Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Whom should we believe—Jonathan Neville or the prophets?

Three times the Book of Mormon calls the land of promise inhabited by the descendants of Lehi a “choice land”:
Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God. (2 Nephi 10:19)

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (Ether 2:12)

For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof. (Ether 13:2)
The Heartland Book of Mormon movement, which has its roots in American nationalism and American exceptionalism, identifies the “choice land” in those verse as the United States—and only the United States. Jonathan Neville, one of the leading authors in the Heartland movement, has expressed this repeatedly on his blogs as part of his continue criticism of “M2C”* thinking; for example:
Moroni wrote specifically to us, emphasizing that America is a “choice land above all other lands” and that it is a covenant land such that “the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2). It’s critical for people to understand what land Moroni was referring to. Even though he and Joseph made it clear, many scholars have diverted the focus to Central America and other sites.

(“Letter VII and Moroni’s America,” July 28, 2016)
Thanks to Mesomania, we have LDS scholars (and the educators they’ve trained) teaching members of the Church, all around the world…[that] when the Book of Mormon speaks of a choice land and a promised land from which the gospel would go to the world, it refers to southern Mexico and Guatemala.

(“Why anti-Mormons love Book of Mormon Central,” December 13, 2016)
This United States of America is indeed, “A Land of Promise.” Moroni presides over the destinies of the United States, holds the keys of the Stick of Ephraim (D&C 27:5), and is the guardian angel of this wonderful land. The Lord has said, “…repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon…” (D&C 84:57). As we study The Book of Mormon, we learn to love even more this blessed America we call “A Promised Land.”

(“Original Sources,” n.d.)
What’s most peculiar to me about the Heartlanders’ position on this issue is that it’s directly at odds with the teachings of prophets and apostles that they themselves like to quote.

Let’s begin with what Joseph Smith taught on this subject:
I have a proclamation to make to the Elders[.] [Y]ou know the Lord has led the church untill the present time[.] I have now a great proclamation for the Elders to teach the Church here after which is in relation to zion, The whole of North and South America is zion, the mountain of the Lords House is in the centre of North & South America.

(Joseph Smith, discourse given in general conference, April 8, 1844, as recorded by Wilford Woodruff; original spelling retained, emphasis added)
The reports of that sermon made by William Clayton and Willard Richards are less clear on Joseph’s statement; however, Woodruff’s account is certainly the more accurate one, based on the public remarks made the next day by Brigham Young (“the prophet called North and South America Zion”) and Hyrum Smith (“the gathering [to the temple] will be from the nations to North and South America, which is the land of Zion”). (Brigham was president of the Quorum of the Twelve and Hyrum patriarch to the Church at that time.)

Even more interesting is the statement from President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made in April 1976 general conference: “America, North and South, is a choice land, a land reserved for God’s own purposes.” President Benson then immediately quoted Ether 2:9, 10, 12 in support of his statement.

And, five years earlier, Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Twelve said in April 1971 general conference that the “choice land” promises of Ether 2:12 referred to “the modern nations of the Americas.” (Note the plural Americas, referring to North and South America.)

So here we have yet another example of selective quoting by a purveyor of the Heartland hoax. Jonathan Neville will gladly quote specific past prophets when they agree with his beliefs about the destiny of the United States, etc.; but when it comes to prophets and apostles testifying the “choice land” of the Book of Mormon is all of North and South America, his silence speaks volumes.

—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.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that those we have sustained as "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators" are pretty consistent in including the whole of the Western Hemisphere as Book of Mormon lands.

    President N Eldon Tanner; Christ in America; April 1975 General Conference.
    Elder James E Foust; The Keys of the Kingdom; October 1975 General Conference.
    Elder Gene R Cook; Miracles among the Lamanites; October 1980 General Conference.
    Elder J Thomas Fyans; The Lamanites Must Rise in Majesty and Power; April 1976 General Conference.
    Elder M Russell Ballard; The Kingdom Rolls Forth in South America; April 1986 General Conference.
    Elder Ted E Brewerton; The Book of Mormon: A Sacred Ancient Record; October 1995 General Conference.


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