Joseph Smith’s First Vision

For historically-orthodox Christians, the foundational event that undergirds the Christian faith is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), the foundational event for the Mormon faith is the “First Vision,” as described by Joseph Smith, most importantly, in an account written in 1838. The “First Vision” is about establishing the claim that Joseph Smith was selected by God to restore Christianity back to its true, original foundations. The Christian church had fallen into confusion, due to centuries of corrupt doctrine and traditions, having taken the Christian church away from its proper course.

In the “First Vision,” Joseph Smith encounters a vision of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, in the spring of 1820, close to his teenage home, near Palmyra, New York. There he inquires of the vision, wishing to know which branch of Christianity he should follow: Would it be the Presbyterians? The Methodists? The Baptists? The answer was “none of the above.” The LDS church has a four-minute video, detailing a depiction of that signal event:

However, the narrative of this “official” story of the “First Vision” is complicated by the fact that Joseph Smith also details another account, written in 1832, that differs in detail from the 1838 account. Two differences stand out:

  • (1) In the 1832 account, Joseph Smith only sees “the Lord,” thus indicating the appearance of only one personage, and not two, according to the standard 1838 account.
  • (2) In the 1832 account, Joseph Smith has already himself determined that none of the churches are true, which differs from the standard 1838 account, where the visionary personages instruct Joseph to believe that none of the churches are true, as an answer to his inquiry.

Can these two accounts be reconciled? For a detailed explanation, suggesting that the accounts can NOT be reconciled, you may wish to view this 35-minute YouTube video, by Dan Vogel, author of Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet.

How would you answer the question?

ComeUntoChrist.org is an evangelistic ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They often post YouTube videos encouraging others to consider the Mormon faith. Is the message of Mormonism consistent with the message of historically orthodox Christian faith?

About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

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