A friend of mine asked me to review the video MORMON EVIDENCE (Part 1 – Full-Length) — The Authority of God’s Word by Jake Hilton. It’s a solid 4 hour video — so it took a few days to review the video in its entirety and gather thoughts for it. (Yes, I did listen to all four hours!) — here’s the embed below. After doing that I did further follow-up research which I’ll write about.
So, to finalise our content exchange, I’ll now provide some commentary about this video in particular, this video series, and other relevant discussions.
Background: Who is Jake Hilton? (“Mormon Evidence”)
It’s amazing that you can spend so much time studying Mormonism and many of the break off groups and still, you will find more of them: a different view, a different interpretation, a new selection of “Mormon beliefs” in a new, unique configuration.
Now, it’s probably not fair to call this a “break off group”, since it’s not really a group (yet?) — but Jake does have a modest following (9K+ subscribers on YouTube) and a whole new set of ideas and interpretations — certainly “group potential”!
It’s difficult to find a lot of information on Jake Hilton as he’s not a very well-known person (in the grand scheme of things, he’s just one more religious person with weird ideas). Really, all there is is his YouTube channel, his other YouTube channel, his Facebook page and his other Facebook page. But I did manage to scrape up some information from various other sources (will link to below). If anyone has comments or links to improve this information please let me know. (A full “introduction” by Jake himself in one of his videos might be very helpful!)
So I’m assuming that Jake grew up in the LDS church. And then went “less-active” for about five years (according to his own narrative in the video). Then, it seems he somehow came across Rodney Meldrum / Wayne May’s content. This content (and other stuff presumably) helped to “re-activate” Jake, now having him “converted” into a very serious Mormon.
A source of mine commented that Jake used to be a “youth outreach” person for Rod Meldrum, but I have no external place to verify that statement.
So, then about four years ago (April 6, 2013, presumably aimed at the supposed “birthday of Jesus” according to Joseph Smith) Jake started publishing videos on his channel Mormon Evidence.
The Mormon Evidence channel has a large quantity of content dealing with a variety of topics, mainly around “Book of Mormon archaeology” / “evidence”, “signs of the times” series, and then the latest series “The Sword of YHVH” which seems to deal with an even larger variety of topics in a kind of “scripture study” style.
It also turns out that he was once a ninja! That’s pretty awesome.
Jake’s appearance — trending towards “Jesus”
Something interesting to note is if you go back to the Ninja video, Jake looks like this:
Then, if you go to the beginning of his Mormon Evidence series (about four years ago), he looks like this:
Then, skip ahead to this main “Mormon Evidence” series (about one year ago), he looks like this:
Now, skip ahead to much more recently in his “the sword of YHVH” series,
Brings a whole new meaning to “have you received his image in your countenance” doesn’t it!
So I was wondering why this is the case and asked around. Someone else who had reviewed his videos in the past said that he claims to have been visited by Jesus and that Jesus commanded him to change his appearance. I could find the Jesus visit but not the commandment to change appearance. If anyone has a reference that’d help me to make the article more complete, apparently it’s on his Facebook page or his videos “somewhere”, but since there are hundreds of hours of them and I only have “so much” interest in researching him I have not dug around to find this one reference.
Jake claiming to be sent by Jesus and to know Jesus personally
So as I was watching this series I just knew — I have seen so many religious “fanatics” before and, sooner or later, they claim to be either Jesus himself (reincarnated) or a prophet of some sorts (AJ Miller of the Divine Truth was one I had studied to reasonable length before) or something else. I was waiting for it, but you know — it’s only the first four hours, with series like these you have to dig 80+ hours in before you get the real meat. So I went digging to see if anyone could give me a more direct reference.
It turns out that at the end of The Time is NOW — Part 3: Intro (3 Keys for Discerning Truth), after giving his audience a firm warning that if they know this stuff prematurely and don’t obey it then they are under condemnation, Jake explains that he has several unlisted YouTube videos (so they’re not on the main page), hidden behind this particular video as a gateway (you can see them in the comments).
So then, after another number of hours of documentary, Jake looks his audience in the eye, starting at 5:18:20 of this video.
“I know that Jesus IS the Christ, that YHVH IS the Messiah, because I know Him. I have seen Him. I have felt His hands. And when I felt His hands they were as tangible as if I were to feel your hands. It was on August 16th 2015 that I saw and felt the hands of Jesus Christ. Up until August 16th of this year (2015) I’d had numerous experiences of dreams and visions and hearing the voice of God and recording His revelations, but I’d never actually seen Him. I had never actually felt His hands. But on August 16th 2015, four angels appeared to me. And I don’t know who these four angels were, they didn’t give me their names, I don’t know who they were. But these four angels, they appeared to me, and they came to me, and they placed their hands on me. And yes, I felt their hands, they were tangible, they put their hands on me and I felt their hands. At which time, because I didn’t know what they were doing, I asked them the question ‘what are you doing?’, and one of these four angels spoke to me, and said ‘we are here to bless you so that you can serve God, and be with God. After that – that was the only thing that this angel said to me in the English language. After that these four angels simultaneously, they, with their hands on me, blessed me in a language that I don’t understand. And my only guess was that that language they were speaking was ‘The Holy Language’, the Adamic tongue. They were speaking and blessing me in this language that I didn’t understand. But as these four angels with their hands upon me were blessing me in that Holy Language, it was in that moment that these two powerfully strong hands reached down and they grabbed me by the shoulders. And these two hands ran down my arms until these two hands were holding my hands in His. And I knew that I was holding THE hands of Jesus Christ.
I know Jesus Christ because I have seen Him. And I have created this teaching. Again regardless of what the consequences for doing so may be, I have created this teaching at His command. I have seen Him. And you are also invited to come to see Him and know Him for yourself…”
Beautiful. It took some time to dig that up but it was beautiful.
I have studied religious experiences extensively due to my own passion and interest in the subject matter. This one was beautiful. I have, of course, read many other very beautiful experiences with wide variation from many different religions.
So there you have it! Jake has seen Jesus! As he shares that very personal account you can tell it is (obviously) very meaningful for him. I love religious experiences and think they should be studied in depth (and they have been).
Of course, it almost goes without saying that I don’t think what he saw was really Jesus, or that Jesus even exists as a deity, that’s besides the point, the experience was significant for him.
So there you have it, Jake’s claim to have seen Jesus and be called in some fashion by him as a new “messenger”.
Jake’s sister being concerned about him
Finally, I found this small gem while digging further. Allegedly, Jake Hilton’s sister shared the following on Facebook, which was then copied onto the ldsfreedomforum blog:
“I saw that you know my brother Jake Hilton…I think a little more needs to be shared about what’s going on with him and his final documentary. My spirit hasn’t been weighed down this heavy in a long time and my family is desperate for help. My brother has gone apostate, and this will be apparent in his final documentary. My family in many ways has been lain down “upon our sickbeds” over this. I feel as though my brother has died, and the devil has replaced him. His final documentary explains–with “scriptural evidence”– why the church has gone astray–and it’s being worked on being uploaded to YouTube as we speak. He has been visited by a “personage” whom he believes is Jesus Christ. He can’t see past his own pride, and doesn’t realize that this was the devil in the guise of an angel of light, or it might have been an actual Anti-Christ–who possesses a body. This is why he’s so lost right now. Please–with all the energy of my soul–please pray that the glitches which have been happening with his documentary upload will continue, and that it won’t see the light of day. Here’s my Halloween message: the devil is quite real–I know this personally. He uses the “very elect” and those who are persuasive speakers and have “much learning” to lead the weak and questioning members of the church astray. After the movie is uploaded, my brother will move his family to a cult near Canada and we will probably never see him, or my beloved 1 year old niece Rhea, again. Please pray that he will be “shocked” somehow into confessing what Kirihor eventually did: “the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: go and reclaim this people, for many have all gone astray after an unknown God”. Please pray for him to have an Alma the Younger experience, that he may no longer “murder” many of God’s children as outlined in Alma 36:14. Like the church in Mosiah’s time, there is power in collective prayer. Thanks”
Sadly, this is where these eccentric religious characters go. They create many many hours of content, have incredible “experiences”, discover that “no one understands them” (or very few people understand them or are willing to believe them), and they move towards isolation in a cult compound.
I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat, “Christianity is the fertile soil upon which Messiah and Prophet figures can spring forth”, we’ve seen it again and again over many, many years.
I am curious of course about this particular (potential) move; which cult is it? Is it a generic Christian group? Who is connected? Is it his own one that he is himself starting and inviting his followers to join him at? etc. Lots of questions yet to be answered.
I will say that Jake Hilton is very comparable to most original “creative genius” characters that begin religious movements. I have written an article here that goes over the lifecycle of religions in a good level of detail — here we are seeing a new star being born! — This is how religions begin, with some kind of background (Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism), some new claims and experiences, some new creativity and new ideas, and voila! New religion formed.
So, enough about Jake, let’s respond to this video in particular for a bit:
OK, so, this is early on in Jake’s proselytising content. Later on in the series Jake becomes more and more aggressive towards the contemporary LDS church, however, in this video, presumably in an effort to deliver “milk” before “meat”, Jake is still reasonably gentle towards the church (sort of) — for example, he will still quote leaders including Thomas Monson, which is a classic engagement tactic when you have an audience in mind, you start by delivering to them what they already know and are already familiar with, before delivering “the new stuff”.
Well, it is a four hour video so you can expect there to be a lot of content. Honestly, I won’t respond to each and every sentence as that could be a 10 hour video in itself, but I will give a high level overview of some topics.
First segment: about 1.5 hours.
The summary of the first segment of the video is “Jake is a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian”. He bashes a whole bunch of stuff; secularism, evolution, abortion, atheism, the left, Barack Obama, and others.
He says some of the usual, crazy right-wing fundamentalist Christian stuff, including:
- When this life is over, if you haven’t given your life to Jesus, you’re going to hell (~1:22:35)
- There will be people who don’t believe him, and that’s because Satan is their father (~1:23:30)
- Satan created the theory of evolution (somewhere in there)
- Atheists worship death (lol, yes, that’s in there too)
Nothing surprising here, nothing really interesting here, skipping ahead.
The only part I liked: expression of love for family
There IS actually one part of the video that I did like. After speaking about his passion for how evil abortion is, he speaks about his love for his daughter and family. That was sincere and beautiful. A good reminder that we’re all human and we all love our families, even if our viewpoints are dramatically different.
He then speaks about a bunch of other stuff. Lots on the “authority” of “God’s word” (conveniently God’s true word just happens to be the Holy Books that Jake was taught are true from childhood (Bible, Book of Mormon, etc.), and not the ones that he was not taught are true from childhood (Qur’an, Dianetics, Divine Principle, etc.) — lucky Jake!).
The interesting parts: bashing FAIR, BoM “evidence” & geography
Jake then proceeds to bash FairMormon, BYU, and the contemporary LDS church for their beliefs that the Book of Mormon occurred in Mesoamerica.
This opens up what is actually an interesting topic so I’ll dwell on this for a while.
What Jake gets right
It is correct that Joseph Smith believed and taught that the Book of Mormon events explained the existence of the American Indians as a lost tribe of Israel. Jake is spot on with this. In fact, this is what the LDS church claimed for over 100 years, until the evidence started pouring in more abundantly — which pushed them back.
Why FAIR (et. al) don’t think it happened in the heartland
It’s important to understand the evolving narrative of Book of Mormon geography. (I actually wrote an article about this here).
The long story short is everyone always believed it was in the “heartland”, until more and more evidence contradicted this viewpoint. The evidence is prolific and multi-faceted. We’re talking about DNA, archaeology, linguistics, the whole lot.
Now FairMormon, notwithstanding the fact that I think they do some fantastic mental gymnastics, are not idiots. They know that the BoM could not have happened in the heartland, and so they’ve moved the geography backwards, with a magical act of smoke and mirrors, to Mesoamerica.
Naturally, this process happened slowly. And so folks like Jake wake up one day and point their fingers at the modern LDS church and say “Hey look! These guys are contradicting what Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon actually say!”
Well yes, but have you stopped to figure out why?
It’s actually quite simple: the heartland theory is indefensible, and while Mesoamerica is also indefensible, it’s ever so slightly less indefensible — slight enough to throw up the apologetic smoke and mirrors.
Nowadays the LDS church just says to the effect of “the Book of Mormon geography is not a revealed subject”, and hopefully everyone just plays along.
Challenges to Rod Meldrum, Wayne May, Jake Hilton
The heartland theory has been debunked both by FairMormon themselves (AKA, “other apologists”) and critics.
Jake’s belief in the Book of Mormon (with events happening in the heartland) is still vulnerable to pretty much all of the major criticisms of the authenticity of the text, these include:
- Anachronisms (within proposed Book of Mormon timeframe, 2500 BC to 600 AD roughly). Two examples:
- Horses (YES, they weren’t in North America either! That bullet was not dodged 🙂 )
- “The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene, but by then Equus had spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa.” source — again, look at as many reliable scientific sources as you want — so long as they’re not from Mormons who have a conflict of interest.
- Elephants (YES, they weren’t in North America either! That bullet was not dodged 🙂 )
- “There are no elephants in North America now. However, five species of Proboscidea- the order to which elephants belong, roamed the lands of North America 13,000 years ago which also included mammoths, dwarf mammoths, and mastodons.” source — again, look at as many reliable scientific sources as you want — so long as they’re not from Mormons who have a conflict of interest.
- Horses (YES, they weren’t in North America either! That bullet was not dodged 🙂 )
- Translation errors unique to the 1769 version of the King James Bible that Joseph Smith owned (suggesting plagiarism)
- “Why would God reveal to Joseph Smith a faulty KJV text?” as Grant Palmer puts it.
- Straightforward copy & paste of Italic words in the 1769 version of the King James Bible that Joseph Smith owned (suggesting plagiarism)
- DNA analysis showing conclusively that native American DNA did not come from the middle east. (See Simon Southerton’s book Losing a Lost Tribe that has very detailed analysis, along with his blog, Mormon Stories interview, and response to Rod Meldrum)
- No archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon
- A number of similar books right in Joseph Smith’s back yard that explain similar themes and have high linguistic correlation (See Chris Johnson’s excellent presentation & analysis on the subject), including:
- View of the Hebrews
- Written by Ethan Smith, who was Oliver Cowdry’s minister, View of the Hebrews is a fictional religious text about two groups of Israelites migrating from Jerusalem — a righteous group and a wicked group. The righteous group dies out and the wicked group are the ancestors of the modern American Indians. This was published in 1823 — 7 years before the Book of Mormon and even written in the same King James style.
- The Late War between the United States and Great Britain
- A textbook for children of Smith’s time, written in King James style, celebrating the war between the US and Britain. It has been pointed out (again refer to Chris Johnson’s presentation) that this has similarities with the so-called “war chapters” in late Alma.
- The first book of Napoleon
- & others
- View of the Hebrews
- Issues with the reliability of the spiritual witness.
Funny pickup in the video
It’s actually quite funny, Jake references a National Geographic article briefly in his presentation.
You can find this article here. The funny thing is the very article he references directly contradicts his heartland (BoM) and young-earth (creationist) model. If one spends just a few minutes reading the article, one would bump into the following statement:
“Based on the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian youth, the research could uncover new origins for America’s indigenous peoples, as well as stir up fresh debate on Native American identities, experts say.”
Did you catch that? 24 000 year old Siberian Youth. To use Jake’s smug sarcasm (which you can catch many times in this video), “Hmmm, I wonder where that came from?”
What does a 24 000 year old Siberian Youth partially descended from West Eurasia have to do with the American Indians?
- I thought the earth was created 6 000 years ago?
- I thought Lehi & family travelled via the Atlantic from Jerusalem to the United States. Do you even know where Siberia is?
- Wait, doesn’t that exactly line up with the general scientific consensus on population migration? See this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJdT6QcSbQ0
Again this is a great example of how “garage apologetics” works. Grab some headline, don’t bother to read the article, post it and say how it proves your point, and when someone points out any contradictions, just ignore the article (or person) because it / they contradict your worldview.
Another funny pickup in the video
This is a quick list he made of verses referencing horses and chariots while speaking about the anachronism. He really just slapped this one together because the top one I highlighted is an ISIAH chapter — references to horses and chariots there would not have been referring to the Book of Mormon geography, but pre-Isiah stuff.
Not that any of that matters.
OK, enough with the criticism, I could go on all day about this.
Wrapping up: Message to Jake and my Mormon friend
Enough with the back and forth discussion / debate on a myriad of random topics. I want to write a message to Jake Hilton himself, and my Mormon friend who is a strong supporter.
Dear Jake, and friend.
Jake, in the preview of your The time is NOW video, you have a slide that says the following:
I want to address this directly.
I call your bluff.
I am not afraid of your God, or your Satan. For both are merely the imaginations of your mind.
Allow me to explain why, and explain that in so saying, I am not too different from you.
You know, there are millions of sincere Muslims around the world who believe YOU are going to hell. There are millions of sincere Catholics around the world who believe YOU are going to hell. Those people think that Satan has deceived YOU, and that’s why YOU don’t believe in Islam, Catholicism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, AJ Miller, the Moonies, the list goes on.
Why don’t you even give that a second thought? — you see — they all believe in a God, and they all believe in a Satan, but their God and their Satan seem to have a different agenda, either supporting or tearing down Islam, Catholicism, the Moonies, etc. — whatever the religion they happen to believe in, it seems God and Satan follow them.
Why are you so confident that the Muslims are wrong? The Catholics? The Jews? How come you dismiss their threats of hell so easily?
Can you see? We’re not too different. I just feel about your hell threats the same way you feel about theirs — that they are silly, childish, and baseless.
The only difference between us is I realised I was in a religious box, and so I stepped out.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” Mark Twain