Sunday, November 19, 2017

The “I’m Not Changing Scripture” Game – Heartland—Great Lakes

While we are on the subject of changing scripture or ignoring scripture in order to justify a particular theory, let us turn to the North American belief in it being the location of Lehi’s Land of Promise, where Lehi landed, and where the Nephite Nation lived and died that Mormon describes—specifically the two theories referred to as Heartland, and Great Lakes. 
    Collectively, this is sometimes referred to as the “central-eastern” U.S. Theory, and covers the area (lumping all of these different beliefs into one general area) as being as far west as eastern Nebraska and Kansas, and as far east as the Appalachian mountains, including western New York, and western Pennsylvania, as far south as northern Mississippi, Tennessee, and as far north as the Great Lakes and the western St. Lawrence River. In this general area, we find various ideas promoted regarding where specific Book of Mormon areas were supposed to be located, including the Land Northward, Land Southward, the general land areas of both, the Sidon River, the East, West, North and South Seas, and the hill Cumorah.
    While no North American Theory encompasses the entire area described, each theory covers a portion of the total area until parts of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise can be found within this area in each theory. It should be noted here, that the more recent theory of Florida, and the older theory of Baja California, are not included in this general area, but will be dealt with later.
The point to be made is how well, if at all, do these North American theories adhere to Mormon’s many and detailed descriptions of the size, shape, and location arrangement of the Nephite Land of Promise. Or stated differently, how many of Mormon’s descriptive statements have to be overlooked or ignored entirely to make the Heartland or Great Lakes theories appear viable.
    Take as an example one of the most obvious statements ignored by these theorists that is found in Helaman when Samuel the Lamanite so clearly states that “behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23).
    Now, to put this prophecy into its proper perspective, the events found in Helaman discuss a Lamanite prophet, named Samuel, who came into the Land of Zarahemla and began to preach to the people (Helaman 13:2); however, after many days of preaching, the Nephites cast him out and Samuel was about to return to his own land. But the voice of the Lord came unto him, and told Samuel that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever should come into his heart (Helaman 13:3). As he returned, the Nephites would not allow him to enter the city, so Samuel got upon the wall and cried out with a loud voice, and began prophesying “whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 13:4).
    This event took place in 6 B.C., and he, in part, said, “I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people that the sword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people” (Helaman 13:5).
    Because the Nephites had rejected Samuel’s initial preaching, the Lord told them “Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them. And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence” (Helaman 1:8-9).
    So before 406 A.D., the Nephites were to be smitten (defined as “struck, killed”), and as events took place 391 years later (385 A.D.), completely wiped out, annihilated as a people to the last man.
    Now, for every Nephite and Lamanite to understand, after Samuel went on to prophecy about the destruction of the city of Zarahemla, he told of the coming birth of the Savior, in which “there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born” (Helaman 14:4).
    Samuel then told them that there would be another sign, “a sign of his death,” and that the sun, moon and stars would be darkened for three days, and the time of his death there would be thundering and lightening for many hours, and the rocks above and under the earth will be broken up and rent in two, and there would be great tempests, and “mountains would be laid low like unto a valley, and they shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great”(Helaman 14:12).
    Samuel went on to tell them that highway would be destroyed, and “many cities shall become desolate,” and graves opened and many saints appear, and that these tempests would last three days.
    More importantly, Samuel added, “And the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).
    That is, these events would not be isolated, hidden, or obscure. They would be seen by all and there would be no doubt that the Lord was involved in their creation so that if they did not believe after that, “a righteous judgment would come upon them” and if they are condemned by their disbelief it will be to their utter condemnation (Helaman 14:29).
    So let us take a look at Samuel’s prophecy, which the Lord told him to deliver to the Nephites in Zarahemla:
1. Existing mountains would be laid low, and become valleys (Helaman 14:23);
2. Existing valleys would become mountains (Helaman 14:23);
3. These new mountains would have great height (Helaman 14:23);
4. This would all be done in a three-hour period (Helaman 14:26; 3 Nephi 8:19);
5. These accompanying rumblings, thunder and lightning would last for three days (Helaman 14:27);
6. These events would be seen by many, and all would know it was from God (Helaman 14:28);
7. The overall purpose of these events was to save those who believed (Helaman 14:29).
    Thus, these events, the mountains falling and the new mountains rising to great heights, would be seen by all in such a manner that they could not deny the author of the events, and was for the salvation of those who accepted God (Helaman 14:30-31). Once again, it should be stressed that these events would be so significant, the result so obvious and so lasting and understood, that there could be no doubt in the minds of the Nephites in the Land Southward and the Land Northward, as to what had happened and, because of the prophecy, that it was from God.
    The Lord, through Samuel, even provided a consequence of these events, by stating: “wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them… If they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them, saith the Lord, because of their unbelief notwithstanding the many mighty works which I have done among them; and as surely as the Lord liveth shall these things be, saith the Lord” (Helaman 15:3, 17).
    Through Samuel, we understand clearly and without a doubt, that the Land of Promise had mountains created within its confines, so extensively that all could see them and their miraculous rise, so miraculous that all could only acknowledge that they had been created suddenly by God as a fulfillment of prophecy.
    Since mountains do not disappear except through the control of God, and these mountains, “whose height is great” were raised for a testimony then and now of the greatness of God and the fulfillment of prophecy, it is impossible and without a doubt contrary to the scriptural record, for someone to make a claim that an area was the Land of Promise without a range of mountains, raised in the time of man, “whose height is great.
    As for the Heartland and Great Lakes theories, there are no mountains “whose height is great,” or anything that even comes close to it, within the confines of the Heartland and Great Lakes Land of Promise areas—no, not one. In fact, there is hardly even a hill to point to in that vast area from the Great Plains in the West to the eastern boundaries of their designated lands. Not until the Appalachian Mountains near the east coast of the U.S. do we find a rise in land elevation into what are called mountains in the east—generally just over 6,000-feet. As mountains go, even those, which are outside the Heartland and Great Lakes Land of Promise area, cannot be considered “whose height is great.”
    It is long past time that all honest readers of the scriptural record acknowledge the meaning, intent, and clearly stated descriptive nature of the Land of Promise as given to us by Mormon, and in this case, Helaman’s account of Samuel the Lamanite and the Lord’s prophecy. And among all the claims of the Land of Promise among numerous theorists, only one area meets that single requirement so clearly laid out for us—and that is Andean South Americathe youngest and tallest mountains by far in the entire Western Hemisphere.

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