Objects as Religious or Magical Tools

Objects have always been a part of biblical religious history. Priests, seers, and prophets used these objects to ask about, interpret, and accomplish the commandments of the Lord. For example, the Urim and Thummim were biblical objects that the high priest was commanded to wear and use. The Urim and Thummim were used by priests and prophets to ask God questions. They received and interpreted the answers through the Urim and Thummim. 

In the Northeastern United States in the 18th and early 19th centuries, where Joseph Smith lived, seer stones or glass looking was a part of the culture. The term “seer” in the name seer stone reflects biblical language from 1 Samuel 9:9, which uses the term “seer” to describe a prophet. In this time and place, seer stones were not incompatible with Christianity, but in fact, a part of Christianity.

Some people take issue with the fact that Joseph Smith used seer stones, first to seek treasure and lost objects, and then to translate the Book of Mormon. However, a study of the Bible clearly shows that religious objects were a significant part of biblical worship. Mormons also believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. The Book of Mormon also contains stories of religious objects that helped people interpret the will of God. For example, the Liahona was an object that helped a man named Lehi and his family travel through the wilderness to a promised land.

  • References
    1. Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; 1 Samuel 14:41 and 28:46.
    2. 1 Nephi 16:10, 16, 26-29, 18:12-14; Alma 37:28-25