Sunday, February 2, 2020

Let’s Not Make Things Up - Part I

Continued from the previous post regarding a Reader's points on North America vs South America for the Land of Promise:
• Comment: “Unfortunately Lehi did not land in Peru. In fact, Lehi and the Prophet Jeremiah sailed up the Mississippi River (The River Sidon) and there is no discrepancy.”
Response: First of all, there was no prophet Jeremiah involved in the Lehi party or later in the Nephite nation; Second, we do not say he landed in Peru—but Chile. Third, we don’t know where, the Church doesn’t know where, and Joseph Smith didn’t know where Lehi landed! Fourth, it would have been impossible for Lehi to have “sailed up the Mississippi” since that river was not navigable until the 19th century when the Corps of Engineers dredged it and cut a deep channel along one side—today there are about 40 locks on the Mississippi to allow boats and deep sea ships to move up the Mississippi. In fact, referring to the locks, the Mississippi River Commission states that “Pleasure craft, towboats and barges all use this ‘stairway of water to travel the river segments which were once too shallow to navigate.” Fifth, Nephi’s ship was “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9) and no sailing vessel dependent on wind and currents to move it forward could have made it up the Mississippi since the winds and currents flow down the Mississippi.
There are 15 locks on the Mississippi through the State of Illinois alone, and 10 of those are along Iowa, and 9 border on Missouri. Once reaching the fork of the Ohio River, there are 9 locks before reaching where the city of Zarahemla, Iowa, once stood. For those who want to take Lehi up the Ohio toward the Great Lakes, there are 21 locks along the Ohio River. Over the course of the 670-mile-long section of locks, the river drops about 400 feet. There are also 19 locks between the mouth of the river and Missouri, making Lehi’s journey up the Mississippi River in a wind-blown ship impossible

It is wise not to make things up, or listen to theorists or view a map with your own personal research to verify what has been said by others or what you think. Let’s not make things up. Most people have an opinion, as did Joseph Smith.  What he placed in North America was the remains of Zelph, a white Lamanite, and referred to his being killed in a battle. He also mentioned being on the Plains of the Nephites, which is not a Book of Mormon location. It would be odd for Joseph Smith to write something so profound as knowing where the Lamanites were without making it a Church statement; however, the Church has always maintained there was and is no official position on the matter.
• Comment: “Whatsoever F.G. William's wrote is not the Truth of reality and what actually transpired.”
The initial first Presidency of the Church: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Frederick G. Williams

Response: It is interesting that someone of today believes to know that Williams’ comment was not “reality.” What makes a person think that and give such a definite statement about a man who was a member of the initial First Presidency, Joseph Smith’s confidant, personal secretary and the Church scribe? Williams was a seaman, albeit on Lake Erie, and was the John Paul Jones’ navigator during the War of 1812. He, after all, knew something about the sea, certainly more than anyone else in the early days of the Church. And it is remarkable how his stated course for Lehi matches Book of Mormon facts right down to the letter at a time when that area of Western South America was largely unknown in North America, especially on the backwoods frontier. You might want to read our post dated Thursday, February 7, 2019 for more information on Williams and his accusers.
• Comment: “We have sufficient evidence by Revelation and the Actual words of Joseph Smith himself indicating the Book of Mormon events took place in the Promised Land, what we know as the United States!”
Response: First, we do not have sufficient evidence by Revelation of anything about this landing sight of Lehi. One might want to know more about the history of the Church, actual comments made by early leaders before making such bread-reaching statements. Second, the statement in the Book of Mormon which says: “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), refers to “this land.” Keep in mind that to the Lord, a land is not a boundary unless so stated, and in the case of Moroni’s statement, the information refers to a time right after the Flood when “the land” had no boundaries but the sea, or was the entire land mass of the Western Hemisphere. Third, the Promised Land, according to several Prophets and Church leaders was the entire Western Hemisphere—we posted an article in our blog quoting all of them along with their picture to show where many thought the Promised Land to be located, which was the Western Hemisphere, i.e., North and South America.
• Comment: Mesoamerican believers deny one of the most powerful statements of the Book of Mormon that America is the covenant land. Not Mexico, Guatemala or any other central or South American country. It seems like you deny Joseph Smith’s own words and the teaching of prophet after prophet and church historians. The Book of Mormon happened in North America.”
Response: First of all, there is no mention of “America” in the Book of Mormon, therefore there is no “powerful statements of the Book of Mormon that America is the covenant land.” The Land of the Promise in the Book of Mormon does not suggest or relate to any known modern country, but simply by descriptions of travel and events involved.  
The 1507 map of the known world by Martin Waldseemüller who first gave the New World the name of America as seen on the blow-up of the east coast of the new discovery

Secondly, America is a name that is not restricted to the area of present-day United States, but was originally given to both North and South America after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci who, between 1499 and 1502 discovered the land mass we now call South America—it was he who is generally given the credit for figuring out Christopher Columbus had found a whole new world and not India and China. In fact, neither Columbus or Vespucci ever saw or landed in North America, but both explored the shores of South America. His name was given to all of North, Central and South America. It was first labeled so by map makers in 1507 and remained the name of the entire Western Hemisphere until well into the 20th century—that is why it is called North America, Central America and South America, and was referred to as “the Americas” until around 1940.
    Today, of course, we use the word America to refer to ourselves and our country; however in most of the Western Hemisphere, America is still the name they apply to themselves and geographical location, with many countries in Central and South America also calling themselves Americans.
    If you are going to use Joseph Smith as a qualifier on this issue (or any other), use the exact quote(s) and where they can be found. We have done this time and again in this blog, showing the specific church President/Apostle and what they said and where the statement can be found. In all our research on this, we have never come across any comment that separates the Land of Promise in general as the Western Hemisphere, beginning with Ether 13:2, to Nephi’s comment about seeing Columbus sail to the Land of Promise where his brethren, the Lamanites, were located (1 Nephi 13:10-12), though Columbus never reached North America.
    Most certainly, we do not deny anything Joseph Smith said, nor his meaning provided it is not taken out of context, nor any other prophet on this topic. However, it should be pointed out that if Joseph or any other Church leader was to ever claim the location of the Land of Promise and Nephi’s landing site, etc., it would not be contrary to the official views and accepted dogma of the Church—which, by the way, has no official position on this subject at all!
    To make up comments and put them in the mouths of Joseph Smith and other early Church Leaders is neither scholarly, worthwhile or honest. Let’s not make things up.
 (See the next post, "Let's Not Make Things Up - Part II," for more of the points made by the Reader regarding a North America Land of Promise)


  1. Here is a link to the Feb 7, 2019 article mentioned:

    Attacks on Frederick G. Williams for his Statement that Lehi Landed in South America

    Here is a link to the nephicode video about the life of Frederick G. Williams:

    What Was on the Sheet of Paper?

  2. From 2 Nephi 13:

    And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

    And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

    And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

    And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

    And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.

    -- The mistake that a lot of church members make when reading passages like this is to relate it only to what they know from their own immediate surroundings. In their lack of vision or somewhat arrogant patriotism, they imagine that those passages only apply to the United States of America.

    In the year 1800 it is estimated that there was just over 5 million people in the USA. At the same time there was more than 3 times that number in Spanish and Portuguese controlled colonies from Mexico to Argentina, with over 17 million people. Among them were much greater numbers of natives, along with gentiles that had come from Europe. They too fought their mother gentiles for independence and became free countries. Their lands were covered with churches and cathedrals by gentiles who brought the Bible with them, as was prophesied in scripture. All of that transpired to a much larger degree than in the USA alone.

    Should our enthusiastic patriotism and cultural blinders keep us from recognizing the work of the Lord and fulfillment of prophecy outside of our own country?

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    2. Todd- thank you for sharing this excellent insight. I have always thought of 1 Nephi13 (by the way you meant 1 Nephi not 2nd) as applying to the USA- even though I know the promised land is the Western Hemisphere. You’ve changed my perspective. I’ve shared your comment with my family which includes a daughter, son in law, and (probably) future son in law who all served missions in South America.

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