Monday, July 17, 2017

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon – Part I

Recently we were asked about our opinion and evaluation of the Book Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon by Alan C. Miner. First of all, we have always shied away from brief one-liners about other’s works or short commentary on extensive writings, preferring a much more detailed example of what our opinion is based upon. In this case, like some other questions in the past, we feel a full article is required to answer the questions posed.
This book, published in 1996, was written by Alan C. Miner, a featured writer for Meridian Magazine, and contributing author for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, and a practicing dentist in Springville, Utah. He has written other works, such as The Liahona: The Magnetic Compass of God to Miracles by Small Matters, as well as numerous articles about the Jaredites, Mulekites, Indian origins, Polynesian origins, General Authority statements, etc.
    It is interesting that in his opening remarks of his book, in describing Moroni, son of Mormon, he states: “The most notable character trait of this keeper of sacred records is his humility. When he speaks of himself, it is in the most self-effacing of contexts.” He then goes on to state (p1): “Moroni the soldier grew up in the household of the greatest Nephite commander of all time.  At the same time, he was possibly nurtured by a mother who was a pacifist.”
    It is always amazing to us that writers who editorialize on the scriptural record so often go so far beyond anything suggested, let alone anything written, to describe a point they want to make. Since Mormon’s wife is never mentioned, hinted toward or described in any way, to arrive at any conclusion about her is both foolhardy and certainly not scholarly. While it might be argued that women anciently might have been pacifists, or at least passive in favor of being loving and kind, for a Nephite women of Mormon’s time to be is an odd idea since they would have had by then nearly 1000 years of almost constant wars with a hereditary enemy bent on their total destruction.
    In addition, the word “pacifist” means “a person who believes that war and violence are unjustifiable,” could hardly describe any Nephite woman of the day after a thousand years of Lamanite attacks, murders, ambushes, and constant aggression.
    Unjustified? Hardly.
Obviously, Mormon would have been married since he had a son named Moroni; however, we know nothing of his wife, family, other children, or of Moroni’s upbringing

Can anyone who has studied Mormon’s life in the farthest reaches of their mind consider that he married a pacifist or that after 20 or 30 years of marriage his wife would be a pacifist? She might well have been against war, just about everyone is, but a pacifist and opposed to militarism and violence, a word by the way coined in France by Émile Arnaud from the term ahiṃsā, meaning “to cause no injury, do no harm”—a tenet of ancient India religions, such as Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism (i.e., “One who does not injure others with words, thoughts or acts is named Adrohi).
    It is also interesting that Miner’s opening sentences, under the heading of “Moroni finishing his father’s record,” quotes John L. Sorenson as to why Mormon and the Nephites did not, if they were in Mesoamerica, retreat farther north rather than stand and fight a hopeless battle at Cumorah, stating (p2): “In the first place, we must realize that rarely if ever is there any decent land that does not already contain a sizable population, so they would have had to dispossess other people first. . . . Farther north also lay another military threat.”
    Here are two more critically important assumptions or speculations: 1) That a sizable population existed to the north of Cumorah, and 2) Another military threat faced the Nephites to the north of Cumorah. Is there anything in the scriptural record to suggest such a thing? No! Not one word, not a supposition, presumption, speculation, surmise premise or any kind of hint.
Not long before his death, Lehi spoke unto his family concerning the land of promise…that the Lord covenanted unto him and his children…and that it be kept from the knowledge of other nations (2 Nephi 1:3,5,8)

We could spend some time here as we have done in the past to show that the Lord promised Lehi that his land of promise was reserved for his posterity when Lehi told his family of the Lord’s promise: “behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8).
    Obviously, there is no suggestion from this or several other statements Lehi made that there would be either a sizable non-Nephite population to the north of Cumorah, or that an army of some type awaited them there if they went north.
    In another instance, Miner tries to make a distinction of those few Nephites who had escaped southward when he states (p1): “Geographically speaking, does the term "country southward" mean "the land southward", which was south of the small neck of land (Alma 22:27-34)? Or does it simply mean any land southward from the hill Cumorah?  For the survivors to have reached the "land southward" (meaning the land south of the small neck) they would have had to go through many miles of territory occupied by Lamanites or those the Lamanites had conquered.  Possibly "the country southward" simply refers to those lands toward Jordan, Boaz or Desolation which were southward from Cumorah and which lands were possibly more familiar to the survivors.” In fact, Miner uses this specific reference to begin his foregoing comment: “Moroni notes that "the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed" (Mormon 8:2).
    However, that is not what Mormon earlier stated about them (Mormon 6:15) which Moroni erroneously misworded in (Mormon 8:2), resulting in a misleading dialogue by Miner that is neither pertinent or answerable in the scriptural record. What Mormon actually wrote of this is: “and also a few who had escaped into the south countries.”
    “South countries” is not the same as “the country southward” since one is plural and the other singular, and depicts more than just a southward movement, but a movement into a specific set of areas, i.e., “countries to the south.”
    It is not that this is a big deal, but we are merely pointing out that in the first three pages, Miner has chosen to speculate on matters not covered in the scriptural record and raise questions not answerable by the scriptural record, yet he submits his viewpoint on both issues without substantive support within the scriptural record.
In another beginning statement, Miner says, “According to Jerry Ainsworth, Moroni finally reports in A.D. 400—fifteen years after Cumorah—that "my father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go" (Mormon 8:5).  Moroni further says—also fifteen years after Cumorah—that the Lamanites "have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more" (Mormon 8:7).  That means that immediately after the battle of Cumorah the destruction of the Nephites was not complete.”   
    This is another erroneous and misleading comment on Miner’s part. First of all, Moroni begins his writing in 401 A.D. (Mormon 8:6) as he finishes his father’s record, in which he states: “And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 8:2). He follows that statement up with “Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not” (Mormon 8:3). He then adds, “And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Nirnibn 8:7)—all of which is a summary of what has taken place since the last entry into the record by his father, which is dated 385 A.D., evidently prior to that last battle at Cumorah took place.
    Then, to finalize his summary, Moroni states: ”Behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9).
There is no way to consider that there were Nephites who survived the battle at Cumorah, or those who ran wild and undetected in the Land of Promise. The Lamanites obviously knew some escaped or survived that last battle, other than Moroni, and knowing this, tracked them down and killed them all who would not deny the Christ (Moroni 1:2).
(See the next post, “Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon – Part II,” for more information on our view of Alan C. Miner’s book that we have been asked to evaluate by a Reader of our blog)


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  2. This is the problem I see... Once you see how people write about things they really don't know about.. or.. they add things without telling you they are adding things.. How does anyone know what they are saying is true or not?

    It is another thing to say.. it is of my opinion.. or.. What I think is this.. or.. I have come to my own conclusion that.. Then it is us who gets to decide whether or not the person is right.

    I am sure that everyone remembers Gilligan's Island.. if not.. it doesn't really matter. However.. this show was on TV.. CBS.. in a time before color TV. It was about a small group of people that boarded a small yacht.. a huge storm came up and marooned them on a small island. Up to the that point.. there use to be phone calls from people watching the show that would call various US agencies.. Coast Guard.. Air bases etc.. and asked why these people were not being rescued. The TV network said that after they started the 2nd season in color.. the calls increased dramatically. Color gave the impression that what they were seeing.. was somehow more real that seeing it in black and white. People will have a tendency to believe what they see.

    Now.. has hard as it is to admit this.. in 2005 was the first time I had come across anti Mormon literature. I could not believe that people could actually publish lies! What I mean.. was that publishing companies would actually publish something that was an outright lie. I more or less was under the impression.. that what was published.. had been vetted.. and therefore was true. Same thing goes with LDS author's. Because they are LDS.. active in the Church.. working at BYU.. temple going person.. etc.. you give more weight to the words they speak or wrote.. and just assume what you are reading has also been thoroughly vetted by some LDS publishing company. This is why.. we have so many theories. And why it is more important to verify.. in some way.. that what the person is saying is true. And when someone starts telling you Mormon's wife was a pacifist.. and the scriptures don't even mention her.. THERE IS SOMETHING NOT RIGHT HERE! :-)

  3. Well put! Someone must have a crystal ball.