Monday, April 23, 2018

Church History Department and Letter VII

Some people are uncomfortable with my observations about the way employees in Church departments (Correlation, Curriculum History and Missionary Departments) are promoting the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C).

I wish these employees were not promoting M2C. But we have to get real about this problem. The prophets (referring to all the prophets and apostles collectively) have consistently and repeatedly taught that Cumorah is in New York. No prophet has ever questioned or repudiated that teaching. But some LDS intellectuals have, and so have employees in these Church Departments.

The prophets always tell us to study the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. They don't tell us to reject those teachings just because LDS scholars and Church employees do.

Just because CES and BYU reject what the prophets have taught doesn't mean we have to follow them instead of the prophets.

Today we'll look more closely at one example that I've briefly discussed before. The Church History Department doesn't want people to read Letter VII because the staff is promoting M2C. M2C influences everything they do, including the notes in the Joseph Smith Papers and the upcoming book titled Saints that has been excerpted in the Ensign.

This is a very serious issue because Saints will become the standard book on Church history for the entire world and it is misrepresenting Church history to promote M2C.

The April Ensign includes chapter 3 from the book. They can't censor Letter VII completely because it contains historical details available nowhere else, but they don't want anyone to know what Letter VII says about the Hill Cumorah. Consequently, they make it difficult to find.

Today's example is from the online version of Chapter 3. Go to this link and click on note 13:

Here is a screenshot of the page. The left column is a table of contents, the center column is the text, and the right column shows the footnotes. It's an excellent format:

Here is a close up that shows what they are doing.

Comment 1. You see how they cite Letter VII, but they give the reference only as the July 1835 Messenger and Advocate, with no hyperlink. As a reader of this blog, you know what the Messenger and Advocate is, but probably fewer than 5% of Church members have ever heard of it. No one knows how to find it.

Comment 2. Notice how they give references to the JSP for these two references, but they do not give the JSP reference for Letter VII. This is intentional. They could easily have referred to JSP, H1:72-79, where we can read Letter VII in Joseph's own history. But they don't want people to even know about that.

Comment 3. This is supposed to be Letter VII, but instead they label it as Letter IV again.

If you click on the link, it doesn't even go to Letter VII. Instead, it goes to the first page of the Messenger and Advocate on From there, you can navigate to p. 155, where Letter VII starts, but because of the way works, it shows up as page 160 in the scroll bar. Plus, on it is difficult to read, copy, etc.

Instead, the Church History Department could have given a link to the Joseph Smith Papers.
Letter VII is right here:

Why wouldn't the Church History Department give this obvious link to readers?

They could argue that the Messenger and Advocate was the first publication. That sounds like a legitimate argument, but note 113 at the top of Letter VII in the JSP already explains that it came from the Messenger and Advocate. (BTW, the JSP notes don't tell readers that Letter VII was also republished in the Times and Seasons, the Gospel Reflector, the Millennial Star, and the Prophet.)

The Church History Department knows full well that Joseph's history contains Letter VII, but they don't want Church members to know that because of what Letter VII says about the hill Cumorah in New York. (those passages begin here:

You will see in upcoming chapters that Saints never tells readers what Joseph and Oliver actually taught about the Hill Cumorah in New York.

In fact, Saints is already deliberately misleading readers about early Church history, as I'll explain in an upcoming post. They are doing this solely to promote M2C.

BTW, I've told the Church History Department about these errors, but they couldn't care less about what I say, so they haven't even corrected the obvious error of listing Letter IV twice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Why is there a visitors center at the Hill Cumorah in New York?

Hill Cumorah Visitors Center, April 2018
Because the exhibits in the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center teach that Cumorah is in Mexico (M2C, or the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory), it's a bit of a puzzle why the Church even has a Visitors Center at the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Site missionaries are allowed to tell visitors only that this is the location where Joseph Smith got the plates from Moroni. They cannot mention Letter VII or the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah and the Book of Mormon.

They cannot even read Mormon 6:6 with visitors, let alone Ether 13.

Any discussion of the hill Cumorah as the site of Mormon's depository of Nephite records or the location of the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites is forbidden.

Maybe someday they'll transfer the building to the "real Cumorah" in Mexico. Just as soon as Book of Mormon Central America, or Fairly Mormon, find that location.

But at least there is a consensus that Joseph Smith got the plates from the "hill in New York" where the Visitors Center is located. I was curious how we even know that this hill is the one from which Joseph obtained the plates.

It turns out, it's all because of Letter VII.

Joseph Smith-History says this about the hill:

51 Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. 

Hills in the village of Manchester, Ontario County
There are lots of hills in the area, and it's not easy to tell which is the highest. Joseph referred to a "neighborhood," but how extensive was this neighborhood?

In Joseph Smith's day, one distinguishing feature of the hill Cumorah was the embankments around it. These have been leveled and farmed now for nearly two centuries, but after Heber C. Kimball joined the Church in April 1832, he visited the site.

He wrote, "The hill Cumorah is a high hill for that country, and had the appearance of a fortification or entrenchment around it."

When he was 14 years old, Kimball worked in his father's blacksmith shop in the Bloomfield area west of Canandaigua and east of Avon. His observations of the area are quoted in his biography, Life of Heber C. Kimball, on p. 25:

"From the time Father Bosley located near Avon, he found and plowed up axes and irons, and had sufficient to make his mill irons, and had always abundance of iron on hand without purchasing. 

"In the towns of Bloomfield, Victor, Manchester, and in the regions round about, there were hills upon the tops of which were entrenchments and fortifications, and in them were human bones, axes, tomahawks, points of arrows, beads and pipes, which were frequently found; and it was a common occurrence in the country to plow up axes, which I have done many times myself.

"I have visited the fortifications on the tops of those hills frequently, and the one near Bloomfield I have crossed hundreds of times, which is on the bluff of Honeyoye River, and the outlet of Honeyoye Lake....

"The hill Cumorah is a high hill for that country, and had the appearance of a fortification or entrenchment around it. In the State of New York, probably there are hundreds of these fortifications which are now visible, and I have seen them in many other parts of the United States."

Heber's biographer, Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve, commented "Readers of the Book of Mormon will remember that in this very region, according to that sacred record, the final battles were fought between the Nephites and Lamanites. At the hill Cumorah, the Nephites made their last stand prior to their utter extermination, A.D., 385.

"Thus was Heber preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, above the graves of the ancients of Israel, whose records with the fullness of that Gospel, and the relics of their prowess and civilization, were now 'whispering from the dust.'"

But still, this description gives us no specifics about which of the hills was the actual hill Cumorah.

For that, we must refer to President Cowdery's description in Letter VII:

You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N.Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that rout. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward canandaigua it lessens gradually until the surface assumes its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round, and I am certain that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveller as he passes by.

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.


We find it fascinating that the Church built the Visitors Center at this location by relying on President Cowdery's Letter VII, but the displays and literature in the Visitors Center never mention Letter VII today. 

Members of the Church have to dig hard to find out what President Cowdery and the other prophets and apostles have taught about the New York hill Cumorah.