“Revelatory Stewardship and the Book of Mormon” by Chris Heimerdinger
Because I was fortunate enough to have been taught this basic and vital principle of revelatory stewardship, I felt immediately inclined to suspect the validity of everything this kindly insurance salesman was “selling.” As the years went on, and I watched this gentleman earnestly fulfill his goal of producing multiple videos and other teaching tools promoting his geographical “inspirations,” I began to actually feel sorry for him. I hope this admisson does not sound patronizing. I certainly have many of my own faults to contend with. But as I thought about the genuine good that this man might have accomplished if he had devoted his time and resources to some other noble pursuit, it made me deeply sad. The truth was, if he had fully understood the principal of revelatory stewardship as taught in D&C 28 beforehand, he would have soundly rejected his so-called “revelations.” He would have recognized that the source could not have been Divine. He would have known this simply by virtue of the kind of information he was being encouraged to promote. If the requisite structure of the Church had been understood, a great portion of the later years of his life might have been reserved for some worthier purpose.
I wish this was the only example that I could cite of my personal experience with a misunderstanding of revelatory stewardship. Some years after my encounter at the LDS Bookseller’s Convention, a kind of strange hysteria gripped the Church regarding the near-death experiences of an LDS woman named Betty Eadie. She published a book called Embraced by the Light which became a local best-seller and later went on to international success. For several months, despite the desperate attempts of many to expose the hysteria by placing her published experiences up against the doctrine of revelatory stewardship, her “visions” of the afterlife flourished and fooled many naive and unprepared members of the Church. In this particular case there was apparently a rare intercession made by General Authorities. A good friend of mine (I wish I had a better resource, but that’s what I have) reported to me that he attended a Stake Conference in Las Vegas wherein Elder Boyd K. Packer specifically informed the congregation that Sister Eadie, “could not have been where she said that she had been.” This kind of intercession from a General Authority is very rare indeed. In later months I came to understand that Sister Eadie strayed away from the Church and began holding meetings where she would attract a colorful array of “new age” groupies. I was informed that she sometimes laid her hands on their heads to offer divine blessings and her own new brand of spiritual enlightenment.
So what should we think today if we hear of any individuals who routinely profess spiritual guidance regarding Book of Mormon geography? As I hope I have successfully reminded readers, the answer is simple. And thank goodness it is so simple! Just as with that kindly gentleman who professed inspiration for his book and video series promoting South America, such teachings should be dramatically and unequivocally rejected. And frankly, the same would be true even if such individuals professed divine guidance corresponding to today’s most commonly supported model of Book of Mormon geography–that of Mesoamerica and the region of Tehuantepec. Only the Lord’s established Prophet–who today is Thomas S. Monson–has the authority and stewardship to confirm any proposed model. And as of this date he has elected not to do so.
…remember these three simple rules: never sacrifice common sense, always allow your explorations to be circumscribed by your natural gifts of logic and intelligence (which should obviously allow for the litmus of the scientific method), and never allow yourself to be deceived by those pernicious wolves in sheep’s clothing–particularly wolves whose opinions and perspectives are inseparably tied to streams of income. The Book of Mormon also clearly defines any intermarriage between “inspired” dogma and profitable earnings.