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Sevenbak

Seer stones history getting a bad rap

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Sevenbak said:

With all the seemingly fresh accusation threads of a “coverup” about the seer stone, I think it’s important to provide some historical context and references to church publications and correlated materials that reference said seer stones, head in hat, etc.   When the seer stone is talked about openly in the publication for primary kids, and in the Ensign, by multiple apostles, and a future prophet, so many decades ago, I just don't see such a nefarious coverup as some here do.  While the references aren't prolific, they certainly were not hidden.  Personally, I've known about them as long as I can remember.  I’ll post a few here, anyone else feel free to do the same.  

 

Children's Friend, 1974 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/friend/1974/09/a-peaceful-heart?lang=eng

"which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.  Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone."

 

Ensign, 1977 https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/09/by-the-gift-and-power-of-god.p41

...the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone....

Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.”

 

Ensign, 1993  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1993/07/a-treasured-testament.p13?lang=eng

"The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote:

Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light;"

 

Ensign, 1997  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1997/01/by-the-gift-and-power-of-god?lang=eng

"The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process, and he was deliberately reluctant to describe details. We take passing notice of the words of David Whitmer, Joseph Knight, and Martin Harris, who were observers, not translators. David Whitmer indicated that as the Prophet used the divine instrumentalities provided to help him..."

...Martin Harris related of the seer stone: “Sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written"....

..."If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates—the usual translation process of going back and forth between pondering an ancient text and providing a modern rendering.

The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial than the constant presence of opened plates, which, by instruction, were to be kept from the view of unauthorized eyes anyway.

While the use of divine instrumentalities might also account for the rapid rate of translation, the Prophet sometimes may have used a less mechanical procedure...

...We simply do not know the details.Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Joseph Smith told him that he used the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced at translation but that later he did not need it, which was the case in Joseph’s translation of many verses of the Bible (see Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 11 Aug. 1874, 498–99).

Yes, the stones were mentioned.  But the artwork and main lesson materials (church history) did not mention Joseph using the stone (found in a well) and putting his head in his hat to use them to translate the Book of Mormon we have today. (And, the same stone he used for treasure seeking.)

I love Nevo's response to repeated posts about how numerous the church publications were in the past containing the truth and how it's the member's fault for not knowing about the stone: 

Quote

Nevo:

This is a terrible apologetic argument and I wish people would stop using it. Paul Malan got it right:

Needle: 150 words from a 38-year-old article in an official Church magazine.

Haystack: 150 years of sermons, art, film production, and culture that celebrate a striking, blue-eyed demigod reading from gold plates the way a third-grader reads Harry Potter. (Which is to say, not with a rock in a hat.)

Plot twist: You don’t even know there is a needle to look for until someone blames you for not finding it.

 

Edited by ALarson
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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

I would also comment that Joseph Smith never said he used the seer stone.  

True.  I think he was possibly trying to distance himself from any connection with his past treasure seeking profession.  I think once he had the idea to call them a Urim & Thummim, it became easier to speak about them in those terms.  The words "Urim & Thummim" weren't used until after 1833.  They weren't in the first edition of the Book of Commandments but were added to the 1835 edition.

Here's an overview of how the stones started being referred to as the Urim & Thummim which has caused confusion (and still does, IMO):

Quote

 

It is notable that the term 'Urim and Thummi' is not found in the Book of Mormon and was never used by Joseph Smith with reference to producing the Book of Mormon until after 1833. In that year, a close associate of Smith, W.W. Phelps, speculated that the ancient Nephite interpreters mentioned in the Book of Mormon and by Joseph Smith might be the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament. Phelps wrote in the LDS publication The Evening and Morning Star (Jan. 1833) that the Book of Mormon had been translated, 'through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles (known perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim). Phelps words, 'known perhaps in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummin' show that it was merely speculation on his part that associated Josephs magic seer stone with the biblical Urim and Thummim. 

Phelps' speculation gained quick popularity to the point where LDS writers used the term Urim and Thummim to refer to both the mystical interpreters Joseph Smith said were with the gold plates, and to the seer stone Joseph placed in his hat while dictating the Book of Mormon. As a result, many LDS writings used the term Urim and Thummim synonymously for seer stone.

 

Here's a quote by Joseph Fielding Smith that shows the confusion at times:

'The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church.'"

 

 

I do believe that the member's have a responsibility to do their own studying and research regarding church history....just making that clear as well.

Edited by ALarson
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43 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I think once he had the idea to call them a Urim & Thummim, it became easier to speak about them in those terms.

Not just Joseph Smith but God later expanded on the definition.  Here is a post I made to Robert F. Smith:

  On 7/2/2019 at 10:58 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

The Nephite interpreters (spectacles) have sometimes been incorrectly termed "Urim & Thummim."

That anachronism thing again?  Did not the Lord give several usage/definitions for the term?  Should it not be considered a general category describing different devices that provide revelation, directions, exalted abodes (see below), power to translate, power to access information about higher kingdoms, etc?

D&C 130:
7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

D&C 17:  <the heading to Section 17 states that JS received this revelation in answer to their questions in July 1829 thru through the Urim and Thummim [most likely the spectacles given to the brother of Jared]>
1 Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness <the Liahona>, on the borders of the Red Sea.

D&C 10:1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.

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3 minutes ago, longview said:

Not just Joseph Smith but God later expanded on the definition.  Here is a post I made to Robert F. Smith:

  On 7/2/2019 at 10:58 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

The Nephite interpreters (spectacles) have sometimes been incorrectly termed "Urim & Thummim."

That anachronism thing again?  Did not the Lord give several usage/definitions for the term?  Should it not be considered a general category describing different devices that provide revelation, directions, exalted abodes (see below), power to translate, power to access information about higher kingdoms, etc?

D&C 130:
7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

D&C 17:  <the heading to Section 17 states that JS received this revelation in answer to their questions in July 1829 thru through the Urim and Thummim [most likely the spectacles given to the brother of Jared]>
1 Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness <the Liahona>, on the borders of the Red Sea.

D&C 10:1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.

Of course (and I find that topic interesting as well).  But remember these are later additions and were not in the original publications.  I know that does not invalidate them, but it keeps things accurate to know this about the history, IMO.

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4 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Of course (and I find that topic interesting as well).  But remember these are later additions and were not in the original publications.  I know that does not invalidate them, but it keeps things accurate to know this about the history, IMO.

I also told Robert that JS was continuing to revise existing sections with new revelations.  They were not contradictions but presented new or additional knowledge.  Line upon line, precept upon precept.  Those sections became more accurate or more complete.  Don't worry so much about the original versions.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, longview said:

I also told Robert that JS was continuing to revise existing sections with new revelations.  They were not contradictions but presented new or additional knowledge. 

Yes, that's one possibility.  You may consider it a coincidence that it was after W.W. Phelp's speculated that the stone may be a Urim & Thummim that Joseph began using that term for it.  

I tend to believe it just became a term that Joseph was more comfortable using and that he wanted to distance himself from speaking of using the same seer stone for translating the Book of Mormon that he'd used for treasure seeking.  

Edited by ALarson
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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The issue of Joseph’s use of stones was a major contributing factor in my “faith crisis”.  It was a catalyst for me losing my belief in the supernatural.  

As a non-LDS, if I am convinced by the evidence that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon with his head in a hat, I lose any naturalistic explanation for the Book of Mormon. At that point the non-LDS needs an answer for why the Book of Mormon doesn't come from God. I don't know why seer stones would lead an LDS to conclude that the Book of Mormon is not from God. Besides, it appears that this is an issue on which LDS can have a difference of opinion anyway.

I might be missing something. Why would anybody that is LDS be embarrassed, or otherwise disturbed to have it known that Joseph used stones in a hat? Why do you think the church would try to cover this up? Who that would make a member in any of our different faith communities would have an objection to this kind of "miracle" (the quotes are for you Robert) in religion?

 

13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You will no doubt find many who share those views.  After all, if there is no God, then such advanced tech in Joseph's time is virtually impossible.  If here is a God, then it is a simple matter for Him to make a solid-state device with an LED screen and to activate it with necessary voltage.  In any case, LDS theology rejects belief in the supernatural, and posits a finite, humanistic God who is master of natural law.  It is after all natural law which allows our modern digital electronics industry.  "Silicon Valley" is named after an ordinary rock, silicon, which is a primary ingredient in solid-state devices.  As Pogi just pointed out, how can Jesus spit in the dirt, put the mud on a blindman's eye, and then have him wash it off and be cured?  If Jesus was not the true Son of God, then naturally you must reject claims that He is.   The odd upshot is, however, that you rejected the LDS faith because you mistakenly thought it was a supernatural faith.  Supernaturalism is the primary mistake of the Judeo-Christian mainstream.

Hi Robert...I understand your distinction. I have never heard anyone putting it that way. I think it makes sense for you guys. Nonetheless, for non-LDS as well as LDS, like hopeforthings who are crippled by the "supernaturalist error", it seems like the question of the seer stones is the same as for you "naturalists". If Joseph's head was in a hat, it should not be possible for him to write the Book of Mormon. It would take a miracle or a technological manipulation of laws of nature by someone other than Joseph Smith. I am wondering why you would think that a "miracle" would lead an LDS tainted with supernaturalism away from belief in the Book of Mormon?

I am interested in both of your replies.

Rory

 

Edited by 3DOP
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16 hours ago, pogi said:

Seems about as strange as someone spitting in dirt, putting the mud on a blind persons eyes, and telling them that they will see if they go wash it off in a pool.  Weird, right? Without the results (i.e. a blind man receiving sight and the Book of Mormon) it might even seem crazy to believe in such nonsensical methods.

Perhaps the Book of Mormon might seem more miraculous if you go put a rock in a hat then put your head in the hat and try and dictate a compelling short story, or even your own autobiography, let alone a large volume of scripture without reviewing where you left off the previous day and keeping hundreds of names, dates, and prophesies which are later fulfilled in the volume all straight.

I couldn’t even write my own autobiography without questioning dates and without major revisions and heavy editing - and I wasn’t even crippled by looking only at a rock in a hat.

 

I can certainly see why translating the Book of Mormon by looking at a rock in a hat can easily be explained.  God reveals things and performs miracles using all kinds of crazy things like mud, or a brass serpent.  So the real important question is not whether the seer stone story was hidden or not,  but rather why do we know much about the Gold Plates?  How did THAT narrative become the common narrative on how the Book of Mormon came forth.  None of the current Book of Mormon even used the Gold Plates as I understand it.  The plates were only used for the116 pages that were lost.  It seems like the story of the Gold Plates should be the obscure, mentioned every 20 or 30 years story and the stone in the hat should be the narrative that everyone knows about.  We should have a primary song about a seer stone in a hat and how wondrous God prepared the way for the stone to come forth so Joseph Smith could dictate the Book of Mormon.  

All of those that think the seer stone in a hat is not that big of deal, can you please explain why THAT is not the narrative taught both members and investigators.

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3 minutes ago, 3DOP said:

As a non-LDS, if I am convinced by the evidence that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon with his head in a hat, I lose any naturalistic explanation for the Book of Mormon. At that point the non-LDS needs an answer for why the Book of Mormon doesn't come from God. I don't know why seer stones would lead an LDS to conclude that the Book of Mormon is not from God. Besides, it appears that this is an issue on which LDS can have a difference of opinion anyway.

I might be missing something. Why would anybody that is LDS be embarrassed, or otherwise disturbed to have it known that Joseph used stones in a hat?

I'm not sure that "embarrassed" is the emotion many feel when they learn the truth that the Book of Mormon was not translated as we'd been taught our entire lives.  It's more like betrayal or confusion.  Many grew up with descriptions and images like this to depict the translation:

trans3.jpg

Then we learn that the plates were not even present for most of the translation process and the process looked like this:

Image result for joseph smith head in hat

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8 minutes ago, 3DOP said:

Why do you think the church would try to cover this up?

I honestly do not believe there was some orchestrated cover up.  But I do believe that the familiar narrative was continued even after leaders learned the truth about the translation process (each may have learned at different times too).

I think much of this occurred because they did not want to introduce new information that would cause issues of faith for some members (which has happened) and also a desire to not bring up or discuss where the stone came from and what Joseph used it for prior to him using it to translate the Book of Mormon.  (Just my opinion).

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13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

A better question might be Does it really matter?  Most people never get into the historical minutiae, and it is arguable that this applies to LDS history in general, and biblical history in particular.  The only people who understand that sort of thing are professional historians and archeologists.  I am quite certain that most Saints are not going to become PhDs in history or archeology, and that hasn't been the case in the past.  Moreover, there are just not that many jobs in those fields, and most Saints have to put bread on the table and change diapers.  They don't have time for exotic pursuits.  They do go to Sunday School, and perhaps read a book now and then.  There is no time to indulge in detailed historical studies, and it is silly in the extreme to expect everybody to do that.

We ought to have modest expectations for what the official LDS manuals should contain.  For those who want to go deeper, and who have the leisure time for it, the details have always been there for the interested student.  I have never found my path to such knowledge blocked by the Church.  However, I have always found that Church manuals concentrate on the primary lessons of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not on how the Witch of Endor raised Samuel from the dead, nor on how Abraham so matter of factly had lunch with Jehovah and then had a demanding discussion with Him.  Is it a conspiracy by Church leaders to keep those things from us which results in our Elders Quorum and Relief Society meetings not raising those issues?  I think not.  It is rather a sound sense of priorities.

So it is your position that you need a PhD to understand that God can reveal something by lighting up a stone?  Do you need a PhD to understand that Christ healed a blind man with mud?  Or looking at a brass serpent could protect you?  Or a rod could turn into a snake?

If this is the way the Book of Mormon came forth, why would you need a PhD to understand that?  

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13 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

I don’t like the comparison with modern technology, it strikes me as insulting to my intelligence and disingenuous.  

The only characterization that even begins to have credibility for me is the idea that Joseph studied things out in his mind and then dictated the text.  

The stones were not advanced tech like a cell phone.  They were literally just regular old rocks, no tech, no supernatural power, just plain old stones.  

That's your belief, its certainly not everyone's.

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9 minutes ago, ALarson said:

Yes, that's one possibility.  You may consider it a coincidence that it was after W.W. Phelp's speculated that the stone may be a Urim & Thummim that Joseph began using that term for it. 

But it should not bother you that God calls His residence a Urim and Thummim, that earth will later become a Urim and Thummim, that the Book of Revelation describes a white stone held in the hand to be a Urim and Thummim, etc.  Frequently JS received revelations after he or his associates asked questions.  Phelp had an inquisitive mind.  Was JS embarrassed about accusations of being a money-digger?  He might have been to some degree but it is not something to be exercised about.

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, longview said:

But it should not bother you....

Have I stated that it bothers me?

I just believe that everyone should definitely do their own studying and research on this topic and come to their own conclusions or believes.  People's opinions are going to differ and that's normal.

20 minutes ago, longview said:

that God calls His residence a Urim and Thummim, that earth will later become a Urim and Thummim, that the Book of Revelation describes a white stone held in the hand to be a Urim and Thummim, etc.  Frequently JS received revelations after he or his associates asked questions.  Phelp had an inquisitive mind.

We don't know that this came from God.  I know some believe this, but I'm not convinced this didn't come from men (albeit good men).  I just feel it became awful convenient for Joseph to start calling the stones a Urim & Thummim.  And it worked (even to this day 😉)

20 minutes ago, longview said:

Was JS embarrassed about accusations of being a money-digger?  He might have been to some degree but it is not something to be exercised about.

He had many reasons to be embarrassed or at least to try to distance himself from that activity.  Look how Emma's Father felt about it.  It brings up criminal accusation from his past as well.

Edited by ALarson

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7 minutes ago, ALarson said:

He had many reasons to be embarrassed or at least to try to distance himself from that activity.  Look how Emma's Father felt about it.  It brings up criminal accusation from his past as well.

Sounds like you are trying to do a lot of mind-reading of what JS might have grappled with.  It might just be you projecting your own feelings into the "story".

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21 minutes ago, longview said:

But it should not bother you that God calls His residence a Urim and Thummim, that earth will later become a Urim and Thummim, that the Book of Revelation describes a white stone held in the hand to be a Urim and Thummim, etc.  Frequently JS received revelations after he or his associates asked questions.  Phelp had an inquisitive mind.  Was JS embarrassed about accusations of being a money-digger?  He might have been to some degree but it is not something to be exercised about.

Do you believe that Joseph Smith actually believed he was helping someone find treasure by using the seer stone and that the treasure kept shifting positions under the earth so that it couldn't actually be found?  

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, longview said:

Sounds like you are trying to do a lot of mind-reading of what JS might have grappled with.  

I don't think we have to do any mind-reading to follow how Joseph most likely felt about his treasure seeking past.  Read the history and his interactions with Emma's Father regarding it.  That alone was evidence of how he was made to feel about it.  He did all he could to get away from doing that activity.  Also, we have documentation regarding the criminal charges involved with it.  

One does not have to read his mind to see that it's not something he'd want associated with his new religion, IMO.

Edited by ALarson

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, california boy said:

Do you believe that Joseph Smith actually believed he was helping someone find treasure by using the seer stone and that the treasure kept shifting positions under the earth so that it couldn't actually be found?  

And that's not even getting into all the other activities involved with the family treasure seeking ventures.  (It's a very interesting part of his history to read.)

He was also very unsuccessful in his treasure seeking career.

Edited by ALarson

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13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 In any case, LDS theology rejects belief in the supernatural, and posits a finite, humanistic God who is master of natural law.

Do LDS also posit belief in a finite, humanistic devil who is master of natural law? Does satan "perform signs and wonders so that if it were possible they might deceive the elect", using talents similar to God's?   

To clarify: Do LDS posit belief in a finite, humanistic God that master of natural law, with no ability to change a natural law to make place for a miracle, something beyond nature?

To clarify: This is not some "gotcha" moment. I need to know how to dialogue with the LDS. I know I have been uncomfortable in the past when Christians use the word "supernatural" to describe certain satanic acts. I seldom digress to talk about it because it isn't the subject matter. I do not believe the devil has supernatural capabilities. I have presumed to use the word supernatural with LDS, to describe certain acts of God. If you are correct Robert, this would not be quite precise, and perhaps my LDS interlocutor has simply let it go for sake of discussion? I do think I could find more than a few instances on this board, where the LDS party initiated use of the word, "supernatural", with regard to God's activities. You ARE saying that this would be an imprecise use of the word by the LDS party, according to LDS doctrine?

Towards better understanding of each other,

Rory

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

Sounds like lawyer speak.  Sorry, you should’ve read the fine print.  

quote-a-man-is-saved-no-faster-than-he-g

D&C130:18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Abraham 1:2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

D&C 93:36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.

And that's just a handful.  Anyone that thinks there is sufficient knowledge in the Sunday School manual lessons to lead to salvation and exaltation among the Gods has only themselves to blame.  I'll say it again, we are responsible for seeking personal knowledge and understanding.  Nobody else has that responsibility for us.

Bottom line is many of us have become lazy.  We have more access to gospel knowledge than ever and we don't bother to look.

Edited by JLHPROF
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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

quote-a-man-is-saved-no-faster-than-he-g

D&C130:18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Abraham 1:2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

D&C 93:36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.

And that's just a handful.  Anyone that thinks there is sufficient knowledge in the Sunday School manual lessons to lead to salvation and exaltation among the Gods has only themselves to blame.  I'll say it again, we are responsible for seeking personal knowledge and understanding.  Nobody else has that responsibility for us.

Bottom line is many of us have become lazy.  We have more access to gospel knowledge than ever and we don't bother to look.

I agree with you, JLHPROF.  All of us are responsible for our own studying and knowledge.

But, those responsible for the teachings and lessons and illustrations published for the members also have a responsibility to be honest and accurate.  

I think both (members and leaders) are doing a better job.  Many members are doing better at their own research and material from the leaders is getting more accurate and corrections have been made.

Edited by JulieM
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59 minutes ago, california boy said:

 All of those that think the seer stone in a hat is not that big of deal, can you please explain why THAT is not the narrative taught both members and investigators.

Great point!

Why do people here believe it wasn’t always accurately taught from the beginning?

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1 minute ago, california boy said:

Do you believe that Joseph Smith actually believed he was helping someone find treasure by using the seer stone and that the treasure kept shifting positions under the earth so that it couldn't actually be found?  

It would help if you could provide a reference to the "shifting positions" as it relates to "money-digging".  I am not familiar with this.  Although I have read of a few accounts of "caves" (they need to be verified) containing a large library of ancient records (at least one that actually moved up and down underneath the earth).

I have read about Josiah Stowell coming to visit with the Smith family and requesting JS' help (at the end JS came to realize it was not a wise endeavor and was able to persuade Josiah to discontinue with the project).  I would not rule out the use of seer stones by JS in helping others.  There are many accounts of court cases that seem very muddled to me.  I would prefer to give priority to first hand accounts (hopefully found in the JosephSmithPapers.org).

Interestingly, there was an incident involving Hiram Page use of a seer stone that caused confusion in the church.  Here is the LINK.

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58 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Great point!

Why do people here believe it wasn’t always accurately taught from the beginning?

I think it probably was in the early days.

In the 1930s-1950s post-polygamy, post-Adam/God, post-long garments, post-oath of vengeance period there was a concerted effort to make the Church seem less strange. 

The mystery is why the Urim and Thummim breastplate and spectacles are considered any less strange than the seerstone.

Or is it just the "face in a hat" part that bugs people.

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2 hours ago, ALarson said:

I honestly do not believe there was some orchestrated cover up.  But I do believe that the familiar narrative was continued even after leaders learned the truth about the translation process (each may have learned at different times too).

I think much of this occurred because they did not want to introduce new information that would cause issues of faith for some members (which has happened) and also a desire to not bring up or discuss where the stone came from and what Joseph used it for prior to him using it to translate the Book of Mormon.  (Just my opinion).

Hi ALarson.

Okay. Thanks for the explanation. That seems like a balanced way to have an opinion, since that is all that any of you can have about the matter.

As an outsider, I am not sure why the seer stones narrative is any more or less compelling than the gold plates narrative. I see neither one as some kind of "silver bullet" that anyone LDS should be troubled by, or a non-LDS could exploit. I have a hard time thinking that a faithful LDS who has no other problems with the Church's teachings could be so disturbed as to lose their faith over this one issue. At worst, leadership that suppressed the actual history, made a mistake in judgment, by emphasizing the golden plate writings and deemphasizing the seer stone writings. It seems like both narratives are immune to attack from the outside. I do not know why either would be vulnerable from the inside?

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Our lives can't span every era. Your church is still less than 200 years old! You have hardly had any "eras" compared to us. As a Catholic, I am appalled with almost all of the policies of the Church from the time I was born over 60 years ago. But I refuse to judge the Catholic Church on such a slight slice of her history. It doesn't change the good and holy history that preceded it. It doesn't change the true and delightful teaching that preceded it. If I were LDS, and was troubled about this thing about the stones, I would make an exercise in realizing that LDS in 1,000 years are not going to be upset about it. LDS, 100 years ago were not upset about it. Many Catholics have been losing their way in our own times and for similar reasons. They fail to examine the church as she was in her recorded past, nor have they the vision to see that the difficulties of our own time will be overcome. Stuck in their own times. Only caring about today. Magnifying current issues. If the Jews could return from Babylon, the Catholic Church can and will recover, by God's grace from Vatican II, and all the disgusting moral and doctrinal breakdowns that follow in its train. I probably won't live to see it. I can rejoice however, in its inevitability.

I guess I am just recommending that everyone needs to beware of being too narrowly focused on the present, on their own times. We deal with today with an eye on the past reverencing the dynamic faith of our Fathers. We deal with today with an eye to the future, and good hope for passing on our Father's faith to the children. I am suggesting that a characteristic of the people of our generation is having a wildly overestimated importance of what they and their fellows think and do today. They need to place themselves in the context of their place in history. They isolate themselves in the present. And the present doesn't have a long shelf life. Heh.  

I am pressing "send". For what it is worth. Like you ALarson. (Just my opinion.)

Rory

Edited by 3DOP
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