Joseph Smith's First Vision/Accounts/1832/Doesn't mention new dispensation
One critical author states, "Joseph [Smith] added new elements to his later narratives that are not hinted at in his earlier ones. His first vision evolved from a forgiveness epiphany [1832 account] to a call from God the Father and Jesus Christ to restore the true order of things [1842 account]."
Taken altogether, the above information reveals that Joseph Smith considered his initial calling to have come directly from Deity in the Sacred Grove in 1820—not at some later time. The wording in the Prophet's 1832 First Vision account can be comfortably interpreted to mean that he understood this extraordinary event represented the beginning of a new gospel dispensation.
The unsustainable nature of this argument becomes glaringly apparent once the 1832 First Vision account is carefully scrutinized and other historic LDS documents are taken into consideration.
In Joseph Smith's 1832 account he plainly states that before the First Vision took place he was of the opinion that “mankind . . . had apostatized from the true and living faith, and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament.” When the Prophet saw Jesus Christ face to face during the First Vision experience the Savior verified what Joseph had previously believed by saying, “the world lieth in sin at this time and none doeth good; no, not one. They have turned aside from the gospel and keep not my commandments" (emphasis added).
During the lifetime of Joseph Smith the word DISPENSATION was defined in a popular English dictionary in the following manner: “a system of principles and rites enjoined [or dispensed or bestowed]; as . . . the gospel dispensation; including . . . the scheme of redemption by Christ.” As noted above, Jesus Christ informed Joseph Smith that mankind had turned aside from the gospel and no longer kept His commandments. He then issued a directive straight to Joseph Smith by saying, “Walk in my statutes and keep my commandments" (emphasis added). This is clearly a new beginning; the Lord enjoined His ‘system of principles’ or ‘scheme of redemption’ upon Joseph Smith. This act qualifies—by definition—as a new dispensation of the gospel.
Was this early nineteenth-century dispensation of the gospel meant only for the benefit of Joseph Smith? In writing out the 1832 account the Prophet utilized some very specific wording when he said that “the world of mankind . . . . had apostatized” and he mourned for “the sins of the world.” In his perspective “no society or denomination . . . built upon the gospel.” And when the Lord spoke to Joseph during the vision He emphasized that this situation was on a universal scale saying, “the world lieth in sin at this time and none doeth good; no, not one.” Thus, the 1832 account definitely describes a universal apostasy—and it makes no sense that the Savior would inaugurate a dispensation of His gospel only for the sake of one individual when innumerable humans were in need of salvation.
The Prophet's Call
A glance at the chronological record of history reveals that there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Joseph Smith's call to serve as the leading prophet of the last dispensation came at the time of the First Vision.
- William Smith appears to have heard his brother Joseph Smith state to the entire Smith family on 22 September 1823 that during his First Vision: “that being [i.e., the ‘personage’ in the light] pointed him [i.e., Joseph Smith] out as the messenger to go forth and declare His truth to the world; for ‘They had all gone astray.’”
- In the Articles and Covenants of the Church - written in April 1830 - Joseph Smith speaks of his being “called of God” (DC 20:2) and shortly thereafter refers to the First Vision/Book of Mormon sequence of events (see vss. 5–6; emphasis added).
- Joseph Smith recorded a revelation in October 1830 wherein the Lord issued a formal "call" to laborers in His "vineyard" and thereafter utilized distinct phraseology that is found in the 1832 and 1838 First Vision accounts (D&C 33:3-4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 17-18 / compare with the 1835 hymn by William W. Phelps).
- In the Book of Commandments/Doctrine and Covenants introduction—provided on 1 November 1831—the Lord Himself stated: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (D&C 1:17; emphasis added). This can be identified as a First Vision text by comparing it with Joseph Smith's 1832 First Vision account and Levi Richards' 1843 record of a First Vision statement made by the Prophet in Nauvoo, Illinois.
- Lorenzo Snow heard Joseph Smith speak about the First Vision at the John Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio about 12 November 1831. Lorenzo said that the Prophet "simply bore his testimony to what the Lord had manifested to him, to the dispensation of the gospel which had been committed to him"
- On 9 December 1834 Joseph Smith's father gave him a Patriarchal Blessing and rehearsed the following information about his son: "The Lord thy God has called thee by name out of the heavens: thou hast heard His voice from on high from time to time, even in thy youth [compare with the 1832 First Vision account]. . . . Thou hast been called, even in thy youth to the great work of the Lord: to do a work in this generation" (LDS Historian’s Patriarchal Blessing Book 1, pp. 3–4).
- In October 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio William W. Phelps composed a hymn which reads in part: “When the world in darkness lay, Lo, he [i.e., Joseph Smith] sought the better way, And he heard the Savior say, ‘Go and prune my vineyard [cf. Matthew 20:4,7], son! [Matthew 21:28]’” This portion of the hymn matches very closely with some of the wording in the Prophet's 1832 First Vision account.
- “Not long after hearing this [i.e., in 1836], two men came into the town where I was living and called at my father’s house as missionaries. From them we learned the facts of the wonderful message they were bearing to the world; viz., that God, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and authorized him to declare to the world the introduction of a new dispensation by which the people might be prepared for the fullness of times.”
- In Orson Pratt's 1840 rendition of the First Vision he reveals more of the details of what was said to Joseph Smith during the First Vision with regard to the gospel [repeated in Orson Hyde/1842 and the Wentworth Letter/1842]. In this source it is stated that Joseph “received a promise that the true doctrine[,] the fulness of the gospel, should, at some future time, be made known to him.” This certainly qualifies as a call to future action since it would make no sense at all for the Lord to only allow one mortal to possess "the true doctrine"; it would need to be spread by someone.
- In note C of Joseph Smith's 1838 Church history (written down on 2 December 1842) he states that before the visitation of the angel Moroni in 1823 he had been “called of God” -- and he is here referring directly to his First Vision experience.
- Alexander Neibaur spoke with the Prophet on 24 May 1844 and recorded in his diary: “Br[other] Joseph tol[d] us [about] the first call he had” and then Alexander provided a rough outline of the First Vision story.
- On 1 January 1845 Elder Parley P. Pratt published a proclamation to the Saints in the eastern states of the U.S. and said, “The people did not choose that great modern apostle and prophet, Joseph Smith, but God chose him in the usual way that He has chosen others before him, viz., by open vision, and by His own voice from the heavens. He it was that called him” (Millennial Star, vol. 5, no. 10, March 1845, 150).
- Sometime in 1854 an LDS children's catechism was published which asked and answered the following: “Q. When and how was this dispensation commenced? A. About the year 1820, whilst Joseph Smith, who then lived at Manchester, Ontario County, New York, was praying to the Lord to teach him the true religion, the heavens opened over his head, two glorious persons descended towards him, and one, pointing to the other, said, ‘This is my beloved Son, hear him.’” (John Jaques, Catechism For Children: Exhibiting the Prominent Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Liverpool, England: Franklin D. Richards, 1854], 76).
- On 14 August 1859 Elder Orson Pratt posed the question, “When, where, and how were you, Joseph Smith, first called? How old were you? And what were your qualifications? I was between fourteen and fifteen years of age. . . . [Y]ou say the Lord called you when you were but fourteen or fifteen years of age? How did he call you?” Pratt then related the First Vision story and said that during this manifestation Joseph was "informed that at some future time the fulness of the gospel should be made manifest to him, and he should be an instrument in the hands of God of laying the foundation of the kingdom of God." Pratt noted that he had "often" heard the First Vision account from Joseph Smith himself. Elder Pratt did not, however, indicate when exactly he first heard the Prophet relate the story – it could have been very early on since they first met in November 1830.
- On 23 June 1867 President Brigham Young said, “When the Lord called upon Joseph he was but a boy — a child, only about fourteen years of age. He was not filled with traditions; his mind was not made up to this, that, or the other.” President Young then related several distinct First Vision story elements. President Young first met Joseph Smith in November 1832 and he never, in any of his speeches or writings, indicated that the Prophet's story of the source and timing of his call ever evolved or varied.
An entry found in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (written by Larry C. Porter) agrees with the quotations provided above. It states with regard to the First Vision: "The Lord spoke face-to-face with Joseph and called him to service" (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 1512).
- [note] Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. ""dispensation," definition #4; emphasis in original) "dispensation," definition #4; emphasis in original)."
- [note] Saints’ Herald, vol. 30 (16 June 1883): 388; emphasis added.
- [note] Deseret Evening News, 20 July 1901, 22.
- [note] Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 2 no. 13 (October 1835), 208.; hymn #26 – 1835 edition; emphasis added.
- [note] Samuel W. Richards, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet," Young Women's Journal 18 no. 12 (December 1907), 537–539; emphasis added.
- [note] Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh, Scotland: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), ?, emphasis added. off-site off-site Full title GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
- [note] Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), footnote #11 to the 1838 history. ISBN 1573457876. off-site
- [note] Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2d ed., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980 ), 177.
- [note] Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 7:221.
- [note] Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 12:68.
FAIR wiki articles
Wikipedia treatment of Joseph Smith's First Vision
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article "First Vision"—
FAIR analyzes the Wikipedia treatment of the First Vision. (Link)
Did the Church hide accounts of the First Vision?
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.
- LDS-Authored Publications (1910-1968)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1910-1968) (Link)
- LDS-Authored Publications (1969-1978)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1969-1978) (Link)
- LDS-Authored Publications (1979-1983)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1979-1983) (Link)
- LDS-Authored Publications (1984-1989)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1984-1989) (Link)
- LDS-Authored Publications (1990-1997)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1990-1997) (Link)
- LDS-Authored Publications (1998-2003)—
Mentions of the various accounts of the First Vision in LDS publications (1998-2003) (Link)
Events leading up to the First Vision
- Early Smith family history (Link)
- Methodist camp meetings in the Palmyra area—
Critics claim that any association Joseph had with Methodism did not occur until the 1824-25 revival in Palmyra, and that his claim that the "unusual excitement" started with the Methodists in 1820 is therefore incorrect. (Link)
- Joseph became "partial to the Methodist sect" in 1820—
Critics claim that Joseph didn't become "partial to the Methodist sect" until at least 1823, after Alvin's death, or as late as 1838, rather than in 1820 as he claimed in his 1838 First Vision account. (Link)
- Were there revivals in 1820?—
Critics claim that there were no religious revivals in the Palmyra, New York area in 1820, contrary to Joseph Smith's claims that during that year there was "an unusual excitement on the subject of religion...indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it" (Link)
- Smith family place of residence in 1820—
Critics claim that there are discrepancies in Joseph's account of his family's early history, which make his 1820 and subsequent revelations impossible, and that there is no evidence that the Smith family was in the Palmyra area in 1820 for the religious excitement and First Vision which Joseph reported. (Link)
- Joseph's accounts of the First Vision—
Joseph Smith gave several accounts of the First Vision. Critics charge that differences in the accounts show that he changed and embellished his story over time, and that he therefore had no such vision. (Link)
- Discrepancies in Paul's account of his vision—
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. (Link)
- Do Greek scholars solve the discrepancies in Paul's vision accounts?—
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. (Link)
- D&C:84 says God cannot be seen without priesthood—
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, critics claim that Joseph Smith contradicted himself and this counts as evidence against his calling as an authentic prophet of God. (Link)
- Was Joseph Smith told that "all the churches of the day were an abomination?"—
Some critics claim that Joseph Smith stated that during the First Vision that he was told that "all the churches of the day were an abomination." (Link)
Events occurring after the First Vision
- Joseph Smith's early conception of God—
Some critics claim that Joseph began his prophetic career with a "trinitarian" idea of God, and only later developed his theology of the Godhead. What do we know about Joseph and the early Saints' views on God? (Link)
- No reference to First Vision in 1830s publications—
Critics claim that there is no reference to the 1838 canonical First Vision story in any published material from the 1830s, and that nothing published in this period mentions that Joseph saw the Father and Son. They also assume that it would have been mentioned in the local newspapers at the time. (Link)
- Seldom mentioned in LDS publications before 1877 (short version)—
Critics charge, “Before the death of Brigham Young in 1877 the first vision was seldom mentioned in Mormon publications.” This evidence implies that the general membership of the LDS Church was not familiar with the First Vision story until late in the nineteenth century. (Link)
- No mention in non-LDS literature before 1843?—
There is no mention of the First Vision in non-Mormon literature before 1843. If the First Vision story had been known by the public before 1840 (when Orson Pratt published his pamphlet) the anti-Mormons “surely” would have seized upon it as an evidence of Joseph Smith’s imposture. (Link)
- Missionaries 1830 statement about Joseph seeing "God"—
Critics have claimed that just because LDS missionaries were teaching around 1 November 1830 that Joseph Smith had previously seen “God” personally it cannot be assumed that this was a reference to God the Father since the Book of Mormon (completed ca. 11 June 1829) refers to Jesus Christ as “the eternal God” (title page; 2 Nephi 26:12). The argument is made that since this evidence indicates that Joseph Smith understood Jesus Christ to be “God” the statement by the missionaries may have simply meant that Joseph Smith had seen the Savior; not necessarily the Father. (Link)
- No published reference to Father and Son vision until 1838?—
Critics claim that there is no mention of Joseph Smith seeing the Father and Son in any “contemporary” newspaper, diary, LDS publication, or writing of any kind until the year 1838. (Link)
- Joseph Smith did not know if God existed in 1823?—
Critics claim that according to a historical document published in Kirtland, Ohio in 1835 the Prophet Joseph Smith did not know if God existed in the year 1823. This text, therefore, provides evidence that Joseph Smith simply made up the story about the First Vision happening in the year 1820. (Link)
- Lucy Mack Smith and the Presbyterians—
Critics claim that since there was a religious revival in Palmyra, New York in 1824-25 which appears to match details of Joseph Smith's official Church history, he must have mistakenly mixed this event in with his narrative about what happened in 1820, and that the Prophet's mother joined the Presbyterian church after Alvin Smith died in late 1823. This contradicts Joseph's statement that she joined in 1820, thereby dating Joseph's First Vision to no earlier than 1823. (Link)
- Did Joseph join other churches contrary to commandment in vision?—
Critics charge that Joseph Smith joined the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches between 1820 and 1830—despite the claim made in his 1838 history that he was forbidden by Deity (during the 1820 First Vision experience) from joining any denomination. (Link)
- Contradiction about knowing all churches were wrong—
In his 1832 account of the First Vision, Joseph Smith said, “I found [by searching the scriptures] that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament.” But in the 1835 account he said, “I knew not who [of the denominations] was right or who was wrong.” Critics claim that thus counts as evidence that the First Vision story evolved over time. (Link)
- First Vision fabricated to give "Godly authority?"—
Critics claim that Joseph Smith decided after he released the Book of Mormon to the public that he needed 'authority from God' to justify his claims as a religious minister. Therefore, it is claimed that he fabricated the First Vision story in order to provide himself with a more prestigious line of authority than that of the "angel" who revealed the golden plates. (Link)
- First Vision story became more detailed and colorful after 1832?—
Some claim that Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision grew more detailed and more colorful after he first recorded it in 1832. (Link)
- 1838 account modified to offset leadership crisis?—
Critics claim that in 1838 Joseph Smith revised his personal history to say that his original call came from God the Father and Jesus Christ rather than an angel. His motive for doing this was to give himself a stronger leadership role because an authority crisis had recently taken place and large-scale apostasy was the result. (Link)
- Persecution after the vision?—
Some claim that there is no evidence that Joseph or his family were persecuted because of the First Vision. They argue that this means that Joseph invented the story later. (Link)
Additional First Vision issues
- D&C 121:28 contradicts vision?—
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. (Link)
- Father: Spirit vs. Embodied—
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. (Link)
- Personages seen by Joseph—
A list of known personages who appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith or who were seen by him in vision. (Link)
- Brigham Young and the First Vision—
Critics claim 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. (Link)
- Moroni's visit (summary) (Link)
- Joseph Smith's early conception of God (Link)
- Personages who appeared to Joseph Smith (Link)
- Swedenborg and three degrees of glory (Link)
Characteristics of God
Does the Book of Mormon refute Joseph Smith on the nature of God? Critics point out that the Book of Mormon never says God was once a mortal. In fact, it teaches that God was always God. Take for instance Moroni 8:18. It says God is "unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." Joseph Smith, however, taught, "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and take away the veil so that you may see." (Link)
- Was God once a sinner?—
If God was once like us, do Mormons believe that God was once a sinner? (Link)
Critics attack the LDS doctrine of God the Father and Jesus Christ being corporeal beings—i.e., having physical bodies. They claim that this doctrine is not Biblical. (Link)
- Elohim and Jehovah—
Some critics assert that Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai and other similar Old Testament Hebrew names for deity are simply different titles which emphasize different attributes of the "one true God." In support of this criticism, they cite Old Testament scriptures that speak of "the LORD [Jehovah] thy God [Elohim]" (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2; 4:35; 6:4) as proof that these are different titles for the same God. (Link)
Most Latter-day Saints hold to unlimited foreknowledge. This has been the traditional view of most Christians since the post-New Testament period, and it is one doctrine that Joseph Smith didn't seem to question, as there are no revelations that address it. Indeed, it appears that most LDS leaders and scholars simply haven't questioned its veracity. (Link)
- "God is a man"—
Critics object to the LDS position that God has a physical body and human form by quoting scripture which says that "God is not a man" (e.g. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9). (Link)
- God is a Spirit?—
Critics object to the LDS position that God has a physical body by quoting John 4:24: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (Link)
- Lecture of Faith 5 teaches the Father is "a personage of spirit"—Lectures on Faith, which used to be part of the Doctrine and Covenants, teach that God is a spirit. Joseph Smith's later teachings contradict this. More generally, critics argue that Joseph Smith taught an essentially "trinitarian" view of the Godhead until the mid 1830s, thus proving the Joseph was "making it up" as he went along. (Link)
- Hinckley downplaying the King Follett Discourse—
Critics claim that, in an effort to appear more "mainline" Christian, the Church is downplaying the importance of some doctrines taught late in Joseph Smith's lifetime. Prominent among these is the doctrine of human deification. To bolster their argument, critics usually quote from a 1997 Time magazine interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it ... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it." Critics have claimed that this means that President Hinckley has admitted to altering LDS doctrine, or discarding a teaching from the past. (Link)
- "Celestial sex"—
Critics claim that Latter-day Saints believe in a practice called "Celestial sex," and that this is the manner in which "spirit children" are formed. (Link)
Early teachings about God in the Book of Mormon, from Joseph Smith, and among Church members
- Joseph Smith's early conception of God—
Critics claim that Joseph Smith initially taught standard Nicene trinitarianism. The early documents tell a different story, however. (Link)
- Modalism in the Book of Mormon?—
Critics claim that the Book of Mormon teaches the trinitarian heresy of modalism or Sabellianism. This reading misinterprets some Book of Mormon verses, and ignores Book of Mormon texts which clearly contradict this reading. (Link)
- Lecture on Faith 5 and the nature of God the Father—
Lectures on Faith, which used to be part of the Doctrine and Covenants, teach that God is a spirit. Joseph Smith's later teachings contradict this. More generally, critics argue that Joseph Smith taught an essentially "trinitarian" view of the Godhead until the mid 1830s, thus proving the Joseph was "making it up" as he went along. (Link)
- Early LDS beliefs about God—
Critics attempt to show that the LDS idea of deification is unbiblical, unchristian and untrue. They seem to think that this doctrine is the main reason why the LDS reject the Psychological Trinity. (Link)
Exaltation of Man
- Deification of man—
Critics claim that the doctrine of human deification is unbiblical, false, and arrogant. Related claims include: 1) Mormons believe they will 'supplant God', 2) Belief in theosis, or human deification, implies more than one "god," which means Mormons are "polytheists," 3) The Mormon concept of "human deification" is a pagan belief derived from Greek philosophy. (Link)
Understanding of God
A collection of articles that address the Latter-day Saint view of the concept of the Trinity. (Link)
This page discusses the problem of evil—can one believe in a good, just, loving God when one considers all the suffering and evil in the world? (Link)
- Holy Ghost—
Articles which discuss the third member of the trinity. (Link)
Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Latter-day Saints have struggled to know the meaning of President Young's remarks, and a variety of approaches have been taken by faithful LDS to interpret his words. Regardless of which approach the reader prefers to accept, the Church's official position on Adam-God is clear: as popularly understood, Adam-God (i.e., "Adam, the first man, was identical with Elohim/God the Father") is not the doctrine of the Church. (Link)
Worship of God
- Graven images—
Critics claim that the Church violates the Biblical command against "graven images" because it displays sculptures of Christ, statues of the angel Moroni on the spires of our temples, or paintings showing scriptural scenes, within temples, chapels, visitors' centers, and publications. (See Exodus 20:3-4.) (Link)
- Heavenly Mother—
Do Latter-day Saints believe in a female divine person, a "Heavenly Mother" as counterpart to God, the Heavenly Father? Are we allowed to pray to our "Heavenly Mother?" Critics claim that LDS belief in a "queen of heaven" is a pagan belief, and that the concept of a "Heavenly Mother" has no support in LDS scripture. (Link)
Multiplicity of Gods
- Infinite regress of Gods—
Is it true that LDS doctrine teaches a "genealogy of gods," in which God the Father had/has a God, and this God had a God, and so forth? If so, how does LDS doctrine deal with the problem of an "infinite regress" of "great-great-grandfather Gods"? (Link)
Some non-LDS Christian claim that Latter-day Saints are polytheists because we don't believe the Nicene Creed. Others say Mormons are polytheists because they believe humans can become gods. Is this an accurate characterization of LDS belief? (Link)
- "No God beside me"—
Mainstream Christian critics claim that the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and belief in theosis are not compatible with multiple statements in Isaiah that "beside [the Lord] there is no God." These passages include Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6,8; Isaiah 45:5-6; Isaiah 45:21-22; and Isaiah 46:9-10. (Link)
Interaction with God
- No man has seen God—
Critics claim that the Bible teaches that God cannot be seen by mortals, and so claims by Joseph Smith and others to have seen God the Father or Jesus Christ must be false. The most commonly used Biblical citation invoked by the critics is probably John 1:18, which reads “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (Link)
- Adam-God theory—
Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable. (Link)
FAIR web site
|First Vision FAIR articles on-line|
- FAIR Topical Guide: The First Vision FAIR link
- D. Charles Pyle and Cooper Johnson, "Did early LDS leaders really misunderstand the First Vision?" FAIR link
- Craig Ray, "Joseph Smith's History Confirmed," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, August 2002) FAIR link (Key source)
|Joseph Smith other visionary issues FAIR links|
- Craig Ray, "Joseph Smith's History Confirmed," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, August 2002) FAIR link
|First Vision on-line articles|
- Joseph Smith, Jr. A History of the Life of Joseph Smith (1832) (Contains the 1832 First Vision account)
- Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph Smith Diary (1835–1836) (Contains the 1835 First Vision account on pages 22-23)
On-line articles about the First Vision
- James B. Allen, "The Significance of Joseph Smith’s ‘First Vision’ in Mormon Thought," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 no. 3 (Fall 1966), 29–45. off-site
- James B. Allen and Leonard J. Arrington, "Mormon Origins in New York: An Introductory Analysis," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 241–74. off-site
- Richard L. Anderson, "The Reliability of the Early History of Lucy and Joseph Smith," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 no. 2 (Summer 1969), 13–28. off-site
- Richard L. Anderson, "Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 1–27. PDF link
- Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith’s Home Environment," Ensign (July 1971), 57–59. off-site
- Richard L. Anderson, "‘Of Goodly Parents’," New Era (December 1973), 34–39. off-site
- Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision," Ensign (April 1996), 10–21. off-site
- Carlos E. Asay, "‘Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning!’: Joseph Smith’s First Prayer and the First Vision," Ensign (April 1995), 44–49. off-site
- Milton V. Backman Jr., "Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the First Vision," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 301. PDF link
- Milton V. Backman Jr. and James B. Allen, "Membership of Certain of Joseph Smith’s Family in the Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra," Brigham Young University Studies 10 no. 4 (Summer 1970), 482–84. off-site
- Milton V. Backman, Jr., "Joseph Smith's Recitals of the First Vision," Ensign (January 1985), 8. off-site
- Milton V. Backman, Jr., "Confirming Witnesses of the First Vision," Ensign (January 1986), 32. off-site
- Milton V. Backman Jr., "I Have A Question: Did Brigham Young Confirm or Expound on Joseph Smith’s First Vision?," Ensign (April 1992), 59–60. off-site
- Milton V. Backman, "First Vision," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:515–516. off-site off-site off-site
- Ronald O. Barney, "The First Vision: Searching for the Truth," Ensign (January 2005), 14–19. off-site
- Dale L. Berge, "Archeological Work at the Smith Log House," Ensign (August 1985), 24–26. off-site
- Davis Bitton, "[review of Richard P. Howard, The Church through the Years, vol. 1,]," Brigham Young University Studies 33 no. 3 (Summer 1993), 607–608. off-site
- Hoyt W. Brewster Jr., "I Have A Question: What Was There in the Creeds of Men that the Lord Found Abominable, as He Stated in the First Vision?”," Ensign (July 1987), 65–67. off-site
- Richard L. Bushman, "The First Vision Story Revived," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 no. 1 (Spring 1969), 82–93. off-site
- Richard L. Bushman, "Just the Facts Please (Review of Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters)," FARMS Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 122–133. off-site PDF link
- Richard L. Bushman, "The Visionary World of Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University Studies 37 no. 1 (1997–98), 183–204. off-site
- Church Educational System, “Additional Details from Joseph Smith’s 1832 Account of the First Vision,” in Presidents of the Church: Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 5–6.
- Church Educational System, “The First Vision,” in Church History in the Fullness of Times: Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 29–36. off-site
- Richard H. Cracroft, "Rendering the Ineffable Effable: Treating Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Imaginative Literature," Brigham Young University Studies 36 no. 2 (1996–97), 93–116. off-site
- Peter Crawley, “A Comment on Joseph Smith’s Account of His First Vision and the 1820 Revival,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 1971), 106–107.
- Donald L. Enders, "A Snug Log House," Ensign (August 1985), 14–23. off-site
- Donald L. Enders, "The Sacred Grove," Ensign (April 1990), 14–17. off-site
- James E. Faust, "The Magnificent Vision Near Palmyra," Ensign (May 1984), 67–69. off-site
- Marvin S. Hill, "A Note on Joseph Smith’s First Vision and Its Import in the Shaping of Early Mormonism," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12 no. 1 (Spring 1979), 90–99. off-site
- Marvin S. Hill, "The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 no. 2 (Summer 1982), 31–46. off-site
- Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 279–80.
- Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision (1831–1839)," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 275–296.
- Dean C. Jessee, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 1–33. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011)
- Melvin J. Peterson, "“I Have A Question: Does D&C 84:19–22 Indicate that a Person Has to Have the Melchizedek Priesthood in Order to See God? Joseph Smith Didn’t Have the Priesthood at the Time of the First Vision," Ensign (December 1985), 60–61. off-site
- Paul H. Peterson, "[review of Marquardt and Walters, Inventing Mormonism,]," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 209–15. off-site
- Larry C. Porter, "Reverend George Lane—Good ‘Gifts,’ Much ‘Grace,’ and Marked ‘Usefulness,’," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 321–40. off-site
- Larry C. Porter, "Reinventing Mormonism: To Remake or Redo (Review of Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record by H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters)," FARMS Review of Books 7/2 (1995): 123–143. off-site PDF link
- Larry C. Porter, "Solomon Chamberlain’s Missing Pamphlet: Dreams, Visions, and Angelic Ministrants," Brigham Young University Studies 37 no. 2 (1997–98), 113–29. off-site
- D. Michael Quinn, "Joseph Smith's Experience of a Methodist 'Camp-Meeting'," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought - Dialogue Paperless: E-Paper #3 (12 July 2006), PDF link
- Joseph Fielding Smith, "I Have A Question: What evidences do we have to substantiate the First Vision of Joseph Smith?," Ensign (October 1987), 58–59. off-site See also original version in Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era (February 1960), 80–81.
- Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1996), 1–4. LDS link
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Fruits of the First Vision," Ensign (May 2005), 36–38. off-site
- Elden Watson, "Joseph Smith's First Vision—A Harmony";—complete text of all Joseph Smith's accounts on-line off-site (Key source)
- Elden Watson, "Joseph Smith's First Vision (introduction)" off-site
|Joseph Smith other visionary issues on-line links|
- Dean C. Jessee, "Early Accounts of Joseph Smith (1831–1839)," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (1969), 275–294. PDF link
- David L. Paulsen, "The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives," Brigham Young University Studies 35 no. 4 (1995–96), 6–94. PDF link (Key source)
|First Vision printed materials|
- James B. Allen, "The Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Mormon Thought," Journal of Mormon History 7 (1980): 437–461.
- James B. Allen, "Eight Contemporary Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision–What Do We Learn From Them?," Improvement Era (April 1970), 4–13.
- Richard L. Anderson, “Alvin Smith,” in Kyle R. Walker, ed., United By Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2005), 83–121.
- Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition, 1987), 56. ISBN 0252060121.
- Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 30–56.
- James B. Allen and John W. Welch, "The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 35–75. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011) See also BYU Studies version: PDF link
- Milton V. Backman, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: The first vision in its historical context (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971).
- Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980).
- Milton V. Backman Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Cornerstone of a Latter-day Faith,” in Robert L. Millet, ed., To Be Learned Is Good, If... (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 21–41.
- Milton V. Backman Jr., “Lo, Here! Lo, There! Early in the Spring of 1820,” in Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black, eds., The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 19–35.
- Milton V. Backman Jr., “Verification of the 1838 Account of the First Vision,” in H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1989), 237–48.
- Milton V. Backman Jr., "Defender of the First Vision [Elder Orson Pratt]," in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania (Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992), 33–48.
- Donald Q. Cannon, "Palmyra, New York: 1820–1830," in Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, eds., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania (Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1992), 1–13.
- Larry E. Dahl, “The Theological Significance of the First Vision,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume 2: The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985), 315–37.
- Donald L. Enders, “The Joseph Smith Sr., Family: Farmers of the Genesee,” in Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993), 213–25.
- Kent P. Jackson, “The First Vision,” in Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 66–79.
- Kent P. Jackson, “Lessons from the Sacred Grove,” in Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 80–89.
- Dean C. Jessee, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 1–33. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011) (Key source) See also BYU Studies version: PDF link
- Dean C. Jessee, The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision (Mormon Miscellaneous reprint series) (Mormon Miscellaneous, 1984).
- Dean C. Jessee (editor), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Vol. 1 of 2) (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1989), 6–7, 127, 272–73, 429–30, 444, and 448–49.. ISBN 0875791999
- Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, [original edition] (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1984), 5–6, 75–76, 199–200, 213. ISBN 0877479747. Rev. ed. off-site
- Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 9–20. ISBN 1573457876. off-site (Key source)
- Dean C. Jessee, “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume 2: The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985), 303–314.
- Neal E. Lambert and Richard H. Cracroft, “Literary Form and Historical Understanding: Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 7 (1980), 31–42.
- Truman G. Madsen, “The First Vision and Its Aftermath,” in Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 7–18.
- Adele Brannon McCollum, “The First Vision: Re-Visioning Historical Experience,” in Neal E. Lambert, ed., Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981), 177–96.
- Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991),55–101. ISBN 0875795161. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
- Larry C. Porter, “The Youth of the Grove and the Prophet of the Restoration,” in Susan Easton Black and Andrew C. Skinner, eds., Joseph: Exploring the Life and Ministry of the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 36–46.
- John W. Welch, “‘All Their Creeds Were an Abomination’: A Brief Look at Creeds as Part of the Apostasy,” in Fred E. Woods, et al., eds., Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2004), 228–49.
|Joseph Smith other visionary issues printed works|
- Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 1. ISBN 0875795161. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)