Sunday, October 21, 2018

Is the Land of Promise Exclusive to North America? – Part I

It is interesting that today so many theorists try to isolate the Land of Promise only to the United States and not the rest of the Americas. Take Rod L. Meldrum, as an example, in quoting Elder L. Tom Perry of the Twelve, in a statement made during a devotional address to the students at BYU-Idaho on January 24, 2012, and reprinted in the December 2012 issue of the Ensign magazine, entitled “The Tradition of Light and Testimony.”
In the address, Elder Perry said: “The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints is truly a world-wide Church. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the Church could never have become what it is today without the birth of a great nation, the United States of America. The Lord prepared a new land to attract the peoples of the world who sought liberty and religious freedom.” Elder Perry went on to say: “a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just decades after the establishment of the United States.”
    Meldrum, in his article “The United States is The Promised Land,” Book of Mormon Evidence, March 1, 2013, after quoting the above, then writes: “An interesting exercise is to insert the words “United States” into prophetic passages from the Book of Mormon regarding the latter-day “promised land” or “land of promise” as indicated by Elder Perry.  In doing so, note how this effects the significance and clarity of the passage.
    First of all, Elder Perry did not say that he was altering or replacing words in the scriptural record, in fact, was not talking about the scriptural record at all, other than to say that:
1. The Church was worldwide;
2. The Church was established because of the great nation of the United States;
3. The Lord prepared a new land;
4. That new land attracted the people of the world who sought liberty and religious freedom;
5. A land where Divine Guidance could direct men to create conditions necessary for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ;
6. It was the birth of the United States that ushered out the Great Apostasy from a darkened earth;
7. Coincidentally, decades after the birth of the U.S., the First Vision took place.
    While all of these inarguable facts are truthful, Meldrum twists them around to claim his own particular meaning to them, such as the only part of this new land was the United States; the only place where men were attracted to was the United States—not Canada, Mexico, Central or South America—only the U.S. However, Elder Perry neither says that nor implies that—though he was pointing to the fact that the original territory of what became the United States was where this freedom and nation first took hold.
George Washington, “The Father of the Country,” and Simon Bolivar, “El Libertador”—men who helped liberate the Americas from foreign control. On the other hand, this freedom existed throughout the Americas, including Central and South America. And as far as no king shall govern the land, the original colonies on this land were governed by King George III of England, as eventually was Canada. Mexico was governed first by the king of Spain, as was most of Central and South America.
    This control began when the following initial settlements in the Americas took place:
1. St. John’s, 1497, Canada – England;
2. Santo Domingo, 1498, Dominican Republic, the oldest continuously inhabited European established settlement in the Americas - Spanish;
3. Caparra, 1508, Puerto Rico, oldest known European settlement in U.S. territory – Spanish;
4. Sevilla la Nueva, 1509, Jamaica, - Spanish settlement called St. Ann’s Bay;
5. Nombre de Dios, 1510, Panama – Spanish;
6. Baracoa, 1511, Cuba – Spanish;
7. La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, 1519, Mexico – Spanish;
8. Antiguo Cuscatian, 1524, El Salvador, the first settlement of Spanish in the Americas;
9. Quetzaltenango, 1524, Guatemala – Spanish;
10. Granada, 1524, Nicaragua – Spanish;
11. San Miguel de Gualdape, 1526, Georgia; first European settlement in the continental United States;
12. San Pedro Sula, 1536, Honduras – Spanish;
13. Charlesbourg-Royal, 1541, Canada – French;
14. Charlesfort-Santa Elena, 1562, South Carolina – French/Spanish;
15. La Caroline, 1564, Florida – French;
16. St. Augustine, 1565, Florida – Spanish;
17. Roanoke Colony, 1585, North Carolina – England;
18.  Saint Croix Island, 1604, Maine – Spanish;
19. Jamestown, 1607, Virginia; oldest settlement in the original thirteen colonies comprising the U.S. - English;
20. Albany, 1614, New York - English
    The point is, that the Americas were being settled long before the first colony within the area of the original thirteen colonies that became the United States. Canada and Mexico were settled before any settlement in the United States. The same is true of the Central American states.
Showing first settlements in specific areas of the Western Hemisphere; duplicate development areas are represented by a single dot. Yellow dots: Settlements in the Americas by the Spanish before any settlement in the area of the U.S.; White dot: First settlement in the continental U.S. in Georgia; Blue dots: Settlements in the continental U.S.; Green dots: Famous early settlements in U.S., i.e., Jamestown VA; Plymouth MA; and Albany NY

By the time the original location in the area of the United States was first settled, several places in South America had already been settled by the Spanish, including those in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Therefore, to claim as Meldrum does, that while Elder Perry states that “The Lord prepared a new land to attract the peoples of the world who sought liberty and religious freedom,” he could not have meant just the United States, since thousands had already been attracted to this new land before anyone came to the land that became the United States.
    In addition, while the Americas was to be a land of liberty, various kings ruled all the Americas until they were overthrown, through conflict, struggle and war, until all areas in the Americas became free. The first was the United States in 1776 and finally resolved in 1783-4. Following that, in 1811, the first independent movements in Central America began in San Salvador on November 5, and from there, one by one, the movement in Central and South America freed almost every area from the European rulers of American colonies, except for the tiny French Guiana in the northeast of South America. The last king in the Americas besides King George III (1783), was Louis XVI (1793), who ruled French Louisiana, and Pedro II (1891), Emperor of Brazil. Some areas are still under European monarchs, like Canada, though it is self-ruled, and self-governed. Thus, it is accurate to say the entire Western Hemisphere is basically a “land of liberty” with self-governed nations.
    Elder Perry also said “a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” which obviously occurred, with all states in the Americas, both north and south, being Christian nations. It was the American Revolution in 1776 that started everything moving toward this era of independence and freedom, both in government and in religion. It was like a domino effect, as one nation after another rebelled and European control over the Americas toppled, one nation after another, until it was basically gone. To isolate the meaning of Elder Perry’s statement to a single area within this vast region of independence and freedom is undeserving of his intent.
In another statement of Elder Perry that was in the quote above, is: “It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just decades after the establishment of the United States,” and it should also be noted, that by the time Joseph Smith went into the Sacred Grove where this occasion took place,” Meldrum attempts to make use it as proof of where the Land of Promise was located. However, when the Brethren have time and again said the entire North and South America is this location, that one portion was used for a singular purpose should not be surprising. In the Land of Promise in Palestine, the area known as Jerusalem was often referred to as the center of the land, where the government was located and where much of the Lord’s work was accomplished, yet it was not the entire portion of the promised land.
    In light of all of this, it seems prudent to cover some of the oft-repeated comments, as well as some not so well known, to outline a little history and understanding of the fact that the Land of Promise was not isolated to just the area of the United States, or even to the area of North America, but included North, Central and South America.
(See the next post, “Is the Land of Promise Exclusive to North America? – Part II,” to see what several Church Presidents and Leaders have said about this subject in order to place Elder Tom L. Perry’s comments fit into the overall understanding of the Land of Promise among the Brethren)

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