Friday, May 11, 2018

Knowing How to Learn the Truth – Part VII

Continued from the previous post regarding how theorists misstate the obvious, often because they do not understand the original intent of the writer and the manner in which they wrote in antiquity.
    Referring back to the inaccurate ideas and erroneous thinking of people who promote their beliefs that are not accurate, we can look at this single issue of Lehi sailing up the Atlantic and landing in North America as the Heartland and Great Lakes theorists claim. As many of these theorists argue back and forth about the details of where and exactly how,  we see the various ideas being promoted as many rely on their own interpretation of the matter, which is a subjective argument based solely on what they have contrived, claiming that:
1. Lehi's party sailed down around Africa and across the Atlantic to the Eastern Coast of North America;
2. Lehi's party landed somewhere in the south, then journeyed westward to arrive at the Land of First Inheritance which by definition in the Book of Mormon is to the west of the Land of Nephi, on the western sea's coast;
3. Lehi landed along the east coast, but then traveled across to the west coast to settle;
4. Lehi landed on a peninsula, such as Florida or Baja California, or Malaysia;
5. Lehi sailed across the Atlantic and up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, or up the Mississippi to land along the east coast of Iowa (Zarahemla).
    Of these choices (and there are others), how does one pick out the correct one? The manner, in part, is found in the scriptural record—not just one verse, or even two, but all verses pertaining to that subject—and is the basis of any search for understanding. However, there are other matters to consider as well, such as:
1) the geography of the areas at the time they were written or indicated, thus the landing site around 590 B.C. Also;
2) the winds and currents that would have propelled Nephi’s ship from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, to a landing site in the Western Hemisphere;
3) and this is critically important, that one consider the inability of an inexperienced crew manning an ocean-going vessel across thousands of miles of open ocean.
It should also be kept in mind that while the Lord can tell people how to do something, that does not mean the person has the ability to do it—the writing on the Liahona may well have been specific, but these were not experienced mariners guiding Nephi’s ship, but pastoral Hebrews who spent their life in the hills around Jerusalem taking care of crops and animals, having never before been to sea. Sailing upon the open ocean would have been as foreign to them as for someone today to make their own refrigerator, stove, washing machine and kitchen appliances—not to mention the difference in danger involved, such as being on the open ocean during a storm and having no idea what to do.    However, when one discovers the truth (in this case correctly interprets the scriptural references), then one comes to it a power which rouses an idea from its stupor, and strengthens it to break the fetters by which it has been bound. It is important, in one’s search for the truth, to understand that while others are ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth—the truth is readily available, especially for those who seek it out without preconceived beliefs, opinions, or motives.    As an example, take the comment inserted by Mormon when he states: “And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30).
    If one approaches this statement with a belief that the Mulekites (People of Zarahemla) landed in the Land Northward, then that is how they would define this statement—that is: “which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing.” 
A predisposition to find something often leads to rejecting correct information and truth in favor of a preconceived idea that cannot easily be verified 

However, if one is not predisposed to think about the Mulekites, then one has a chance to interpret this correctly. The statement then becomes clear: “it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed (the Jaredites), of whose bones we have spoken (Jaredite bones), which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites), it being the place of their (Jaredites) first landing.”
    The next step would be to look for verification of this subject, which can be found in Omni 1:13-16), when Amaleki recorded Mosiah discovering the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites): “and they (Nephites) were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they (Nephites) discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites)…Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites) came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon. And they (Mulekites) journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they (Mulekites) had dwelt there from that time (of landing) forth.
    Thus, we see verification that it was the Jaredites being mentioned regarding their place of first landing (Alma 22:30), and not the Mulekites since the Mulekites landed where Mosiah found them, in the Land of Zarahemla or the area of the city of Zarahemla.
    The only difficulty in understanding this is when one approaches the reading with a pre-determined viewpoint (Mulekites landed in the Land Northward), causing a misunderstanding of a simple statement. Sometime the misunderstanding is deliberate, and the second reading ignored or downplayed, in order to defend and support the pre-determined viewpoint.
    Either way, truth is ignored or not discovered and a false narrative provided that has an impact on people who do not research information for themselves, but trust in someone else’s viewpoint. Thus, truth within the scriptural record regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise, like truth anywhere on any matter, stems from an open-minded approach. If one is going to determine, as an example, where Lehi landed, then one must approach the method and manner in which Nephi’s ship sailed and where it would have been taken by winds and currents of his day.
If Lehi landed in South America as Frederick G. Williams claimed, and Nephi went northward to flee his brothers, and the Nephites expanded into the Land Northward of Ecuador; then in Hagoth’s ships Nephites and Lamanites traveled to Central America and Mesoamerica; and later into North America where Joseph Smith found the bones of Zelph and had the vision of the prophet Onandagus, known from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea, then all models and philosophies would fit into this one major understanding 

If one is truly after the truth, then one can’t just pick up Nephi’s ship from the Arabian Peninsula and set it down in any location they choose. The vessel, which was “driven forth before the wind” had to have been able to reach that spot from a drift voyage (that is, the winds and currents pushed the vessel along from its embarkation point to its debarkation or landing site). If winds and currents don’t readily flow between those two points, or a logical transition along the way so that a “drift” voyage would take that course, then there is no way to make a claim that such an area is where Lehi landed.
    Research should never exist to “prove a point,” but instead, it should be undertaken to “discover a point.”
    Jesus plainly reminded the people during his ministry, that the man who practiced any sin, was, in fact, a slave to that sin, which was the case with most of them. At the same time, we might suggest that the man who has a predetermined viewpoint when trying to discover truth, is going to be a slave to that predetermination, and likely not be able to discover the truth. Thus, one who enters into research with a predetermination of the outcome, or seeking a specific outcome or answer, is as unlikely to find the truth as if he were trying to find the bedroom of his house by going outside and looking on the back lawn. Of course, one would find something in the back yard, but it wouldn’t be the bedroom. To get around this error, one could always claim that he slept in the back yard, but that would not be the entire truth—it would just be misleading.
    This can also be seen in John L. Sorenson’s claim that Mesoamerica, which runs east and west is the Land of Promise, which Mormon tells us ran north and south. In order to promote his idea, Sorenson had to devote several pages in his book to explain away why Mormon didn’t mean our European north and south, but a different, ancient Jewish, north and south.
    This can also be seen in Carol Phyllis Olive’s claim that Lehi’s party landed on the east coast of America and would have then traveled form that landing site to the Land of First Inheritance, which was on the west coast. This is countered by understanding the Hebrew view of a “land of inheritance,” meaning a land promised or covenanted by the Lord to a person and his posterity, such as that of Abraham, or that of Lehi as found in 2 Nephi 1-3. The fact that Lehi and his wife Sariah, at the time of landing, were in poor health (1 Nephi 18:18) and not likely capable of making a long trek from an east coast landing to a west coast land of first inheritance, precludes such a landing site. In addition, no matter where a Jewish family group move to in later times, the first land allotted to them is always regarded as "the land of their inheritance,” thus, even if Lehi did move later, where they initially spent their first season, planting and harvesting, etc., would have been considered their “land of first inheritance.”
    As Hugh Nibley has stated about the Hebrews as the Lord’s people: “Whenever his people wish to establish a new society they first of all make sure to allot and define the lands of their inheritance, which first allotment is regarded as inalienable. No matter where a group or family move to in later times, the first land allotted to them is always regarded as "the land of their inheritance," or in the case of multiple inheritances, it is always known as “the land of first inheritance.”
    Even if Lehi moved, which point is doubtful, where they first landed would have been known to his posterity as “the Land of First Inheritance,” which, according to Mormon’s insertion, was along the seashore of the west coast (Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol 6, Deseret Book, 1988).
Thus, the truth of the scriptural record is not difficult to uncovered if some conniving or misguided theorists want to cloud the issue and throw blocks in the way of understanding. All it takes is a little time and effort, some research, and an open mind. If not employed, however, we fall prey to the wiles of men, either intended or accidental, who promote inaccurate ideas and theories.

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