Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Neville accuses a general authority of publishing anti-Mormon material in the Ensign

As I predicted last week, Jonathan Neville is not happy with some of the content in the January 2020 issue of the Ensign.

In his January 2, 2020, post on his Book of Mormon Central America blog, Neville accuses the Church-published Ensign of containing “revisionist Church history.” Specifically, he criticizes the article “The Translation of the Book of Mormon: A Marvel and a Wonder,” by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., who is a general authority Seventy, Church Historian and Recorder, and the Executive Director of the Church History Department.

Neville objects to Elder Curtis quoting David Whitmer’s testimony of Joseph Smith using a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon. Neville rejects Whitmer’s account because it was published in An Address to All Believers in Christ, the same book in which Whitmer gave his reasons for disassociating himself from Joseph and the Church. Neville rhetorically asks:
Obviously, the Ensign does not condone that part of David Whitmer’s book [where he accused Joseph of drifting into errors], but why accept uncritically any of that book? Why refer readers to it at all?
Neville apparently cannot distinguish between David Whitmer’s eyewitness testimony of something he personally saw and Whitmer’s interpretation of events. The former is an objective statement that has great validity; the latter is highly subjective. One can believe the first without agreeing with the second.

Furthermore, Neville himself is inconsistent in the way he treats historical material: He accepts those things which support his unusual theories and rejects those things which do not, even when they come from the same source. For example, Neville rejects David Whitmer’s 1887 testimony of Joseph’s use of a seer stone, but he accepts Whitmer’s 1887 testimony of meeting one of the Three Nephites who said that he was “on his way to Cumorah.” It must be awfully convenient for Neville to pick and choose which evidences he accepts and which he does not.
Jonathan Neville‘s doctored cover of the January 2020 Ensign
Jonathan Neville‘s doctored cover of the January 2020 Ensign

Neville also included in his blog post a doctored image of the January Ensign that has a photo of the title page of the 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed. It was the first anti-Mormon book, and it derisively called Joseph’s seer stone a “peep stone.” By publishing this fake image, Neville is asserting that a general authority Seventy has published anti-Mormon material in the Ensign, the Church’s official magazine.

Jonathan Nevile is a critic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The most dangerous critics are the ones who are within the Church, for they carry a veneer of authority and respectability. They “only want the best for the Church,” they claim, and are thereby able to spread their poisonous message of “soft apostasy.”

All Latter-day Saints should reject Neville’s aberrant views and criticisms of the Church and its leaders.

—Peter Pan

1 comment:

  1. Behold, in the course of mine lunch-break, I did sojurn upta Downtown (mine office being south and downhill), yea, even unto the place called Deseret Book, which is nigh unto the Temple, for I must needs purchase the Hardy edition of the Book of Mormon. And yea, whilst I did peruse that place of purveyance – which did take some time, for there is much dross there, and chaff also, having the form of spiritualness but lacking its substance – mine eyes beheld a sight that would make our brethren the Nevillites grin with great joy. For lo!, emblazoned on the cover of one such book (in large, friendly letters) was the word “Heartland”, yea, joined even with the name of “Meldrum”. And in no wise did mine eyes light upon any publication calling attention to ‘M2C’; therefore, I did suppose that the stated agnosticism regarding BoM Geography must be true indeed, and that by extension, such matters must truly be of tertiary, if not septenarial importance on the selfsame level as Book of Mormon Villain toilet paper.


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