Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Chapter 4 - Be Watchful

Chapter 4 of Saints, titled "Be Watchful," covers the events leading up to the time when Joseph obtained the plates. You can read Chapter 4 here: 

At one point, the chapter relates an account of Joseph being chastised.

Here's the quotation:

One day, Joseph went to town on an errand. Expecting him back for dinner, his parents were alarmed when he did not return. They waited for hours, unable to sleep. At last Joseph opened the door and threw himself into a chair, exhausted.
Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-5
the part quoted and cited in Saints is lined out

Why are you so late?” his father asked.

“I have had the severest chastisement that I ever had in my life,” Joseph said.

“Who has been taking you to task?” demanded his father.

“It was the angel of the Lord,” Joseph replied. “He says I have been negligent.” The day of his next meeting with Moroni was coming soon. “I must be up and doing,” he said. “I must set myself about the things which God has commanded me to do.”19

This is Lucy Mack Smith's history from 1844-5. If you go to the link, you'll see that the quoted section is lined out.

We wonder, why would Saints misquote and cite a source that was lined out in the original?

Here is the later, corrected version from 1845:

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845
The revision that quotes Joseph referring to
Cumorah before he even got the plates is not
mentioned, quoted or cited in Saints.
Presently he smiled, and said in a very calm tone, “I have taken the severest chastisement, that I have ever had in my life”. 

My husband, supposing it was from some of the neighbors, was quite angry; and observed, “I would would like to know what business any body has to find fault with you.”

“Stop, father, Stop.” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to <​be​> brought forth; and, that I must be up and doing, and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do: but, Father,’ continued he, ‘give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand that I have received; for I now know the course that I am to pursue; so all will be well.”

This statement about Cumorah completely supports the teachings of the prophets that Cumorah is in New York. Here Lucy explains that Joseph knew the name Cumorah even before he got the plates. He could only have learned this from Moroni.

Saints should have used Lucy's later version. In fact they cite the later version in note 22!.

Using the later one should be obvious. 

So why did Saints use the old version? 

I think the editors of Saints avoided the corrected version because they realize it refutes M2C.*

The editors will say that they are neutral on the question of Book of Mormon geography, including the New York Cumorah. 

But is that a reason to quote and cite a passage they know Lucy later corrected, especially without telling readers what they're doing?

The M2C intellectuals always have a rationale for disbelieving early Church history accounts that contradict their theory. They have said we should disbelieve Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Lucy Smith, among others.

In this case, they claim we should disbelieve Lucy because she must have added this comment about Cumorah because she was confused; i.e., by the time she dictated this history in 1845, the New York Cumorah was well established by Letter VII, D&C 128, etc. Therefore, according to the M2C intellectuals, we can't believe what Lucy wrote here.

And, apparently, the editors of Saints agreed with their M2C friends.

But consider this.

Just because the original sources are not "neutral" on Book of Mormon geography, does that give the editors of Saints the right to revise Church history?

I think not. 

One of the tragedies of Saints is that it is teaching the world the revisionist Church history, not what the original documents actually say. 

Here is one of the practical consequences of this revisionist history.

Had Saints explained what Lucy said--what she directly quoted Joseph Smith as saying--readers would understand that Joseph knew the name of the hill before he even translated the plates. 

Readers would realize that Joseph could have learned that only from Moroni.

And readers would realizes that all the prophets and apostles who have taught that Cumorah is in New York were correct, while the M2C scholars who have taught that Cumorah cannot be in New York were not correct. 

That would go a long way toward building unity in the Church.

Members everywhere would align themselves to what the prophets have taught instead of being misled by the teachings of the M2C intellectuals.

Now you see why the M2C intellectuals and their citation cartel don't want members of the Church to even know about this. 

This may appear to be nit-picking, but I think this is a serious problem. 

Even people fairly familiar with Church history would have passed this by unawares. 

The millions of Church members around the world, in all languages, plus future generations, have no hope of learning the truth when Saints is deliberately suppressing and changing Church history this way. 

BTW, the same M2C intellectuals who cite Lucy's account for other details--Lucy is the sole source for many important events in early Church history--insist she was wrong about this. She had a poor memory, they say, or she conflated this account with another account.

Those of us who accept Lucy's account point to two important indicia of credibility and reliability.

First, the earlier draft was lined out and replaced with more detail. Lucy directed the revisions, an indication that when she read the first draft, she realized it was not completely accurate. For example, the first account has the angel telling Joseph he was "negligent," but the revised account has the angel telling Joseph he "had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord." Which sounds more like the words of Moroni? 

Second, Lucy's account of Joseph learning the name Cumorah from Moroni has corroboration in other historical accounts. For example, the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, a source cited in Saints (note 4 to Chapter 4), includes this quotation from Oliver Cowdery's teachings to the Lamanites in Kansas: "This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him, Cumorah, which hill is now in the State of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county." p. 57.

It's possible Lucy knew what Oliver was teaching, but she didn't get it from Pratt's autobiography because it was not published until many years after this 1845 version of Lucy's account was written. 


To summarize: Saints presented an opportunity to inform Church members about the truth. 

The historians claim they are neutral on the New York Cumorah. That appears to be the reason they chose to mislead readers by not citing and quoting Lucy's corrected account.

What they're really saying is, the original sources are not neutral. They clearly taught that Cumorah is in New York. 

The problem is not limited to Saints. The M2C ideology has been inserted throughout the commentary to the Joseph Smith Papers.

As a result, future generations will have no chance to learn the actual history and what the prophets have taught.

Critics of the Church will continue to point out the disparity between what the prophets have taught and the revisionist Church history as a weapon to undermine faith.

I think it would be far better to report the truth in the first place. 

Of course, I also think it would be better to sustain the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, but the exact opposite is going on at BYU/CES/COB.


*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. Here is some background on the M2C Academic Cycle.

Church leaders have consistently and persistently taught that the Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) is in New York. However, a few decades ago, certain LDS intellectuals decided the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah. According to these intellectuals, the following Church leaders were ignorantly speculating, expressing their personal opinions, and were wrong. This is a partial list:

Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, George A. Smith, James E. Talmage,
LeGrand Richards, Marion G. Romney, Mark E. Petersen, etc.

The academic cycle:
how students learn to repudiate the prophets
Instead, according to these intellectuals, the "real" Hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:6) is somewhere in southern Mexico. They call this the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory, the idea being that the "hill in New York" is merely the place where Joseph obtained the plates and not the hill referred to in Mormon 6:6. This directly repudiates the teachings of the Church leaders listed above.

These intellectuals have been teaching at BYU and CES for decades now. They have trained thousands of students to accept M2C, including most of the employees in the Church Office Building, the Church History Department, etc.

As a result, for the last few decades, we have had a steady diet of M2C in art, media, lessons, and even visitors centers.

Mormon abridging a Mayan codex
M2C is explictly on display at the North Visitors Center on Temple Square, as I've pointed out several times, such as here:

The exhibit actually portrays Mormon abridging the Nephite records from a Mayan codex!

Meanwhile, Moroni is off in the distance in upstate New York, burying the plates (along with the sword of Laban and the Liahona, which contradicts all the historical accounts but is shown this way to promote M2C and to repudiate what Oliver Cowdery told Brigham Young and other Church leaders).

Theoretically, all of this could be attributed to a policy of "neutrality" about Book of Mormon geography, but we can all see there is nothing neutral about it. BYU/CES/COB have been steadfastly promoting M2C for decades, with no thought of even informing Church members what the prophets have actually taught, let alone portraying those teachings in artwork, media, visitors centers, etc.


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