Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Monday, July 11, 2022

Those who live in glass houses, pt. 15

(Part fifteen of a series.)

On July 11, 2022, Jonathan Neville wrote:
As I’ll show in upcoming posts, the critics of the Church are having a field day with the “stone-in-the-hat” theory (SITH). It’s astonishing to see our so-called “apologists” make every effort to support SITH by trying to find “evidence” in the historical record that SITH has been taught by Church leaders in the past.
First of all, critics of the Church have been “having a field day” since 1829 by mocking and deriding the Saints for things they believe which are true. Just because some critics today think that translating a sacred record from a stone placed into a hat is preposterous doesn’t make it any less true. Our reaction to them—and to Jonathan Neville—should be the one given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Not long ago, the Church published photos and background information on seer stones. People have asked me, ‘Do you really believe that Joseph Smith translated with seer stones? How would something like this be possible?’ And I answer, ‘Yes! That is exactly what I believe.’ This was done as Joseph said: by the gift and power of God.

Secondly, the evidence (a word that I won’t use in scare quotes as Neville did) that leaders of the Church have taught that Joseph Smith translated from stone that he placed into his hat is overwhelming, and Jonathan Neville’s feeble attempts to hand-wave this evidence away doesn’t make it any less true. As this blog has demonstrated, Church leaders who have publicly and privately taught that Joseph Smith used a seer stone include President George Q. Cannon, President Wilford Woodruff, and Elder B. H. Roberts, as well as respected, faithful eyewitnesses to the translation like Joseph Knight Sr. Modern prophets and apostles have continued to teach this, including President Russell M. Nelson, President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Elder Quinten L. Cook, and Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr.

The only thing that’s “astonishing” is Jonathan Neville’s repeated, continual attempts to disregard the many testimonies and witnesses of prophets and apostles, past and present, who have taught what what he rejects.

But where Neville really goes off the rails in his most recent blog post is when he writes (emphasis in the original):
The SITH scholars insist that Joseph didn't even use the plates but merely read words that appeared on the stone he found in a well. E.g., from BYU Studies: “when Joseph “translated,” he was rarely looking at the characters on the plates, which were usually either on the table covered in cloth or hidden elsewhere in the house or vicinity.” Essentially, these scholars claim that Joseph merely pretended to translate.
Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones“Merely pretended to translate.”

This, from the man who claims that Joseph merely pretended to translate when he used a seer stone in front of other people as a “demonstration” that all who observed him believed to be the actual process of translation.

This, from the man who claims that Joseph pretended to translate the Isaiah portions of the Book of Mormon, but instead he memorized Isaiah from the King James Bible and recited it back to his scribes.

It takes true audacity—or cluelessness, or both—for a man like Jonathan Neville to accuse fellow Latter-day Saints of doing precisely what he himself does on nearly a daily basis.

—Peter Pan


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