I think the best way for all LDS people, scholars as well as non-scholars, to reach a consensus is to agree on basic facts from Church history. To accomplish this, I propose a short reading assignment. On Book of Mormon day, I propose that everyone read Letters IV, VII, and VIII. The links are at the end of this post.
It was 190 years ago today when Joseph Smith obtained the Harmony plates from Moroni’s stone box in the Hill Cumorah in New York.
He had waited four years for this moment.
In 1823, Joseph had seen the plates, but he was not yet prepared to take them and begin the translation.
The night before, on September 21st, 1823, Moroni visited Joseph. Oliver Cowdery gave us the most detailed account of the visit. Joseph was praying after the rest of his family had fallen asleep.
Oliver wrote this in Letter IV:
“In this situation hours passed unnumbered-how many or how few I know not, neither is he able to inform me; but supposes it must have been eleven or twelve, and perhaps later, as the noise and bustle of the family, in retiring, had long since ceased.-
“While continuing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavoring to exercise faith in the scriptures, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room.-
“Indeed, to use his own description, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming and unquenchable fire….
“He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigines of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightened and intelligent people, possessing a cerrect [correct] knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain, and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.”
Notice that Moroni told Joseph the history was written and deposited not far from Joseph’s home. That means Mormon and Moroni were not far from Joseph’s home when they abridged the Nephite records.
This makes sense because they were abridging the Nephite records, which were stored in the depository in New York, first in the hill Shim, and later in the hill Cumorah.
If you ask the unbelievers at FairMormon, of course, Oliver was wrong about Cumorah. But since Oliver got his information directly from Joseph, as the above quotations demonstrate, then Joseph was wrong. Or maybe Joseph misheard what Moroni said?
Is that what FairMormon wants us to believe?
Or maybe now FairMormon wants us to believe that Moroni was wrong?
FairMormon doesn’t want members of the Church to know what Oliver and Joseph taught about Cumorah in New York because it contradicts their two-Cumorahs/Mesoamerican dogma.
Fortunately, members of the Church now have access to the original documents. We can all read these historical letters for ourselves, right out of Joseph’s own history.
On this Book of Mormon day, I hope everyone reads Letters IV, VII, and VIII.
Here are the links: