Friday, September 17, 2010

The Problem with Theories

One of the major problem with Book of Mormon Land of Promise theories is that the scholar and theorists almost always try to limit what God can or cannot do. Nor do they take the time to really and truly understand the scriptural reference they use to prove their points. Scripture, whether doctrinal or geographical, is almost always much deeper than the reader initially understands. And when a theorist is trying to prove his theory, he quite often uses a very surface level understanding of the scripture’s true meaning—or, as in the case of trying to prove the Doctrine & Covenants describes that present-day northeastern United States was the location of the Land of Promise, to limit that ability beyond man’s thinking.

Because in the recent Post, “Was There Only One Cumorah?” and in an earlier Post, “The Problem with Zarahemla – Part II—Significance in a Name,” in which the claim that these scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants prove that the Land of Promise was in the northeastern states, is thoroughly answered, the information will not be repeated here again. However, a reading of those two posts should show that the scriptures used do not relate to the Land of Promise, but to events in the early days of the Church.

But, perhaps the most significant understanding of how scholars and theorists limit God’s power is shown in the discussion of the Hill Cumorah. On June 17, 1877, Brigham Young related a story at conference in which he commented on what was found within the hill Cumorah. He said, in part, “I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family.” With that reasoning, Pres. Young went on to tell the story: “Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.”

A cave beneath the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York? There are at least ten second-hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident. And none of the accounts with us today are first hand. But the story of the cave full of plates inside the Hill Cumorah in New York is often given as evidence that it is, indeed, the hill where Mormon hid the plates. Unfortunately, the New York Hill Cumorah is a moraine, that is, it is a drumlin—a pile of gravel scraped together and laid down anciently by a glacier in motion. It is comprised of gravel and earth. Geologically, it is impossible for the hill to have a cave, and all those who have gone in search of the cave have come back empty-handed.

If, therefore, the story attributed to Oliver Cowdery is true, then the visits to the cave perhaps represent visions, perhaps of some far distant hill, or a divine transportation to another locale. However, few scholars or theorits are likely to think of such a thing, for their tendency is to limit God’s power, Yet, Nephi himself describes being “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord into an exceedingly high mountain which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set foot” (1 Nephi 11:1), and many other incidents are recorded where individuals are swept up in the Spirit to see and be places they had never been as recorded both in scripture like Lehi who saw many visions (1 Nephi 1:8,16), and in modern times.

The point is, we cannot limit the placement or movement of the gold plates in one single physical area and say they could not be moved by the Lord, by Moroni, or through God’s power. Yet, those who claim there is only one Cumorah deny the possibility that God could have seen to the transportation of those plates from one part of the Land of Promise to another for His own purposes. Whether He did or did not, we are not told—but to claim it could not have happened, and that there could not be another Cumorah, and that the Land of Promise could not be elsewhere but in the northeastern United States, is rather an arrogant attitude fostered by men who desire, for whatever reason, to deny God’s power to bring about His purpose differently than man assumes.


  1. Del,

    I agree with you. Tell me this.. does it say anywhere in the Book of Mormon where Moroni buried the plates he was writing on? It is not like he said.. "ok.. I now make an end to my writing and will now bury it in the hill we call cumorah."

    If I am not mistaken.. cumorah was the hill that the majority of plates were buried in.. but not necessarily the plates that Moroni and his Father had abridged. Even Moroni said: "And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." I can not imagine him hoovering around the hill Cumorah just waiting to deposit his plates in the hill with the others. But I feel that at this time.. because he was still fearing for his life from the Lamanites that he had not left the land of promise. Had he made his way North to Central American and then North America to actually deposit the plates in NY.. he would not have been concerned for the Lamanites to find him. But then this statement was at the beginning of the the Book of Moroni.

    All we know is in the last chapter.. as Moroni says goodbye..that 420 years had passed since the sign was given of the coming of Christ. But his last page he does not say where he is or if he traveled far or is in a foreign land. From Chapter 1 of the Book of Moroni we know that he is still in the land of promise and hiding from the Lamanites and we can only assume by the 10th Chapter he is still there. But it is only an assumption. He could have indeed spent twenty some years traveling to NY and just before he knew he was going to die.. wrote on the last page of the plates and buried them. Or.. God could have moved the plates from the promised land to NY for Joseph to retrieve them. Because we don't know.. we can not assume either.

  2. Mr.Miron. I am answering your comment in the following post because of its length. Thank you for your writing--you are obviously right on.