‘The Seer:’ Reliable Source?
Many anti-Mormons make extensive use of this publication in framing their accusations against the Church. Many members of the Church have not even heard of this publication, much less are familiar with its origins. The Seer was published in Washington, DC, by Orson Pratt, and he used the publication to provide a printed pulpit for his own ideas and pet speculations. It was never considered official LDS doctrine, nor was it ever published by or endorsed by the Church. Elder B.H. Roberts wrote the following in response to those in his day who were heralding the writings of The Seer as representative of official LDS doctrine:
The Seer, by formal action of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles of the Church was repudiated, and Elder Orson Pratt himself sanctioned the repudiation. There was a long article published in the Deseret News on the 23rd of August, 1865, over the signatures of the First Presidency and Twelve setting forth that this work–the Seer–together with some other writings of Elder Pratt, were inaccurate. In the course of that document, after praising, as well they might, the great bulk of the work of this noted apostle, they say: “But the Seer, the Great First Cause, the article in the Millennial Star, of Oct. 15, and Nov. 1, 1850 contains doctrine which we cannot sanction and which we have felt to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works or harts of works are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed.“1
The next time you see an anti-Mormon argument, look carefully at what they cite as the sources, if any. There is a good chance their sources will be from The Seer. Interestingly, they almost never use official sources of LDS doctrine to level their accusations.
The reason, of course, is very simple. Anti-Mormons are not interested, for the most part, in addressing the real beliefs held by Mormons or the real doctrines embraced by the Church as contained in our official sources of doctrine. They choose instead to focus on carefully selected excerpts from obscure writings to provide the sole foundation for their accusations. Not only is this approach dishonest, it is outright deceitful. But such is their methodology and modus operandi. Obscure, repudiated writings from the fringe of an individual’s personal speculations simply sound more damning. The fact that the Church publicly denounced them is simply a bothersome detail they correctly assume most people won’t take the time to find out.
1B.H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.2, 294.