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Quote by Austin Farrar
The relationship between rational argument (evidence) and belief.
"Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief.
What seems to be proved may not be embraced: but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.
Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."
Dr. John L. Lund, has released a historically incorrect and misleading article published Feb. 29, 2012. Lund's piece, Joseph Smith Identified Zarahemla as Being in Guatemala, proclaims that an article appearing in the Times and Seasons on October 1, 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois was emphatically "written by Joseph Smith." Lund's confidence appears on the surface to be based on historically documented and authenticated writings of the Prophet Joseph. Is he overstating the historical facts?
Mesoamerica "Book of Mormon Lands" tour promoter Dr. John L. Lund, released a historically incorrect and misleading article in a newsletter and paid advertisement eblast (http://ldsliving.com/e/2012/db02_29_2012.html ) published Feb. 29, 2012. Lund's piece, Joseph Smith Identified Zarahemla as Being in Guatemala, proclaims that an article appearing in the Times and Seasons on October 1, 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois was emphatically "written by Joseph Smith." The article begins by flatly stating that members of the Church can "be confident that when you travel to Mexico, Guatemala, and Central America you are traveling in the lands where the primary American events of the Book of Mormon took place according to the Prophet Joseph Smith." Lund's confidence appears on the surface to be based on historically documented and authenticated writings of the Prophet Joseph. Is he overstating the historical facts?
A retired BYU lecturer, Lund has reportedly taken over 4,000 LDS Church members on tours to Israel, Church history and also Mesoamerica, the latter of which he boldly proclaims to be "Book of Mormon Lands." The article is the latest tactic being used in an attempt to prop up theories that the Promised Land of the Book of Mormon, which was prophesied to be a "mighty" (1 Ne. 22:7, 3 Ne. 20:27), "prosperous" (1 Ne. 13:15, 20), and "free" (3 Ne. 21:4) latter day "Gentile" nation "above all other nations" (1 Ne. 13:30), is nonetheless located in the impoverished, drug-lord torn nations of Guatemala and Mexico, rather than in the United States of America.
According to Israeli officials, Lund has been denied reentry back into their country for his alleged improprieties and indiscretions against the State of Israel in regard to Israeli antiquities and artifacts. See the KSL-TV news report at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=15619321 and the news article in the Salt Lake Tribune http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/51848034-78/lund-bar-tura-antiquities.html.csp about Lund's arrest by Israeli authorities in June of 2011. This could, no doubt, create additional pressure to market his non-Israel tours, potentially inducing him to more aggressively promote his Mesoamerica tours. Perhaps this explains why in his multiple books, speaking engagements and tours Lund zealously proclaims the actual lands of the Book of Mormon to be located in Guatemala and southern Mexico in spite of the fact that Church leadership has maintained neutrality on where its history took place for over 150 years. What does Lund know, that Church leaders do not, that gives him such confidence?
Speculations Without Historical Verification Involving Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon
Lund claims that "According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the city of Zarahemla was located south of the Rio Grande in Guatemala and Central America." This claim rests entirely on several articles appearing in the Times & Seasons newspaper during the fall of 1842, a time when Joseph Smith was in hiding from the law for a crime he did not commit.
While Joseph Smith's name appeared on the end-plate of the paper as being its editor, as was customary at that time, there is no historically verifiable evidence that he participated in the writing, publication or printing of these specific articles or edited these editions whatsoever. Official Church historians know this fact, along with the fact that every single article proclaimed by Lund to be written by Joseph Smith was unsigned and that their authorship is historically unknown. Lund claims that "new research has confirmed that Joseph Smith was indeed the author of this and several other articles proclaiming the lands in Central America and Southern Mexico were the lands of the primary American events in the Book of Mormon." However, what Dr. Lund does not disclose is that the new research he is referring to... is his own, and is based solely on comparing word usage of several early brethren of the Church. It is simply an attempt to link the articles in question to the Prophet Joseph, because these few unsigned and unknown authored articles make up the last remaining historical hope for Mesoamerican theorists to shore up their collapsing speculations that Joseph Smith was abandoning his earlier revelations wherein he indicated a North American setting (links to his earlier accounts are below).
Conflicting evidence surrounds these articles as they were not written in the writing style of first person singular as are his other written accounts. These were written in first person plural, indicating different authorship. In addition, some issues had an article written by Joseph and another article accredited to "ED" in the same issue. In other words, there were two authors, one was Joseph, the other was "ED" or editor within the same issue. Had Joseph written both articles, wouldn't they have both been attributed to him?
Even more difficult to explain are several instances in these and other articles attributed to "ED" which refer to the Prophet in third person. For example, in the Sept. 15th, 1842 issue that Lund references, in the article titled "Facts Are Stubborn Things" the author, presumed by Lund to have been Joseph Smith, wrote, "the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence" referring to Joseph Smith in third person. Had Joseph written the article, why would he not have referred to himself as "I" or "me" as he is known to have consistently done in virtually all of his writings? Suddenly changing to third person in referencing himself is something Joseph is not known to have ever done, which strongly indicates that he was not the author.
Joseph Smith's Historically Verifiable Written Statements
Nearly all those familiar with the early statements by the Prophet touching on potential Book of Mormon lands know that he clearly indicated them to be in North America. This is evident in the historically verified accounts wherein he declared revelation such as in the Wentworth Letter, the American Revivalist Account, the Zelph Accounts and Joseph's handwritten letter to Emma while on Zion's camp. In addition, the prophet revealed a Nephite altar at Adam-ondi-Ahman, mentioned the land of Manti was near Huntsville, Missouri, and revealed that this land was "the borders of the Lamanites" (see D&C 54:8). Furthermore he received revelation from the Lord for the location of Zarahemla (see D&C 125:3) and New Jerusalem (see D&C 84:1-6) which Christ Himself declared to be on Book of Mormon lands (3 Nephi 20:22), both of which are absolutely located in North America. These accounts and their indications are not speculation based, but historically documented fact.
Mesoamerican theorists are thereby forced to claim that the Prophet Joseph Smith reneged on these early revelations after being introduced to a New York Times best-selling travel book by John Lloyd Stevens called "Incidents of Travels in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan." They feel that Joseph learned more about Book of Mormon geography from this travelogue than from his angelic visitations by Moroni, other ancient prophets, or his translation of the sacred text itself.
Did Joseph Smith Abandon His Earlier Revelations?
Did Joseph Smith abandon his early historically documented statements that he claimed to have received by revelation, in order to embrace a Mesoamerican setting.. all because of a best-selling New York Times travelogue?
A critical question is whether there is any historical evidence that Joseph Smith's belief that North America was the setting for the Book of Mormon had actually changed. We can often gain a better of understanding of a person's true thoughts by observing their actions in addition to their words. Such may be the case with Joseph Smith. Beyond his written words, what were his actions? We know that when commanded by the Lord to take the gospel to the "Lamanites" Joseph immediately dispatched Oliver Cowdery (D&C 28:8), Peter Whitmer, Jr.(D&C 30:5-6), Parley P. Pratt (D&C 32:1-2) and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32:3) armed with the first copies of the Book of Mormon from the Grandin Press to go to the "borders of the Lamanites" (D&C 28:9) and preach the gospel to them. In the last reference the Lord states, "I myself will go with them and be in their midst..." which appears to indicate that the Lord would personally oversee this mission to "the Lamanites." Could any believing member of the Church really consider that the Lord did not know where the remnant Lamanites were located? He sent them, according to Parley P. Pratt's autobiography and the History of the Church, to Indian tribes in New York, Ohio and Missouri.
Some have argued that the term "Lamanites" as recorded in the revelations which are now D&C 28, 30, 32 and 54 was not the Lord's term but simply the misguided term of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This seems improbable due to the fact that the term was used in multiple instances over at least four sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Certainly if it were a mistake by the Prophet in one instance that would be understandable, but with multiple uses, it becomes less likely that it was a mistake. One Mesoamerica promoting apologist organization published on their website that "Joseph clearly did not consider them [the revelations] "direct quotations" from God, since he was quite happy to revise them, edit them later, etc...This means that "Lamanites" to describe the American Indians was Joseph's word choice."
The Prophet Joseph Smith had been commanded by the Lord to send missionaries unto the "Lamanites" and their entire mission, which was guided and directed by the Lord Himself, was entirely spent in America's Heartland and it is interesting to note that the Prophet never sent a single "Lamanite" missionary to Central or South America to preach to the aboriginal inhabitants there.
Fortunately, undeniable historical evidence exists that his revelatory views had not changed because in his own journal entry, just one month before his martyrdom at Carthage jail, Joseph writes of a second encounter with the Sac & Fox Indians...a tribe of the Algonquian language family of Native American Indians.
Account of the First Visit of the Sac & Fox Indians
Previously, on Aug. 12th, 1841 the History of the Church (vol. 4:pp 401-402) records that "I [Joseph Smith] accordingly went down, and met Keokuk, Kis-ku-kosh, Appenoose, and about one hundred chiefs and braves of those tribes [Sac & Fox], with their families." Joseph continued, "I conducted them to the meeting grounds in the grove, and instructed them in many things which the Lord had revealed unto me concerning their fathers, and the promises that were made concerning them in the Book of Mormon." Thus Joseph claimed that he knew, by revelation from the Lord, that the Book of Mormon was the literal ancestral history of this tribe of Native Americans.
This tribe is a member of the larger Algonquian speaking language group that consists of over 100 tribes and whose ancestors occupied the Heartland of North America in Book of Mormon time frames according to DNA, anthropological and archaeological findings. These Native peoples did not come from the populations of Central or South America.
Account of the Second Visit of the Sac & Fox Indians
In the Prophets final journal an entry is made for Thursday, May 23rd, 1844 with an account of another meeting with the Sac & Fox Indians. This is just prior to the Prophets death on June 27th, 1844 and long after the articles in the Times and Seasons had been published in 1842. Joseph writes, "1 P.M. held council with the Indians - Sac & Fox in my back kitchen. I replied...Great spirit wants you to be united & live in peace. [ I ] found a book, (presenting them with a Book of Mormon) which told me about your fathers & Great Spirit told me." This second witness testifies to the fact that Joseph Smith did not forsake his earlier revelations regarding this people as being literal descendants of the Book of Mormon. It is impossible to believe that the Prophet had actually deserted his previous written revelatory understandings when he again testified, for the second time, that the Lord (the Great Spirit) had told him that the book was about the fathers of this North American Indian tribe. This account occurred long after the publication of the Times and Seasons articles attempted by Lund and other Mesoamerican promoters to falsely claim that Joseph had changed his mind. No word print analysis by John Lund or others can refute the historical fact that Joseph Smith did not abandon, dismiss, or forsake his previous revelations wherein he emphatically claimed that through revelation from the Lord he knew these people were the actual and literal remnant of the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon and they are without question North American Native peoples.
Learning the Historical Facts about Joseph Smith's Knowledge and Statements
A fully referenced presentation on exactly what Joseph Smith did know can be view FREE by visiting our website VIDEO GALLERY and watching video's #11-15 (#14 - 15 deal directly with Lund's claims). Here you will find the historically verified accounts complete with photographs of many of the actual documents which verify the accuracy of the research. These videos provide the facts about the articles Lund is claiming to be Joseph Smith's. Lund indirectly admits in the article that (LDS Church) historians have legitimately questioned the authorship of the articles, yet he still makes the definitive statement that he knows that Joseph Smith personally made the claim about Zarahemla being in Guatemala, which again, is unsubstantiated by official Church historians. See an image of their official response below.
For clarity the text from the above email is below.
Q: "In a book by Rod Meldrum the Book of Mormon in America's Heartland pg 63 states that it is a false report that "Joseph Smith had claimed that Lehi...landed on the continent of South America in Chile, thirty degrees south latitude which has been throughly refuted by Church historians".. My question is that I would like to know if this is true or false statement. plus I have seen advertisements that Joseph Smith said that "Zarahemla is located in Guatemala". I want to know the truth from the source."
A: "Thank you for contacting the Church History Library with your questions about Joseph Smith.
The statement on the course taken by Lehi was written by Fredrick G. Williams in a collection of notes, that include a copy of Section 7 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is included with other items that are clearly not revelations and the note on Lehi's landing in South America should not be considered a prophetic statement. The report in the Bernhisel Manuscript is in the handwriting of Bernhisel and has nothing written in the margins, as stated in Meldrum's book.
Regarding the Zarahemla information, an article was written in the Times and Seasons in October 1842 discussing the apparent correlation between archeological findings and the description of cities in the Book of Mormon. However, the article explicitly states, "We are not agoing [sic] to declare positively that the ruins of Quirigua are those of Zarahemla." This, too, should not be taken as a prophetic statement by Joseph Smith.
We appreciate your interest in clarifying these statements."
Sherry Smith, Library Reference, LDS Church History Library"
Lund claims that the 'majority of scholars' ascribe the articles to Joseph. Apart from being an obvious appeal to consensus, it is also misleading because Lund is considering only those promoting Mesoamerican theories as being "scholars." It is questionable whether Lund's claim that a majority of scholars ascribes to his Mesoamerican theories remains valid; as the Heartland Model geography has now garnered scores of men and women with Ph.D.'s and doctorates in its support, possibly outnumbering the total number who are still promoting archaic Mesoamerican theories. These scholars may not work for tour companies or BYU, but they cannot be dismissed as being illegitimate scholars, as some Mesoamerica proponents are want to infer.
Another aspect Lund fails to mention is that the scholars referenced as agreeing that Joseph Smith wrote the articles in question were simply relying on, as many have in the past, the mistaken idea that they were written by The Prophet. Nevertheless, the fact still remains that actual, official Church historians simply do not know who the author or authors of those articles were. For Lund to proclaim, as he has done in his article, that Joseph Smith claimed Zarahemla was in Guatemala is exaggerated, unsubstantiated and possibly untrue. If Lund's claims were true, why wouldn't Church leadership have adopted that position and come out in open endorsement of Lund's "Book of Mormon lands?" Yet the fact stubbornly remains that the Church is officially neutral on the subject.
Where Did the Lord Himself (As Well as Joseph Smith) Declare Zarahemla to be Located?
In contrast to Lund's unsubstantiated claims that Joseph Smith wrote these unsigned articles regarding Zarahemla in Guatemala, one can simply go to D&C 125:3. There you will find the historically verified account from the Prophet Joseph Smith, through revelation from God, which appears to refute Lund's claim that Zarahemla was in Mesoamerica. The Lord told His Prophet to build a city across from Nauvoo and call it Zarahemla, not "New" Zarahemla as would have been the pattern established by the Lord for the naming of cities that refer symbolically to earlier cities in other lands. Such an example can be seen in the naming of Jerusalem and the later New Jerusalem. (See Ether 13:4-6). The passage is straight forward and compelling.
The Lord could have given the location across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo any one of an infinite number of possible names, yet He called it simply "Zarahemla." If it was not the actual site of the ancient Book of Mormon city of Zarahemla, why would He have specifically named it that? God is not a God of confusion. Once an understanding is gained of the strategic importance of this location, due to the shallow rapids (historically called the Des Moines Rapids) which made possible a river crossing on foot, one can begin to comprehend why the ancient Book of Mormon city of Zarahemla was said to be located in the center of their lands, was their capital city and why when it was burned at the time of Christ's death it was rebuilt. This is the first river crossing from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi river, which would naturally make this one of, if not the most strategic location in North America. This is where trade and commerce would flow, and whoever controlled it would be enabled to defend nearly a third of what is now the United States by preventing enemy armies from ingression.
There is not a single authenticated or documented historical account, which has been verified by official Church historians, that establishes that the Prophet Joseph Smith relinquished his revelatory position that the Heartland of North America were the lands of the Book of Mormon, or that its history occurred in Mesoamerica. Not one. Many Church historians that have been consulted on the matter have so indicated. It is clear that Lund's claim cannot be substantiated and is therefore over stated and may be untrue.
Some have questioned why the Prophet Joseph Smith would allow others to write articles that might seem contrary to his early views in the Times and Seasons, and why Joseph didn't correct them if they were incorrect. Further information about this and many other questions regarding Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon geography will be thoroughly examined in the new book Joseph Knew; Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography to be released by the end of 2012 by this author.
Rod L. Meldrum
Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism, The FIRM Foundation
edited by rbxx