Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Sunday, August 23, 2020

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

Jonathan Neville completely rejects the reasonably widespread theory that the destruction recorded in 3 Nephi 8 was caused by volcanoes. He rejects this, not because volcanic activity can’t explain what the descendants of Lehi experienced, but because there are no volcanoes in the American Midwest, and his evidence must fit his predetermined conclusions.

So I suspect that the September 2020 issue of the New Era will only serve to confirm his biases about Church magazines being run by the “M2C* citation cartel”:
Is it scientifically possible for the catastrophes described in 3 Nephi to have really happened? As a sign of the Savior’s death, the Nephites and Lamanites experienced storm, tempest, whirlwinds, thunder, and lightning; shaking of the earth; cities breaking up, burning, or sinking into the sea; highways and earth breaking up; rocks breaking up and being scattered; darkness that could be felt; vapors of smoke; the inability to light fire and make light; and a change in the whole face of the land. The initial event lasted for three hours, and the darkness lasted for three days. (See 3 Nephi 8—10.)

As a matter of faith, we do not need a scientific explanation of the means by which God caused these cataclysms. But it is interesting to note that, in fact, all of these phenomena have been observed in connection with one type of geological event: a massive and explosive volcanic eruption.

A volcanic event of this scale is rare but not unheard-of. Tectonic activity, extraordinary electrical events, tornadoes, falling debris, days of dark and stifling clouds of ash—all of these have been associated with volcanoes before and have caused the kind of destruction and death described in the Book of Mormon. It could have been this or something else entirely. The important thing is that it actually happened, as prophesied.
(The April 2020 issue of the New Era wasn’t one he cared for, either.)

—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. Very good comments about the Heartland model. Same is true for MesoAmerican however. The cataclysm wasn't all volcanic. It had mountain building component as well. Also city's were sunk into the east sea which is something Meso doesn't have.

    The youngest mountains in all of north and south America are the Andes. Although the Meso model fits closer it still lacks the tectonic and tsunamis that destroyed city's that are mentioned in the BOM.

    So reading the record Heartland model in no way fits followed by MesoAmerican model. The only model that does fit is South America. It was an island before the uplift at the death of Christ.

    1. Interesting idea! I would ask, however, what evidence there is for South America being an island before the death of Christ, and even if it was an island, what does that have to do with Book of Mormon geography?

      Also, the prevailing scientific view is that the Andes became a mountain range between six to ten million years ago; much earlier than Book of Mormon times! Would you mind also explaining the significance of the Andes to your geography theory?

      I'm not trying to be antagonistic here; just curious. Thanks!

  2. "Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” - Sherlock Holmes


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