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Showing posts from September, 2013

FHE Lesson 3: Joseph Smith & Seer Stones

Primary source material for this lesson:

"Seer Stones," The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
"Urim and Thummim," The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
"Joseph Smith/Seer Stones," The FAIRMormon Wiki
"Joseph Smith/Occultism and magic," The FAIRMormon Wiki

1. Why did Joseph Smith use seer stones? Aren't they part of folk magic rather than religion?

In the 1800s, many people had ideas about how to access supernatural power that seem strange to us because of modern scientific advances. But they didn't see any difference between what we label "magic" and religious practices recorded in the Bible, such as Joseph of Egypt using a silver cup to divine (Genesis 44:2, 5) or Aaron using a rod to perform miracles (Exodus 7:9-12). Things like divining rods and seer stones were not considered magical or associated with the occult.

It is not clear how to distinguish a "magical" from a "religious" belief in the supernatural. In the case of …