Treasure-Seeking Ways of Joseph
The following is an excerpt from an interview of Joseph Smith’s father by local journalists. The book A New Witness for Christ in America was written by Francis Kirkham in defense of the Church. Mr. Kirkham was tutored by James Talmage, attended BYU, graduated from Univ. Michigan, went to law school at the Univ. of Utah and even taught at BYU for two years, served 3 yr mission for the Church and wrote a grammar book for missionaries to help them learn Maori.
While living in New York and performing in-depth studies of the Book of Mormon Mr. Kirkham had the opportunity to compile dozens of interviews and articles of Joseph Smith’s family members and contemporaries from New York and Ohio newspapers. The compilation of those papers resulted in Kirkham’s book series A New Witness for Christ in America.
This particular excerpt gives us further insight from inside the Smith family and what he (Joe Smith, Jr.) was doing at the time.
As you’ll see, Joseph Smith, Sr. spoke rather candidly of his son’s activities and aside from calling him illiterate you can see that his son’s behavior wasn’t any cause of concern even though he was digging for treasures and money in the ground and looking in hats at magical rocks.
The other problem here is Joseph’s age. The claim of Joseph only being fourteen is but one of several varying accounts.
A New Witness for Christ in America 2:384; “Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet – In reply to our questions, concerning the ancient records that had been found, he remarked that they had suffered a great deal of persecution on account of them; that many had been there for that purpose, and had made evil reports of them, intimating that perhaps we had come for a like purpose; but, becoming satisfied of our good intentions and that we only sought correct information, he gave us the following history, as near as I can repeat his words:
His son Joseph, whom he called the illiterate, when about fourteen years of age, happened to be where a man was looking into a dark stone and telling people, therefrom, where to dig for money and other things.
Joseph requested the privilege of looking into the stone, which he did by putting his face into the hat where the stone was. It proved to be not the right stone for him; but he could see some things, and, among them, he saw the stone, and where it was, in which he could see whatever he wished to see. Smith claims and believes that there is a stone of this quality, somewhere, for every one.
The place where he saw the stone was not far from their house; and, under pretence of digging a well, they found water and the stone at a depth of twenty or twenty-two feet. After this, Joseph spent about two years looking into this stone, telling fortunes, where to find lost things, and where to dig for money and other hidden treasure.
About this time he became concerned as to his future state of existence, and was baptized, becoming thus a member of the Baptist Church. Soon after joining the Church, he had a very singular dream; but he did not tell his father of his dream, until about a year afterwards. He then told his father that, in his dream, a very large and tall man appeared to him, dressed in an ancient suit of clothes, and the clothes were bloody.
And the man said to him that there was a valuable treasure, buried many years since, and not far from that place; and that he had now arrived for it to be brought to light, for the benefit of the world at large; and, if he would strictly follow his directions, he would direct him to the place where it was deposited, in such a manner that he could obtain it.” – Francis W. Kirkham
1 John 2:15-17; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
The first thing that came to mind when I read this was “oops”.
It’s no secret in or out of the Church that Joseph spent a fair amount of time searching for buried treasure. In fact, he mentions as much in his testimony found in the Pearl of Great Price. The question isn’t whether or not he did this, but his moral character as a prophet of God.
Why would anyone spend two years “looking into a stone, telling fortunes, telling people where to find lost things, and where to dig for money and other hidden treasures”? He didn’t do these things two times or even for two weeks or two months, but for two years! While Smith did mention he engaged in “childish” things he only “got fourteen dollars” for his labor.
It’s hard to believe Smith only earned fourteen dollars in two years time for providing services in so many venues.
Is this the mark of a prophet of God?
Where in the Bible do we see this type of behavior with a prophet?
There are other sources identifying the bloody angel as Moroni (see Janice Hutchinson’s article Joseph Smith; Magic, Masonry & the Occult you can access on our site here.)
Why didn’t Joseph talk about this in his testimony in the Pearl of Great Price? This is yet another version of the first vision the Church doesn’t readily make available to its members.
It’s clear in all the writings we have on Smith he wasn’t one of us. The list of reasons why he wasn’t one of us is exhaustive and we’ve only seen a few of them here.