Some of my thoughts upon hearing what the Prophet teaches

Friday, November 16, 2018

good inspiration and good information

In the April 2018 General Conference, President Nelson said, "I know that good inspiration is based upon good information."

What are our sources of good information?

We have the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles. Normally, we would expect this to be "good information" that supports "good inspiration."

In fact, I suspect most members of the Church would agree with that.

But some LDS scholars disagree, especially those who teach M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory).
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The scriptures are readily available, but where do we find the teachings of the prophets and apostles?

General Conference is an important resource, along with official publications of the Church.

What about Church publications that are published anonymously, such as lesson manuals and the Gospel Topics essays? Are these "good information" we can rely upon as we seek "good inspiration" from the Lord?

I would say yes, so long as they are consistent with the teachings of the prophets.

But what do we do if there's a conflict among these sources?
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I assess teachings according to a hierarchy of good information.

First, we have the scriptures.

Second, we have the teachings of the prophets. All members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators, so I refer to all of them as prophets, but there's a hierarchy here, too.

President of the Church
First Presidency
Quorum of the Twelve

No other General Authorities are called or sustained as prophets, seers and revelators, so their teachings are only "good information" when they are consistent with the teachings of the prophets and apostles.

The prophets teach in several ways. Some are more official and authoritative than others.

First, General Conference.
Second, signed articles, proclamations and letters.
Third, sermons in various settings, some of which are recorded and published, while others are not. (Usually, members are asked not to record presentations at Stake and Area conferences and meetings, so presumably these are not considered official, or at least not binding.)
Fourth, informal comments to private audiences.

In terms of "good information," that's about it.
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In addition to the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets, we have a variety of Church educators, scholars and authors. Are their teachings "good information" that leads to "good inspiration" as President Nelson explained?

I would say yes, but only to the extent they are consistent with the teachings of the scriptures and the prophets and, if they involve facts and analysis, they are rational and plausible.
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There are two problems in the Church today regarding "good information."

These problems are creating obstacles for members (and nonmembers) who seek good information as President Nelson has encouraged us, in preparation for receiving good inspiration.

One is the suppression and censorship of the teachings of the prophets. 

Another is supplanting the teachings of the prophets with the teachings of the scholars.

Below I'll give three examples of influential reference books that were not created or signed by any of the prophets

In my view, each of these references cannot be considered "good information" because they reflect a specific agenda on the part of the scholars who prepared them; i.e., the scholars intentionally censored the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and related issues.

The creators of these references claim justification because their work was supervised by one or more of the Apostles.

These scholars want us to believe that these supervising Apostles have officially (albeit anonymously and inferentially) repudiated the teachings of their predecessors in the Apostleship. 

I think a much more realistic and plausible explanation is that the busy apostles who supervised these references relied on the honesty of the scholars. For example, the editors of Saints said the issue of Cumorah never even came up during the writing and editing process. This means no Apostle told them to censor Cumorah in the book, but they did it anyway.

We can't expect the Apostles to ferret out every deliberate ideological choice made by these scholars. As I'll show below, some of the M2C agenda is buried in millions of words.

I think it is outrageous for the scholars to then turn around and claim their personal agenda was approved by the prophets.

This is a serious issue because we have scholars in the Church right now who claim they have been hired by the prophets to guide the Church.

And many members of the Church believe them.

These scholars are taking it upon themselves to decide which prophetic teachings members will have access to and which prophetic teachings will be censored.

The three examples below were written pursuant to that idea; i.e., these scholars have taken it upon themselves to change the teachings of the prophets by censoring them and replacing them with their own scholarly ideas.

As I see it, the official teachings of the prophets remain valid unless and until officially replaced or supplemented by additional teachings of the prophets. 

The way the scholars are unilaterally amending the teachings of the prophets doesn't persuade me in the least.
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The Saints book is the latest example of both problems.

When I first discussed the censorship of Cumorah from Saints, I suggested the editors had done this to satisfy their peers who promote M2C. In response, the editors published a statement on lds.org that purported to justify their censorship, claiming they were acting in the interests of "neutrality" about Book of Mormon geography.

In my analysis of their statement, here and here, I pointed out that the editors confirmed that they intentionally censored Cumorah to pursue a modern intellectual agenda, thereby creating a false historical narrative present.

There's no way to escape the truth: the editors of Saints deliberately misled readers.

In their effort to accommodate their M2C peers, the editors of Saints falsely portrayed real historical figures, including Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Lucy Mack Smith and others, as people who had never heard of Cumorah.

Consequently, current and future generations will never know what Joseph Smith actually taught. Saints cannot be considered "good information" that will lead to "good inspiration," at least on that topic. (There are other problems with the editors imposing their modern revisionist views, but I won't get into those now.)
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Another example is the lesson manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, which deliberately censored an important part of the Wentworth letter.

If you recall the Wentworth letter, you know that Joseph specifically wrote, " all that I shall ask at his hands is that he publish the account entire, ungarnished, and without misrepresentation."

Maybe Joseph wasn't thinking so much about Mr. Wentworth as he was warning the future Curriculum and Correlation Departments.

There's no way to escape the truth: the editors of this lesson manual deliberately misled readers.

I discussed this in detail here:
https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-official-position-of-church-part-1.html

Consequently, current and future generations will never know what Joseph Smith actually taught. This lesson manual cannot be considered "good information," at least to the extent it deliberately censored important teachings of Joseph Smith.
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Yet another example is the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (EoM).

Most members of the Church probably don't even know about this one, even though it is available as an on-line reference. Nevertheless, it's a major authority for the M2C promoters, so let's take a brief look.

This set of four books was published by Macmillan in 1992. It contains nearly 1500 articles from 930 contributors. Some entries are unattributed. In print, the set is over 1,850 pages and includes about a million words.

Contributors include both members of the Church and nonmembers, but the M2C usual suspects are well represented: William Hamblin, Louis C. Midgley, Daniel C. Peterson, Noel B. Reynolds, John L. Sorenson, and John W. Welch.

No wonder the M2C advocates like to cite EoM. It's pure M2C citation cartel material.

There's an important disclaimer readers should know about:

Lest the role of the Encyclopedia be given more weight than it deserves, the editors make it clear that those who have written and edited have only tried to explain their understanding of Church history, doctrines, and procedures; their statement and opinions remain their own. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism is a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, and its contents do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. lxii.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia_of_Mormonism

Of particular interest is the entry on Cumorah, which you can see here:

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Cumorah

I've discussed the EoM entry and its progeny here:
https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-to-create-some-doctrine.html
and here:
https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/04/fun-with-david-palmer.html
and here:
https://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2018/02/getting-real-about-cumorah-part-5d.html
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The bottom line of all of this:

If you want good inspiration in your life, follow the counsel of our living prophet and seek good information.

Focus on the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and avoid the teachings of the scholars who are telling you to disbelieve the prophets and are censoring their teachings.

Or, to make it simple, don't believe the M2C citation cartel.


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this Jonathan. I consider this post "good information."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Or rather, I consider the content contained herein "good information."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Johnathan, thank you for your posts. You have put to rest some questions that troubled me concerning the censorship of the prophets and apostles by BYU, CES, and the COB intellectuals. Do you think that there is going to be a harder push toward this kind of censorship concerning Cumorah because the three presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who affirmed in 1990 that the hill in New York is where the final battles of the Nephites took place, have passed away, and now are considered by these intellectuals in the “dead prophets” category?

    ReplyDelete

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