Specific works/DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography (DVD)

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PERSPECTIVES MEDIA QUESTIONS RESOURCES 2014 CONFERENCE



A FairMormon Analysis of: DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography (DVD); Introduction to Book of Mormon Evidences (Seminar)
A work by author: The FIRM Foundation

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Quotes

When attacked by error, truth is better served by silence than by a bad argument.
—Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Alternate Voices,” Ensign (May 1989): 28.

Within 48 hours the Lord provided the answer to how this was to be accomplished... What a tremendous blessing!... Within 48 hours again the Lord provided another 'miracle'... So the Lord is watching out for this project! ...I asked my dear friend [an emeritus LDS general authority] if he would give my wife and I a special blessing...The only thing I can share from the blessings is that the overall understanding is that this information will go out to "millions" who will be touched by the work, and that this will "embolden" the saints to open their mouths and declare anew the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that millions will find and enter his kingdom! The spirit was overwhelmingly wonderful and we felt so blessed to have that privilege.
—Rod Meldrum, "Update and Request to Serve on the FIRM FOUNDATION Counsel," e-mail dated 9 May 2008 off-site.

FAIR has claimed that I have said or ‘implied’ that I think I have received revelation from God for the church. That is a blatant untruth that they have been propagating without a shred of evidence, because none exists. I have never thought, claimed, nor said that I have ever received revelation for the church. Ever. They intercepted an email where in I said that I felt that I had had some prayers answered, and they have tried to make that into ‘getting revelation directly from God for the church’. That is their FAIRytale. That is the problem with their attacks, they claim things that are absolutely untrue in order to castigate my character.
Comment by The FIRM Foundation Blog — October 4, 2008

It is important to know what the Book of Mormon is not...President George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, stated: “The Book of Mormon is not a geographical primer. It was not written to teach geographical truths. What is told us of the situation of the various lands or cities … is usually simply an incidental remark connected with the doctrinal or historical portions of the work.”
—James E. Faust, “First Presidency Message: The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Jan 2004, 2–6

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A response to claims made in the DVD and associated seminar presentations

All of us make assumptions and have beliefs that are not necessarily true. As we learn more, we make adjustments to our beliefs. Sometimes those beliefs are heavily influenced by a particular book, website, DVD, or experience in our life. Depending on what foundational experiences we have, we may come to differing conclusions and opinions. This is a normal part of the learning process, and thus within the Church we find a variety of opinions on several issues. The Church has clearly identified some areas where there is no revealed doctrine. For example, there is no revealed doctrine on the age of the earth, the role of evolution, or the location of Book of Mormon geography. Church members, and even General Authorities, are free to express a variety of divergent opinions regarding these issues.

Members of FAIR don't mind there being a healthy debate on any of those issues as we understand that there is no revealed doctrine. We are free to all disagree. The danger comes when an individual starts proclaiming the words of Joseph Smith in one of these areas and, in spite of the Church's claims to the contrary, claims it is revealed doctrine. We also object when there are implications made that scholars who are affiliated with the Church and help write our Sunday School manuals are leading the Church astray.

With this in mind, we have focused a lot of attention on the writings, presentation, and DVD of one public speaker and fireside presenter who seems to have taken this position. Many have asked us why we single him out. It is not for his beliefs on Book of Mormon geography, rather, it is for the implication that the Church and its leadership may have been led astray. We find that a dangerous position that must receive a vigorous response.

The DVD "DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography" and its associated seminar series make a number of disturbing claims. In order to "prove" what is referred to as the Heartland model of Book of Mormon geography, the audience is first instructed on how to determine truth, and even how to interpret specific words contained in the scriptures. The audience is also presented with examples which are designed to lead the audience to believe that anyone that does not accept this geographical model is "discounting and disdaining" the words of Joseph Smith. Such an approach is insulting to faithful scholars and members who spend a significant amount of time and effort defending Joseph Smith against his detractors. The following sections provide an overview of some of the more egregious of these claims.

Revisions to the DVD

  • It should be noted that the revised DVD video includes categorical statements that there is no official Church position on Book of Mormon geography, and has dropped any statements stating or implying that revelation backs the position of the presenter. "There is an explicit statement by Emeritus General Authority Elder Hartman Rector at the beginning of the DVD, that there is no official Church position on Book of Mormon Geography." [1]
  • On the back of the cellophane DVD wrapper of the revised DVD is a sticky label imprinted with the following notice:

"Correction Notice: A quote from President Hinckley used in the presentation is used incorrectly and will be removed from the next version of the DVD. It was incorrectly understood that the Prophet was speaking of all people who dismiss Joseph Smith, including LDS scholars; however it has been brought to my attention that President Hinckley spoke specifically of non-members and did not specifically mention scholars. As stated in the presentation, if there are mistakes, they will be corrected."

  • In an introductory presentation attended by several FAIR members in March 2009 (well after the revision of the DVD), the presenter was still mentioning "LDS scholars discounting or disdaining" Joseph Smith.

Differences between seminar and DVD

It should be noted that some claims are unique to the introductory seminar, and are not made in the DVD. Other remarks and claims are also made in e-mails or in on-line forums. These are indicated where appropriate.

Specific geographical claims related to the Heartland model

The Heartland model makes a number of claims that contradict the Book of Mormon itself. For a discussion and response to specific geographical claims related to the Heartland model, see the main article:

Main article: Heartland model

Other claims

Notes


  1. Steven Danderson, A look at Meldrum’s revised DVD…. (March 31, 2009)

Further reading

Heartland (Meldrum) Geography claims

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