10 insights about Joseph Smith and seer stones from the authors of 'Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones'

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  • nebocreek Nephi, UT
    April 19, 2017 12:05 p.m.

    So, how hard is it for anyone to believe that I can stick a piece of plastic and silicone into a machine and be able to view millions of bits of information on a screen. Now that sounds strange-- a material (silicone) that is made basically out of sand. Surely God could reveal to a mortal man information by a physical medium that he was familiar with so that HIs children could continue to progress in knowledge and understanding of " why the heck do I even exist?" Just maybe there is a reason and purpose for each of us being here. I believe that if we could understand all things right now then God would give everything to us now. You can't legally or morally practice medicine as a doctor unless you get the knowledge, schooling etc that you are required to. This is all a great school of progression. This isn't Gods first rodeo. He knows how we can "become" and it isn't by simply gaining knowledge while we are here. Trusting Him, that we will at some point in our journey understand all things, is as necessary as gaining the knowledge along with the wisdom to use it. So many people who have such a puritanical view of how things should have been and should have been done.

  • elpis Blue Springs, MO
    March 7, 2017 11:12 a.m.

    According to Mark Ashurst-McGee's thesis (footnote 20 of book of mormon translation essay) Joseph first borrowed the green glass of Sally chase in 1819, and with this instrument discovered the location of the brown seer stone 150miles away near lake erie in an iron kettle. He then used this brown seer stone to discover the white seer stone on the property of willard chase. The brown seer stone was used for discovering who to bring to the place of burial of the plates after the death of Alvin in 1823, this person was "Emma Hale".

  • Light and Liberty St. George/Washington, UT
    March 1, 2017 2:14 p.m.

    Let's say I accept your premise that the B of M is a work of fiction. Challenge: Surely there is a genius somewhere in the past 175 years that could match this work of fiction. Are you saying that Joseph Smith was such a genius that he could write a work of fiction that no one else could duplicate? Surely, there is someone out there in the vast billions that have come and gone since he lived and died that could make an attempt at least. If he did it so easily, certainly someone else could do it with a little effort! Come on, people, if you aren't a believer, I respect that, but to resort to these exercises in intellectual futility is bizarre at best. I would prefer to think of you as someone that just hasn't come to any conclusions rather than someone that wants to convince me that Joseph Smith is a fraud and the Book of Mormon was invented in the dead of night while chasing teenage girls, married women, deluded pastors as well, all before sun up. Come on! Give yourself a little more credit!

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 1, 2017 2:04 p.m.

    Why doesn't it work anymore? Why didn't it work when trying to locate buried treasure?

  • CMTM , 00
    March 1, 2017 12:11 p.m.

    RE: boyd Rick. "t's interesting that he was aware that being completely open about both topics would cause problems."?
    A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,..”(I Tim 3:2).,The Apostles did not maintain any O.T. pattern of polygamy and they and the early church condemned it.

    D&C 101: 4,”Inasmuch as this Church of Christ(JS) has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband”, also "(H of C, vol. 2, pg. 247 August 1835.)

    Also he was married Before D&C 132 July 1843. *Living Husband at the time,2 of 11*marriages. Lucinda Morgan Harris, Marriage 1838 *husband George W. Harris. Presendia Huntington Buell marriage 1841 *husband Norman Buell

    This scripture remained in the LDS canon until 1876,The general body of the church were informed about polygamy in 1852, at which time many practiced it because leaders like Brigham professed the necessity of it for exaltation. Since ( July 1843), contradicted 101:4, It was removed in 1876, when section 132 was placed in the new edition.

  • boyd Ricks sandy/salt lake, UT
    March 1, 2017 8:00 a.m.

    Joseph Smith used guile when talking about the translation process and seer stones, much as he did about polygamy. It's interesting that he was aware that being completely open about both topics would cause problems.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Feb. 28, 2017 3:38 p.m.

    @strom Thurmond: "Seer stones are not a part of Christianity and never have been."

    @Marxist: "Could the writer give me specific references in the Bible as to seer stones?"

    Leviticus 8 and Exodus 25 both refer to the Urim and Thummim (stones) set in the breastplate of religious clothing worn by Aaron and the priests in Moses day. Whether these stones were used as seer stones is not clear. What is obvious is that the stones had religious significance.

    Certainly, Moses' rod that turned to a snake and ate the snakes of the magicians is a physical, seemingly "magical" object used for spiritual purposes. Ditto the brass serpent Moses fashioned and hefted upon a rod in the wilderness.

    Many Christian sacraments from baptism to the sacrament of the Lord's Last Supper to marriage sacraments are or include purely physical elements that serve to provide a connection to the spiritual. So too the ornate religious vestments of many churches, the incense, the oil used in religious ceremonies dating to old testament times, and so on.

    But haters are going to hate despite how irrational their attacks look.

  • One of Vai's Cousins DC, Washington
    Feb. 28, 2017 2:36 p.m.

    The more we understand the physical world through science, the less we need magical explanations. The Bible is packed with magical explanations because there was little else available to explain the world. During Joseph Smith's times, magical explanations were still prevelant. Is there any wonder that visions and other magical explanations are almost nonexistent in today's LDS Church? Yes, apologetics still have to prop up much of the magical aspects of the past, like Joseph's seer stones. But today's leaders speak and act in a much different way.

    Religion developed as the only way to explain things otherwise not understood. Which was almost everything. There is no longer a need to understand the world through magical explanations.

  • summarizerer Berryville, VA
    Feb. 28, 2017 11:02 a.m.

    @rogers lambert

    "According to Church History the Book of Abraham papyri were destroyed in a museum fire,
    but years later they were recovered and examined by experts.
    Maybe something similar will occur with the gold plates."

    You asked where the plates were and I explained to you where they were. The plates were altogether a very different matter than the BoA papyri.

    Also the BoA papyri that was found was hardly complete. Very little of what Joseph Smith translated that constituted the BoA remained after the fire.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 28, 2017 10:31 a.m.

    "No greater example...hyperbolize much???"

    Ok, you may be right. How about "a classic example"

  • Rogers Lambert Radford, VA
    Feb. 28, 2017 9:22 a.m.

    @ summarizer "Well according to Church History they (the plates) are with the Angel Moroni..."

    According to Church History the Book of Abraham papyri were destroyed in a museum fire,
    but years later they were recovered and examined by experts.
    Maybe something similar will occur with the gold plates.

  • CMTM Lake Forest, CA
    Feb. 28, 2017 8:29 a.m.

    RE: The 2nd Great Awakening and cults; If a denomination cannot trace its roots back to the reformation, twists and turns aside, it is almost always a cult. While it cannot be said that the second Great Awakening was entirely bad, most of the Christian cults of today sprang forth from this movement. This would include, JW, Mormonism, E.g…,

    “ A Marvelous Work and Wonder“. (3 Ne. 21:9,,KJV) VS, A Modern translation.. “Therefore once more I will astound these people with “Wonder Upon Wonder”; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. (Isaiah 29:14 NIV)

    Or the old Septuagint. “Therefore behold I will proceed to “*Remove this people, and I will *Remove them”: and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.” ( Isaiah 29:14 LXX) A condemnation of Israel ‘Not the BoM.’

  • summarizerer Berryville, VA
    Feb. 28, 2017 7:02 a.m.

    @Joe Blow

    "There could be no greater example of a strawman than your post."

    No greater example...hyperbolize much???

    Also no it wasn't a strawman I just said that his argument basically the same as another argument said different but nice try.

    "There are many ancient civilizations which had equal or less numbers and their footprints (Direct evidence) are everywhere. Think ancient Greek, India, Egyptian civilizations.."

    Yes and it is well accepted that civilization started in Mesopotamia. There is a lot more history to work with than there is for the western hemisphere.

    @Fuzz

    "How about opening the financial books which have been closed forever?"

    So because an organizations books are not available for public consumption that means they are dishonest?

    Really?

    @Rogers Lambert

    "Where are the plates now?
    Wouldn't it be in our interest for the plates to be brought out of hiding and examined by experts in linguistics and archeology? "

    Well according to Church History they are with the Angel Moroni sooo good luck finding them and examining them.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 27, 2017 8:01 p.m.

    Isn't it fair to say the Sorenson worked backwards to reach his conclusion?

    He started with the premise that the BOM is historically true so there had to be a civilization somewhere in the Americas that numbered in the millions.

    With just that information, how many possibilities were there? The Mayans and who else?

    Did the BOM research lead to the Mayans, or were the Mayans just the best option to satisfy a conclusion based on a religious text with questionable origins?

  • Rogers Lambert Radford, VA
    Feb. 27, 2017 7:49 p.m.

    It seems to me that the questions are not so much as to how the plates were translated, but the first and more important questions are about the plates themselves.
    Why has there always been so much secrecy surrounding them?
    Where are the plates now?
    Wouldn't it be in our interest for the plates to be brought out of hiding and examined by experts in linguistics and archeology?
    Questions about translation could then come later.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Feb. 27, 2017 7:36 p.m.

    >>There were rumors about a rock in a hat, but, if you asked, that got you reprimanded for spreading "anti mormon lies". People got exed over telling that story.

    Citations, please.

    >>I believe that what Skeptic is referring to is that a civilization purported to be in the millions of people would have left lots and lots of physical evidence to their existence...There are many ancient civilizations which had equal or less numbers and their footprints (Direct evidence) are everywhere. Think ancient Greek, India, Egyptian civilizations.

    None of the civilizations you cite were exterminated and then had other large civilizations occupy their lands and build on top of their ruins for fifteen hundred years before archeologists starting poking around. That would complicate the archeological challenges *immensely.*

  • Fuzz Springville, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 7:25 p.m.

    +NoNamesAccepted
    You are absolutely right. None of it is believable.

    +Summarizerer
    Can't think of how the church has been closed and dishonest? How about opening the financial books which have been closed forever?

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 6:15 p.m.

    ". The Bible also contains examples of physical objects, including seer stones, being used for spiritual purposes."

    Could the writer give me specific references in the Bible as to seer stones?

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 27, 2017 3:58 p.m.

    "I believe that what Skeptic is referring to is that a civilization purported to be in the millions of people would have left lots and lots of physical evidence to their existence."

    John Sorensen's work on Mesoamerica provides a lot of the evidence you are looking for, i.e., the presence of a large civilization in the region. Even if you don't accept his conclusions regarding the BofM as a Mesoamerican text, he does carefully lay out the case for a civilization of some significance in Southern Mexico/Northern Guatemala, including numerous references from archeologists, not apologists, on the subject. Further, he discusses the limitations of locating remains of any past civilization, let alone one located in the subtropical region in question.

    "Mormon's Codex" is a good place to start. Find it in the library.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 27, 2017 3:29 p.m.

    Summerizer

    There could be no greater example of a strawman than your post.

    Instead of refuting what Skeptic wrote, you pose the argument of others - "This is much akin to how some use the words"

    And then pose an argument against those.

    I believe that what Skeptic is referring to is that a civilization purported to be in the millions of people would have left lots and lots of physical evidence to their existence.

    There are many ancient civilizations which had equal or less numbers and their footprints (Direct evidence) are everywhere. Think ancient Greek, India, Egyptian civilizations.

    The argument that these huge civilizations in the America has just not been found YET doesn't pass the test of logic.

  • [email protected] Alpine, CA
    Feb. 27, 2017 3:23 p.m.

    RE: skeptic

    "The BOM may be many things, but it is not a true history, it is fiction. Presently there is not one iota of evidence of it being a physical truth. There never was a great Hebrew nation here in The Americas."

    These statements are frequently used to close the door on any BOM claim of historicity. However, such proclamations are just not true and show little effort to prove such. First of all, this "great Hebrew nation", that is supposed to exist in the New World, is a old and bad assumption which is not even supported by the BOM text. We have a small amount of individuals, as large as 30 at the most, arriving into a already populated area of millions. If anything the "great nation would not be Hebrew but would retain its indigenous cultural traits. Also, "not one iota of evidence"??? Though you may not find a BOM name in the only 1% of physical archeological remains unearthed thus far...SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO?? It may be advantages to explore the work of Sorenson and Garner to understand such assumptions before making such assumptions!!

  • summarizerer Berryville, VA
    Feb. 27, 2017 2:56 p.m.

    @Skeptic

    "..presently there is not one iota of evidence of it being a physical truth..."

    This is much akin to how some use the words.. "There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon or the Nephites/Lamanites who numbered in the millions."

    To which can be said...

    "...the word “directly” is also a qualifier that ought to be called into question. By stating that there is no archaeological evidence to “directly support” the Book of Mormon, you tacitly admit that there is evidence that could “indirectly support” the Book of Mormon. And what would “direct evidence” looks like? A sign saying “Welcome to Zarahemla?” What makes you think that the name “Zarahemla” would be written or pronounced in characters that any modern archaeologist would be able to recognize?"

    Skeptic says no physical evidence....I guess if you want to ignore the Nahom and other indirect physical evidences he might be right.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 2:52 p.m.

    For decades upon decades, the church taught that Joseph Smith translated the BofM from the golden plates using urim and thummim. There were rumors about a rock in a hat, but, if you asked, that got you reprimanded for spreading "anti mormon lies". People got exed over telling that story. Now, the church admits this? What do they do with all those they disfellowshipped or excommunicated for saying the exact same thing?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 27, 2017 12:49 p.m.

    @mhenshaw

    You post: In either case, the real proof lies not in the revelatory instrument but in the revelation itself -- in this case, the Book of Mormon. If it's true, who cares what the instrument was by which it came? If it's false, again, who cares about the instrument?

    The BOM may be many things, but it is not a true history, it is fiction. Presently there is not one iota of evidence of it being a physical truth. There never was a great Hebrew nation here in The Americas. Perhaps others can make a case for it being a truth of a different nature, like an inspired allegory.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 27, 2017 12:38 p.m.

    strom thurmond
    "Seer stones are not a part of Christianity and never have been.

    In Joseph's day they were common parts of occult practice, along with crystal balls and dousing rods. . . ."
    ______________________________
    The point is that among the cultural influences on Joseph Smith was that he was part of a folk subculture that had been around for generations. It was not conventional Christian belief but had in fact been suppressed and renounced by Christian clergymen since medieval times. That doesn’t make it less valid for those steeped in its lore.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 12:25 p.m.

    RE: strom thurmond -The BoM, Why wasn't this included in the article?

    Moroni’s words speak from the ‘dust’. Or a "familiar spirit" in Isa 29:4/2Nephi 26:16.) The Latin Vulgate translation of Isa 29:4,”and thy speech shall whisper out of the ‘dust’. and thy voice shall be from the earth like that of the *pythonis=(familiar spirit) ..”

    a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination= pythonis/G,=4436) met us which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. ., Acts 16:16…

    In Greek mythology, Pythian a serpent dwelt in the region of Pytho . (Isaiah 8:19NIV) When someone tells you to consult mediums , who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Feb. 27, 2017 12:15 p.m.

    >>It was not a river rock people saw things in.

    Joseph's seer stones and the Nephite U&T were separate objects. The article makes that pretty clear.

    >>It's troubling and insulting.

    Look at it logically, not emotionally.

    Looking at it in purely logical terms, one believes Joseph either was a prophet or wasn't. If he was, the instrument through which he received revelation is irrelevant--God, being omnipotent, could reveal information by any means that reassured Joseph that what he was receiving was divinely inspired. If Joseph wasn't a prophet, the revelatory "instrument" would be equally irrelevant for obvious reasons.

    In either case, the real proof lies not in the revelatory instrument but in the revelation itself -- in this case, the Book of Mormon. If it's true, who cares what the instrument was by which it came? If it's false, again, who cares about the instrument?

    Whether the BoM is true or not is the real issue, not the means by which it came.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 11:48 a.m.

    Seer stones are not a part of Christianity and never have been.

    In Joseph's day they were common parts of occult practice, along with crystal balls and dousing rods.

    Joseph was arrested in Manchester New York in May of 1826 accused of using a seer stone to defraud his neighbors as part of a treasure hunting scheme. He was again arrested when claimed to be using these processes to translate the BoM a couple years later as it appeared to be a violation of some agreement he made with the court to cease this practice following the court appearance in Manchester in 1826.

    Why wasn't this included in the article?

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 27, 2017 10:48 a.m.

    This may be the most incredulous thing I have ever read in this publication. It's troubling and insulting.

    I suggest people look at sources, such as Hebrew scholars, who will give you an accurate (inasmuch as one exists) description of what a biblical U&T was. It was not a river rock people saw things in.

    Also see Dan Vogel and Richard Bushman for a more honest description of what Joseph was doing with his stones (one of which he stole form Willard Chase).

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 27, 2017 9:55 a.m.

    Related beliefs in the power of stones include blood stones which some carried as a talisman. As I recall, Brigham Young had a blood stone. Where he got the belief, I don’t know. But his father John Young had fought in the American Revolution. There were soldiers in Washington’s army who carried blood stones in the belief that if they were wounded in battle, their blood stone would keep them from bleeding to death.

    It’s easy for us today to laugh at those beliefs as silly superstitions, even though in our own times we have new age religions that believe in the healing power of crystals. So seer stones, such as Joseph used, were not quite as eccentric as they may seem to us today. They were, in fact, part of folk beliefs of the time and were far more widespread than we today appreciate.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Feb. 27, 2017 9:44 a.m.

    @cjb
    Here on the Deseret news I'm certain I've seen recreations of the Urim and Thummim based on people's descriptions and I thought it had clear stones set almost like spectacles. I might be misremembering since I always think of them as clear as well.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 27, 2017 9:20 a.m.

    Before Mormonism, there were folk beliefs in colonial America regarding divining stones. Believers thought that by taking the stones with them when visiting a cemetery, one might be able to see the spirits of the departed through the stones.

  • summarizerer Berryville, VA
    Feb. 27, 2017 8:41 a.m.

    @skeptic

    "The new beginning of open disclosure of Mormon history..."

    Oh I guess you missed the Joseph Smith papers.

    "Church transparency needs to be expanded to encompass open dialogue and full disclosure of that of an open and honest organization..."

    Can't think of how the Church has been closed and dishonest? The Church has published all the controversial topics in Church magazines over the years. This secrecy that you suggest has been in plain view of members for years.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 27, 2017 8:04 a.m.

    The new beginning of open disclosure of Mormon history and superstitions is refreshing. Church transparency needs to be expanded to encompass open dialogue and full disclosure of that of an open and honest organization that can be trusted, understood, respected and appreciated. And to escape the mentality of secrecy and exclusion.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Feb. 26, 2017 8:30 p.m.

    I love the insights that the very things that cause some angst today were seen as credible and even necessary in Joseph's day.

    From the Bible, talking bushes that burn without being consumed, talking donkeys, sticks that turn into snakes, and brass snakes that cure snakebite are all seen as acceptable to most believers. So too are talking snakes, fig trees dying upon a spoken word, firery chariots taking men to heaven, fire coming down from heaven to consume sacrifices, and trumpets causing city walls to fall, not to mention the sea parting or the world being flooded.

    But my goodness, angels with gold plates and seer stones and personal visitations from God are just unbelievable. Smh at the inconsistency among some who claim to believe the bible.

    The sacraments of various Christian churches are all physical touchstones to help connect mortal men to the spiritual. Why would the existence and religious use of staffs, crosses, special clothing, stones, or other physical objects for spiritual purposes seem unusual to anyone who really understands the history of Christianity or any other human spirituality?

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Feb. 26, 2017 5:27 p.m.

    >>Am I missing anything?

    Yes. I strongly encourage you to attend the closest LDS chapel next Sunday morning to find out what.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 26, 2017 3:13 p.m.

    Somehow I had always imagined seer stones as clear.

    Prayer works sometimes to get interesting answers about wanted knowledge of things.

    I imagine a seer stone would be more reliable and quicker.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Feb. 26, 2017 11:06 a.m.

    After 150 years, is this what is called a "soft roll out"?

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Feb. 26, 2017 10:01 a.m.

    So.... much of Mormonism is defined by Joseph looking into a hat with a magical rock in it describing a culture that has no empirical proof in the America's? Am I missing anything?