Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Jonathan Neville’s claims eerily similar to those in a famous anti-Mormon book

Jonathan Neville continues undeterred in his claim that the language of the Book of Mormon was derived from the sermons of Jonathan Edwards. In a recent blog post, Neville repeated his argument that the famous phrase in King Benjamin’s sermon “the natural man is an enemy to God” was derived from Jonathan Edwards’s sermon on how “natural men are God’s enemies.” Since September 2019, he has maintained a blog devoted to proving that Joseph Smith copied much of the language in the Book of Mormon from the published writings of Jonathan Edwards. His response to Spencer Kraus’s thorough takedown of his hypothesis demonstrates that he has not read Kraus’s criticisms carefully and that he’s too personally invested in his view to admit that it has any flaws.

Dozens of times Neville has asserted that historical claims that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon are simply repeating the assertions made in the 1834 anti-Mormon book Mormonism Unvailed. In an ironic twist, Neville’s claims that Joseph didn’t see anything in the Urim and Thummim and that he copied the language of contemporary sermons repeats a similar explanation given by T.B.H. Stenhouse in his famous 1873 anti-Mormon book The Rocky Mountain Saints: Like Stenhouse, Neville believes that Joseph Smith didn’t “see” anything in the Urim and Thummim or seer stones—quite odd for a prophet who was called a “seer” (Mosiah 8:13; D&C 21:1)—and that “the language of modern preachers and writers” explains the origins of the language in the Book of Mormon.

Rather than demonstrating the miraculous origins of the Book of Mormon—the keystone scripture of the Restoration—Neville is providing ammunition to its critics who wish to find commonplace explanations for how it came to be.

—Peter Pan


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