Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Sunday, September 1, 2019

On the authority of the Gospel Topics essays

Jonathan Neville doesn’t like the Gospel Topics essays published by the Church. He tries to downplay their significance by continually calling them “anonymous.” He insists that, because they lack a byline, “This means no one takes responsibility for them.”

Neville is wrong. In fact, the essays have a corporate authorship—they are published by the Church as an organization and represent the views of the Church.
Elder Steven E. Snow of the First Quorum of the Seventy

In a recent interview with the Gospel Tangents podcast, Elder Steven E. Snow discussed the essays and how they’re written and approved. Elder Snow was, at the time, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and serving as Church historian and recorder and Executive Director of the Church History Department. (He will be released and given emeritus status at the October 2019 general conference.)

In the interview, Elder Snow described how each essay began with a list of specific questions being approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to be answered, after which ”a committee of General Authority Sevent[ies] and also scholars and historians from our department [i.e., the Church History Department]…reviewed all of the drafts that came in on these questions.” The committee would retain an expert outside of Church employment to write the first draft, after which “they were reviewed by our department—the historians and scholars—as well as the general authorities and the Seventy on the committee. And then they were gone through many, many times, and then eventually were given to the Twelve and First Presidency for approval.”

The interviewer, Rick Bennett, then asked Elder Snow, “I know that there are some people that have said, ‘Well, these aren’t signed, you know, we don’t know if…the Quorum of Twelve have approved them.’” Elder Snow responded:
I assure you, I assure you: This wasn’t a rogue effort by the Church History Department. Every single line was approved the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.
So, why does Neville continue to downplay the essays and question their authority? Because they contradict his heterodox views.

—Peter Pan


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