Monday, April 16, 2012

Did the Land of Promise Span Two Continents? Part I

On the website, Book of Mormon Geography, the following statement is made:

“The Book of Mormon geography lands and map with DNA evidence; definitive truth, is a scripture based Book of Mormon geography book and is not limited to Mesoamerica or some very small isolated land at the Great Lakes or the central USA. This book locates everything from the narrow neck, to Zarahemla, from Cumorah, to the Land of Promise, Bountiful, and more. All are located with maps in this true version of the information with evidence and DNA info."

This "correct Book of Mormon geography evidence" was written in the book “A Promised Land, the Land of Promise,” by Peter Covino, Jr. "from the basic information given to him by Virginia Elieson and personal study.”

Map of yet another North American model. Copyright held by Book of Mormon Geography and Alpha Publishing. Note the area of the Caribbean Sea

The article goes on to make several claims. We will address those under the term “comment” and our reply under the term “Response.”

Comment: “With the many theorys about the location of the Book of Mormon lands, it is interesting to note that this map is the only map that hung in the offices of the church for over 20 years.”

Response: The fact that a map hung in the Church offices does not qualify it as the site of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. Many pictures hang in the Church Offices and elsewhere in Church locations that depict an idea, a person, or a location that are artists’ renditions, not actual images. This does not disqualify them for their significance. A picture of Christ is significant, however, there are dozens of different images in those pictures and not all can be what Christ actually looked like.

Comment: “Just as all religions can not be right, so all setting for the Nephites can not be right. This is the only geographical setting that actually works while you are reading and following the Book of Mormon and is in agreement with what the prophets have stated.”

Response: A Prophet’s statement may or may not be accurate when they are speaking for themselves. In a recent General Conference, we were reminded of a talk about defending the Salt Lake area from federal troops given by Brigham Young in a morning meeting with the Saints. However, in the afternoon session he corrected himself, saying “This morning you heard from Brigham Young, this afternoon you will hear what the Lord wants said” and completely reversed his earlier comments. We should always keep in mind that the Church has never made any statement regarding the location of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise—nor has any Prophet, General Authority, or official when speaking for the Church. I know of no prophet, nor does anyone else once we get past the rhetoric of such claims, that has ever stated where the Land of Promise was located other than simply making a comment or suggestion. In a meeting with the Prophet Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams, a former ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, editor, justice of the peace, and early leader in the Church, including a member of the First Presidency from 1833 to 1837—when Joseph Smith was the prophet, and was also the prophet’s personal scribe, wrote down during a First Presidency meeting that Lehi landed along the 30º South Latitude in Chile. While this does not mean anything more than a note made on a paper during a meeting, it certainly stands as high as any other General Authority’s comment about location. The trouble with this kind of information is that members pick and choose which they want to believe and reject opposite views also stated by Church leaders.

Comment: “President Joseph Fielding Smith said, It is preposterous to believe that the Nephites did not live in the United States.”

Response: No disagreement. The Nephites lived throughout the Western Hemisphere. General Authorities have often commented that the American Indians, in North, Central and South America, are Lamanites. Joseph Smith said that Zelph, a while Lamanite General, lived in the area of west-central Illinois, and that the Prophet Orandagus was known from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Neither of these ideas conflict with the fact that the actual land described in the Book of Mormon was not located in North America. We cannot escape the fact that a large number of Nephites, including their women and children, sailed north from the Narrow Neck of Land in the first century B.C. in ships built by the shipwright Hagoth. They went north from a southern location—and we can see their workmanship throughout that northern movement from the Andean area of South America, through Central America and into the area of present day United States.

Comment: (in speaking of their map of the Land of Promise) “All others run into a problem sooner or later that can not be explained or resolved and are only postulations and are in contradiction to the prophetic statements and flow of events.”

Response: First, no map of the Land of Promise should rely solely on prophetic statements. In fact, every map of the Land of Promise should start and end with the scriptural references, descriptions, and understanding. Modern-day prophetic comments (prophetic requires a revelation) should be used to better understand, but never to substitute or replace scripture. The Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow—He will never supplant a scriptural doctrine unless so-stating, such as in the change in the restriction on the priesthood a few years ago.

(See next post, “Did the Land of Promise Span Two Continents? Part II,” for the rest of this response to the last comment, and several other statements made on the website, including a full review of their map of the Land of Promise, including a response to their DNA stand)

1 comment:

  1. A quick clarification, slightly off topic, but the revelation to remove the restriction of the priesthood didn't supplant any previous doctrine. Actually it was more of a restoration of the true priciple.