Tuesday, August 6, 2019

More Comments from Readers - Part III

Here are more comments and questions from readers:
Comment #1: “Let me give an example of my concern. https://www.buzzfeed.com/mbvd/35-of-the-worlds-rarest-animals?utm_term=.rx5XmPLBV#.frOrAWP0o is a link to a webpage with exotic animals, a small fraction of all the animals of the Earth, many of which live in only one place on earth—like others that live in the Galapogos, Socotra, New Zealand, Tazmania, and many, many more Islands. So the question is, did all of these unique animals show up and have a place on the Ark, and then somehow get back to the unique places on earth where they survive? I am not trying to undermine what the scriptures say, just trying to understand more clearly what they are saying” E. Richard
Herding of numerous animal that would have been brought by the Jaredites to the Americas

Response: Think of it this way. If we did not have the Book of Mormon, or more specifically the Book of Ether, we would not know how animals got to the American continent after the Flood. But with the Book of Ether, we know that domesticated and wild animals reached here in the barges that brought the Jaredites. We also know that once Panama rose up out of the water to form a land bridge to North America, animals made their way in that direction. We also know the Spaniards and Europeans brought some animals to the Americas with them to round out the issue.
    Also, we have to keep in mind that not every animal, insect, bird, etc., we see today were on the Ark. Natural selection and natural growth, change, and alteration take place among the same species. All of this is not a mystery, simply God resupplying the continents where needed after the Earth was divided in Peleg’s time. Between the Flood and Peleg animals do what they have always done—they seek new lands and habitats when the need arises…and, no doubt, when they are driven to do so by the Lord.
    Of course, the jury is still out in the animals found “down under.”
    Regarding the site you indicated, except for the Wombat, all the other animals are simply natural selection variations of normal animals, such as tortoise, monkeys, sharks, bee, butterfly, Rhino, etc. The Durrelli is closely related to the mongoose. Over time, many animal species develop unique offshoots which is neither unusual nor unexpected.
Comment #2: “For some reason, Del forgot to mention that Joseph Smith helped Oliver write these letters, including Letter VII, and that Joseph had his scribes copy Letter VII into his own journal as part of his history. He also had it republished in the Gospel Reflector and the Times and Seasons, both in 1841. In an article that will be out soon, I show that the official history in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History, was based on the letters Oliver wrote. As they did when Joseph was alive, every member of the Church today should read Letter VII. You can read it right out of Joseph Smith's journal from the Joseph Smith Papers. Then make up your own mind, in light of all the facts” Jonathan D.
Response:  Jonathan...we did not forget to mention Joseph's involvement in Letter VII...since when reading the entire letter you see that much of it had to do with Joseph finding the plates there, and other events of his life, one can see why without question Joseph had it as part of his history—which we have written about a couple of times. After all, it was Joseph himself who said he had to be very careful about making any statement since members immediately took it as inspired doctrine when it was merely an opinion—no doubt, saying this later in his life, he learned how easily people took out of context the things he did and said.
    In addition, Joseph, for all his talents, and they were many and amazing, was not a writer and generally rarely wrote something himself but had others write things for him--he had a personal secretary at all times, one of which was Frederick G. Williams, who was also his personal physician and Second Counselor in the First Presidency with Joseph, who wrote that Lehi landed at 30º south latitude in Chile—but of course, Letter VII people don't ever mention that. What we are dealing with and we need to come to grips with this is that the early leaders of the Church, who did not know where things always took place regarding events they were not personally involved in, like the Land of Promise setting, had various viewpoints and opinions of which they spoke quite a lot about. Over time, leaders became much more conservative about making broad and far reaching statements that were, after all, only opinions—today, they make very few such statements publicly.
    The example of the experience of Zion’s Camp should be paramount in everyone’s mind regarding this. Six men wrote in their journals the event of bones found and Joseph’sexplanation, several of which later became presidents of the church. Yet, no two accounts are the same, some are extremely different, some call Zelph a Nephite others a white Lamanite, some refer to the Sea East and others the eastern sea, one used the Hill Cumorah in his account, some claim Joseph said one thing others claim Joseph said another—anyone who has ever worked in the communication field knows that ten people can see the exact same event from basically the same perspective and record ten different variations of the event. To claim that one is right and the others are wrong is simply foolishness.
    Because Oliver Cowdery made a colorful and poetic statement in a letter addressed to W.W. Phelps, a person by the way who thought Mesoamerica or Central America was the Land of Promise because of Catherwood’s drawings and Stephens book (as did Joseph Smith, by the way) does not mean it is Church Doctrine—only his opinion of the events he was writing about. That Joseph wanted his record, as well as others written down regarding different events, including Zion’s Camp was likely more for the authenticity and evidence of the event, than a word-for-word accuracy of the event, otherwise he would have been more exact in what he told people to the point where they all got it the same way.
It seems people sometimes miss one of Joseph’s greatest accomplishments in leadership and that is summed up in his statement: “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” We live in a world where people want to control other people, where one person’s beliefs or opinions are not allowed to be criticized because of who they are even when known to be wrong, where “if a lie is told often enough it is believed,” and where it is only natural for people to repeat information, even important information, through their own views—letting people govern themselves, write their views, speak their mind, bear their testimony in their own way, etc., is one of the great tenets of this Church and of God’s kingdom.
    It was John A. Widtsoe who said, “As far as can be learned, the Prophet Joseph Smith, translator of the book, did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred. Perhaps he did not know” (John A. Widtsoe, Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?- Improvement Era, 53, 7 July, 1950).
    As another leader has stated: “There are many subjects about which the scriptures are not clear and about which the Church has made no official pronouncements. In such matters, one can find differences of opinion among Church members and leaders. Until the truth of these matters is made known by revelation, there is room for different levels of understanding and interpretation of unsettled issues.”
    Joseph Smith relates that once when he was in conversation with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet," he told them to the contrary. "But I told them," (these are his words), "that a prophet was only a prophet when acting as such."
    Joseph never made a doctrinal comment regarding the location of any Book of Mormon event—only that it took place on the American Continent (North and South America).
    If he wanted us to know that the Hill Cumorah in New York was the same hill as that described in the scriptural record, surely he would have told us and not left it up to an obscure statement by Oliver Cowdery, who within three years was excommunicated from the Church and in disfavor with the Brethren


  1. Is there some spiritual influence behind Jonathan's obsession with Letter VII? The whole North American model bunch come across as self righteous, which is not the right spirit.

  2. I would think that if one is promoting the wrong information of the scriptural record the Spirit would have trouble connecting