Mormon church's website addresses 1st vision accounts

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:

First Vision Accounts

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.

Pushkin, Mickiewicz, Scott, Poe, Irving, Balzac…and Smith. 1832 was a vintage year for Romantic literature.

After carefully researching the LDS church I have found that their history is false and the Book of Mormon, in my estimation, is made up by Joseph Smith. Your mileage May Vary.

“I believe one drop of what may or may not be actual water into this dry bucket completely negates the accusation that the bucket is empty.”

Further, logically, you’re clinging to this as though it completely solves your problems in this area, meaning that you’ve already recognized that there have been problems in this area for quite some time.

Also, did Mormons in the past say that black people are inherently cursed or not? If you say “no” or “not anymore”, you’re still ignoring or hiding the past.

Sophistry does not constitute transparency.

As we are counseled to do in 1 John 4:1, I have yet to hear what Joseph Smith did to test the spirit that “spoke” to him. The same with Muhammad. The same with Ellen Gould White, Charles Taze Russell ad nauseam…

What they fail to address is that even if a story is retold over and over by the originator, at least the number of persons and identities are the same.

Look at the Gospel descriptions of the crucifixion, and the Nativity.

How many times have those stories been told, and look how consistent it is.

Just sayin.

Well, as I said, if you’ve already got your mind made up about things, this new link isn’t going to change your mind. But my reason for starting the thread wasn’t to present some cool new sophistic argument about the issue. I posted because I was surprised to see the church directly involved, posting original source documents, and because doing such things is a pretty strong counter to the common attack that my church hides it’s history.

You’re right, RebeccaJ, sophistry does not constitute transparency. But does posting hi-res scans of the relevant historical documents, for the world to see for free, constitute transparency? Maybe just a little bit?

The comparison to Paul is what bugs me, and where the sophistry lies. Paul’s vision story changes very little in comparison to Smith’s versions. Smith’s changes redefine God, from the first telling to the last.

That, and Mormons go for Bible bashing whenever they can’t support their history or beliefs. You should be able to support what you believe without tearing down the Bible.

I know you’re excited over the JSP project, but it doesn’t do anything for me. For one, I don’t view Joseph Smith as trustworthy. This includes his writings.

Reinterpreting history is the same as hiding history. I once had a LDS member tell me that he wished that the LDS Church owned the historical sites in Nauvoo that are owned by the Church of Christ. Why? Because he thought the interpretation of history needed to be controlled by “The Church”.

That’s all I see going on here.

Another way of reading the 1832 account is that Joseph Smith referred to two beings, both of whom he called “Lord.” The embellishment argument hinges on the assumption that the 1832 account describes the appearance of only one divine being. But the 1832 account does not say that only one being appeared. Note that the two references to “Lord” are separated in time: first “the Lord” opens the heavens; then Joseph Smith sees “the Lord.” This reading of the account is consistent with Joseph’s 1835 account, which has one personage appearing first, followed by another soon afterwards. The 1832 account, then, can reasonably be read to mean that Joseph Smith saw one being who then revealed another and that he referred to both of them as “the Lord”: “the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord.”11

Joseph’s increasingly specific descriptions can thus be compellingly read as evidence of increasing insight, accumulating over time, based on experience. In part, the differences between the 1832 account and the later accounts may have something to do with the differences between the written and the spoken word. The 1832 account represents the first time Joseph Smith attempted to write down his history. That same year, he wrote a friend that he felt imprisoned by “paper pen and Ink and a crooked broken scattered and imperfect Language.” He called the written word a “little narrow prison.”12 The expansiveness of the later accounts is more easily understood and even expected when we recognize that they were likely dictated accounts—an, easy, comfortable medium for Joseph Smith and one that allowed the words to flow more easily.

Why do LDS explanations have to be so complicated? It’s always some variation of…

“What Joseph meant to say was…” OR
“Our understanding wasn’t the understanding of Joseph’s at the time…” OR
“Joseph’s understanding developed over time…” OR
“This account is similar to the others if you assume…” OR
“Joseph used scribes that recorded his dictations based on their understanding which wasn’t his understanding because his understanding evolved over time assuming that definitions weren’t the same as today’s definitions because The Lord had yet to reveal that information, but if He had revealed that information then Joseph would have clearly…”

Hooray that the church acknowledges the issue (but then provides no real explanation).

Keep sticking your head in the sand…

Transparency…maybe. The truth…not at all.

Yup. The LDS leadership cannot ignore what Google is doing to them. So their response is to acknowledge the issue and explain it away by comparing the multiple first vision accounts to narratives in the New Testament. The only consistency in Joseph Smith’s story is that Joseph went into the woods and he had a supernatural experience. Each version of the Mount of Transfiguration narrative includes the names of each person there, Peter’s response and the cloud and voice of God the Father. JS was not consistent in the number or identity of the supernatural visitors. How can you accept this explanation as being honest?

Neurotypical, the leaders of the LDS church are throwing you a bone while your soul is starving for the truth. You know there is something wrong, but you desperately want to believe them. Not one of them, from Joseph Smith to Thomas Monson, deserves your trust or the benefit of the doubt.

The fist account Smith said he saw “the Lord”. The last account he says he saw two persons, one with fair skin and blue eyes. Smith’s memory grew better over time? :smiley:

Maybe Smith could answer: “Sorry, my memory was off, it wasn’t really one person, it was two. I know it was two because one had fair skin and blue eyes and the other didn’t.” :stuck_out_tongue: Most people know a yarn when they hear it.

His versions changed with his doctrine of deity, which started out monotheist and ended in polytheism. A paganization of Christianity.

The LDS Church has already (and largely unintentionally) been transparent in its attempted white-washing of history for a long time, now.

Again, just ask the next LDS person you see what their church used to teach about black people, versus what it teaches now.

Folks seem to be assuming some untrue things about me. It seems like some of you believe that I sit around and let my church tell me what to believe, but no really, I read my first antimormon book over 30 years ago. My father had a small library of critical works (which I have since inherited and preserve). I began searching out critics of my faith, church, beliefs, in 1997, when I first encountered the criticism about 1st vision discrepancies. (I learned about it from a mormon, not a critic, by the way.) LDS apologetics (as an organized thing) have been going on for decades - before google.

But yeah, if some folks need to explain my existence by thinking I “keep sticking [my] head in the sand” because I’m desperate to believe lies while my soul is starving for the truth", then I guess they’ll go on believing such uncharitable things.

For the record, I’m fine with folks who believe my church (and the truth claims of it’s leaders and the BoM) are all false. I believe most of y’all are concerned about my soul, and wish me to be right with God. But come on - these personal attacks should be beneath you, don’t you think? I’m an educated, believing mormon. Does that offend you somehow?

What I have a problem with is your deliberate misquoting.

Specifically the second link about desperate to believe lies. You misquoted that poster completely, and gave what they said an entirely different context.

I think it is a reflection of our incredulity at anyone staying LDS who actually has studied its history and ever-changing teachings. How to account for it? Got me. I’ve never been able to figure it out.

But true, saying something is wrong with you is a very LDS way of thinking. :smiley:

You should also understand that people who are in the process of leaving Mormonism often go through a period where its difficult to see anyone who is LDS as having any measure of intelligence. For example, there was a time, two or three years, where every family gathering I went to I felt completely disgusted to be around people who are so gullible and stupid. :blush: That feeling fades over time, as you have to work out what you know. A) the majority of your family is not gullible and stupid and B) they still are Mormon. So you start to wonder what they know and don’t know, what they ignore, and continue to wonder why?

There is no answer to that contradiction.

Thanks twopekinguys.

Neurotypical, you completely misquoted my post and gave it a negative context which is not in the original post. Pray tell, who is being uncharitable?

I don’t believe any uncharitable things about you personally. In fact, I have a lot of charitable thoughts and feelings concerning you. I have a lot of uncharitable thoughts feelings about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young because of things they actually did and taught. Things that are historically accurate.

Do I have a beam in my eye? Most definitely, as I am a sinner. I have no problems admitting such.

So if you are not sticking your head in the sand, can you please honestly answer some questions? I have asked versions of these questions in other threads and never received a response.

  1. Given the multiple First Vision accounts which are very different and not consistent (as opposed to the Mount of Transfiguration accounts which are very consistent), why do you believe Joseph Smith?
  2. Given Joseph’s money digging and treasure seeking days, why do you believe he is trustworthy?
  3. Joseph was caught with his first “plural wife” Fanny Alger before the alleged restoration of the sealing powers from Elijah which make the new and everlasting covenant of marriage possible. Why do you believe that Fanny was Joseph’s first plural wife rather than his first adulterous relationship?

The majority of believing Mormons are educated and intelligent. As I know from experience, they also have a mental shelf and have some level of cognitive dissonance. For me, that cognitive dissonance caused me to think that there was something wrong with me. I eventually figured out that the problem wasn’t me. It was Mormonism.

Members of the LDS church often claim victim status when others simply state the truth. My family certainly claims aggrieved victim status simply because I left the LDS church and am becoming Catholic. I never bring up my beliefs with them, nor have I discussed why I left the LDS church prior to their asking. Yet, I am the one who is asked in an accusatory fashion, “Do you really believe God doesn’t have a body?” I just don’t entertain any discussion of religion with them anymore. I shudder to think how they would react if I told them how I really feel about Mary.

Everybody has some excuse or reason to play the victim. There is no reason to play that card.

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