Joseph Smith's First Vision/Accounts/1832/Only one Personage appears
Critics claim that in the 1832 account of the First Vision—which is in the handwriting of Joseph Smith—it only says that Jesus Christ made an appearance to the Prophet; the Father is missing. Since this is the earliest known written account of the First Vision critics believe it stands as evidence that the story evolved and became more elaborate over time.
The Father is not explicitly mentioned as making an appearance in the theophany portion of the 1832 First Vision account because Joseph Smith patterned that part of his narrative after the vision of Jesus Christ experienced by the apostle Paul. The words spoken by the Father during His First Vision appearance are, however, referred to in the introductory paragraph of the 1832 text.
The critics have not been careful in their analysis of this early Mormon historical document.
The theophany portion of the 1832 account does not specifically indicate that the Father appeared to Joseph Smith together with Jesus Christ. The relevant text (in its original form) reads as follows:
- "a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day c[a]me down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father." (emphasis added)
Even though the Savior makes a direct reference to the Father there is no indication in this portion of the 1832 document that God appeared to Joseph Smith alongside His Son.
This type of pattern is seen in the Book of Mormon, translated in 1829: The Book of Mormon begins (1 Nephi 1:8-10) with Lehi's vision of God on his throne. One [Christ] followed by twelve others descends from God to speak with Lehi—thus, Jesus and the Father are here both separate, and the role of Christ in giving instructions to the prophet while the Father looks on and approves is followed, just as it was in Joseph's First Vision. Here too, Lehi is described as praying to "the Lord," and yet has a vision of both God the Father and Christ.
The critics have, however, failed to notice a very significant phrase located in the introductory paragraph of the Prophet's historical narrative. There he indicates that the 1832 document is . . .
- "A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr. an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Ch[r]ist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brough<t> [it] forth and established [it] by his hand <firstly> he receiving the testamony from on high secondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel—<—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—>and the ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God."
This paragraph not only introduces the document with a heavy emphasis on the Son of God but it also chronologically outlines four inaugural events of the Restoration.
- FIRST: Reception of "the testimony from on high" - First Vision
- SECOND: The "ministering of angels" - Moroni visitations
- THIRD: Reception of the Holy Priesthood to administer the letter of the gospel - Aaronic
- FOURTH: Reception of the High Priesthood after the order of the Son - Melchizedek
The significant phrase in the introductory paragraph is the one associated with the First Vision -- "receiving the testimony from on high" (spelling standardized). When this phrase is placed in conjunction with the Prophet's 1835 and 1838 accounts of the First Vision it becomes obvious that the 1832 phraseology closely corresponds with the words spoken by God the Father when He introduced His Son in the Sacred Grove.
- (1832 ACCOUNT)
- “firstly . . . receiving the testimony from on high”
- (1835 ACCOUNT)
- “He [God the Father] testified unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”
- (1838 ACCOUNT)
- "[He] said...This is my beloved Son”
The Father's identification of Jesus Christ as His Son was His "testimony" of Him.
Critics have objected that -- in their minds -- the phrase "from on high" cannot be so easily equated with God the Father. But there is a sizable amount of corroborating evidence for this idea. Consider the following points of connection.
- 3 Ne. 11:3, 5-7 - between April and June 1828
The Father's "voice . . . came out of heaven" [i.e., 'from on high'] and testified of His "Beloved Son."
- D&C 20:16 - April 1830
Joseph Smith stated, "the Lord God has spoken it; and we . . . have heard . . . the words of the glorious Majesty on high."
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, 1 Peter - between 8 March 1831 and 24 March 1832
There are five New Testament scriptures (which Joseph Smith would have been familiar with from his work on the JST) that have distinct parallels to the First Vision story. Jesus Christ's Old World disciples heard the Father's voice come "from heaven" (Mt. 3:17; Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22; 2 Pt. 1:17-18) [i.e, 'from on high'] or "out of the cloud" (Mt. 17:5) [i.e., 'from on high'] and in each of these instances the Father testified of His Son and employed the same phraseology that Joseph Smith said He utilized during the First Vision.
- JST John 1:18/19 - between 20 November 1831 and 16 February 1832
"And no man hath seen God at any time, except he [i.e., God the Father] hath borne record of the Son."
- 1832 First Vision account - between 22 September 1832 and 27 November 1832
"receiving the testimony from on high"
- D&C 93:15 - 6 May 1833
Mention is made of the Father's voice being heard "out of heaven."
- Patriarchal Blessing - 9 December 1834
When the Prophet received his Patriarchal Blessing on 9 December 1834 he was reminded by the Patriarch (his father) that during his "youth" he had "heard [God's] voice from on high."
This chronological evidence points to the conclusion that Joseph Smith likely equated the voice "from on high" with God the Father both before and after he penned his 1832 First Vision account.
Since it can be concluded from the above documentary evidence that Joseph Smith did indeed make an oblique reference to the appearance of the Father in his 1832 history the question becomes—Why did the Prophet construct the 1832 narrative in the manner that he did (so as to exclude explicit mention of the Father's appearance)? A careful analysis of the 1832 First Vision text reveals that it was deliberately constructed on the framework of many scriptural citations. The apostle Stephen's view of both the Father and the Son is clearly utilized by the Prophet in one section of the 1832 text but, more importantly, Joseph Smith told the actual theophany portion of this narrative in language that very closely corresponds to the apostle Paul's vision of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:). .
Paul did not report that he saw the Father alongside the Son, and so it is logical that this is the reason why Joseph Smith did not explicitly mention the Father's appearance in his text either. The Prophet's strong sense of connection with Paul's visionary experience is referred to by him right in his 1838 First Vision account. The context of this connection is the persecution experienced by both men for speaking publicly about a heavenly manifestation. Joseph Smith relates in his 1838 history that he was informed by a clergyman that his vision was "all of the devil." This piece of information may help to explain why the Prophet chose to couch his first known written account of his vision in heavy biblical language and imagery. He may have hoped that by doing this his story would have a better chance of being accepted amongst a populace that was steeped in biblical content.
It is interesting to note that the scribe for the material which directly precedes and follows after the 1832 First Vision narrative - Frederick G. Williams - never mentioned anything about Joseph Smith's story evolving over time and becoming more elaborate with the so-called 'addition' of the Father. Williams was a resident of Quincy, Illinois when the First Vision account which explicitly refers to the Father was published in Nauvoo, Illinois on 1 April 1842. It is known that Williams was with the Prophet in Nauvoo shortly before his death on 10 October 1842 but during the intervening six months there is no known objection by Frederick to the content of the printed text. Why not? Williams was the person who wrote down the words in the introductory remarks of the 1832 document that talk of Joseph Smith receiving "the testimony from on high" during the First Vision. And it is known that Frederick was accompanying four LDS missionaries who, in November 1830, were teaching the citizens of Painesville, Ohio that Joseph Smith had seen "God" personally (see the 1830 statement about seeing "God"). Williams was a member of the First Presidency of the Church on 9 November 1835 when Joseph Smith was teaching a non-Mormon that there were two personages who appeared during the First Vision (see Joseph Smith diary, 9 November 1835). Frederick probably never drew attention to a so-called 'discrepancy' between what Joseph Smith taught in 1832, 1835, 1838, and 1842 because he knew that there wasn't one; he knew that the words of the Father spoken during the vision were referred to right in the text that he had written down in 1832.
Oliver Cowdery is another person who was in a position to know if the Prophet's First Vision story had changed over time by the addition of the Father. But he never mentioned any such 'discrepancy'. Cowdery had possession of the 1832 First Vision account when he wrote and published a series of Church history letters in December 1834 and February 1835 and so he was fully aware of the explicit mention of Christ's appearance and he also would have known of the introductory remark which refers to "the testimony from on high" being delivered during this event. Cowdery became the Associate or Assistant President of the entire Church on 5 December 1834 (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1653), and thus he would have been in the highest office of Church authority when the Prophet was teaching about one year later that two personages appeared during the First Vision (Joseph Smith diary, 9 November 1835).
Both Fredrick G. Williams and Oliver Cowdery had reason to feel animosity toward Joseph Smith and the Church since they were both excommunicated in the late 1830's. But neither of these men - even after their reinstatements into full fellowship - ever pointed to any 'creative editing' of the Prophet's First Vision story to sound more impressive and dramatic.
- [note] Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 9–20. ISBN 1573457876. off-site Direct off-site [PRECISE page numbering is needed; the words "emphasis added" need to be inserted after a ";" and space after the numbering designation.]
- [note] See the 2006 FAIR Conference address entitled "Revised or Unaltered? Joseph Smith's Foundational Stories" and its accompanying slides (see links below in the "Video" section).
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.)