The topic of Joseph’s multiple versions of his first vision have been discussed here at CAF often, so I thought some folks might be interested. I was surprised to see this show up on my church’s official website:
There are links to the original source documents, scanned and presented as an image, so folks can go see the documents for themselves, instead of relying on someone (pro or con) to tell them what the documents contain.
My church hasn’t really done much to directly confront common criticisms before - it’s always been individuals, or groups not directly controlled/directed by the church. I’m encouraged to see it do so, and I hope it continues.
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. Indeed, differences similar to those in the First Vision accounts exist in the multiple scriptural accounts of Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus and the Apostles’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. Yet despite the differences, a basic consistency remains across all the accounts of the First Vision. 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.
At the end of the day, if a person’s mind is already made up about my church and it’s claims, I don’t think this link will change any minds. However, I believe the presence of this link directly refutes the common accusation (made often, even here at CAF) that how my church works to hide/ignore it’s past.