Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Jonathan Neville at the summit of confirmation bias

It requires a breathtaking lack of self-awareness for Jonathan Neville to write:
Once you realize that M2C* advocates think of themselves as priests policing heresy rather than investigators seeking truth, the M2C logo and the censorship by the M2C citation cartel will make a lot more sense.
Priests policing heresy. This, coming from the very man who has claimed hundreds of times that his intellectual opponents are “repudiating the teachings of the prophets.”

M2C in the dock at the Salem witch trialsThe simple fact that Neville is unwilling or unable to comprehend is that Latter-day Saint scholars and other Church members who believe that the Book of Mormon took place mostly in Mesoamerica could not care less if anyone has a difference of opinion about that matter. Everyone is free to express his or her own beliefs and put forth evidence in support of those beliefs. There will be (and should be and has been) vigorous debate over these evidences. Since there is no revelation on this matter, it is open for discussion.

So why does Neville perceive that there is a conflict? This goes back nearly thirteen years to Rodney Meldrum’s presentation at the inception of the “Heartland” movement. In his presentation, Meldrum used a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley about anti-Mormons and twisted its meaning to assert that Latter-day Saint scholars “disdain” the Prophet Joseph Smith by teaching a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon.

Since that time, Heartlanders like Meldrum and Neville have been self-appointed heretic hunters, calling out “M2C” for being opposed to “the teachings of the prophets” and asserting that the Heartland theory is the only view that is supported by prophetic teaching (and making quite a bit of money at it along the way). Their claims have received widespread attention and not a small number of followers. Their accusations have become so strident that the First Presidency was motivated to issue the following counsel:
Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories. All parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters.
And yet, because he is firmly entrapped in his own web of confirmation bias, Jonathan Neville continues to insist that it is Mesoamericanists who are “policing heresy.” (And he’s spilled no small amount of ink disparaging the First Presidency’s counsel, above, in an attempt to justify his shameful behavior.)

Neville doesn’t like that I’ve claimed his actions place him on the road to eventual apostasy. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi responded to such objections in 1 Nephi 16:2.

—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 comment:

  1. If I may adapt the words of Galileo written to Kepler:

    "My dear Peter, what would you say of the Heartlander here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, has steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the mirror to look upon himself? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?"


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