It is sacred not only because Joseph found the plates there, but because:
- it is the site of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites, and
- the former site of the depository of Nephite records (which are now not far from there.)
|Cumorah sunset, June 2019|
We agree with what other prophets and apostles have taught when they spoke about Cumorah.
We believe what President Oliver Cowdery wrote in Letter VII.
We think there is abundant physical evidence that supports the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah, including archaeology, anthropology, geology, and geography.
We understand that certain intellectuals in the Church think we're wrong. They think this is just "a hill in New York" that has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, apart from Moroni hiking 2,400 miles to put the plates here.
They're entitled to their opinions.
But even if they don't accept the teachings of the prophets and apostles about Cumorah, these intellectuals should at least acknowledge and respect our beliefs.
Sacred places are hallowed ground for believers.
At the Mission Presidents Seminar this week, the topic of sacred places came up.
President Ballard spoke about sites in early Church history. He emphasized how being on the actual spot where events took place has special significance.
Likewise, for many members of the Church, we "get a little feeling for what it was like" for Mormon and Moroni to view the dead and dying of their people from the top of the Hill Cumorah.
We read what President Romney said after his visit here:
"In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hilladmiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.
"You who are acquainted with the Book of Mormon will recall that during the final campaign of the fratricidal war between the armies led by Shiz and those led by Coriantumr “nearly two millions” of Coriantumr’s people had been slain by the sword; “two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” (Ether 15:2.)
"As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men “with their wives and their children” (Ether 15:15)—gathered about that hill Cumorah (see Ether 15:11)....
"Thus perished at the foot of Cumorah the remnant of the once mighty Jaredite nation, of whom the Lord had said, “There shall be none greater … upon all the face of the earth.” (Ether 1:43.)
"As I contemplated this tragic scene from the crest of Cumorah and viewed the beautiful land of the Restoration as it appears today, I cried in my soul, “How could it have happened?”
We also fully agree with the point made by Elder Christofferson at the Mission Presidents Seminar, although the news report was a little misleading.
Elder Christofferson also played a video clip of President Gordon B. Hinckley testifying that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon lies not in archaeology or anthropology — but within the covers of the book itself:
“The test of its truth lies in reading it. It is a book of God. Reasonable men may sincerely question its origin; but those who have read it prayerfully have come to know by a power beyond their natural senses that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it came forth by the gift and power of God ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ’.” (Book of Mormon title page.)
President Hinckley's statement was a little different from how this article summarized it.
The evidence for its truth, for its validity in a world that is prone to demand evidence, lies not in archaeology or anthropology, though these may be helpful to some. It lies not in word research or historical analysis, though these may be confirmatory. The evidence for its truth and validity lies within the covers of the book itself.
The test of its truth lies in reading it. It is a book of God. Reasonable men may sincerely question its origin; but those who have read it prayerfully have come to know by a power beyond their natural senses that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it came forth by the gift and power of God “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” (Book of Mormon title page.)
It is here. It must be explained. It can be explained only as the translator himself explained its origin.
All those who believe the Book of Mormon agree that the truthfulness of its message is by far the most important.
But President Hinckley also made the point that archaeology and anthropology are helpful to some. Everyone has different spiritual gifts, as Moroni 10 explains. Faithful members of the Church have the gift of great faith. Most of the people in the world have different gifts, including the gift of knowledge. For them, archaeology and anthropology are important predicates for even considering the Book of Mormon.
Even faithful members of the Church, though, experience reverence in sacred places, including the Hill Cumorah as well as the Sacred Grove, the sites in Nauvoo, the sites in Israel, etc.