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History of Mormonism

Joseph Smith: Treasure Seeker

Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, on December 23, 1805. His father, Joseph Smith, Sr., spent much of his time digging for imaginary buried treasure. The son followed in his father's footsteps, using occult seeking stones to help him find treasure.


Joseph Smith's interest in treasure-seeking continued even after he became president of the LDS church. In fact, other prominent figures in the church were involved in treasure-seeking, as Quinn also writes, "occult dimensions of treasure digging was prominent among the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, organized in 1835" (p207). Michael Quinn used to be a professor of History at BYU. He was excommunicated from the LDS church in 1993 because he published his research, refusing to keep it hidden.

Smith, of course, denied that he was ever a treasure seeker:


In reality, Stoal "came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain means by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye" (History of Joseph Smith, by Lucy Smith, 91-92). In an interview published in Historical Magazine, May 1870, Joseph Smith, Sr. said his son had been a treasure digger and had used peep-stones. He also claimed to read fortunes.


Peep-stone gazing was illegal in the 1820s, and in the New York v Joseph Smith case of March 20, 1826, Smith was found guilty of money-digging:



Joseph Smith: Church Founder

Joseph Smith claimed to have had a vision in 1820 in which it was revealed that he was the Lord's prophet for this dispensation. The angel Moroni appeared at the side of Smith's bed in 1823, beginning the story of the Golden Plates. Smith's personal account of the event is record in History 1:29-54. Smith didn't write the information down until 3 years after the event supposedly took place. However, even this long period of time does not explain Smith's big mistake.

In the 1851 version of Pearl of Great Price, Smith identifies the angel as Nephi--an entirely different character in the Book of Mormon. In newer editions, Smith's mistake has been corrected and the messenger identified as Moroni. Many Mormons deny this mistake, but it is in the handwritten manuscripts of the Mormon church history which was supervised by Smith himself. Smith oversaw the publishing of the history in 1842, with the angel still identified as Nephi.

Smith claimed to have received the golden tablets in 1827, translating them from 1827 to 1829, when Oliver Cowdery visited Smith's father-in-law's house and was "converted" to Mormonism. He was one of the scribes who wrote down what Smith dictated on the other side of a curtain. The translation was finished in New York, published as the Book of Mormon in 1830. Joseph Smith, along with his brothers Hyrum and Samuel, Cowdery, and David and Peter Whitmer (whose house he stayed at in New York) founded the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830. The church was renamed the Church of Latter-day Saints in 1834, and then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1838.




Published with the Permission of Epologetics.org
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