Question: Are theories that do not agree with the Heartland model "apostate?"

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Question: Are theories that do not agree with the Heartland model "apostate?"

The originator of the Heartland model believes that other models are "apostate"

The author of the Heartland model and theory claims that "I do not claim to know that this proposed theory is true, nor is any claim made that it has been received by revelation." [1]

The author indicated, upon learning of Daniel Peterson's firing from the Maxwell Institute, that he believed that this represented a purging of "apostate" theories of Book of Mormon geography: [2]

I am so thankful that BYU has purged apostate theories from the MI!

It is thus clear that the author regards anyone who differs from his "revealed" theory as apostate. Peterson pointed out that his conclusion was, in any case, in error: the Maxwell Institute was then preparing to publish John Sorenson's work on the Mesoamerican geographical model.

"it was clear that I was going to have to leave [my job] to work on these projects full time, but I wanted more of a 'sign' from the Lord"

There are, however, multiple other indications of the author's attitude toward those who differ with him. [3]

The author sent an e-mail on 9 May 2008 in which he invited those who had purchased his DVD to become members of his FIRM Foundation. This communiqué strikes quite a different tone:

After fasting and praying about it with my family, and after reading my patriarchal blessing, . . . it was clear that I was going to have to leave [my job] to work on these projects full time, but I wanted more of a 'sign' from the Lord. So I had three big projects about to close with [my job], and I told the Lord that if he wants me to make this project my #1 priority to please cause that none of these jobs go through. . . . Well, within three days all three of the jobs were either terminated by the client, lost to another company, or delayed until next year! So on Monday, April 21st, I put in my two weeks notice and began my new life working full-time on this project. [4]

This reply was reportedly received from a patriarchal blessing, fasting, and prayer. The author then seeks a sign from God and gets it. Yet he argues that we are unjustified in concluding that this account strongly implies that God supports or agrees with what he is doing. Why would God give him a sign to spread a false theory about the Book of Mormon full-time? And why would he tell others about his sign-seeking unless he wants to influence them? Why would such divine instruction come to him and not to the president of the LDS Church?

Recipients were then told about a blessing that he had requested from an emeritus General Authority, "my dear friend":

[My wife] and I had the most incredible and special experience as we met with [him]. . . . [We were given] the most incredible blessing[s] imaginable. They were incredibly powerful and caused both [my wife] and I to no longer doubt the validity of work in which we are engaged.

There is no doubt in the authors' minds about the validity of what they are doing. This again seems a claim of certainty for the theory the author is teaching full-time—or it is an attempt to exaggerate his importance so that others will support him. The reported blessing goes on to promise fruit from his efforts:

The only thing I can share from the blessings is that the overall understanding is that this information will go out to "millions" who will be touched by the work, and that this will "embolden" the saints to open their mouths and declare anew the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that millions will find and enter his kingdom! The spirit was overwhelmingly wonderful and we felt so blessed to have that privilege.

So this theory will inspire millions, and millions will convert and be saved...are we to conclude that God would use a false or uncertain theory for such lofty purposes?

So this theory will inspire millions, and millions will convert and be saved. And other matters are alluded to that the recipients cannot yet know. One must ask, are we to conclude that God would use a false or uncertain theory for such lofty purposes?

The same theme continues on the FIRM Foundation Web site. [5] For example, a spiritual witness of the author's theories is asserted:

  • "It is nice to hear opinions that can be confirmed by the Holy Ghost."
  • "Several people have stated that this is an answer to prayer because of weak testimonies and questions that some Bishops & Stake Presidents can't answer—this will assist them. The children are asking questions and this should give answers."
  • "We have never been to the Hill Cumorah that is in Central America, but the Spirit tells us that the one [in New York] is the Hill Cumorah, or Ramah spoken of by the Prophet Joseph Smith."
  • "You have done a masterful job, we know that what you have uncovered is right."

The Web site likewise repeats the theme of certainty and proof:

  • "Like so many other things science has again proved that Joseph Smith is a prophet and did know what he talked about."
  • "I have felt in the past that the location of the lands of the Book of Mormon was controversial and now feel that the controversy is now over."
  • "This must find a way to the general public because of its authenticity and direct correlation with truth."
  • "It is so nice to see modern science prove out the gospel."
  • "How exciting that there are so many irrefutable evidences! Thank you so much for this gift of knowledge!"
  • "There is a certain satisfaction knowing that the words of the Lord are verified by the scientific community, whether they intended to do so or not."
  • "The stable blend of reason and revelation that will one day be acknowledged by all as the unshakable foundation upon which all truth is based . . ."
  • "Surely you are following Joseph's counsel to 'waste and wear out your life bringing to light' facts that have not been evident before some of today's newer scientific procedures have made such methods of proof possible."

Clearly, the author's theory is repeatedly described as having "proved" Joseph's prophetic status, it is "irrefutable," and it is an "unshakable foundation upon which all truth is based." If Meldrum disagrees with such enthusiasm, why does he use it to sell his materials?

So, why should we believe his book's disclaimer when the evidence for what is really going on is all over his other writings and Web site?

Several grandiose claims are also made:

  • "This is a major turning point in LDS and Book of Mormon history. It's hard to express the importance of these discoveries."
  • "These are amazing and powerful break-'with' findings that need to become more and more accessible to thousands if not millions of people."
  • "It's a relief to see someone take on the DNA argument against the Book of Mormon. I think people like you will be critically important to defending the Mormon faith against attacks by outsiders."
  • "I can't even sleep! I know in my heart that you are on to something very significant."

Such over-the-top praise seems unlikely to be instigated—much less publicized—by someone offering his audience a cautious theory. Note too the recurrence of the same theme that the author emphasized from his purported General Authority blessing: his work must affect thousands or millions.

Further revelation claims: The author announced that God had revealed the name of the foundation and how other aspects of its work should be conducted

The author's May 2008 e-mail announced that God had revealed the name of the foundation and how other aspects of its work should be conducted:

  • "I have pondered and prayed about a name for this organization and the name that was received is 'Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism' and it will be called 'The FIRM Foundation.'"
  • "Within 48 hours the Lord provided the answer to how this was to be accomplished."
  • "Within 48 hours again the Lord provided another 'miracle.'"
  • "Right then he was prompted and he said 'We can make it into a research lab/facility to study these artifacts!' So the Lord is watching out for this project!"

The testimonials also claim that the author has been called by God to spread his theory:

  • "What you are being called to do is so much more, it's world wide and effects millions of people."
  • "How exciting to be able to talk to the very person who is behind such a great work. I felt so blessed when I hung up the phone and so thankful that the Lord has guided you through this sacred project. For now we will put out the word and pray daily that this will bring millions to the gospel."
  • "You have your work cut out for you. However, because it is true, you will definitely and infinitely find a guiding hand of assistance."
  • "All I can say is WOW!!! . . . How does it feel to be such a marvellous instrument in the Lord's hands? I am so impressed on so many levels and to think I actually know you."
  • "I am grateful to you for staying close to the Lord."
  • "I certainly enjoyed the insights you offered on the Almighty's pouring down knowledge from Heaven on the heads of honestly seeking Later-day Saints. . . . We love you for your noble efforts to be an instrument in the Lord's hand, and are praying for the Spirit to continue guiding you in such an important undertaking."

The author is "called" to be "an instrument in the Lord's hand," the "Spirit [is] guiding" him, he will bring "millions" to the truth, and it is an honor just to speak to him. Meldrum has no hesitation about publicizing "their words" so they "will touch the lives of others in positive ways."

Notes

  1. Rod Meldrum, Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant through DNA (Honeoye Falls, NY: Digital Legend Press, 2009), 5.
  2. Rod Meldrum, post on Daniel C. Peterson Patheos blog (19 November 2012, 11:45 a.m.).
  3. This page's original text was based in part on Gregory L. Smith, "Often in Error, Seldom in Doubt: Rod Meldrum and Book of Mormon DNA (A review of "Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant through DNA" by: Rod L. Meldrum)," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 17–161. off-site wiki
  4. Rodney Meldrum, "Update, and request to serve on the FIRM FOUNDATION Counsel?" promotional e-mail, 9 May 2008.
  5. "Testimonials," www.bookofmormonevidence.org/testimony.php (accessed 24 March 2010); emphasis added, spelling and grammar unaltered.