Joseph Smith's First Vision

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    Joseph Smith's First Vision

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  • Summary article

Leading up to the vision:

The vision:

After the vision:

Others' accounts:

Moroni's visit:

Other criticisms:

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God touched his eyes with his finger and said “[Joseph] this is my beloved Son hear him.” As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger he immediately saw the Savior. 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 [occurrence] on the minds of those unto whom He was speaking.
Diary of Charles Lowell Walker (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1980), 2:755–56 [recorded 2 February 1893]


Joseph Smith's claim that he saw the Father and the Son in 1820 has produced a wide variety of criticism. This set of articles addresses the various critical claims related to the First Vision. The linked articles below are designed to help readers to see some of the weaknesses that are found in arguments that are made against Joseph Smith's First Vision accounts. Some of these arguments are currently being advocated in anti-Mormon literature that is handed out near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.


"First Vision Accounts," Gospel Topics, located on

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.3 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.
(Click here for full article)


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "LESSON 6: Joseph Smith—History 1:1–20," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, (2013)

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 9:1–9; Acts 22:5–11; Acts 26:12–20). Why do you think Joseph Smith and Paul emphasized different things each time they related the accounts of their visions?
(Click here for full article)


Original text of Joseph's accounts of the First Vision (Click here for full article)

The claim is sometimes made by critics that the LDS Church hides the various accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision that are not in its official canon. The following chronological database (compiled by FAIR volunteer Edward Jones) demonstrates conclusively that this is simply not the case. The various accounts of the First Vision have been widely acknowledged in LDS-authored sources throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. (Click here for full article)

  • Discrepancies in Paul's account of his vision
    Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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  • Do Greek scholars solve the discrepancies in Paul's vision accounts?
    Brief Summary: The Church's sectarian critics accept Paul's account as true despite the Bible containing apparently frank contradictions in its accounts, while refusing to give Joseph Smith the same latitude. Members of the Church have long pointed out that this is a clear double standard, designed to bias the audience against Joseph from the beginning. Perhaps because of the force of this argument, some critics have begun to argue that no contradiction exists between the versions of Paul's vision. (Click here for full article)
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  • D&C:84 says God cannot be seen without priesthood
    Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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  • Was Joseph Smith told that "all the churches of the day were an abomination?"
    Brief 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." (Click here for full article)
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  • D&C 121:28 contradicts vision?
    Brief Summary: In 1839 Joseph Smith received a revelation from God in which it was stated that the time would come "in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods they shall be manifest" (D&C 121:28). This was an "unnecessary revelation," since according to the official LDS Church First Vision account Joseph Smith supposedly knew that there was more than one God since 1820. This information counts as evidence that the Prophet's story was fraudulent. (Click here for full article)
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  • Father: Spirit vs. Embodied
    Brief Summary: When the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1835 it portrayed God the Father as a personage of spirit whereas Jesus Christ was portrayed as a personage of tabernacle, or one having a physical body. Yet the official LDS First Vision story portrays the Father as a physical Being. (Click here for full article)
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  • Personages seen by Joseph
    Brief Summary: A list of known personages who appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith or who were seen by him in vision. (Click here for full article)
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  • Brigham Young and the First Vision
    Brief Summary: It is claimed either that Brigham never taught about the First Vision, or that he taught that the Lord did not appear to Joseph. Both claims are false. (Click here for full article)
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  1. [note]  Richard L. Anderson, "Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith," Ensign (April 1985), 12. off-site

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