Continuing from the previous post about Michael De Groote of the Deseret News who weighed in on the Land of Promise and evaluated what he considered the two most prominent theories, Mesoamerica and the Heartland. In the first post, his comments on some “random strengths and weaknesses from both theories” covered that of Mesoamerica. Below we will cover his views on the Heartland model.
theory strengths—Promised land. "This is the promised land. The
prophecies and promises indicate that the United States has to be at least some
part of the Book of Mormon, because practically every one of these promises in
it can only really be applied as the United States," Rod L. Meldrum said.
"It is a nation 'above all other nations,' and a 'mighty' Gentile nation.
Well, what other nation are they talking about here? I don't think that they
are talking about Guatemala here."
Response: We have covered this time and
again in the blog. Several prophets and General Authorities in General
Conferences have discussed the entire Western Hemisphere as being the Promised
Land, Zion, Land of Promise, etc. Lehi landed along the Chilean coast, Nephi
moved northward into southeastern Peru, Mosiah I moved down into the Land of
Zarahemla in west central Peru, and Ecuador was the Land Northward—we have also
documented this numerous times in support of the Western Hemisphere being the
land the Lord set aside for these last days. While the U.S. plays a very
important role, beginning with the Monroe Doctrine of securing the rights and
freedoms to the overall Land of Promise, that specific area given to Lehi within
the Book of Mormon is limited to South America. It might be of interest to
Meldrum and other isolationists who want the U.S. to be all of the Land of
Promise, that Nephi tells us quite clearly that when he saw Columbus sailing to
the Land of Promise that he “was
separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the
Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth
upon the many waters, even unto the seed
of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12, emphasis
Now, if Columbus, who never landed in North America, let alone the
United States, sailed “even unto the seed
of my brethren, who were in the promised land” we must conclude that the
actual land of the Book of Mormon to which Nephi was seeing around 580 B.C.,
was not within the United States, yet it was the Land of Promise!
2. Heartland theory strengths—Joseph Smith
Smith made several statements throughout his life that indicate that he
believed Book of Mormon events took place in North America.
Response: He also made the statement
that Lehi sailed southeast and landed in Chile at the 30º south latitude, a
statement his scribe and secretary (as well as 2nd Counselor in the
First Presidency) Frederick G. Williams wrote down. As Joseph repeatedly said, unless he
was speaking for the Church he was merely stating his opinion like everyone
else. He never issued any statement for the Church as to the location of the
Land of Promise other than it being in the Western Hemisphere.
3. DNA. Journal studies of Native American DNA
shows that the rare X DNA haplogroup is found in the parts of North America
where the heartland theorists say the Book of Mormon took place. Although
geneticists' dating of the DNA does not correlate with Book of Mormon times,
the X DNA haplogroup has its origins in the Middle East, not Asia.
Response: Until DNA can be shown to be
without question as accurate as needed, and until this chronology of DNA can be
shown to exist as so many people, like Meldrum, try to jump on the bandwagon to
show, the jury is still out on this one.
America has sites that date to the right time for the Book of Mormon and that
match descriptions of fortifications.
Response: This is simply not true. The
fortifications found in the U.S. neither match the huge fortifications indicated
in the Book of Mormon, nor include “resort” fortifications, nor stone walls
around all the lands, etc., as Mormon describes, nor do they match the dates of
the Nephites in anything that can be time dated by the means other locations in
the Americas can.
Cumorah. The Gold Plates were buried in
the New York Hill Cumorah.
Response: The Gold Plates were found in
the Hill Cumorah in western New York by Joseph Smith who was told of their
location by Moroni. It does not mean they were originally buried or hidden in
that hill at the time of their last known location in 421 A.D. or shortly
afterward. We simply have no record or idea of that.
Sidon. “The Book of Mormon makes it abundantly clear that the river Sidon runs
from the south to the north," Sorenson said. And in Alma 2, Alma and his
army wade across the river to fight the invading Lamanites. The river Sidon in
the heartland model is considered to be the Mississippi River.”
There is no place or area along the path of the Mississippi that matches the
area of the land to the south of any location being higher. The U.S.
Mississippi basin slopes from north to south and is a drainage basin, meaning
it drains downhill toward the flow of the river. Yet in the Land of Promise,
the land to the south of Zarahemla is higher, as is the draining of the Sidon,
which flows northward.
There are hills in the land of Nephi.
Sorenson said it is always described as "up" in relation to
everything else. "Where is the 'up' (in the heartland model)? Is it the
hills of Kentucky?" Sorenson said.
Response: There are mountains in the
Land of Promise, and in the Land of Nephi. These mountains, after the
crucifixion, are so high, they are described as mountains “whose height is
great,” by Samuel the Lamanite. There are no great mountains whose height is
great anywhere in the middle or eastern U.S. in any of the areas claimed to be
that of the Land of Promise. Meldrum's heartland covers the Great Plaisn of the U.S., the Mississippi Drainage basin, and the flat southern lands. The Great Lakes has no hills, let alone high mountains.
8. A West Sea. The Narrow
Neck of Land has a west side on a West Sea. The border by the West Sea is where
Nephi and Lehi and their party landed. If the West Sea is one of the Great
Lakes, Sorenson wonders how Lehi sailed to it from Asia.
Response: There would have been no way
to get to the Great lakes, or any other inland lake or sea anywhere in the
middle or eastern U.S. The Mississippi north of Baton Rouge, the St. Lawrence
west of Montreal, and none of the inland waterway systems could handle
ocean-going vessels until dredged and deepened by the Corps of Engineers in the
18th century onward.
is the snow in Zarahemla?" Sorenson asked. "Where is the snow in the
Book of Mormon? Where is the cold in the Book of Mormon? Not a single word that
indicates anything other than warmth and even tropical heat."
Response. Actually, there are only two
places in the entire scriptural record that suggests heat, when it states: “And there were some who died with
fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not
so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants
and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men
were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). The “heat of the day”
is also mentioned (Alma 51:33). But it can also be deduced that the reason why
after prolonged battles the Lamanites continually retreated and returned to
their land and that can be seen by winter weather when throughout history armies
have retreated before winter set in. And in each case, it appears the Lamanites
did not return to battle until the following year, i.e., after the weather
changed and spring or summer began. The point is, we know little about the
weather and climate of the Land of Promise and for Sorenson or anyone else to
make definitive conclusions from what little is written does little to expand
10. Lack of
evidence of the type of high civilization described in the Book of Mormon is
less prevalent than in Mesoamerica.
Response: Actually, the highest
civilization existed in South America, and steadily decreased the further north
we go until in North America, there is little evidence of any civilization
about the standard of the so-called American Indian.
All in all, the article in the Deseret News does little to add to our knowledge of the location of the Book of Mormon. And for the newspaper to single out just two locations, leaving out South America that has so many matches and so few negatives is remarkably narrow-minded and slanted, especially when neither of those two locations match hardly anything found in Nephi, Jacob, Mormon or Moroni's descriptions of the Land of Promise.