Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Heartland theory: a barren, shallow philosophy

Jonathan Neville has recently teamed up with Rod Meldrum of the FIRM Foundation to host a weekly podcast that syncs with the Church’s 2021 Come, Follow Me study of the Doctrine and Covenants.

I assume that Neville and Meldrum’s new podcast has received some positive feedback from its listeners, but one critical comment on the FIRM Foundation’s Facebook page caught my eye this morning: You can click the image to see it full size; I’m also including a transcript below (with some spelling and punctuation corrections):
Will there be any insight into [D&C] sections 6, 7, 8 or 9 or will it be all about the US is the promise[d] land[?] [L]ast week[’]s podcast there was no mention for sections 4, 5[.] [T]here is a lot of history but there is no insight on [the] spiritual side of the doctrine. [O]ne of the most Vi[t]al points in section 3 was missed, 90% of the time was spent in [Book of Mormon] and the promise[d] land, but that not what section 3, 4, 5 [were] about[.…]
Despite the writer’s grammatical deficiencies, he made an excellent point, one that I’ve pondered for several years now:

The Heartland movement adds nothing of value to the gospel message.

Once Heartlanders are done chanting “U–S–A, U–S–A!” and have bought into the conspiracy theory that Church leaders, employees, and missionaries are suppressing the truth about Book of Mormon geography and Church history, what does the Heartland message teach about the gospel? About the atonement of Jesus Christ? About loving God and our neighbor? About keeping the covenants we make at baptism and in the temple? About repentance? Prayer? Fasting? Morality? Service? The priesthood? Raising children? Overcoming adversity? Sacrifice and consecration? Etc., etc.

The obvious answer is that it teaches us nothing about those critical doctrines and concepts. Instead, the Heartland movement can be condensed into a single message: “Living prophets are leading the Church astray, but Heartlanders know the truth about Church history, Book of Mormon geography, and the divine mission of the United States—now, please give us your money.

That summary may be a little too on-the-nose for some, but it’s the sad truth. Neville and Meldrum’s one-note piano has nothing to contribute beyond that basic message.

As an example of this, just look at Neville’s recent personal blog post in which he provides “insights” into D&C Section 1: Every point in his post comes back to his pet theories that Joseph Smith used only the Urim and Thummim to translate, Church scholars are leading members astray, Joseph had two sets of plates, and Native Americans in the American Midwest are descendants of the Lamanites. That’s it. He doesn’t tell us anything about when, where, and how D&C 1 was revealed, about the Lord’s “voice of warning” (vv. 4 & 11), about the authority of the Lord’s servants (v. 6), about the “arm of the Lord” that is to be revealed (v. 14), about how the people of the world have strayed from the Lord and His ordinances (vv. 15–16), or any of a dozen or more topics in Section 1.

When you’re a hammer, everything looks like nail, the old saying goes. When you’re a Heartlander, every message in the scriptures is subservient to the handful of counter-orthodox issues that they embrace.

—Peter Pan

1 comment:

  1. This is a good point, one that I'm surprised I hadn't noticed before! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


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