The Importance of Joseph Smith’s First Vision

At the October 1961 general conference of the Mormon Church Gordon B. Hinckley said,

“I would like to say that this cause is either true or false. Either this is the kingdom of God, or it is a sham and a delusion. Either Joseph talked with the Father and the Son, or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in blasphemy” (Conference Reports, October 1961, 116).

President Hinckley held a strong, lifelong conviction that the validity of Mormonism rested on the truth of Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

“There is no middle ground. Joseph Smith talked with the Father and the Son or he didn’t. If he didn’t, then we are embraced in a great fraud, a terrible fraud.” (“Counsel from the Prophet,” Church News, 4/27/96, 4)

“Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud… upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this church” (“The Marvelous Foundation of our Faith,” Ensign [Conference Edition], November 2002, 80)

“You and I are faced with the stark question of accepting the truth of the First Vision and that which followed it. On the question of its reality lies the very validity of this Church.” (“The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain,” Ensign [Conference Edition], November 2007, 86)

“That becomes the hinge pin on which this whole cause turns. If the First Vision was true, if it actually happened, then the Book of Mormon is true. Then we have the priesthood. Then we have the Church organization and all of the other keys and blessings of authority which we say we have. If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is just that simple.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 227)

President Hinckley taught that the First Vision is “the hinge pin,” the “whole strength” upon which rests the “very validity of this Church.” He apparently placed much more value in the event than did Joseph Smith and the early Mormon Church. According to Mormon historian James B. Allen, Joseph Smith’s First Vision wasn’t even mentioned in “contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830’s,” or in “publications of the Church in that decade,” or in “contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered…” (“The significance of Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’ in Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, 31).

Mr. Allen’s research revealed,

“As far as Mormon literature is concerned, there was apparently no reference to Joseph Smith’s first vision in any published material in the 1830’s. Joseph Smith’s history, which was begun in 1838, was not published until it ran serially in the Times and Seasons in 1842. The famous “Wentworth Letter,” which contained a much less detailed account of the vision, appeared March 1, 1842, in the same periodical. Introductory material to the Book of Mormon, as well as publicity about it, told of Joseph Smith’s obtaining the gold plates and of angelic visitations, but nothing was printed that remotely suggested earlier visitations. In 1833 the Church published the Book of Commandments, forerunner to the present Doctrine and Covenants, and again no reference was made to Joseph’s first vision, although several references were made to the Book of Mormon and the circumstances of its origin. The first regular periodical to be published by the Church was The Evening and Morning Star, but its pages reveal no effort to tell the story of the first vision to its readers. Nor do the pages of the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate, printed in Kirtland, Ohio, from October, 1834, to September, 1836. In this newspaper Oliver Cowdery, who was second only to Joseph Smith in the early organization of the Church, published a series of letters dealing with the origin of the Church. These letters were written with the approval of Joseph Smith, but they contained no mention of any vision prior to those connected with the Book of Mormon. In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants was printed at Kirtland, Ohio, and its preface declared that it contained ‘the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe.’ Included in the book were the ‘Lectures on Faith,’ a series of seven lectures which had been prepared for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland in 1834-35. It is interesting to note that, in demonstrating the doctrine that the Godhead consists of two separate personages, no mention was made of Joseph Smith having seen them, nor was any reference made to the first vision in any part of the publication. The Times and Seasons began publication in 1839, but, as indicated above, the story of the vision was not told in its pages until 1842.” (31-32)

President Hinckley said,

“There’s no other event in all recorded history that compares with [the First Vision], not even at the baptism of the Savior. Jesus was there at that time to be baptized, and the voice of God was heard, and the Holy Ghost was manifest in the form of a dove. But God the Father was not seen. At the time of the Mount of Transfiguration, again the voice of God was heard, but He was not seen. Again, among the Nephites, when the resurrected Lord appeared among the Nephites, the voice of God was heard again, but He was not seen. Now think of that. All of those great and marvelous things have happened. But in the year when Joseph knelt in the woods, both the Father and the Son appeared to him. And they spoke to him. And he spoke to them.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Testimony of the First Vision,” Church News, 7/1/2006, 2)

That such a monumental event—an event that would validate Joseph Smith’s claims to be a true prophet of God—was not even introduced to friend or foe until 22 years later raises serious questions about the validity of the First Vision and, subsequently, the validity of the Mormon Church.

The words “fraud,” “sham,” “delusion,” and “blasphemy” come to mind. They are harsh words, but they are not mine. These words come from Gordon B. Hinckley–his solemn testimony that if Joseph Smith did not see the Father and the Son as he knelt in the woods in 1820 Mormons are engaged in a terrible and blasphemous fraud. “It is just that simple.”

For more information please see “The First Vision’s Slow Entrance Into the LDS Story” by Bill McKeever.
Listen to No First Vision, Viewpoint on Mormonism (MP3).

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.
This entry was posted in Joseph Smith, Mormon History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Importance of Joseph Smith’s First Vision

  1. jaxi says:

    To re quote Hinckley minus his testimony,

    “There’s no other event in all recorded history that compares with [the First Vision], not even at the baptism of the Savior. Jesus was there at that time to be baptized, and the voice of God was heard, and the Holy Ghost was manifest in the form of a dove. But God the Father was not seen. At the time of the Mount of Transfiguration, again the voice of God was heard, but He was not seen. Again, among the Nephites, when the resurrected Lord appeared among the Nephites, the voice of God was heard again, but He was not seen. Now think of that.

    Yes, please do. Think about it.

  2. shematwater says:

    Notice that it was not in the officially printed material of the church. Nothing is said here of who knew the story, or how frequently it was mentioned in conversation or the like.

    So, to get a little perspective, how many members in the 1830’s had at least an acquaintance with the event of the first vision? This is the real question. It doesn’t matter as much how frequently it was written as it does how many people knew the story.

  3. BryanRP says:

    Hinckley’s bravado of “There’s no other event in all recorded history that compares with [the First Vision], not even at the baptism of the Savior…”, reminds me of Joseph Smith when he said, ” I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam.”

    Here’s what is interesting. Notice that when God speaks, He does it in front of many witnesses. the people at Jesus’ baptism and in front of John the Baptist and at the Mount of Transfiguration, in front of Peter, James and John. Yeah, that’s how God works. He doesn’t do things in secret. Where were the witnesses the day of this visitation of the Father and the Son? And I wouldn’t count to much on the 8 witnesses when it comes to the Book of Mormon. I stand with Mark Twain when he said, “I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified.” Seemed like a family affair like the nepotism in the church today.

  4. Kate says:

    As a LDS I never knew there was more than one first vision account. It wasn’t until I started researching it all that I found out this little tidbit of information. I do agree with Pres. Hinckley though, if the first vision didn’t really happen then Mormons are “embraced in a great fraud, a terrible fraud.”
    I don’t understand the need to hang on to a lie. It is scary to lose your identity when Mormonism is all that you know, but doesn’t truth matter?

    shem,
    I’d bet no one knew about it. Look to their journals. Who cares if what Pres. Hinckley said isn’t considered “official” by Mormons. I’m sick to death of that. He said it and I’m sure he meant it. His repeated saying of it tells me he meant and believed it. You just make yourself look naive and pitiful by throwing out the “it’s not official!”

  5. Brewed says:

    Funny that you say that Shem,
    Isn’t that the same logic Mormons use to discredit biblical accuracy?
    The Mormons act like the first vision somehow gives credit to JS but to me it obviously discredits him. To claim to be the only man to ever see God as a person along side Christ should have raised some serious red flags.
    Beside the fact that there are numerous versions of the first vision, even if there was just one, why would I trust that JS wasn’t lying? It sounds pretty cool to say “I saw God and Jesus in a grove and he told me not to join any church because they are all false”. I’ve heard people high on mushrooms say very similar things. I’ve heard crazy homeless men on street corners saying similar things. I’ve heard of other false prophets saying God has appeared to them and revealed what the true church should look like.
    What makes JS any different?
    What do you believe the first vision looked like? Why do you believe it, Shem?

  6. falcon says:

    How many Mormons believe that Joseph Smith could see buried treasure in the ground by means of his magic rock?
    He even got into trouble with the law for being a disorderly person because he was taking money from people on the pretense that he could find them the treasure.
    So I guess if he saw Jesus, God the Father, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John and an angel with a sword (who said he’d kill Smith if he didn’t practice polygamy) why not buried treasure in the ground.
    In for a penny in for a pound I’d say.

  7. falcon says:

    Over the years that I’ve been posting here, I’ve listed numerous links to sites where people can go and read accounts of those claiming to have visitations from spirit beings. I don’t know why Mormons don’t hop on these. They are at least as credible as Joseph Smith, the man with the magic rock.
    Catholics generally have claimed appearances by the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are miracles attributed to the places where shines are built in her honor.
    Within the past five minutes I tuned into a Christian network and listened as a man recounted a visitation by an angel. He related what the angel told him.
    When we hear of such claims we have a duty and obligation to put them under our spiritual discernment microscope and doubt them. We aren’t obligated to believe any of it.
    “………as I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office, to pray. There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality, that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears; and yet I had no distinct impression that I touched him, that I recollect. I must have continued in this state for a good while; but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to recollect anything that I said. But I know, as soon as my mind became calm enough to break off from the interview, I returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large wood was nearly burned out.”

  8. falcon says:

    So for ten points, who made the above claim?
    Yes you’re right if you said Charles Finney. Do you all know the similarities between Charles Finney and Joseph Smith in regards to the ” going to the grove of trees” story goes. Finney lived at the same time and within the vicinity of Joseph Smith. On the website “Mormon Think” there is a narrative comparing Smith’s claim with that of Charles Finney.
    Here are some:
    PARALLEL #2: GRAPHIC GROVES

    One clear, spring morning, Joseph Smith journeyed west of his parents’ farm into a “beautiful grove” to petition God regarding his dilemma. After “having looked around…and finding [himself] alone, [he] kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of [his] heart to God.” It was supposedly the first time in young Joseph’s life that he had ever endeavored to “attempt to pray vocally.”

    Similarly, Charles Finney knew of a “grove of woods” that lay north of Adams. He set forth one morning for work and was compelled that he must accept God or die. He “turned and bent [his] course for that grove of woods, feeling that [he] must be alone and away from all human eyes, so that [he] could pour out [his] prayer to God.”

    PARALLEL #3: PARALYZED PRAYERS

    Not long after Joseph began his petition “the enemy” subdued him. He could not speak, for his tongue had been bound. Hearing noises in the woods near him, Smith assumed that other persons were walking around in his presence. He tried several times to make his requests known to God, but without success. The young inquirer despairingly supposed that he was “doomed to destruction.” He had never before encountered such supernatural strength.

    In like manner, Charles Finney determined to give his heart to God, but upon making his petition he found that he could not pray. When he attempted to pray he became “dumb,” having “nothing to say to God.” Rustling of leaves nearby led him to believe that other individuals were in his presence. Ultimately that thought led him to such a sense of conviction of personal wickedness that it took possession of him. Charles attempted to pray several times without success, leading him to the verge of despair. He recollected that “a great sinking and discouragement came over me at this point, and I felt almost too weak to stand upon my knees.”

    PARALLEL #4: LOFTY LUMINARIES

    Upon deliverance from the clutches of the enemy, Joseph witnessed a pillar of light descending upon him until it enveloped him. He became filled with the “spirit of God,” causing him also to be “filled…with unspeakable joy.” At this time both God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him, of which Joseph petitioned them “which of all sects were right – and which I should join.” He was admonished that he should join none of them, for they were all wrong! The experience lasted “one brief hour.”

    Charles envisioned a light also, but it was scripturally caused. Reflecting upon Jeremiah 29:12-13, the passage “seemed to drop into [his] mind with a flood of light.” With that he was convinced that he could perform his vow of accepting God that day. In the midst of such spiritual ecstasy he left the woods and returned to the village. After dinner Charles wished to “pour out [his] whole soul to God.” He retired to the Counsel room of his law practice, where it was dark, but “it appeared to [him] as if it was perfectly light.” In that “lighted” room he came face to face [emphasis his] with Jesus Christ. No words were exchanged, but Finney “fell down at his feet and poured out [his] soul to him.” Shortly thereafter, Charles received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost, which he characterized as a “wave of electricity” or “waves of love.” The event lasted until late in the evening.

  9. falcon says:

    So here’s the conclusion that is drawn. There are a whole list of men who claimed such visions in the time that Joseph Smith claimed to have his. Given his propensity
    for “borrowing”, I think it’s pretty obvious what Smith was up to.

    The role that Joseph Smith plays in Mormonism cannot be underestimated. His character is central to the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the salvation of its members. Important is his testimony regarding what he saw on a spring, New York morning in 1820. At first glance his experience seems extraordinary. However, upon further review, similar experiences shared by others of his the day, coupled with chronological problems, seem to negate the uniqueness of Joseph Smith’s testimony. More important, the parallelism between Smith’s testimony and Charles G. Finney’s prior written declaration seems also to negate Smith’s story as original.

    Did Joseph Smith really see anything? Only God knows for sure. Yet, based on the above, one conclusion at which readers could arrive is that Joseph Smith did not see anything at all. More than likely, he culled from the experiences of others, Charles Finney specifically, editing and reshaping them to form his own First Vision.

    http://www.mormonthink.com/firstvisionweb.htm

  10. Rick B says:

    Shem,
    If I recall correctly you said in times past their were one to two witness that saw Jesus or were witness to things in the Bible. So since their are pretty much no witness we cannot really trust them.

    You said something along those lines. So why do you believe JS really saw God? It’s not a matter of which vision is true or even official, But since it is really his word only, why do you believe Him?

    Then as I have said before, JS claimed, no man can see God and live with out the priesthood. When JS supposdly saw God in this vision, he had no such priesthood, So that alone makes him a liar.

  11. Mike R says:

    Brigham Young was baptized a member of the Mormon church in 1831 after hearing Mormon
    Missionaries teach ” the gospel “. In 1832 he carried this gospel on a missionary journey
    himself . It appears that there is no evidence that this gospel that he spread included the
    visitation of the Father and the Son appearing to Joseph Smith and thus picking him to
    preach the true , unpolluted gospel of salvation . Today we notice how some Mormons have
    described this event as a fundamental truth to which those requesting baptism must assent
    to before being baptized . They have described it as the greatest event since the birth, life, death,
    and resurrection of Jesus Christ , one of the very foundation stones of ” Jesus’ church” , and
    that the truth of this event happening is the pivotal substance of the Mormon faith , this is how
    Mormons have described it today . Did Brigham Young in his missionary travels teach this
    as a foundation stone to investigators , or to those before baptizing them ? If not , then why
    is assent to it required before baptism today ? How does a Mormon missionary come back years
    later and tell converts there is a foundation stone of Jesus’ church to confess to before being
    baptized which the converts before them never heard of? It appears that those who were
    baptized by Brigham Young never were taught of this ” absolute fundamental ” doctrine .Why?
    Jesus warned us about men in the latter days who would come and try to mimic His apostles
    The gospel of salvation that Paul preached is still mighty to save all those who embrace it , and
    there is safety from the imitations of it introduced by those claiming to be appointed by
    Jesus to teach in these latter days .

  12. vikingz2000 says:

    I thought the BofM was the ‘keystone’ (‘of our religion’) with regard to the truthfulness of the LDS Church. That’s what I was always taught, i.e., that everything is based upon the truthfulness of that book. If the book is true then JS was/is a true prophet. Curious that GBH makes a bigger deal out of the FV than the BofM.

    On second thought, maybe he thought the BofM validating factors are more tenuous than the FV. The BofM is a tangible object with a long and twisting ‘trail’ of factors that has raised red flags (serious questions like the ones BH Roberts posed). However, with regard to the FV it’s totally a matter of just belief, i.e., you either believe in your heart that it happened or you don’t. Doesn’t matter what anyone says about JS’s character, how many accounts of the FV there are, or this or that or whatever, if you believe in the FV story/account then that cinches it.

    The FV story is wonderful, isn’t it? I mean, it’s a ‘Wow!’. It aligns perfectly with the L. Snow ‘couplet’ and makes one feel like there really is a ‘real’ Father in Heaven who begot all of us spiritually and that we can ‘grow up’ to become just like Him. It’s a great doctrine. Better than a doctrine like sitting on a cloud playing a harp for all eternity. I would love it that the FV is true, and would continue in the LDS church in spite of its flaws, historical wrong-doings, etc.

    This is the rub. Although Mormonism has had its dark hours (Blacks and priesthood and polygamy, to name a few) it is very unique and progressive in so much of it’s doctrine, i.e., “the glory of God is intelligence”, “this is my work and glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”, the sealing of families, etc. All good stuff. HOWEVER, is it based upon THE one and only true, restored church? I wish it was so, but there is so much other ‘stuff’ that my intellect and reasoning screams at me about.

    Sad; really sad state of affairs.

  13. falcon says:

    Viking,
    It would/is sad for those who have put their entire hopes and dreams into Joseph Smith, however here’s the bottom line. Mormons can still have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the revelation concerning His death, burial and resurrection.
    So out of great disappointment can come faith.

  14. shematwater says:

    Bryan

    Where were the witnesses to the Burning Bush when God spoke to Moses the first time?

    Kate

    “Who cares if what Pres. Hinckley said isn’t considered “official” by Mormons.”
    I never once claimed anything about President Hinckley’s statements. Look at the context of my comment and you will see that I am talking about Professor Allen’s research and the fact that the story did not appear in official documents in the 1830’s. I was pointing out that he makes no mention of common knowledge, or oral accounts being given.

    “I’d bet no one knew about it.”
    But your assumptions don’t prove anything. Is there evidence for how many knew the story? That is the question.

    Rick

    “If I recall correctly you said in times past there were one to two witness that saw Jesus or were witness to things in the Bible. So since there were pretty much no witnesses we cannot really trust them.”

    You do not recall correctly, but selectively. I never said there were only one or two witnesses to things in the Bible. I said that we only have one or two eye-witness accounts, which is perfectly true. I also never once claimed that can’t trust these accounts, but stated very plainly that I think we can. Maybe you need to have your memory checked.
    But I am not getting into another pointless debate with you on this. You know why I believe, as I have enumerated the reasons on many occasions. So, just go back and refresh your memory if you don’t recall.

    Brewed

    “Isn’t that the same logic Mormons use to discredit biblical accuracy?”

    What are you talking about?

  15. Brewed says:

    Shem,
    I was saying that Mormons I’ve spoken too think that the bible was mostly an oral tradition before it was written down and thus mistranslated over the years and ultimately lost it’s plain and precious truths.. You were implying that the first vision of JS was possibly passed as an oral tradition before being written down. Honestly, the argument is pretty pointless. Probably should have left it out.

    The main point is that the first vision account, no matter when it was recorded, is still difficult to believe. I don’t see any reason why I should believe in it.
    You asked Bryan if there were any witnesses to the burning bush. He’s probably perfectly capable of answering but I would like to point out something. There were many other miracles done by Moses that were witnessed by many people, thousands in fact. Our faith in Moses is not based solely on his account of the burning bush.
    People within the LDS church stake much of their faith on the first vision. There are no eyewitnesses of this account and it mimics other false accounts. Why should we have faith in JS’s account?

  16. falcon says:

    So Shem,
    Given what you’ve said, I’d say then that you would have to believe anyone who says they’ve experienced a visitation by some spirit being. Why should Joseph Smith be any more credible than anyone else who makes such a claim.
    Do you believe Joseph Smith could see treasure buried in the ground using his magic seer stone? After all it was this same stone that was reportedly used by him, when he placed it in his hat, to interpret the gold tablets.

  17. falcon says:

    Shem,

    Here you go. If you’re willing to jump on the Joseph Smith bandwagon and embrace his claims of seeing all sorts of spirit beings, you may as well check these out because they are claims that other people are making as to what they are seeing. The second one is the most interesting because it’s on-going and drawing enormous numbers of people.

    http://www.marypages.com/
    http://www.medjugorjetoday.tv/background-7/the-first-days/

    ……..and how about this modern day appearance of Jesus.

    “On 15 February Kenyan nun, Sister Anna Hadija Ali, sponsored and supported by Monseignor Emmanuel Milingo, an African Bishop, held a press conference in Rome and spoke about her experience of meetings every Thursday since 1987 with Jesus Christ. European media have reported on this event, including Italian and French television, News of the World (UK) and Hello magazine (UK).
    Two photographs she had taken of Jesus in 1987 and 1988 were displayed at the conference and have been included in a book entitled Divine Call recording her experiences. In the photograph taken in 1988, Jesus weeps blood. Since then, every Wednesday prior to her meeting, Sister Anna’s face becomes swollen and painful and the following day she, too, weeps blood. Her doctor remarked that this is an “absolutely inexplicable phenomenon from the scientific and human point of view”. He also commented on an “extraordinary aroma of freshness” she exudes during this process, which he concluded is the “perfume of the Christ”.”

    http://miracles.mcn.org/encounters2.html

  18. Mike R says:

    Falcon, we have the blessing and the benefit of having God’s word , the Bible, to provide us
    with an anchor with which to evaluate spiritual manifestations in our day . Thankfully we can
    look to it when faced with the testimony of those who’ve listened to angelic visitors, in order
    to see if the messages from those beings are of God . That should be our first response . We can
    appreciate that the apostle John recommended that those in his flock test the messages from
    spirits /prophets to see if they taught contrary to him and the apostles —1 Jn 4:1 ; 2 Jn. 7-9 ;
    2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15. This same criteria is useful today since spiritual deception by counterfeit
    prophets and counterfeit angels of light will be numerous in these latter days . Good and decent
    people are misled by these prophets because they look and act like true prophets , and these
    angels/spirits might make a person feel warn inside by being in their presence , etc.
    When it comes to the claims of Mormonism , particularly Joseph Smith , I read of numerous
    experiences he claimed to have with what are described as angels of light . That’s a red flag to
    me and therefore I proceed with caution in receiving his teachings , and also of those who
    followed him in leadership . Bottom line here : having a visitation from beings claiming to be
    an angel or God Himself can be evaluated by the doctrine that comes from that visit .
    Joseph Smith’s claim to have been visited by heavenly persons is’nt unique , others before him
    and after him in his area claimed very similar experiences .
    We are not surprised at such claims . Today we are in a good position to evaluate Mormonism
    because we have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit —- God has equipped us to test the spirits .

  19. falcon says:

    Mike,
    It’s astounding how Mormons are willing to reject the Bible, the Church Fathers and the traditions of the Church and jump on-board Joseph Smith’s tales and embrace them. But if we know anything about claims made by any number of people, someone will believe it.
    With Mormons they are willing to say that the Bible is not only corrupt but that a gigantic conspiracy worked to keep Mormonism out of the Bible. The excuse making and just plain fantasy creating should tip Mormons off to the fact that this is all a ruse.
    But as I often repeat, the more convoluted an idea, the more those in aberrant sects and cults love it.
    The very fact that the claim goes against established tradition and thought, to them, makes it true. Try to reason with that type of thinking.

  20. jaxi says:

    This conversation made me think about what is done in Eastern Orthodoxy. The Eastern Orthodox Church claims to have miraculous things happen all the time. Even if something miraculous starts happening to a spiritual object or within a spiritual place the Orthodox Church treats it as if it has demonic influence. They test whatever is going on. They also exorcise the object or person. If its a person they usually consult a doctor first. I’ve never seen an exorcism (other than the exorcism prayer done before baptism) but I think it’s done with specific prayer. I don’t want to go off topic. My point was, even if the miraculous experience or object seems benevolent, angelic, spiritual, beautiful, the Orthodox Church doesn’t trust it right away. They test it it out. Even if it is a miracle regarding a holy object, they test it. What was the test for Joseph Smith that he wasn’t being demonically influenced? I would think that through his diving rods, seer stones, and folklore activity, he may have opened himself up to the spirit world, but not from God. What do we have to the test his claims outside of himself?

  21. Mike R says:

    Jaxi, it is especially prudent in our day to be cautious concerning accepting as true the
    testimony of those who have reported visitations/messages from ” angels” or even God Himself
    so it’s great that your fellowship is very cautious in this area. I find it very strange that the
    visitation of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith , which Mormons today say that there is
    nothing of greater importance to their validity as a church , was’nt declared in printed form
    or used in missionary proselytizing to distinguish Joseph’s new church from all the others etc.
    yet for years this ” greatest event since Jesus’ life, death and resurrection” was’nt mentioned to
    investigators ? The evidence points to this alleged event being added into the Mormon message
    years later in order to spice up that message . Stop and think how much other creative additions ,
    requirements for salvation , and beliefs about God which Mormon missionaries shared in later
    journeys compared to what their former colleagues taught : From God to Gods and Goddesses
    from public worship to secret temple rituals ; from monogamy to polygamy; from ordaining
    all worthy males to refusing Black men ordination . All this behavior coming from alleged
    officers in Jesus’ New Testament church “restored” . No thanks.
    We have the true gospel of salvation that Jesus gave to Paul to preach , that gospel saved then
    and it still will for anyone who surrenders to it’s author—Rom 1:16 ; 10:9-13 . That gospel also
    rightly serves as a standard to measure any ” modern day restored gospels ” we may encounter.
    For me it gets down to what the Holy Spirit has done in my soul , a deep abiding satisfying
    that I’ve been pardoned by God by coming to Jesus and asking Him to receive my surrender and
    the Bible reveals this. It’s the scriptural foundation of Christianity . It reveals how to receive
    God’s pardon and a complete salvation. As such it also serves as the written standard to test any
    man or angel of light who claims to offer a new ” restored ” gospel / truths about God .
    Gal. 1:8 .
    Jaxi, keep up the good work , you’re a blessing here .

  22. falcon says:

    I remember Grant Palmer saying in an interview that Martin Harris was always having “visions”. So I did a little search and found this to be quite interesting. I excerpted from the longer piece which I’ll provide the link for.

    1859 — Interview with Martin Harris, Tiffany’s Monthly, 1859, New York: Published by Joel Tiffany, vol. v.—12, pp. 163-170.

    Mr. Harris says: “Joseph Smith, Jr., found at Palmyra N.Y., on the 22nd day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon. I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do. These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.
    Joseph had had this stone for some time. There was a company there in that neighborhood, who were digging for money supposed to have been hidden by the ancients. Of this company were old Mr. Stowel — I think his name was Josiah — also old Mr. Beman, also Samuel Lawrence, George Proper, Joseph Smith, jr., and his father, and his brother Hiram Smith. They dug for money in Palmyra, Manchester, also in Pennsylvania, and other places. …
    “Joseph said the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal. He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well, ‘ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ …
    http://bib.irr.org/changing-first-vision-accounts-1859-first-vision-account-martin-harris

  23. falcon says:

    From the same source we have a very interesting summary:

    The evidence available from early sources, including Joseph Smith and his family establish a number of important facts.

    First, Joseph did not relate his story consistently, but changed key elements over the years. He changed:

    The date / his age — from 1823 (age 16), to 1821 (age 15), to 1820 (age 14)

    The reason or motive for seeking divine help — from no motive (a spirit appears with the news of gold plates), Bible reading and conviction of sins, a revival, a desire to know if God exists.

    Who appears to him — a spirit, an angel, two angels, Jesus, many angels, the Father and the Son.

    The real shame is that Mormons make excuses for all of this when it’s plain that Joseph Smith was a creative story teller whose fish story changes with the need of the moment. It’s such a joke that it’s exasperating that anyone would continue to believe in this fraud when the information is available that proves it’s fictitious.

    Finally

    “There is a noticeable shift in the context of finding the gold plates, from 17 year-old money-digger to 14 year-old spiritual seeker. Is this an attempt to put his story into a more socially acceptable context? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that as time went on, Joseph omitted uncomfortable but true parts of his history and replaced them with fictitious elements in order to make his story more socially acceptable and spiritually compelling.”

  24. jaxi says:

    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Community of Christ use a different version of the First Vision than the LDS Church?

  25. Rick B says:

    Jaxi said

    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Community of Christ use a different version of the First Vision than the LDS Church?

    Their are 9 first vision accounts, so I guess People can pick and choose which ones they like.

  26. falcon says:

    Jaxi, Rick,
    Here’s what the CofC reports regarding the boy Smith’s first vision.
    What do you come away with from this account?
    What version is it?

    From CofC website:

    In the early 1800s, a young boy named Joseph Smith knelt in the woods near his family home in Manchester Township, New York. He felt separated from God; he also wanted to know how he could make his life count for good in a world full of confusion and sin. He wanted to join with God’s people, but he had no idea how to do that. So, in response to the scripture from James, he prayed to God.

    How long this first attempt at verbal prayer lasted is not known, but he came to a point of deep despair. At this point, a vision surrounded him with love and mercy. From that light came a voice as clear as his own. As the vision ebbed and the voice faded, Joseph felt that he knew the truth. He felt the healing presence of God within and the forgiving mercy of Christ. He knew that God would be with him.

    He struggled through his teen years, trying to balance his experience with God with his desire to be accepted by others in his community. He continued to have significant spiritual experiences, one of which led to the Book of Mormon. He also felt called to establish a church, officially organizing it on April 6, 1830.

  27. falcon says:

    Jaxi,

    This is what the CofC says about the BoM. There is also a link to those “witnesses” who affirm the BoM.
    What’s interesting is that the BoM isn’t even emphasized in many foreign countries where this Mormon sect sends missionaries. In fact one blogger member says that these folks, if coming to the U.S. for a conference, wouldn’t even know what the BoM is.
    You might enjoy the FAQ section of the site: I think personally that this sect is stuck between Joseph Smith and a hard place.

    http://www.cofchrist.org/ourfaith/faq.asp

    From the CofC website:

    The publication of the Book of Mormon was a significant event in the life of the church. With its publication in March 1830, two sets of witnesses testified to it as the history of the early peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Joseph said that he translated the record by the gift and power of God.

    It told the story of three groups of people: (1) the descendants of an ancient prophet named Lehi and his family, who fled Jerusalem approximately 600 years prior to the birth of Christ; (2) the Jaredites, a group who came to the Western hemisphere at the time of the “great tower” of Babel; and (3) the descendants of a group who left Jerusalem at the time that King Zedekiah was taken captive into Babylon. The family stories became intertwined, but the primary emphasis of the book was to bear an additional testimony that “Jesus is the Christ,” according to the opening statement.

    The Book of Mormon spoke to many of the needs of the early church. Its story referred to the “land of promise,” the “choice land,” and other images that were part of the heritage of the United States. It presented a vision of a perfect social order based on religious principles. It advocated a system of lay priesthood and a preference for democracy rather than monarchy.

  28. shematwater says:

    Rick

    There are only four accounts given by Joseph Smith himself, and while his memory may have been faulty at times as to the exact year in which it occurred, there is nothing in any of the four that contradicts the others.

    Falcon

    I believe people have seen spirits on many occasions, but that alone is not sufficient to accept that the spirit was from God. The Bible itself teaches that Satan and his angels appear to people in disguise in an attempt to lead them astray. So, no, I do not believe all the philosophies and theologies of men simply because they claim to have seen a vision. There is a whole lot more to it than that.

    Brewed

    “Mormons I’ve spoken too think that the bible was mostly an oral tradition before it was written down and thus mistranslated over the years and ultimately lost it’s plain and precious truths.”

    I have never once heard this idea mentioned by anyone in the church. The records are there, and we have never claimed otherwise. It is not through oral tradition that things were lost, but through faulty translation and transcription; r through the simple loss of an entire manuscript.

    “The main point is that the first vision account, no matter when it was recorded, is still difficult to believe.”

    That is not the main point being made in this blog. The main point being made in this blog is that the lack of early records contradicts President Hinckley’s statements concerning its importance. Whether you believe the account or not has no direct bearing on this argument.

  29. grindael says:

    There are only four accounts given by Joseph Smith himself, and while his memory may have been faulty at times as to the exact year in which it occurred, there is nothing in any of the four that contradicts the others.

    There are actually more than four.

    The abandoned 1832 Letterbook History written by Jo.

    The 1834 History written by Jo and Oliver Cowdery.

    Account to Joshua the Jewish Minister in 1835 by Jo, written in diary.

    Account to Erastus Holmes in 1835 by Jo, written in diary.

    Account written under Jo’s supervision in 1838/39. Later revised and canonized.

    Wentworth Letter in 1842 written by Jo.

    David Nye White interview, 1843 given by Jo.

    Alexander Neibaur account in 1844, given by Jo.

    There is probably another that I’m missing, (doing this from memory) so Rick is (of course) correct. In the Letterbook account Jo says that he was 16 when he saw “the Lord”. He says he was 12 when he began to be seriously concerned about his spiritual welfare. Jo said that HE discovered that all of the churches were wrong. (He does not mention any verse from the Bible). He sees only one personage. There is no mention of Satan at all. He then got to about the age of 15 and THEN began searching the scriptures and found that the church had apostatized. No mention of revivals.

    In the 1834 History that Jo wrote with Oliver Cowdery published in the Messenger and Advocate, Jo said that in his 17th year he didn’t even know if a Supreme Being existed. He did not have a vision in 1820, but in 1823 when God sent an angel to him. There is a mention of Satan in this account, but it has to do with the gold plates. Mention of revivals, but they led to the visit by an angel.

    The account to Matthias, (Joshua) was a complete change up from the first two accounts by Jo, he added the father, and pushed it back to when he was 14 years old. No mention of revivals.

    Erastus Holmes account only speaks of a visitation of angels when he was about 14 years old. David Nye White said that Joseph told him he knelt down by a stump in a clearing where he had left his axe after cutting wood.

    There are many contradictions in these accounts. To say there is not, is just bubble talk.

  30. grindael says:

    One thing to note about the 1832 History and Jo being 16 and not 15 (as most assume). This is because they are not reading the account correctly. Here is what Joseph wrote:

    At about the age of twelve years my mind become Seriously imprest [p. 1] with regard to the all importent concerns for the well=fare of nay immortal Soul which led me to Search=ing the Scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that instead of adorning their profession by a holy walk and God=ly conversation agreeable to what I found contain=ed in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul

    thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the of the minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my Sins and by Searching the Scriptures I found that mand did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own Sins and for the Sins of the world for I learned in the Scriptures that God was the Same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons [Heb. 13:8; Acts 10:34-35] for he was God for I looked upon the Sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon whic=h I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and [p. 2] marvilous even in the likeness of him who created him and when I considered upon these things my heart exclai=med well hath the wise man said the fool saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when I considered all these things and that being seeketh such to worship him as wors=hip him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderne=ss and while in attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of God and the opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph thy Sins are forgiven thee. go thy walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the Gospel and keep not commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which been spoken by the mouth of the prophe=ts and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] wr=itten of me in the cloud in the glory of my Father and my soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me but [I] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision

    As you can see above, Jo says that “at about twelve years” he became “seriously impressed” with the “welfare of his soul”. Thus, he says “from the age of twelve years to fifteen” he “pondered many things in his heart”. Now, if he was still fifteen, he would not need to insert (after the fact as this was) that “the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord “IN MY 16TH YEAR” I saw the Lord. Jo had already given his age as 15, so why would he then insert that he was still 15 when he had the vision? This makes no sense. It does, if you wish to show that your age had changed. And this insertion of his age was added above the text. So Jo had time to think about it. He didn’t just have a memory lapse and not correct it. This was an add-on, done after the fact. It is very hard to believe that Jo would forget what year this happened in, even after 12 years. It would be, if you were making it up.

    Now, many Mormon apologists claim that this HISTORY was not written for the public, that is why Jo didn’t mention the father in it. This is ignoring the very first sentence where he writes,

    A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough forth and established by his hand

    I can understand leaving out some details when you are speaking to an individual privately, or writing a letter and not wanting it to be too long for publication (like the Wentworth Letter). But it defies logic to say that Jo left out the Father in an account that was to be a “History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr.” Smith was also in this History, giving four reasons why he claimed authority:

    (firstly) he receiving the testamony from on high[.]
    seccondly the min=istering of Angels
    thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel—< —the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—> and the ordinences,
    forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God pow=er and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstra=tion of the spirit/ the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c—

    There is no good reason for Jo to write an incomplete History here.

  31. Rick B says:

    Shem, These verses speak about you and the Mormons, and all other cults, like the Moonies, JW’s, Islam and others.

    1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    1Timothy 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

    No matter how much evidence we provide it does not effect you one bit, You go about making excuses and sadly in the end, the eternal damnation you deny will be where you end up.

  32. spartacus says:

    Shem,

    Interestingly enough, there is a contradiction between Joseph smith’s own hand-written version and the Official Version – that of the opinion/knowledge that all the sects were false.

    1832 hand-written version:
    and by searching the scriptures I found that mand mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament

    Official Version:
    than 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.

    I find it peculiar that the Official Version actually differs from one that Joseph Smith wrote with his own hand. I also find it peculiar that the Official Version was not, in fact, written by Smith himself, but a scribe. Just peculiar, that’s all.

    Shem, you said there are not “contradictions” which is a useful specification. The issue usually raised is not of contradictions, but of obvious development, and as it is in this post, conspicuous absence from all sources that ought to have included it. Your wiping away this last fact by wondering about who knew it outside of publications does not take away from the fact that it should have appeared in the publications enumerated by historian James B. Allen, if 1) it happened at all, 2) it was as grandiose as currently reported, and 3) if it is anywhere near as important as the President and Prophet of the LDS Church claimed it to be.

    ————————————-
    Hey Everyone! I still don’t have home internet, but God is doing some great things in our lives even as the sky is overcast with mean-looking clouds! I pray for you all. Love, Spartacus

  33. shematwater says:

    Spartacus

    The official version, though written by a scribe, was edited and approved by Joseph Smith. Actually, I think it was dictated by him, so I find nothing wrong in this at all.

    As to the differences in accounts, I understand the argument. However, one must also take into account the fact that they were given to different audiences and for different purposes. Since this blog has referenced Gordon B. Hinckley, I will do the same.
    “I do not worry whether the heavenly gates swing or slide. I am only concerned that they open. I am not worried that the Prophet Joseph Smith gave a number of versions of the first vision anymore than I am worried that there are four different writers of the gospels in the New Testament, each with his own perceptions, each telling the events to meet his own purpose for writing at the time. I am more concerned with the fact that God has revealed in this dispensation a great and marvelous and beautiful plan that motivates men and women to love their Creator and their Redeemer, to appreciate and serve one another, to walk in faith on the road that leads to immortality and eternal life.” Ensign October 1984.

    One might also consider the persecution that Joseph Smith endured even early on. He writes about the appearance of John the Baptist that “In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood.” (JSH 1: 74)If he kept this a secret because of persecution, would it not also be logical to keep the first vision he had a secret for the same reason?

    As to the whole point of this blog, I agree with Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, of the Seventy.
    “Joseph’s vision was at first an intensely personal experience—an answer to a specific question. Over time, however, illuminated by additional experience and instruction, it became the founding revelation of the Restoration.” Ensign, January 2009.

    So, it not appearing in early records is easily explained through the avoidance of persecution that shortly arose after it occurred. It’s apparent elevation in importance to the foundation of the Restoration is explained in very nature of the vision.

  34. grindael says:

    One might also consider the persecution that Joseph Smith endured even early on. He writes about the appearance of John the Baptist that “In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood.” (JSH 1: 74)If he kept this a secret because of persecution, would it not also be logical to keep the first vision he had a secret for the same reason?

    Too bad there is absolutely no evidence of any “persecution”. There is evidence that Jo was harassed by his money digging buddies. As per Martin Harris, who had it straight from the Smith’s and others:

    The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been [a] traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them. For this reason Joseph was afraid of them, and continued concealing the plates. After they had been concealed under the floor of the cooper’s shop for a short time, Joseph was warned to remove them. He said he was warned by an angel. He took them out and hid them up in the chamber of the cooper’s shop among the flags. That night some one came, took up the floor, and dug up the earth, and would have found the plates had they not been removed. Harris interview with Joel Tiffany, 1859.

    There is absolutely no good reason to take Jo’s word that he was persecuted for a CLAIMED 1820 vision he wrote in 1832. There are absolutely no accounts by ANYONE prior to 1826 (after Jo got arrested for glass looking) that Jo was under any kind of “persecution”. In fact his family were members of the local Presbyterian Church and had no problems with them until they stopped going in 1829 when Jo finished his Book of Mormon Manuscript. The “persecution” came when people learned that Jo used the same manner to translate the Book of Mormon as he did to find buried treasure that was never there.

    In fact Jo says that he could find none to BELIEVE the vision and that because of his TRANSGRESSIONS (money digging), his family was persecuted,

    but [I] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart about that time my mother and but after many days [p. 3]/ I fell into transgression and sinned in many things which brought a wound upon my soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Fathers family have suffered many persicutions and afflictions (1832 History)

    When Smith added to this account in 1838, THEN it became a “persecution” because of the vision. Shem, of course can’t prove a word of what he says. And as for this statement,

    As to the differences in accounts, I understand the argument. However, one must also take into account the fact that they were given to different audiences and for different purposes.

    It is ludicrous. You don’t give a different age, place, time or alter major details just because you are speaking to different audiences. (This is a Mormon apologist argument invented by FAIR) And in Smith’s 1832 History, it was written as a HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH. It was not for some select audience. It was a history of his life. He says (Page 1 First sentence)

    A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough forth and established by his hand

    I doubt Shem has even read this account with any comprehension at all. It is obvious that Smith added details to this after the fact, elaborating on it to make it seem more and more important.

    Shem has never been able to provide one scrap of proof for anything he says, and sadly this will never change.

  35. grindael says:

    One more interesting FACT about how Jo invented things. Here is Jo’s account in his 1832 History that contains the claimed 1820 vision written for the first time,

    “on the 22d day of Sept of this same year [1827] I obtained the plates and the in December following we mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the name of Martin Haris who became convinced of the visions and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do and he imediately came to Su[s]quehanna and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City with some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them” [..] Joseph Smith, Letterbook, page 9.

    According to this account it was Martin’s idea (supposedly inspired by a vision) to have some of the characters copied so he could go to New York City with some of them. This version of events is remembered differently by Lucy Smith who spoke to the assembled Church in 1845 as recorded by William Clayton:

    [I] Want to speak about the dead. 18 years ago last September that J[oseph] took the plates out of the earth. 18 years last Monday since the J[oseph]. S[mith]. the prophet of the Lord got the plates from the earth. J[oseph]. came to me and told me he had taken those plates out of the ground. Tell all three of them (Harris[es]) that I have got them I want Martin to assist me and take some of the characters off to send them to N.Y.” [..] Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 1, p. 223

    Norton Jacob also wrote an account of Lucy Smith’s speech and verified what Clayton wrote,

    Br Brigham [Young] commenced in the morning.… after he got through Mother Smith, Joseph’s moth=er addressed the congregation abou an hour concerning of the history of herself & family in bringing forth the Book of Mormon[.] she said it was eighteen years ago last monday since she commenced preaching the gospel being cal[l]ed upon by Joseph Smith to go & tell Mar=tin Harris & family that he had got the Plates & he wanted him to take an alphabet of the characters & carry them to the learned men to decypher.…” [..] ibid.

    An account given by Martin Harris himself in 1859 also contradicts Jo’s 1832 history. In this account by Harris he states that “I had a revelation the summer before, [1827 ] that God had a work for me to do.” Harris does not say that God revealed anything specific to him. Harris then affirms that,

    The first time I heard of the matter, [the gold plates] my brother Presarved Harris, who had been in the village of Palmyra, asked me if [I] had heard about Joseph Smith, jr., having a golden bible. My thoughts were that the money-diggers had probably dug up an old brass kettle, or something of the kind. I thought no more of it. This was about the first of October, 1827.

    Harris then states that he first visited Lucy Smith who told him the story of the gold plates and then “a day or so” later he went and visited Joseph. Martin stated that Joseph told him that, “An angel had appeared to him, and told him it was God’s work,” and that “he found them [the plates] by looking in the stone found in the well of Mason Chase. The family had likewise told me the same thing.” (Tiffany Interview)

    Harris then stated that,

    “Joseph said the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal. He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ I said, if it is the devil’s work I will have nothing to do with it; but if it is the Lord’s, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He said the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know the doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don’t know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want.

    Harris then recounts that he,

    retired to my bedroom and prayed God to show me concerning these things, and I covenanted that if it was his work and he would show me so, I would put forth my best ability to bring it before the world. He then showed me that It was his work, and that it was designed to bring in the fullness of his gospel to the gentiles to fulfill his word, that the first shall be last and the last first. He showed this to me by the still small voice spoken in the soul. Then I was satisfied that it was the Lord’s work, and I was under a covenant to bring it forth. [..] Joel Tiffany, Interview with Martin Harris, Tiffany’s Monthly, p.163-170

    Martin does not claim that he had a vision. If Harris had already become “convinced of the visions” (as Jo recounts), then it seems rather strange that he would ask God to acknowledge if “it was his work”, and then pester Jo to have the characters verified by “the learned” (as every other contemporary account attests).In this account also, Martin does not even mention his errand to New York City, or that he had any kind of communication from God to do so. That was an invention by Jo.

    Jo is simply a liar who manipulated events to suit himself, not what really happened. He did the same thing with his claimed 1820 vision that he invented (along with the story about Martin Harris having a vision, and Harris coming to Jo instead of Jo telling his mother to get Harris) in 1832.

  36. grindael says:

    Here is another item of interest. Jo wrote this “revelation” on April 6, 1830:

    1 Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith. 3 Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April. 4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; 5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. 6 For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory. 7 For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard. D&C 21:1-7)

    Notice a few things. First, Jo says that he was “inspired of the Holy Ghost” to lay the foundation of the church, not by any visit from God. Second, he has the audacity to say that if the church listens to Jo “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.” Huh? That promise was given by Jesus 1800 years before it came out of Jo’s mouth. More proof that Jo did not have any vision in 1820 and that Mormons follow men rather than Jesus.

    Another point that destroys Shem’s argument about Jo “keeping silent” about his vision. Jo himself directly contradicts Shem. Here is what Jo said in 1838:

    I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.

    Jo says that he suffered persecution because I CONTINUED TO AFFIRM that I had seen a vision. You can’t “continue to affirm” and be silent at the same time. Too bad there is not one scrap of evidence to show that this is true, but there is lots of evidence to show that it is not.

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