You should read this:
I thoroughly enjoyed most of that article. It is refreshing that the church is turning the page and becoming more honest and transparent about history. Some things are still not as direct as they should/could be in this article. I appreciate the inclusions of the pictures, but it seems they are doing everything they can to justify the past use of the graphics, instead of dismissing them as historically false. They still don't have/use any of Joseph translating with the hat, though I'm glad the description is included in the article.
Though this is probably the most honest historical article I've seen officially published by the church, there are still omissions and misrepresentations. The most glaring of them refers to the attempt by the author to minimize the need for a seer to use a Urim and Thummim in order to actually be a seer.
"As Elder Pratt watched the Prophet translate, “Joseph, as if he read his thoughts, looked up and explained that the Lord gave him the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced in the Spirit of inspiration. But now he had advanced so far that he understood the operations of that Spirit, and did not need the assistance of that instrument.”21
Brigham Young told an audience of his thoughts about receiving a seer stone. “I don’t [k]no[w] that I have ever had a desire to have one,” he reflected.22 Brigham’s statement expressed his understanding that seer stones were not essential to being a seer."
The facts are:
1) A seer needs an object to see into just as much as a prophet actually has to prophesy to be a prophet.
This is what the Book of Mormon says about it:
"13 And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.
14 Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages;
15 And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people;
16 And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times." (Mosiah 28:13-16)
2) Joseph did not grow out of using seer stones. He continued to use seer stones his whole life. If I'm not mistaken, he carried one in his pocket every day till the day he died. If I'm not mistaken, one of his seer stones (I think it was the green one) was found on him at the moment of death.
"After finishing the Book of Mormon translation, Smith gave his brown seer stone to Oliver Cowdery, but he occasionally used his white stone to gain revelations, including his translation of what later became known as the Book of Abraham. There is no evidence that Smith used the stone to dictate any of the Doctrine and Covenants revelations after November 1830; during his work on his Bible translation, Smith told Orson Pratt he had stopped using the stone because he had become acquainted with "the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation" and no longer needed it. Nevertheless, in 1855, Brigham Young told the apostles that Smith had had five seer stones, and Young made it clear that Smith "did not regard his seer stones simply as relics of his youth" but had found others while church president."
It saddens me that church historical articles have to be "fact-checked." It saddens me that there would be any non-LDS resource that would be a better source for LDS history than an LDS source. It saddens me that, in light of the glaring omissions and carefully crafted misrepresentations in the recent LDS.org essays and this article, it can only be concluded that the church's new posture on history is just as dishonest as ever. Instead of finally uncovering the truth, they are letting out just enough truth mingled with falsehood to inoculate members against undertaking their own research. Right now, when a lifelong member sees a glossy, well-written post online describing how Joseph actually translated the Book of Mormon with a rock in a hat, they flip out because they had never heard about that, and yet here is the indisputable evidence. They conclude they've been lied to, and end up leaving the church. Now, someone will bring up a rock in the hat, and they will say, "Oh, the church told me about that years ago!" and won't bother researching it further. There is a big difference in telling us what they know compared to telling us what they want us to hear. We are still firmly in the latter category. The article doesn't even talk about the other seer stones! (There is a green one and a white one, and the church has all three).
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