Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Monday, March 30, 2020

Jonathan Neville won’t like the April 2020 issue of the New Era

Cover of the April 2020 issue of the New Era magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jonathan Neville insists that the Ensign, the New Era, and other magazines published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not represent the views of Church leaders, but rather the views of Church employees. He calls these views “the new narrative.”

If one is to accept Neville’s theory, one must believe that (a) Church employees are deliberately trying to undermine the “teachings of the prophets,” and (b) Church leaders know what the “teachings of the prophets” are but either don’t read Church magazines or don’t care enough to correct the (supposed) errors published within their pages.

Read that last paragraph again. Do you see how nonsensical Neville’s claim is?

The April 2020 issue of the New Era—“the monthly youth magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”—contains two articles that directly contradict Jonathan Neville’s claims about structure of the gold plates translated by Joseph Smith and how Joseph translated those plates.

The Plates within the Plates article from the April 2020 issue of the New Era magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The first article, “The Plates within the Plates,” (pp. 34–35), is a diagram and explanation of the structure of the plates of Mormon that Joseph Smith translated.

The diagram shows the small plates of Nephi as part of a single set of plates compiled by the prophet Mormon. The accompanying text explains:
Amaleki was the last person to write on the small plates of Nephi. He then passed them on to King Benjamin (see Omni 1:25), who put them with the large plates (see Words of Mormon 1:10).…

[In the Words of Mormon] Mormon added a note connecting the small plates of Nephi with Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. He explained his decision to add the small plates and explained the historical gap between the small plates and the abridged large plates.
So, according to the Church’s official magazine for youth, Mormon added the small plates of Nephi to his own plates of Mormon to create one unified set of plates. This directly contradicts Neville’s assertion that “Joseph actually translated two separate sets of plates.”

How Did Joseph Smith Translate the Book of Mormon? article from the April 2020 issue of the New Era magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The second article, “How did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon?” (p. 45), includes this description of Joseph’s method of translation:
Joseph Smith dictated the words of the translation to scribes, mostly Oliver Cowdery. Because Joseph was translating a completely unknown language, he needed to rely on the Lord. One way the Lord helped was to provide physical instruments to aid Joseph in translating. Witnesses said Joseph looked into the instruments and that words appeared to him in English. The translation instruments included the “interpreters” or “Urim and Thummim”—two clear stones fastened in a metal rim so that Joseph could look through them. These had been given to Joseph along with the plates. Another instrument Joseph used was a “seer stone” that he would look into, often by placing it in a hat. Joseph had found this stone earlier and had used it to find hidden or lost things. He used both the interpreters and the seer stone as he translated, always relying on the inspiration of heaven.
The article then recommends readers look up the Gospel Topics Essay about “Book of Mormon Translation” on the Church’s website.

So, according to the Church’s official magazine for youth, Joseph Smith used the Nephite interpreters and a seer stone that he placed into a hat to translate the Book of Mormon. This directly contradicts Neville’s assertion that the many eyewitness accounts of Joseph translating with a seer stone were untrue, because “Joseph merely demonstrated the process [of translation] to satisfy their curiosity.” (Neville has recently begun calling the Church’s version of the translation process the SITH theory—“stone in the hat.”)

Once more we see Jonathan Neville’s version of events conflicting with the teachings published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Neville is continuing to lead his unsuspecting followers away from the Church and replacing the Church’s teachings with his own, because he supposedly knows better than duplicitous Church employees and oblivious Church leaders.

I trust that everyone reading this understands the dangers inherent in Neville’s actions.

—Peter Pan

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