Quote of the Day

According to an article in MormonTimes, BYU Professor Daniel C. Peterson last week explained that Joseph Smith did not translate the Book of Mormon from golden plates but by looking at a stone in a hat placed over his face. Said the good doctor, “It was a translation by revelation.” Asked why God would even bother with the plates, “Peterson said he didn’t know, except perhaps as a reassurance and an evidence to him that they existed.”

To this my good friend Lincoln replied:

So God had a line of prophets pass the plates down from generation to generation for over 1000 years, painstakingly inscribing only the most precious spiritual parts of the gospel on them, so that the final prophet “Mormon” could spend his life making a summary of the most holy important parts on golden plates. Then the plates were buried by Mormon’s son Moroni, who watched over the plates for over 1400 years during the dark ages, while the world slumbered spiritually, so that a young farm boy named Joseph Smith who was predestined to be the one and only prophet of the dispensation of the fullness of times, could be led to the hallowed spot by the angel and prepared for four years time to eventually receive the plates. Then, under angelic direction Joseph took the plates and protected them from the evil men who were waiting that very day to take them away, and hid them in a tree trunk. And later young Joseph hid them under the floorboards under the woodstove and also in a grain container that was completely ransacked but yet the mobs could still never find them due to God’s miraculous power. All of these things were done over millenia leading up to the moment when Joseph looked at a rock in his hat and didn’t even use the plates in the translation. Nice.


6 Responses to Quote of the Day

  1. Jay says:

    Thanks for pointing out this article.

    “Smith never went through the golden pages of the ancient record, but instead put the seer stone in a hat, then buried his head in the hat to shut out ambient light. The stone lit up a line of text, about 30 words at a time, which Smith then dictated to his scribe. Once the text was transcribed correctly, the line disappeared and a new line came into focus, Peterson said, quoting eye witnesses who were 19th Century farmers associated with Smith.”

    I thought it was significant that Peterson says, “Smith never went through the golden pages of the ancient record” This is the first time I’ve heard an apologist say that. Usually they say there are many methods that were used and the stone in the hat (if they own up to it) was just one of those ways, thus justifying the existence of the plates.

    I also think it is interesting that the Church is allowing more freedom for its employees to talk about controversial subjects (as long as they don’t criticize the Church). It appears that they want to come out and tell everyone the things that anti-Mormons have been pointing to all this time, but they don’t quite know how to do it. I think they are hoping that by slowing letting it out (Joseph Smith papers project) and creating a faith-based context for the material, they will be able to avoid turning most members and potential converts off. I think they’re probably right. Most members will accept explanations like Peterson’s despite the depiction of the translation process presented by the Church for over a century and in the process will be able to say, “so what” to Church detractors that bring it up.

    A common belief among LDS members is that Smith put up a blanket or sheet between him and the scribe, primarily Oliver Cowdery, so the scribe couldn’t see Smith working with the plates.

    I wonder where LDS members would get a crazy idea like that? Peterson states this like some sort of mass rumor is responsible for members thinking, no “believing”, that Joseph Smith actually translated from the plates (Something held as fact by the vast majority of LDS members). This idea has been propagated so much by the Church itself that it’s a wonder anyone knows he used any other method at all.

  2. runtu says:

    If you saw the graphic on the article, you’ll know where members got that crazy idea. I think Peterson et al. are engaging in a form of inoculation: it’s better that members find out about this stuff from official sources, rather than stumbling across it and being shocked. I’m pretty sure that was the reason for the Bushman book about Joseph Smith. The church seems to be very carefully controlling how and when this information is disseminated; sort of the old Clinton adage: you have to control the news.

    Anyway, Dan’s been saying this for a while. I suspect that the stone-in-hat thing will be widely known within a few years. But Lincoln’s point is a good one: why bother with all the rigamarole regarding the plates if Joseph Smith never actually used them?

  3. Jay says:

    I saw the picture and I’ve seen many others like it published by the Church. I have yet to see a picture describing the process as Peterson says it was exclusively done; that has been put out by the LDS Church. I suppose they want to wait until more of the membership knows about it before they start to commission those paintings:)

    I also think he makes a valid point. Peterson tries to justify the plates existence by claiming they were to reassure Smith of his mission. I think that is possible but definitely a stretch even for a believing member.

  4. runtu says:

    There’s always South Park. 🙂

  5. Kitty says:

    I think the peep stone method is analogous to the Mason rites in the temple. Sally Chase, a known seer in Joseph Smith’s day used the peep stone exactly like JS did, using a hat for darkness so the stone would shine the answers. She was hired to look for the gold plates and at least one author says that she lived by JS’s farm and that he indeed met her and used her method to find his own “special” stone. As for the temple rites, JS joined the Masons and shortly thereafter we have those unique insignias and pomp and circumstance gratuitously from his Mason membership. A coincidence? NOT!

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