Joseph Smith's First Vision/Criticisms of the First Vision

Criticisms of the First Vision

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Criticisms of the First Vision accounts

Church discussion of the First Vision accounts

Summary: Has the Church hidden the various accounts of the First Vision over the years?

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1832

Summary: Critical analysis of Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision account

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1835

Summary: Critical analysis of Joseph Smith's 1835 First Vision account

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1838

Summary: Joseph Smith's 1838 First Vision account is analyzed by critics of the Church in order to use it to prove that the First Vision never occurred. A variety of critical arguments are raised based upon the words Joseph used to describe the events leading up to his First Vision. We examine here the introduction to Joseph's 1838 First Vision account, found in the Pearl of Great Price and separate facts from opinion.

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Joseph Smith's first and second "visitation of angels"

Summary: Joseph Smith referred to the what we now know of as the First Vision as the "first visitation of angels." He referred to Moroni's visit as "another vision of angels."

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Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision account states he was 15 years old rather than 14

Summary: In Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision recital he said that he was "in the 16th year of [his] age" when the manifestation took place but when he created the 1838 account he changed this information to say that he was "in [his] fifteenth year."

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Discrepancies in Paul's account of his vision

Summary: Paul the apostle gave more than one account of his vision of the resurrected Lord while on the road to Damascus. Like Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision, Paul's accounts differ in some details but agree in the overall message.

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D&C:84 says God cannot be seen without priesthood

Summary: Critics argue that Joseph Smith claimed that he saw God in 1820 and also claimed that he received the priesthood in 1829. But in a text which he produced in 1832 (DC 84:21-22) it is said that a person cannot see God without holding the priesthood. Therefore, it is claimed that Joseph Smith contradicted himself and this counts as evidence against his calling as an authentic prophet of God.

Was Joseph Smith told that "all the churches of the day were an abomination?"

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith stated that during the First Vision that he was told that "all the churches of the day were an abomination."

A "mormoninfographic" erroneously indicates that the words "God the Father" and "Jesus Christ" appear in Joseph's 1838 account.

Summary: An anti-Mormon "infographic" erroneously indicates that the words "God the Father" and "Jesus Christ" appear in Joseph's 1838 account, however, Joseph only refers to them as "personages." The link between the Father and the Son is only implied by the words spoken by the Father: "This is my beloved Son."

A "mormoninfographic" states that "pillar of fire" is not mentioned in Joseph's 1832 account.

Summary: An anti-Mormon "infographic" claims that Joseph Smith's 1832 account neglects to mention a "pillar of fire."

A "mormoninfographic" indicates that the 1835 "Erastus Holmes" account describes a different vision.

Summary: An anti-Mormon "infographic" indicates that the 1835 "Erastus Holmes" account describes a different vision. This short summary account of the "first visitation of angels" was written in Joseph's journal only five days after he described seeing two "personages" and "many angels."

Prophet's mother said First Vision was of an "angel"

Summary: The Prophet's mother—Lucy Mack Smith—wrote a letter in 1831 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.