Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Feeble Argument and Untenable Stance – Part VI

Continuing from the last post on more of Jonathan Neville’s untenable argument about how Joseph Smith was nearly overpowered with the thoughts of wealth and treasure as he walked the two to three miles from his father’s home to the hill Cumorah to recover the plates of which Moroni told him, and how Oliver Cowdery in his Letter VII to W.W. Phelps uses considerable license to indicate what took place in that final battle and its location. 
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellowmen. Here may be seen, where once sunk to naught the pride and strength of two mighty nations; and here may be contemplated in solitude, while nothing but the faithful record of Mormon and Moroni is now extant to inform us of the fact, scenes of misery and distress—“
The West Valley with the New York hill Cumorah in the background, is where Cowdery claims a million or more men fell in battle without an indication of such from artifacts, bones, weapons, etc.

    Response: With nothing but the faithful record of Mormon and Moroni, yet not one word of all this information is found in either record, not one placement in New York can be seen in either record, not one solid evidence of the hill Cumorah’s location other than in the Land Northward, in the Land of Many Waters, in the Land of Cumorah at the Hill Cumorah—nothing else. Nor can be found any artifacts, bones, weapons, etc., of these two once mighty nations, where Cowdery claims once fell somewhere in the neighborhood of a million men or more. But that does not stop Oliver Cowdery from claiming it is the same hill as the one in New York of which he knew, nothing other than his assumptions and opinions. The same can be said about Joanathan Neville—nothing but his and Oliver’s opinion—certainly not the opinions of Mormon who was there.
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “…the aged, whose silver locks in other places, and at other times, would command reverence; the mother, who, in other circumstances would be spared from violence— the infant, whose tender cries would be regarded and listened to with a feeling of compassion and tenderness— and the virgin, whose grace, beauty and modesty, would be esteemed and held inviolate by all good men and enlightened and civilized nations, were alike disregarded and treated with scorn!
    Response: Pure Oliver Cowdery. In a fictional account of the Book of Mormon, this type of writing, which is what it was in the letter form to W.W. Phelps, was completely acceptable. But when Jonathan Neville turns it into an absolute doctrinal dissertation that he elevates higher than the scriptures, regarding the points of fact he discusses, then this type of writing is not acceptable—it is obviously opinions and beliefs, with nothing at all stated in the Letter of its authenticity except in Oliver’s testimony of the events. While we take no exception with the events discussed, or even the feelings of the people involved, the point is regarding the specific and concrete statements about the placement without any support or backup of the beliefs and opinions to solidify the information as anything other than opinion, which is obviously what Cowdery is writing.
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “In vain did the hoary head and man of gray hairs ask for mercy—in vain did the mother plead for compassion—in vain did the helpless and harmless infant weep for very anguish—and in vain did the virgin seek to escape the ruthless hand of revengeful foes and demons in human form—all alike were trampled down by the feet of the strong, and crushed beneath the rage of battle and war! Alas! who can reflect upon the last struggles of great and populous nations, sinking to dust beneath the hand of justice and retribution, without weeping over the corruption of the human heart, and sighing for the hour when the clangor of arms shall no more be heard, nor the calamities of contending armies be any more experienced for a thousand years?”
Response: This is not factual information from the Book of Mormon scriptural record, but Oliver’s views, as excellently stated as they may be, are still Oliver’s views of the incidents involved.
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “Alas! the calamity of war, the extinction of nations, the ruin of kingdoms, the fall of empires, and the dissolution of governments! Oh! the misery, distress and evil attendant, on these. Who can contemplate like scenes without sorrowing, and who so destitute of commiseration as not to be pained that man has fallen so low, so far beneath the station in which he was created?”
    Response: Oliver is waxing stronger and stronger in is preaching to Phelps via the letter he is writing.
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “In this vale lie commingled, in one mass of ruin, the ashes of thousands, and in this vale were destined to be consumed the fair forms and vigorous systems of tens of thousands of the human race—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones, and dust with dust! When the vital spark which animated their clay had fled, each lifeless lump lay on one common level—cold and inanimate. Those bosoms which had burned with rage against each other for real or supposed injury, had now ceased to heave with malice; those arms which were a few moments before nerved with strength, had alike become paralyzed, and those hearts which had been fired with revenge, had now ceased to heave with malice…”
Response: Obviously, Oliver is drawing on his feelings, perhaps driven by the Spirit to preach a mighty lesson of living unrighteous lives and the destruction that brings about. Keep in mind, as well as it sounds and fits, it is still Oliver’s words, beliefs and opinions. More importantly, without any authority whatever, he is claiming opinion to be fact in stating it was within this West Valley that all these events took place.
    Jonathan: [continuing with Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII] “…those arms which were a few moments before nerved with strength, had alike become paralyzed, and those hearts which had been fired with revenge, had now ceased to beat, and the head to think—in silence, in solitude, and in disgrace alike, they have long since turned to earth, to their mother dust, to await the august, and to millions, awful hour, when the trump of the Son of God shall echo and re-echo from the skies, and they come forth quickened and immortalized, to not only stand in each other's presence, but before the bar of him who is Eternal! With sentiments of pure respect, I conclude by subscribing myself your brother in the gospel.”
    Response: And there you have Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII written to W.W. Phelps stating his opininos and beliefs surrounding the work that was taking place and about to take place regarding the Lord establishing his Church in the land in 1830s and the meaning of its purpose. He couches all of this in his beliefs and opinions as to how it all came about sprinkled with the facts of Joseph Smith’s involvement obtaining the plates and records of these past civilizations and the translation that brought about the Book of Mormon.
    There is nothing, however, in this entire letter, to lay claim to it as a factual proof of where it took place and the placement of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise Hill Cumorah’s location as Jonathan Neville so often claims, and upon which he places his entire basis for his New York location of the Book of Mormon lands.
    That Oliver Cowdery so thoroughly believed that the Hill Cumorah in New York is the same as the hill Cumorah in the scriptural record cannot be denied or even contested. The problem is, he brings not one word of support or proof to his belief, only stating his opinions on the matter time and again. He does not even suggest why he thinks that way, or what led to his belief and opinion.
He simply expects the reader to accept his viewpoint without question and read on. Nor does he indicate to W.W. Phelps that Joseph gave him this picture, discussed this battle with him, or told him that the hill Cumorah in New York was the one in the Nephite record.
    Such is hardly a scholarly work, and obviously Oliver did not intend it to be. He was writing to a friend the background of what was and had taken place in Palmyra, Manchester, and that part of New York in the life of Joseph Smith and the early days of the Church for Phelps’ enlightenment.
(See the next post,” A Feeble Argument and Untenable Stance – Part V,” for more on Jonathan Neville’s feeble argument and untenable stance of the Hill Cumorah being in New York as stated so frequently on Book of Mormon Wars website.

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