The Book of Mormon

The Church Shows Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone for the First Time: Five Things to Know about the Seer Stone
Seer stone used by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Photo by Weldon C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr.

In Doctrine and Covenants section 124:125, it says “I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet.”

We know what most of those things are, but what exactly does it mean to be a “seer”?

A 2015 Ensign article explains the following about seers:

“’Seeing’ and ‘seers’ were part of the American and family culture in which Joseph Smith grew up. Steeped in the language of the Bible and a mixture of Anglo-European cultures brought over by immigrants to North America, some people in the early 19th century believed it was possible for gifted individuals to ‘see,’ or receive spiritual manifestations, through material objects such as seer stones.”

In the Guide to the Scriptures, it also states that “In the Book of Mormon, Ammon taught that only a seer could use special interpreters, or a Urim and Thummim.”

When the Joseph Smith papers released a picture of a brown seer stone owned by Joseph Smith in connection with a printing of an original Book of Mormon manuscript, many questions were asked about seer stones—from where they came from to how they are used. We know from the Joseph Smith Papers that Joseph’s original brown seer stone made its way, through the years, to seven different people before it was donated to the Church. We also know he had a second seer stone.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT LDS LIVING.

Book of Mormon Musical
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran these ads in the playbill of the musical.

The Tennessean reported that Tyler Todd, a man who wasn’t looking for Mormonism or even a new religion found himself curious after watching some videos of the Tony-Award winning “The Book of Mormon” musical.

We published a similar story and video on Joey Macasieb, who joined the Church and has since served as a full-time missionary. Tyler and Joey have similar stories in that neither were looking, but both thought “why not find out more?” with the result of them looking more seriously, asking God for themselves, and ultimately deciding to be baptized.

We think these stories are really something as this musical is meant to be a mockery of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a religion. It’s surprising to know that there are so many baptisms that come from this irreverent and satirical musical, but we just keep hearing stories about this happening.

Tyler Todd told the Tennessean:

“I just thought it was really funny and obviously I knew it was kind of making fun of the religion,” Todd said. “I was like, ‘Well, I’ve heard their side of things, I want to hear what people who actually believe think about it.”

Tyler was baptized in September, a little over a year after he first encountered the musical. We don’t agree with the musical’s message, but we sure are glad that some can see past the crass humor like Tyler, Joey (and a former California Mayor) did and really look deeper to see if there is substance to what we crazy Mormons believe.

image via LDSSmile.com

Many people don’t know Jeffrey and Heidi Swinton. But then again, many of you might. Heidi Swinton wrote “To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson” and served as a member of the Relief Society General Board as well as at different times as both a Primary and Young Women president at the ward level. Her husband Jeffrey has served as an area seventy, stake president, and bishop in the LDS Church. He spent his career as a lawyer, working for the Salt Lake City law firm of Stoker and Swinton until 2006 when he was called be president of the England London South Mission.

They both are currently serving in the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center. One day, they started to notice that Chinese tour buses would stop by the temple and tourist would get out but not actually come onto the temple grounds. Curious, Elder Swinton went up to one of the drivers and asked them why they didn’t come onto the temple ground to which they replied, we didn’t know we could. He told them that it was free, air conditioned and that they even had sister missionaries that could explain what the temple was and tell them more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their native tongue. This is not even mentioning the spirit and calm that the tourists felt as they walk through and around the temple grounds there.

READ FULL STORY AT LDS SMILE.

image via ldsliving.com

Last year the Church released photos of Joseph Smith’s brown seer stone. But did you know he also had a white seer stone that might have been even more important to him?

Palmyra resident Pomeroy Tucker, who worked on the publication of the Book of Mormon, remembered that Joseph Smith’s seer stone had a “whitish, glassy appearance, though opaque, resembling quartz” in his 1867 book. Other late sources claiming to have interviewed early Palmyrans reflected Tucker’s description of the stone, making it difficult to know if they were original observations or mimicking his more informed, publicly declared opinion. Nevertheless, they stated that Joseph Smith used a white stone.

Unlike his brown stone, Joseph Smith did not give his white stone away. In fact, the Nauvoo Apostles remember him showing them his seer stone, and they imply that he may have been using it in some way. Joseph showed Wilford Woodruff his white stone in 1841, years before Woodruff ever saw the brown stone (which was presumably in Oliver Cowdery’s possession until 1850). During that time, Joseph had been working on the Book of Abraham and preparing the Nauvoo Temple endowment. On 27 December 1841, Wilford Woodruff wrote that Joseph showed him his seer stone at a meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. From the fall of 1841 to the summer of 1842, Wilford Woodruff called Joseph Smith “Joseph the seer” in his journal numerous times.

View full article at LDS Living or buy the book here.

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Ten Little-Known Facts About the Book of Mormon
(Image via ldsmag.com)

Many might not know Catholic professor Dr. Stephen H. Webb, but he did much to champion LDS beliefs, values, and scriptures. When most of the world refused to view Mormons as Christians, he publicly defended them, saying, “Mormons are more Christian than many mainstream Christians who do not take seriously the astounding claim that Jesus is the Son of God.”

When Webb passed away at the age of 54 on March 5, 2016, many, including Mormon scholars, mourned the loss of this incredible man.

“No contemporary non-LDS theologian engaged with Mormon theology with more care and rigor than Stephen H. Webb,” Blair Hodges of Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship told the Salt Lake Tribune.

He believed and demonstrated that Mormonism, particularly the Book of Mormon, was “obsessed with Christ.”

READ FULL ARTICLE AT LDS LIVING.

image via ldsmag.com

I don’t remember the exact moment I became converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I feel as though I have always known that He is my Savior.  I have always felt a part of me knows Him, and the rest of me is just trying to remember.  I know that I know Him.  I know that I will see Him again.  I look forward to that day more than anything.

However, I do remember the precise moment that I knew the Book of Mormon was true.  I was raised in the Church.  I was baptized when I was eight, and ordained a deacon when I was 12.  But shortly after my ordination, I stopped attending church.  I just didn’t want to go to the meetings. The older I got and the further into my teenage years I went, the less I wanted to attend.

I knew then, even at that time, that I was making the wrong choice.  Indeed, I was making many wrong choices that took me to a rather dark place.  I also suffered from insomnia and depression.  I could feel hope slipping further and further away.  My life grew darker and darker.  I kept to myself. I rarely spoke to my family.  I didn’t continue my education after high school and made other poor choices.

Read full story at Meridian Magazine.

Daniel Peterson at Fair Mormon Conference Image Via ldsmag.com

Daniel C. Peterson gave this talk we are excerpting at the FAIRMormon conference in August, and it can be read in its entirety here

Sometimes people say “All right, name your single best evidence for the Book of Mormon” or “Name the three absolute proofs for the Book of Mormon.”

Peterson said, “I don’t believe there are any such things. I think that what Latter-day Saint scholars – apologists, if you want to use that term – have thought they were doing with the Book of Mormon…is constructing a cumulative case, no one element of which is definitive, no one element of which will simply force, compel unbelievers to suddenly cave in, surrender. I don’t believe that that’s the Lord’s intention. I don’t believe that there will be any such things.”

He said even if we found a stela in Central America that said, “I, Nephi, was here” people would still find a way to get around that.

Yet, Peterson noted, what he has been unable to do—“and I think I have tried seriously and honestly—[is] to construct a case or construct an explanation of the Book of Mormon other than Joseph Smith’s that really accounts for all the data.”

Joseph Smith’s critics have come up with many explanations for the origins Book of Mormon, but they are convoluted.

Peterson said, “My argument would be that all of the counter-explanations of the Book of Mormon that I’ve looked at – and I think I’ve looked at all of them – run into walls. You eventually run into something where, it simply can’t get you there. It can’t explain everything that needs to be explained.

Read full report on Meridian Magazine.

Front and back of four of the six Kinderhook plates are shown in these facsimiles (rough copies of even earlier published facsimiles), which appeared in 1909 in History of the Church, vol. 5, pp. 374–75. Image found on LDS.org

The discovery of fake ancient plates, called the Kinderhook Plates, and the excitement they caused within the LDS community teaches us a lot about how Joseph Smith received revelation and who he was as both a prophet and as a man.

A number of Latter-day Saints like to discuss ancient America discoveries and how they might relate to the Book of Mormon. This is not new to the twenty-first-century church but has been a topic of interest since the Restoration. Letters and journals from the 1830s indicate that many early Mormons—including Joseph Smith—were fascinated by any and all ancient American discoveries and, using their fallible human brains, tried to figure out if such finds were connected to the Book of Mormon.

Some early LDS critics took advantage of this interest and decided to set up a sting operation wherein they hoped to expose Joseph Smith as a fraud. In the spring of 1843, one of these men claimed to have had dreams of a treasure buried in a mound near Kinderhook Illinois. After sharing this story with a local Mormon, a group of men—including the Latter-day Saint—excavated the mound seen in the dream.

About ten feet down they unearthed some bones and six brass, bell-shaped plates that were engraved with curious characters. All of the men were excited about the find, but the Mormon in the group thought that this would help prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Word and excitement about the discovery spread quickly—especially in the LDS community. The Saints were eager for Joseph to translate the plates. Although Joseph had a lot of other things going on, he did take possession of the plates for a little less than a week.

Read the full article at Meridian Magazine.

Image from LDS.net

Personal experience colors our perception of everything. I’ve had some unusual experiences. I’m a Jewish convert. I believe like a Mormon, but I still have a Jewish mind (believe me, it’s something unique to us). We grabbed our five kids and moved to Israel some time ago, hoping to stay “indefinitely,” which turned out to be 8 years. I learned a lot there — about Jews, about Israel, about Judaism, and about myself. What does a Jew who has lived for years in Israel see in the Book of Mormon that others might not notice?

1. Nephi gives the Passover recitation

The Passover is the most important holiday of the year for Jews. The first night of the holiday is celebrated with a feast inside a ritual. The recitation of the story about the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt is the centerpiece of the evening and reason for the holiday.  And, in addition to the story of deliverance and redemption, Jews always include prayers that ALL people may be free from oppression. Whenever the chips are down, whether it’s Passover, or not, Jews hearken back to the miracles God performed for them in the wilderness.

Interesting that when Laman and Lemuel become most belligerent and faithless, Nephi launched into the Passover recitation, including both parts! God saves the Israelites, but is no respecter of persons. (Read it in 1 Nephi 17:23-42.)

2. The Brother of Jared knew about the zohar that lit Noah’s Ark

Brother of Jared 16 stones
Brother of Jared following Noah’s example

If you will now turn to Genesis 6:16 and read the verse and the footnote. “A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” Notice that the word “window” has been mistranslated, and the footnote says, “HEB tsohar; some rabbis believed it was a precious stone that shone in the ark” (Ether 2:23 (23–24).

The Hebrew word Zohar, means “light” or “brilliance” and that light was connected with magical stones. The Brother of Jared logically thought that if it worked for Noah, it could work for his eight dark ships. Hence, sixteen stones presented to the Savior to be set aglow by His touch.

READ the rest at LDS.net.

Book of Mormon Languages
image from mormonnewsroom.com

In March 1830, after months of working six days a week and 11–12 hours a day, pressmen finally finished the first 5,000 English copies of the Book of Mormon.

But the English language was just the beginning of the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Soon after the first copies of the Book of Mormon were published, the work of translating it into French, German, Danish, Welsh, and Italian began.

At first, progress was slow. By 1968, the Book of Mormon was translated in only 18 languages.

But over the past few decades, translation has accelerated. As of 2015, the Book of Mormon has been translated into 110 different languages spoken by over 76 percent of the world’s population, truly beginning to bring the Book of Mormon to, “all nations, kindreds, tongues and people” (D&C 42:58).

Here are a few languages the Book of Mormon is translated into that you may not have known about.

1. Aymara: The language used by the indigenous people in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America. About 3 million people speak Aymara in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.

2. Bislama: An English-based creole language, Bislama is one of the official languages of Vanuatu along with English and French and has about 6,200 native speakers.

Read the rest at LDS Living.