Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Sunday, June 28, 2020

President Wilford Woodruff, SITH intellectual

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Jonathan Neville rejects the teachings of the prophets—an accusation he’s repeatedly leveled at Latter-day Saints who disagree with his iconoclastic beliefs.

According to Neville, Joseph Smith never used a seer stone. He claims that “the peep stone story originated with people who sought to destroy Joseph, the Book of Mormon, and the Church,” and that its origins were with the 1834 anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unvailed.

And yet, as I’ve demonstrated on this blog, many leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have publicly taught that Joseph used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon, from President George Q. Cannon in 1888, to Elder B. H. Roberts in 1930, to Elder (now President) Russell M. Nelson in 1993, to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in 2016.
Wilford Woodruff in 1889
To those testimonies above, we can add President Wilford Woodruff’s. In his journal entry for May 19th, 1888, he wrote:
Wilford Woodruff’s journal entry for May 19, 1888
Before leaving [Manti] I consecrated upon the altar [of the temple] the seer stone that Joseph Smith found by revelation some 30 feet under the earth [and] carried by him throughout life.
At the time he wrote this, Wilford Woodruff was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the de facto head of the Church, President John Taylor having died the previous July.

Wilford Woodruff was a close associate of Joseph Smith. He met the Prophet in 1834 after converting to the restored gospel and coming to Kirtland. He was ordained an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve by Joseph on April 26, 1839, and he and his wife Phebe received their endowments from the Prophet in 1844. This short blog post can’t begin to do justice to his sixty-four years of service, nine as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1889–1898).

Here we have incontrovertible evidence that Wilford Woodruff believed Joseph Smith found his seer stone “by revelation” while digging a well, and that the Prophet carried and used that seer stone “through [his] life.”

Surely even Jonathan Neville wouldn’t dare accuse Wilford Woodruff of being a “revisionist historian” who believed that “scholars are more important than prophets” and that Joseph Smith was “an ignorant speculator,” as he written about “M2C* scholars.”

Surely even he wouldn’t accuse Wilford Woodruff of being a critic of the Church, as he has about anyone who has taught that Joseph Smith used a seer stone.

The sad fact is that everything Jonathan Neville believes about Joseph Smith’s possession and use of a seer stone is wholly and completely untrue. And yet he continues to “condemn others” and “find fault with the Church saying that they are out of the way,” as Wilford Woodruff recorded the Prophet Joseph warning the Twelve in 1839 about those who are on “the high road to apostacy.”

When will it end? And will it end with Neville repenting of his false accusations against the Church, its employees, and scholars of Church history? Or will it end with Neville leaving the Church and forming his own splinter movement?

—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.


  1. Speaking of Star Wars, it's a little ironic that "only a Sith deals in absolutes" (Obi Wan Kenobi).

    1. It's too bad the poetic justice is lost on Neville et al.


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