Defending the Faith: Defending the Faith: Were Smiths workers or slackers?


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  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 29, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    TO Weber: Actually as KC Mormon stated and which you have not refuted in the least. I repeated the same thing he did and yet you try to make it look like something different.

    If you really looked into it you will find that the fascimle is a unique one in that it has many different aspect from other so called funeral texts. You said I misrepresented you when in truth I DID NOT. You misrepresent yourself.

    We do not have the originals nor do we have the full texts of the Book of Abraham. There is no debate on that. In fact with what Joseph Smith has translated today by many scholars including LDS and non-LDS has come back that HE DID in fact translate the texts correctly. How is that possible from a man who had no Egyptian learning and no one in Kirkland did either in 1830. I suggest you take Michael Ash's book OF FAITH AND REASON, 80 Evidences of the PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH. Again as he states the apologist as you call them have debunked the critics. The problem is you won't side with them just the critics.

  • Sarah Nichole West Jordan, UT
    May 29, 2011 4:05 a.m.

    Re: Thinks

    The papyri that was given back to the LDS church was just a few small bits. Those who saw the material Joseph Smith had purchased said it contained several long scrolls in varying colors of ink and other loose sheets and fragments of paper. The scroll the Book of Abraham was translated from was written in red ink and was so long that when unraveled, it extended the entire length of the house. No such scroll is in the possession of the LDS Church today. There was a fire in which many of those scrolls and papers were lost, and the fragments that were saved were the only things given back to the Church.

    The answers are there, published in Church materials, if you just look for them.

  • donn layton, UT
    May 28, 2011 10:57 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska, The Prophets have spoken, Do you agree?
    Joseph Smith, God made Aaron to be a mouth piece for the children of Israel, and he will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be a mouth for me; and if you dont like it you must lump it. (Documentary History of the Church v. 6 pp 319,320)
    Brigham Young, Can you make a Christian of a Jew? I tell you Nay, If a Jew comes into this church ,and the blood honestly professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, and if the blood of Judah is in his veins, he will apostatize.(JoD V. 2 p. 142)
    I never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call it Scripture, Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon and it is a good as Scripture as they deserve deserve.(JoD v 13 p. 95 also see v. 13. P 264)

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2011 10:39 p.m.

    @Weber State Graduate

    "The fact is, Egyptologists have concluded that the accompanying translation of this book of "Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" have "absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any correct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language."


    The reason the alphabet and grammar have no resemblance to ancient Egyptian is because they were not used for this purpose.

    I am not an expert at all on this subject, and, admittedly, the information is fairly new (but supposedly with much more information still to be published.)

    Please see the Mormon Times article dated 09 August 2010:

    "FAIR conference: Secret Mormon codes and Egyptian papers"

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 28, 2011 7:01 p.m.

    "You mentioned that I was erroneous in that we don't have all of the original papyri..."

    Bill, yet again you are wrong. Why do you misrepresent my statements?

    I called you on your claim that "We do not have the papyri that Joseph Smith used to translate the [BoA] text" by pointing out that the church owns an "Egyptian Book of Alphabet and Grammar" with Joseph Smith's own handwriting. In this document, it unmistakably shows symbols from the surviving sensen portion of the existing papyri in precisely the same order in which they appear on the papyrus. Accompanying BoA verses are written next to each one of the symbols!

    The fact is, Egyptologists have concluded that the accompanying translation of this book of "Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" have "absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to any correct understanding of the ancient Egyptian language."

    Furthermore, both LDS and non-LDS scholars have concluded that Josephs explanations of the BoA facsimiles are incorrect...the facsimiles are Egyptian funeral representations.

    You can make silly statements that "LDS Scholars and apologist have literally debunked all the critics" regarding the BoA debacle all you want, but it won't change the facts.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 28, 2011 1:00 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska:

    Your response to Brahmbull is quite interesting. You are correct that section 89 was initially just a guideline. However, as it stands today - even with the 1920 changes which made the section a matter of policy as opposed to just
    "word(s)of wisdom", the current policy is still based on the same section 89. Wouldn't this new addition to abstain from all alcohol, warrant some clarification? If it was a revelation, perhaps we could hear what the Lord had to say? Why was wine an acceptable drink for Jesus in Cana, but not today. Why was beer, a mild-barley drink, acceptable in Joseph Smith's day, but not ours? After all, beer is still generally only 6-10% alcohol even today - some might, "mild"?

    It may seem trivial Bill, but you are asserting that your leaders more or less speak to God, and that we should all be following their counsel - yet, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to their "revelations". They can conveniently contradict former divine declarations and then brush it all under the rug without scrutiny by simply saying, "oh, that's continuing revelation".

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 27, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    To Weber: You mentioned that I was erroneous in that we don't have all of the original papyri that Joseph Smith had. As you can see KC Mormon pretty much comes out and says the same thing I said. There is eye witness accounts that some of the scrolls Joseph Smith had were any where from 8-10 feet long. None of the surviving scrolls even come close to that. We also know that some items were in Chicago and destroyed by the Chicago fire, yet you completely leave this out of your synopsis. Why, because it doesn't meet your criteria.

    To Brahmabull: You mention beer as being orignially allowed in the Word of Wisdom and thus the Church has changed it. If you care to look the Word of Wisdom was not a commandment and was only something to follow. In 1920 all alcohol was included in the Word of Wisdom and it was then made a commandment. Why, because revelation was received to make it so. If you and I believe I am right in this don't believe in revelation then of course it meets your criteria of changing doctrine.

  • DesertRat Gilbert, AZ
    May 27, 2011 4:05 p.m.

    @Idaho Coug and everyone else who have so much contempt for what they call "revisionist", "sugar-coated" church history -- There is so much speculating and theorizing when it comes to evaluating any event in history that it's impossible to know which version of history is "true" and which is revisionist or sanitized (or any of the other condescending words that the critics of the church love to use in describing the views of LDS apologists. Critics of the church are guilty of shuffling and presenting the "facts", usually from 2nd and 3rd-hand after-the-fact accounts, to drive home their points. One person's "revisionist history" is another person's truth. I'm all for openness and frankness in examining church history, but EVERYONE approaches these subjects with their own biases and agendas, and the honest scholar will recognize this reality. At LDS meetings and classes, there is nothing wrong with presenting church history in a possible light.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 27, 2011 3:46 p.m.


    Ok...I think I better understand your position. Scholars are not really experts because you "don't know who they are or what their expertise is really in" and because they are not "4000 to 5000 year old Egyptians" and because both LDS and non-LDS Egyptian scholars give me "the answer that you want to hear."

    Does this same reasoning apply to any scholar in any field of science? Would you also conclude they too are "supposed experts" because you "don't know who they are or what their expertise is"?

    How about modern scholars who have shown that the reasons proposed by the physics of Aristotle against the movement of the earth are not valid? Are they too wrong and "supposed experts" since you "do not know them or what their expertise is really in" or because they did not live back in Aristotles time?

    Or is any scholar a "supposed expert" simply because they may happen to disagree with Joseph Smith?

    I apologize if I sound patronizing...I dont mean to. Your reasoning simply does not make sense to me.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 27, 2011 1:49 p.m.


    Assuming you are referring to the Book of Abraham and papryi, there is tons of stuff by Hugh Nibley (and probably others) sold at Deseret Book.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    May 27, 2011 1:47 p.m.


    You assume Joseph's words are incorrect because, like many critics, you choose to trust other critics. Why are Joseph's words incorrect? Because supposed experts say so?

    I call them supposed because I don't know who they are or what their expertise is really in, or if they really even have any to begin with. Do you know these "experts" personally? Are any of them 4000 to 5000 year old Egyptians? No, then likely their interpretation is just an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless. You trust their expertise because they give you the answer that you want to hear. And while you may believe what they say because they supposedly have credentials, you don't really know if they are right or not, unless you happen to be a 4000 to 5000 year old Egyptian yourself.

    I choose to believe Joseph because of his credentials, and because of the words of my ancestors who knew him personally.

    Sorry, but this is my 4th post, so I won't be able to respond. But thanks for engaging in the discussion with me.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 27, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    I would like to address yet again the BOA papaya. Yes FRAGMENTS were found those fragments are from two common books the Book of living and the Book of the Dead. It is interesting that while these fragments are always referred to as scrolls by critics they never mention what Joseph said was contained in the scrolls he had. He said that they contained the Book of Abraham, the Book of Joseph, The book living and the Book of the Dead. Now we know that Joseph was trained in Egyptian so how did he get the last two correct? Why do the critics never mention that he said the scrolls contained those books as well? Why do they try to make it sound like we have the full scrolls instead of fragments? And finally why do they not mention the fact that it was common practice to take imagery from one culture and use it in another? For example of this look at the final judgment, the Egyptians, Jews and Christians all have a very similar image of a persons heart being weighed against a feather.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 27, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    @Fred Vader

    "...I personally choose to trust Joseph and his words, rather than the critics and their supposed experts."

    Fair enough if that is what you personally choose to believe.

    However, I'm curious to see your evidence supporting your conclusion that scholars in Egyptology are only "supposed experts."

    Remember, both LDS and non-LDS scholars in Egyptology agree that the Egyptian scrolls Joseph used to create the Book of Abraham and their accompanying facsimiles are nothing more than common funerary papyri.

    Are you saying that regardless of their scholarly credentials that Joseph Smiths words, regardless of how incorrect, still trumps the knowledge and expertise of these scholars, and therefore are only "supposed" experts?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    May 27, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    Utes Fan: I totally agree with you. What critics seem to disagree with is that revelation didn't stop with Joseph Smith. So what if beer may have been originally excluded from the Word of Wisdom. Today it is not. Who cares if Joseph Smith may have used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon? There are portions of which, in fact most of the last part of the translation was barely looking at the plates at all as the translation came to him directly from God. In fact, the translation of the Book of Abraham didn't come by looking at the papyrai per sey but came directly from our Heavenly Father. Further evidence is that some LDS Scholars and apologist have literally debunked all the critics on the whole Book of Abraham translation. This puts it either you believe the critics and only the critics or you believe the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Since, I sustain and support the First Presidency and Quroum of the Twelve as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, that basically debunks anything a critic has to say.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 27, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    Utes Fan, I'm certainly not talking just about lesson/talks. For example, the new josephsmithpapers site does not have the pyre or any discussion of Smith's translation of the pyre. I also have never read about the pyre on the Churh's website or other monthly publications. I've been forced to ask other Church members about this and nobody seems to know, which leaves me with no alternative but to read anti-mormon literature on the subject. I just think it should be publicly addressed. Converts find this out later and some may feel like they were not given all of the information.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    May 27, 2011 11:54 a.m.

    Thinks: No, I have not gone to the original Abraham scrolls Joseph used to translate the Book of Abraham. As I don't read Egyptian, new or ancient, it wouldn't do me any good.

    As to your other question, has this text been discussed in Church? It has been discussed ad nauseum in print, even in the Ensign. Google the topic and you will find several articles. There is even one in January 1994 which directly addresses your additional questions. The Ensign is about as available as Books of Mormon as far as access for general membership is concerned. If members are not reading these things, that is their issue, not the Church's. Obviously the Church is teaching about them, just not the way you demand.

    You may choose not to believe the Church's arguments about the criticisms. You are free to do so. However, I personally choose to trust Joseph and his words, rather than the critics and their supposed experts. You have decided to trust the critics version. I'm guessing your reasons for trusting the critics are no more valid than my reasons for choosing to trust Joseph. We all put our faith somewhere.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 27, 2011 11:38 a.m.

    The Church does not hide its history. Only a few hours a week are used for class instruction, and those classes are based on spiritual experiences only. The only way to guarantee the best possibility for spiritual experiences is to limit discussions based on "intellectual" or "secular" issues and especially critics' opinions. This is not to limit knowledge, but to maintain spirituality. I am NOT interested in having a discussion on Sunday about the so-called "problems" with the BOA papyri, or every detail of plural marriage, or why Joseph had a bit of wine. I read about these on my own.

    People making the claim the Church covers things up, never mention things less-spiritual in nature but nonetheless positive for the Church are frequently not discussed in classes also. I have yet to hear on Sunday discussions about Nahom, Bountiful, King Benjamin's speech as an ancient pattern, chiasmus, Hebrew phrases unknown to Joseph Smith in the BOM, etc. Therefore, using the exact same logic that the critics are using, one could conclude that the LDS Church covers up evidence supporting it also.

    The truth is, the lesson/talks are spiritual in nature.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 27, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    Fred Vader, have you gone to the original source for the document Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Abraham? Is that text, which was found in a new york museum in 1967 and given to the Church - is the text about Abraham? Is the fact that this text even discussed in Church? I found most members have no idea the pyre was found and given to the Church, let alone know what experts say about the meaning of the pyre. I think this should be openly addressed rather than Members finding out about it on the internet. It does make it seem like its being hidden.

  • bwoods Tucson, AZ
    May 27, 2011 11:09 a.m.

    As I become more familiar with the forums of Deseret News, I am discovering that there are a few individuals, like the first poster of these comments, that lean towards always criticizing the content and/or the author article. I find that the criticisms often do not relate to the point of the article and hence my conclusion that they just have a chip on their shoulder. Often, they are the catalysts for discussions only remotely related or unrelated to the point of the article that they are criticizing. What a waste of energy.

    The author's point in this article was to address the very common claim by anti-Mormons is that Joseph Smith and his family were "lazy." The author, armed with researched facts, disputed. Done. As others have pointed out, to say this is "whitewashing" church history is merely showing you have a chip on your shoulder.

    All of those I know who say the church "varnishes" its history are people that are constantly on the lookout for reasons to disagree with or to criticize the church. It seems that defines their existence and comments on church related articles seem to bear that out.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    May 27, 2011 10:17 a.m.


    Thank you for your sorrow for me and others. However, I am not "blind" to anything about the church. Slightly presumptuous for you to think so. My family has been in the church since 1835, and I have access to private diaries that even the church does not have.

    Your claims are nothing new, and no more valid than those made hundreds of years ago. You and other critics state, "The church hides, deletes, covers up the truth". Oh really? How did you discover these truths? "I found them in the churches own books." Do you not see the absurdity of the argument? If they are in the churches books, whether original or modern, then the church hasn't "hidden, deleted, covered up" anything. (or did they burn the originals?) It is still there to be found and read, and in your case, interpreted to strengthen your own version of church history.

    I have heard all the critic arguments, and each time I go to the source, original or modern, the critics arguments are never supported.

    But thank you for feeling sad for me and others. I always appreciate the concern of others for my well-being.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    May 27, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Clark Hippo You said: In other words, if there are mistruths spoken about Joseph Smith and the LDS Church, apologists and historians should just ignore them?

    I didn't say ignore them. Explain them as relevant to that time period or in their true context, but not try to delete them altogether or whitewash them or cover them up. To do so suggests that something wrong has been done and the Church is trying to lie about it to save face.

    Joseph was not perfect, but the Gospel is. The chatter from prejudiced minds will not affect its truthfulness. God has and will continue to preserve and propagate it.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 27, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    The truth said,It's easy to attack another for not being as perfect as want them to be.
    Joseph Smith, I have more to boast of every man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me.
    Neither Paul, John Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I BOAST that no man ever did such a work as I. (DHC v. 6 p 408,409). JS though he was perfect.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 27, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    Fred Vader - it is really not that hard to understand. I pull my information out of ORIGINAL lds books and documents from the 1800's. These books are often changed to create a more faith-promoting meaning later. In the original millennial star Joseph Smith writed he "drank a glass of beer at Moesser's" - that one sentence is deleted completely out of modern editions of the history of the church to make it look like it didn't happen. Hmmm... another is when brother Markham was asked to go get "a pipe and some tobacco" for apostle Willard Richards - that phrase is changed in modern "history of the church" to "some medicine" so the pipe and tobacco has been removed completely. Why they would change the actual account is obvious but not excusable. The church wants members like yourself to only know what they want you to know. The early apostles were not strict observers of the word of wisdom. Actually, the part about Joseph drinking a beer helps prove that beer was allowed in the word of wisdom "mild wheat drinks."

    Fred - I feel bad that you and others are blind to this reality of the church.

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    May 26, 2011 11:20 p.m.

    Fred Vader, I too researched the LDS church using LDS materials. When I told LDS members things I read in LDS literature I was often called anti-mormon. I think the church would be better served to teach the good, bad and ugly about its history and let members decide for themselves how to respond. It seems better to learn directly from the church rather than having to learn it by finding out later.

  • zeba Brigham City, UT
    May 26, 2011 10:58 p.m.

    The question posed seems minor when you look at the full history of Joseph Smith for yourself. Joseph's family and friends were supporters, but many more others were not supporters. The answers are there for anyone who is willing to study and think with the amazing brain that you were blessed with.

  • Fred Vader Oklahoma City, OK
    May 26, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    It really cracks me up when critics say things like "my research is mostly pulled from LDS books, documents, and articles", but then they also claim that the church just "whitewashes, erases, covers up, hides, lies about" it's "true" history. So, which is it?

    If the church is erasing, whitewashing, covering up etc., how are you finding out about it's "true" history, as you call it, from "mostly LDS books", etc? They must not be doing a very good of hiding things if you are finding it in their own books, magazines, etc.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 26, 2011 9:02 p.m.

    Stowell having heard of Joseph wanted to test Joseph so he went to him and had him use his stone to describe his farm in Pennsylvania (a location Joseph had never been). Joseph described it down to a hand print painted on a tree. This convinced Stowell to hire Joseph. However it is not said whether Joseph ever used the stone to try to find the treasure or claimed that the treasure was in a location and then moved by ghosts as some have claimed. Interestingly Stowell became one of the earliest converts to the Church so he must have seen something in Joseph. Also it was Joseph who convinced Stowell to stop looking for the treasure. It was also a relative of Stowells that had Joseph arrested as a disorderly person were he was referred to as the glass looker in court. However as Stowell spoke on Josephs defence not much can be taken from that. While catts did not go into the detail of the account as I did it should be pointed out that his/her account was basically accurate.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    May 26, 2011 8:53 p.m.

    Having served a mission in New England and in particular around Sharron Vermont I have heard the claims that Joseph was lazy many times. Also a quick google search will show that people still teach that about him. As for the treasure seeking and the seer stone first it must be understood that it was common in his day for people to seek lost treasure. Second the accounts from those who actually knew him well do not say that he used the stones (there were in fact two one before the visit from Moroni and one found after) for treasure seeking. He did use the first stone to help people find things they lost. One such account of this is Joseph Helping Martin Harris find a needle he had dropped in some straw. After spending some time looking for it Joseph used his stone and lead him directly to the needle in front of others. The other which is how it gets pulled into the treasure seeking side of things involves Josiah Stowell. He had heard of Joseph s ability to find lost items and of a legand of burried treasure on his farm. Continued

  • Aspiring Theist Sandy, UT
    May 26, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    Idaho Coug, I appreciate what I precieve as the honesty of your comments. They are refreshing.

    Histories I've read, however, have questioned the work ethic of Joseph Smith at different times of his life. These authors questioned Joseph's work ethic when he was living with his in-laws. Apologists say Joseph was too busy translating the Book of Mormon to farm, but other scholars didn't share that view. There were also questions regarding the Smith's loosing their home. Some felt a lapse in work ethics may have played some part. It is wonderful to have a variety of writings to add depth to our understanding.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    May 26, 2011 7:41 p.m.

    @IdahoCoug 7:40

    You said, "...his habitual use of the term "anti-Mormon."

    Why do critics of the LDS Church get so incredibly defensive over the term anti-Mormon? Especially when many of these same critics will frequently compare the LDS Church to the Nazis or the Gulag, and compare LDS Church leaders to Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Charles Manson?

    Browse any one of several websites and message boards critical of the LDS Church and youll find these comparisons along with many others too crude in its language to cite here.

    If someone were to say to me, Youre anti-Nazi or Youre anti-communist, I would not take offense. In fact if anything, I would be proud to admit so.

    So why do LDS critics get so furious with the term anti-Mormon?

  • Kramer's Corner Penryn, CA
    May 26, 2011 7:03 p.m.

    I really enjoyed this article. It is well written by a competent scholar of the Latter-day Saint church. Individuals stating that the LDS church lies often site evidence that lacks credibility. There is usually an attempt to tarnish the reputation Joseph Smith and his family and then ridicule the teachings of the faith they established. This is a sad commentary from a supposed educated society.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    May 26, 2011 6:32 p.m.


    You said - "...it felt like a way of appearing to answer relevant criticisms when in reality it addressed outdated criticisms and did not address (felt like sidestepping) the criticism that is actually relevant and repeated today."

    This comment made me laugh as it is nothing more than the usual bait and switch frequently used by LDS critics.

    They make a claim against the church, then when that claim is proven untrue, they sidestep it with the "tired argument" excuse before attacking those who proved it as untrue.

    Those who defend LDS critics like Ed Decker do this all the time.


    You said - "The Church should not try to clean up Church history... Let the Gospel stand on its own."

    In other words, if there are mistruths spoken about Joseph Smith and the LDS Church, apologists and historians should just ignore them?

    You understand the concept that, one way to discredit a message is by discrediting the messenger. This is done all the time, not just in religion, but in politics and social advocacy. Show the messenger is a lunatic and it does matter how important his message is, no one will listen.

  • katiefrankie Provo, UT
    May 26, 2011 4:27 p.m.

    I remember the vitriol that came out of the woodwork when I was a freshman in high school and word got around that my twin sister and I were studying with the missionaries and considering joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our town was both remarkably religiously apathetic and vibrantly born-again and people who had never cared about our Catholicism suddenly had to share their opinion that we were terribly wrong to even look into Mormonism and Joseph Smith. Their words hurt, but we knew that the Book of Mormon was true and thus what the missionaries were teaching us was true. Very few of the friends we cherished as we began high school stood by us when we left for BYU four years later, but we have never regretted our decision to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or believe that Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be - a prophet of God.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    May 26, 2011 3:50 p.m.

    "...modern criticism of Smith family employment rarely concerns itself with whether or not the Smiths were hard workers. They were very hard workers. The concern is with what the Smiths did at times for employment."

    Very well said Idaho Coug...

    "I don't see the connection between the seer stone's ability to locate treasure and the truthfulness of the BOM.

    Andy, therin lies the problem.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    May 26, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    RE: Idaho Coug
    RE: Mormoncowboy

    So Joseph Smith spent some time treasure hunting (technically looking for precious buried metals), so what?

    If we called it prospecting would that make it ok?

    Exactly waht is so wrong about all that? A man has got to make a living, and Joseph Smith tried many lines of honest work, work to make ends meet.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    The pharisees attacked Jesus for spending time with the sinners.

    And it changes NOTHING!

    The Book of Mormon is still true, Joseph Smith was still a prophet of God, who communed with the devine.

    It's easy to attack another for not being as perfect as want them to be, or not fitting some version of perfection that you thrust upon them.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    May 26, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    As to the name Jospeh Smith, many years ago as a missionary we baptised a young fellow named Joseph Smith. Not to mention a family of four named Lord.

    Joseph Smith was 14 when he recieved his vision. He was young, he had faults he made mistakes and fixed som of them. One of my favorite passages about Brother Joseph in the Nauvoo days was when he physically kicked a man out of his house and down the street. I believe one of the OT prophets had bears rend some youths that had mocked him.

    That a such youth grown to manhood could lay the foundation for the Restored Church is a true prophet is to me all the proof I need. Those who did the affidavits were mere yellow dogs nipping at his heals.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2011 2:30 p.m.

    As a not member, I am interest by some in these post that suggest that which comes from the church is slanted history (which any one would expect from any institution) other histories are "facts". Seems to me that with regard to the study of history, interpretations are plentiful, but facts are hard if not impossible to attain. Accepting some as "facts" even when there is credible evidence that it is not exactly so, seems to be agenda driven.

  • Andy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 26, 2011 1:29 p.m.


    I don't see the connection between the seer stone's ability to locate treasure and the truthfulness of the BOM.

    I have always assumed the seer stone worked by faith, and JS's power came not from the stone but from his faith and God's gift and blessing. I'm just not following your logic.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    May 26, 2011 1:28 p.m.

    Once again, there are inconsequential things turned into major issues.

    The real major issue here is that the affidavits of all the Smith family contemporaries have been shown to be consciously-made falsehoods, thus discrediting the affidavits and all subsequent criticism based on them or "Mormonism Unvailed." Since a large portion of anti-Mormon work comes from these sources, the research cited by Petersen effectively discredits them.

    Why the side issue of Joseph Smith's "treasure hunting"? Or the "seer stone"? There is nothing in this article that is meant to suggest that Joseph was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. One of the main proofs that Latter-day Saints make of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is that a man as fallible, imperfect, and (yes, even) superstitious could not have written such a book.

    Many critics suggest that Joseph had time to fantasize about Nephites and Lamanites and research ancient Arabia and Meso-America. Not so, says this research. Others say that Joseph was a secret genius. Not so, says the seer stone and treasure hunting. Some (critics more than the faithful) want him to be perfect in every respect. Just not so.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    May 26, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    Things were different back in Joseph Smiths day. People with the loudest voices and the ones who had the strongest purpose were heard the most. Television and radio were long into the future so the vocality of the populace was the news. If someone said something and was vocal enough about it, no matter if right or wrong, it became fact.

    Perhaps thats why the Smith family had so many people who did not like them. Their young son had the unmitigated gall to say that he had seen God. Naturally they would find fault, real or otherwise to denigrate that family. Perhaps they thought that they were the ones who should have seen God, and so, Joseph was made a liar because he was just not good enough neither was his family.

    There are no perfect people, but God qualifies them to serve His purpose.

    The Church should not try to clean up Church history. That is one of the main things that ex-Mormons use against us. Let the Gospel stand on its own. It will be victorious because it is from God, brought forth by imperfect people. God will never let it fail.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 26, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    "I am glad that Brother Peterson wrote this article. It is sad that some people think that minor side lights need to be given full attention and the real work and effort and sweet and toil need to be ignored."


    Treasure seeking is important for one simple reason. Many an apologist, when they are willing to address it, will try and break Joseph Smith's activities into two categories or timelines. Those things he did before "translating" The Book of Mormon, and those things he did afterwards. They dismiss his treasure seeking activities as the "foibles of youth", and an outgrowth of a superstitious age. What they ignore is the overlap that key elements play in both time periods. The most important of which is the seer stone. It is a documented fact, from David Whitmer, Martin Harris, to Lucy Mack, etc, that at least (and this is concession I am making only for civility sake) a major portion of the BoM was translated using that same stone. If you dismiss gold-digging as superstition, you ought to doubt the BoM. If you believe the BoM, you most certainly have to take treasure seeking seriously. I'm a doubter!!

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    May 26, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    I am glad that Brother Peterson wrote this article. It is sad that some people think that minor side lights need to be given full attention and the real work and effort and sweet and toil need to be ignored.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 26, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    Idaho - I could not have put it better myself. Cats is proving exactly what I was saying - the average member either repeats things they have heard othes say without confirming the facts themselves, or they are simply ignoring facts that they already know. Either way it is sad that people can't see the facts. They accept these stories from martin harris, david whitmer, oliver cowdery, etc. but automatically dismiss anybody else's testimony from that time period as false. In essence they say that anybody who says anything against the church is lying. That simply doesn't make sense from a logical standpoint. They will even dismiss statements made later by Harris, Whitmer, Cowdery which go against earlier statements made - very confusing how they can believe a testimony on one thing and dismiss a different testimony later on.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 26, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    Andy asked - "Do the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits address the use of the seer stone to treasure hunt? If not then I'm not sure why you lodge your complaint here. It should go in the suggestion box."

    The answer is YES, it is a primary part of the affidavits. I acknowledge that they also accuse the Smiths (particularly early before JS became a Prophet) of being lazy. An accusation that I have stated I wholeheartedly disagree with.

    My point is that this is not at all, in my experience, a relevant criticism today. If the article was simply meant to address a criticism used at the very beginning of the Church then that is fine and accurate. But today, literally all criticism regarding Smith family employment rests on the seer stone. I have never heard modern criticism trying to diminish JS because he and his family were lazy.

    Therefore, it felt like a way of appearing to answer relevant criticisms when in reality it addressed outdated criticisms and did not address (felt like sidestepping) the criticism that is actually relevant and repeated today.

    Peterson very well may not have intended this. But it falls into an apologetic pattern.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 26, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    Cats said, "Also, Joseph was employed by a man who was seeking treasure. After a time, Joseph convinced his employer to stop because it was a complete waste. That's all there is to that story."

    My goodness Cats. Either you have a very limited understanding of at least this part of LDS history or you are comfortable repeating an absolutely incorrect, varnished, faith-promoting version even though you know it is not accurate. I truly understand why we have done that almost since the beginning of our LDS history. But the reality in today's world of instantly accessible information is that it can be very damaging to lifelong members and investigators alike.

    The interesting reality is that the real version can actually BE faith promoting. But the habitual practice of repeating an incorrect version simply does more harm (even years down the road) than good.

    The problem simply becomes this - if the church is willing to be dishonest (even if presumably for positive reasons) about X and Y, then how can I be sure they are being honest about A and B. It is a slippery slope created not by doubt but by inaccurate church curriculum.

  • Gentile brookings, SD
    May 26, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    I hate to admit this, but I never thought about this topic until this discussion blog. I can't explain why, but the type of work, etc., just never crossed my mind.

  • Andy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 26, 2011 11:11 a.m.

    Idaho Coug - Do the Hurlbut-Howe affidavits address the use of the seer stone to treasure hunt? If not then I'm not sure why you lodge your complaint here. It should go in the suggestion box.

    whistle219 - you are very good if you can identify the correct Joseph Smith, from all the Joseph Smiths in American history based solely on whether he was an only child or part of a large family.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 26, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    IggIe - I completely agree with you on multiple points, and also admire your honesty regarding history. See my problem is that most members will deny any wrongdoing of the church and deny that history is edited/changed. I can't relate to people who won't look at the facts. So clearly you have a strong enough testimony to accept that fact and still hold to your faith, and I really do admire that. I am not sure I can do the same. While the church's history isn't everything, it sure doesn't help ones (at least mine) testimony. It hurts my overall view of the church, though I continue to go to church and try to be a better person. Again, in no way do I think that the church is a bad organization per se. I think when difficult issues are discussed people automatically cry ANTI-MORMON. Well it is simply not the case. My research is mostly pulled from LDS books, documents, and articles. So it can't be anti if I am using actual LDS materials and I still go to church. Just a topic that you can't discuss in elders quorum.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 26, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    If the affidavits are prevarications of some of the facts (the work ethic of the Smiths, for example) then the entire contents of the affidavits are discredited. In fact, nearly all these early accounts have been thoroughly discredited for many, many years.

    Hurlbut was an embittered man who had an agenda. Also, Joseph was employed by a man who was seeking treasure. After a time, Joseph convinced his employer to stop because it was a complete waste. That's all there is to that story.

    It's always sad to see people who have lost their testimonies clinging to these old discredited stories as a way to convince and comfort themselves. This doesn't get them anywhere, but they keep on trying.

    The Gospel is true. I know that based on applying its principles to my own life. But, the main reason I know it is because of PERSONAL REVELATION FROM GOD and I am accountable for it.

  • whistle219 princeton, IN
    May 26, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    Which Joseph Smith are we talking about? The one that is part of a large family or the one whom was an only child? Joseph Smith was a common name at that time.

  • Ron11 Venice, California
    May 26, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    This article was well written and truthful about the Smith family's work ethic, so I am unsure why the commentator-protestors are crying whitewashing when all the article is talking about is this one aspect of the Smith family, which is how they work. This is a good thing, too, because the article on Joseph Smith found on the Wikipedia servers loves to overuse the words treasure hunter over and over again couched in the context of the time Joseph Smith was given the golden plates/scriptures (The real treasure was the information/translation, not the value of the gold[and Joseph Smith admitted he was tempted because of his family's poverty] to insinuate that he was a backwater, lazy, covetous-of-gold, treasure hunter, fascinated and unintelligent with his use of "magic," when Joseph himself admitted that his digging experiences garnered no reward (while his family's hard work did).

    Not surprised; fulfills prophecy from Moroni that his name would be both good and evil spoken of.

    Good article which I intend to reference and use for my future studies/work.

    Thank you.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 26, 2011 10:18 a.m.

    I recognize that my comment did not relate directly to the content of the article. But it struck a nerve that I have been struggling with for a long time - the often huge differences between real and correlated LDS history. And the problem is often perpetuated by apologist writings as Brahmabull expressed.

    Again, the real (and largely only) criticisms today about Smith Family employment is around the practice of using JS's stone to be paid to hunt for lost treasure. This is NOT anti. It is fact and relevant fact given JS's extensive use of that same (or similar) stone(s) as a Prophet.

    Of course they were very hard workers. JS did odd jobs, ran a hotel, lead a militia in MS, ran for President, and traveled extensively at a time when travel was very difficult - all while serving as Prophet, Mayor and General. Heck yes he was a hard worker.

    But my point is that his or his families work ethic is NOT the point of critics. It is so rare for certain things to just be laid out there and addressed. We are bleeding members who eventually find out on their own.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 26, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    Yes Brahmabull is correct - It's rather curious that Peterson would fail to include the only business practice for which the documentation is iron clad? Joseph Smith could see ghosts, and people would pay him lot's of money to go on treasure hunting expeditions. Unfortunately, he always came up short because of those greedy ghosts - or...at least that's what Joseph would say.

  • Everybody Wang Chung Tonight Riverton, Utah
    May 26, 2011 10:10 a.m.

    Idaho Coug wrote:

    "Daniel Peterson knows this. But his attempt to denegrade anyone who writes or wrote anything negative about the Church, his habitual us of the term "anti-Mormon", and his inability to address the real issue in relation to Smith family employment may prop a few already strong testimonies but it continues to hurt those who are honestly trying to work through real versus varnished history."

    I agree with you 100%. I have recently had a fairly lengthy discussion with Mr. Peterson about this exact thing over at Mormondiscussions dot com.

    I think Mr. Peterson realizes that he can do a much more professional and civil job in responding to people who he perceives as critics of the Church.

  • Iggle Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2011 10:03 a.m.

    Some good points here. Here's my point: I didn't join the LDS Church because of faith-promoting history stories. I joined because I believe I received an answer to a prayer that it was where God wanted me to be. I joined because I believe that if there is a God (and I believe there is, and I feel he led me to the gospel and answered my prayer), then his plan for his children is the one taught in the LDS Church.

    And no, I'm not one of those people who thinks that those who don't receive an answer to similar prayers have some kind of moral deficiency. That's not my call to make, because I know I have moral deficiencies of my own.

    I agree with Brahmabull. There's no reason to whitewash history. History shouldn't make or break one's church membership. But when we whitewash things, we lend a false sense of legitimacy to the idea that it should. It sends the wrong message all around.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 26, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    Idaho - you make very good points. Unfortunately, this practice of whitewashing or simply changing the church's history started way back with Joseph Smith. That practice goes on to this very day. They delete, edit, revise, add, whatever they want to make a certain part of history look more faith promoting. They also take out certain things that may make members question. Doing this undermines the whole church in my opinion. Members are going to find out about the less than faith promoting parts one way or another. So there is no reason to do so. Why not just lay it out there and say what really happened and this was a mistake or that was wrong? If you are honest it benefits you in the long run.

    Helloooo - Yes people do discuss issues related or not related to the article. Hence the name discussion board. If you don't like it then why read the comments?

  • windsor City, Ut
    May 26, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    "We never knew we were bad folks until...."

    Sadly, many LDS members today could fill in this sentence.

    Like Peter Vidmar...until I exercised my right as an American to believe in, and contribute money to a cause which I supported.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    May 26, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    Thanks Mr. Peterson. It is always nice to have a reconfirmation of the character of the family, and how it was like many others of the time-hard working. The point of your article is to support this truth from objective historical records, and it accomplishes purpose well. Sorry, to some reading the article, apparently, wanted it to address other issues. Maye another article for another time.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    May 26, 2011 7:40 a.m.

    Uggh, this is the kind of apologist article that continues the perception that there are certain aspects of LDS history that just will not be told - or will be told in a way that seems to answer the critics while avoiding the real concerns.

    In my experience, modern criticism of Smith family employment rarely concerns itself with whether or not the Smiths were hard workers. They were very hard workers. The concern is with what the Smiths did at times for employment. Specifically the practice of searching for lost treasure using the same stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the majority of the Book of Mormon.

    Daniel Peterson knows this. But his attempt to denegrade anyone who writes or wrote anything negative about the Church, his habitual us of the term "anti-Mormon", and his inability to address the real issue in relation to Smith family employment may prop a few already strong testimonies but it continues to hurt those who are honestly trying to work through real versus varnished history.

    I think this is a criticism FOR the church not against it. We need to be honest not redirect or whitewash every criticism.