Inconsistency in Joseph Smith’s Canonized History?

I have often pondered the Joseph Smith History found in the Pearl of Great Price. As he told his story of what led him to seek divine guidance (resulting in the First Vision), Joseph described the spiritual atmosphere in his community. He related how confusing he found the doctrinal claims of various Christian denominations. Add to that the competitive air he sensed in the preachers of those churches, and he didn’t know where to turn. Joseph wrote,

“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith–History 1:10)

Child_Huh?As Joseph continued his story, he described how, while he was trying to sort through these issues, he came across a passage in the Bible (James 1:5) which he understood to be instructing him to ask God which church was right.

Joseph described his encounter with the heavenly beings who appeared in answer to his prayer:

“I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) — and which I should join” (Joseph Smith–History 1:18).

I have always wondered about this; it looks like a contradiction. On one page of the History, Joseph wondered which of all the denominations was right, or if they were all wrong. On the next page of the History Joseph said up until that time (the First Vision) he had never even considered that they could all be wrong.

Though this has always puzzled me, I just figured there was something in the story that I was missing; that there is an explanation for the seeming contradiction. But after reading the September 2007 issue of the Ensign, I’m not so sure anymore.

In an article called “Seek Learning by Faith” LDS Apostle David A. Bednar tells Joseph’s story. After setting the stage up to the point of Joseph’s reading of James 1:5, Mr. Bednar said,

“Note the questions Joseph had formulated in his mind and felt in his heart — and which he took to the grove…

“‘In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?…

“‘My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right…and which I should join’ (Joseph Smith–History 1:10, 18).” (Ensign, September 2007, page 64)

Mr. Bednar quoted the same two verses from Joseph Smith–History that I quoted above; however, he omitted the words, “(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong).” It is especially puzzling since Mr. Bednar was specifically calling his audience to “note the questions Joseph had formulated.”

Being naturally curious, when I saw Mr. Bednar’s omission I wondered why he chose to leave that part of Joseph’s question out of the quote. And when I noted that the omission neatly removed any appearance of contradiction in the text, I wondered if that was Mr. Bednar’s intent. This, in turn, makes me wonder if perhaps it is a contradiction and there’s not explanation for it after all.

What do you think?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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28 Responses to Inconsistency in Joseph Smith’s Canonized History?

  1. Jeff B says:

    I know what happened.. Mr. Bednar simply just has trouble reading and skipped that line on accident.

    That looks like a contradiction to me. Unless you do some serious word-bending.

  2. Seth R. says:

    Joseph was simply telling the story from memory and got a few details wrong. As people do when recounting things.

    My dad still tells the story of when he snuck up on me while we were camping and how I shrieked like a little girl. All I can remember is that I jumped pretty high. But not to hear my dad tell it.

    Whatever.

    What do you make of the contradictions in Paul’s account of his vision on the road to Damascus?

  3. Jeff B says:

    Good point Seth. I looked it up and found something completely logical that makes sense. It seems you are reading the two passages in Acts using only “one meaning” of the words you find to be contradictory.

    Here is a link to what I found http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/Isnt_Josephs_Vision_Similar_to_Pauls

    I will give a quick rundown of what it says, but it would be wise to read the whole thing to get all of its context.

    Heres the two passages you seem to find contradictory:

    Acts 9:3-9 (KJV)
    “..And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, HEARING a voice, but SEEING no man”

    Acts 22:3-9 (KJV)
    “..And they that were with me SAW indeed the LIGHT, and were afraid; but they HEARD not the voice of him that spake to me”

    quoting from the site now..
    “So, did these eyewitnesses of the event hear the words of Jesus or not? Did they see Jesus or not?”
    “Well, the key lies not in what Luke wrote, but in how we are reading what Luke wrote. We need to go back to the native language of the manuscript, Greek.”

    The Greek Word for HEAR is “akouo”. This is a primary verb meaning “to hear” or to “UNDERSTAND” For example, “I hear/understand what your saying”

    Greek Word for SEEING is “theoreo”. This word means to be “the spectator of” or to “discern”. For example, “I see” means either “I am able to see with my eyes” or “I understand”.

    Greek word for VOICE is “phone”. This word means either a “tone” (articulate, bestial or artificial in nature) or a “form of language” (like words). For example, musical instruments are said to have a particular “voice” (meaning ‘tone’) and we can give “voice” (meaning words) to our ideas.

    The first passage simply records the fact that eyewitnesses of the vision “HEARD” (akouo) a “SOUND” (phone). The second passage confirms the fact that they were unable to “UNDERSTAND” (akouo) the “WORDS” (phone). Both passages also agree that the eyewitnesses BEHELD (theoreo) something that they were unable to DISCERN (theoreo) with their eyes.

  4. Jeff B says:

    Also, you can read the New International Version of the Bible and that clears things up. –

    Acts 9:7
    The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

    Acts 22:8-9
    My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

  5. Rick B says:

    Seth Said

    Joseph was simply telling the story from memory and got a few details wrong. As people do when recounting things.

    It is easy to say, Joseph Forgot, but do you really know that for a fact or are you just saying that to remove a problem?

    This is just another problem that the LDS prophet should be able to go to the Lord about and set the recored Straight, but sadly will never happen. Rick b

  6. Seth R. says:

    Rick, my position would be that while the wording in Paul’s accounts creates a few contradictions, the essential message that he saw Christ and was called to repentance remains. The core message of the event is not harmed by the details.

    Same with Joseph Smith. The core message of his vision remains.

    “It is easy to say, Joseph Forgot, but do you really know that for a fact or are you just saying that to remove a problem?”

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying it was never a problem to begin with.

  7. Michael P says:

    This is interesting to debate, though I am not sure much will be proven by showing a contradiction.

    Personally, I think it is another hole in Mormonism, but like Seth has done, they will explain it away.

    But this is a detail that can be exused easily. Won’t go very far.

  8. Rick B says:

    Lets say that the Issue of Paul is a contradiction, I say, Big Deal it does not effect my salvation or the central message of the Gospel. So Paul heard God speak, the Others Did or did not that means what to and for my salvation?

    But the Reason why it is a problem with the Account by JS, Is this. If not all the Churchs were/ Are wrong then JS Attacked them and claimed God spoke to him when in fact he did not.

    And with JS, Another problem is, If not all the Churchs were wrong, them maybe The Church did not really fall into total apoasty as the LDS claim. And this shows JS going by feelings and feelings lead him into lies, Remember Jem 17:9 The heart is dectiful snd wicked, who can know it. So yes their is a BIG difference between the Paul issue and the JS issue. Rick b

  9. falcon says:

    When I read the passage (from the article) all I can think of is Joseph Smith’s huge ego. I have a past issue of Christian History that focused on Camp Meetings & Circuit Riders-Untamed Faith on America’s Early Frontier. An article “Wrestling with God and Man” taken from the autobiography of Peter Cartwright recounts Cartwright’s encounter with Joseph Smith and the Mormons. It’s quite telling. But the article also says that the frontier was a “… religious free market, where dynamic leaders and groups-Baptists, Shakers, Mormons, among others-competed fiercely for souls.” Cartwright writes, “My friend Joe Smith became very restive before I got through with my narrative. And when I closed, his wrath boiled over, and he cursed me in the name of his God and said, ‘I will show you, sir, that I will raise up a government in these United States which will overturn the present government, and I will raise up a new religion that will overturn every other form of religion in this country!’ Joe had big plans!

  10. Seth R. says:

    “Personally, I think it is another hole in Mormonism, but like Seth has done, they will explain it away.”

    Of course, born-again Christians never do that. 😉

    “I say, Big Deal it does not effect my salvation or the central message of the Gospel.”

    I completely agree Rick. Could have said it myself. In fact, I think I HAVE said it myself – just not on this particular topic.

  11. Michael P says:

    Seth, in all due respect, your response to this article is akin to what I have seen on topic after topic.

    I’d like to know what we gloss over, by the way. What do we “explain away”, like saying Brigham Young actually did not say that God is Adam, or that polygamy should be practiced?

    Here’s my point– I find that Mormons follow a slippery way of thinking. They always seem to wiggle out of embarrasing situations, by well, declaring God has now told them something different (polygamy, Seed of Cain, for instance) or by coming up with some new evidence to show a previous thought was actually “a lie” or wrote down wrong.

    Sorry if this is curt. I’m tired, and its bed time…

  12. lillym says:

    Okay today I was reading about the discovery of J Smith’s book of abraham scrolls – the ones that were finally translated from the heirogliphics and showed that he was completely wrong with his “translation” ..? And I was thinking, if he was truly making all of this up as he went along, what was the purpose?

    For instance, if all of these little inconsistencies between his accounts of the angel visitation were combined with his obviously fake “interpretation” of those egyptian scrolls, it paints a picture of a man was was misleading people consistently from the very start.

    Are there any theories about WHY he would do this? I mean, it’s hard to believe someone would be evil enough to put on such a charade, although I admit it could happen. Has anyone considered that he may have been mentally ill (schizophrenia)?
    I only ask because as I read more about him, many of his behaviors really jive with things I’ve witnessed from one of my family members who is schizophrenic. She was high-functioning for many years and even a professor of theology at a Christian university! But her weird fantasies often collided with her knowledge of the Bible, yeilding some very strange beliefs.

    Just wondering if there are any theories about WHY J. Smith may have fabricated all of this. Sorry if it’s slightly off the main topic!

  13. lillym says:

    I just realized that it’s not so hard to believe that there are evil people who want to deceive others with false religious teachings – after I posted that I remembered L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame, and Mary Eddy of Christian Science….but again, part of me wonders if these are really evil people, or perhaps mentally disturbed individuals who were able to hide their psychosis?
    My family member was a high-functioning schizophrenic for many years, and hid her insanity well. She wrote sholarly books on religion that were full of strange, off-the-wall (and pretty heretical) ideas – but it wasn’t until she was in her late 40’s that she had a final mental break that resulted in her not being able to hide her delusions. (She’s been committed now)

    So as I read more and more about J Smith, all the hair is standing up on the back of my neck! (I know we’re not supposed to go on our “feelings” about things, ha) But he really shows all the signs of schizophrenia that I’ve witnessed in my family. The disorganized type of this illness manifests as the patient taking any passing knowledge and incorporating it into a new delusion – such as Smith joining the Freemasons and then later thinking God had revealed his temple ceremonies to him, that included elements of the Freemasons! My family member does the same thing!
    ok sorry for the tangent. I think there’s merit to this theory though.

  14. Eric the Red says:

    History 1:10, 18 are canonized, ergo, they are purported by the LDS to be inspired. I think it is a little naive to wave off the contradiction as JS merely forgetting the exact details of his experience. Humans do that, but not God. I am well aware that God records statements in Scripture that are erroneous (e.g., Satan’s statement in the Garden of Eden), but these are identifiable. If JS forgot a few facts, then is it not valid to question the verity of his other “facts”? Perhaps he didn’t accurately remember them as well. As has been mentioned already, Paul’s two accounts of his testimony in Acts are not contradictory. I am disappointed that Mormons continue to trundle it out as an example of an error in Scripture. It is clearly evident that young Mormon missionaries are taught to use this passage because without fail, it pops up whenever I quote or read the Bible to them. A natural reading of the two texts would readily offer a solution. If one still struggles, then comparative readings in various translations would clear things up. The Greek removes all doubt. All Greek words have specific endings. The ending for the word “hear” in 9:6 is different from the one in 22:10. One implies general hearing and the other hearing with comprehension. It is interesting that the ending for “hear” in 9:4 is the same as in 22:10. Even if you struggle with this, it should be evident that just as Paul’s attendants saw a light but did not perceive Christ, so they heard a voice but did not comprehend what was said. Christ’s words were for Paul alone. When God spoke from heaven in John 12:29, all heard, but some perceived it as thunder while others as the voice of an angel. I find it highly disingenuous that thousands of Mormon missionaries just happened on their own to discover this “error” while personally reading through Acts, and then be firmly convinced that the Bible has many errors without doing even a minimal amount of study to prove or disprove their assertion.

  15. falcon says:

    Interesting take on Joseph Smith’s mental state. I’m thinking the guy could have been a sociopath. He appears to have been totally self absorbed and interested in his own pleasure at the expense of others.(i.e. seduction of women). He seems to, at the least, been a pathological liar. Mormons embrace the inconsistencies in the Joseph Smith stories like it’s a sign of great faith (to see these things and overlook them).

  16. Seth R. says:

    “Psychosis?” “Sociopath?” “Pathological liar?”

    You guys are a real class act. You know that?

    Aaron, am I welcome here?

    Do you really want the other side of the story? Or are you looking for an echo chamber where born-agains can high-five each other and pass off dumb insults and cheap-shots as intelligent conversation?

    Joseph Smith was one of the greatest religious minds of the 20th century. The sheer volume of doctrine, theology, and ethical thought is staggering. Objective scholars freely acknowledge this.

    For myself, Joseph Smith was driven by the hand of God. Such people often seem crazy to outsiders, as formerly persecuted Christians should full well know. If you were really reading and engaging his writings and teachings, you would see the hand of divine inspiration there (whatever you think of the overall truth of it). I am utterly unimpressed with those who use ideologically driven [filtered profanity or slur] tracts as their guidebooks to history. You guys are every bit as guilty of “drinking the cool aid” as I have been repeatedly accused of here.

    If you think I’m either lying or crazy, we have absolutely no basis for conversation. I’m not interested in being the token Mormon whipping boy here while you guys yuck it up and exchange pompous high-fives with each other. My fellow LDS bloggers, frankly, think I’m wasting my time by contributing here.

    Aaron and Sharon, I’m not interested in playing the token Mormon here. If you guys are determined to have an evangelical group-think exercise here, I have no desire to further legitimize the conversation by participating. This isn’t a high school debate tournament where you get points for not conceding anything, no matter how tenuous your position.

    So, do you want to have a civil discussion or not?

    Sorry, but quite frankly, I’m getting a bit tired myself.

  17. Jeff B says:

    Seth, I’m sorry if I offended you personally in some way. I don’t think I have because I try and make my posts as factual as I can, but if I’m wrong, then feel free to correct me. I was thinking Joseph’s character should be for another topic, but this topic does have to do with his own personal claims and therefore his character would come into question when claiming the stuff he did.

    I think possible motives for Joseph’s religious creation was 1) he was poor and from a poor family, therefore the selling of the Book of Mormon and the revelation to do so would have created some revenue, or 2) everyone desires in some way to be known for something and respected by their peers, so being the mastermind of a unbelievably huge religious movement could provide that. He succeeded in both ways. The church is wealthy and takes care of its members, and he has hymns sung about him and every little testimony from a 3 year old child on the pulpit says “I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet.”

    I think it was easy for Joseph smith to create that “sheer volume of doctrine” because he had a basis (the Bible), and then just built off of it, changed its message (from the trad. Christian point of view), and got people to believe it.. He then used a “third party” trick, by saying he found Golden Plates which spoke of Jesus Christ in our homeland! If Joseph Smith were to just say it all came from his mind, I’m willing to bet that the LDS church wouldn’t be as large as it is today. It would more resemble FLDS or RLDS size.

    I never heard of the “Contradiction” in Acts about Paul and that LDS use it as a shot back at us, but I’m glad you brought it up Seth so I was able to research it a bit for myself.. Have you ever thought about the verses in the original Greek context? How did you hear about this “contradiction”? Did you ever look into the explanation? If so, did you just not accept that as a logical explanation?

  18. lillym says:

    Okay I’m sorry I offended the mormons, but I want to make it clear – I’m speculating on the mental state of Smith – NOT all mormons! I don’t think Mormons are all liars or crazy!

    However, Smith is a different story. All the theories I’ve read about him possibly being “bipolar”, or a sociopath – in reality, all of those charactersitics can be exhibited by someone who is a schizophrenic. My relative who suffers from this illness exhibits all the classic delusions: she thinks she’s more important than she really is, i.e. she views herself as an authority on theology and all things spritual, and expects others to bow to her wisdom.
    She’s also been physically agressive in the past, and when acting out on her delusions she can be quite persuasive. She was able to put on a good show for many years, convincing others that she was normal. It was only after her final mental break that people found secret notebooks she’d been keeping, where she was writing in detail all of her delusional thoughts. She had mood swings and people thought she was bipolar at one point – sometimes these people can present as something else, and the true depth of their insanity is hidden for a while.
    Didn’t Smith die rather young? It’s too bad – because if he was schizophrenic he may have gotten progressively worse with age, and maybe his ideas would have become more suspect before now. I have to tell you: the story of his fake “translations” of that egyptian scroll sounds exactly like something my relative would do.
    Also, schizophrenia clusters in families. In my family, there are 3 women who have this disease: a mother and 2 of her children. Wasn’t one of Smith’s sons severely mentally ill?

    All I’m saying is: he exhibits almost all of the behaviors/attitudes that my relative does. My relative was a self-styled expert on “true religion”. (She also thought the government implanted a tracking device in her uterus.)

  19. lillym says:

    okay one more post on this and I promise I’ll stop.

    You know how Smith’s claim of being a prophet, and the story of the seeing stones, gold tablets, angel visitations are all uncorroborated besides what Smith himself said? This idea of him being special and set apart, and being the “ONLY MAN” who could do this special translation work, or the only man who could read these hidden messages?

    This is classic schizophrenia. My schizophrenic relative ALSO believes that she receives special hidden messages in the newspaper – messages that only she can see and translate. I’m dead serious.

    The more i think about the similarities between her and Smith, the spookier this gets.

  20. Megan says:

    I knew the speculation about Smith’s mental state was going to be deeply offensive to Mormons. (I’m not criticizing posters on here for wondering; it’s an interesting idea I hadn’t considered before).
    Seth R. and potential other Mormon posters, I can see why this would be deeply offensive to you, simply from the standpoint that JS is at the heart of being the means by which God “restored” the faith. But please, you have to understand how JS is viewed by us. We see him as a charlatan of the worst kind. When we read about his money-digging, counterfeiting money, boastful claims about holding a church together more than Jesus could, skewing the true message of the Bible (although you think it’s we who do this), going after young girls and telling them their salvation is in jeopardy if they refuse to marry him…..I’m sorry, but it doesn’t add up to a very flattering picture. These are not conjectures by [filtered profanity or slur]s. They are facts.
    Also, think about things from this perspective: a charismatic guy comes along and says, “hey Christians, you’ve got it all wrong. You’ve had the wrong view for almost 2 millenia. This is who God really is.” And then changes the gospel to heresy, blasphemes God, and encourages lots of followers to go sit on the train tracks and wait for the oncoming train of eternity in hell to hit them. I guess I don’t know what else to say.

  21. Michael P says:

    Mental disorders are something I have read a little about in terms of JS. Not much, but what is presented here is interesting. I also apologize if the comparison is touch for the followers of JS. I know how much you look up to him and respect him– but I’d like to focus on the possibility he made up all his claims. There are countless stories of new worlds, take Tolkien for instance and his Lord of the Rings. He created a complete and believeable world, though we know his is fiction. Is it not possible for another man to create such a world and callit fact? I think so.

    There’s nothing factual in this post, and I won’t pretend it, but I offer it as food for thought.

  22. Jeff B says:

    This perhaps may be off topic so moderators you can delete this if you wish. Anyways, I was thinking last night. What if I chose to be extremely active in the LDS church from a young age. I serve many callings as president of certain quorum’s and everything and even as one of the youngest Bishop’s in church history, and I completely fool everyone into believing that I am a hardcore devout LDS person by being somewhat involved in all church matters. Pretty much like Spencer W Kimball was. (from what I read about him, he was a VERY devout LDS person). I eventually make my way through the ranks. Of the seventy, quorum of the 12, 1st counsel to first presidency, and then finally I am called to be President of the Church. Let’s say I spend a few years acting much like President Hinckley just full of good cheer and moral advice. Then, I bust out some new doctrine. I claim that God has revealed to me that all the doctrine about “sealing” and “baptism for the dead” and God once being a man, and Satan being a spirit child and brother of Jesus, and polygamy was never supposed to be practiced, and pretty much every non traditional Christian doctrine revealed by all the past presidents of the church were false and were all a test from God to see if all his people would follow a prophet and that he has no sent me, the true prophet, to restore the “real Gospel” to the world. I have a good feeling that a lot LDS faithful, who believe the Prophet would “never lead his people astray”, would end up following me. But I also think that people would reject my teachings and split off into their own group, much like how the Mormon’s split off into the FLDS, RLDS, and LDS.

    Anyways, kind of just thinking a little wild last night and thats what came up in my mind. Could I completely change the doctrine that makes up the LDS church? Why not? Joseph Smith did that with traditional Christianity.

  23. Rick B says:

    Instead of saying JS had a Mental disorder, I would say what the Scripture says, He is and was a sinner, Read Jer 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    The Bible speaks about false Teachers and prophets coming into the fold to decive and kill, 2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

    I would say this was JS, And yes people can be wicked enough to do the things they do. If we blame every thing on a Mental disorder, then it is like saying the person doing this is not fully responsible for his or her actions. Lets call it for what it is, Sin and a wicked heart. Rick b

  24. lillym says:

    sorry for turning this thread into a discussion of “mental illness and prophets” – but I have some more thoughts.

    I’m sorry I implied that we can blame everything on a mental disorder. And of course the human heart is deceitful. But the scripture you quote does not exclude the possiblity that some of these false prophets may, in fact, be mentally ill.
    This is something our family has really stuggled to understand, because of our experiences with family members with schizophrenia. It’s a chicken or the egg scenerio: which came first, the heresy or the schizophrenia? (remember in the Bible when God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to go insane, and he was living out in the fields like a beast, all because of his arrogance and refusal to acknowledge God?)
    My relative used her position as a church leader to write many books that possibly led people astray – and she was very stubborn and arrogant in her blasphemous teachings. We struggle to understand if the spiritual sickness was a result of the schizophrenia, or the other way around.

    Anyway, of course I believe that people are responsible for their actions. It’s just that mental illness is very real. I still think Smith may have had a serious problem, based on everything I’ve read about him.

  25. Rick B says:

    lillym Said

    It’s a chicken or the egg scenerio: which came first,

    It’s easy if you believe in creationism, God created the Chicken with the egg in it already.

    Then you said

    (remember in the Bible when God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to go insane, and he was living out in the fields like a beast, all because of his arrogance and refusal to acknowledge God?)

    That was a case that God allowed for a spefic reason, and it was of God.

    Then you said

    It’s just that mental illness is very real.

    I do not believe in mental illness, no matter what Doctors say, I believe People reject Jesus and want nothing to do with him or the Word of God, as a result they get more and more wicked as the Bible teaches. And like the new topic teaches, we are Sinners as a result of the fall. Rick b

  26. lillym says:

    Sorry – are you saying that there are no Christians anywhere in the world who suffer from mental illness? That all mental illness is nothing more than rejection of God?

    Okay – guess we’re going to have to disagree there. I do agree that mental illness can be the result of rejection of God, obviously. But to say that no true Christian has ever suffered from post-partum depression or any other mental problem is too far out for me.

    [Moderator Comment: Thanks, lillym, for your willingness to disagree and let this go. While it’s an interesting topic, this is not the place to discuss it. So please, everybody, don’t give in to the temptation to take the thread off in that direction. Thank you!]

  27. Ralph says:

    Joseph was writing his history from memory when he wrote this. To me that means that he was reflecting back on those times. I don’t know about anyone else but my memories are not 100% accurate, and they are different at different times as I focus on different things in them. To me, this not really a contradiction in that respect, just a different view/focus of the memory.

    Another explanation is in the first quote when Joseph says “Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?” he is discussing his thoughts on the matter. Because he believed in God and Jesus, he believed that there was a church that would be the one and only correct church. Because of this belief he most likely believed that God would not take His true church away from the earth at any cost, so Joseph possibly dismissed this thought almost immediately. Thus when he went to pray and ask God he writes “for at this time IT HAD NEVER ENTERED INTO MY HEART that all were wrong”. Yes he may have had the thought, but dismissed it, so he never believed (ie never let it enter his heart) that all of the current churches were wrong. So once again, no contradiction for me.

    But these are my ideas and thus are just conjecture. I do not know what Joseph was thinking at the time he wrote these things, nor do I know what he was thinking at the time he was trying to decide which church to join. What ever, it has no bearing on my believing that the LDS church is the true church and that Joseph was a prophet of God.

  28. drjackcv says:

    Joesph’s statements seem consistent with my own experience and need no explaining. There are many thoughts that ramble around my head without reaching my heart, the seat of action. I’ve seen this in my life again and again over 57 years. Even now there are quite a number of gospel principles that I mentally believe but am unable (read, unwilling, not motivated enough) to obey consistently. They just haven’t made it from my head to my heart yet.

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