Monday, August 10, 2015

Does the Scriptural Record Really Matter?

Most of us approach the scriptural record as though it is an accurate portrayal of the information provided by ancient Prophets and abridged by the last of their line under the direct influence of the Spirit, such as written by Mormon “And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7). He also wrote: “And I did even as the Lord commanded me…And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ” (Mormon 3:16, 20).
Those who have written in the scriptural record include (Lto R) Lehi, Nephi, Joseph Smith and Mormon; all prophets of great standing with the Lord, entrusted to write His words for His purposes in the sacred record
    In the case of Nephi, son of Lehi, in obvious frustration, said, “And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be” (2 Nephi 34:7)
Now, along comes John L. Sorenson, accepted by most people today as the guru (popular expert) of Book of Mormon geography, the Land of Promise, and the location of the Nephite nation and the events described in the scriptural record. And what does this sage, mentor, teacher, expert, tell us? That Mormon’s entire compass directions of the land he lived on, traveled, fought over, and defended are all wrong—by as much as 90º, turning west into north, south into east, and completely re-aligning the Land of Promise along an east-west land, rather than the north-south land of Mormon’s descriptions.
    He designs a Land of Promise, claimed to be based on the scriptural record, where:
1. The Land Northward is in the West, situated to the west of the Land Southward;
2. The Land Southward is in the East, situated to the east of the Land Northward;
3. The East Sea is to the north and the West Sea is to the south;
4. The hill Cumorah is about 400 miles from the Land of Many Waters;
5. The Land of Bountiful is to the west of the Land of Zarahemla;
6. The Land of Zarahemla is to the west of the Land of Nephi;
7. The Land of Desolation is to the east of the narrow neck of land, and to the east of the Land of Bountiful;
    Every single one of these major land placements is inaccurate according to the scriptural record. 
It is like drawing a map and placing Denver to the South of Salt Lake City, Reno to the North of Salt Lake, Idaho to the east of Utah and Colorado to the South and Arizona to the West; Montana and Wyoming to the South; California to the North. No amount of justification for such placements is going to change the fact, that Denver does not lie to the north of Salt Lake City—and no amount of justification about “Mormon’s North” is going to change the fact that in the scriptural record Mormon tells us these lands were to the north and Sorenson places them to the west.
    In one fell swoop of the pen, Sorenson changes the geographical alignment of the entire Land of Promise from what the scriptural record so clearly states to what he thinks it should be. So the earlier question is asked again.
    “Does the scriptural record really matter?” 
    Are the statements and descriptions placed in the scriptural record to help us better understand the location of areas the Nephites occupied really necessary? Should a writer about the Book of Mormon lands wander all over the place and make outlandish claims about placements that are so obviously inaccurate and contrary to Mormon’s descriptions? Should one, out of courtesy to those who wrote “by the spirit” for our enlightenment and understanding, restrain himself from straying from the truth, then masking it in the appearance of truth?
    What is it about the scriptural record that allows so many so-called scholars to write about this land that Mormon so eloquently and completely described to rearrange it to fit their models and beliefs?
Would that be acceptable if it were done to the doctrines of the scriptural record? What if someone at BYU, in charge of a field of endeavor, with the full support of the Church, Deseret Book, FARMS, and packed classrooms were to decide to change one of the major tenets of the gospel of the Church? Let’s say he decided to completely realign the structure of the Priesthood? Once again, the question is raised:
    “Does the scriptural record really matter?” 
    At one point (p41) Sorenson writes: “Besides, it turns out that Mesoamerican territory is just plain awkward to label directionally in terms of the European compass because it angles across our neat grid."
     While this would be true if we were dealing with four cardinal points of the compass (north, south, east and west), but we are not. We have, at least in Nephi’s time, 16-points of the compass, which basically would cover any map angle you have. As an example, Nephi says that after the marriages, they resumed their travels in the wilderness, “And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer” (1 Nephi 16:13, emphasis mine).
South-southeast conjures up a rather clear image of “an angle across a neat grid.” Since Nephi could make that clear, why would we think that Mormon would have any difficulty with a land laying along that same angle grid? The answer is obviously that he would not have—Sorenson is merely trying to cloud the issue in his attempt to show us that his model of Mesoamerica is difficult to describe and align with the scriptural record. This, in most circles, would disqualify the model from the get-go! But not Mesoamericanists--they simply change the meaning of the scriptural record to fit their model.
    In fact, Sorenson states: that Mesoamerica is “more east than south,” but in truth, Mesoamerica runs directly east and west. It is Central America, when we include all of Mexico to the north and all of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Ria to the South, that we get an angle. But the claims of Mesoamericanists do not include Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama—only a portion of Honduras. Nor do they claim all of Mexico, just from about Mexico City southward, including the Yucatan.
    So from western Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemale, Belize, Yucatan and southern Mexico, called Middle or Meso America, you have a land that runs mostly east and west—and at the exact area of their narrow neck, runs directly east and west.
    Sorenson takes almost an entire page of his book (p41) to try and confuse the reader in the direction of Mesoamerica, talking about Cuba being literally north of Oaxaca, Mexico; however, the fact is that from the narrow neck of land, due north is eastern Texas, not Cuba, which would literally be almost due (cardinal) east.
    The point is, when one starts playing with words, one can usually bend them to make any point desired. However, when dealing with reality (get a map in front of you and read page 41) you will find that confusion is being introduced, not clarification. The fact is, Mesoamerica runs east and west in a general sense and it is obvious that it is the case—and when you plug into the map Sorenson’s Book of Mormon sites where he places them, you are still dealing with an east-west alignment, contrary to the clear understanding that Mormon provides us in his writing.
    Evidently, to Mesoamericanists, the scriptural record does not matter!


  1. Don't forget Del that they believe that Nephi had the directions right when he traveled from Jerusalem to the promised land.. it was during the 1000 years that the Nephites changed the compass and did their own thing.

    As one of the supporters pointed out to me... and I quote:

    "Keep in mind that Nephi’s writings are all in first person because Mormon put the small plates of Nephi directly into the plates of Mormon, so Nephi would have used Israelite cardinal directions.

    After the Nephite people lived in the new world for 1,000 years, their cardinal directions could have changed to adapt to their geography. So the directions we see from Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates would have been those of a fourth century AD Nephite."

    Now.. with an explanation like that.. can't you just see why they believe the way they do? They will do anything to keep the round peg in the square hole!

  2. I am currently writing a lengthy series regarding this concept of how Mesoamericanists don't give up; however it won't appear for some time (it is in regard to an evaluation of Brant A.Gardner's rationale of Sorenson's directional system, which is moving out of favor these days and he tries to replace it with another approach to the Mesoamerican alignment). Like liberal evolutionists, you show how their theory doesn't work and they simply throw another theory at you--it is a never ending process of denial. Of course, when your livelihood, careers, reputations, and pride are at stake, it is no wonder they take the path they do. Unfortunately, they are always on the wrong side of the scriptural record.