Friday, September 16, 2011

Focusing on the Philosophies of Men—Looking Beyond the Mark - Part I

Over the past several posts, and numerous ones of the past, and the book “Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican & Other Theorists,” we have been centering on the “philosophies of Men” when it comes to naming Mesoamerica as the Land of Promise—specifically, the writings of John L. Sorenson, the so-called guru of Mesoamerican thought regarding Lehi’s land of promise. In the last post, his idea of not accepting Mormon’s statements about directions was covered. In this post, a concept discussed by Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy, is very important to consider when we start changing the scriptural record to meet our pre-conceived ideas.

Elder Cook wrote in a March, 2003, “Ensign” article: “Focusing on the philosophies of men, pursuing ‘gospel hobbies’ with excess zeal, and elevating rules over doctrine are ways we may look beyond the mark. We live in a world where the latest story, the buzz, the hype, the ‘new thing’ is much sought after and then publicized throughout the world.”

In the case of “the mark,” it could be the scriptural record left us by Mormon, who abridged many other writings of ancient prophets. Looking beyond the mark may well be to read more than what is written, alter what is written, add to what is written, or eliminate what is written. Elder Cook also wrote: “The wild rush to find the new often tramples on what is true.”

The scriptures are the true word, written by the original prophets who lived at the time of their writing, abridged by Mormon who had “all the records of the Nephites, which were many” (4 Nephi 48-49; Mormon 1:2-3; 2-17), and translated by Joseph Smith under the direction of the Spirit. They need not be explained by scholars who “look beyond the mark” to try and find something new that “tramples on what is true.”

Of directions, Soreonson wrote: “Labeling directions has always presented linguistic and cultural challenges to the world's peoples. Like other customs the whole business is actually quite arbitrary rather than logical, as modern people would like to think. We in the European tradition say that ‘east’ is ‘where the sun comes up’; but in the arctic, the sun unconcernedly rises in the south. Even in middle latitudes sunrise is precisely to the east only two days of the year. A knowledge of our own and other cultures can help disabuse us of the notion of one single ‘right’ or ‘obvious’ way to label directions.”

This scholarly comment may sound of value until you consider what is involved in the issue. Sorenson is trying to tell us Mormon’s writings, and the early prophets’ understanding of directions, was inaccurate when they reached the Land of Promise. Forget that the Nephites had the Liahona, forget that they had a history of knowing and understanding cardinal directions, forget that Nephi wrote unerringly of “south-southeast” and “eastward” (1 Nephi 16:13, 17:1) regarding their trip across 17-degrees of latitude from Jerusalem to Bountiful. Regarding the Land of Promise, Mormon used the term “northward,” “north,” “northern” all in the same statement (Alma 22:29-30), and used the “west sea” and “east sea” correctly in relationship to “north” and “south” in the same statement (Alma 22:33), providing cardinal directions to the Land Southward regarding the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla.

Elder Cook also wrote: ““The Jewish people … rejected the gospel, in part because it lacked adequate intellectual embroidery.” We look beyond the mark when we refuse to accept simple gospel truths for what they are.”

(See the next post, “Focusing on the Philosophies of Men—Looking Beyond the Mark - Part II,” for more of Sorenson’s rejection of the scriptural record and his trying to implant his own meanings into the record)

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