What is this seer stone used by Joseph Smith?

seer stone, lds, mormon, church, joseph smithby Matt Slick

The seer stone that was used by Joseph Smith is the instrument through which God supposedly gave him the ability to translate the Book of Mormon. It is a single stone pictured at right. According to various LDS documents, the manner of translation has been described.

  • “The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: ‘I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. 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 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’” (Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, p. 61. Citing David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 12).

Joseph Smith said that he received golden plates from the angel Moroni and along with the plates was the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate of 12 stones worn by the high priest. He would use it to determine the will of God.

  • Exodus 28:30, “You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.

Why LDS Disclosure?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is becoming more transparent in these latter days. It has admitted its involvement with the Mountain Meadows massacre. It is admitted Joseph Smith had many wives. Now, it has released a picture of the so-called seer stone that Joseph Smith used, according to Mormonism, to translate the Book of Mormon.

Why are they doing this? In my opinion, it is because the Internet which allows for a great deal of exposure to the LDS Church's more obscure doctrines, practices, and history.  I think they are trying to get ahead of the game, so to speak and do damage control.

Citations from LDS Authorities on the Seer Stone

The Seer stone has been the topic of many articles within Mormonism over the years. Please consider some of the following quotes written by Mormons.

  • Seer Stone Found while Smith was digging a well.  “The ‘Seer Stone’ referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it--as described above - as well as by means of the ‘Interpreters’ found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates” (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God 2:108).
  • Full Sentences would appear and not disappear until written down correctly, “By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say ‘written,’ and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God 2:109. Quoting Martin Harris from his statement to Edward Stevenson, Millennial Star 24:86,87).
  • Urim and Thummim were with the plates, “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows--and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim--deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book” (Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith History 1:35).
  • Smith said through the Urim and Thummim he translated the record.  “With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called ‘Urim and Thummim,’ which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:537).






About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.