Thursday, November 16, 2017

Visual persuasion--and presuasion

There is potential to reach a consensus about Book of Mormon historicity/geography through visual persuasion and presuasion. However, just the opposite is currently happening.

Tuesday I visited Temple Square to admire the exhibit of two-Cumorahs that repudiates what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery taught in Letter VII.


This exhibit also repudiates what every prophet and apostle has taught about Cumorah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

Most LDS people prefer to follow the prophets instead of the intellectuals, so how have the intellectuals prevailed in pushing their theory?

Because of visual persuasion--and presuasion.
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The saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." But for the Book of Mormon, a picture is worth 269,510 words (the number of words in the text).

Millions of visitors to Temple Square see this exhibit. Millions more see the ubiquitous painting of Christ visiting the Mayans, which is featured in the missionary edition of the Book of Mormon, in chapels and media worldwide--and even on the Temple Square Instagram page.

Temple Square instagram page
Far more people (members, investigators, and the general public) see these images than will ever read the words in the Book of Mormon. But if people get around to actually reading the text, they will interpret it in a Mayan setting because of visual persuasion and visual presuasion.

On one level, these display and paintings are designed to persuade viewers that the Lord visited the ancient people in North America. The scenes are dramatic and interesting, no doubt. Perhaps they may persuade some people to read the text to learn about all these Mayan ruins and jungles.

(This was the same reason why Benjamin Winchester, William Smith, the Pratt brothers and others promoted the same things in the 1840s, but this zealous missionary idea was just as wrong then as it is now).

If and when people actually read the text, they find no references to jungles, massive stone temples, or any other descriptions of Mayan culture.

If they investigate further, they quickly discover that no non-LDS expert on Mayan culture finds any connection to the Book of Mormon.

They also discover that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and all their contemporaries and successors declared that the Hill Cumorah was in New York.

Then they realize this entire Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory was concocted by LDS intellectuals who have trained LDS students at BYU and in CES for decades--including the people who produced the art, media and displays.

This creates the cognitive dissonance that causes members to become confused and disturbed in their faith. It also causes investigators to stop meeting with missionaries.

When we were on Temple Square the other night, we passed a guy speaking with two of the sisters. He was asking them about archaeological evidence. Of course, they have no answer. They are defenseless, because our intellectuals have persuaded so many people that Joseph and Oliver were wrong.
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It is well known that people's ideas are influenced by what they see, even subconsciously. For example, if you make sure people pass by an American flag before you ask them about political questions, they will give more patriotic answers than if they don't see the flag first.

When you show Christ visiting Mayans before they read the Book of Mormon, they will "see" Mayan ruins and jungles even though the words don't appear in the text.

But then when they discover Letter VII and all the corroborating evidence that supports what Joseph and Oliver taught, they question what they've learned at the visitors centers and from the media and artwork, which they incorrectly attribute to an official Church position that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the "real" Hill Cumorah is in Mexico.
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Fortunately, many people who have left the Church or drifted into inactivity return to activity when they discover that the bizarre Mayan stuff was invented by intellectuals and never taught by the prophets. They are enthusiastic to discover there is evidence to support what Joseph and Oliver taught. 

But think how much more effective it would be to use visual persuasion and presuasion to support what Joseph and Oliver taught!

Fortunately, there are some examples on lds.org of this, such as the Scriptures Legacy video you can watch here: https://www.lds.org/church/news/new-church-video-honors-scriptures-legacy?lang=eng.

Christ visiting earthworks, not Mayan stone pyramids

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How we got to this point--and where to go from here

The purpose of this blog is to help all members of the Church reach a consensus about the Book of Mormon geography. I think most members are closer to a consensus than we realize.

Still, there is a lot of confusion in the Church about the Book of Mormon. I attribute this primarily to the intellectuals who disagree with the prophets and apostles about the location of the Hill Cumorah. 

In this post, I'll review how we got to this point and then offer suggestions for solving the problem.

I realize this is a long post--but there's a lot more I could say. Email me if you have questions.
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It has taken a lot of effort, involving denial and sophistry, to justify the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that there are two Cumorahs, with the "real Cumorah" being somewhere in southern Mexico. 

Or somewhere else, such as Baja California, Panama, Peru, Chile, etc.

As I explain below, the only real consensus the intellectuals have reached is that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

This narrative has been taught for decades at BYU and in CES, to the point where, in the minds of most members of the Church, it has become the default (yet unofficial) position of the Church. I explained this process in a recent post, here.

The truth is so much simpler. 

1. When he first appeared to Joseph Smith, Moroni told him that the record of the Nephites had been "written and deposited" not far from his home. This means Mormon and Moroni both lived in western New York when they abridged the Nephite and Jaredite records.

2. Mormon explained that "having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni." (Mormon 6:6)

3. On multiple occasions, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery visited Mormon's depository of records in the Hill Cumorah in New York. For that reason, and in response to anti-Mormon claims that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon himself, they explained it was a fact that the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites took place in the mile-wide valley west of Cumorah. (Letter VII)

4. All of Joseph's contemporaries and Priesthood successors who have discussed Cumorah have affirmed this straightforward teaching, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

5. Knowing that Cumorah is in New York doesn't tell us everything about Book of Mormon geography, but it tells us what we need to know to be grounded in reality. Any proposed geography that doesn't put Cumorah in New York cannot be correct.

6. Because some intellectuals have rejected the prophets and apostles on this specific point, they are left standing "as it were in the air, high above the earth," with no foundation. (1 Nephi 8:26) Instead, they are left to their own devices, which has led to the massive and widespread confusion in the Church about the Book of Mormon.

How did we get to this point?
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I've discussed the history of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory in detail here.

Until the 1980s, there was no question about the location of Cumorah. Every one of Joseph's contemporaries accepted this, based on numerous details, some of which I mentioned above.* 

Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve spoke about the New York Cumorah in General Conference in the 1970s. The official edition of the Book of Mormon included photos of the New York Cumorah and the Arnold Friberg painting of Mormon and Moroni, together, on top of the Hill Cumorah in New York.

But in the 1980s, the intellectuals changed the narrative.

In 1981, David A. Palmer published a book titled In Search of Cumorah which claimed that the Hill Cumorah could not be in New York after all. The book jacket explains that "The Cumorah of New York state is identified as 'Moroni's Cumorah,' where Moroni finally deposited the plates which were later uncovered and translated by Joseph Smith. The author makes a clear and convincing case for the belief that this area is not the same hill as 'Mormon's Cumorah,' where the last Nephite defense was staged."

Brother Palmer also wrote the entry on Cumorah in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (EOM), published in 1992 after many years of development. This enshrined his thesis as the quasi-official Church position, because although the EOM is not an official Church publication, BYU published it and groups such as FairMormon emphasize that Elders Dallin H. Oaks, Neal A. Maxwell, and Jeffrey R. Holland worked on the project. 

Brother Palmer's entry says this: 

"[The] annual pageant has reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates, thus equating this New York hill with the Book of Mormon Cumorah. Because the New York site does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Book of Mormon geography, some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. Although some have identified possible sites that may seem to fit better (Palmer), there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site that has been suggested. "

The only references in the Bibliography are to John Clark, David Palmer himself, and John L. Sorenson, all three of whom are deeply committed proponents of the Mesoamerican theory. The article doesn't cite or even mention Letter VII or any of the statements of the prophets and apostles who have affirmed the New York location of Cumorah.
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Also in 1981, John L. Sorenson circulated a manuscript for his book, eventually published by Deseret Book in 1984, titled An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. (I participated in the peer review through an archaeologist friend of mine.) This book became the standard reference for Book of Mormon historicity and geography. Like many others, I was convinced by Brother Sorenson's research and arguments.

The editor of the Ensign became fascinated by the Mesoamerican theory. In conjunction with the publication of his book, Brother Sorenson published two articles in the Ensign about his theory. Part 1 of "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and its Scripture" was published in the September 1984 Ensign, available here. Part 2 was published in the October 1984 edition, available here.  

The articles set out a series of supposed "correspondences" between Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon. They encouraged further study. "The demonstrated congruence of Book of Mormon patterns with a vast amount of data on Mesoamerica, even without considering its agreement with Old World patterns, really ought to silence would-be commentators until they have carefully investigated what is now a complex body of information."

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In 1981, the Church also changed the artwork in the Book of Mormon, apparently to reflect this new narrative. I examined this in detail here. The Friberg painting of the New York Cumorah was deleted and replaced with the Tom Lovell painting of "Moroni Burying the Plates" by himself, a reflection of Brother Palmer's theory. 

While his New York Cumorah painting was removed, three of Friberg's Mesoamerican-themed paintings were retained. 

The John Scott painting "Jesus Christ visits the Americas," showing the Savior visiting a Mayan ruin with Chichen Itza in the background, was added. [Note: the url incorrectly labels this painting "Christ teaching Nephites."] This painting is now ubiquitous in the Church, appearing in chapels, temples, and visitors centers, even though it is anachronistic and contradicts the text itself. But far more people have seen this painting than have read the Book of Mormon.

Next came the visitors centers, which specifically teach the Palmer/Sorenson two-Cumorahs theory, as I've shown here.
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The question remains: Why did this narrative replace the consistent and specific teachings of the prophets and apostles over 150 years?

Basically, the intellectuals decided that the prophets and apostles were wrong.

The intellectuals relied on (i) the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles, incorrectly attributed to Joseph Smith, and (ii) the false idea that there is no archaeology to support the Book of Mormon in North America, when they should have just trusted the prophets and apostles in the first place.

Most of their discussions lately involve interpreting the text, but this is a fool's errand. Like most texts, the Book of Mormon is subject to nearly infinite interpretations. Once the intellectuals rejected the prophets and apostles (and the Doctrine and Covenants), they have had a heyday with the text, the same way Biblical scholars come up with infinite variations. There are thousands of Christians sects, all insisting their interpretation is correct, just as there are hundreds of theories of Book of Mormon geography. The LDS intellectuals have a "consensus" about their interpretation, but the only thing they really have in common is that Cumorah cannot be in New York. That's how we end up with models based in Baja, Mexico, Guatemala, Yucatan, Panama, Chile, Peru, etc.

IOW, the only real consensus the intellectuals have reached is that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah.

Any interpretation of a text is a function of mental filters, usually driven by an agenda. In the case of the Book of Mormon, think of the difference between these two filters:

1. An interpretation that seeks to corroborate and support what Joseph, Oliver and all the other prophets and apostles have taught about Cumorah being in New York; or

2. An interpretation that seeks to establish a Mesoamerican setting, based on a two-Cumorahs theory that deems Joseph and Oliver and all the other prophets and apostles to be wrong; i.e., confused speculators who misled the Church.

Which filter would you apply? 

Which filter would you like to see the Church apply?

Accepting the New York Cumorah will not resolve all questions about Book of Mormon geography, but it will accomplish the main point because it will mean that members of the Church, including the intellectuals, will be united in supporting and sustaining the teachings of the prophets and apostles.

Let's turn to the reasons why the intellectuals decided to repudiate the prophets and apostles.

1. Times and Seasons articles. The 1842 Times and Seasons published several anonymous articles that linked the Book of Mormon to ruins in Central America. Because the boilerplate at the end of every issues from March through October listed Joseph Smith as Editor, Printer and Publisher, people assumed ever since that Joseph actually wrote, or at least approved of, these articles. IOW, they have assumed Joseph himself taught that the Book of Mormon took place in Central America.

To their credit, the intellectuals who promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory originally thought they were vindicating Joseph Smith's statements, based on their assumption that Joseph wrote these anonymous articles.

However, the assumption was wrong.

I've written three heavily annotated books to explain why. My first book, The Lost City of Zarahemla, attracted some opposition from the Mesoamerican proponents. I responded in detail, but also incorporated their suggestions in a second edition. Then I published the rest of my research in Brought to Light and The Editors: Joseph, William and Don Carlos Smith.  

Joseph had nothing to do with these anonymous articles; he had little to do with the Times and Seasons at all. (Anyone who thinks the boilerplate means Joseph actually edited the newspaper must also believe Joseph actually printed the newspaper. Joseph was far too busy during 1842 to spend his time on either activity.) 

Instead, it was William Smith who was editing both the Times and Seasons and the Wasp, likely with the assistance of W.W. Phelps. They were publishing material sent by contributors, primarily Benjamin Winchester. 

I've been informed that these Times and Seasons articles have been a major factor for Church leaders to accept the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. Now that we understand the history better--now that we know Joseph had nothing to do with them--that misdirection should no longer be a factor.

Plus, we now know that Joseph wrote the Wentworth letter by referring to Oliver's eight historical letters and Orson Pratt's pamphlet, "A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions." Orson Pratt spend several pages discussing his hemispheric model, including Central America. Joseph deleted Orson's speculation and instead declared that the remnant of Lehi's people "are the Indians that now inhabit this country."

[Note: You can read the entire Wentworth letter in the Ensign here. However, the influence of the intellectuals is so pervasive that the lesson manual, Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, actually deleted this passage from the chapter on the Wentworth Letter. Joseph had been concerned that Mr. Wentworth might not publish his article entire, but he didn't need to worry about Mr. Wentworth; he needed to worry about the Curriculum Committee that is dominated by people who believe the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.]

Joseph's contemporaries accepted the New York Cumorah, but they were enthusiastic about the ruins in Central America so they disregarded his declaration about the Indians in the United States. They disregarded the revelations (D&C 28, 30, 32) that identified the Lamanites as the tribes living in the United States. Benjamin Winchester, William Smith, and the Pratt brothers, all close friends and missionary companions who wrote and published profusely, shared a missionary zeal for linking the Book of Mormon to exciting finds in Central America. But Joseph never once shared their enthusiasm and the idea that he did has led intellectuals to reject what Joseph and Oliver actually taught about the Hill Cumorah.

This is a tragic mistake that can be easily rectified by returning to the teachings of the prophets and apostles about Cumorah.

As a follow-up question, we wonder, why haven't the intellectuals made the change? 

Many, if not all, of them now recognize Joseph didn't write the Times and Seasons articles. (This is a relief for many people, because the articles themselves bordered on absurdity.) Some now say these articles were never the basis of their focus on Mesoamerica, a claim that ignores the intellectual history of the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. 

Actually, I'm fine with the revisionist history; i.e., if the intellectuals want to say the articles had nothing to do with their theory, then let's correct the traditional history and move on. I've asked the Church History department to do just that. We'll see what happens. As of today, there are still notes in the Joseph Smith Papers that reflect the traditional, and false, assumption that Joseph wrote the anonymous articles and was enthusiastic about Mesoamerica.

There is a lingering intellectual legacy tied to these articles. Even if everyone agrees that Joseph didn't write or edit them, the articles fed the narrative that Joseph didn't know much about the Book of Mormon and merely speculated about its setting. 

LDS intellectuals taught this theory to the world at the Library of Congress in 2005, which I discussed here.  

This theory that Joseph was an ignorant speculator who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah and changed his mind later in life is one of the rationales for rejecting Letter VII, as I discussed here

It's the basis for rejecting Oliver Cowdery, who was the ordained Assistant President of the Church when he wrote Letter VII.

It's the basis for rejecting David Whitmer's testimony, which he repeated multiple times, about the messenger taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah.

It's also the rationale for rejecting what Brigham Young taught in 1877 when he was reorganizing the Priesthood and introducing temple ordinances and doing everything he could to put the Church on the right course before he died. I discussed that here

IOW, correcting the false assumption that Joseph wrote the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles must include a rejection of the equally false assumption that Joseph was a confused speculator who misled the Church. 

2. The archaeology question. LDS intellectuals have persuaded themselves that the New York hill (which they don't even like to refer to as Cumorah) is a "clean hill," meaning devoid of artifacts that corroborate the New York setting. I've addressed this in several posts herehere, here, and here.

I don't think archaeology, by itself, will lead to consensus. Archaeology is more an interpretive art than a hard science, and it is the subjectivity of the interpretation that leads to disagreement. This is especially true where the expectations themselves vary so dramatically.

I think it's more important to support and sustain the prophets and apostles, because faith precedes the miracle and we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. 

Nevertheless, there is abundant archaeological evidence that supports what Joseph and Oliver taught about the Hill Cumorah. 

I'll discuss it in more detail once we all agree to first support and sustain the prophets and apostles. 

For now, I'll just mention that one of the problems we've seen involves our expectations and misreading of the text. To reach a consensus about archaeology, we must first reach a consensus about our expectations. 

Failing that, we must be willing to adjust our expectations in light of the archaeological evidence.

For example, were two million Jaredites killed at Cumorah, or less than 10,000? 

I think the number is less than 10,000, which obviously would leave a different archaeological record than 2 million dead. 

I addressed that here: http://www.lettervii.com/2017/08/question-about-numbers-at-cumorah.html.

The intellectuals have also concluded that Cumorah cannot be in New York because of weather, lack of volcanoes, etc. These are all red herrings, created out of whole cloth as confirmation bias to support the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. They are, in a word, ridiculous, especially when framed as reasons to reject the prophets and apostles.

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As I said at the beginning, I realize this is a long post--but there's a lot more I could say. Email me if you have questions.

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*Here are some of the details:

1. Joseph learned the name Cumorah from Moroni before he ever obtained the plates. 

2. Joseph and Oliver learned about Cumorah when they translated the text. 

3. David Whitmer learned about Cumorah in 1829 when, on the road from Harmony to Fayette, he met the divine messenger who was taking the Harmony plates back to Cumorah. (The messenger returned these plates to Cumorah because Joseph and Oliver had translated all of them, except the sealed portion. The Lord had directed them to translate the plates of Nephi (D&C 10), which Joseph did not yet have. He didn't get those until he arrived in Fayette.)

4. Joseph and Oliver and others visited Mormon's depository in the Hill Cumorah, as Brigham Young and others explained. 

5. David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery both said the plates were no longer in Cumorah. David said they were "not far from there," however, which suggests that Joseph, Oliver and others moved the depository to another location. (I discuss all this in detail elsewhere.)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lessons from 3 and 4 Nephi

This blog focuses on reaching consensus and unity among members of the Church, specifically regarding the historicity and geography of the Book of Mormon. The purpose is to eliminate disputations and contentions about these important issues.

The Book of Mormon itself teaches how to accomplish this purpose.

In 4 Nephi 1:17, we read "There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God."

How did the people reach this degree of total unity?

We can see how by going back to 3 Nephi, starting with Chapter 11.
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When the Savior appeared after the great destruction, He addressed the problem of disputations and contention. He began by focusing on one simple issue: how to baptize. He started with the basics, teaching the doctrine clearly so no one could misunderstand.

He explained that the way to eliminate contention is to disregard the words of the prophets and apostles and substitute the philosophies of men, as articulated by the intellectuals in the Church about 34 A.D.

Now, you might not have noticed that in the actual scriptures we have, but that's because, as our modern LDS intellectuals explain, we have only Joseph Smith's translation, not the actual plates, so we have to infer what was on the actual plates.
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For a moment, let's set aside the teachings of our LDS intellectuals and look at the actual text.

The Savior emphasized his doctrine by repeating it twice:

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

He had taught this same doctrine just before he appeared: "Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved. (3 Nephi 9:22)

We all have a good idea of what it means to repent and be baptized, but what does it mean to "become as a little child?"
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Let's go back and review what the Savior actually did, as recorded in the scriptures.

1. He descended from heaven.

2. He announced his name and his fulfillment of the prophecies.

3. He asked the people to come forth and see and feel the evidence so they could testify.

4. He called Nephi and gave him power to baptize (ordained him).

5. He instructed Nephi how to baptize to eliminate disputations about the manner of baptism.

6. He declared his doctrine (to repent, be baptized, and become as a little child).

7. He told the people to listen to the leaders He ordained.

"he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am."
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I suggest that to "become as a little child" includes "giving heed to the words of these twelve."

Nowhere does the Savior teach his followers to "give heed to the words of the intellectuals."
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Among the Nephites, the manner of baptism was apparently a point of disputation that the Savior addressed promptly when He appeared. Despite his clear teachings, the Nephites later began arguing with one another about that doctrine. Mormon had to address it, as we learn from Moroni 8:5 "For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children."

In our day, a point of disputation is the location of the Hill Cumorah.

On one hand, we have the clear teachings of every modern prophet and apostle who has spoken officially on the matter. They have all said the Hill Cumorah--the Mormon 6:6 Cumorah--is in New York.

In fact, the first two people to whom the Savior gave "power that they may baptize you with water," Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, explicitly taught that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.

On the other hand, we have the clear teachings of some LDS intellectuals, including people who teach at the BYU campuses and in the seminaries and institutes, who say Joseph, Oliver, and every other modern prophet and apostle are wrong.

The only reason we have disputations and contention on this issue is because some members of the Church refuse to "heed the words" of the ordained leaders of the Church. They prefer to "heed the words" of the intellectuals.

If we are ever going to reach unity in the Church, we have to start with the basics. 

I propose we all agree to heed the words of the modern prophets and apostles.

If we do, then we all agree that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.

Anyone who teaches otherwise is contradicting the ordained leaders of the Church.
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Some of the intellectuals who teach LDS students to disregard the teachings of the modern prophets and apostles justify their teaching by insisting that these modern prophets and apostles were merely expressing their opinions.

That rationale completely eviscerates the Savior's teaching to "heed the words of these twelve." Rejecting their words because we disagree with them is the opposite of heeding them.

Other intellectuals say that Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith never claimed revelation about the location of Cumorah. That's another way to eviscerate the Savior's teaching to "heed the words of these twelve." Very few of the words of the ordained leaders of the Church, even when delivered in General Conference, are preceded by "thus saith the Lord." This argument is merely another way of saying we won't heed their words because we disagree with them.

3 Nephi 12:1 doesn't grant these exceptions to the Savior's admonition to heed the words of the twelve.
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What are the consequences of not heeding the ordained leaders of the Church?

We will not be blessed the way the Savior promised.

We will continue to endure disputations and contentions about basic issues that should have been resolved long ago.

When Oliver Cowdery wrote Letter VII, declaring it was a fact that the Hill Cumorah was in New York, he was the ordained Assistant President of the Church. He, along with Martin Harris and David Whitmer, had selected the first Twelve Apostles. The Lord designated Oliver himself as an apostle. (D&C 21:10) Oliver and David Whitmer were "called even with that same calling with which he [the Apostle Paul] was called (D&C 18:9).

The Latter-day Saints will never reach unity when so many refuse to heed the words of the modern prophets and apostles.

To do so may require us to become as little children. Maybe we'll have to repent. Maybe we'll have to believe the doctrine of Christ and follow his counsel.

The sooner we do, the better.

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Oliver Cowdery's ordination:

5 December 1834 • Friday
Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the directions of the Holy Spirit breth[r]en Joseph Smith jr. Sidney [Rigdon], Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery, assembled to converse upon the welfare of the church, when brother Oliver Cowdery was ordained an assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood under the hands of brother Joseph Smith jr. Saying, “My brother, in the name of Jesus Christ who died was crucified for the sins of the world, I lay my hands upon thee, and ordain thee an assistant President of the high and holy p[r]iesthood in the church of the Latter Day Saints

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1832-1834/94
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There are many more elements to becoming united to the point that there are no more -ites.

Among other things, we have to get to the point of equality, the way the Nephites did: "they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift."

The Book of Mormon teaches us how to do that, but we are far, far from even contemplating that state of society.

Our intellectuals have us questioning even the historicity of the Book of Mormon, teaching thousands of LDS youth every year that Cumorah is not in New York and that they should disregard any teaching of the prophets and apostles that they deem to be their "opinion."

Maybe it would make a difference if we simply re-read these scriptures frequently.

Maybe that's why President Monson asked us to do just that.
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3 Nephi 11:28

28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no adisputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of acontention is not of me, but is of the bdevil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things ashould be done away.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my adoctrine....
3 Nephi 12:1


aAnd it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to bbaptize, was ctwelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: dBlessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have echosenfrom among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.



4 Nephi 1:

And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were abaptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.

And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
And they had aall things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly bgift.
And it came to pass that the thirty and seventh year passed away also, and there still continued to be apeace in the land.
And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did aheal the sick, and braise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of cmiracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.
And thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away, and also the thirty and ninth, and forty and first, and the forty and second, yea, even until forty and nine years had passed away, and also the fifty and first, and the fifty and second; yea, and even until fifty and nine years had passed away.
And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
Yea, even that great acity Zarahemla did they cause to be built again.
But there were many cities which had been asunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed.
10 And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly afair and delightsome people.
11 And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the apromiseswhich the Lord had made unto them.
12 And they did not walk any more after the aperformances and bordinances of the claw of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in dfasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.
13 And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.
14 And it came to pass that the seventy and first year passed away, and also the seventy and second year, yea, and in fine, till the seventy and ninth year had passed away; yea, even an hundred years had passed away, and the adisciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the bparadise of God, save it were the cthree who should tarry; and there were other ddisciples eordained in their stead; and also many of that fgeneration had passed away.
15 And it came to pass that there was no acontention in the land, because of the blove of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no aenvyings, nor bstrifes, nor ctumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of dlasciviousness; and surely there could not be a ehappierpeople among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in aone, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.

18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.