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Monday, December 05, 2011

Mitt Not So Crazy After All

The official organ of the Mormon Church, The Deseret News, hosts a column called "Challenging Issues" which attempts to help the righteous explain some of our more unconventional beliefs. The latest column begins:
As we continue our discussion about the Book of Mormon translation... For members who were unaware of the seer stone in the hat, at least two questions or concerns may arise: 1) Is it strange that Joseph used a stone in a hat? 2) Why have we have always been told that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim?
Stone in a hat? What in the heck is the writer talking about"

Elder Russell M Nelson of the Council of the Twelve explains:
Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.
That may sound a bit crazy to some, but "Challenging Issues" arms the faithful with an explanation: seems hypocritical to summarily dismiss Joseph's method of translation because it doesn't fit with pre-conceived views of how God communicates. As with all spiritual claims, the only way to know if they come from God is to ask God for a witness.
But where did the stones come from? That's revealed in an earlier column:
Last week we revisited the Brother of Jared's experience when the Lord touched 16 stones to light the barges for the group's oceanic voyage. The Lord told him to write a record and to seal it up with two stones (possibly two of the 16) so future generations could interpret the text.

These interpreters eventually ended up in the hands of Mosiah the younger, who used them to translate the Jaredite record — the Book of Ether. We don't know exactly how Mosiah acquired the interpreters. It's possible they were found with Ether's plates or that Mosiah was led to them by an angel. It's also possible that he received them from his grandfather, the first Mosiah.

Many years earlier, Mosiah 1 and several other Nephites had merged with the Mulekites in Zarahamela — which was the final resting place of Coriantumr, the last Jaredite king. Mosiah 2 eventually passed the interpreters to other Nephite prophets, and it seems they were included in the stone box with the Book of Mormon plates.
See, Mormons aren't that crazy after all.

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