Monday, August 24, 2015

Let’s See, How Shall We Speculate Today? Part I

Does anyone else see a pattern here? 
    It is as though so many of our scriptural record theorists wake up of a morning and say to themselves: ”Let’s see, what part of the scriptural record shall we speculate on today?”
    Somewhere along the way, theorists seem to have misplaced the idea that the scriptures are accurate and the Word of the Lord, with the idea that they are merely ideas written down by ancient people who, without any guidance or understanding of an overall picture, jotted down information that we are now struggling with to try and understand.
Of course, this does not apply (for the most part) to the doctrinal scriptures, such as faith, repentance, baptism etc. But it certainly does to those who are reading for additional information as to where, when, and how, regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise itself. It is as if they say to themselves:
• Let’s see, the Land of Promise has a hill. It is called “Cumorah.” OK. Let’s see where a hill is that we can consider the location of the Land of Promise.
• Let’s see, there is a narrowing of the land—called a “narrow neck” but we need not place too much emphasis on the word “narrow.” We need to find a place where the land narrows—that’s the key.
• Let’s see, we need a river. The direction of flow is not that important—it just needs to be a major river that runs through where the major land area is located.
• Let’s see, we need two land masses. While they are called north and south, we need not worry too much about directions, since we can use the term “Mormon North” or “Nephite North” to make any adjustments needed.
• Let’s see, it says a land of many waters, rivers and fountains. We need a place with a lot of lakes and rivers. Fountains is not all that important. What are they, anyway?
• Let’s see, Jacob says they were on an island and Helaman says they were surrounded by four seas. We can fit most any place into that one since there has always been areas with a lot of water, and if we go far enough, we can find a sea in any direction, or at least in two directions—that should be enough.
It seems that theorists are so committed to a certain place or location that their mantra seems to be that they’ll find a way to fit things in, and if something doesn’t, well, the world has changed, and also no one seems to know for certain, least of all those who wrote anciently, since they only saw a very small portion of their land, and were only interested in a local family and what happened to it, anyway. Let’s not burden ourselves with too much detail.
    Then there is the theorist who is more involved with what a modern day prophet has said than what an ancient prophet who lived on the land wrote.
• Let’s see, surely we can find someone who has said he thinks this area is where Lehi landed.
• In fact, Joseph Smith claims several areas that could have been the landing site—we can probably use one of them.
We need to keep in mind that a living prophet does not supplant the scriptures. As an example, when we get to 3 Nephi 23:6, we see that the Lord asked to see all the scriptures, went through them, checked them, and said unto the Nephite leaders: “Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not”—he was the scriptures, but he wanted the scriptures to be complete because the scriptures were more important than knowing what a contemporary prophet had to say on the matter of the past.
    Yet, today, we have many who want to do away with the scriptures and supplant them with more modern information, or a more modern way of saying them. We need to keep in mind that just because we have living prophets, they do not supersede the scriptures—and they don’t try to. Notice that the prophets cling more to the scriptures than anyone else.
    I turned to a book last night written by one of the theorists and opened it by chance and the first thing I read was: “It seems highly probable that when Lehi and his family arrived in the Promised Land they found a fairly significant but scattered people already inhabiting the land. A people without government, without religion, and perhaps with but minimum language skill. The core of their culture had been destroyed. While once a great and cultured people, they by the time of Lehi's arrival had been scattered and divided. Had they by that time degenerated to a level of mere subsistence? Our record gives us few clues.”
    One might expect such a quote from someone on the fringe of the record, looking for a critic’s fodder; however, the quote comes from one of the most revered Book of Mormon supporters—Hugh Nibley.
    One can only wonder at the wordage used here—“It seems highly probable that when Lehi and his family arrived in the Promised Land they found a fairly significant but scattered people already inhabiting the land.”
    Why would anyone think someone else already inhabited the land? Moroni, in Chapter 13 of his Ether abridgement, and Lehi, in his blessings and prophesying to his family in 2 Nephi, makes it quite clear that there was no one else!
    But Nibley is not alone. John L. Sorenson has the same belief. He writes in his book (p146), ”The Lamanites in the original immigrant group became dominant over a native population of folk already scattered on the land when Lehi arrived.”
    Soreonson adds as his justification, “As far as the Nephites were concerned, those subject folk would have been treated the same as the original Lamanites, even if some physical or cultural differences between them were apparent.” Yet, Nephi wrote: “Cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed: for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23).” Sorenson then adds a concluding statement: “That sounds like historical fact already accomplished more than a mere warning to future Nephites.”
However, as they sometimes say about mixing metaphors, Sorenson is mixing time periods and not missing a beat. The scripture quoted, as is easily seen when read, refers to (left) his rebellious brothers (2 Nephi 5:19), not an additional group of people that Sorenson claims. The scripture has to do with the Lamanites that would not serve Nephi and sought to kill him, and the Lord was reminding Nephi that his earlier prophesy was being fulfilled as the Lamanites separated themselves from the Nephites and were “cut off from the Lord’s presence” (2 Nephi 5:20).
    As a result of this separation, the Lord had “caused the cursing to come upon them (the Lamanites), yea even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint, wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord
God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21).
This was a done deal, i.e., because Nephi’s brethren had separated themselves from him and the Lord, the curse was brought upon them. Nephi went on to further explain this new division between the Nephites (his people) and the Lamanites (his brethren), when he wrote: “And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities. And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:22-23).
(See the next post, “Let’s See, How Shall We Speculate Today? Part II,” for the continuing process of how speculation by the Theorists paint a completely inaccurate and misleading picture of the Nephites and any others in the Land of Promise and, more importantly, discredits the very scriptural record we all hold sacred)

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