The revealed text

The revealed text
The light of revelation at the Whitmer farm where Joseph and Oliver worked upstairs to finish translating the Book of Mormon

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lesson 46: Ether 12-15

[cross posted from my other blog]

"Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth."

That quotation comes from “C.S. Lewis: An examined life” (2007).* It's a wonderful metaphor. So long as we continue to inquire, we can find the truth.

As we finish up the Book of Mormon in our Gospel Doctrine classes for 2017, I wanted to comment a bit on Lesson 46: By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled.

Years ago I memorized all of Ether 12. It's still one of my favorite chapters. I'd put it up there with Mormon 7 (the single most important chapter in the scriptures, IMO), Alma 12 and 32, John 21, and D&C 88.

Here is the purpose of Lesson 46: 


To help class members understand the importance of 1) exercising faith, 2) being humble, and 3) heeding the counsel of the prophets.
I have three general comments.

First, I hope everyone who accepts the Book of Mormon and the counsel of the prophets understands the reason why Joseph and Oliver specifically identified the location of the Hill Cumorah. Certainly they didn't have to. Joseph and his successors also didn't have to republish Letter VII (Seven) so many times. But I think they had prophetic insight and they knew the historicity of the Book of Mormon would be questioned in the future. Maybe it requires a little faith and humility to accept what Joseph and Oliver wrote, but they were clear and unambiguous. There is nothing more damaging to faith than to have LDS scholars and educators undermine the reliability and credibility of Joseph and Oliver, and I hope they stop it soon.

Second, one of the reasons why it's important to be unified about Cumorah is the portion of the lesson manual that focuses on Ether 13:1-12. "Moroni records Ether's prophecies concerning the promised land." The manual summarizes the teachings here: "Before the Second Coming, “a new Jerusalem should be built up upon this land [the Americas]” (Ether 13:6). The New Jerusalem will be a holy city built by a remnant of the house of Joseph (Ether 13:8)." It's essential to know where the promised land is because of the covenants associated with it, as Ether spelled them out.

In the early days of the Church, members who read the Book of Mormon wanted to know where the New Jerusalem was going to be. They knew Cumorah was in New York, but they had to flee New York for Ohio. In Kirtland in February 1831, the Lord promised he would reveal the site for the New Jerusalem "in mine own due time." (D&C 42:62). In March, the Lord told them the New Jerusalem would be in "the western countries" (D&C 45:64-66). Then, on September 22, 1832, on the anniversary of the date when Joseph received the plates both times, the Lord revealed that the New Jerusalem would be in western Missouri.

Ether, observing the final battles in New York, "saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land." He knew that "a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph." And now Joseph Smith learned that the place would be western Missouri.

Third, I like to think of Ether and Coriantumr. They knew each other well. After teaching Coriantumr's people about the promised land and the New Jerusalem, he told Ether that he would live to see "another people receiving the land for their inheritance." Coriantumr would be buried by them. Of course, this was fulfilled when Coriantumr "was discovered by the people of Zarahemla," as recorded in Omni

I envision this happening when Coriantumr, as the last survivor, decided to travel to the New Jerusalem. Naturally he would have traveled down the rivers toward the west on his way to what we now call Missouri, but on the way, the people in the Land of Zarahema found him. I've described all of this in Mormoni's America

As we study these passages in the text and think about them, I hope we appreciate what Ether was trying to tell us, and why Moroni selected these passages to include in the record.

*There's a list of Lewis quotations at

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lesson 44 - Mormon 7-9

This lesson includes Mormon's final chapter, number 7. It is the most succinct and comprehensive summary of the Gospel I know of.

Because chapter 7 is addressed to the Lamanites, many people ask who are the Lamanites in today's world.

The Lord specifically identified them in D&C 28, 30 and 32. These are the Native American Indian tribes living in New York, Ohio, and Missouri (tribes who had been forced west from their native lands around the Great Lakes).

Strangely, but not surprisingly given Mesomania, the manual does not reference D&C 28, 30, and 32. Instead, it says this:

Read and discuss Mormon 7, which contains Mormon’s words to the latter-day descendants of Lehi. You may want to explain that latter-day descendants of Lehi are found among the people of North, Central, and South America and the Pacific Islands.

As the lesson manual points out, other prophets have commented on the presence of Lamanites in Latin America. I discuss that here:

The important point to remember is that the presence of Lamanite ancestry among people living in Latin America today has nothing to do with the location of Cumorah 1600 years ago. Cumorah is in New York. Lamanites have interacted with other indigenous people throughout Latin America and the Pacific. While DNA shows that the Native Americans in the northeastern U.S. have non-Asian origins (unlike most native peoples in Latin America and the Pacific), there's no reason to think Lamanite ancestry is more widely dispersed, albeit in relatively low concentrations outside the northeastern U.S.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lesson 43 - Cumorah

Lesson 43 covers Mormon 1-6. Mormon 6:6 explains how Mormon buried the Nephite records in Cumorah.

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, and Cumorah is the keystone to Book of Mormon geography. It is the touchstone between ancient and modern times. It is the pin in the map that the Lord gave us so we would not be left in confusion about where the Book of Mormon events took place.

And yet, there is a strong movement among LDS scholars and educators to put Cumorah anywhere but New York.

If you're teaching or studying the Book of Mormon and you discuss Cumorah, you need to know that many LDS scholars believe the New York Cumorah is the product of a false traditions started in the early days of the Church by unknown people. These scholars teach that Joseph Smith adopted this false tradition and perpetuated it, along with Oliver Cowdery and many others. 

Every gospel doctrine teacher in the Church should be aware of what is going on. I hope every one of you rejects the people on the right side of the table and follows and teaches the same things as the people on the left side of that table.