Episode 65b: The First Vision for Dummies Part 2

142 comments on “Episode 65b: The First Vision for Dummies Part 2”

  1. NightAvatar Reply

    This set of podcasts was fantastic!

    I really liked John’s slightly abrasive, confrontational approach for this one. It was a good balance to Mike (who spoke little, but had some good tidbits) and Glenn, who seemed to sort of be playing Devil’s advocate. George did a good job of playing both sides. It was a good balance all around.

  2. NightAvatar Reply

    This set of podcasts was fantastic!

    I really liked John’s slightly abrasive, confrontational approach for this one. It was a good balance to Mike (who spoke little, but had some good tidbits) and Glenn, who seemed to sort of be playing Devil’s advocate. George did a good job of playing both sides. It was a good balance all around.

  3. Zilpha Reply

    I really enjoyed this episode. You were all fun to listen to. John has obviously studied up on this particular subject and put a lot of thought into it. One thing I have to disagree with him on is the idea that Joseph described his experience as inward at first and then moved to an increasingly outward description. I just don’t quite see that. But it is clear that JS changed the purpose of his story over time from a very personal forgiveness of sins experience to something with much more consequence for all of humanity.

    I think John’s interpretations are certainly insightful and mostly spot-on. At least this discussion should give people something to mull over for a little while.

    Oh, Tom, I loved the reception/essay contest announcement that you did. It was cute.

    • John Larsen Reply

      It is not solely about his vision moving from internal to external, but about all of the details surrounding the event moving from internal to external.

      The first account deal almost entirely with Joseph’s internal state of mind. His doubt, his forgiveness. The message he gets from the visitor is personal. By the 3rd and fourth accounts, the details have to do with external occurrences–the doctrines of the Church, the reactions of the ministers, and the outward manifestations of the events. Joseph’s perception of the event moved from an internal, personal characterization that had little bearing on anyone but him to one that he thought would influence the entire world.

      • Scottro Reply

        I agree with John – we can’t read these through our viewpoint of modern correlated LDS history – where we all know the first vision is supposed to be about a physical visit. If you were living back in the 1830s and didn’t have that perspective and read the 1832 account it wouldn’t tell you that there was anything external or physical about God.

        In fact, it states God was omnipresent, and doesn’t mention seeing a being or person at all, which would indicate that it was an internal event if the LDS truth claims are true. I don’t think you can say it is explicitly described as an internal experience, but reading it as an internal experience makes a whole lot more sense than an external one, there is nothing there to indicate it is external. As John points out the elaborations and increasing specificity of the details against this 1832 account make them all highly suspicious.

  4. Zilpha Reply

    I really enjoyed this episode. You were all fun to listen to. John has obviously studied up on this particular subject and put a lot of thought into it. One thing I have to disagree with him on is the idea that Joseph described his experience as inward at first and then moved to an increasingly outward description. I just don’t quite see that. But it is clear that JS changed the purpose of his story over time from a very personal forgiveness of sins experience to something with much more consequence for all of humanity.

    I think John’s interpretations are certainly insightful and mostly spot-on. At least this discussion should give people something to mull over for a little while.

    Oh, Tom, I loved the reception/essay contest announcement that you did. It was cute.

    • John Larsen Reply

      It is not solely about his vision moving from internal to external, but about all of the details surrounding the event moving from internal to external.

      The first account deal almost entirely with Joseph’s internal state of mind. His doubt, his forgiveness. The message he gets from the visitor is personal. By the 3rd and fourth accounts, the details have to do with external occurrences–the doctrines of the Church, the reactions of the ministers, and the outward manifestations of the events. Joseph’s perception of the event moved from an internal, personal characterization that had little bearing on anyone but him to one that he thought would influence the entire world.

      • Scottro Reply

        I agree with John – we can’t read these through our viewpoint of modern correlated LDS history – where we all know the first vision is supposed to be about a physical visit. If you were living back in the 1830s and didn’t have that perspective and read the 1832 account it wouldn’t tell you that there was anything external or physical about God.

        In fact, it states God was omnipresent, and doesn’t mention seeing a being or person at all, which would indicate that it was an internal event if the LDS truth claims are true. I don’t think you can say it is explicitly described as an internal experience, but reading it as an internal experience makes a whole lot more sense than an external one, there is nothing there to indicate it is external. As John points out the elaborations and increasing specificity of the details against this 1832 account make them all highly suspicious.

  5. Astounded Reply

    I just have to commend Mike, he is a brave one – or is he really just prentending to keep some “conflict” alive?

  6. Astounded Reply

    I just have to commend Mike, he is a brave one – or is he really just prentending to keep some “conflict” alive?

  7. NoCoolName_Tom Reply

    I was waiting to see if anyone would saying anything about the obvious allusion to Luke 1:1-4 for the beginning of the 1838 account, but nobody did. Such allusions (as well to other Lukan material like Paul’s defense before Agrippa) to me actually work AGAINST the idea that Joseph was merely putting the 1838 account together as a defense against detractors, but rather is starting off from a position similar to the author of the Gospel of Luke, who is assembling a history of the Jesus movement against other existing Gospels like Mark. It’s almost like Joseph is saying, “You may have heard this before, either from good or bad sources; let me tell it to you authoritatively.” It’s no wonder to me why the 1838 account is the one account that eventually became canonized: it was designed that way. He may not have expected future Mormons to actually put it into the scriptures and treat it equally with the Bible or Doctrine and Covenants, but as a source it certainly expects itself to be treated as “The Way Things Happened”.

  8. NoCoolName_Tom Reply

    I was waiting to see if anyone would saying anything about the obvious allusion to Luke 1:1-4 for the beginning of the 1838 account, but nobody did. Such allusions (as well to other Lukan material like Paul’s defense before Agrippa) to me actually work AGAINST the idea that Joseph was merely putting the 1838 account together as a defense against detractors, but rather is starting off from a position similar to the author of the Gospel of Luke, who is assembling a history of the Jesus movement against other existing Gospels like Mark. It’s almost like Joseph is saying, “You may have heard this before, either from good or bad sources; let me tell it to you authoritatively.” It’s no wonder to me why the 1838 account is the one account that eventually became canonized: it was designed that way. He may not have expected future Mormons to actually put it into the scriptures and treat it equally with the Bible or Doctrine and Covenants, but as a source it certainly expects itself to be treated as “The Way Things Happened”.

  9. brandt Reply

    First of all, great podcast. I really like “Feisty John.” And I think that Mike was tolerable this episode, and Glenn and George added a great voice of reason, especially being willing to challenge John and challenge each other. Good dialogue, good content.

    Concerning the multiple accounts, here’s a couple of questions I would have like addressed in the podcast:
    – First, I think it would have been interesting to objectively look at the apologetic claims (the most common one that I’ve heard has concerned giving multiple accounts of the same occurrence and seeing what details have changed). Do the apologists have any validity to their defense of it?
    – I haven’t done a lot of research into it, but I don’t know if the emphasis on the First Vision comes from Adam-God. If that were the case, and Adam-God had such a huge impact, wouldn’t it have been a more emphasized teaching during Joseph’s lifetime? It seems that most of what we have about it comes from the Brigham Young/Salt Lake years?
    – Glenn, I totally felt the Spirit during your story. Thank you for being a worthy vessel to heaven.

    🙂

  10. brandt Reply

    First of all, great podcast. I really like “Feisty John.” And I think that Mike was tolerable this episode, and Glenn and George added a great voice of reason, especially being willing to challenge John and challenge each other. Good dialogue, good content.

    Concerning the multiple accounts, here’s a couple of questions I would have like addressed in the podcast:
    – First, I think it would have been interesting to objectively look at the apologetic claims (the most common one that I’ve heard has concerned giving multiple accounts of the same occurrence and seeing what details have changed). Do the apologists have any validity to their defense of it?
    – I haven’t done a lot of research into it, but I don’t know if the emphasis on the First Vision comes from Adam-God. If that were the case, and Adam-God had such a huge impact, wouldn’t it have been a more emphasized teaching during Joseph’s lifetime? It seems that most of what we have about it comes from the Brigham Young/Salt Lake years?
    – Glenn, I totally felt the Spirit during your story. Thank you for being a worthy vessel to heaven.

    🙂

  11. scott2 Reply

    my one and only question is a rhetorical one… if this is truly the most important event since the resurrection of Christ, then why is it that the majority of members aren’t even aware that multiple accounts EXIST, much less what about them conflict. wouldn’t we want to know as much as possible about what happened? the only answer i can think of is that the Church feels the multiple accounts would damage their position…

    duplicity…

      • Sionpiensa Reply

        Publications out of the Sunday related material are not known by the majority of the members, plus in other parts of the world we don’t have or known deseret bookstores. Mike, imagine for a second not to be a Utah citizen, or US resident or even an English speaker, you will never encounter the historical material available to you for so long. You will see it will become a real problem for the Church when the bloggernacle expands it’s languages to face Mormonism in all it’s aspects for audience that has a different way to live Mormonism, without the TBM veil.
        In this case when you have been taught only one version of the first vision, due to lack of publications, I think is even more disturbing to realize how the Church takes advantage of the lack of information for the international branches.
        To summarize, NO, is not available as easy as you think the information on this topic and YES, the accounts add to each other…lack of credibility

      • Swearing Elder Reply

        Did you notice the publication date? 2009. This was NOT available while I was growing up. And having not read this I have no idea if it is as forthcoming as it should be.

        If you look at the link provided on my blog, there are examples of where it is discussed. But they are obscure, not readily available to most members. And more importantly, some are from what would be considered “anti” sites.

        However, most importantly, is that you would have to know to even ask the question. Why would a member ask, “Are there multiple versions of the First Vision?”? Most members wouldn’t; they’d simply have no reason to. The Gospel Doctrine, Seminary, Institute, Young Men’s, Young Women’s, and other official Church manuals don’t say anything about this. Certainly, the Pearl of Great Price and D&C don’t.

        So, saying that members are “satisfied” with the canonized version is disingenuous. Having one option available to you doesn’t mean you are satisfied with that option.

      • scott2 Reply

        i repeat, mike… “most important event since the resurrection of Christ.”

        has anything surpassed this since then? the Church is founded on this event, so why don’t ALL the members study ALL the accounts in seminary? institute? missionary lessons? what do you think it would do to an investigator who learned there was more than one version of what happened? apologetics just wouldn’t cut it…

        • Sam Andy Reply

          True. If the message wasn’t streamlined, sanitized and whitewashed, it would be even harder to believe.

  12. scott2 Reply

    my one and only question is a rhetorical one… if this is truly the most important event since the resurrection of Christ, then why is it that the majority of members aren’t even aware that multiple accounts EXIST, much less what about them conflict. wouldn’t we want to know as much as possible about what happened? the only answer i can think of is that the Church feels the multiple accounts would damage their position…

    duplicity…

      • Sionpiensa Reply

        Publications out of the Sunday related material are not known by the majority of the members, plus in other parts of the world we don’t have or known deseret bookstores. Mike, imagine for a second not to be a Utah citizen, or US resident or even an English speaker, you will never encounter the historical material available to you for so long. You will see it will become a real problem for the Church when the bloggernacle expands it’s languages to face Mormonism in all it’s aspects for audience that has a different way to live Mormonism, without the TBM veil.
        In this case when you have been taught only one version of the first vision, due to lack of publications, I think is even more disturbing to realize how the Church takes advantage of the lack of information for the international branches.
        To summarize, NO, is not available as easy as you think the information on this topic and YES, the accounts add to each other…lack of credibility

      • Swearing Elder Reply

        Did you notice the publication date? 2009. This was NOT available while I was growing up. And having not read this I have no idea if it is as forthcoming as it should be.

        If you look at the link provided on my blog, there are examples of where it is discussed. But they are obscure, not readily available to most members. And more importantly, some are from what would be considered “anti” sites.

        However, most importantly, is that you would have to know to even ask the question. Why would a member ask, “Are there multiple versions of the First Vision?”? Most members wouldn’t; they’d simply have no reason to. The Gospel Doctrine, Seminary, Institute, Young Men’s, Young Women’s, and other official Church manuals don’t say anything about this. Certainly, the Pearl of Great Price and D&C don’t.

        So, saying that members are “satisfied” with the canonized version is disingenuous. Having one option available to you doesn’t mean you are satisfied with that option.

      • scott2 Reply

        i repeat, mike… “most important event since the resurrection of Christ.”

        has anything surpassed this since then? the Church is founded on this event, so why don’t ALL the members study ALL the accounts in seminary? institute? missionary lessons? what do you think it would do to an investigator who learned there was more than one version of what happened? apologetics just wouldn’t cut it…

        • Sam Andy Reply

          True. If the message wasn’t streamlined, sanitized and whitewashed, it would be even harder to believe.

  13. Mike Tannehill Reply

    In regards to my “bodyguard angels” comment: I think everyone here is aware of Cherubim and their flaming swords, and also that it was Michael and other angels who escorted Satan and his followers from heaven. Are bodyguard angels that odd a topic?

    The angels could also have been a chorus of Seraphim singing praises to the final dispensations opening, but more than likely they were representatives of the past dispensations.

    • Rich Rasmussen Reply

      I just like the imagery of muscular angels in cut-off tees asking passer-by’s to “move along.” And that god would have need or want of protection. It wasn’t really a shot at you or your ideas, just a fun observation.
      I think, if it happened, that they were a chorus…but I hope for Jack Bauer type bodyguards.

  14. Mike Tannehill Reply

    In regards to my “bodyguard angels” comment: I think everyone here is aware of Cherubim and their flaming swords, and also that it was Michael and other angels who escorted Satan and his followers from heaven. Are bodyguard angels that odd a topic?

    The angels could also have been a chorus of Seraphim singing praises to the final dispensations opening, but more than likely they were representatives of the past dispensations.

    • Rich Rasmussen Reply

      I just like the imagery of muscular angels in cut-off tees asking passer-by’s to “move along.” And that god would have need or want of protection. It wasn’t really a shot at you or your ideas, just a fun observation.
      I think, if it happened, that they were a chorus…but I hope for Jack Bauer type bodyguards.

  15. Mike Tannehill Reply

    In regards to Johns stating that the First Vision accounts were not common knowledge prior to Brigham Youngs 1870 Adam-God doctrine.. I didnt know quite how to respond in the podcast because I had never heard such a claim, and it turns out it was completely bogus:

    1849: Orson pratt quoted from the 1838 First Vision account in part two of an article entitled, “Are the Father and the Son two distinct persons?” (Millennial Star vol.11 no.20)

    1850 John Taylor sent a letter to a non-lds journal that included many details of the First Vision Story. This letter was also published in the Millennial Star

    1850 Lorenzo Snow published a short account of the First Vision in a missionary tract

    1850 Orson Pratt quoted the 1838 First Vision account in a missionary pamphlet

    1851 Franklin D Richards published the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price. It contained the 1838 First Vision account.

    1851 A collection of Orson Pratt’s writings called “A Series of Pamphlets” was published. This gathering of material included two First Vision recitals.

    1851 Brigham Young began overseeing the publication of a large portion of the “History of the Church”. This portion contained a clear First Vision account.

    1852 Franklin D Richards published an eighty eight page supplement to volume 14 of the “Millennial Star” that included the 1838 First Vision account.

    Theres nine more after these

    For those who want to study it further:

    http://deseretbook.com/item/5022181/A_Pillar_of_Light_The_History_and_Message_of_the_First_Vision

    • In The Back Reply

      So why the contradiction with the prophets and apostles in general conference and journal of discourses?
      Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, John Taylor and George A Smith all directly contradict the first vision. Not in some obscure missionary pamphlet, but over the pulpit at General Conference and in Journal of Discourses.

      One example:
      “Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” – Apostle Orson Hyde, General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335

      The first mention I can find of it in General Conference is in 1895 (IIRC) by George Q Cannon.
      Even using your obscure references I would still say the first vision was not common knowledge. According to modern day prophets we are talking about the most important event in the history of the world save the resurrection yet you cannot find a single reference to it until 29 years after the supposed event?

      You want to re-think your bogus accusation?

    • Swearing Elder Reply

      Is a single one of your examples from during the lifetime of Joseph Smith? This what is meant by “early Saints.” The first example you give is 1849. If the First Vision happened in 1820, that’s 29 years after-the-fact.

      If this is the event that transformed the world and ushered in the last days Saints should have heard about 29 minutes, 29 days, 29 weeks, or even 29 months after it happened — NOT 29 YEARS.

    • John Larsen Reply

      Good points, Mike. Let me, perhaps clear up some things that I made muddy.

      First, obviously the vision was published in Joseph’s time, hence the 4 accounts we discussed. Thus there were people who knew about it. My point is that it was not doctrinally significant and in fact was contradictory to other teachings.

      Second, it is important the people who never understood it or regarded it as an angelic visitation. I suspect many of the instances you give above will hold that it was an angelic visitation. I think it is telling the number of high officers of the Church who apparently did not know that God the Father and Jesus Christ visited Joseph.

      Third and maybe most important—the Adam God doctrine. For the doctrine, Jesus and God are separate beings, absolutely. But so are Jesus and Jehovah. Joseph introduced the doctrine publicly at the King Follett discourse. So those after would have also rejected the early Trinitarian view and replaced it with the Adam God view in which Adam, Jesus, Jehovah and Elohim were all separate individual Gods performing their role. So, Mike, the fact that there is a 1849 document talking about the separate nature of God is expected, because the Church had rejected Trinitarianism by this point.

      • Glenn Reply

        John,

        You said in the podcast that you think that referring to God as a “personage” would be disrespectful. Why? Are there examples from the 1800’s of “personage” being derogatory? It seems to me that this would be emphasized as a way to highlight the whole “created in the image of God” thing. And it is odd to me that Joseph would describe two personages if he didn’t have in mind the father and the son. Why two? Are there other angelic visitation narratives from that time period that specify two personages? I see your points, and it is clear to me that there is valid reason to question and doubt the first vision narrative — whether you start with the assumption that it really happened exactly as the official version describes or that it did not happen at all, you can make a convincing argument, and the lack of more explicitly clear contemporary records makes it vulnerable, but I still don’t see enough evidence to be convinced either way. Yet.

        • NightAvatar Reply

          Glenn, “two personages” is common bible-talk for angels. They often come in pairs. Think of the gospel accounts of the resurrection (2 angels on the tomb) or the two angels who visited Lot (Genesis 18). Abraham met God and two angels (Genesis 19), etc. etc.

    • NightAvatar Reply

      Good work, Mike. Looks like you found <a href="http://en.fairmormon.org/First_Vision/Seldom_mentioned_in_LDS_publications_before_1877_%28long%29"FAIR's page on this very topic to help you out. You copy/pasted their article almost word-for-word.

      “Completely bogus” might be a bit strong, though.

      Here are links to some of your sources:

      “Are the Father and the Son two distinct persons?” (Millennial Star vol.11 no.20)

      In the first vision which Joseph Smith received in the spring of the year 1820, he being between fourteen and fifteen years of age, both the Father and the Son, while he was praying, appeared unto him. He said, “When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said (pointing to the other): This is my beloved Son, hear him.” Thus we find that the visions both of the ancient and modern prophets agree, and clearly demonstrate, the existence of two distinct persons-the Father and Son.

      John Taylor’s letter to a non-lds journal

      [Joseph] retired into a grove, and called upon the Lord to give him wisdom in relation to this matter. While he was thus engaged, he was surrounded by a brilliant light, and two glorious personages presented themselves before him, who exactly resembled each other in features, and who gave him information upon the subjects which had previously agitated his mind.

      (No mention of God the Father or Jesus in this one, buddy. Only “two glorious personages”)

      The Voice of Joseph Missionary tract, by Lorenzo Snow
      * Good luck finding text from this as it is impossible to find online and the link above is to an out-of-print ancient version of the book for $175.
      Basically, I don’t believe you until I can see proof. My guess is this is the same mention as Taylor’s above, which is unspecific to who Joseph saw, other than to call them “two personages”.

      I’m outta time for now. More later…

      • NightAvatar Reply

        Looks like the rest of your quoted accounts refer to the 1838 version, which do not mention God or Jesus but 2 personages, which as John mentioned in this podcast could be interpreted as angels.

        So, John was correct (or mostly so) that it wasn’t very talked about in terms of Joseph being visited by God and Jesus. Only Orson’s version states this specifically. The others mention 1838 version of “the vision” which could be angels.

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        I didnt find any FAIR article on this. I went and bought the book I linked to and typed it from the page.

  16. Mike Tannehill Reply

    In regards to Johns stating that the First Vision accounts were not common knowledge prior to Brigham Youngs 1870 Adam-God doctrine.. I didnt know quite how to respond in the podcast because I had never heard such a claim, and it turns out it was completely bogus:

    1849: Orson pratt quoted from the 1838 First Vision account in part two of an article entitled, “Are the Father and the Son two distinct persons?” (Millennial Star vol.11 no.20)

    1850 John Taylor sent a letter to a non-lds journal that included many details of the First Vision Story. This letter was also published in the Millennial Star

    1850 Lorenzo Snow published a short account of the First Vision in a missionary tract

    1850 Orson Pratt quoted the 1838 First Vision account in a missionary pamphlet

    1851 Franklin D Richards published the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price. It contained the 1838 First Vision account.

    1851 A collection of Orson Pratt’s writings called “A Series of Pamphlets” was published. This gathering of material included two First Vision recitals.

    1851 Brigham Young began overseeing the publication of a large portion of the “History of the Church”. This portion contained a clear First Vision account.

    1852 Franklin D Richards published an eighty eight page supplement to volume 14 of the “Millennial Star” that included the 1838 First Vision account.

    Theres nine more after these

    For those who want to study it further:

    http://deseretbook.com/item/5022181/A_Pillar_of_Light_The_History_and_Message_of_the_First_Vision

    • In The Back Reply

      So why the contradiction with the prophets and apostles in general conference and journal of discourses?
      Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, John Taylor and George A Smith all directly contradict the first vision. Not in some obscure missionary pamphlet, but over the pulpit at General Conference and in Journal of Discourses.

      One example:
      “Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” – Apostle Orson Hyde, General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335

      The first mention I can find of it in General Conference is in 1895 (IIRC) by George Q Cannon.
      Even using your obscure references I would still say the first vision was not common knowledge. According to modern day prophets we are talking about the most important event in the history of the world save the resurrection yet you cannot find a single reference to it until 29 years after the supposed event?

      You want to re-think your bogus accusation?

    • Swearing Elder Reply

      Is a single one of your examples from during the lifetime of Joseph Smith? This what is meant by “early Saints.” The first example you give is 1849. If the First Vision happened in 1820, that’s 29 years after-the-fact.

      If this is the event that transformed the world and ushered in the last days Saints should have heard about 29 minutes, 29 days, 29 weeks, or even 29 months after it happened — NOT 29 YEARS.

    • John Larsen Reply

      Good points, Mike. Let me, perhaps clear up some things that I made muddy.

      First, obviously the vision was published in Joseph’s time, hence the 4 accounts we discussed. Thus there were people who knew about it. My point is that it was not doctrinally significant and in fact was contradictory to other teachings.

      Second, it is important the people who never understood it or regarded it as an angelic visitation. I suspect many of the instances you give above will hold that it was an angelic visitation. I think it is telling the number of high officers of the Church who apparently did not know that God the Father and Jesus Christ visited Joseph.

      Third and maybe most important—the Adam God doctrine. For the doctrine, Jesus and God are separate beings, absolutely. But so are Jesus and Jehovah. Joseph introduced the doctrine publicly at the King Follett discourse. So those after would have also rejected the early Trinitarian view and replaced it with the Adam God view in which Adam, Jesus, Jehovah and Elohim were all separate individual Gods performing their role. So, Mike, the fact that there is a 1849 document talking about the separate nature of God is expected, because the Church had rejected Trinitarianism by this point.

      • Glenn Reply

        John,

        You said in the podcast that you think that referring to God as a “personage” would be disrespectful. Why? Are there examples from the 1800’s of “personage” being derogatory? It seems to me that this would be emphasized as a way to highlight the whole “created in the image of God” thing. And it is odd to me that Joseph would describe two personages if he didn’t have in mind the father and the son. Why two? Are there other angelic visitation narratives from that time period that specify two personages? I see your points, and it is clear to me that there is valid reason to question and doubt the first vision narrative — whether you start with the assumption that it really happened exactly as the official version describes or that it did not happen at all, you can make a convincing argument, and the lack of more explicitly clear contemporary records makes it vulnerable, but I still don’t see enough evidence to be convinced either way. Yet.

        • NightAvatar Reply

          Glenn, “two personages” is common bible-talk for angels. They often come in pairs. Think of the gospel accounts of the resurrection (2 angels on the tomb) or the two angels who visited Lot (Genesis 18). Abraham met God and two angels (Genesis 19), etc. etc.

    • NightAvatar Reply

      Good work, Mike. Looks like you found <a href="http://en.fairmormon.org/First_Vision/Seldom_mentioned_in_LDS_publications_before_1877_%28long%29"FAIR's page on this very topic to help you out. You copy/pasted their article almost word-for-word.

      “Completely bogus” might be a bit strong, though.

      Here are links to some of your sources:

      “Are the Father and the Son two distinct persons?” (Millennial Star vol.11 no.20)

      In the first vision which Joseph Smith received in the spring of the year 1820, he being between fourteen and fifteen years of age, both the Father and the Son, while he was praying, appeared unto him. He said, “When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said (pointing to the other): This is my beloved Son, hear him.” Thus we find that the visions both of the ancient and modern prophets agree, and clearly demonstrate, the existence of two distinct persons-the Father and Son.

      John Taylor’s letter to a non-lds journal

      [Joseph] retired into a grove, and called upon the Lord to give him wisdom in relation to this matter. While he was thus engaged, he was surrounded by a brilliant light, and two glorious personages presented themselves before him, who exactly resembled each other in features, and who gave him information upon the subjects which had previously agitated his mind.

      (No mention of God the Father or Jesus in this one, buddy. Only “two glorious personages”)

      The Voice of Joseph Missionary tract, by Lorenzo Snow
      * Good luck finding text from this as it is impossible to find online and the link above is to an out-of-print ancient version of the book for $175.
      Basically, I don’t believe you until I can see proof. My guess is this is the same mention as Taylor’s above, which is unspecific to who Joseph saw, other than to call them “two personages”.

      I’m outta time for now. More later…

      • NightAvatar Reply

        Looks like the rest of your quoted accounts refer to the 1838 version, which do not mention God or Jesus but 2 personages, which as John mentioned in this podcast could be interpreted as angels.

        So, John was correct (or mostly so) that it wasn’t very talked about in terms of Joseph being visited by God and Jesus. Only Orson’s version states this specifically. The others mention 1838 version of “the vision” which could be angels.

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        I didnt find any FAIR article on this. I went and bought the book I linked to and typed it from the page.

  17. Sionpiensa Reply

    Glenn I think you shared your own vision of the adversary experience, thanks for sharing it. I had two similar ones, now I know that were created by the PTSD i carried during my teenage years, and during and after the mission. They were real but not real. The power of the mind is amazing.

    • Glenn Reply

      Just to be clear, my story was completely made up, and if memory serves, it actually evolved. the first time I told it, it was just the radio not shutting off. The evil angel was added later. You can read more about it here if you are interested:

      http://eh-musing.blogspot.com/2008/06/highway-to-hell.html

      Some people do have night visions, sleep paralysis, “old hag” experiences — similar to what you are saying about ‘real but not real.’ I’ve had those too, where you feel like there is a dark presence or a weight sitting on your chest, pinning you down in sleep. That is a common experience and is actually the etymology of “nightmare” — it was previously associated with witchcraft. But my story was nothing like this — just a complete fabrication on my part to get my friend’s attention. And it just spiraled out of control.

  18. Sionpiensa Reply

    Glenn I think you shared your own vision of the adversary experience, thanks for sharing it. I had two similar ones, now I know that were created by the PTSD i carried during my teenage years, and during and after the mission. They were real but not real. The power of the mind is amazing.

    • Glenn Reply

      Just to be clear, my story was completely made up, and if memory serves, it actually evolved. the first time I told it, it was just the radio not shutting off. The evil angel was added later. You can read more about it here if you are interested:

      http://eh-musing.blogspot.com/2008/06/highway-to-hell.html

      Some people do have night visions, sleep paralysis, “old hag” experiences — similar to what you are saying about ‘real but not real.’ I’ve had those too, where you feel like there is a dark presence or a weight sitting on your chest, pinning you down in sleep. That is a common experience and is actually the etymology of “nightmare” — it was previously associated with witchcraft. But my story was nothing like this — just a complete fabrication on my part to get my friend’s attention. And it just spiraled out of control.

  19. James Reply

    Great episode and the details and nuance of the various versions brought things to light that I had not noticed before. That said, for me it is really not that complicated. I know, I know, memories change and details get cloudy and it’s natural to embellish or forget a thing or two. But really? He saw God and Jesus, or God, or a personage – or a couple personages or whatever! My point is, if I saw God – if YOU saw God, and had that kind of vision/visitation (minor point?) you cannot tell me you are going to forget even minor details of the experience. I cannot buy that a vision by a 14 year old, seeing GOD!!, is something that just casually get’s blurry over the years.

    I had a huge zit on my face at 14 that I popped. It was amazingly cool! I remember every detail of that experience. I have had several bowel movements that were existential – left me in a state of awe and wonder, the details of which are still fresh in my mind. All joking aside, my point is obvious – you simply don’t forget those kind of experiences.

    The details don’t sharpen over time, and major, major aspects of the experience don’t change (like the nature and number of persons that you saw in the vision/visitation). Again, we are not talking about a huge whitehead on your upper lip that spewed puss all over the mirror – we are talking about a visit from GOD, purportedly, and that the details of such a seminal event in human history should have been clear, consistent, and concise.

  20. James Reply

    Great episode and the details and nuance of the various versions brought things to light that I had not noticed before. That said, for me it is really not that complicated. I know, I know, memories change and details get cloudy and it’s natural to embellish or forget a thing or two. But really? He saw God and Jesus, or God, or a personage – or a couple personages or whatever! My point is, if I saw God – if YOU saw God, and had that kind of vision/visitation (minor point?) you cannot tell me you are going to forget even minor details of the experience. I cannot buy that a vision by a 14 year old, seeing GOD!!, is something that just casually get’s blurry over the years.

    I had a huge zit on my face at 14 that I popped. It was amazingly cool! I remember every detail of that experience. I have had several bowel movements that were existential – left me in a state of awe and wonder, the details of which are still fresh in my mind. All joking aside, my point is obvious – you simply don’t forget those kind of experiences.

    The details don’t sharpen over time, and major, major aspects of the experience don’t change (like the nature and number of persons that you saw in the vision/visitation). Again, we are not talking about a huge whitehead on your upper lip that spewed puss all over the mirror – we are talking about a visit from GOD, purportedly, and that the details of such a seminal event in human history should have been clear, consistent, and concise.

  21. Patrick Reply

    The list of contemporaries that do not mention the first vision was astounding. It really raises an eyebrow for such a record keeping people.

  22. Patrick Reply

    The list of contemporaries that do not mention the first vision was astounding. It really raises an eyebrow for such a record keeping people.

  23. Scottro Reply

    Ok Mike, there are conflicting records of the first vision, but rather than go through your summaries of them, let’s read some quotes (from Mormonthink):

    In 1854

    “Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” – Apostle Orson Hyde, General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335

    In 1855

    The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith Jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.” (Journal of Discourses 2:170-171)

    (It is certain Young is speaking of the First Vision for he says the angel told Smith to join no church for they were all wrong. This is the very question the official version of the story states Smith asked of the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove.)

    A few days later Apostle Wilford Woodruff declared: “That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God,… The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world;… He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world,… This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel;…” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, pp.196-197)

    In 1857

    Church Apostle Heber C. Kimball, speaking Nov. 8th, 1857, seemed to be oblivious to any vision where Smith saw God and Christ: “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates.” (Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.29)

    In 1863

    Church Apostle John Taylor explained in a sermon March 1, 1863: “How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.127)

    Church Apostle George A. Smith, Nov. 15th, 1863, preached: “When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old,…he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong,…” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, pp.333-334)

    In 1869

    Five years later Apostle Smith again referred to Smith’s first vision: “He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, of his first inquiries was, ‘Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?’ ” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p.77-78 June 20, 1869 )

    • Scottro Reply

      so to bring that full circle, if the church’s current, modern claims about the correlated First vision being the greatest event since the resurrection why didn’t these people know about them? How is it that Heber C. Kimball, a close associate of JS, did not know about the first vision? Ditto for many of the others above. I’ve never heard a good answer for that.

  24. Scottro Reply

    Ok Mike, there are conflicting records of the first vision, but rather than go through your summaries of them, let’s read some quotes (from Mormonthink):

    In 1854

    “Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” – Apostle Orson Hyde, General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335

    In 1855

    The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith Jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.” (Journal of Discourses 2:170-171)

    (It is certain Young is speaking of the First Vision for he says the angel told Smith to join no church for they were all wrong. This is the very question the official version of the story states Smith asked of the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove.)

    A few days later Apostle Wilford Woodruff declared: “That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God,… The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world;… He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world,… This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel;…” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, pp.196-197)

    In 1857

    Church Apostle Heber C. Kimball, speaking Nov. 8th, 1857, seemed to be oblivious to any vision where Smith saw God and Christ: “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates.” (Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.29)

    In 1863

    Church Apostle John Taylor explained in a sermon March 1, 1863: “How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.127)

    Church Apostle George A. Smith, Nov. 15th, 1863, preached: “When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old,…he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong,…” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, pp.333-334)

    In 1869

    Five years later Apostle Smith again referred to Smith’s first vision: “He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, of his first inquiries was, ‘Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?’ ” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p.77-78 June 20, 1869 )

    • Scottro Reply

      so to bring that full circle, if the church’s current, modern claims about the correlated First vision being the greatest event since the resurrection why didn’t these people know about them? How is it that Heber C. Kimball, a close associate of JS, did not know about the first vision? Ditto for many of the others above. I’ve never heard a good answer for that.

  25. Scottro Reply

    Also – Mike, I’m intrigued by the doctrine of God needing or having bodyguards, could you elaborate?

    • Glenn Reply

      Scott,

      Mike already elaborated above — I’ll paste it here:

      ———————————–
      “In regards to my “bodyguard angels” comment: I think everyone here is aware of Cherubim and their flaming swords, and also that it was Michael and other angels who escorted Satan and his followers from heaven. Are bodyguard angels that odd a topic?

      The angels could also have been a chorus of Seraphim singing praises to the final dispensations opening, but more than likely they were representatives of the past dispensations.”
      ———————————

      “More than likely.” I remember how it used to feel to think that way. “Likely” has a much different meaning to me now.

  26. Scottro Reply

    Also – Mike, I’m intrigued by the doctrine of God needing or having bodyguards, could you elaborate?

    • Glenn Reply

      Scott,

      Mike already elaborated above — I’ll paste it here:

      ———————————–
      “In regards to my “bodyguard angels” comment: I think everyone here is aware of Cherubim and their flaming swords, and also that it was Michael and other angels who escorted Satan and his followers from heaven. Are bodyguard angels that odd a topic?

      The angels could also have been a chorus of Seraphim singing praises to the final dispensations opening, but more than likely they were representatives of the past dispensations.”
      ———————————

      “More than likely.” I remember how it used to feel to think that way. “Likely” has a much different meaning to me now.

  27. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a seperate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. – Joseph Smith, Jr. DHC 6:474, June 16, 1844

    Scottro,
    Each of the men you mention was well aquainted with the First Vision account, and knew full well the origin story of this dispensation of the fulness of times.

    Orson Hyde: His comments you site are extracted from his conference address. That adress was not in reference to the First Vision at all. His talk was given in the season for sowing crops and he was commenting on the sowing and reaping or gathering imagery found in Matthew 13:1-9 and 36-43. In these passages of scripture it is the angels who are the reapers, carrying out their task at the end of the world. Elder Hyde comments that through angelic agency the “reaping dispensation was commited to the children of men”. the word commited as used here is in reference to D&C 110 where the dispensations are commited to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple.

    Additionally, the notion that Elder Hyde was not aware of the orthodox version of the First Vision account in the 1850’s is disproved by the fact that he wrote a missionary pamphlet in 1841 that included an account of that very story. In a letter to Joseph about this tract he refers to Orson Pratts pamphlet and states that he was fashioning his after that fashion.

  28. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a seperate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. – Joseph Smith, Jr. DHC 6:474, June 16, 1844

    Scottro,
    Each of the men you mention was well aquainted with the First Vision account, and knew full well the origin story of this dispensation of the fulness of times.

    Orson Hyde: His comments you site are extracted from his conference address. That adress was not in reference to the First Vision at all. His talk was given in the season for sowing crops and he was commenting on the sowing and reaping or gathering imagery found in Matthew 13:1-9 and 36-43. In these passages of scripture it is the angels who are the reapers, carrying out their task at the end of the world. Elder Hyde comments that through angelic agency the “reaping dispensation was commited to the children of men”. the word commited as used here is in reference to D&C 110 where the dispensations are commited to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple.

    Additionally, the notion that Elder Hyde was not aware of the orthodox version of the First Vision account in the 1850’s is disproved by the fact that he wrote a missionary pamphlet in 1841 that included an account of that very story. In a letter to Joseph about this tract he refers to Orson Pratts pamphlet and states that he was fashioning his after that fashion.

  29. Mike Tannehill Reply

    Scottro,
    Brigham Youngs statement:
    “He” (the Lord) sent an angel to Joseph Smith to tell him about the Book of Mormon plates, but also “He” (the Lord) informed Joseph Smith (while speaking to him in the Sacred Grove) that he should not join any church.

    In this speech President Young is paraphrasing and quoting from the 1838 account. It is illogical to assume that he was not aware of the First Vision story when he is quoting from it to speak about the angel Moroni.

    • In The Back Reply

      It is only “illogical” from a TBM point of view. From an open minded point of view it is perfect logically that Brigham did not know about the first vision as we know it today.

  30. Mike Tannehill Reply

    Scottro,
    Brigham Youngs statement:
    “He” (the Lord) sent an angel to Joseph Smith to tell him about the Book of Mormon plates, but also “He” (the Lord) informed Joseph Smith (while speaking to him in the Sacred Grove) that he should not join any church.

    In this speech President Young is paraphrasing and quoting from the 1838 account. It is illogical to assume that he was not aware of the First Vision story when he is quoting from it to speak about the angel Moroni.

    • In The Back Reply

      It is only “illogical” from a TBM point of view. From an open minded point of view it is perfect logically that Brigham did not know about the first vision as we know it today.

  31. Mike Tannehill Reply

    Scottro,
    Heber C Kimball:
    Your quotation from Heber is in reference to the Lord sending delegates to give the Prophet information regarding the Book of Mormon and to bestow the higher priesthood authority upon him. The First Vision is not mentioned at all. Brother Kimball was more than likely aware of the 1820 visitation of the Father and the Son to Joseph when he made these remarks, because only about two and a half months earlier (13 August 1857) he had been among a small group of Church authorities who deposited copies of no less than a dozen accounts of the First Vision in a foundation stone of the Salt Lake Temple.

  32. Mike Tannehill Reply

    Scottro,
    Heber C Kimball:
    Your quotation from Heber is in reference to the Lord sending delegates to give the Prophet information regarding the Book of Mormon and to bestow the higher priesthood authority upon him. The First Vision is not mentioned at all. Brother Kimball was more than likely aware of the 1820 visitation of the Father and the Son to Joseph when he made these remarks, because only about two and a half months earlier (13 August 1857) he had been among a small group of Church authorities who deposited copies of no less than a dozen accounts of the First Vision in a foundation stone of the Salt Lake Temple.

  33. Sam Andy Reply

    Here are couple of observations on the official version. I’m kinda proud of myself for finding the first one on my own, before discovering that many others had already found it.

    First observation:

    Verse 10: “Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?”

    Verse 18: “…(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)…”

    So, it really did enter into his heart that they might all be wrong. The evidence is in verse 10. This is contradictory. And, interestingly, I think the statement in parentheses in v. 18 was taken out and then added back into the account.

    Second observation:

    Verse 23: Joseph was a “character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day.” This contradicts current apologetic explanations that he kept his vision experience to himself for many years because he was a quiet, reflective person. It also implies that he told his story liberally, during his youth. I ask myself, didn’t anyone, anywhere write about this young man with such a remarkable story? Someone must have written something in their personal journal. However, I don’t think any contemporary accounts have surfaced.

    • Sam Andy Reply

      Sorry, I hadn’t listened to the second half of the podcast when I posted this. These observations were made very well by John. I think the fact that there are conflicting statements in the JSH regarding his forethought on all religions being wrong is significant.

  34. Sam Andy Reply

    Here are couple of observations on the official version. I’m kinda proud of myself for finding the first one on my own, before discovering that many others had already found it.

    First observation:

    Verse 10: “Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?”

    Verse 18: “…(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)…”

    So, it really did enter into his heart that they might all be wrong. The evidence is in verse 10. This is contradictory. And, interestingly, I think the statement in parentheses in v. 18 was taken out and then added back into the account.

    Second observation:

    Verse 23: Joseph was a “character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day.” This contradicts current apologetic explanations that he kept his vision experience to himself for many years because he was a quiet, reflective person. It also implies that he told his story liberally, during his youth. I ask myself, didn’t anyone, anywhere write about this young man with such a remarkable story? Someone must have written something in their personal journal. However, I don’t think any contemporary accounts have surfaced.

    • Sam Andy Reply

      Sorry, I hadn’t listened to the second half of the podcast when I posted this. These observations were made very well by John. I think the fact that there are conflicting statements in the JSH regarding his forethought on all religions being wrong is significant.

  35. Sam Andy Reply

    From another board comes the “Baura Challenge”:

    “Find ANY mention of the current official version of the First Vision in ANY document written or published before 1835. This could include newspaper accounts, journals, diaries, affidavits by Joseph’s neighbors (there were many), Church proselyting material, sermons etc. Remember, it has to mention both God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph and telling him to join no other churches. Remember that Joseph said that he kept telling this story and that it caused a lot of commotion and persecution towards him, but he kept telling it anyway. Surely someone must have mentioned it somewhere in print before 1835.”

    The reward at the time was $1000.

  36. Sam Andy Reply

    From another board comes the “Baura Challenge”:

    “Find ANY mention of the current official version of the First Vision in ANY document written or published before 1835. This could include newspaper accounts, journals, diaries, affidavits by Joseph’s neighbors (there were many), Church proselyting material, sermons etc. Remember, it has to mention both God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph and telling him to join no other churches. Remember that Joseph said that he kept telling this story and that it caused a lot of commotion and persecution towards him, but he kept telling it anyway. Surely someone must have mentioned it somewhere in print before 1835.”

    The reward at the time was $1000.

  37. In The Back Reply

    Mike are you going to defend your earlier references to the first vision? Appears they are not exactly what you claim them to be. You seem to have not responded to any of the questions about the claims raised above?

  38. In The Back Reply

    Mike are you going to defend your earlier references to the first vision? Appears they are not exactly what you claim them to be. You seem to have not responded to any of the questions about the claims raised above?

  39. Scottro Reply

    Mike, this is a loser. It doesn’t prove the church is false if you concede that HCK never knew about God’s supposed visit to JS, but a lack of willingness to admit what is so obvious on the facts belies your closed mind.

    I’m reading the original JoD talk that this Kimball quote is from, the title of the talk is “Truth, Life, and Light – God Acts Through Agents” volume 6 pages 28-38. The whole talk is about how God DOESN’T come down and do things himself, and explicitly states twice that God never came to Joseph Smith. He doesn’t mention the ‘first vision’ because he didn’t know about it. This fits perfectly with all the other statements that the founding of the church was the Angel Moroni’s visit, especially the stuff that was printed in the Millenial Star and Times and Seasons. They thought the 1823 Moroni visit was the founding event and basis for authority.

    THAT was the ‘first vision’ to people like Kimball, that was Josephs authority. His talk makes zero sense if he thought God really did visit Joseph Smith. Even if he did bury accounts of the first vision before this talk so what? I’m not disputing that there were written accounts before this, I’m saying Kimball either didn’t know about them or didn’t believe in them. It is patently obvious from his talk. Why would an apostle say that God never visited Joseph Smith? Why would he give a talk to members and tell them, without mentioning anything about the sacred grove experience:

    “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No”

    If a prophet or apostle today said that, and never mentioned anything about the ‘sacred grove first vision’ – don’t you think that would be extremely odd? That would be downright blaspheme today, to stand up and say “God did not visit Joseph Smith” without saying something like, “except at the first vision.”

    Either Heber C. Kimball was lying or he didn’t know about the greatest event since the resurrection, which was it?

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        He (Elder Kimball)is clearly speaking on the order of the priesthood and the givng of authority. None of that occured in the First Vision. His talk does not reference the First Vision.

        Your point is moot.

  40. Scottro Reply

    Mike, this is a loser. It doesn’t prove the church is false if you concede that HCK never knew about God’s supposed visit to JS, but a lack of willingness to admit what is so obvious on the facts belies your closed mind.

    I’m reading the original JoD talk that this Kimball quote is from, the title of the talk is “Truth, Life, and Light – God Acts Through Agents” volume 6 pages 28-38. The whole talk is about how God DOESN’T come down and do things himself, and explicitly states twice that God never came to Joseph Smith. He doesn’t mention the ‘first vision’ because he didn’t know about it. This fits perfectly with all the other statements that the founding of the church was the Angel Moroni’s visit, especially the stuff that was printed in the Millenial Star and Times and Seasons. They thought the 1823 Moroni visit was the founding event and basis for authority.

    THAT was the ‘first vision’ to people like Kimball, that was Josephs authority. His talk makes zero sense if he thought God really did visit Joseph Smith. Even if he did bury accounts of the first vision before this talk so what? I’m not disputing that there were written accounts before this, I’m saying Kimball either didn’t know about them or didn’t believe in them. It is patently obvious from his talk. Why would an apostle say that God never visited Joseph Smith? Why would he give a talk to members and tell them, without mentioning anything about the sacred grove experience:

    “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No”

    If a prophet or apostle today said that, and never mentioned anything about the ‘sacred grove first vision’ – don’t you think that would be extremely odd? That would be downright blaspheme today, to stand up and say “God did not visit Joseph Smith” without saying something like, “except at the first vision.”

    Either Heber C. Kimball was lying or he didn’t know about the greatest event since the resurrection, which was it?

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        He (Elder Kimball)is clearly speaking on the order of the priesthood and the givng of authority. None of that occured in the First Vision. His talk does not reference the First Vision.

        Your point is moot.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Rich,
      I have maybe been to FAIR’s website twice over the last four years.I dont visit that site. I have a large collection of books, and I use those.

      • NightAvatar Reply

        Sounds like me. I get all my info from books too. Except mine aren’t labeled “Deseret Book” but that’s ok if yours are. I just find it strange that your post a few up (with the dates and such) is nearly word-for-word taken from (or quoted in) a FAIR article.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Rich,
      I have maybe been to FAIR’s website twice over the last four years.I dont visit that site. I have a large collection of books, and I use those.

      • NightAvatar Reply

        Sounds like me. I get all my info from books too. Except mine aren’t labeled “Deseret Book” but that’s ok if yours are. I just find it strange that your post a few up (with the dates and such) is nearly word-for-word taken from (or quoted in) a FAIR article.

  41. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I just discovered what may be the earliest account. Its entitled “The Dispute with Mr. Ellmer”:

    On 17 october 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith and a few other Latter-day Saints were travelling to Michigan aboard a steamboat when one of them had an arguement with a man known only as Mr. Ellmer. the quarrel that arose between these men may point to a previously unrecognised (and significantly early) recital of the First Vision story by Jospeh Smith.

    Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter about this incident in Pontiac, Michigan, just three days after it took place, and so the information that has been preserved about it is almost contemporanious. This letter was published soon after its comosition in the LDS newspaper called the “Messenger and Advocate.”

    On the evening of the 17th oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and possibly some of the other saints in their group spoke on the deck of the boat with Mr. Ellmer. this man had heard that “Joe Smith” was dead and indicated that he was “glad” to think that this was the case, since he considered him to be a false prophet. Mr. Ellmer claimed to be an eye and ear witness to the Prophet’s preaching “five years since” (i.e.1829) in Bainbridge, New York. but he looked upon what the Prophet had said as being nothing more than “lies”. At issue was the prophet’s teaching that jesus Christ had “appeared” to “man or men” since His resurrection and ascension in New Testament times. Mr. Ellmer asserted “that the Savior had not been seen since His ascension, and that any man contradicting this was a deceiver.”

    see: oliver Cowdery’s letter, which was dated 20 October 1834, was published in the “Messenger and Advocate”, vol.1, no.1 (October 1834), 3-7

    • Scottro Reply

      Earliest account of what Mike? The first vision? Have you read this section of Messenger and Advocate you’re talking about? I don’t mean to make this personal but you’re blatantly lying to people if you are saying this has anything to do with an early account of the first vision. You’re making stuff up and I’m calling you on it! Can you quote for me the part that talks about the first vision here or where it says JS saw God?

      Do you think you can just make baseless claims and slap a quote on it and someone out there will believe you? Some of the things you’ve said on the podcast have made my blood boil but this takes the cake. There are people who actually care about the truth. I know you think you’re saving people even if you have to lie to them, but it makes you look ridiculous.

      I’m reading the Messenger and Advocate section you’re referring to, and it says nothing about the first vision, or JS ever having seen God or Jesus.

      Anybody who wants can read it here http://www.centerplace.org/history/ma/v1n01.htm – just do search function for Ellmer. Yes, this guy Ellmer was saying nobody had seen Jesus after his resurrection. So what did Cowdery respond? Did he mention JS had seen Jesus, say anything about the sacred grove, about JS praying? NO, never, nowhere. All he did was cite to biblical references that claimed Jesus had appeared to people in the bible after his resurrection. Why didn’t he answer that JS had seen Jesus? Hmmm, curious. When you or I were missionaries, if someone had asked if anyone had seen Jesus or God who would you immediately think of and respond with? I wonder why Cowdery apparently had a different thought. These guys were bible bashing, it had nothing to do with the first vision, and certainly isn’t an account of it.

      Nowhere in this entire account is anyone talking about JS seeing Jesus or God. You’re implying that the guy said JS was a liar, and also he said that nobody had seen Jesus, and trying to connect the two by clever paraphrasing and the little quote snippets above. You said “At issue was the prophet’s teaching that jesus (sic) Christ had ‘appeared’ to ‘man or all men’ since His resurrection…” but in fact there was no mention, at all, of JS having ever allegedly said that. Ellmer never said anything about JS having taught that. For all we know Ellmer was just spouting off about a million other people at that time who were claiming to have seen Jesus – he never mentions anything about contradicting the “prophet’s teaching[s]” on that point as you dishonestly inserted.

      The account shows that Cowdery, who was supposed to be spreading the gospel, did not take the opportunity to share the message of the first vision, but instead rehashed the bible.

      I’m floored that you take this kind of thing to be evidence of your position, and yet you have such a hard time seeing something like evolution as holding any truth.

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        Scottro,

        The man in question was talking about Jospeh Smith on the ship. He stated that Joseph Smith was a liar because Christ had not appeared since his ascension.

        This is plainly stating that Joseph Smith had claimed to see Christ. How can you take this to mean anything else?

        The Mormons speaking to him defend Josephs claim by bolstering it with scriptural evience that Christ appeared to many others after his ascension.

        Its not that hard.

        • NightAvatar Reply

          Mike, I understood the quote to mean the man had either heard or read himself the section in the Book of Mormon where Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites. He was saying this was ridiculous because he didn’t believe Christ would appear to man after his ascension.

          I suppose it “could” be referring to “The First Vision” but then it would have been Joseph’s account of being visited by “The Lord” alone, and not “2 personages” – but I think this is a stretch, as Scottro has stated. He is most likely talking about 3 Nephi 11, or the 1832 account, where Joseph saw “The Lord” in a vision.

          Still, I think it was a good find and credit you for it. I simply think you read WAY too much into these things.

          It is bothersome that you claimed a few posts up that HCK was close to Joseph and therefore certainly knew of the First Vision. Well, from several quotes Scottro has provided, he clearly didn’t. But instead of admitting you were wrong on at least that point, you pretend it didn’t happen. As Scottro stated, you seem to be just spouting out half-supported (at best) claims or your personal views, and masquerading them as facts. Well, they aren’t facts, dude. They’re just your views. Nothing more.

        • Scottro Reply

          @Mike – “He stated that Joseph Smith was a liar because Christ had not appeared since his ascension.” Show me where he stated that, where is that quote because I’ve read the entire story about 4 times and it isn’t there.

          “The Mormons speaking to him defend Josephs claim by bolstering it with scriptural evience that Christ appeared to many others after his ascension.” – You’re reading that into it. ‘Joseph’s claim’ is nowhere in the account. It never mentions anything about JS claiming to have seen Jesus, or God, at all.

          As NightAvatar points out, the man could have been talking about Jesus’s appearance in the BoM, since in the story Cowdery was trying to sell copies of it over the man’s protests.

          Mike, when you try to make a point based off of a historical text, read the text. You’re way, way outside the text, inserting subtext to make it say something it doesn’t. Don’t assume Cowdery was defending JS’s claim when it says nothing of the sort. I agree it is possible that Cowdery might have said something like that but from this account that is not apparent, not by a long shot.

          In fact, I think this whole story cuts the opposite way from your point, if Cowdery were writing this as a devotional account to the Saints, and was in fact defending JS’s claim to have seen Jesus, why wouldn’t he mention his bold testimony of the greatest event since the resurrection? He doesn’t say a word, not one word, about JS having seen Jesus.

  42. Mike Tannehill Reply

    I just discovered what may be the earliest account. Its entitled “The Dispute with Mr. Ellmer”:

    On 17 october 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith and a few other Latter-day Saints were travelling to Michigan aboard a steamboat when one of them had an arguement with a man known only as Mr. Ellmer. the quarrel that arose between these men may point to a previously unrecognised (and significantly early) recital of the First Vision story by Jospeh Smith.

    Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter about this incident in Pontiac, Michigan, just three days after it took place, and so the information that has been preserved about it is almost contemporanious. This letter was published soon after its comosition in the LDS newspaper called the “Messenger and Advocate.”

    On the evening of the 17th oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and possibly some of the other saints in their group spoke on the deck of the boat with Mr. Ellmer. this man had heard that “Joe Smith” was dead and indicated that he was “glad” to think that this was the case, since he considered him to be a false prophet. Mr. Ellmer claimed to be an eye and ear witness to the Prophet’s preaching “five years since” (i.e.1829) in Bainbridge, New York. but he looked upon what the Prophet had said as being nothing more than “lies”. At issue was the prophet’s teaching that jesus Christ had “appeared” to “man or men” since His resurrection and ascension in New Testament times. Mr. Ellmer asserted “that the Savior had not been seen since His ascension, and that any man contradicting this was a deceiver.”

    see: oliver Cowdery’s letter, which was dated 20 October 1834, was published in the “Messenger and Advocate”, vol.1, no.1 (October 1834), 3-7

    • Scottro Reply

      Earliest account of what Mike? The first vision? Have you read this section of Messenger and Advocate you’re talking about? I don’t mean to make this personal but you’re blatantly lying to people if you are saying this has anything to do with an early account of the first vision. You’re making stuff up and I’m calling you on it! Can you quote for me the part that talks about the first vision here or where it says JS saw God?

      Do you think you can just make baseless claims and slap a quote on it and someone out there will believe you? Some of the things you’ve said on the podcast have made my blood boil but this takes the cake. There are people who actually care about the truth. I know you think you’re saving people even if you have to lie to them, but it makes you look ridiculous.

      I’m reading the Messenger and Advocate section you’re referring to, and it says nothing about the first vision, or JS ever having seen God or Jesus.

      Anybody who wants can read it here http://www.centerplace.org/history/ma/v1n01.htm – just do search function for Ellmer. Yes, this guy Ellmer was saying nobody had seen Jesus after his resurrection. So what did Cowdery respond? Did he mention JS had seen Jesus, say anything about the sacred grove, about JS praying? NO, never, nowhere. All he did was cite to biblical references that claimed Jesus had appeared to people in the bible after his resurrection. Why didn’t he answer that JS had seen Jesus? Hmmm, curious. When you or I were missionaries, if someone had asked if anyone had seen Jesus or God who would you immediately think of and respond with? I wonder why Cowdery apparently had a different thought. These guys were bible bashing, it had nothing to do with the first vision, and certainly isn’t an account of it.

      Nowhere in this entire account is anyone talking about JS seeing Jesus or God. You’re implying that the guy said JS was a liar, and also he said that nobody had seen Jesus, and trying to connect the two by clever paraphrasing and the little quote snippets above. You said “At issue was the prophet’s teaching that jesus (sic) Christ had ‘appeared’ to ‘man or all men’ since His resurrection…” but in fact there was no mention, at all, of JS having ever allegedly said that. Ellmer never said anything about JS having taught that. For all we know Ellmer was just spouting off about a million other people at that time who were claiming to have seen Jesus – he never mentions anything about contradicting the “prophet’s teaching[s]” on that point as you dishonestly inserted.

      The account shows that Cowdery, who was supposed to be spreading the gospel, did not take the opportunity to share the message of the first vision, but instead rehashed the bible.

      I’m floored that you take this kind of thing to be evidence of your position, and yet you have such a hard time seeing something like evolution as holding any truth.

      • Mike Tannehill Reply

        Scottro,

        The man in question was talking about Jospeh Smith on the ship. He stated that Joseph Smith was a liar because Christ had not appeared since his ascension.

        This is plainly stating that Joseph Smith had claimed to see Christ. How can you take this to mean anything else?

        The Mormons speaking to him defend Josephs claim by bolstering it with scriptural evience that Christ appeared to many others after his ascension.

        Its not that hard.

        • NightAvatar Reply

          Mike, I understood the quote to mean the man had either heard or read himself the section in the Book of Mormon where Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites. He was saying this was ridiculous because he didn’t believe Christ would appear to man after his ascension.

          I suppose it “could” be referring to “The First Vision” but then it would have been Joseph’s account of being visited by “The Lord” alone, and not “2 personages” – but I think this is a stretch, as Scottro has stated. He is most likely talking about 3 Nephi 11, or the 1832 account, where Joseph saw “The Lord” in a vision.

          Still, I think it was a good find and credit you for it. I simply think you read WAY too much into these things.

          It is bothersome that you claimed a few posts up that HCK was close to Joseph and therefore certainly knew of the First Vision. Well, from several quotes Scottro has provided, he clearly didn’t. But instead of admitting you were wrong on at least that point, you pretend it didn’t happen. As Scottro stated, you seem to be just spouting out half-supported (at best) claims or your personal views, and masquerading them as facts. Well, they aren’t facts, dude. They’re just your views. Nothing more.

        • Scottro Reply

          @Mike – “He stated that Joseph Smith was a liar because Christ had not appeared since his ascension.” Show me where he stated that, where is that quote because I’ve read the entire story about 4 times and it isn’t there.

          “The Mormons speaking to him defend Josephs claim by bolstering it with scriptural evience that Christ appeared to many others after his ascension.” – You’re reading that into it. ‘Joseph’s claim’ is nowhere in the account. It never mentions anything about JS claiming to have seen Jesus, or God, at all.

          As NightAvatar points out, the man could have been talking about Jesus’s appearance in the BoM, since in the story Cowdery was trying to sell copies of it over the man’s protests.

          Mike, when you try to make a point based off of a historical text, read the text. You’re way, way outside the text, inserting subtext to make it say something it doesn’t. Don’t assume Cowdery was defending JS’s claim when it says nothing of the sort. I agree it is possible that Cowdery might have said something like that but from this account that is not apparent, not by a long shot.

          In fact, I think this whole story cuts the opposite way from your point, if Cowdery were writing this as a devotional account to the Saints, and was in fact defending JS’s claim to have seen Jesus, why wouldn’t he mention his bold testimony of the greatest event since the resurrection? He doesn’t say a word, not one word, about JS having seen Jesus.

  43. Mister IT Reply

    And it came to pass, that it was a crisp Summer night in which I slept in my bed, my mind inquiring upon the great mystery which had caused me great turmoil lo these many months.

    And, yea, and I say yea, a personage did appear to me as in a vision and say to me, “Yea, and again I say yea, ‘Tannehill’ in the ancient Adamic tongue means, ‘He that can and will rationalize anything, again I say ANYTHING, Joseph Smith, Jr.!”

    And when I arose I discovered that I had no teeth left!

    For it came to pass that upon the never ceasing grinding and ruminating upon the never-ceasing yet ever more incredible and ever more increasing illuminations of the “Tannehill of The Stars” (let him who has ears to hear, hear) who was, indeed, able to rationalize anything and everything Joseph Smith, Jr. despite of and in the face of all sound reason, the aforesaid teeth were ground upon again and again until they not.

    And so I went forth wiser but with nothing left to grind upon but upon gum for wisdom had surely arrived too late to save me – and my teeth.

    Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

    Amen!

  44. Mister IT Reply

    And it came to pass, that it was a crisp Summer night in which I slept in my bed, my mind inquiring upon the great mystery which had caused me great turmoil lo these many months.

    And, yea, and I say yea, a personage did appear to me as in a vision and say to me, “Yea, and again I say yea, ‘Tannehill’ in the ancient Adamic tongue means, ‘He that can and will rationalize anything, again I say ANYTHING, Joseph Smith, Jr.!”

    And when I arose I discovered that I had no teeth left!

    For it came to pass that upon the never ceasing grinding and ruminating upon the never-ceasing yet ever more incredible and ever more increasing illuminations of the “Tannehill of The Stars” (let him who has ears to hear, hear) who was, indeed, able to rationalize anything and everything Joseph Smith, Jr. despite of and in the face of all sound reason, the aforesaid teeth were ground upon again and again until they not.

    And so I went forth wiser but with nothing left to grind upon but upon gum for wisdom had surely arrived too late to save me – and my teeth.

    Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

    Amen!

  45. Mister IT Reply

    But guys before you apply the electrodes and give me something to bite down on could you just answer one question: Is there ANYTHING that Joseph Smith did or said that Mike – or any other True Blue Mormon for that matter – can’t rationalize?

    Anything?
    Anything at all?

    It does tend to make one grind one’s teeth!

    Thanks.

  46. Mister IT Reply

    But guys before you apply the electrodes and give me something to bite down on could you just answer one question: Is there ANYTHING that Joseph Smith did or said that Mike – or any other True Blue Mormon for that matter – can’t rationalize?

    Anything?
    Anything at all?

    It does tend to make one grind one’s teeth!

    Thanks.

  47. Mister IT Reply

    Regarding Bushman’s examples of similar visions in and around the mid-19th Century:

    “Joseph Smith later claimed that it was because of a revival in the neighborhood that he went out into the woods to pray and received his first vision. He placed the date in 1820, however the description of the revival given by family members places the date in the 1824-25 time-frame, after part of the family had joined the Presbyterian Church.[21]

    But even his claim of a vision was not an unusual occurrence during the many revivals in New York. Joseph Smith’s 1838 account of his first vision, published in the Pearl of Great Price, tells how in 1820 he went into a grove to pray to know which church to join. At first a dark power overtook him, then crying out to God, he observed a great light. Two beings appeared and told him he was not to join any of them as they were “all wrong” and that “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” He concluded, “When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”[22] These two beings are identified today as God the father and Jesus Christ.

    Richard Bushman recounted the vision of Norris Stearns whose 1815 story sounds very much like Joseph Smith’s account:

    “One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. . . . Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man.”[23]

    In 1816 a minister by the name of Elias Smith published a book in which he told of his conversion. Notice the similarity to Joseph Smith’s first account:

    I went into the woods . . . a light appeared from heaven . . . My mind seemed to rise in that light to the throne of God and the Lamb. . . . The Lamb once slain appeared to my understanding, and while viewing him, I felt such love to him as I never felt to any thing earthly. . . . It is not possible for me to tell how long I remained in that situation . . .[24]

    Alexander Campbell wrote the following on March 1, 1824, concerning a revival in New York: “Enthusiasm flourishes. . . . This man was regenerated when asleep, by a vision of the night. That man heard a voice in the woods, saying, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ A third saw his Savior descending to the tops of the trees at noon day.”[25]

    Asa Wild claimed to have a vision which is very similar to the story Joseph Smith later published. It was printed in the Wayne Sentinel (the newspaper to which the Smith family apparently subscribed) on October 22, 1823:

    It seemed as if my mind . . . was struck motionless, as well as into nothing, before the awful and glorious majesty of the Great Jehovah. He then spake . . . He also told me, that every denomination of professing Christians had become extremely corrupt. . . .[26]

    With so many people dissatisfied with the churches of the day, telling of visions and looking for some sort of restoration, it is easy to see why some people would be attracted to Joseph Smith’s claims and the Book of Mormon, which echoed many of the same views.

    [21] See chapter 2, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record, H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley p. Walters, (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994).

    [22] See Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:15-20.

    [23] Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 41.

    [24] Elias Smith, The Life, Conversion, Preaching, Travels, and Sufferings of Elias Smith [online] (Portsmouth, N.H.: Beck & Foster, 1816), pp. 58-59.

    [25] Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist (1827) vol. 1, pp. 148-149, as quoted in The Changing World of Mormonism, Jerald and Sandra Tanner (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), pp. 159-160.

    [26] Wayne Sentinel (Oct. 22, 1823), as quoted in The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 160 ”

    http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no114.htm#environment

  48. Mister IT Reply

    Regarding Bushman’s examples of similar visions in and around the mid-19th Century:

    “Joseph Smith later claimed that it was because of a revival in the neighborhood that he went out into the woods to pray and received his first vision. He placed the date in 1820, however the description of the revival given by family members places the date in the 1824-25 time-frame, after part of the family had joined the Presbyterian Church.[21]

    But even his claim of a vision was not an unusual occurrence during the many revivals in New York. Joseph Smith’s 1838 account of his first vision, published in the Pearl of Great Price, tells how in 1820 he went into a grove to pray to know which church to join. At first a dark power overtook him, then crying out to God, he observed a great light. Two beings appeared and told him he was not to join any of them as they were “all wrong” and that “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” He concluded, “When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home.”[22] These two beings are identified today as God the father and Jesus Christ.

    Richard Bushman recounted the vision of Norris Stearns whose 1815 story sounds very much like Joseph Smith’s account:

    “One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. . . . Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man.”[23]

    In 1816 a minister by the name of Elias Smith published a book in which he told of his conversion. Notice the similarity to Joseph Smith’s first account:

    I went into the woods . . . a light appeared from heaven . . . My mind seemed to rise in that light to the throne of God and the Lamb. . . . The Lamb once slain appeared to my understanding, and while viewing him, I felt such love to him as I never felt to any thing earthly. . . . It is not possible for me to tell how long I remained in that situation . . .[24]

    Alexander Campbell wrote the following on March 1, 1824, concerning a revival in New York: “Enthusiasm flourishes. . . . This man was regenerated when asleep, by a vision of the night. That man heard a voice in the woods, saying, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ A third saw his Savior descending to the tops of the trees at noon day.”[25]

    Asa Wild claimed to have a vision which is very similar to the story Joseph Smith later published. It was printed in the Wayne Sentinel (the newspaper to which the Smith family apparently subscribed) on October 22, 1823:

    It seemed as if my mind . . . was struck motionless, as well as into nothing, before the awful and glorious majesty of the Great Jehovah. He then spake . . . He also told me, that every denomination of professing Christians had become extremely corrupt. . . .[26]

    With so many people dissatisfied with the churches of the day, telling of visions and looking for some sort of restoration, it is easy to see why some people would be attracted to Joseph Smith’s claims and the Book of Mormon, which echoed many of the same views.

    [21] See chapter 2, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record, H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley p. Walters, (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994).

    [22] See Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:15-20.

    [23] Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 41.

    [24] Elias Smith, The Life, Conversion, Preaching, Travels, and Sufferings of Elias Smith [online] (Portsmouth, N.H.: Beck & Foster, 1816), pp. 58-59.

    [25] Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist (1827) vol. 1, pp. 148-149, as quoted in The Changing World of Mormonism, Jerald and Sandra Tanner (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), pp. 159-160.

    [26] Wayne Sentinel (Oct. 22, 1823), as quoted in The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 160 ”

    http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no114.htm#environment

  49. Norskie Reply

    Listening to Glenn’s visitation account reiterated my commiseration for Church leadership for having to perpetuate their narrative. I don’t know what Glenn’s response to the guy who committed to clean up his life after hearing his story, but it would be perfectly understandable to just bite your tongue and let the guy believe the fabrication since it seems to be beneficial to the listener. I don’t condone the action, but I do see why people would perpetuate something that they see as helping people in their lives. (See “Santa Claus”.) I can’t help but think that Church leadership really does know this is all built on a fabrication, but are under enormous pressure, both from the organization as well as from personal conviction, to avoid uncovering the deception because there are literally millions of people who count on the church being true to bring them peace and meaning in their lives (not to mention the millions of dollars the religious industrial complex pumps into the Utah economy.)

    • Glenn Reply

      Yep — I just let him believe it. I didn’t want to burst his bubble. But the entire experience scared me — I felt like I was meddling in the supernatural and I never told the story again (repentance — what a nice happy ending, right?).

      I remember seeing this guy several times after that night in the canyon, and he always felt the need to give me a progress report (in whispered tones) on his new found righteousness. He looked at me with this reverenced awe that just made me so uncomfortable, and I knew that if he found out that I had lied he would totally hate me. So I can imagine that in Joseph Smith’s case there must have been that sense to a far larger degree — once you have fervent believers you have a lot riding on your story.

      I don’t really apply that to today’s church leaders, though. I’m quite certain that they are sincere believers. But I do agree with you that they feel tremendous pressure/responsibility/duty to set a perfect example of unquestioning, unwavering belief, so even if they may have some personal misgivings from time to time, they probably dismiss them fairly quickly and focus instead on “what is really important” — the faith affirming stuff.

      • Mr. IT Reply

        “So I can imagine that in Joseph Smith’s case there must have been that sense to a far larger degree — once you have fervent believers you have a lot riding on your story.”

        Not only that Glenn but remember back then you had to “tithe” 10% of your estate to the Mormon Church just to get baptized. Then when you consider that was JUST the beginning with entire families liquidating the remainder of their estates, men giving their wives over to Smith for polyandry, being forced to relocate (often from other countries), etc., etc., etc.

        I’m not sure than any modern person – Mormon or not – can truly grasp how much those Early Mormons were truly invested in Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church.

        Thus it any wonder that the animosity toward Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and the other Mormon Leaders was so intense once a Mormon became “apostate” back then? Just consider the intensity of David Whitmer and William Law’s scathing denunciations as a small example of what I’m suggesting.

        I’m sure that for Smith, Rigdon, Cowdrey, Pratt and the others who were there at the “get go” of the writing of the Book of Mormon (I am, of course, referring to the latest evidence in this regard – see http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&catid=520&id=82123#82123 ) and formation of LdS Theology the thought of “coming clean” was utterly and completely untenable.

        I would point to two points of evidence in this regard:

        1) Cowdrey – despite CLEARLY being apostate – never recanted his testimony of the Book of Mormon (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery#Life_apart_from_the_church ) Of course TBMs point to this as evidence of the book’s veracity, while I point to it as evidence of quite another kind: The fear of being exposed as a con man and a fraud.

        2) Rigdon – If Rigdon had nothing to hide from future generations, why did he ask that his writings be burned after his death?
        (see http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/rigdon1.htm )

        And one can only wonder what might have “gone down” had Pratt and Joseph Smith hadn’t been assassinated. It’s wonderfully tantalizing, but ultimately futile, speculation.

  50. Norskie Reply

    Listening to Glenn’s visitation account reiterated my commiseration for Church leadership for having to perpetuate their narrative. I don’t know what Glenn’s response to the guy who committed to clean up his life after hearing his story, but it would be perfectly understandable to just bite your tongue and let the guy believe the fabrication since it seems to be beneficial to the listener. I don’t condone the action, but I do see why people would perpetuate something that they see as helping people in their lives. (See “Santa Claus”.) I can’t help but think that Church leadership really does know this is all built on a fabrication, but are under enormous pressure, both from the organization as well as from personal conviction, to avoid uncovering the deception because there are literally millions of people who count on the church being true to bring them peace and meaning in their lives (not to mention the millions of dollars the religious industrial complex pumps into the Utah economy.)

    • Glenn Reply

      Yep — I just let him believe it. I didn’t want to burst his bubble. But the entire experience scared me — I felt like I was meddling in the supernatural and I never told the story again (repentance — what a nice happy ending, right?).

      I remember seeing this guy several times after that night in the canyon, and he always felt the need to give me a progress report (in whispered tones) on his new found righteousness. He looked at me with this reverenced awe that just made me so uncomfortable, and I knew that if he found out that I had lied he would totally hate me. So I can imagine that in Joseph Smith’s case there must have been that sense to a far larger degree — once you have fervent believers you have a lot riding on your story.

      I don’t really apply that to today’s church leaders, though. I’m quite certain that they are sincere believers. But I do agree with you that they feel tremendous pressure/responsibility/duty to set a perfect example of unquestioning, unwavering belief, so even if they may have some personal misgivings from time to time, they probably dismiss them fairly quickly and focus instead on “what is really important” — the faith affirming stuff.

      • Mr. IT Reply

        “So I can imagine that in Joseph Smith’s case there must have been that sense to a far larger degree — once you have fervent believers you have a lot riding on your story.”

        Not only that Glenn but remember back then you had to “tithe” 10% of your estate to the Mormon Church just to get baptized. Then when you consider that was JUST the beginning with entire families liquidating the remainder of their estates, men giving their wives over to Smith for polyandry, being forced to relocate (often from other countries), etc., etc., etc.

        I’m not sure than any modern person – Mormon or not – can truly grasp how much those Early Mormons were truly invested in Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church.

        Thus it any wonder that the animosity toward Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and the other Mormon Leaders was so intense once a Mormon became “apostate” back then? Just consider the intensity of David Whitmer and William Law’s scathing denunciations as a small example of what I’m suggesting.

        I’m sure that for Smith, Rigdon, Cowdrey, Pratt and the others who were there at the “get go” of the writing of the Book of Mormon (I am, of course, referring to the latest evidence in this regard – see http://www.concernedchristians.com/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=42&func=view&catid=520&id=82123#82123 ) and formation of LdS Theology the thought of “coming clean” was utterly and completely untenable.

        I would point to two points of evidence in this regard:

        1) Cowdrey – despite CLEARLY being apostate – never recanted his testimony of the Book of Mormon (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Cowdery#Life_apart_from_the_church ) Of course TBMs point to this as evidence of the book’s veracity, while I point to it as evidence of quite another kind: The fear of being exposed as a con man and a fraud.

        2) Rigdon – If Rigdon had nothing to hide from future generations, why did he ask that his writings be burned after his death?
        (see http://sidneyrigdon.com/criddle/rigdon1.htm )

        And one can only wonder what might have “gone down” had Pratt and Joseph Smith hadn’t been assassinated. It’s wonderfully tantalizing, but ultimately futile, speculation.

  51. cobble26 Reply

    The podcast was interesting, but I was disappointed at the level of preparation and knowledge of the panel other than John.   For example, Mike claimed that it was at Rev. Lane’s repeated urgings that Joseph went to the grove to pray in 1820.  Nobody pointed out that the Methodist Church records prove that Rev. Lane was not appointed the pastor in Palmyra until 1824 or early 1825.  When discussing the conflict between the 1831-32 account of the First Vision and the 1838 account with respect to whether Joseph believed no church was true prior to praying, nobody pointed out that earlier in the 1838 account Joseph said essentially that he often thought to himself whether  there was a true church or were they all wrong together.  Mike claimed that Joseph told the First Vision story to the jewish visitor Joshua in 1835.  Nobody pointed out that Joseph’s original version stated that he told Joshua of the first visitation of angels, but the church later changed that to refer to the first vision.  This is proven by the original account in the Deseret News which contained the same first visitation of angels language.  The plain fact is that there is no evidence that anyone heard Joseph’s story before 1835 or that he was persecuted for claiming to have had a vision or that anyone in the church knew of the story until at least the late 1830’s.  For example, Oliver Cowdery wrote the first history of the church with Joseph’s assistance that was published in the church periodical during 1834-35 as a series of letters to W.W. Phelps.  There was no mention whatsover of the first vision.  In the early church, the foundational experience was the 1827 visit of an unknown angel to Joseph in a dream, which ultimately became the angel Moroni (or in some of Joseph’s versions, Nephi) in an actual physical appearance (despite the fact that Joseph shared his small bedroom with five brothers. And, Brigham Young said God did not appear to Joseph, but an angel did. The evidence is simply overwhelming that Joseph made up the First Vision story many years after the fact and then changed it to fit his evolving view of God and to make it more marvelous.  Finally, it was hard for me to listen to Mike’s repeated gospel doctrine wanderings.  Please leave him to priesthood meetings.

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