Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Ladies and gentlemen, have you heard the news? The stone has been shown! What stone? The seer stone! The very same seer stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon!
Maybe you've never heard of the seer stone before. Let me enlighten you: Joseph Smith didn't really use the golden plates in the translation process. That's probably what you learned in Seminary or Sunday School when you were a kid. That's how I learned it. I learned that Joseph Smith looked at the golden plates for a long time and prayed a lot until he was miraculously fluent in Reformed Egyptian. Then, Joseph Smith read out loud from the golden plates, line by line, to a scribe, who wrote it down.
Well... it turns out that that version of the story was pretty much bogus. It turns out that there are several eyewitnesses who describe the real "translation" process, and I use the word "translation" loosely. The real translation process went something like this: Joseph Smith put a stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, deep into the hat. He looked into the darkness, and then spoke the words to a scribe, who then wrote the words down.
And what exactly was Joseph Smith seeing when he looked into his hat? That's a question that no one can accurately answer. In my opinion, he wasn't seeing anything but darkness, a rock, and a hat.
For more information on Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon, click here.
And, for a more faithful perspective, read the Church's essay about the Book of Mormon translation.
So, the big news is, the Church has had this seer stone locked away in a vault for probably about 180 years, but now it's finally been taken out, photographed and posted on the Internet, for all the world to see. This is a step in the right direction. This is a move towards transparency. I applaud the Church for holding a press conference and showing a picture of the seer stone.
(Well, it's one of the seer stones. I think Joseph Smith used a few of them, but this seems to be the most important one. Let's not get bogged down in details.)
You should stay LDS because the Church is trying to be more open about its history. If you feel lied to, take comfort in today's news. Take comfort in the fact that the Church is taking steps to correct the mistakes they've made.