Thursday, March 22, 2012

When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part I

Two questions were asked in an earlier blog: “Why did the Lord tell Nephi to build a ship unlike ones built by man? And Why did the Lord tell Nephi to work the timbers unlike that of man?” A friend took those questions and sent them to Rod Meldrum for an answer. Meldrum who has written extensively about the Land of Promise location in the eastern U.S., responded with a lengthy, but meaningless response.

This all has to do with Nephi writing: “And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship. Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:1-2).

The questions posed in the earlier blog and submitted to Meldrum had to do with this scripture.

Rod Meldrum answered: “When it comes to the 'why' there are dozens of potential reasons. The problem is that we then move from things that are known to things speculative, which I try to avoid except when it can be quite clearly indicated that this is the actual reason based on other information.”

That is an interesting answer, when Meldrum adamantly tells us that the city of Zarahemla in Iowa, as named by Joseph Smith and later by the Lord [D&C 125], is the same location of the city of Zarahemla found in the Book of Mormon.

Let us take a look at that Section in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“What is the will of the Lord concerning the saints in the Territory of Iowa. Verily, thus saith the Lord, I say unto you, if those who call themselves by my name and are essaying to be my saints, if they will do my will and keep my commandments concerning them, let them gather themselves together unto the places which I shall appoint unto them by my servant Joseph, and build up cities unto my name, that they may be prepared for that which is in store for a time to come. Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it. And let all those who come from the east, and the west, and the north, and the south, that have desires to dwell therein, take up their inheritance in the same, as well as in the city of Nashville, or in the city of Nauvoo, and in all the Stakes which I have appointed, saith the Lord” (D&C 125: 1-4).

Now that is quite a leap from what is known, to speculation, on Meldrum’s part. Zarahemla in Iowa is not suggested by Joseph Smith or the Lord in this revelation that it was the location of the original Zarahemla of the Book of Mormon, or has anything to do with the Book of Mormon or the Land of Promise. Yet, contrary to what he says, Meldrum has taken this leap from a scripture to a conclusion without any evidence or corroboration whatsoever. It appears that Meldrum speculates when it suits him best and ignores even a clear understandable conclusion when it does not.

With his response, Meldrum writes 8 “maybes” regarding the first question and 10 “maybes” regarding the second question, but all fall far short of any explanation worthy of the scriptural reference and the purpose or reason Nephi would have included it in his limited narrative.

After all, Nephi tells us “Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred” (1 Nephi 19:6). Hmmm. Sacred (dedicated to a religious purpose; consecrated; entitled to veneration or religious respect). One might wonder why we would ignore or consider a full and lengthy discussion by Nephi about his building a ship that the Lord instructed him on is not worthy of significant and understandable discussion.

Concluding his response, Meldrum wrote: “Anyway I think you can see that the possibilities are nearly endless if one wants to get into the minutia.”

One might also wonder, given the above scripture where Nephi tells us the importance of what he chose to write, that any sincere historian would consider anything Nephi wrote as minutia. Evidently Muldrum wants to choose what is important in Nephi’s writings and what is not.

Meldrum also wrote: “So to answer your question of 'why'... my answer is I don't think we have any real idea why, but we do know that he built a wooden sailing ship. That we can rely upon without speculation. I really can't feel good about speculation why the Lord had Nephi build the ship differently, nor do I want to speculate about how it may have been built differently.”

Of course the question posed was never “how,” but “why.” In addition, one might also wonder why Nephi chose to write about his ship and how it was constructed unless it was a sacred issue and, obviously then, one we should understand.

Finally, Meldrum concluded, “It is fun, occasionally to speculate, but too often once a speculation is made, folks tend to forget the fact that it was only that...a speculation, and begin treating it like something more.”

It would seem that what Nephi chose to write is not a humorous or fun exercise to speculate upon, but a serious and worthwhile effort to understand what Nephi’s writing tell us—to ponder for understanding, to search out answers and to meditate upon the scriptural meaning and intent.

(See the next post: “When is Reason Called Speculation? Responding to Rod Meldrum’s Answer – Part II” for a response to Meldrum’s “maybes” and how worthless a point he makes with them)


  1. I wonder why you had a "friend" email me (Rod Meldrum) rather than yourself? Were you simply thinking you'd bate me with questions posed in a simple email without any indication my response was intended for publishing online along with your analysis? Many folks, such as myself, don't have the time to respond to every email (40-50 per day on average) in a way that would be appropriate for publication. There is a generally a difference between something prepared and written intended for publication and a quick answer for a question or two asked by an unknown person. Still, I am happy that I at least took the time to return the email and put some thought into it. The problem is that both your questions are asking me to speculate about the mind and will of the Lord. What were His motives? I don't pretend to know "why" the Lord did what he did, but apparently you believe you somehow know the mind of the Lord regarding "why" He did those things. That is why I chose to address the "how" rather than the "why." Do you really believe that you know exactly “Why the Lord told Nephi to build a ship unlike ones built by man?, or why He told Nephi to work the timbers unlike that of man?” In order to know this wouldn't you, of necessity, have to know exactly what the Lord was thinking, His exact purpose in doing so, and His understanding of the situation. I don't feel qualified to insert my thoughts for those of the Lord as you apparently do. I hope that over the course of another year someone might stumble upon your article and leave a second comment regarding mine. Apparently, there is not much interest in the article. I have probably wasted my time in even leaving this comment.
    Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to every sneak attack by those who hide behind others identities in an attempt to ensnare and castigate a brother. If you go to our website at you will find uplifting, positive, non-attacking articles on a wide variety of subjects. We have never attacked you directly or by name, but rather we have chosen to address issues and ideas. Attacking the person is, in my opinion, not showing Christ-like love for a fellow brother and priesthood holder. Your name is nowhere to be found on our websites. We have, however, addressed most of the issues you have brought up without attacking you in any way. I hope that if anyone ever reads your posts here they will look at both and see where the spirit of contention is, and where it is not.
    May the Lord bless your efforts toward the truth.
    Rod Meldrum

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  3. Sorry, there was a misspelling in the previous answer...

    I am sorry you feel that way--we do not encourage our readers in any way. We simply respond to questions, comments, ideas, suggestions, etc. We apologize for any undue stress this caused you, but the idea of contacting you was not ours