Very much, I believe, rides on our answer to the question of whether or not the Book of Mormon is a genuinely ancient account from authentically ancient authors. (See, on this, such statements as Stephen O. Smoot’s “Et Incarnatus Est: The Imperative for Book of Mormon Historicity” and Dallin H. Oaks’s “The Historicity of the Book of Mormon.”) The Book of Mormon’s value as a second witness for Christ, for instance, would be substantially altered if not altogether neutralized were it to turn out that its account of the resurrected Savior’s appearance among the Nephites were merely fictional, created in the mind of a nineteenth-century charlatan or even a pious fraud on the American frontier. The founding narrative of the Restoration would be severely compromised if Moroni proved to be no more than a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination.
By contrast, to my judgment relatively little hinges on where the events of the Book of Mormon occurred. Nobody’s salvation rests upon knowing the precise GPS coordinates of the Jaredite city of Lib. It is very important that the Book of Mormon story took place. Where it took place is comparatively unimportant.
My laissez-faire attitude toward questions of Book of Mormon geography — I have opinions on the subject; I’m strongly inclined toward a limited Mesoamerican geographical model, but I don’t insist that others agree with me on that preference before recognizing them as orthodox and faithful Latter-day Saints — is plainly not shared by at least one vocal advocate of the so-called Heartland model of Book of Mormon geography.
I don’t follow Mr. Jonathan Neville’s blogs on my own, but I know people who do, and one of them has just called Mr. Neville’s most recent blog entry to my attention:
From the very opening of this latest entry, posted earlier today, Mr. Neville encourages his readers to think in temple-related terms about those whom he is targeting. In other words, given what he proceeds to say, he wants you to see the folks who are affiliated with “Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, FairMormon, etc.” as (presumably unwitting) dupes and tools of Satan.
Mr. Neville singles out the Interpreter Foundation, of which I am honored to be the president, for special attention: Interpreter, he remarks, is an “awesomely arrogant name . . . the ideal name for a usurper of the prophets.” (His blog entry even features a cute little illustration in which a generic “scholar” is shown lecturing past presidents of the Church about why they were wrong.
A valuable resource for monitoring the remarkable claims and allegations of Mr. Jonathan Neville is the anonymously-maintained Neville-Neville Land blog. Here is a link to its latest entry: