Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Jonathan Neville’s misleading rhetoric

I’ve stated numerous times that I do not like to classify people who disagree with me as being either stupid or evil. Honest, intelligent people can and often do disagree with one another for legitimate reasons, no matter how strongly they hold to their beliefs or how persuasive they think the arguments for them are.

It’s especially hard for me to stick to that position, however, when Neville writes things like this:
Nearly two years ago, I noted a book titled Visions in a Seer Stone by William L. Davis. I recommend that people read it because Davis relies on the same SITH accounts that our LDS apologists do. Like the citation cartel, Davis argues that Joseph Smith didn't really translate anything.

I completely disagree. I think Joseph and Oliver told the truth about the translation.

To be clear, I think Joseph translated the engravings on the plates and did not merely read words that appeared on a stone in a hat, or in a vision
Since his book A Man that Can Translate came out in 2019, Neville has been claiming that while he believes that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, those who disagree with him believe that “Joseph didn’t translate” anything.

Doctrine and Covenants 135:3 That claim is, of course, completely absurd. Both Neville and those who agree with the leaders of the Church (including President Russell M. Nelson and apostles Dieter F. Uchtdorf, D. Todd Christofferson, and Quentin L. Cook) believe that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. The difference is that Neville believes Joseph performed this work via his own intellect with the Urim and Thummim simply confirming what he translated, while living prophets and apostles affirm that Joseph translated “by the gift and power of God,” as he and others who knew him repeatedly testified.

Neville insists that his explanation for how the translation was carried out is the only legitimate one, but in April 2012 General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve warned the Saints:
Obsessive focus on things not yet fully revealed, such as how the virgin birth or the Resurrection of the Savior could have occurred or exactly how Joseph Smith translated our scriptures, will not be efficacious or yield spiritual progress.
Jonathan Neville has disregarded Elder Cook’s counsel. He and his readers will suffer spiritually because of that decision.

—Peter Pan


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