Coverup?

by
August 20, 2008
Q. Why does the Church not tell people that the Prophet Smith “translated” part of the [Book of Mormon] by looking into a hat using a seer stone? An Elder of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles wrote about this in the Ensign [the Church’s monthly English-language publication], but why don’t missionaries tell the whole story of the translation? It seems like the Church is hiding something.

I understand how you must feel — betrayed to learn about something that seems so odd for the first time, but it really isn’t that odd. One of the best ways to make Mormonism out to be cultish and strange is to take facts completely out of their context–just leave them standing there naked and defenseless. Learning about the process of translation is the best way to understand this fact in its context. nelsonElder Russell M. Nelson gave a great talk about the process of translation at the Missionary Training Center, and he spoke about this process of Joseph figuring out how to translate.

It does seem supernatural, but so are most of the amazing stories in the scriptures–Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua crossing the River Jordan, marching around Jericho seven times and the walls collapsing, David slaying Goliath, Samson killing 2,000 Philistines, Christ healing people–himself rising from the dead! etc. We come to expect supernatural things from our God and His servants. Joseph’s use of a seer stone or the Urim and Thummim to translate fits in with all the other miracles that have been documented in the scriptures.

It does a body good.

The Church’s curriculum department must meet the needs of all members. This means everyone from the just-baptized and uninitiated to the seasoned scholars. It’s a tall order to serve milk to some and meat to others, so what generally happens is everyone mainly gets milk. I think the Church prefers that members who are prepared to get more carnivorous in their pursuit of Church history and deeper doctrines learn it through independent study. But the information is readily available to those who want to know. I searched “seer stone” on lds.org and it came up with a list of links with conference talks, manuals, explanations, scriptural citations and other information.

The Church isn’t trying to hide anything–if it isn’t spoon fed into your mouth each week at church, seek it out on your own through prayer, scripture study and other resources (like lds.org). The Lord will readily teach a searching mind (see Matthew 7:7).

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One Response to “Coverup?”

  1. Jenni S

    That’s a really good point. It would be difficult to understand so many things if you don’t know the basics and feel the truth of them first. I remember needing to explain this to people on my mission, but had forgoten about it during daily life. Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed it.