Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Partial truth and awkward truth

Jonathan Neville has a bad habit of finding some random quote on an unrelated topic and reapplying it to his pet obsession—combating what he calls “M2C”*. His most recent example of doing this in his April 18, 2019 blog post “Partial truth,” and this one is especially egregious to the point of being embarrassing.

Neville quotes Tad R. Callister from Callister’s new book A Case for the Book of Mormon:
Suffice it to say, a partial truth, when intentionally presented as the whole truth, is an untruth. Unfortunately, there are some who are so concerned about winning an argument or promoting an ideology that they present only a partial truth, perhaps afraid that if they presented the whole truth it would dilute or even negate their argument. When they do so, that partial truth becomes an untruth. [pp. 70–71]
Neville then goes on to apply this to “M2C intellectuals,” whom he believes are censorious conspirators.

What makes Neville’s use of Callister so egregious?

Tad R. Callister cites so-called “M2C intellectuals” throughout his book, and specifically thanks researchers at Book of Mormon Central for their help with his book.

In fact, in his book Callister repeatedly quotes the organizations that Neville specifically claims are part of the “M2C” conspiracy: Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, and the Church History Department.

In the preface he acknowledges Kerry Hull, Neal Rappleye, Daniel Peterson, Matthew Roper, and John W. Welch. He also writes in the preface:
I also express my appreciation to Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon, and their respective staffs, who have provided invaluable research into the Book of Mormon. [p. ix]
In the works cited portion of his book, Callister references “M2C intellectuals” Michael Ash, John E. Clark, William J. Hamblin, Daniel Peterson, Neal Rappleye, Matthew Roper, and John W. Welch.

He also cites the Heartlanders’ Public Enemy Number One: John L. Sorenson.

Not once does Callister cite Neville, Rodney Meldrum, or other “scholars” behind the Heartland hoax.

In his book, Callister favorably points to evidence from Mesoamerica to bolster his case that the Book of Mormon is authentic. (See, for example, throughout pp. 41–69).

Still not convinced that Callister favors “M2C” over Neville’s Heartland hoax geography?

On April 17, 2019, Brother Callister attended a book signing event put on by Book of Mormon Central to promote his new book. Here’s a video Book of Mormon Central made promoting the book at the event attended and keynoted by Brother Callister.

There are partial truths and there are awkward truths. The awkward truth for Jonathan Neville is that Tad Callister, who was released in April 2019 as general president of the Sunday School after five years of service, clearly disagrees with Neville about Mesoamerica and the quality of the work put out by FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central.

Neville is himself guilty of spreading partial truths by not telling his readers any of this.

—Captain Hook

* “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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