He was very courteous in discussion, readily admitting what he did not intend to controvert, and would not oppose you abruptly, but had due deference to your feelings. He had the capacity for discussing a subject in different aspects, and for proposing many original views, even of ordinary matters. His illustrations were his own. He had great influence over others. As an evidence of this I will state that on Thursday, just before I left to return to Liberty [Missouri], I saw him out among the crowd, conversing freely with every one, and seeming to be perfectly at ease.
In the short space of five days he had managed so to mollify his enemies that he could go unprotected among them without the slightest danger. A New York Herald writer said he was "one of the most accomplished and powerful chiefs of the age. Joseph Smith, the president of the church, prophet, seer, and revelator, is thirty-six years of age, six feet high in pumps, weighing two hundred and twelve pounds. He is a man of the highest order of talent and great independence of character--firm in his integrity--and devoted to his religion;.
Opposite the positive views presented here and the conflicting views of Joseph which critics seek to take advantage of, there is reason to pause and consider the absoluteness of one opinion of Joseph over another. Speaking of Joseph's human side, the world's expectations of him, and reconciling the two realities, Marvin S. If a look at the human side of Joseph Smith seems at times somewhat unflattering, it comes from no desire to diminish him. It comes rather from the belief that at times in the Church we tend to expect too much of him, to ask him to be more than human in everything he did.
This may lead to some disillusionment, if occasionally we find that he did not measure up to all our expectations. The early Saints usually avoided that kind of mistake. Brigham Young said of Joseph: Pratt said that Joseph was "like other men, as the prophets and apostles of old, liable to errors and mistakes which were not inspired from heaven, but managed by These brethren knew Joseph as a man with human weaknesses, yet they believed in his divine calling and in his greatness. It seemed to them that what he had achieved as a prophet far outweighed his imperfections. In the long run their love of him and their faith in his calling were decisive in shaping their lives.
Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Becoming Gods/Chapter 1 - FairMormon
Seeing Joseph in his various moods, they still called him a prophet of God Those who would understand the Prophet must give consideration to his spiritual side as well as his human side. It was his strong commitment to things spiritual which made him so aware of his human failings, so desirous to overcome his weaknesses and to give his all to the work of the Lord. As one of the special witnesses of the Lord , I desire to declare my testimony to you. I am grateful that I have always had a testimony of the gospel.
I cannot remember when I did not believe. I have not always understood everything and do not claim to do so now, but through thousands and thousands of spiritual confirmations throughout my life, including my calling to the holy apostleship, I can declare my testimony to you that Jesus is the Christ. With every fiber and cell of my being, I know that He is our Savior and Redeemer. I testify that Joseph Smith was the greatest prophet who ever lived upon the earth and of great importance to the Savior in the work of God on the earth.
I know this to be true. Secular critics face a tough challenge when attempting to explain the foundational stories of Church—the primary sources from Joseph Smith and his associates do not provide them with any useful information. The only explanation left to them is that Joseph must have been lying about everything that he said. Authors then resort to fabricating Joseph's thoughts and dreams, and deducing his motivations based upon his surroundings. As one reviewer of Vogel's work puts it, "if no evidence can be gathered to demonstrate that a historical actor thought what you attribute to him or her, no conjecture can be beyond the realm of hypothetical possibility—just make things up, if you need to.
Secular critics, as a result of their inability to accept what they call "paranormal experiences," must come up with explanations for why Joseph Smith was able to create and grow the Church. Since many of the primary documents from Joseph and his associates accept evidence of spiritual experiences and angelic visitations as normal, secular critics look at Joseph's surrounding environment in order to deduce his thoughts and dreams, thus creating a "psychobiography" of the Prophet. But the need for deference was strong within [Joseph]. Talented far beyond his brothers or friends, he was impatient with their modest hopes and humdrum fancies.
Nimble-witted, ambitious, and gifted with a boundless imagination, he dreamed of escape into an illustrious and affluent future. For Joseph was not meant to be a plodding farmer, tied to the earth by habit or by love for the recurrent miracle of harvest. Brodie's prose is very readable, and would be well suited to a fictional novel. Unfortunately, nothing in the paragraph quoted above is referenced to any sort of a source. Cohen, professor of history and religious studies, and director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:.
This habit of insinuating herself into historical actors' minds constitutes the second part of Brodie's method. Since Brodie's work is heavily referenced by critics, Brodie's opinions eventually become considered to be "fact" by those who wish to tear down the Church. Brodie's pronouncements regarding Joseph's motives are then passed along to the next anti-Mormon writer. Consider how the following claim evolves from speculation to "documented endnote," when Brodie states:. The awesome vision he described in later years was probably the elaboration of some half-remembered dream stimulated by the early revival excitement and reinforced by the rich folklore of visions circulating in his neighborhood.
Or it may have been sheer invention, created some time after when the need arose for a magnificent tradition to cancel out the stories of his fortune-telling and money-digging. Dream images came easily to this youth, whose imagination was as untrammeled as the whole West emphasis added. Such a theory boldly challenges LDS apostle James Faust's contention that critics of the First Vision "find it difficult to explain away.
Here we have an unsupported theory by Brodie being confirmed by another author to "further weaken" LDS claims about the First Vision. Brodie's speculation of "was probably" and "it may have been" now becomes a cited endnote in Abanes' work.
The speculation of one author has become the documented fact for the next author down the line. Another author who takes great liberties in deducing Joseph's thoughts and dreams is Dan Vogel. Vogel's book Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet liberally assigns motives to the Prophet which cannot be backed up with any primary source. Instead, the author must interpret the meaning behind second- and third-hand sources that agree with his point-of-view.
Frankly admitting his "inclination. Vogel's Joseph opens his mouth only to lie and deceive; and whatever he might be experiencing, or trying to do, or thinking about, one can rest assured that it's not what any record generated by him or his sympathizers would have us believe.
When an author disregards the primary sources—the statements made by Joseph Smith himself—it becomes possible to create any story, motivation, thought or dream which suits the author's purpose. What more could a student of early Mormon history possibly want? Here, in a crisp three pages, is a detailed account of what Joseph Smith was thinking about, praying about, and hesitating about over years ago during one of the most significant hour periods in church history. And not just what he was thinking about, in general terms, but how and when, within this hour period, his thoughts evolve!
And Vogel gives us all this without a single source to guide his pen—indeed, in direct contravention of what the sources say! One might chalk up this ability to navigate so confidently and so deftly through Joseph's mind to some type of clairvoyance on Vogel's part—"clairvogelance," we could call it—were it not that he himself protests so loudly against anything smacking of the "paranormal.
Again, as with Brodie, and freed from the constraint of having to use actual sources, the author can attribute any thought or motivation to the Prophet that they wish in order to explain the unexplainable. It is true that Joseph did not always tell others about plural marriage. One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife Emma about the practice.
Joseph did, however, make an attempt to teach the doctrine to the Saints. When Joseph tried to teach the doctrine, it was rejected by many Saints, including Emma , his wife. Joseph then began to teach the doctrine privately to those who would obey. A contemporary journal describes the reaction to Joseph's attempt to teach this doctrine:. Keeping the doctrine private was also necessary because the enemies of the Church would have used it as another justification for their assault on the Saints.
Orson Hyde looked back on the Nauvoo days and indicated what the consequences of disclosure would have been:. In olden times they might have passed through the same circumstances as some of the Latter-day Saints had to in Illinois. What would it have done for us, if they had known that many of us had more than one wife when we lived in Illinois? They would have broken us up, doubtless, worse than they did. It is thus important to realize that the public preaching of polygamy—or announcing it to the general Church membership, thereby informing the public by proxy—was simply not a feasible plan.
Significantly, this address was given the day after the Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence. They also sought to indict him on a charge of perjury. Many have criticized or been concerned by the secrecy with which Joseph instituted plural marriage without appreciating the realities of the dangers involved. Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open". Since Joseph was sealed to his plural wives for either eternity, or for time and eternity, he did not view these relationships as constituting adultery or fornication. Therefore, under Illinois law, as long as Joseph and his plural wives did not live in an "open," or "public," manner, they were not guilty of breaking any civil law then in force in Illinois.
Furthermore, this reality explains some of Joseph's public denials, since he could be truthfully said to not be guilty of the charges leveled against him: I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives.
I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this. A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery.
I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses. Goforth was invited into the Laws' clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document,  and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness,  they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet. Jackson got up and said—"By God, he is innocent," and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.
There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashiered for dishonesty and robbing the government. Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.
When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don't forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall. Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.
I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors. Note the rejection of the term "spiritual wifeism". Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.
In light of the circumstances under which they were spoken, Joseph's words were carefully chosen. Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point in the charges brought only the day before. It is claimed that Joseph's place in LDS theology is blasphemous and even idolatrous. As evidence for this, critics of Mormonism cite Heber C. Kimball's remark that future generations would see Joseph as "a god. Rather, he is using a biblical allusion to insist that Joseph and his heirs to the priesthood have a right to leadership of the Saints in both spiritual and temporal things.
Critics, especially Bible-believing ones, ought to be aware of the allusion, but they omit it from their citation and their interpretation, distorting both. You call us fools: Well, I will say there is no other man, except it is his successor in the Priesthood, that will ever rule over me as a Governor. Kimball makes clear that Joseph is to be recognized as a prophet of God, and then alludes to the Bible. When Moses, the great prophet and political leader of Israel, was called as a prophet, he was told by God that:. And [Aaron] shall be thy spokesman unto the people: As evidence for this, they cite Brigham Young's application of 1 John 4: The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ.
To reject Christ's prophets is to reject him. The application of 1 John to Joseph Smith applies only insofar as Joseph is an apostle and witness of Christ. For unbelievers we will quote from the Scriptures—"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God.
Brigham does apply 1 John to Joseph—but interestingly insists that to deny Joseph is to "Anti christ. Critics rarely provide this perspective, which Brigham makes more clear as he continues:. They may say that they acknowledge Him [Jesus and His Father] until doomsday, and he will never own them, nor bestow the Holy Spirit upon them, and they will never have visions of eternity opened to them, unless they acknowledge that Joseph Smith is sent of God. Such people I call unbelievers. They tell about believing in Jesus Christ, but they might as well talk about birds understanding the Hebrew language.
This statement is no more positive than true. All whom I call unbelievers, if they will repent of their sins, obey the requirements in the New Testament, be baptized for the remission of sins by a man who holds the key and authority to lead them into the waters of baptism, and receive the laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, shall receive a witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he was sent of God to build up his kingdom in this last dispensation.
You will receive a Spirit that will bring all things to your remembrance, past present, and to come, teaching you all things necessary for you to understand. There are but a few in this generation who will do this. Brigham makes it clear that a belief in Joseph's prophetic mission springs from a willingness to accept God in faith, repent, "obey The various accounts of the First Vision tell a consistent story, though naturally they differ in emphasis and detail. Historians expect that when an individual retells an experience in multiple settings to different audiences over many years, each account will emphasize various aspects of the experience and contain unique details.
Some have mistakenly argued that any variation in the retelling of the story is evidence of fabrication. To the contrary, the rich historical record enables us to learn more about this remarkable event than we could if it were less well documented. Just as Joseph Smith emphasized different aspects of his vision in his multiple accounts, the Apostle Paul emphasized different aspects of his vision of the Savior to different audiences see Acts 9: Why do you think Joseph Smith and Paul emphasized different things each time they related the accounts of their visions?
On at least four different occasions, Joseph Smith either wrote or dictated to scribes accounts of his sacred experience of Possibly he penned or dictated other histories of the First Vision; if so, they have not been located. The four surviving recitals of this theophany were prepared or rendered through different scribes, at different times, from a different perspective, for different purposes and to different audiences.
Nevertheless, it can now be demonstrated that the Prophet described his experience to friends and acquaintances at least as early as , and that he continued to do so in varying detail until the year of his death, We presently know of at least eight contemporary documents that were written during his lifetime. Joseph's vision was at first an intensely personal experience—an answer to a specific question. Over time, however, illuminated by additional experience and instruction, it became the founding revelation of the Restoration. I am not worried that the Prophet Joseph Smith gave a number of versions of the first vision anymore than I am worried that there are four different writers of the gospels in the New Testament, each with his own perceptions, each telling the events to meet his own purpose for writing at the time.
I am more concerned with the fact that God has revealed in this dispensation a great and marvelous and beautiful plan that motivates men and women to love their Creator and their Redeemer, to appreciate and serve one another, to walk in faith on the road that leads to immortality and eternal life. In the account, Frederick G. Williams inserted the "in the 16th year of my age" above Joseph's text after Joseph had already written it. In Joseph Smith's First Vision recital he said that he was "in the 16th year of [his] age" when the manifestation took place but in all other accounts in which he mentions his age, he was in his "fifteenth year.
The only First Vision account that provided a different age was the account written in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. In , 12 years after the First Vision, Joseph wrote, "we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading and writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements.
Although the portion of Joseph's history is in his own handwriting, the text insertion of "in the 16th year of my age" was in the handwriting of Frederick G. It is likely that Joseph's dating schemes were slightly off when he dictated his age to Williams, many years after-the-fact. There is nothing nefarious in Joseph Smith correcting his own slight mathematical miscalculations.
Two years later, Oliver Cowdery had Joseph's history in his possession when he began publishing history of the Church in late in the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate. Oliver clearly established Joseph's age as 14 "the 15th year of his life" during the period of religious excitement although Oliver ultimately never described the actual First Vision at this time. Once the date of the First Vision was correctly established it remained steady throughout all subsequent recitals as the "15th year" or "age The theophany portion of the account does not specifically indicate that the Father appeared to Joseph Smith together with Jesus Christ.
The relevant text in its original form reads as follows:. Even though the Savior makes a direct reference to the Father there is no indication in this portion of the document that God appeared to Joseph Smith alongside His Son. This type of pattern is seen in the Book of Mormon, translated in The Book of Mormon begins 1 Nephi 1: One [Christ] followed by twelve others descends from God to speak with Lehi—thus, Jesus and the Father are here both separate, and the role of Christ in giving instructions to the prophet while the Father looks on and approves is followed, just as it was in Joseph's First Vision.
Here too, Lehi is described as praying to "the Lord," and yet has a vision of both God the Father and Christ. The account of the First Vision does not portray the Lord as announcing that all the creeds were corrupt. These details do not show up until the account. Is this evidence that the Prophet's story evolved over time?
The claim that Joseph Smith's First Vision story does not contain a divine injunction against joining any churches does not take evidence within the document itself into proper consideration. The information is implicit instead of explicit, but it is there nevertheless. This point cannot be legitimately used as evidence of an evolving storyline.
A quick look at the First Vision text reveals how untenable this claim is. Joseph Smith states that before he went into the woods to pray he had concluded in his own mind that "those of different denominations [which he was personally acquainted with]. Then, when Jesus Christ Himself made a personal appearance to Joseph in the grove, He informed the young boy that -.
How can critics possibly see this as anything other than a forceful and unambiguous indication on the Lord's part that joining any of the Christian denominations would be an unacceptable path for Joseph to take? Notice in the remainder of the text that Joseph says he felt great joy and love because of his experience and pondered the things which he had seen and heard during the vision.
As the text so plainly says—Joseph Smith believed that Christians had turned aside from the gospel; Jesus Christ confirmed that Christians had turned aside from the gospel; Joseph was therefore provided with a set of golden plates that contained writings which were "engrave[d] by. There the Prophet relates: Another indication from the document that Joseph Smith knew from the First Vision event that he should not join any of the churches can be found in something the Savior said to him.
In a canonized text written at approximately the same time as the First Vision account September the following phraseology is found:. In other words, the Lord was telling Joseph Smith during the First Vision about the coming Restoration and so there would not be any need for him to join an existing church. This viewpoint is bolstered by several instances where the Prophet utilized the same phraseology used by the Lord during the First Vision to speak about the Restoration.
If you had come to the conclusion that mankind has apostatized from the true faith, and you suddenly found Jesus standing in front of you, wouldn't you ask Him if any of those churches was the correct one? Or would you simply tell Him, "never mind, I already figured it out for myself? Besides, where is the inconsistency? How many churches did Joseph have immediate knowledge of? Joseph determined that the churches with which he had direct experience did not adhere to the scriptures and that therefore mankind "had apostatized from the true and living faith.
It had never entered into his heart that all churches were wrong. There is no contradiction in the two texts presented in the above argument, only a short-sighted understanding of some isolated sources. The answer to this apparent contradiction lies in a detailed examination of relevant texts. The two quotations used by critics to try and establish the 'Orson-Pratt-said-it-was-an-angel' argument read as follows:. This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel. The use of the 19 December quote is a prime example of how some Church critics are not very careful in their evaluation and presentation of historical texts.
This document actually makes an explicit reference to the identity of the Prophet's First Vision visitants but the critics have edited that part out! The original quote is presented below. Notice the semi-colon after "God had sent an angel to him" which marks the beginning of a new thought. This was the condition of mankind before this Church arose, forty years ago.
By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaimed the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, 'This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him.
God speaking to men in our day! The ancients saw heavenly visions and personages; they heard the voice of the Lord; they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to receive revelations, but behold no such thing is to be given to man in our day, neither has there been for many generations past. It was not merely something speaking in the dark; it was not something wrapped up in mystery, with no glory attending it, but a glorious angel whose countenance shone like a vivid flash of lightning.
It is clear to any person who is familiar with the primary literature which describes Joseph Smith's early spiritual manifestations that when Elder Pratt said that Joseph was "visited again by a holy angel" several years later he was NOT talking about an additional visit by an angel. What he was saying was that Joseph Smith was "visited again" after an interval of several years and this time it was not by the Father and the Son—but by an angel. Would he stand forth and bear testimony that he had seen with his own eyes a messenger of light and glory, and that he heard the words of his mouth as they dropped from his lips and had received a message from the Most High, at that early age?
The 10 December quote has been taken out of its proper context, as the more complete text below demonstrates. Now then, let us come back again. Here was Joseph Smith, a boy, his very youth ought to testify in his favor, for when the Lord first revealed Himself to that little boy, he was only between fourteen and fifteen years of age. Now, can we imagine or suppose that a great impostor could be made out of a youth of that age, and one that could reveal the doctrine of Christ as he has revealed it to this generation?
Would he stand forth and bear testimony that he had seen with his own eyes a messenger of light and glory, and that he heard the words of his mouth as they dropped from his lips and had received a message from the Most High , at that early age? And then, after having declared it, to have the finger of scorn pointed at him, with exclamations, 'There goes the visionary boy! No visions in our day, no angels come in our day, no more revelation to be given in our day!
Why he is deluded, he is a fanatic'; and to have this scorn and derision and still continue to testify, in the face and eyes of all this, while hated and derided by his neighbors, that God had sent his angel from heaven.
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Can you imagine that a youth would do this? After Elder Pratt provided the correct background for the First Vision story he switched over to speaking about a hypothetical situation - not an historical one. Notice that the hypothetical situation can naturally be interpreted along the very same lines as the orthodox story of Joseph Smith's experience: There is ample documentary evidence that both before and after Elder Orson Pratt made the disputed comments above he was teaching that the Prophet's First Vision visitants were the Father and the Son.
Publication - Early in the year Orson Pratt gathered together his pamphlets and issued them as a book. This combination is significant because the "Divine Authenticity" material clarifies who the two Personages are in the "Remarkable Visions" pamphlet. The editors of this volume inserted the Times and Seasons First Vision account into it. Orson Pratt said that he had "often" heard Joseph Smith relate that in a "cloud of light he saw two glorious personages; and one, pointing to the other, said, 'Behold my beloved Son!
Orson Pratt said, "The Lord revealed Himself to this youth [i. Orson Pratt said that Joseph Smith "saw, in the midst of this glorious pillar of fire, two glorious personages, whose countenances shone with an exceeding great lustre. One of them spoke to him, saying, while pointing to the other, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.
Orson Pratt said that Joseph Smith saw "two glorious personages. Orson Pratt said that Joseph Smith "saw these two glorious personages, their countenances shining with exceeding great brilliancy. One of them, while pointing to the other, addressed him in this language, 'Behold my beloved son, hear ye Him. Orson Pratt said that Joseph Smith "saw nothing excepting the light and two glorious personages standing before him in the midst of this light.
One of these personages, pointing to the other, said - "Behold my beloved Son, hear ye Him. Orson Pratt said that several years previous to Joseph Smith "received a heavenly vision. Orson Pratt said that "a wonderful revelation was given to[Joseph Smith], the first one he ever received.
In a great and glorious open vision, in answer to his prayers, there was the manifestation of two of the great personages in the heavens — not angels, not messengers , but two persons that hold the keys of authority over all the creations of the universe. But it continued to descend until it rested upon this lad and immediately his mind was caught away from the surrounding objects, was swallowed up in a heavenly vision, in which he saw two glorious personages, one was the Father, the other was the Son.
Critics also neglect to tell their audience about the context of the remarks in question. Andrew Jenson is quoting - at length - from the official Church history account of the First Vision first published in Jenson made an important modification to the quoted material that needs to be noted.
It is the "Son" who is, just a few paragraphs later, twice identified as "the angel". Thus, Jenson does not in any way confuse facts and state that an angel in the sense of a heavenly being who is subordinate to Deity appeared during the First Vision. The chronological timeline below demonstrates, with ample documentation, that both before and shortly after Brother Jenson produced his disputed text he understood that Joseph Smith's First Vision consisted of seeing the Father and the Son.
It is claimed that in Joseph Smith revised his personal history to say that his original call came from God the Father and Jesus Christ rather than an angel. It is also claimed that his motive for doing this was to give himself a stronger leadership role because an authority crisis had recently taken place and large-scale apostasy was the result.
The idea that Joseph Smith modified the First Vision story in in order to quell a leadership crisis is a convenient mythology crafted by critics who seem to be woefully unfamiliar with the records of the past and were unaware that Joseph told the same story in This argument is a reference to the Kirtland crisis of — Warren Parrish was considered by some of the Saints to be the ringleader of the Kirtland crisis. It is, therefore, all the more interesting that it was this same Warren Parrish who acted as scribe in recording a First Vision recital given by the Prophet Joseph Smith on 9 November When Parrish's account of the theophany is compared to the account it becomes glaringly obvious that the story did NOT change over time, as the critics would like everyone to believe.
It should also be noted that both the and First Vision accounts are followed immediately thereafter by the Book of Mormon angel story. Thus, it is impossible for critics to claim a shift in historical content by the Prophet. Before the Kirtland crisis took place Joseph Smith spoke in the retelling of events about an vision of two personages followed by an visitation by an angel.
After the Kirtland crisis took place Joseph Smith said the exact same thing in the retelling of events. When the published s fragments of the First Vision story are compared to the as-yet-unpublished recital, it becomes apparent that the Prophet's account of things stayed steady during this time frame and was probably known among a wider cross-section of the contemporary LDS population than has been previously acknowledged. The Prophet's mother—Lucy Mack Smith—wrote a letter in which seems to indicate that her son's First Vision consisted of seeing an "angel" instead of Deity.
Critics suggest that this demonstrates that the Prophet's story evolved over time and that his claim to have seen God was a relatively late addition to his story. Lucy Mack Smith's letter does NOT say that her son's first heavenly visitation was from an angel. Her letter not only contains an easily recognizable First Vision storyline fragment, but also cites a text that refers directly to the First Vision experience. Lucy's intent was NOT to focus attention on the First Vision, but rather on the heavenly manifestation associated with the Book of Mormon.
There is no evidence that the letter was hidden or "suppressed"—the first publications of it were all by LDS authors in works supportive of the Church. Anyone who reads the full text of this letter will soon discover that its stated purpose is to introduce the Book of Mormon to Lucy's siblings, to prepare them to receive a copy of it when it was presented to them, to explain that the book represented the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and to summarize how it came forth in their day. Critics fail to mention that Lucy's letter not only contains a very distinct First Vision storyline theme "the churches have all become corrupted This material was recorded by April and is reproduced below:.
Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Becoming Gods/Chapter 1
I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord came and stood before me Some critics who do acknowledge this newspaper article attempt to dismiss it by calling it a "vague" reference, despite the clear wording that the missionaries taught that Joseph "had seen God frequently and personally. First published by Ben E. It should be noted that the Lucy Mack Smith letter was not even available for publication until just shortly before it appeared in print because it was in a descendant's possession.
The introduction to the letter published in the Elders' Journal states: Smith a few weeks ago by Mrs. Barker stated that it was her desire to place the letter in the hands of those who would appreciate its contents and preserve it as she felt it properly deserved. Oliver Cowdery began publishing a history of the Church in the Messenger and Advocate in December which is commonly misunderstood:.
However, Joseph wrote an account of his First Vision in in which he stated that he saw the Lord, and there is substantial evidence that Oliver had this document in his possession at the time that he wrote his history of the Church. After spending the previous installment leading up to the First Vision, Oliver abruptly skips three years ahead and does not mention the vision directly. However, before describing Moroni's visit, Oliver even takes the time to minimize the importance of the religious excitement that he described in the previous installment, stating,.
And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.
Oliver Cowdery, Messenger and Advocate February Note carefully what Oliver is saying.
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The religious "excitement," and the event that Oliver described in the first installment when he said that Joseph was 14 years of age, was when Joseph was seeking a "full manifestation of divine approbation" with the desire to know "if a Supreme being did exist. This, most assuredly, was correct—it was right. When Oliver Cowdery published his version of the history of the Church in December and February he did not include a recital of the First Vision story - thus implying that it was not known among the Saints by that point in time. One critical website makes the following claim:.
In the first history of Mormonism from written under Joseph Smith's direction, it says that the night of September Joseph Smith began praying in his bed to learn 'the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. It makes no sense for him to ask if God existed, if Smith had already seen God face-to-face some three years earlier, and knew he existed.
In Joseph Smith's published history of the church, he claimed that his first spiritual experience was in after a religious revival in Palmyra that same year. Smith testified that he prayed while in bed one night, to discover if God existed. These claims, however, are false. Oliver's February installment did not describe Joseph's First Vision - it described Moroni's visit. It should also be noted that this was not "Joseph Smith's published history.
Oliver Cowdery did, in fact, know about the First Vision when he recorded his version of the history of the Restoration—he had physical possession of the Prophet's history, which contains an account of the First Vision. In October Cowdery announced in his newspaper that Joseph Smith would help with the history project but the Prophet himself noted that "no month ever found [him] more busily engaged than November.
Joseph Smith claimed that he saw God in and also claimed that he received the priesthood in However, in a text which he produced in DC Some have misinterpreted section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants in an effort to destroy the testimony of Joseph Smith with regard to the reality of the First Vision. Their effort fails when the text is seen in its proper context and then compared with other writings that were prepared by the Prophet.
The relevant words read:. The word "this" in verse 22 does not refer to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but rather to "the power of godliness. As the Lord explained in an revelation, "no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God" DC An example of this happening is seen in the Pearl of Great Price where it is recorded that Moses "saw God face to face, and he talked with Him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure His presence" Moses 1: Moses confirmed that it was because he was transfigured by the glory of God that he did not die when he saw the Lord's face while in mortality see Moses 1: This brings us to the case of Joseph Smith in Since the Prophet's experience followed the same pattern, it is reasonable to believe that this is what happened to him in the Sacred Grove.
There are two further pieces of evidence pointing to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was transfigured during the First Vision event. First, there is Orson Pratt's recounting of the incident wherein he relates that the pillar of fire or light "continued descending slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and [Joseph Smith] was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system. Second, we find a parallel between what happened to Moses after his transfiguration and that which happened to young Joseph after his theophany ended.
In Moses chapter 1 we read:. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. After meeting, a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the meeting house steps that he was in the House of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration, and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurence on the minds of those unto whom He was speaking. We enjoyed the conversation very much, as it was something that we had never seen in church history or heard of before.
For example, in an early Christian document called the Clementine Homilies the apostle Peter is portrayed as agreeing:. For I maintain that the eyes of mortals cannot see the incorporeal form of the Father or Son, because it is illumined by exceeding great light. For he who sees God cannot live. For the excess of light dissolves the flesh of him who sees; unless by the secret power of God the flesh be changed into the nature of light, so that it can see light. Similar to this origination complication of baptism and membership, the ordination to the office of Elder via the higher priesthood could not occur until the church had been established.
After the church was officially established we have the following evidences that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had already received the higher priesthood:. Knowing that the prophet already had the Melchizedek priesthood prior to the organization of the church we can look at the following clues of the May 15 to 30, ordination window in order of progressively narrowed parameters:. The bestowal of the Melchizedek priesthood occurred in Harmony, Pennsylvania. The likelihood of the men traveling back to Harmony at the same time as they did the following is near impossible:.
As shown above, after receiving the priesthood they were not yet allowed to ordain each other to the offices within that priesthood. There are many times  when Oliver confirmed without error that the sequence of events occurred as shown above. Note that the additional detail that there were "many angels" was inserted into the text as a clarification. This is the only account which mentions other personages in the vision other than the Father and Son.
- Piano Trio No. 5, Opus 70 No. 1 in D Major: For Piano, Violin and Cello (Kalmus Edition)!
I commenced and gave him a brief relation of my experience while in my juvenile years, say from 6 years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about Some claim that there were no religious revivals in the Palmyra, New York area in , contrary to Joseph Smith's claims that during that year there was "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion Joseph Smith talked of observing, as a year-old, "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion" in the Palmyra area during the Spring of Joseph notes that "It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country.
It is reasonable to assume that the Methodists had more than one camp meeting during this period. In addition, there are newspaper articles talking of large-scale revival activity in the larger region surrounding Palmyra during the same general period when Joseph Smith said that it was taking place.
It is interesting to note that one crtical website attempts to dismiss evidence of Methodist camp meetings in the Palmyra area in because they are not "revivals", offering this weak excuse:. The critic's description is incorrect: This was not "an ad in a newspaper for a church camp meeting. However, its mention in the newspaper is evidence that Methodist camp meetings were being held in the area at that time.
The only reason that one was mentioned is because of the death associated with it. One should keep in mind that Joseph Smith never used the term "revival" in his description - he simply described it as "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion.
Three of the primary sources that charge Joseph Smith with joining sectarian churches between and were produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century, over a half-century after the First Vision. None of the three are contemporary records; the earliest one was written 50 years after the First Vision took place.
We must note too that none of these sources confirms the others—they all discuss different denominations and different time frames. Thus, the stories are not mutually reinforcing. Eyewitness reminiscences and contemporary records provide strong evidence that these claims are not valid and, therefore, do not reflect historical reality.
The three sources are all late, and all from hostile voices. Fayette Lapham claimed to have interviewed Joseph Smith Sr. In it, he reported:. About this time [, perhaps as late as ] he [Joseph, Jr. The Lapham source is secondhand at best—putting forward information that reportedly came from the Prophet's father. There are no records beyond this late, second-hand recollection to support this claim.
Joseph and Hiel Lewis were cousins of Emma Hale Smith; they would have been aged 21 and 11 respectively in He presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, the absence of some of the official members, among whom was the undersigned, Joseph Lewis, who, when he learned what was done, took with him Joshua McKune, and had a talk with Smith. They told him plainly that such a character as he was a disgrace to the church, that he could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done.
They gave him his choice, to go before the class, and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation. He chose the former, and immediately withdrew his name. So his name as a member of the class was on the book only three days. Note that Joseph did not inscribe himself, but the Methodist minister added Joseph's name to the class book. It is not surprising that Joseph might have attended Methodist services: Emma's family was involved in Methodism, she was related to Methodist ministers, and Joseph at this period was living on the Hale family's farm.
The Hales had serious reservations about their new son-in-law, who claimed by this point to have the Book of Mormon plates in his possession. It would be natural for him to attend worship services with them if only to reassure them that he was not hostile to religion. It is telling, though, that as soon as Joseph Lewis learned that Joseph had attended, he quickly took steps to disassociate the church from a person he saw as an imposter: The Lewis source presents a scenario that was directly contradicted in print by an adult eyewitness who was a Methodist church officer.
It is certainly possible that Joseph attended a Methodist meeting with his wife and in-laws: The eyewitness sources that follow below indicate that up until the time that Joseph Smith announced the existence of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon to his family 23 September he was not formally attached to any church, but had instead publicly rejected all of them and manifested his desire NOT to join their ranks.
Some are contemporaneous, others are later remembrances, but the hostile and friendly voices are clear that he had no denominational affiliation. Pomeroy Tucker a non-Mormon critic who knew Joseph Smith in Palmyra, New York said that Joseph joined the Methodist probationary class in Palmyra but soon "withdrew from the class" without being converted ; announcing that "all the churches [were] on a false foundation. Joseph Smith's mother recalled in her autobiography that shortly after her son Alvin died on 19 November Joseph "utterly refused" to attend church services with the intent to convert, and he made the specific request: I can take my Bible, and go into the woods, and learn more in two hours, than you can learn at meeting in two years, if you should go all the time.
As can be seen by the continuing chronological sources which follow, Joseph Smith and his associates were teaching from to that the Prophet did not belong to any church between the years and I will give you a short history of what I know about Joseph Smith, Jr. I have been intimately acquainted with him about 2 years. He then was about 20 years old or thereabout.
I also went to school with him one winter. He was a fine, likely young man and at that time did not profess religion. Some are anxious to paint Joseph's early experiences as linked to "magick" or treasure seeking. They thus argue that Joseph Smith described his first angelic visitor as "a dream" in which "a spirit" visited him three times in one night.
However, the earliest letters and newspapers accounts describe Joseph's claims in religious terms. Gradually, over time, hostile versions of Joseph's claims appear, which introduce "magic" or treasure-seeking elements to the tale. Critics generally gloss over the fact that these newspapers were unremittingly hostile to Joseph and his claims. They were not disinterested, neutral reporters of "both sides of the story. Thus, the Palmyra Freeman would write a few weeks earlier that the Book of Mormon was "the greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within our knowledge," and "It is certainly a " new thing " in the history of superstition, bigotry, inconsistency, and foolishness.
Critics wish to invoke the term "spirit" to associate the Book of Mormon predominantly with treasure magic. However, a consideration of the complete statements makes it clear that the evidence does not support this interpretation—the religious elements predominate. In the autumn of He states that after a third visit from the same spirit in a dream, he proceeded to the spot, removed earth, and there found the bible, together with a large pair of spectacles The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.
Authoring the Old Testament: The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures. More than the Tattooed Mormon. Jonathan Edwards and Justification. The Mormon Search for a Personal God. Putting on the Armor of God. Knowing the Truth About the Trinity. Joseph Smith, the Prophet-Teacher. Mormons Answered Verse by Verse. One God in Three Persons. The Triumph of Zion. The Book of Mormon. The Incarnation of God. Delivered from the Elements of the World. A Biography of Maurine Whipple. Temples of the Ancient World. Joseph Smith the Prophet. The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple.
That We May Be One: Wisdom for a Lifetime. A Mormon Theology of Hope. My First New Testament Stories. His Life and Faith. The Pearl of Great Price: Especially for Missionaries, vol. A Theology for the Church. Toward an Exegetical Theology. Welcome to Stalk Lake City.
Legacy of John Warwick Montgomery. Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction. Sacred Symbols Deluxe Edition. UAE - Culture Smart! The Art of Storytelling. Higher Education in Ireland. The Discourse of Sport. The Night Casey Was Born. Mormon Mysticism, Mythology, and Magic: Joseph Smith versus the Metaphysics of Nicene Christianity. How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long.
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