Saturday Mitt Romney gave an interview to hosts of the nationally syndicated Rick and Bubba Show, of which the questioning caught my attention. Barely into the interview Romney's Mormon beliefs were called into play as the host explained, "One of the areas that we have to deal with, because I believe if you make it and you're the nominee, that I know how the opposition works and they'll do anything to defeat you and one of the things they're going to come after is your Mormon faith. Evangelical Christians don't always agree that Mormons are also Christian, just another denomination. And one of those issues concerns Israel. I have friends who are Mormons and sometimes I get a feeling that the Mormon faith calls America the Promised Land, not Israel, therefore it almost feels like that our biblical mandate to always support Israel is not necessarily in play anymore. Where do you stand on Israel?"

Romney then proceeded to give his political position, by affirming his commitment to stand with Israel. Since this is not a political blog we'll leave it at that. Toward the close of the interview, with seemingly some anxiety, the host jumped back in, attorney style, and asked "Because this isn't going to go away, do you as a Mormon believe that America is the new promised land, yes or no?"

Romney replied, with a bit of a chuckle, most likely amused by the insistence of the question and replied by saying “You’re going to have to go talk to the Church and ask what they think about that. There’s no question that Israel is the promised land. That's what the Bible tells us, and my best guess is that other lands are promised to other people.” End of interview.

Clearly these cats, with such a direct closing question, were pretty confident that they had their mouse. The reason this interview caught my attention is because I'm well aware of the spin that could likely make this the next story in the ongoing media web of confusion. It's hard to know if Romney, on the spot, knew how brilliant his answer was, but I'm giving him a thumbs-up anyway.

The catch words in this web are 'a' and 'the' -- in understanding where the promise land of America fits into the picture. The scriptures clarify the destiny and purpose of this land, without taking away from that which God has promised other of His children.

I think it might also help to understand that Mormon doctrine teaches that the destiny of the earth is to be Celestial -- meaning perfected and glorified. So in that sense the entire earth is 'The Promised Land' and God, as an inheritance to bestow upon His children, has designated specific portions. In essence those who qualify to receive this blessing will all feel that their inheritance is choice, or the best. It's also my opinion that when this land, America, is described as "a choice land above all others" that is in reference to liberty, as it was here that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored in the last days.

In Latter-day scripture both the 'a' and 'the' reference to promise land can be found. The promised land and a promised land are used interchangeably. Frankly, I'm not sure if that means anything, other than different ways to reference their promised land.

In The Book of Mormon Lehi declared:
"But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord." 

In a revelation to Joseph Smith:
"And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.

And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh;" (D&C 38:17-18)

In The Book of Mormon Ether declares:
"And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off."
(Ether 2:9-10)

I think it's interesting to note that nowhere in The Bible is found the phrase "a land of promise" and only one reference to "the land of promise".

"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:"(Hebrews 11:9)

I've simply focused on these two specific phrases to emphasize that God has designated land inheritances to all those who love Him and keep His commandments, including both Jew and Gentile. The earth is large and from an eternal perspective I have to believe, like Brother Romney, that "other lands are promised to other people". For those here in the Americas we certainly believe this it is "a land of promise" and for us, "the land of promise".

Kathryn Skaggs

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Note: After I wrote this post and went to research resources for those who would like to study this topic further, it appears that we are on the right track. 

Scripture Topical Guide: Promised Lands  (Interesting that my search for "promise land" came up plural, lands.) 

"Lands that the Lord promises as an inheritance to his faithful followers, and often also to their descendants. There are many promised lands. Often in the Book of Mormon, the promised land spoken of is the Americas."

"Temporarily, we call it America. But it began with the single, primeval continent of Genesis, and the miracle of millennial healing will bring that unity again."

"It’s important to understand a few things about scriptural references to the “promised land.” First, there is obviously more than one land of promise (because both the Old and New World covenant people had such lands). The land could include a large area — or land of promise — as well as smaller sections of lands of promise in a larger area of promise. Thus the Book of Mormon can speak of lands of promise (see 2 Nephi 6:11, 9:2, 24:2)."

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