Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Jonathan Neville, Church manuals, and the First Presidency

On January 20, 2020, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at an NAACP-sponsored luncheon in Salt Lake City and expressed his regret about “some outdated commentary about race” that had been printed in the 2020 Come, Follow Me manual. “We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual,” Elder Stevenson said. “I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others.”

On his Book of Mormon Wars blog, Jonathan Neville took the opportunity to selfishly co-opt Elder Stevenson’s remarks for his own purposes. Because he believes that there is a massive conspiracy among Church employees to teach and promulgate false doctrines, Neville has taken Elder Stevenson’s remarks to mean that the Brethren don’t know what’s really going on and, at the same time, are the only ones who can be trusted to know the truth:
The manuals are not doctrine, they are subject to change at any time without notice, and even the Brethren don’t always know what they contain before they are published.

I don’t know why anyone would give credence to lesson manuals, books such as Saints, and other such materials regarding topics in which these things contradict the teachings of the scriptures, General Conference addresses, and original documents from Church history.
Now, we know, of course, that Neville doesn’t like Saints, the new history series being published by the Church History Department. Neville, in fact, has an entire blog dedicated to criticizing Saints because it teaches things that run contrary to his views on Church history.

Neville states that “the Brethren don’t always know what” books like Saints “contain before they are published.” It makes me wonder if he’s even read the First Presidency’s foreword to the first volume of Saints:

A Message from the First Presidency

Throughout the scriptures the Lord asks us to remember. Remembering our shared legacy of faith, devotion, and perseverance gives us perspective and strength as we face the challenges of our day.
First Presidency's foreword to volume 1 of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days
It is with this desire to remember “how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men” (Moroni 10:3) that we present Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. This is the first volume of a four-volume series. It is a narrative history that includes stories of faithful Latter-day Saints of the past. We encourage all to read the book and make use of the supplementary material available online.

You are an important part of the continuing history of this Church. We thank you for all you do to build on the foundation of faith laid by our forebears.

We testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His gospel is the standard of truth today. The Lord called Joseph Smith to be His prophet, seer, and revelator in the latter days, and He continues to call living prophets and apostles to guide His Church.

We pray that this volume will enlarge your understanding of the past, strengthen your faith, and help you make and keep the covenants that lead to exaltation and eternal life.


The First Presidency
Jonathan Neville doesn’t know “why anyone would give credence to…books such as Saints.” Maybe he should read and consider the words of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and find out for himself.

—Peter Pan

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the publication of Vol. 2 later this month. There's a dearth of accessible information between the 1850s and 1930s, apart from settlements and polygamy.


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