Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Monday, August 5, 2019

Neville’s shot at FairMormon raises important questions

Jonathan Neville has spent the last week (July 27–August 2, 2019) setting forth his views on the translation of the Book of Mormon. His rejection of the statements of witnesses to the translation is baffling, but it’s even more concerning that his views directly contradict the teachings of the currently-serving president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: then-Elder Russell M. Nelson endorsed the “stone in the hat” account and quoted from David Whitmer and Emma Smith’s recollections in the July 1993 Ensign.

I hope to return to Neville’s Book of Mormon translation views at some point. There’s a lot to unpack there. Clearly I believe Neville has not followed proper historical methodology in dealing with sources. But my time is limited and a lengthy, five-part blog series is not something I can review right now, considering my other personal commitments.

I did want to take just a moment, though, to comment on Neville’s August 5, 2019, blog post ”FairMormon/BMC conference this week.” FairMormon’s 2019 three-day conference will be held this week, and Neville has not wasted the opportunity to fire shots at his ideological opponents:
[FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central] have lots of useful material, but because of their single-minded focus on M2C, they mix all the good with two unacceptable elements: censorship and ridicule of fellow faithful members of the Church who still believe the teachings of the prophets.

Consequently, IMO, both FairMormon and Book of Mormon Central are contradicting the Church’s official position of neutrality and they are raising barriers to faith.
Neville yet again is falsely claiming that the Church has a position of “neutrality” on Book of Mormon geography.

But, beyond that, I wonder if Neville has bothered to ask himself one important question: If FairMormon is contradicting the Church and “raising barriers to faith,” why is a currently-serving member of the First Quorum of the Seventy speaking, on assignment from the Quorum of the Twelve, at this year’s FairMormon Conference?

This is a key question that deserves an answer that considers its own implications.

A related question: Why haven’t the Brethren asked any serving general authorities to speak at Heartlander conferences?

Often the actions of Church leaders fall into the category of “he who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” I believe this is one of those moments.

—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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