Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jonathan Neville’s broken scriptural allegory

Following up on his implied claim that Latter-day Saints who disagree with him are followers of Satan, in a December 2, 2019, blog post, “Voice of the people,” Jonathan Neville accused those who don’t believe that the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon is in western New York of rejecting the Lord.

Let that sink in for a moment before reading further.

Here’s what he wrote:
For over 150 years, the prophets and apostles have consistently taught that the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 (the one and only Hill Cumorah) is in western New York. This includes not only Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (Letter VII) and their contemporaries, but members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, such as President Romney’s detailed address.
Neville continues to beg the question by not addressing his unspoken presumption that all these statements were based on revelation instead of common belief that became tradition. There is no revelation from the Lord on the location of any Book of Mormon lands, so Neville has elevated the statements and writings of prophets and apostles (at least the ones he agrees with) to infallible scripture. (And Letter VII is not nearly as strong of a piece of evidence as he assets, as Stephen Smoot has explained.)
No prophet or apostle has ever repudiated the teachings of his predecessors about the New York Cumorah.
Church leaders rarely, if ever, “repudiate” the incorrect statements of their predecessors, probably out of respect for great men who erred but are no longer around to correct what they said or wrote. Instead, the historical precedent has been for Church leaders to simply stop teaching incorrect principles and replace them with correct ones. (See, for example, how Church leaders have handled statements made prior to 1978 about black men and the priesthood.)
But many scholars and their followers have rejected those teachings.
How many times does this blog have to demonstrate that claim is false before Neville stops repeating it? It’s becoming his equivalent of the große Lüge.
M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorah’s [sic] theory) is based on the claim that the prophets are wrong because the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is actually somewhere in southern Mexico.
Actually, as stated here repeatedly, it’s based on the claim that the description of the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon doesn’t match the characteristics and features of the hill in western New York and that the area in southern Mexico is a better match geographically and culturally. It in no way claims that “the prophets are wrong” because, as stated here repeatedly, the location of the hill Cumorah hasn’t been revealed by the Lord to any modern prophet.

And then comes Neville’s shocking accusation:
There are indications that many, if not most, members of the Church are following the M2C scholars instead of the teachings of the prophets.

How can we explain this?

This is hardly the first time the people have preferred intellectuals over the prophets. Here’s one example to consider:

6 ¶ But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
(1 Samuel 8:6–7)

The Lord told Samuel to do what the people wanted because the people had rejected Him in favor of their desire for a king.

In our day, the M2C intellectuals have rejected the teachings of the prophets on this topic.
Here’s why Neville’s scriptural allegory doesn’t work:

In the time of 1 Samuel chapter 8, Samuel was the living prophet of the Lord. Samuel received the Lord’s word and interceded with the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel. The Lord had given Samuel strict counsel regarding a king, but the people rejected that counsel, which “displeased Samuel.”

In our day we have a living prophet—Russell M. Nelson. He receives the Lord’s word and intercedes with the Lord on behalf of the Saints. The Lord has said nothing to Russell M. Nelson—or any other modern prophet—about the location of the hill Cumorah, let alone made correct belief in its location an article of faith.

If any scriptural example applies here, it’s this one from the time when King David of Israel brought the ark of the covenant from Gibeah to Jerusalem. Along the way:
David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:5–7)
Jonathan Neville steadies the ark of God Jonathan Neville is an ark-steadier. He continually claims that he knows what the prophets meant and what’s important for today’s Latter-day Saints to believe regarding Cumorah—despite the fact that none of today’s prophets and apostles are teaching what he claims is so important to believe and profess and even though President Nelson himself has recently taught publicly what Neville asserts is falsehoods cooked up by a conspiracy of intellectuals within the Church.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Jonathan Neville’s Rameumptom

Here in the United States, the 2019 Thanksgiving Day holiday is nearly upon us. Jonathan Neville has published a blog post in recognition of this, giving “gratitude for the prophets.”

And, of course, his list of things for which he is grateful are all the usual cudgels he uses to pummel his “M2C”* opponents:
Together [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] wrote the first history of the Church, the eight essays that were published as letters in 1834-5. (This includes Letter VII, of course.)

Together they testified that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim, thereby producing the Book of Mormon.

Together they testified of its divine authenticity, including the site of the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6, right in western New York.

All of their faithful contemporaries and successors have reaffirmed their testimony about these topics.
Canonization of Letter VII, rejection of Joseph’s use of seer stones, New York Cumorah—is it possible for him to post anything about the Book of Mormon that’s insightful, inspiring, or new? Something that’s not a self-serving proof-text?
Jonathan Neville on the Rameumptom

I expect Neville’s next Heartlander-themed Thanksgiving blog post will be something like this:
We also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of [M2C], which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people.
I, for one, am thankful for modern prophets—not because they teach things that I agree with, but because they remind me of the importance of repentance and the continual need to be a better follower of Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving,

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Those who live in glass houses, pt. 5

(Part five of a series.)

Jonathan Neville really doesn’t like BYU’s Virtual Book of Mormon map. A Google search I ran today on MoronisAmerica.com, his flagship website, indicates that he’s referred to it as BYU’s “fantasy map” in 131 separate articles on that site.

In a blog post last month, Neville criticized an article in the fall 2019 issue of BYU Religious Education Review about the Virtual Book of Mormon map. (Neville’s blog post incorrectly states it was in the winter 2019 issue.) The article, “Visualizing the People, Places, and Plates of the Book of Mormon,” was written by Tyler J. Griffin, an associate professor of ancient scripture at BYU and co-founder of BYU Virtual Scriptures Group. (He’s listed as a member of the team that created the virtual map.)

Neville framed his blog in light of the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on Book of Mormon geography. He quoted the essay’s counsel that “all parties should strive to avoid contention” on matters of Book of Mormon geography and then wrote:
The connotation of “contention” in that statement is surely “heated disagreement.” This is wisdom because some people have an emotional, intellectual, or financial interest in a particular position that clouds their judgment and their ability think critically.
Neville wrote that statement without a shred of self-awareness. Remember, this is Jonathan Neville, the man who maintains 67 blogs that he uses almost exclusively to attack the Mesoamerican theory of Book of Mormon geography and those who advocate for it. He claims those who believe in what he calls “M2C”* are “rejecting the teachings of the prophets” and that there is a massive conspiracy within Church administration to censor anything that is contrary to “M2C,” a conspiracy that has even fooled the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And he has the gall to claim that other people have interests that cloud their judgments and make them unable to think critically?

Glass houses, indeed.

Turning to his assessment of Griffin’s article, let’s look at an example of how Neville misreads Book of Mormon geography while criticizing others for supposedly doing the same thing. In his article, Griffin explains:
Attempts to visually represent geographical features in the Book of Mormon will naturally lead to judgments that may not always match other interpretations of the same passages. For example, we represent wilderness references in the book as mountains on our map. The wildernesses could have just as easily been unclaimed land, swampland, jungle, desert, or any combination of these or other natural features. It is intended that readers will be able to take our internal map and stretch it, compress it, and modify it to fit whatever model they prefer for their own study purposes.
Neville, however, disagrees with Griffin’s decision to represent wilderness ares in the Book of Mormon as mountains. He writes:
Wilderness as “mountains” is the specific M2C interpretation from John Sorenson, Book of Mormon Central, and other M2C proponents.

I once had well-known M2C scholars tell me the Book of Mormon refers to “a narrow strip of mountainous wilderness.” I asked them to show me the passage in the text. Of course, they couldn’t. They were referring to Alma 22, but they had read John Sorenson’s version so many times they thought the text actually said that.…

This axiomatic statement leads us to ask, then why does the fantasy map depict the wilderness as mountains? The answer is simple: the creators and proponents of this map work with Book of Mormon Central and they’re promoting the specific M2C interpretation.

Had they wanted to, the map’s creators could have portrayed a generic “wilderness” instead of depicting and specifying mountains. However, the M2C interpretation requires mountains to work, so that’s what this fantasy map shows.
Firstly, I must point out to our readers that Jonathan Neville interprets “wilderness” in the Book of Mormon to mean rivers. His Heartland interpretation of the text requires that wildernesses be rivers, so that’s what his fantasy map shows:
Detail from map 8 of Moroni's America - Maps Edition by Jonathan Neville
Detail from Jonathan Neville’s book, Moroni’s America – Maps Edition, map 8, “Necks, Lines, Passes, Strips, and the Narrow Neck of Land.” (Click to see the whole map.)
As Joe Anderson notes on pages 28–30 of his review of Neville’s book, Moroni’s America, the Book of Mormon never refers to wilderness as a river. Neville invented that definition because it was the only way he could get the geography of the Book of Mormon to fit into the American Midwest. Yet, in his blog post, Neville has the temerity to criticize Griffin for displaying wilderness as mountains!

There are, in fact, good reasons to believe that the narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Nephite and Lamanite lands was composed mostly of mountains. (And those reasons go much deeper than “promoting M2C” or being a fan of Book of Mormon Central.) Here’s the short version:

  • The land of Nephi, which was controlled by the Lamanites from the time of King Mosiah¹ onward, was higher in elevation than the land of Zarahemla where the Nephites lived. Whenever one traveled from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla, one went down, while those traveling from Zarahemla to Nephi are described as going up. The Book of Mormon is consistent throughout its text on this point. (See Mosiah 7:2, 4; 9:3; 20:7; 28:1, 5; 29:3; Alma 17:8; 20:2; 24:20; 26:23; 27:5; 29:14; 51:11; 57:15-16, 28, 30; Helaman 1:17.)
  • After the death of Kishkumen, Gadianton “feared lest that he should be destroyed; therefore he caused that his band should follow him. And they took their flight out of the land, by a secret way, into the wilderness.” (Helaman 2:11) It was from this wilderness hideout that the Gadianton band of robbers staged hit-and-run attacks against the Nephites and the Lamanites, compelling both groups to take up arms against them (Helaman 6:18; 3 Nephi 2:11–12). So it seems almost certain that the “wilderness” in which Gandiantons lived was the narrow strip of wilderness between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi—it’s the only wilderness that had easy access to both lands.
  • The text of the Book of Mormon describes the wilderness where the Gandiantons lived in secret and could retreat to safety from the armies of the Nephites and Lamanites as mountains (Helaman 11:25, 28, 31; 3 Nephi 1:27; 2:17; 3:17, 20; 4:1–3, 13).
  • Therefore the narrow strip of wilderness was mountainous, just as the Virtual Book of Mormon map portrays it.

Now, it’s entirely possible to make an argument that the narrow strip of wilderness wasn’t mountainous, but that would require one to actually use the text of the Book of Mormon in a coherent and reasonable manner. Neville has not done this. Instead, he’s simply criticized Griffin for inferring something that the Book of Mormon doesn’t directly say, while instead offering his own forced, absurd wilderness = river interpretation.

If this were the only time that Neville employed such a double standard, this blog wouldn’t exist. Sadly, it’s par for the course for Neville, and so Captain Hook and I are forced to continue to point out to unsuspecting Latter-day Saints the the fraudulent methods he uses to sell the Heartland hoax to unsuspecting Latter-day Saints.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Those who live in glass houses, pt. 4

(Part four of an ad hoc series. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Jonathan Neville clearly loves the Book of Mormon and its message. What’s puzzling to me is that, with all the time and effort he commits to blogging, he spends virtually none of it advocating for what he finds positive about the Book of Mormon and almost all of his time disputing what he claims are the arguments of “M2C.”*

In other words, he could use his 67 blogs to promote what is good and beautiful and interesting about the Book of Mormon. Instead he uses his time to tilt at windmills and slay imaginary giants.

This week Neville blogged about “M2C sophistry,” taking potshots at Brant Gardner and Gardner’s forthcoming book, Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture, without mentioning either of them by name. Gardner’s book isn’t about Book of Mormon geography, but Neville took the opportunity to criticize Gardner for the merest mention of connections between Book of Mormon and Mesoamerican cultures:
Today’s topic…involves yet another Interpreter article, this one an excerpt from a book.

The author is a well-known M2C proponent, as you will see. I like much of his work, but his obsession with M2C undermines his objectivity and even credibility, IMO [in my opinion].
Neville’s opinion that Gardner has an “obsession with M2C” gave me a good chuckle. If anyone is obsessed with “M2C,” it’s Neville, who, as I previously mentioned, spends all his blogging time stating and restating the same shallow objections to the Mesoamerican theory of Book of Mormon geography.

Likewise, it’s stunning to see Neville criticize Gardner’s “objectivity and credibility,” when Neville possesses neither of those traits. Regarding objectivity, Neville’s constant, repeated misrepresentations of views he disagrees with have been cataloged on this blog. And if credibility is measured by how and where one’s arguments have been published, then Neville and his catalog of CreateSpace self-published books (which include the intriguingly titled Goop Calder and the Haunted Cowboy Robots) hasn’t got a leg to stand on compared to Gardner’s extensive list of publications on many Book of Mormon subjects, including the over 4,600 pages he’s written and published through Gred Kofford Books, which have received awards from the Association for Mormon Letters.

But Neville doesn’t measure credibility by how robust an author’s arguments are; rather, he judges them credible if they accept Neville’s views on the Book of Mormon and Church history (which Neville, of course, claims align with the prophets’ views).

Neville continues:
For example, in this chapter, the author [i.e., Gardner] writes, “Books have been written to examine the geography and history described in the Book of Mormon. This isn’t one of those books.” But as a dedicated M2C advocate, he inserts M2C anyway. In fact, starting on page 39 he delves into one of the “correspondences” that, IMO, are pure bias confirmation; i.e., “it is important to note that this method of recording annalistic history was part of the cultures of Mesoamerica, which I consider the most plausible location of the Book of Mormon events. Perhaps the change to the way time was recorded was influenced by the introduction of the long count among the Maya.” He spends a few pages comparing Mayan annals to the Book of Mormon text.

My reaction to such “correspondences” is to consider whether they have any relevance or are merely examples of Loserthink bias confirmation and pattern recognition.
Neville being Neville, he can’t help but shove anything he disagrees with into the paradigm of his new favorite book, Scott Adams’s Loserthink. The title is so pejoratively delicious that he’s taken to using it as a cudgel with which to beat “M2C” and its proponents.

It’s at this point that Neville falls into a bottomless pit of the double standard:
Annals are ubiquitous on human history. The history of China includes “The Basic Annals” dating to around 2853 B.C. Ancient Roman and Christian annals were well known by the time Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, as were the Chaldean annals, the Phoenician annals, and others. Josephus discussed the annals of the Tyrians.

It may be more difficult to find an ancient civilization that did not keep annals than to find one that did. The Nephites and the Mayans were no exception, but that doesn’t make the Nephites Mayans.
Here we see Neville again misrepresenting his opponents: Gardner didn’t claim that the keeping of annals proves that the Nephites were Mayans. Rather, he claimed that “annalistic history was part of the cultures of Mesoamerica,” which means it was compatible with Nephite culture.

Do you know which civilization didn’t keep annals, Brother Neville? The Hopewell Indians—the people you and your Heartlander colleagues claim were the Nephites of the Book of Mormon.

Neville criticizes Gardner for what Neville considers to be a meaningless correspondence, yet Neville’s own views don’t even have such a correspondence, meaningless or not. The peoples of the Book of Mormon were diligent in keeping records, as they had been commanded to by the Lord; meanwhile, the Hopewell culture left no written works of any kind or even evidence that they had writing. In fact, the only pre-Columbian cultures in the Americas that left behind any known writings were in Mesoamerica.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Jonathan Neville believes the Brethren are dupes

Jonathan Neville is continuing his quest to discredit the Church’s Gospel Topics essay on Book of Mormon geography.

The essay affirms that “the Church does not take a position on the specific geographic locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas.” Neville and other Heartlanders affirm the New York location of the Book of Mormon as their most important article of faith, so they have to find a way to derogate the essay and dismiss its authority.

The problem for Neville is that “every single line” of the essays “was approved the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency,” as Elder Stephen E. Snow recently stated.

So, how does Neville solve this conundrum? By claiming that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve were hoodwinked by low-level staffers:
The authors of the anonymous essay [on Book of Mormon geography] squandered an opportunity to educate Church members about the issue, solely because they wanted to accommodate M2C.*

Most, but not all, of the members of the committee who wrote the essay believe M2C, so they think the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah. The essay was submitted to the Brethren for approval, but the committee apparently refused to even offer for consideration a version of the essay that contained the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.

This is standard organizational behavior. When employees want a particular outcome, they guide the boss by giving the boss only what they want him/her to consider. If the boss wants alternatives, the employees provide the worst alternatives they can think of so their preferred outcome appears to the boss as the best choice.
So, Neville would have us hold two beliefs simultaneously:

  1. The location of Cumorah is of such major doctrinal import that it has “been reaffirmed by all members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who have ever publicly addressed the issue,” and
  2. The members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who lead the Church today are such gullible simpletons that they just sign off on whatever statements the conspirators in the Church History department put in front of them.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rome, Italy
Jonathan Neville believes that he understands the doctrine of the Church better than anyone in this photograph.
Does Neville sustain the current members of the First Presidency and the Twelve as “prophets, seers, and revelators”? Or does he believe that they’re witless seat-warmers who don’t understand one of the most important doctrines of the Restoration? He’s seemingly attempting to hold to both views at the same time, as if such a thing were possible.

The cognitive dissonance required to believe the Heartland hoax is overwhelming.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Jonathan Neville, Master of the Double Standard

For Jonathan Neville, seemingly everything he encounters or experiences has some connection to the (supposed) vast conspiracy of Mesoamericanists who are (supposedly) trying to undermine the (supposedly) revealed geography of the Book of Mormon. Right now, for example, he’s reading cartoonist Scott Adams’s new book, Loserthink, and of course, finding all kinds of ways to apply it to “M2C.”*

In his November 15, 2019, blog post, “The Jailers of your Mental M2C Prison - Loserthink,” the latest in a series of blog entries on Adams’s book, he informs us:
The M2C jailers of mental prisons use patterns or analogies as arguments and rationales for M2C. The M2C intellectuals use the term “correspondences” to describe the patterns they cite to make people believe ancient Mayan culture has something to do with the Book of Mormon.

The argument goes like this:

The Nephites were farmers.
The Mayans were farmers.
Therefore the Nephites were Mayans.

When explained that way, the futility of a theory based on “correspondences” is apparent. Yet the entire M2C theory consists of little more than such “correspondences.”
Neville tells us that his hypothetical argument is “like” this, which allows him to weasel out of the inconvenient fact that no proponent of a Mesoamerican Book of Mormon settings has ever made such a facile, superficial claim.

Neville goes on to explain that “the entire M2C theory depends on such comparisons and patterns,” but that Scott Adams warns that human beings “can’t tell the difference between valid patterns that might predict something useful and something that simply reminds us of something else but means nothing.”

What’s so outrageous about this is that Neville and his Heartlander comrades do exactly what Neville is criticizing “M2C” proponents of doing—only they’re much, much worse at it.

The Annotated Edition of the Book of Mormon, a Heartlander publication of the Book of Mormon for which Neville served as a contributor, is chock full of attempts to draw correspondences between the Book of Mormon and ancient Native American societies of American Midwest. Many of these supposed correspondences are based on flawed research, old and outdated claims, or are just simply in error.

Here’s just one example from Stephen Smoot’s excellent review of the Annotated Book of Mormon:
A chart provided on p. 542 lists “words and phrases” that are shared by “Indians of America” and biblical Hebrew. The first problem with this chart is that it does not specify which “Indians of America” are being discussed, so it is impossible to verify which language to check to see if the parallels are valid. The short citations of two eighteenth and nineteenth sources to give some kind of credence to the chart are woefully inadequate, as they offer no genuine anthropological or linguistic insight, but rather reflect what is now widely considered to be thoroughly out of date speculation, at best, about Native American origins. Besides this problem, the chart also suffers from the fact that many of the Hebrew words listed aren’t actually Hebrew. “Jehovah,” for instance, the first word cited as parallel to the “Indian” word “Yohewah,” is not actually Hebrew, but the English mispronunciation of the German mispronunciation of the Latin mispronunciation of a deliberate Hebrew mispronunciation of the tetragrammaton (YHWH), which is believed to have originally been pronounced something like ya-weh. “It was never actually pronounced ‘Jehovah’ in antiquity.” Additional non-Hebrew words (or badly confused words) in the chart include, but are not limited to, those for Heavens (shamayim, not “Shemin”), Wife (ʾishah, not “Eweh, Eve”), His wife (ʾishto, not “Lihene”), nose (ʾaf, not “Neheri”), Winter (choref, not “Korah”), Do (ʿasah, not “Jannon”), and Assembly (qahal, not “Grabit”). The last phrase on the chart, Waiter of the high priest, has no known correspondence in Hebrew or Aramaic. It is obvious that [editors David] Hocking and [Rod] Meldrum are clueless to even the basics of Hebrew, and have merely passed on spurious parallels they uncritically accepted from thoroughly outdated sources.
I should point out that—unlike Hocking, Meldrum, and Neville—Stephen Smoot can actually read Biblical Hebrew. So when Neville repeatedly warns us in his blog post to beware of “experts,” what he’s really asking you to do is to trust amatuers and dilettantes like those who created the Annotated Edition of the Book of Mormon. (And we’ve clearly seen what happens when ignorant illiterates like Hocking, Meldrum, and Neville try to draw their own correspondences.)

By critizing “M2C” for doing what he himself does (and so poorly), Jonathan Neville again demonstrates that he’s completely lacking in self-awareness.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Jonathan Neville believes President Nelson is “undercutting the basic premise for the Restoration”

Continuing his long streak of not comprehending the implications of what he writes, this week Jonathan Neville posted the following on one of his 67 blogs:
In very few cases does anyone leave the Church while retaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

I include this event as part of the “Perfect Storm” series [of blog posts] because the combination of M2C* and the peep stone narrative are undercutting the basic premise for the Restoration.

That is, the Restoration is based on the premise that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery told the truth about the translation of the Book of Mormon and related events. They were the sole witnesses to the translation, the restoration of the Priesthood, and the restoration of Priesthood keys in the Kirtland temple.

Modern LDS scholars who promote M2C and the peep stone narrative are teaching members of the Church to disbelieve Joseph and Oliver on key points they emphasized over and over.

This inevitably leads to an erosion of faith.

[Boldface type in the original.]
Neville has recently concluded that the eyewitness testimony that Joseph Smith used a seer stone—what he derisively calls a “peep stone”—to translate the Book of Mormon is part of the supposed grand conspiracy by “M2C scholars” to undermine the restored gospel.

He fails to mention, however, that President Russell M. Nelson has taught that Joseph used a seer stone, and his teachings have been published in the Ensign, the Church’s official magazine:
I am intrigued, as you are, with the process Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon, which he said was done through “the gift and power of God.” (Book of Mormon, title page.)…

The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote:

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)
The preceding is from an address then-Elder Nelson gave on June 25, 1992, at a seminar for new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. It was published as “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, pp. 61–65.

Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
According to Jonathan Neville, by teaching the “peep stone” narrative, President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is “undercutting the basic premise for the Restoration” and “teaching members of the Church to disbelieve Joseph and Oliver on key points they emphasized over and over.”

How long will it be before Neville claims that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are in apostasy and that he’s been called of God to set the Church in order?

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Jonathan Neville rejects the teachings of prophet Russell M. Nelson

Just over two months ago, President Russell M. Nelson toured Latin America, where he told 22,000 members of the Church in Guatemala that, “The lands of Central America and South America are studded with ruins—remnants—of ancient civilizations,” and that, through the Book of Mormon, “we not only learn more about those ancient inhabitants, but we learn that the Lord cares for His children in this hemisphere, both in ancient times, and in modern times.”

During that same tour, President Nelson spoke to 5,825 missionaries from thirty-five missions in Brazil, where he told them how to introduce the Book of Mormon to Brazilians who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Ask if they know about the mission of Jesus Christ to the people of South America.
According to the Church News, he told these missionaries to “open to 3 Nephi 11 where they can read Jesus Christ’s ‘important words’ spoken to the Nephites.

So, apparently, President Nelson—whom 16 million Latter-day Saints sustain as prophet, seer, and revelator—does not believe the Heartland theory that the Book of Mormon city of Bountiful, where Jesus appeared to the Book of Mormon peoples, is in the American Midwest.

Yet Jonathan Neville rejects the teachings of the prophet by continuing to insist that “the Book of Mormon took place in North America, not Central America or anywhere else,” that the land Bountiful was in present-day Ohio, and that the Church’s Correlation Department is “repudiating the prophets” by showing artwork depicting Jesus appearing to the Nephites in Central America.
Jonathan Neville rejects the teachings of prophet Russell M. Nelson
Whom should be follow? President Russell M. Nelson? Or Jonathan Neville?

I’d say the answer to that is fairly obvious to everyone…except, of course, Jonathan Neville.

—Peter Pan

Friday, November 8, 2019

Jonathan Neville dishonestly misquotes someone…again

Jonathan Neville dishonestly misquotes other people
I’ve noted before on this blog that Jonathan Neville has a habit of misquoting people to strengthen his position.

His behavior is dishonest because he (a) doesn’t check his facts before quoting others and (b) doesn’t issue public corrections when he’s told that he’s misquoted someone.

The latest example of this comes from his November 7, 2019, blog post, “Dr. Houston and the M2C hoax.” His post is about Dr. Stephen Houston’s recent presentation at BYU on using LIDAR to survey hidden Mesoamerican ruins. Neville writes:
Professor Houston, a former BYU professor who now teaches at Brown University, is not LDS [sic]. I’m told that at his recent presentation at BYU, he said, “It’s really hard to see how the Book of Mormon relates to Mesoamerica—especially for archaeologists.”
I’m told” is Neville’s way of excusing the fact that he hasn’t listened to Houston’s presentation but has heard from an unnamed source that Houston said something damning about “M2C.”*

The problem is that Houston said nothing like this at his presentation. You can check this for yourself by listening to the entire session at this SoundCloud page.

Neville should issue a correction and refrain from misquoting others when it suits his purposes.

Based on his previous dishonest behavior, though, I sadly doubt he will do the right and honorable thing.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Apparently, people who disagree with Jonathan Neville are followers of Satan

Take a look at Jonathan Neville’s October 30, 2019, blog post (just make certain your jaw has something soft on which to drop first): Ten times in this post of just over 1,000 words Neville refers to those who believe the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica as teaching “philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.”

Temple-going Latter-day Saints will instantly recognize the origin of this phrase and its meaning. It identifies those who do not listen to and follow the servants of the Lord, but who rather (wittingly or unwittingly) follow Satan. This is what Neville has been reduced to claiming: Those who disagree with him are the servants of Satan.

Here’s what he says about those whose views on Book of Mormon geography are different than his:
Neville’s blog post My comments
“The Interpreter is the ideal name for a usurper of the prophets.“ Wow, usurper? Daniel Peterson, president of the Interpreter Foundation, commented on this, and I recommend his response to all who are reading this.
“We know that anything featuring the [Book of Mormon Central] logo will promote M2C* and reject the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah.” Anything? That seems a bit strong. Neville himself has repeatedly stated that he agrees with the majority of what Book of Mormon Central publishes, and only disagrees with them in small percentage of things they write on Book of Mormon geography.
“Cumorah was censored from the Saints book, volume 1. It is censored from the 2020 Come Follow Me curriculum.” Notice how this plays into his Grand Conspiracy Theory: People who disagree with him can’t have honest disagreements; they are actively working against the truth. (Be sure to read the Church History Department’s response to Neville’s claim.)
[Next to a Photoshopped image of a lawyer arguing before a court:] “Scholar trying to tell the prophets they are wrong.” Neville continues to beg the question here. He doesn’t address the fundamental issue of whether the location of Cumorah has been revealed (the Church denies that it has) and assumes that anyone who doesn’t believe that the New York hill is the Book of Mormon Cumorah ”rejects the teachings of the prophets.”
“If you accept M2C. you necessarily also believe: (i) that the prophets are wrong and (ii) that the prophets misled the Church for decades by testifying to the truthfulness of their incorrect opinions. You can ask any M2C scholar or their followers and they will admit these two points, although sometimes reluctantly.” This is patently absurd, as I’ve repeatedly demonstrated on this blog. (See, for example, here and here.)
“None of this is a test of faithfulness, commitment, intelligence, etc.” Wow. Just…WOW. After repeatedly calling into question the faithfulness of those who disagree with the Heartland hoax that Neville and his friends peddle, Neville has the audacity to claim that “none of this is a test of faithfulness”? Unbelievable.
“[‘M2C’] is simply a choice. And often, it’s an uninformed choice.” Not nearly as uninformed as the pseudoscientific nonsense that Heartlanders are selling, I’m afraid.
“Each of us can believe whatever we want. We don't criticize those who follow the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, if that works for them.” This is, hands down, the most apalling statement in the entire blog post. Neville claims not to be criticizing people whom he directly implies are following Satan. What gall! What chutzpah!
Perhaps one day I’ll discover that Neville has been playing an elaborate game, trolling his readers just to see how much nonsense and self-contradiction they can stand. I honestly hope that’s what is happening here, because, taken at face value, Jonathan Neville is one of the most self-unaware persons I have ever encountered.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

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