Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, March 28, 2019

It’s hard to give Neville the benefit of the doubt

I want to give Jonathan Neville the benefit of the doubt. I really do.

I want to believe that he’s being sincere when he writes about the “M2C* citation cartel” and how they’re supposedly “censoring” the truth about the prophetically-revealed location of the hill Cumorah. I strenuously disagree with him about this, of course, but at least the disagreement would be an honest one.

I’m a huge advocate for not falling into the trap of claiming “my opponent is either stupid or evil.” Few are truly “stupid,” and even fewer are truly evil. I prefer to assume that my ideological opponents are sincere and reasonably informed, and that we simply disagree about how to best interpret facts or apply solutions.

But when Neville writes stuff like this, it tests the very limits of my patience and good will:
Ironically, what [“M2C intellectuals”] want us to believe instead of the explicit, consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets about the Hill Cumorah are a handful of anonymous articles published in the Times and Seasons in 1842. These articles claimed that ruins discovered in Central America were evidence of the Book of Mormon.…

Why do the M2C intellectuals claim that these anonymous articles demonstrate that Joseph changed his mind about the New York Cumorah?

Because of their own interpretation of the text of the Book of Mormon!
To the best of my knowledge—and I consider myself reasonably well-read in this area—no advocate for a Mesoamerican Book of Mormon geography has ever claimed that “Joseph [Smith] changed his mind about the New York Cumorah.” Not one.

As many historians and scholars have pointed out, Joseph Smith and his contemporaries had a hemispheric view of Book of Mormon geography—the “land southward” (Lehi’s landing spot and Zarahemla) was in South America, the “land northward” (Desolation and the Jaredites) was in North America, and the “narrow neck of land” was the isthmus of Panama (then known as Darien).

No one questioned the New York location of Cumorah until the early 20th century, when it started to become clear that the distances in the Book of Mormon were too short to encompass a hemispheric model, the geography around the New York hill Cumorah didn’t match the descriptions of the lands in the Book of Mormon, and the archaeological and anthropological evidence for ancient warring civilizations in western New York simply didn’t exist.

This is a clear example of Jonathan Neville misrepresenting his opponents’ arguments in order to strengthen his own flawed position.

—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.


Post a Comment

Thoughtful comments are welcome and invited. All comments are moderated.

Popular Posts

Search This Blog