Tuesday, August 11, 2015
[A FUTURE LDS ESSAY TOPIC ON 21ST CENTURY USE OF THE SEER STONE]
In mid 2015, LDS archivists found the original printer's Book of Mormon manuscript and the brown striated seer stone used by prophet Joseph Smith in the early 19th century to translate the divine record inscribed on the gold plates delivered to him by the angel Moroni. Members prior to this commonly believed the Urim and Thummim which came directly from God and have an aura of divinity about them were the only instruments used in the translation process. However, the brown striated seer stone which came from a well Joseph dug before receiving the gold plates, was documented quite readily to have been used for various non-spiritual activities before he employed it to translate the Book of Mormon.
LDS Historian at the time, Richman Bushard, had stated that the seer stone "hadn't been taught in church curriculum, institute or Sunday lesson material--only found in scholarly references…Just as with the general membership, LDS general authorities knew little or nothing about the seer stone before its rediscovery."
President Yuma S.B. Kidden, the 18th LDS prophet used the seer stone to receive many revelations, including sections of the New Book of Laws, which outlines celestial sealing equality for heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and polysexual couples, and several sections on new investment strategies for the Zion wetlands in the state of Deserwet (formerly Florida). Until the 21st century rediscovery of the seer stone, there is no historical evidence that any prophet, since Joseph Smith, used it or any other instrument to receive revelation. The seer stone’s last known location prior to this was on the altar of the Manti temple at its dedication, and where allegedly President Woodruff used it as a paperweight to hold down drafts of his Manifesto.
Once revealed again in 2015 (found in the Granite Mountain in a long lost well that was covered by the patch blanket woven by Sisters Sheri Dew and Wendy Watson, the first sealed LDS gay couple), the seer stone caused many members to ask whether or not it would be used to infuse the prophets with new revelation. Rediscovered, the stone led to the Second Latter-day Restoration and a plethora of new revelations, starting with President Kidden in the 21st century, and is the first indication of using the seer stone since Smith's martyrdom.
President Kidden has said, "The Lord took away the Urim and Thummim, in order that the saints have faith, while giving them the actual seer stone used for nearly all revelations, in order that they might have blessings both then and now."
Much controversy surrounds the early use of the seer stone by founder Joseph Smith. Many members, including leaders felt embarrassed and shocked by it due to its connection to the early 19th century supernatural and magical culture of up-state New York surrounding Smith, and Joseph's use of stones as an instrument of picking up polygamous wives in LDS taverns. Despite its mortal foundation and common practices by Smith who used his large stones for treasure and wife hunting, God never repudiated the use of the seer stone and its employment in translating. This shows that by natural methods, and by small and simple means does the Lord bring about his great work and purpose.
Hence the great Second Latter-day Restoration catalyzed by its rediscovery allowed reformation of the LDS Church. In the process of revelation, divinity is mixed and melded with humanity. The culture of the prophet is as much a part of the revelatory word as is the divine message sent directly from God to his prophet. Since it was re-revealed, knowledge of the seer stone was absorbed in the standard lessons and curricula of church education.
That the seer stone has been installed in Church History museums within a year of its rediscovery has led some to question the Second Latter-day Restoration since the prophet did not actually hold the seer stone during the revelatory process. However, just as Joseph Smith did not hold the gold plates or use the Urim and Thummim, but rather placed the seer stone in a hat and put his head into its brim--proximity to the plates or other instruments are unneeded. Furthermore, with the advancement in technology of modern culture, the Lord may use new devices and methods that far exceed a 19th century stone to reveal modern revelation to the most recent prophets.