Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A modern apostle mentions Cumorah

Jonathan Neville repeatedly insists that Latter-day Saints should support what he claims are “the consistent, persistent teachings of the prophets,” which he tells us are “1. The Hill Cumorah is in New York,” and “2. We don’t know for sure where the other events took place.”

I freely admit that the vast majority of prophets and apostles who have mentioned the location of the hill Cumorah said that it’s the hill where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon in 1827.

But today I found this interesting statement from the recently-departed Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017), spoken in his October 2003 General Conference address:
On September 21, 1823, at the age of 17, [Joseph Smith] knelt to ask ‘for forgiveness of [his] sins and follies, and [to receive] a manifestation…of [his] state and standing before [God].’ As he prayed, a light once again appeared, increasing ‘until the room was lighter than at noonday.’ In that light there stood a personage dressed in a robe of ‘exquisite whiteness.’ He called Joseph by name and introduced himself as Moroni. He said ‘that God had a work for [Joseph] to do’ and told him of an ancient record written on gold plates, which, when translated, became the Book of Mormon. The book contained a record of the fulness of the gospel, as taught to Moroni’s ancestors by Jesus Christ. Joseph was directed to obtain that record, buried near his family’s home in a nearby hill, which is now called Cumorah.

Note his interesting choice of words at the end of that statement: The hill near the Smith home “is now called Cumorah.”

His words presume that the “nearby hill” was not “called Cumorah” prior to being given that name after Joseph obtained the plates there.

Contrary to what Neville continually persists in asserting, there is no revealed geography of the Book of Mormon, including the location of the hill Cumorah that appears in the pages of that book of scripture. Elder Hales’ cautious words support that.

—Peter Pan


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