The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Monday, April 1, 2019

David Whitmer on the stumbling block

Long ago, David Whitmer made this observation:

"It is a stumbling-block to those who desire to investigate as to the truth of the Book of Mormon, to see the believers in that book divided."

While he was referring to a doctrinal dispute between LDS and RLDS, the statement remains accurate today because of the ongoing division over Book of Mormon geography.

There is a simple solution.

Everyone who believes the Book of Mormon is an authentic history of ancient people could come together by supporting the consistent, persistent teachings of the prophets:

1. The Hill Cumorah is in New York.
2. We don't know for sure where the other events took place.

As long as some believers in the Book of Mormon teach that the prophets are wrong, the unnecessary and counterproductive division will remain.

Those who advocate M2C claim the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. They say Letter VII falsely proclaimed that the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York. They say Joseph and Oliver never claimed a revelation about the New York Cumorah, and that historical evidence of such revelations is wrong.

There's another aspect of this that the M2C proponents don't address.

Joseph Smith gave around 200 addresses for which we have no record other than the fact that he spoke. We can infer what he taught, in part, from what his listeners believed.

And every one of them believed the Hill Cumorah was in New York.

Letter VII did not teach readers something new. It memorialized what everyone knew from their association with Joseph and Oliver.

For example, after he joined the Church in 1832--long before Letter VII was first published--Heber C. Kimball visited the Hill Cumorah in New York. He did so not because that was where Joseph obtained the plates. Instead he specifically noted the embankments around the hill, the residual evidence of the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites.

It is perplexing that so many LDS outright reject the teaching of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

As I've noted previously, M2C originated with the RLDS (now Community of Christ). The treatment of the Book of Mormon by the Community of Christ seems to be the inevitable outcome of M2C (and the fantasy maps being taught by CES/BYU).

This outcome is summarized by the concluding paragraph of a book published by the Community of Christ Seminary Press titled Millions Call It Scripture: The Book of Mormon in the 21st Century.

"We do not apologize for [the BofM]; we do not defend it; we let it speak for itself. If it is useful to people, they will make that decision for themselves. But let us not make that decision for them, by making it a test of faith and fellowship that they must believe in the book; or by depriving them of the privilege to make their own decision by neglecting to share it with them, and thereby depriving them of an important scriptural legacy. Read the book. Share the book. Let it bear its own witness; and let people decide for themselves what they will do with the Book of Mormon."