Thursday, December 20, 2018

Comparing Mesoamerican, Heartland, and Andean South American Lands of Promise-Part VI

Continued from the previous post regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the Mesoamerican and Heartland models of the Land of Promise listed by Michael De Groote, as appeared in the Deseret News. We continue here with the Weaknesses of the Mesoamerican model #4, with #1 thru #3 in previous posts:
4. Transporting Gold Plates
The distance from Mesoamerica to the New York Hill Cumorah is thousands of miles—a long way to carry a heavy package.

Joseph and Oliver saw a room filled with plates, which Brigham Young said there were enough to fill several wagons

Response: When man begins placing his own limitations upon what God can do, he always comes up short and misses the point. First of all, we do not know that a) Moroni buried the plates in the hill Cumorah while he was alive—we only know he intended to hide them up somewhere, but where we are not told; and b) the Angel Moroni, after his mortal death, transported the plates Joseph was working on the hundred-mile distance from Harmony, Pennsylvania to the Peter Whitmer home in Fayette, New York, while Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers traveled by buckboard. It was Joseph who informed the others that it was Moroni they had seen along the road carrying the plates in a sack over his shoulder.
    The point is, the plates obviously could be transported by Moroni at any time, i.e., before or after his mortal death. In addition, the plates evidently were moved from the mortal sphere into the spiritual sphere as they, like wagonloads of other Nephite records and other plates were observed filling a room seen in a vision by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery at Cumorah after the translation was completed.
    The idea of where the hill Cumorah was actually located is of no consequence to the movement of the plates, or their final appearance in the hill Cumorah so Joseph would be able to obtain them.
5. Limited Geography.
Some question that the limited geographic model of Mesoamerica is big enough to contain all of the described civilizations and travels.
Response: One of the problems we face in trying to evaluate the geography and location of the Land of Promise is in predetermining the size the land should cover. There is absolutely no information to judge that fact. Some point to the 21-day period of Alma’s journey with his converts from what they claim is the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. Sorenson tries to evaluate that travel by using different historical journeys—however, all such journeys one might use would be direct and contiguous travel. The problem is, Alma’s travel was  broken up by at least three distinct and lengthy breaks.
    In addition, while theorists evaluate 21 days, what they neglect to consider is that the scriptural record does not state that Alma’s journey was from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla. All we know is that Alma and his converts were in the Land of Mormon, around the Waters and Forest of Mormon, when the received word the king’s men were coming (Mosiah 18:30-34). In fact, they were “in the borders of the land” (Mormon 18:4,31), evidently meaning in the border of the Land of Nephi—which would have not been close to the city, since “it had been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts” (Mosiah 18:4).
    But which border? North, south, east or west border? And how far was this area from the actual city of Nephi?  Keep in mind that the record only states that “Alma went among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi,” however, it does not say he was in the city of Nephi when he went among the Nephites. After all, when Alma spoke up in Abinadi’s defense, the king was angry and “sent his servants after him [Alma] that they might slay him” (Mosiah 17:3).
    It certainly would have been to Alma’s benefit and safety to have removed himself from the area in which the king’s men could find him—perhaps he even fled the city itself, or at least into the outskirts. All it says is that Alma “hid himself that they found him not and he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken” (Mosiah 17:3).
Mormon baptizing his converts in the Waters of Mormon, within the Forest of Mormon, and in the Land of Mormon near the City of Nephi

After his repentance, we learn that Alma “went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi” (Mosiah 18:1). Obviously he was not teaching in a synagogue, or evidently in any public area, for he “taught them privately” (Mosiah 18:3), so perhaps he taught in private homes. In any event, following his private preaching, the people Alma converted went “forth to a place which was called Mormon” (Mosiah 18:4).
    In addition, we find that when Alma and his 450 converts were apprised of the approaching king’s men, “they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness” (Mosiah 18:34), and also that they “gathered up their flocks, and took of their grai, and departed before the armies of king Noah” (Mosiah 23:1). Thus having tents, flocks and grain with them at the Waters of Mormon would suggest they were at least a full day’s journey from the city, or their homes, and likely a lot more, though we do not know in which direction from the city or their homes they were located when they departed.
    Now, in addition to not knowing precisely where Alma and his converts were located when they set out into the wilderness to escape the king’s men, we also do not know where in the Land of Zarahemla they arrived after their 21 days journeying. All we know, is that after all their turmoil and trials, “they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 24:25). Where in the land? Does this mean along the borders of the land? And how far from this place in the land of Zarahemla were they from the city of Zarahemla?
    The point is, until such questions can be answered, which the scriptural record does not provide any clues, the distance from Nephi to Zarahemla remains in question. And since no other time-distance information is provided in the record, it is obviously impossible to surmise or arrive at distances in the Land of Promise.
Heartland theory strengths
Promised land 
Quoting Rod L. Meldrum: “This is the promised land. The prophecies and promises indicate that the United States has to be at least some part of the Book of Mormon, because practically every one of these promises in it can only really be applied as the United States. It is a nation 'above all other nations,' and a 'mighty' Gentile nation. Well, what other nation are they talking about here? I don't think that they are talking about Guatemala here."
Until the mid-20th Century, both North and South America were considered a single continent; many countries today still consider the America as a single continent. This was definitely the standard meaning of continent during the 1800s when the Church was organized and for about 100 years afterward

Response: As has been suggested numerous times in articles on this blog, the overall Land of Promise as mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and more especially by Church Leaders for more than a hundred years, are the entire North and South American continents, known as one continent prior to World War II, makes up the promised land. This includes all the statements indicated by Meldrum and other theorists who want to limit the promise of the Lord to only the United States. However, General Authorities, including several Presidents, havemade it clear that this promise extends to and incudes all of the Americas.
    On the other hand, that portion of the promised land that was given to Lehi and a promise for he and his posterity, is limited to the distances and events found in the Book of Mormon. That Hagoth’s ships were taken by both Nephites and Lamanites to lands to the north, should indicate to all that the blood of Lehi spred northward into Central America, Mesoamerica, and North America over time. Thus, Joseph smith’s Comments about the white Lamanite warrior Zelph, and the prophet Onandagus, and the “plains of the Nephites,” should neither be a surprise to anyone or limit that promised land to only the location in which Zelph was found.
(See the next post, “Comparing Mesoamerican, Heartland, and Andean South American Lands of Promise-Part VI,” for more regarding the Deseret News article about the pros and cons of Mesoamerican as opposed to the Heartland models and South America)


  1. My own personal view is Moroni did not die but was translated. The proof that he was translated is the fact that he was seen on the road carrying the plates. That's something a mortal would do, not a resurrected being. The reason he would have been translated is because he had/has a future mission to perform on this earth.

  2. You may well be right. On the other hand, I read somewhere and can't recall it at the moment, that Joseph Smith said he was killed in battle with the Lamanites at some point. Who knows? But if he was killed, he was resurrected; if translated, then he did not die in mortality.