Last Wednesday, Rod Meldrum visited Nauvoo and gave a presentation on DNA and the Book of Mormon. His attempt was to make the case that DNA studies do indeed prove the validity, accuracy, and historicity of the Book of Mormon. The videos arguing that DNA disproves the Book of Mormon have been circulating for many years now, and he was offering his response. The presentation was interesting, if tragically unorganized and disconnected, but he made some valid points. I did not agree with all of his conclusions, nor did I disagree with them all.
If for no other reason, his presenation did get me thinking. Meldrum’s claim, a part of which I’d never heard before, was that:
(1) The Book of Mormon is an historic document, detailing people, locations, and events which really took place
(2) The Hopewell moundbuilders are the closest descendants to the Lamanites
(3) DNA proves (through his understanding of Haplogroup X) that Native Americans have genetics from the Israel region
(4) Joseph Smith believed the Book of Mormon to have occurred in the United States
(5) The events and locations in the Book of Mormon are mostly throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. Particularly, he emphasized his belief that the city of Zarahemla was directly across the river from Nauvoo’s present location.
Meldrum’s website he pointed everyone to was www.bookofmormonevidence.com.
Many in attendance were clearly ecstatic over his conclusions, others seemed frustrated by it, but it began a discussion if nothing else. It got me pondering the place of the Book of Mormon in the Community of Christ. What is its role? I know many CofC who maintain the Book of Mormon is indeed an historic document and believe they know the exact place. Every spring some go down into Mexico hunting for the records in what they believe to be the real Hill Cumorah. A congregation in central Missouri traveled through Nauvoo last week and in talking to them, many were vocal in their belief that the Book of Mormon couldn’t be a historical document because of DNA studies and horses and things like that. The belief among at least one was that it was an identity formation tool divised by Joseph to distinguish the early church, but a creation from his own mind. There are all sorts of beliefs and views on the book, is it historical or not? Is it inspired scripture or not? Was it written by Joseph or someone else, Sidney Rigdon perhaps? I’m sure we’ve all heard the old arguments and cases back and forth, maybe even during church.
From my view, it seems all this discussion and debate has simply accomplished the reaction in the Community of Christ to just stop talking about the Book of Mormon all together. No one quite knows what to do with it, so many use it, many do not – and many just pretend it does not even exist. In talking with some others on this subject, one made the valid point that regardless of what you personally believe on the book they believed it dishonest to go into foreign nations without even bringing it up to new members. When they arrive in the US for Conference or some other purpose, then boom, there it is with little to no warning. Are we capable of having civil discussions about the Book of Mormon regardless of whether we believe it is scriptural or not?
There’s a new book out, titled something along the lines of An Inconvenient Truth: the Community of Christ and the Book of Mormon. I’ve skimmed it very briefly so far, but have not had a chance to read it through yet. The conclusion he makes, as I gathered from my quick perusal, was that unless something significant happens soon the Book of Mormon will likely disappear from the CofC within the next 20 years. If he’s right, will anyone notice?