The what? The Lydian Stone. First of all, the Lydians were an ancient people who lived in what is now Turkey during the Iron Age – but that’s not important right now. One thing that is cool is that it is thought that they were the first people to develop coins for money.
But we are here to talk about the Lydian stones. They are flat pieces of basanite, which is a cousin to quartz, or flint – but that’s not important right now. What we need to know for this discussion is what the ancient Lydians used them for.
Gold. You see, back in the ancient days, they didn’t have fancy electronic, chemical or magnetic ways to determine the quality of gold. Is it 10 karat? 14 karat? 24 karat? Hard to just eyeball it – so the Lydians developed a way to test for the quality of gold with a Lydian stone.
The process was quite simple: You take the piece of gold, and drag it across the stone so that it leaves a scratch mark. Then, you look at the mark. If it looks kind of red, or coppery, the gold is probably not very pure. If it looks really yellow, then it probably is very pure. They would even make charts for color comparison. (Think paint chips at Home Depot.)
Here is a picture of a Lydian stone from a museum somewhere – but that’s not important right now.
See the little gold marks in the corner? That is how it looks. They would compare those marks to the color chart, and could determine the purity of the gold. Apparently it was remarkably accurate. (You can still buy similar test kits today that have the stone and are enhanced by using some acid – can be used for silver and platinum as well. (link)
The part I think is interesting is that by merely scratching the gold against the Lydian stone, the purity of the gold became visible to those who knew what to look for. I don’t know what properties that time of stone has to make it work, but that’s not important right now.
And to make it more interesting, a Lydian Stone also has become known by another name:
You’re probably more familiar with that word, but now it makes more sense. You touch the gold to the stone, and then the value becomes apparent. The word has evolved over the centuries, but still “suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible.” (link)
How did the word evolve from gold worth to “something intangible?” I don’t know – but that’s not important right now.
What IS important right now is that we become EXPERTS in using a spiritual Lydian stone to test for the authenticity and value of the things that are presented to us regarding our faith.
Lots of false doctrines are dressed up to look like evolving ideas, mercy, fairness, changing with the times, etc. Some are shiny and convincing and look a lot like 24 karat gold. The only way to know is to put them to the test to see if they are pure, or merely impure substitutes.
Like gold, the lesser qualities are mixed with copper and other alloys to make it look like gold, without being pure gold. That is the difference between 14 karat and 24 karat. In the arena of gospel truth, the same thing happens. The most impressive and successful false doctrines are masterfully blended with just enough truth to give an illusion of purity – even though they are not. Jesus was even more graphic with this idea when he said this:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:26)
So, here are three ways to apply the principle of the Lydian stone to help us not be tricked by poor-quality teachings that is being peddled by religious con-men, whether they be in the news, in your living room, or in your class on Sunday.)
- Put the teachings up against the scriptures – especially the Book of Mormon. But be careful, sometimes that is not enough, because if you check your calendar, it is 2016 – not 300AD, or 2,000 BC. If someone is using archaic scriptures to argue something that a prophet spoke about last Conference, you are probably looking at lead with some gold paint on it that someone got out of a gum ball machine.
- Put the teachings up against the words of the living prophets. If they look the same, you have real gold. If they contradict, or add beyond the scope of what the brethren teach, you probably have fool’s gold. There is safety from fraud in following the brethren.
- Use the gift of discernment as offered through the Holy Ghost. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) If you don’t have the Holy Ghost with you, invite Him back through repentance and obedience. He would love to hang out with you and help you spot the phonies.
Don’t be fooled by hucksters peddling shiny new doctrines. Put them to the test: If they don’t match up with the living prophets, be confident that it is not pure gold – no matter how appealing it looks. If the Holy Ghost is with you, He will help. The dead prophets in the scriptures are great, too, but when it comes to prophets, Living > Dead.
And that is what’s important right now.
Worth reading: “Recognizing Satan’s Counterfeits.” Ensign, April 2016. Dennis Gaunt.
Now I can’t get a Groucho song out of my head.
Thank you! This is something I have been thinking about for a while now. Glad to see you talk about touchstones.
Love the article I would love to add one more thing. We cannot judge the light we have we the light of early restoration. There is a lot of information coming out right now about the early days if the church. The traditions and the life style were quite different. For instance, many married at a much younger age. Our day would consider some of the ages obscene. Yet, at that time quite normal. They also had different legal traditions and purchasing traditions for instance the early church didn’t have credit cards etc. They also had different views on race. We need to be very careful how we judge our time to theirs. Thus, we have to listen to the living prophets with greater obedience then the dead ones. Just something to consider.
I loved this analogy! Great blog post, as usual!
Thank you! I have discovered the same thing the hard way. Many of those I love have gone down various paths into mists of darkness. Along the way, they each tried to convince me to join them using sometimes very convincing arguments. I sometiems wondered if they were right. I decided that the only way to be safe was to 1.) treasure the scriptures, 2.) listen the living prophets, and 3.) listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. I also realized that this followed a very important law that the Lord has given us: the law of witnesses. The Lord never just sends one witness to teach us truth. Learning to discern what the Holy Ghost was telling me was difficult at times, but has become easier as I apply the law of witnesses to those answers as well: it must make sense to my mind AND feel right in my heart. Knowing the fruits of the spirit helped immensly as well: the things that brought me enlightenment, understanding, joy, peace, love, and compassion, these were things I could trust. I finally learned to recognize ideas and situations that made me feel hopeless, confused, and afraid to be counterfeit.
Thank You, I love your posts and look forward to them each week.
Interesting analogy. Great post.
For some reason, this post reminded me of taking our children to visit the Kirtland Temple many years ago. After the tour our teenage son was quite upset over all the “lies” told about Joseph Smith. I was glad that he felt the lack of the Spirit, but I made sure to point out that technically everything the tour guide said was true; he didn’t tell any lies. However, he also didn’t share ALL of the truth; he was missing things that led to greater clarification and that made a difference. I’m grateful we have the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost that can help us discover the entire truth. It’s a real blessing.