Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More of Mormon’s Views as Described by Hender—Part II

Continuing from the last posts regarding the articles of Don R. Hender’s website that one of our readers sent us asking for an evaluation: 
    Article: “Who were the Aztecs? From the pages of the Book of Mormon, we can understand that all those beyond the date of 385 AD, must need be of the Lamanite group. But by that date, who are the Lamanites?”
    Response: First of all, the Aztecs (now more commonly referred to as the Nahua [Nāhuatlācah] peoples) were in central Mexico in the post classic period following the period of the Toltecs, and dominate from the 14th to the 16th centuries A.D. 
The location and expansion of the Aztec empire following the Teotihuacan and Toltec empires, after migrating into the Valley of Mexico about 1300 A.D., showing the areas conquered by the rulers following the reign of Itzcoatl 1440 A.D. onward, beginning with Motecuzoma (1440-1469 AD)
    Archaeological, historical and linguistic evidence suggest that they originally came from the deserts of the southern United States and northwestern Mexico, later migrating to central Mexico around 500 A.D., though a branch, the Pochutec, migrated to the Pacific coast of Oaxaca perhaps as early as 400 A.D.
    Whether they were Lamanites or Lamanite descendants is simply not known. There is no way to determine today if all early native Americans were descended from the Lamanites following their annihilation of the Nephites, though many LDS believe they were.
As for the Lamanites, by about 36 A.D., all Nephites and Lamanites were converted unto the Lord (4 Nephi 1:2), and by about 72 A.D., there were no Lamanites, or any other –ites, all were children of Christ (4 Nephi 1:17); in fact there were no Lamanites for about 167 years. However, by about 194 A.D., we find there were Lamanites once again (4 Nephi 1:21), and around 231 A.D. Nephites arose in the land who were true believers of Christ, and among them were those who were called Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites (4 Nephi 1:36), and those who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites (4 Nephi 1:38).
    By around 301 A.D., both the Nephites and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked, one like unto the other (4 Nephi 1:45). Several battles between the two took place in 322 A.D., and after four years of peace, the wars began again (Mormon 1:15-2:2).
Thus, in 385 A.D., at the conclusion of the war and the annihilation of the Nephite people, any Nephites who escaped into the south “were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2). Consequently, the Lamanites were those who denied the Christ, had the mark and curse upon them, including the dark skin, and any and all who  had defected over to them and joined them, became Lamanites and inherited the curse and mark (Alma 3:6-9).
    Article: “Dissenting Nephites had long since been numbered amongst the Lamanites, Zoramites had joined them, and all those 'Nephites' including Mulekites, Samites, Jacobites, and Josephites, who would deny Christ would become numbered with them.”
    Response: At no time are we to understand from the scriptural record that these were large numbers, except where indicated that a complete group defected over to the Lamanites, such as the Amlicites (Alma 2:11), Zoramites (Alma 35:10-11), etc. Moroni tells us that the Lamanites put to death all those Nephites that were captured or defected that would not deny the Christ, but does not tell us there were any who did deny the Christ (Moroni 1:2). If there were those who denied the Christ, we are not told who or from what tribes those Nephites were. To start naming tribes from which people defected is simply without support in the scriptural record.
    Article: “[These defectors were in addition to] the Ishmaelites, the Lamanites, and Lemuelites who already where a part of them. But, for sure they were no longer 'true Christians' and if they followed the practices of the Lamanite nation who destroyed the Nephites, they where idol worshippers and believers in human sacrifice.”
    Response: It should be stated they were not Christian at all! Once defecting, these Nephites became as bad or worse than the Lamanites they joined, for “there were dissenters who went up from the Nephites unto the Lamanites; and they succeeded with those others in stirring them up to anger against the Nephites; and they were all that year preparing for war” (Helaman 4:4). Nephite defectors were always at the forefront of leading attacks on the Nephites from whom they separated. “they did come down against the Nephites to battle, and they did commence the work of death; yea, insomuch that in the fifty and eighth year of the reign of the judges they succeeded in obtaining possession of the land of Zarahemla; yea, and also all the lands, even unto the land which was near the land Bountiful” (Helaman 4:5).
    Obviously, when one denies the Christ, they are no longer Christian.
    Article: “And that pretty much is what the Aztecs where from the perspective of the Spanish in the days of Cortez. They where worshippers of 'idol' gods and they would practice human sacrifice and reportedly worse.”
Response: It would seem likely that there would have been Lamanites among all the southern tribes of western South America, central America and Mexico—in 385 A.D., and very possibly all would have been Lamanites. And just as obviously, they were idol worshippers, and certainly involved in human sacrifice handed down since the days of the Lamanites in Mormon’s time (Mormon 4:14).
    It is also obvious that Hender, a Mesoamericanist, singles out the Aztecs as his point of interest; however, the three main advanced civilizations in the Western Hemisphere at the time of the Spanish conquest of Central and South America—Aztec, Mayan, and Inca—were all of equal achievements and were devil worshippers. All obvious were to some, mostly or totally of Lamanite descent.
    Article: “Now as to their 'legendary' origin [of the Aztec] you can take your pick. They were born of 'springs of water,' their race was that of the gods, or they came from the 'seven' caves where their ancestors dwelt. A couple of these could have a tie into corruption of gospel ideas, but who is to say? Since it seems to mimic the 'caveman' evolutionist, today's preferred portrayal is of course that they came from cave dwellers. Convenient but not without a possible Book of Mormon tie when one considers that the favorite hide outs of the 'Gadiantons' where caves.”
    Response: Interesting that a cave was the favorite hideout of Ether (Ether 13:13-14, 18). It was also the hideout of Nephi and his brothers (1 Nephi 3:27). The reason it was a place for the Gadiantons is simply because murderers, robbers and thieves and less industrious to build for the future, and most likely to take what was available to them. In the time frame in which the Book of Mormon covered, caves were readily available to protection against the elements. It might also be of interest to know that during Israel’s B.C. time, travel from north to south in their land occasioned travelers to spend nights in caves since few Jews owned or had access to tents.
    It is also interesting to know that the word cave appears only once in the scriptural record, and that is a quote from Isaiah and not referenced to anything Nephite, Lamanite or Gadianton Robbers; and the term “cavity of a rock,” appears only in two sequences, once in Nephite and three times in Ether, which are referenced above. We know that the Gadianton Robbers lived in the wilderness and the mountains, but any specific dwelling place, like a cave, is never mention or implied.
    It is also difficult to try and tie in any single American Indian group to the Lamanites. To do so is merely speculation, since there is no clue in any of the scriptural record regarding this.
    While there is more written on Hender’s website, these several posts should show to those who have asked about his view since he does claim a portion of South America, along with Central America, for the Land of Promise, that most of his writing is not consistent with the scriptural record, and in many cases completely misleading and quite inaccurate.

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