Richard Bushman; Historian and co-editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, seems to picture magic as a version of or partner to the Gospel. In fact, he calls it a “preparatory gospel” in his book Rough Stone Rolling (pg. 54).
“When he married Emma Hale in 1827, Joseph was on the eve of realizing himself as a prophet. He may still have been involved in magic, but he was sincere when he told Emma’s father that his treasure-seeking days were over. Magic had served its purpose in his life. In a sense, it was a preparatory gospel.”
Each and every member of the Church is left with a critical decision. Is the new Mormon history, neo-Mormonism, promoted by intellectuals like Richard Bushman accurate? Or are the traditional teachings of leaders of the Church, including the testimony of President Gordon B. Hinckley….”I have no doubt there was folk magic practiced in those days. Without question there were superstitions and the superstitious. I suppose there was some of this in the days when the Savior walked the earth. There is even some in this age of so-called enlightenment. For instance, some hotels and business buildings skip the numbering of floor thirteen. Does this mean there is something wrong with the building? Of course not. Or with the builders? No.Similarly, the fact that there were superstitions among the people in the days of Joseph Smith is no evidence whatever that the Church came of such superstition.
Joseph Smith himself wrote or dictated his history. It is his testimony of what occurred, and he sealed that testimony with his life. It is written in language clear and plain and unmistakable. From an ancient record he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. It is here for all to see and handle and read. Those who have read with faith and inquired in prayer have come to a certain knowledge that it is true. The present effort of trying to find some other explanation for the organization of the Church, for the origin of the Book of Mormon, and for the priesthood with its keys and powers will be similar to other anti-Mormon fads which have come and blossomed and faded. Truth will prevail. A knowledge of that truth comes by effort and study, yes. But it comes primarily as a gift from God to those who seek in faith.”Gordon B. Hinckley, “Lord, Increase Our Faith,” Ensign, November 1987, 52-53. Also Hinckley, Gordon Bitner. Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1997. Print. 103