly from the book as it is found in Gospelink. The parts in red are declarative, unambiguous statements about geography. The parts in blue are speculative. This same distinction is found throughout the teachings of the prophets and apostles, including the 1879 footnotes in the official editions of the Book of Mormon itself.

Elder Talmage and others mark the distinction with phrases such as "it appears," "it is believed," "it is traditionally believed," "probably," etc. None of these qualifiers have been used by the prophets and apostles with respect to the Hill Cumorah in New York, however.

Talmage, Articles of Faith:

The Nephite Nation was the later, and in point of the fulness of the records, the more important. The progenitors of this people were led from Jerusalem in the year 600 B.C., by Lehi, a Jewish prophet of the tribe of Manasseh. His immediate family, at the time of their departure from Jerusalem, comprised his wife Sariah, and their sons Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi; at a later stage of the history daughters are mentioned, but whether any of these were born before the family exodus we are not told. Beside his own household, the colony of Lehi included Zoram and Ishmael, the latter an Israelite of the tribe of Ephraim. 4 Ishmael, with his family, joined Lehi's company in the wilderness, and his descendants were numbered with the nation of whom we are speaking. It appears that the company journeyed somewhat east of south, keeping near the borders of the Red Sea; then, changing their course to the eastward, crossed the peninsula of Arabia; and there, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, built and provisioned a vessel in which they committed themselves to divine care upon the waters. It is believed that their voyage must have carried them eastward across the Indian Ocean, then over the Pacific to the western coast of America, whereon they landed about 590 B.C. The landing place is not described in the book itself with such detail as to warrant definite conclusions.

The people established themselves on what to them was the land of promise; many children were born, and in the course of a few generations a numerous posterity held possession of the land. After the death of Lehi a division occurred, some of the people accepting as their leader, Nephi, who had been duly appointed to the prophetic office; while the rest proclaimed Laman, the eldest of Lehi's sons, as their chief. Thenceforth the divided people were known as Nephites and Lamanites respectively. At times they observed toward each other a semblance of friendly relations; but generally they were opposed, the Lamanites manifesting implacable hatred and hostility toward their Nephite kindred. The Nephites advanced in the arts of civilization, built large cities, and established prosperous commonwealths; yet they often fell into transgression, and the Lord chastened them by permitting their hereditary enemies to be victorious. It is traditionally believed that they spread northward, occupying a considerable area in Central America, and then expanded eastward and northward over part of what is now the United States of America. The Lamanites, while increasing in numbers, fell under the curse of divine displeasure; they became dark in skin and benighted in spirit, forgot the God of their fathers, lived a wild nomadic life, and degenerated into the fallen state in which the American Indians—their lineal descendants—were found by those who rediscovered the western continent in later times.

The final struggles between Nephites and Lamanites were waged in the vicinity of the Hill Cumorah, in what is now the State of New York, resulting in the destruction of the Nephites as a nation, about 400 A.D. The last Nephite representative was Moroni, who, wandering for safety from place to place, daily expecting death from the victorious Lamanites, wrote the concluding parts of the Book of Mormon, and hid the record in Cumorah. It was this same Moroni who, as a resurrected being, gave the records into the hands of Joseph Smith in the present dispensation.

The Jaredite Nation—Of the two nations whose histories constitute the Book of Mormon, the first in order of time consisted of the people of Jared, who followed their leader from the Tower of Babel at the time of the confusion of tongues. Their history was written on twenty-four plates of gold by Ether, the last of their prophets, who, foreseeing the destruction of his people because of their wickedness, hid away the historic plates. They were afterward found, about B.C. 122, by an expedition sent out by King Limhi, a Nephite ruler. The record engraved on these plates was subsequently abridged by Moroni, and the condensed account was attached by him to the Book of Mormon record; it appears in the modern translation under the name of the Book of Ether.

The first and chief prophet of the Jaredites is not specified by name in the record as we have it; he is known only as the brother of Jared. Of his people we learn that, amidst the confusion of Babel, Jared and his brother importuned the Lord that they and their associates be spared from the impending disruption. Their prayer was heard, and the Lord led them with a considerable company, who, like themselves, were free from the taint of idolatry, away from their homes, promising to conduct them to a land choice above all other lands. Their course of travel is not given with exactness; we learn only that they reached the ocean and there constructed eight vessels, called barges, in which they set out upon the waters. These vessels were small and dark within; but the Lord made certain stones luminous, and these gave light to the imprisoned voyagers. After a passage of three hundred and forty-four days, the colony landed on the American shores.

Here they became a flourishing nation; but, giving way in time to internal dissensions, they divided into factions, which warred with one another until the people were totally destroyed. This destruction, which occurred near the Hill Ramah, afterward known among the Nephites as Cumorah, probably took place at about the time of Lehi's landing, near 590 B.C. The last representative of the ill-fated race was Coriantumr, the king, concerning whom Ether had prophesied that he should survive all his subjects and live to see another people in possession of the land. This prediction was fulfilled in that the king, whose people had been exterminated, came, in the course of his solitary wanderings, to a region occupied by the people of Mulek, who are to be mentioned here as the third ancient colony of emigrants from the eastern continent.

Mulek was the son of Zedekiah, king of Judah, an infant at the time of his brothers' violent deaths and his father's cruel torture at the hands of the king of Babylon. 5 Eleven years after Lehi's departure from Jerusalem, another colony was led from the city, amongst whom was Mulek. The colony took his name, probably on account of his recognized rights of leadership by virtue of lineage. The Book of Mormon record concerning Mulek and his people is scant; we learn, however, that the colony was brought across the waters to a landing, probably on the northern part of the American continent. The descendants of this colony were discovered by the Nephites under Mosiah; they had grown numerous, but, having had no scriptures for their guidance had fallen into a condition of spiritual darkness. They joined the Nephites and their history is merged into that of the greater nation. 6 The Nephites gave to a part of North America the name Land of Mulek.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book of Mormon Central America 2018

I wrote yesterday's post about pruning several weeks ago and scheduled it for January 1. I actually hoped I wouldn't spend any more time in 2018 on this issue.

Little did I know that there would be a perfect example of the need for pruning the very next day (today)!

I realize the issue of Book of Mormon geography is touchy. It is subject to all kinds of speculation, ideas, semantic debates, sophistry, etc. Not to mention "contention," although as far as I'm concerned, there is zero contention about the issue. I realize some people take the discussion personally, get offended, etc., but I consider all the discussion and analysis friendly and productive, always with the goal of achieving unity. (In my view the only way to eliminate contention is to heed the prophets and apostles, as the Lord explains in 3 Nephi 11-12, but others disagree because they don't accept those words, so what can we do?)

I don't object to anyone else having whatever views they want; my own views on the topic have changed over time and are constantly being refined as I learn more. However, I do object when intellectuals cite credentials to frame their views as superior to others' and censor/suppress others' views to prevent Church members and leaders from even knowing about alternatives. That's what I document in this blog.

I'm told there is no official Church position about Book of Mormon geography. It's up to each member to reach his/her own conclusions, which is great. People can believe whatever they want. Although I once accepted the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, I no longer do. I changed my mind because I learned things that the LDS intellectuals had not taught. But that difference of opinion is not my objection to BOMC.

I object to the approach taken by BOMC because (i) they censor and suppress different perspectives (and even inconvenient facts), contrary to Church policy; and (ii) they frame their position in a way that undermines faith.

I'll address these in inverse order.

Framing. By now, everyone reading this blog knows about Letter VII and its context.

The choice is simple and clear: Regarding Cumorah, people can choose to believe either the prophets and apostles (who have always and unanimously said it was in New York) or the intellectuals (who for decades have taught it is anywhere but New York). That choice drives everything else you want to believe about Book of Mormon historicity/geography, but that is not the real reason I have written so much about this topic.

The real question is, if you choose the intellectuals over the prophets on the Cumorah question, are you also going to follow the intellectuals instead of the prophets on other issues?

If you read the writings of the intellectuals, you quickly discover that they prefer their own ideas over what the prophets and apostles have taught about lots of subjects. If the prophets and apostles happen to agree with the intellectuals, then the intellectuals accept their teachings, but otherwise, according to the intellectuals, the prophets and apostles are naive, confused, perpetuating traditions, etc.

For me, the approach of the intellectuals is exactly backward. My bias is to accept what the prophets and apostles (and the scriptures) consistently teach, and then seek to corroborate their teachings with additional evidence.

The Cumorah issue is the single best illustration of this persistent problem because it is easy to understand and the choice is unambiguous. 

Cumorah is like a gateway drug. Once you are comfortable believing that Joseph and Oliver and David and all the other prophets and apostles were wrong about Cumorah, it is easier to reject anything else taught by the prophets that counters your own area of expertise.

In a way, it's fun to watch the intellectuals think up as many reasons as they can for people to disbelieve Letter VII. But it's not really fun because it has such serious ramifications.

That's why, if we don't prune away the philosophies of men promoted by these intellectuals, we will continue to see members and investigators become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon.

To be clear, I respect and personally like all the people associated with BOMC (as well as FairMormon, which promotes the same dogma). I like the idea of BOMC (and FairMormon). I had high hopes for BOMC when it was first announced.

But instead, they have turned it into an advocacy group that teaches the prophets and apostles are wrong.

In my opinion, BOMC is doing more harm than good because their fundamental belief is that they, as intellectuals, know more than the prophets and apostles. Their dogma leads BOMC (and FairMormon) to teach that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and every other prophet and apostle who has spoken or written about the Hill Cumorah was wrong. This includes Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, James E. Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, LeGrand Richards, Marion G. Romney, and others.

Here's another way to express it:

I think this Cumorah/Letter VII gateway drug is leading many members to question their faith, and is leading investigators to stop investigating.

Suppressing. Book of Mormon Central (BOMC, but more accurately known as Book of Mormon Central America) published a "kno-why" today titled "Why Is David Whitmer's Witness of the Book of Mormon So Compelling?" This is a prime example of why Book of Mormon Central (BOMC) is so exasperating.

As usual, there is a lot of good material in the article.

But as usual, the "kno-why" is misleading because it is tainted by the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

I explain why in a blog post here, but for purposes of this blog, I simply want to warn readers that everything you read from Book of Mormon Central is designed to promote its dogmatic insistence that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the Hill Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico. 

They have to promote this dogma because it's the Mission Statement of their corporate owner.*

Readers of this blog know that I welcome a variety of opinions. I link to sites that advocate other views--including today's kno-why. I encourage people to consider a variety of views, along with all the relevant, material evidence, and then make up their own minds.

BOMC takes exactly the opposite approach. They think they know the truth (they have PhDs and BYU professors, after all) and they are therefore justified in suppressing alternative perspectives, interpretations--and even contrary facts.

They refuse to publish material that contradicts or even questions their Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs dogma. And they attack anyone who dares to do so, to the point of intervening to prevent firesides and discussions of alternative perspectives.

IOW, if you accept what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught in Letter VII, BOMC will do everything possible to censor and suppress your ideas.**

For example, I've offered to provide input on these kno-whys that would make them at least more inclusive of diverse viewpoints, but they outright refuse because of their ideology.

Here is the real danger: Because contributors to BOMC include faithful LDS scholars and educators, including BYU faculty, unsuspecting members of the Church easily accept what BOMC teaches. It's not easy to tell when BOMC omits critical information or uses rhetorical tricks to promote its dogma. People who rely on BOMC think they are promoting Church doctrine, which, as I mentioned at the outset, is untrue. That's how you have presentations such as this going on throughout the Church, in Church buildings, sponsored by local Church leaders who have no idea that the speaker is teaching the youth that Joseph and Oliver were wrong and misled the Church.

But everyone who believes what BOMC publishes--LDS youth, missionaries, investigators, long-time members--eventually comes to believe, as they do, that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and their contemporaries and successors were unreliable witnesses who misled the Church about such a fundamental point as the location of the Hill Cumorah.

And once the intellectuals have you hooked on this idea, they can persuade you to believe the prophets and apostles are wrong about anything else they want.

*Ever since its inception, Book of Mormon Central has deliberately emphasized the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory developed and promoted by its founders and staff.

This is in fulfillment of the Mission Statement of its corporate owner, Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc.

"Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

By their own mission statement, BOMC is prevented from publishing anything that contradicts the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.

**To be fair, BOMC did, early on, include the first edition of my Letter VII book in their archive. This is why I thought BOMC had potential to do a lot of good. But since then, they added a highly critical article without allowing me to respond. Actually, they've added several critical articles without allowing me to respond. This is classic Orwellian technique, designed to appear "neutral" while actually being anything but.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018-Time to prune

As we start the new year, it's a good time to think of things we can prune away from our lives.

Such as, for instance, all the theories of Book of Mormon geography that reject the New York Cumorah.

Right now, the historicity of the Book of Mormon looks something like this. It is chaotic, with lots of theories breaking off from the trunk.

The trunk being the words of the prophets and apostles.

Members of the Church, former members, nonmembers--people everywhere are confused.

Is the Book of Mormon a true history or is it fiction?

Were Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah, or were they teaching correctly based on their own experience?

Are LDS intellectuals smarter and better-informed than were Joseph and Oliver and all of their contemporaries?

This confusion has led to many people breaking away from the trunk. Others are barely hanging on.

There's a good solution to this problem. It involves pruning.

Jacob 5 refers to pruning 9 times. It's an essential part of successful tree management.

When trees are not pruned, they grow wildly.

The longer they grow, the more wild they become.

The unpruned tree is the state of Book of Mormon historicity and geography today.

I think it's time--well past time--to prune away the non-New York Cumorahs.

If we would only heed the words of the prophets, starting with Letter VII, we would have a nicely pruned, organized, and productive tree.

The Letter VII tree still has a variety of branches--people can interpret the geography in lots of different ways--but at least the trunk is sound. We're all accepting the words of the prophets and apostles, not going off in all directions as we are now, thanks to the various "two-Cumorahs" theories promoted by some intellectuals.

I think Joseph and Oliver pruned this geography tree back in 1835, when they declared in no uncertain terms that Cumorah was in New York.

But our intellectuals didn't accept what they said. 

And because the intellectuals have come to dominate BYU/CES, the confusion their theories have generated have caused serious damage to the tree.

Let's see if we can prune the tree during 2018. 

Let's cut away all the "two-Cumorahs" theories and bring order and productivity to the tree.