Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Nephite Mountains in the Land of Promise

Since more and more interest has been turned to the Heartland Theory of late, and we are often queried about that location for the Land of Promise, we again assert one of the most glaring opposition to the entire concept of the Heartland Theory.
First of all, let’s take a look at the terrain in the heartland of the U.S., meaning the Mississippi basin north and south, and the width from western Iowa to Ohio. This is basically the heartland of what these theorists refer to as the Land of Promise.
In the Heartland Land of Promise, all the areas of the Book of Mormon are located within the (Dotted Circle) heartland of the U.S. except First Landing and Hill Cumorah. Note that the “heartland” (dark green) is basically a flat terrain with no mountains at all

This leads us to ask of the Heartland theorists the question: “Where are the mountains whose height is great (Helaman 14:23) in the North American Heartland theory model?”
    To show the importance of this question, consider that in about 6 BC, Samuel the Lamanite was directed by the Lord to return to Zarahemla and preach “what the Lord would put in his heart” (Helaman 13:4-5) to the Nephites. In that sermon he made from the top of the city wall, in speaking of the coming of the Savior in Israel, and his death, that at the time of the crucifixion, “And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great(Helaman 14:23, emphasis added).
Top: Iowa; Bottom: Illinois, where Heartland Theorists claim the Book of Mormon took place. Note the flat land all around. Illinois is the 2nd flattest state in the union, Iowa is the 13th flattest state . There are no mountains within the heartland model area

Now, we have to keep in mind that the area of Zarahemla (across from Nauvoo in the Iowa Territory in what is now Montrose), is extremely flat for miles and miles around upon the Southern Iowa Drift Plain, which its flat, and a uniform elevation typical of Iowa landscapes along these ancient bedrock lobes that are basically flat above, with small sloping hills that are, for the most part, barely noticeable.
    Across the river, Nauvoo is also built on a flat plain, called the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. In fact, the mean elevation of the state of Iowa, is 1,100 feet—not a mountain to be had anywhere. The same is true with the Mississippi Alluvial plain, whose elevations vary between 100 and 300 feet (400-500 feet along Crowley’s Ridge). The closest mountain to Nauvoo-Zarahemla is the Appalachian in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, 860 miles distance, and that is only 6,000 feet in height, hardly “whose height is great.”
The flat plains of the heartland: Top Row: (left) Tennessee; (right) Nebraska; Bottom Row: (left) Kansas; (right) Ohio 

The Blue Ridge and northern highlands are close to the coast in the north, and in the Carolinas the low mountains are toward the eastern portion of the states, but all along the the Great Appalachian Valley (a series of 14 connecting valleys), the high ground or mountains is on the east side, even further away from the so-called Nephite lands of the Heartland model.
    The land in between, near the Appalachians, is made up of the Appalachian Plateau, which is the western part of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching from New York to Alabama. The plateau, composed of sedimentary rocks including sandstones, conglomerates, and shales, is a second level United States physiographic region, covering parts of the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. From the east the escarpment that forms the edge of the plateau it is an eroded plain of sedimentary rock, not mountains. A large portion of the plateau is a coalfield formed during the Pennsylvanian Period, with the surface of the plateau sloping gently to the northwest and merging into the Interior Plains. The main physiographic sections of the plateau are named the Mohawk section, the Catskill section, the southern New York section, the Allegheny Plateau section, the Kanawha section, the Cumberland Plateau section, and the Cumberland Mountains section. On the west of the Valley, between the mountain range and the plateau is a Great Valley, a wide strip from Maine to Georgia. West of that is a Ridge and Valley. The Adirondacks are a massif at 5,000-feet far to the north, in Vermont and far northeastern New York.
    All of this land, eastward from Nauvoo, is basically a flat tabletop plateau without mountains of any kind. Consequently, we repeat again, “In your Heartland theory model, where are the mountains whose height is great?” (Helaman 14:23).
    Of the Heartland Theory, much is made of early Church leaders commenting on the location of the Book oi Mormon lands. However, unless a statement, belief, or opinion is officially canonized by the Church membership, given and stated as a doctrine of the Church (which all scripture is), or stated as an official position of the Church by the First Presidency, then opinion, belief, or speculative ideas are not recognized as official statements or positions of the Church. Therefore, can only be understood in light of their being the opinion of the person stating the thought.
    While it is only an opinion, it should be noted that what a President or Apostle says during a temple dedicatory prayer should carry some importance, and should certainly be considered more than merely opinion.
    The same is held true about South America as North American theorists claim that Joseph Smith never said anything about South America. However, Joseph often spoke of the Native Americans, the “Indians,” or Lamanites, in the Americas, that is, both North and South America. He also spoke of the Lamanites throughout the Americas as well as the Polynesians of the Pacific (Joseph Smith Papers; Grant Underwood, “Joseph Smith’s Legacy in Latin America and the Pacific,” in Global Mormonism in the 21st Century, ed. Reid L. Neilson, Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, 2008, pp30–46). 
    In fact, Joseph Smith’s concern for Lehi’s descendants prompted the early missions to South America and the Polynesian islands in addition to the Indians nearby in the Territories, and later to Mexico—attempting to preach the Gospel to all Lamanites in the Americas.
It might also be of interest to know that Melvin J. Ballard (left), who inaugurated the work in South America in 1931, stated: “The Book of Mormon predicts both the distress as well as the eventual deliverance of the Indian peoples. Elder Ballard found in the plight of the Indians fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecies. “These predictions have been fulfilled to the letter,” he declared. “No more cruel page in all history can be found than the story of the subjugation of the South American Indian.”
   He also said, “God speed every movement that looks for the emancipation of the downtrodden and oppressed Indians of South America and prepare us [as Latter-day Saints] that we may discharge our sacred obligation to take the torch of light and truth to them, that they may begin to blossom as the rose and prepare for the return of their former blessings.” What a powerful articulation of the legacy of the Prophet Joseph Smith! (Melvin J. Ballard, “Significance of South American Revolutions,” Improvement Era, April 1931, pp317–320).
    One of the reasons we rarely read anything regarding South America, especially in the Church and even more especially by BYU archeology, is that most written material within the confines of the membership are authored by people who are either Meoamerican theorists, or those of North America. LDS archaeologists, linguists, historians, and authors are completely unaware, or just ignore, the South American connection, or discount it out of hand because of the size of the continent (though interestingly, North America theorists do not discount North America because of its size).
    You might say it is like today and especially the past hundred and seventy year—people in the U.S. know almost nothing about the LDS Church, but a whole lot about Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Baptists, etc.
    Thus, while no mountains are found in the Heartland Model, the scriptural record tells us that mountains would be raised out of valleys whose height is great. As Samuel the Lamanite prophesied regarding the time when the crucifixion was to take place: “there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23, emphasis added).
    In a nutshell, no mountains, no Land of Promise. Period!


  1. Another keyword in Samuel's prophecy is the word "many," meaning numerous, a multitude, not a few.

    It isn't just the landscape rising or lowering here or there, in a couple places. It is MANY mountains laid low and MANY mountains rising to great heights. There's no dodging it.

  2. Read the following from the Church News. I don’t know how else to understand it than President Nelson is telling the missionaries that 3 Nephi 11 etc happened in South America.

    August 30, 2019 Church News

    “BRASILIA, Brazil — President Russell M. Nelson has an effective way to talk about the Book of Mormon with those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “Ask if they know about the mission of Jesus Christ to the people of South America,” he told missionaries serving in Brazil.

    Speaking to 5,825 missionaries from 35 missions on Friday morning, President Nelson added: Once a person has committed to reading the sacred book of scripture, suggest they don’t start at the beginning. Instead, open to 3 Nephi 11 where they can read Jesus Christ’s “important words” spoken to the Nephites — words that promote baptism, prayer, the doctrine of Christ, the sacrament and seeking the kingdom of God.“

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  5. Link below to research published last year indicating that the Andes Mountains were formed suddenly rather than gradually as previously thought. They are still way off on when it happened but getting closer on the how.
    The fact is many mountains of great height were formed in 33 ad. (Helaman 14:23).


    While most scientists say mountains are only destroyed by a very long process of erosion, this study from 2014 says the Andes Mountains are being slowly destroyed by earthquakes not erosion. This is consistent with 1 Nephi 12:4 and Helaman 14:23 where Nephi and Helaman prophecy the destruction of Mountains in the promised land at Christ’s death.

    1. That's also because some of the mountains lack signs of erosion from the great flood (erosion typically attributed to millions of years). Why? Because they came into existence AFTER the flood. Thus they lack similarities to "older" mountains. Since uniformitarian geology must stick to the timeline, they must find other reasons to explain differences between new mountains and those that have more common erosional patterns.