Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Friday, September 3, 2021

Assertion ≠ evidence

One of the greatest vices of Heartlanders in general—and Jonathan Neville in particular—is their tendency to make assertions without providing any evidence that their assertions are true.

Here’s just the latest example from Jonathan Neville’s blog Book of Mormon Central America: Does Brother Neville have any evidence that this supposed progression happens in real life?

Consider for a moment that Book of Mormon Central, perhaps the best-known and most popular Book of Mormon site on the internet,* teaches both “M2C”** and “SITH,” and yet the organization, its officers, and its employees are completely faithful to the gospel and to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have spoken at Book of Mormon Central events. Yet Neville would have us believe that Book of Mormon Central is just one step away from apostates like Jeremy Runnels and John Dehlin!

(And before Book of Mormon Central existed, Elders Neal A. Maxwell, Dallin H. Oaks, Henry B. Eyring, and L. Tom Perry spoke at the annual FARMS banquets. The fact that an apostle or other current general authority has never spoken at a Heartland event tells us a lot about who the Brethren trust.)

And what of members of the Church who believe that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon with a seer stone (“SITH”) but also believe that the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon is in New York? Did they just skip a step in Neville’s supposed “progression”? Let’s not forget that, until a few years ago, Heartlanders believed in “SITH”; how did they manage that without accepting “M2C” first?

Perhaps the most damning contrary evidence against Neville’s assertion is that the prophets teach “SITH.” I’ve presented the abundant evidence for this multiple times on this blog, but Neville has yet to engage with or respond to any of it. The list of Church presidents, apostles, and other general authorities who have taught that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon includes President Russell M. Nelson, President M. Russell Ballard, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, President Wilford Woodruff, President George Q. Cannon, and Elder B.H. Roberts. Are the prophets themselves progressing away from the teachings of the prophets?

Does Jonathan Neville have an explanation for any of this? Perhaps he can deign to give us some evidence of his supposed “progression away from the teachings of the prophets.”

—Peter Pan

* bookormormoncentral.org gets nearly six times as many monthly visits as Rod Meldrum’s bookofmormonevidence.org site. BMC also has nearly 43 times the number of links to its content from other sites (backlinks) than Meldrum’s site does. (Site vs. site comparison data.)
** “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.


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