Monday, October 22, 2018

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

Continued from the previous post regarding what several Church Presidents and Leaders have said about the Americas being the overall location of the Land of Promise.
The prophet Heber J. Grant, the seventh President of the Church, said in General Conference in 1937, “I am a firm believer that this country, both North and South America, is the choice land of the world, a land choice above all other lands, according to the words of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. I believe in its final destiny. I believe that there is an over-ruling Providence protecting this country. I believe that this is the only place in the United States of America where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could have been established and continued without the most terrible persecution, worse than anything we ever had” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1937, p98).

In 1940, J. Reuban Clark, the First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: "Thus the hemisphere—Zion in its full area—was becoming “a land of liberty…clearly, if the people of this land, this whole land of America, all of it, must serve Jesus Christ, ‘the God of the land,’ or be swept off, and this is the gist of all and every blessing promised for, and every judgment uttered against this land, the God must so provide that men in all the Americas could serve him. The era of the Gentiles must be an era of freedom of worship throughout the Hemisphere else Zion could not be established. This was God’s plan and must be brought about. Then in the early decades of the last century, both before and after Joseph’s First Vision, God moved upon the other peoples, one by one, to assert and win their independence, and as fast as they won it, they one by one—I am speaking with historical accuracy—set up their new governmental systems in the framework of our Constitution, sometimes in the first instance, practically copying it word for word. Different juridical traditions have led them to develop their governmental systems along diverging lines from ours, but in great principles their fundamental document is a replica of our God-given instrument. Thus the hemisphere –Zion in its full area—was becoming “a land of liberty” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., “America’s Divine Destiny,” Messages of the First Presidency, ed. James R. Clark, Vol. 6, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1975, p108)
In October Conference in 1940, Elder George Albert Smith, then an Apostle and later President of the Church, stated in speaking of the Book of Mormon: "They will find that it contains, in addition to what the Bible has told us about the world, what the Lord has said about this Western Hemisphere—that this should be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles and that no king should dwell upon this land, but that He, the God of Heaven, would be our King and would fortify this land against all the nations, that this should be a land of peace and happiness” (Conference Report, October 1940).
Nearly three years later, David O. McKay, Second Counselor in the First Presidency and later Prophet, said of the Land of Promise being America: “and this includes Canada and the southern republics, was a choice land when the Jaredites left the land of Shinar approximately four thousand years ago. So it was fourteen hundred years later when Lehi and his colony formed the nucleus of a nation, prospered on the bounty of the country, and after a thousand years perished because of transgression. America was a great land when the stately Indian chiefs ruled their tribes, which thrived from the Bering Sea in the north to the Panama and towering Andes in the South” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1943, pp17-18.)
    This alone should make it clear that the promised land, that land of which Lehi’s Land of Promise, was a part, was the entire North and South America, the Western Hemisphere. To make sure this is understood correctly, we quote another Apostle, which later became President of the Church:
Ezra Taft Benson in General Conference, said: "The Promised Land, the land of Zion, includes all of North and South America" I found they [in 11 Latin American nations he had visited] liked to be referred to as Americans…I found they were happy to learn that to the Latter-day Saints the Promised Land, the land of Zion, includes all of North and South America” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1960, p48). In addition, he added in the next Conference that “this choice land of the Americas...” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1962, p15). 
It is also of interest to note what Apostle Harold B. Lee, later to become the 11th President of the Church, said: “...from the writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of other inspired men, it seems all are in agreement that the followers of Lehi came to the western shores of South America....I believe we are [today] not far from the place where the history of the people of Lehi commenced in western America” (Harold B. Lee, Quarterly Historical Report for the Andes Mission, 11 November 1959. Cited in Sorenson, Sourcebook, 390).
    From all of this and others, it seems impossible that theorists want to center the Land of Promise only in North America, and even others like Rod L. Meldrum and some other Heartland and Great Lakes theorists want to limit it to only within the boundaries of the United States. In another comment from Elder Ezra Taft Benson, while President of the Quorum of the Twelve, we find very different understanding.
President Ezra Taft Benson speaking to a gathering of the Priesthood 

In La Paz, Bolivia, along the southeastern Peruvian border, Elder Benson said to a gathering of the Saints: “God raised up wise leaders among your progenitors which afforded Latin American countries political freedom and independence. I only mention the names of a few whom God raised up to accomplish His holy and Sovereign purposes: Jose de San Martin, Bernardo O’Higgins, and Simon Bolivar. These were some of the ‘founding fathers’ of your continent. I believe it was very significant that when independence came to the countries of South America, governments were established on constitutional principles—some patterned after the Constitution of the United States. I believe this was a very necessary step which preceded the preaching of the gospel in South America” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Righteous Need not Fear,” La Paz, Bolivia, 10-18 January 1979, in Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City,1988, p695).
In Mexico in 1977, Spencer W. Kimball, while President of the Church, stated: “Columbus discovered America in 1492. After him came many colonizers and explorers. The Puritans and Pilgrims came from Europe…For For four hundred years the Lamanites were scattered throughout the Americas. Cortez came here, and Pizzaro went to South America. They had great influence upon the people. They scattered them and persecuted them...One of the first efforts of the Prophet Joseph Smith was to take the gospel to the Lamanites. Continuing until now, we have preached the gospel to the Lamanites. There are probably sixty million Lamanites in America. They are happy for the gospel as it comes to them…In many natural resources, the land of America is rich and will produce abundantly. This is for you, for us, and for all the good people who live upon the land of America. Protection against enemies has been promised. In all the Americas, neither kings nor emperors will combine to take the land. Great promises are given us, if we live the commandments God has given us…(Spencer W. Kimball, Official Reports of the Monterrey Mexico Area Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Monterrey, Mexico February 19 and 20, 1977, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1978), pp2-3).
    To emphasize the oval hemispheric nature of the Land of Promise, we quote again from Elder Ezra Taft Benson, when he was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve: “The Lord recognized that truth will only prosper where religious freedom exists. Religious freedom cannot be fully enjoyed without a full measure of political freedom. So before the gospel was restored, wise and inspired men in North, Central, and South America were raised up who proclaimed the sovereign truth that all men—not just the privileged, the rich, or the rulers—but all men have divine rights. Among these rights are life, liberty (which includes our freedom to worship), and right to property (Ezra Taft Benson, Puerto Rico, 12-17 December 1980).
    In addition, Elder Benson also stated on this matter that “When a Book of Mormon prophet referred to the nations of the world, this hemisphere was designated as `good’ (Ezra Taft Benson, Puerto Rico Priesthood Leadership Meeting, 12-17 December 1980; cited in Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1988).
According to Prophets and Church Leaders, the Land of Promise encompasses the entire Hemisphere of North and South America 

There simply cannot be any argument about other Land of Promise encompassing the entire North and South American continents. And from this, we should understand that Lehi landed in the far south of South America, along the coast of central Chile, and when Nephi fled from this brothers who sought his life, he settled in the area of Peru, and the rest of the storyline takes place within Peru, and later the Land Northward, where the Jaredites once thrived, in Ecuador and the southern part of Colombia. From this overall land, Hagoth’s ships sailed “to a land which was northward,” eventually landing in the area of Central and then Mesoamerica, and from there eventually spread over Mexico and into North America (U.S. and southern Canada). This is why artifacts of both Nephite and Lamanite have been found throughout the hemisphere, and where Lehi’s final descendants, as Lamanites, are found throughout the land, as so stated by the Church leaders quoted above.
    In all of this, the specific land referred to as the Land of Promise, though consisting of the entire North, Central and South America—that land referred to by Moroni in Ether “and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2)—was the overall Land of Promise. And within that land area, was the land of the Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites and Lamanites, as described in the Book of Mormon.
    To state otherwise seems contrary to all that has said by the brethren over the years.

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