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wayfarer

Your Vision Of The First Vision

Your view of the First Vision  

153 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you believe the First Vision to be

    • A literal visitation in the flesh
      88
    • An awake, spiritual vision
      25
    • A divinely inspired dream-vision to Joseph Smith
      10
    • Pious fraud
      18
    • Deception
      12
  2. 2. Who appeared to Joseph Smith?

    • God the Father and Jesus Christ
      103
    • The Lord
      1
    • An Angel or angels
      1
    • Hard to define, because it was a visionary spiritual experience
      22
    • He made it up
      26


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I don't know what happened. It is called a "vision". His "first". When other people were around and observed the visions he had, they remarked about his countenance and certain spiritual manifestations but they did not see other individuals around. I accept that this is entirely possible with regard to the Father and the Son.

However, there was an instance where Moroni or some other angel had visited and ministered to him in person as far as I can tell and in that instance, when the angel disappeared in a shaft of light, Joseph Smith looked up into the shaft of light and related that he saw many remarkable things before the light closed up.

This suggests to me that there may be a real, physical component to some of his visions -- maybe even to all -- that is not always obvious to on-lookers.

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wayfarer:

Your intent and status in the church, none of which I question, has no bearing on whether a certain train of thought objectively leads to abandoning various beliefs, "literal" and others. It would be perfectly valid for someone to ask whether a certain interpretation of D&C 88 also leads to nonbelief in Jesus' literal resurrection, for example, because we lack the scientific theories that would explain it adequately by themselves, and to acceptance of some theory involving hallucination. Before your recent post, I was going to address your long post on page #2 and discuss that belief in various literal things does not mean denying the role of natural mechanisms. There may be potential mechanisms we don't know about.

I made an attempt at a serious response to your linked blog post within the logic of what you yourself were saying. I thought your use of anecdote while talking about sleep paralysis was a bit risky as it could have encouraged others to disclose personal health information on the Internet (surely you don't think you are the only one on this board who has experienced sleep paralysis), but I refrained from commenting on that. I am not LDS, and I don't know why you are talking about TRs and the rest when most of the participants here aren't even using their real names. If what you're saying about the First Vision is true, it would be true regardless of personal details of people here.

People may read your blog post and your latest post here and form their own conclusions. I would just highlight a few things:

As time goes on, the added details of the dream progressively serve the agenda of establishing the validity of the 'one true church'. This does not have to be a conscious, deceptive process, but rather, a natural cognitive feature of the neurology of memory.

In short, it's a vision, a lucid dream, and should not be a source of doctrine, either of the "one true church" polemic, nor of the nature of Godhead. I would add that there is no intential deception in this.

the prejudice you "apologists" reflect toward those not cowtowing to your cabal is pathetic and wrong.

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Your problem with the word "falseness" seems to essentially be a quibble. Unconscious self-deception is still a kind of falseness. Now, if you mean that God is responsible for synaptic plasticity, memory consolidation, etc., and that the content of the First Vision as we know it is true and represents a deliberate communication from God even if the memory of it involved a kind of deception, that was not clear in your blog postl. It wasn't clear to me.

*Even if* the First Vision is a false memory, if God did induce it (which you did not claim, but which I am suggesting for the sake of discussion), it could be a source of doctrine, among others. But you wrote, "In short, it's a vision, a lucid dream, and should not be a source of doctrine, either of the "one true church" polemic, nor of the nature of Godhead." It's hard to understand that statement if you are now saying there is no kind of quality of falseness to the vision, its construction, or its record.

Edited by supersnail

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this is one final insult to my testimony on this board. i have been patient and respectful when most hurl insults and malintent at my simple attempts at participating. Because i am known to come from a considered, middle way position, you and others seem to apply your prodigious confirmation bias to interpret that i believe or have said that the first vision is false in any way. i merely proposed one approach, consistent with my faith in Joseph's revelation in section 88, that god works through and is bound by natural law. I meant no criticism, but I do not see the need to make supernatural and magical the workings of God in this world.

the prejudice you "apologists" reflect toward those not cowtowing to your cabal is pathetic and wrong. absolutely wrong. insultingly wrong. i now know from personal experience why those facing faith crisis find this specific group of apologists to be a hostile voice and a dominant nail in the coffin of their remaining faith.

my testimony is secure, for i have my sure witness of the truth, and do not need literal belief to know god. for others who mistakenly wander here thinking they can get answers to their questions: your example, lack of charity, and choice of divisive polemics to ridicule those who question in good faith is an embarrassment to the church and puts a lie to the name "Latter-Day Saint".

"I say unto you be one, and if you are not one you are not mine".

Wayfarer, you're attacking the messanger, instead of the message.

From the beginning of this thread, you and I had two different interpretations of the First Vision - but in no instance did attack you intent, rather i stated my stance and queried the implications of your stance.

BTW, if you are angry that someone is understanding and analysis your point in a way you didn't intend, don't you think you (and i for that matter) are doing the same to Joseph (in the way we analyse his first vision)?

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this is one final insult to my testimony on this board. i have been patient and respectful when most hurl insults and malintent at my simple attempts at participating. Because i am known to come from a considered, middle way position, you and others seem to apply your prodigious confirmation bias to interpret that i believe or have said that the first vision is false in any way. i merely proposed one approach, consistent with my faith in Joseph's revelation in section 88, that god works through and is bound by natural law. I meant no criticism, but I do not see the need to make supernatural and magical the workings of God in this world.

the prejudice you "apologists" reflect toward those not cowtowing to your cabal is pathetic and wrong. absolutely wrong. insultingly wrong. i now know from personal experience why those facing faith crisis find this specific group of apologists to be a hostile voice and a dominant nail in the coffin of their remaining faith.

my testimony is secure, for i have my sure witness of the truth, and do not need literal belief to know god. for others who mistakenly wander here thinking they can get answers to their questions: your example, lack of charity, and choice of divisive polemics to ridicule those who question in good faith is an embarrassment to the church and puts a lie to the name "Latter-Day Saint".

"I say unto you be one, and if you are not one you are not mine".

Wayfarer, you're attacking the messanger, instead of the message.

From the beginning of this thread, you and I had two different interpretations of the First Vision - but in no instance did attack you intent, rather i stated my stance and queried the implications of your stance.

BTW, if you are angry that someone is understanding and analysis your point in a way you didn't intend, don't you think you (and i for that matter) are doing the same to Joseph (in the way we analyse his first vision)?

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i never said the First Vision was metaphorical.

I never said you did.

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BTW, if you are angry that someone is understanding and analysis your point in a way you didn't intend, don't you think you (and i for that matter) are doing the same to Joseph (in the way we analyse his first vision)?

I'm sorry, but was this not like daring someone to play tennis and then leaving the court in the middle of the game? While some others were arguably quibbling about the word "physical," I played the game the way the gentleman wanted to play it -- the science game -- but it appears the result was not appreciated and a legal return was allowed to hit the wall with no attempt made to hit it back.

The OP deployed an evidently well-thought-out, though mistaken, language of science to evaluate the beliefs of what were admitted to be the majority of the respondents to the poorly designed poll ("Am I the only non-literalist on this board?"). Though there is such a thing as critical acceptance and there is nothing inherently wrong with critique that is edifying, the OP objected to my use of the word "critique" without really clarifying their positions -- by addressing, for example, what makes the First Vision particularly true if its etiology is similar to that of reported visionary experiences in other traditions. Instead, we have been given the impression of a faith-based belief that Joseph Smith was sincere, but that the First Vision was part- sleep paralysis hallucination and part- dream with a false realism -- a faith-based belief in a scientific explanation. I honestly do not understand why faith is required in this case if it is so easy to believe in a purportedly plausible scientific explanation of the First Vision as a sleep attack with a hallucination. And if one is willing to accept various views on faith anyway, why can the First Vision not be a basis of belief?

Argument for the same narcolepsy/sleep paralysis conclusion can be, and has been, made by others without referring to the idea that "god works through and is bound by natural law," and it is important to point that out. Merely redefining the natural as the divine would not make the conclusion more faith-based, because scripture becomes redundant to a supposedly plausible scientific explanation. Without waving around D&C 88, I could say that I have "faith" and belief in the existence of the flu virus or the idea that a certain monarch butterfly caught in tree sap migrated from Mexico in the 1960s because of the climate etc. and by using sunlight. I have yet to read anything that, apart from superficial linguistic trappings and some ambiguous statements, would fundamentally distinguish what the OP was saying (at least at one point) from that kind of statement, because, I believe, the blog post linked in the original post ultimately rejects the First Vision as a basis of contemporary belief. That seems to preclude even God's predetermining our current memory of the First Vision.

I am open to various possibilities, but it is objectively misleading to, in effect, spread the idea that reported visions and other things must neatly fit our current scientific theories, and be adequately explained using those theories, if they are to be considered true. I have engaged in dialogue with that idea several times on this board and in various forms and with various posters. This isn't about the OP despite the OP's projection of personality into this conversation in what is basically an anonymous environment. I'll admit I have little time to research the biographies of monikers on this board and read everything they have posted on blogs and what not, which may or may not be illuminating, and I may give offense without meaning to. I am very sympathetic to naturalistic interpretations of D&C 88 and my own view could be described as naturalistic, but I will shoot down pseudoscience wherever I see it, whoever presents it, especially if it purports to justify disbelief or undermine belief, or leads to such unintentionally.

The attribution of malicious intent to me is ironic considering the complaint that the OP's own intent was being misrepresented. The outburst about a prejudiced "cabal" is also ironic. I'm not sure why it is so hard to believe that investigators might come across writing such as the blog post and need to engage with that writing, as I have done, and address the implications, to forestall future disbelief. If an ego gets hurt in the process, sorry, but ideas should stand or fall on their own, especially when some participants don't even claim to be LDS and others appear to feel the need to play out tired, old victimization shticks instead of focusing on the substance of others' sincere disagreements on issues they themselves raised in the first place. If certain complicated conversations on advanced topics are best limited to long-time members, may I suggest that the appropriate sign be placed on the door. I wouldn't want to stand around and inadvertently block the way of someone who may have already been on their way out.

Yes, I speak from that other side. I was an atheist for many years and understand various lines of thought and where things are going long before they get there. What I believed in was a lie. But there are no atheist missionaries I can blame. There is no imperfect organized church of atheism for me to complain about. There is no group of individuals I can point to and whine about to reinforce my disbelief, a noncommittal attitude, or intellectual ambiguity. There is not a single individual with bad faith or ill intent for me to speak of. The ideas themselves are powerful, though wrong, and should be torn down in the arena of ideas with the appropriate energy.

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I think it was different in those days, than nowadays. Have you ever heard that cocaine was actually an ingredient in Coke at one time?

Also, the quote below about Steve Jobs taking acid, like Steve (sort of) getting a vision through natural methods such as the Datura plant and mushrooms may do something to facillitate and free up your mind to expand beyond this world. These are my own thoughts on the matter. I don't discount that JS experienced actual spiritual experiences at all.

http://www.thefix.co...nt-and-lsd-9143

"But equally suggestive, at least to us, is a quote from Steve Jobs to New York Times reporter John Markoff, who interviewed him for his 2005 book What the Doormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer. Speaking about his youthful experiments with psychedelics, Jobs said, "Doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life." He was hardly alone among computer scientists in his appreciation of hallucinogenics and their capacity to liberate human thought from the prison of the mind. Jobs even let drop that Microsoft's Bill Gates would "be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once." Apple's mantra was"Think different." Jobs did. And he credited his use of LSD as a major reason for his success."

My B..S. meter is clanging. Jobs might think the way he did but dropping LSD one time isn't going to produce a broader guy and a mescaline buzz is nowhere near what a lucid dream revelation is like. I know from personal experience on all counts.

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Hey, it was good enough for Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968) -- his published PhD dissertation in anthroplogy at UCLA.

Unfortunately of course, he made it all up.

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And how exactly would Joseph had known the difference?

DING DING DING! <FLASHING LIGHTS>

Give this man the prize!

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I said earlier on that i wasn't into all that semantics stuffs. But in my lay understanding, it is a common sense comprehension of things; not metaphorical.

And how does one do that without senses?

Did you ever realize that what you see is organized by your brain? You don't see things- you see what your brain tells you is there.

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Unfortunately of course, he made it all up.

Yeh, but his dissertation committee bought into it.

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Yeh, but his dissertation committee bought into it.

So can inspired fiction get you a degree? ;)

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I selected the two best but imperfect answers- #3 to the first question and #4 to the second question. I do believe that Joseph had a supernatural experience, probably in the form of a dream, but I doubt the message was as concrete as it was later made out to be- if it were, the accounts would more likely have been more consistent and complete. Joseph's interpretation of the spiritual experience he had changed over time, as did his recollection of it. So it probably did not happen exactly the way Joseph's official account states.

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And how does one do that without senses?

Did you ever realize that what you see is organized by your brain? You don't see things- you see what your brain tells you is there.

wow...

I am missing my Psychology class... lol

Ok! Seriously, all my posts in this thread has been to try and say why my response to the poll question: "How do you believe the First Vision to be?", would be "A Literal visitation in the flesh" (just sticking to the poll options...)

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this is one final insult to my testimony on this board. i have been patient and respectful when most hurl insults and malintent at my simple attempts at participating. Because i am known to come from a considered, middle way position, you and others seem to apply your prodigious confirmation bias to interpret that i believe or have said that the first vision is false in any way. i merely proposed one approach, consistent with my faith in Joseph's revelation in section 88, that god works through and is bound by natural law. I meant no criticism, but I do not see the need to make supernatural and magical the workings of God in this world.

Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone on this board who argues for a magical or supernatural Mormonism. They do have the right to maintain such a position, even though they are wrong to do so.

the prejudice you "apologists" reflect toward those not cowtowing to your cabal is pathetic and wrong. absolutely wrong. insultingly wrong. i now know from personal experience why those facing faith crisis find this specific group of apologists to be a hostile voice and a dominant nail in the coffin of their remaining faith.

I'm not sure who is part of this "cabal" which you say demands subservience, but you don't have to kowtow to anyone on this board. I find a wide variety of opinions on this board among the faithful and I don't let them intimidate me. Nor should you. You should not take any insults personally. Just tell them that they are out of line, or notify a moderator.

my testimony is secure, for i have my sure witness of the truth, and do not need literal belief to know god. for others who mistakenly wander here thinking they can get answers to their questions: your example, lack of charity, and choice of divisive polemics to ridicule those who question in good faith is an embarrassment to the church and puts a lie to the name "Latter-Day Saint".

There are a lot of nice, charitable people on this board. Please don't judge everyone based on the excessive remarks of a few.

"I say unto you be one, and if you are not one you are not mine".

Very germane, and something we too often forget.

I gave you a rep point.

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Your problem with the word "falseness" seems to essentially be a quibble. Unconscious self-deception is still a kind of falseness. Now, if you mean that God is responsible for synaptic plasticity, memory consolidation, etc., and that the content of the First Vision as we know it is true and represents a deliberate communication from God even if the memory of it involved a kind of deception, that was not clear in your blog postl. It wasn't clear to me.

*Even if* the First Vision is a false memory, if God did induce it (which you did not claim, but which I am suggesting for the sake of discussion), it could be a source of doctrine, among others. But you wrote, "In short, it's a vision, a lucid dream, and should not be a source of doctrine, either of the "one true church" polemic, nor of the nature of Godhead." It's hard to understand that statement if you are now saying there is no kind of quality of falseness to the vision, its construction, or its record.

I don't know whether they are correct, but there are some neuroscientists out there who believe that an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) can distinguish between false memories and actual memories because they are formed differently. An ordinary polygraph is thus valueless, except as an interrogation tool, because it only tells you whether the subject of the test believes what he is saying.

False memory syndrome is a problem.

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Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone on this board who argues for a magical or supernatural Mormonism. They do have the right to maintain such a position, even though they are wrong to do so.

I'm not sure who is part of this "cabal" which you say demands subservience, but you don't have to kowtow to anyone on this board. I find a wide variety of opinions on this board among the faithful and I don't let them intimidate me. Nor should you. You should not take any insults personally. Just tell them that they are out of line, or notify a moderator.

There are a lot of nice, charitable people on this board. Please don't judge everyone based on the excessive remarks of a few.

Very germane, and something we too often forget.

I gave you a rep point.

The apologists on this board are a reflection of the majority of LDS members mentality of "we're right and everyone else is wrong" they just aren't afraid of saying it out loud. I guess that's why they're called apologists.

Edited by Tacenda

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I selected the two best but imperfect answers- #3 to the first question and #4 to the second question. I do believe that Joseph had a supernatural experience, probably in the form of a dream, but I doubt the message was as concrete as it was later made out to be- if it were, the accounts would more likely have been more consistent and complete. Joseph's interpretation of the spiritual experience he had changed over time, as did his recollection of it. So it probably did not happen exactly the way Joseph's official account states.

While it is true that different people appear to remember the same event differently (Albright liked to use the examples of Xenophon and Plato remembering their teacher Socrates differently, an example he used to illustrate why the Synoptic and Johannine Gospels differ so widely on Jesus), it is also true (as I pointed out above) that good historiographers have found that accounts of personal experiences can vary widely through time depending on the audience, amount of time available, point at issue, etc., without falsifying the account in any way. I'm not talking about "fish" stories, but about pivotal events in one's life. I have told of events I have experienced personally, and have included or excluded parts of those events based on the purpose of my retelling, the nature of the parties to whom I was speaking (or writing), and how much time I had to retell.

Basing your judgment on an a priori estimate of plausibility or probability doesn't seem reasonable or commonsensical to me, and discounting the standards of professional historiography is reckless. There are other, more secure ways to taking the measure of Joseph Smith.

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The apologists on this board are a reflection of the majority of LDS members mentality of "we're right and everyone else is wrong" they just aren't afraid of saying it out loud. I guess that's why they're called apologists.

I don't know that the people on this board, or even just the so-called "apologists" constitute a random sampling (cross-section) of the LDS community. I would suggest instead that the so-called "apologists" on this board do not in fact form an actual, coherent group, and that most of them are outliers on any normative statistical sampling. They find themselves here for a variety of reasons, some professional, others merely happenstantial. Indeed, most of what is said on this board is poorly informed and off the cuff. Hopefully, we are learning something from one another as the exchanges of views proceed.

I see few "apologists" on this board, but a great many opinion-mongers.

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While it is true that different people appear to remember the same event differently (Albright liked to use the examples of Xenophon and Plato remembering their teacher Socrates differently, an example he used to illustrate why the Synoptic and Johannine Gospels differ so widely on Jesus), it is also true (as I pointed out above) that good historiographers have found that accounts of personal experiences can vary widely through time depending on the audience, amount of time available, point at issue, etc., without falsifying the account in any way. I'm not talking about "fish" stories, but about pivotal events in one's life. I have told of events I have experienced personally, and have included or excluded parts of those events based on the purpose of my retelling, the nature of the parties to whom I was speaking (or writing), and how much time I had to retell.

Basing your judgment on an a priori estimate of plausibility or probability doesn't seem reasonable or commonsensical to me, and discounting the standards of professional historiography is reckless. There are other, more secure ways to taking the measure of Joseph Smith.

Robert, I agree with your first point in principle. But what TBMs usually say is that the primary groundbreaking feature of the first vision (the official version) is that it revealed the true nature of God, i.e., that the father and son are two distinct physical beings. Such an understanding is, by TBM arguments, so foreign to the prevailing protestant notions of the day, that Joseph in that single instant of the first vision knew the error of the doctrine of the trinity. Yet his earliest account of the first vision makes no mention of that feature of the experience. That by itself would not necessarily prove any embellishments in later accounts. But what is highly telling is the other evidence that Joseph retained a trinitarian view of God for a long time until well after the Book of Mormon was published and the Church was organized. Specifically, the 1830 original version of the Book of Mormon is highly trinitarian, and changes were made in subsequent editions to reflect Joseph's evolved view that the Father and the Son are two separate beings. To take some examples of those changes:

1830 versions (with later additions in brackets):

I Nephi 11:18 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of [THE SON OF] God, after the manner of flesh.

I Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [sON OF THE] Eternal Father!

I Nephi 11:32 ...And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the [sON OF THE] Everlasting God, was judged of the world...

I Nephi 13:40 ...that the Lamb of God is the [sON OF THE] Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world...

These changes and other evidence are highly damning to the view that the Church's official version of the first vision is accurate, at least concerning the supposed 1820 debunking of trinitarianism.

As a liberal partial believer who accepts Joseph's prophetic call, I can live with the evolution of Joseph's understanding of God because I believe in the principle of line upon line, precept upon precept. But what I can't accept is the smug certainty TBMs profess to have in the supposed prophetic inerrancy of both Joseph and modern leaders. Before TBMs practically crucify alleged sinners for such routine and harmless activities as masturbation (about which Joseph in all his recorded prophetic utterances had nothing to say), they ought to exercise a little introspection and realize that their own foundation of assumptions is not as secure as they assume.

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Robert, I agree with your first point in principle. But what TBMs usually say is that the primary groundbreaking feature of the first vision (the official version) is that it revealed the true nature of God, i.e., that the father and son are two distinct physical beings. Such an understanding is, by TBM arguments, so foreign to the prevailing protestant notions of the day, that Joseph in that single instant of the first vision knew the error of the doctrine of the trinity. Yet his earliest account of the first vision makes no mention of that feature of the experience. That by itself would not necessarily prove any embellishments in later accounts. But what is highly telling is the other evidence that Joseph retained a trinitarian view of God for a long time until well after the Book of Mormon was published and the Church was organized. Specifically, the 1830 original version of the Book of Mormon is highly trinitarian, and changes were made in subsequent editions to reflect Joseph's evolved view that the Father and the Son are two separate beings. To take some examples of those changes:

1830 versions (with later additions in brackets):

I Nephi 11:18 And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of [THE SON OF] God, after the manner of flesh.

I Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [sON OF THE] Eternal Father!

I Nephi 11:32 ...And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the [sON OF THE] Everlasting God, was judged of the world...

I Nephi 13:40 ...that the Lamb of God is the [sON OF THE] Eternal Father and the Saviour of the world...

These changes and other evidence are highly damning to the view that the Church's official version of the first vision is accurate, at least concerning the supposed 1820 debunking of trinitarianism.

Excellent points all, the problem being that (even after Joseph attempts to clarify the text) we are left with the same sort of theological confusion on the nature of God which one finds throughout the NT, i.e., surface impressions of the NT cover a broad range and even the best scholars cannot agree on whether Christianity opts for monotheism (monophysite or consubstantial), triunity, or tritheism.* And that without bringing in the strong consensus among mainstream biblical scholars today that the OT is characterized by an Israelite polytheism or henotheism in the pre-exilic period.

* Cf. The Jerusalem Bible, for example, in its note g to II Timothy 1:2,18, finds that "'Lord' can be taken in either case as a reference either to the Father or to the Son."

As a liberal partial believer who accepts Joseph's prophetic call, I can live with the evolution of Joseph's understanding of God because I believe in the principle of line upon line, precept upon precept. But what I can't accept is the smug certainty TBMs profess to have in the supposed prophetic inerrancy of both Joseph and modern leaders. Before TBMs practically crucify alleged sinners for such routine and harmless activities as masturbation (about which Joseph in all his recorded prophetic utterances had nothing to say), they ought to exercise a little introspection and realize that their own foundation of assumptions is not as secure as they assume.

I never heard the term "TBM" before coming to Utah a few years back, along with several other terms which were used by nominal Mormons to refer in a contemptuous way to other Mormons. I thought it prejudicial and inappropriate then, but I suppose that we must accept it as part of the reality of a highly polarized Utah pressure-cooker. As for the U.S. Congress, so for the theological partisanship of some Mormons, I think it an unproductive approach to solving problems or to having meaningful discussions about anything -- but especially religion.

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As a liberal partial believer who accepts Joseph's prophetic call, I can live with the evolution of Joseph's understanding of God because I believe in the principle of line upon line, precept upon precept. But what I can't accept is the smug certainty TBMs profess to have in the supposed prophetic inerrancy of both Joseph and modern leaders. Before TBMs practically crucify alleged sinners for such routine and harmless activities as masturbation (about which Joseph in all his recorded prophetic utterances had nothing to say), they ought to exercise a little introspection and realize that their own foundation of assumptions is not as secure as they assume.

You make some good points, but it really doesn't bother me that Joseph gave different accounts of the first vision, and I'll explain why.

The only question that really matters is this: Is the church true? If the church is true then one should join it and follow it with all of one's heart. If it is not true then it does not matter whether one follows it or not.

There can be no fence-sitting or middle ground. Either God recognizes this as his church or he does not.

I am not bothered by inconsistencies because God has told me through prayer that it is his church. If he recognizes it, that is good enough for me, and my goal is now to live it as fully as I can.

If you are currently only a partial believer, then I would encourage you to go to God with full intent and find out for yourself is this is his church or not, because that is what really matters.

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I don't know whether they are correct, but there are some neuroscientists out there who believe that an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) can distinguish between false memories and actual memories because they are formed differently. An ordinary polygraph is thus valueless, except as an interrogation tool, because it only tells you whether the subject of the test believes what he is saying.

False memory syndrome is a problem.

I was using "false memory" loosely. As you note, there is the syndrome in which "false memory" has a more narrow meaning. Anyway, I accept that a kind of creativity is involved with both false memories and even the storage and recall of true memories, and also that false memories as well as true memories can be discussed scientifically and explored using instruments. In fact, that (remembering as an unintentional act of creation) would be true of memory in general regardless of whether the origin of what Joseph Smith remembered was a hallucination and a lucid dream. This is actually important, because arguably there has to be a delay between the time *any* revelation is received and the time it is recorded in writing -- a delay during which memory may undergo scientifically explainable unintentional change. Would anyone then conclude that no revelation should be a basis a doctrine?

Similarly, *any* process of trying to reconstruct the visual using verbal language is prone to error or creation. Are we then not supposed to use the visual as a source of knowledge, and if so, on what basis does someone accept empirically based scientific "truths" (for instance, to diagnose Joseph Smith as having had sleep paralysis in April 1820 based on a 170+ year old description of an experience), but reject visions as sources of doctrine.

Even if Joseph Smith's memory of whatever happened in the grove was to a limited degree and in some sense false, I raised the possibility of God determining or predetermining whatever about the memory that was false. Maybe God meant for us to have the words in Joseph Smith--History even if they do not describe what happened in April 1820. Maybe he meant for any changes that happened to Joseph Smith's memory to happen. I then asked, even if everything claimed about the First Vision and sleep paralysis, memory etc. was true, why couldn't the First Vision (or the memory or the record of it) be a source of doctrine, contrary to what the OP concluded?

But I don't believe Joseph Smith--History shows that Joseph Smith had a memory issue particularly related to sleep paralysis or a sleep attack, for the reasons I gave. I believe that everything does have a naturalistic basis, but it would be misleading, to my understanding, to use D&C 88 to support the idea that visions must be explainable in terms of our current understanding of neurology and neuroscience, and that if they cannot be then there has been intentional deception. There is an incomprehensibly big difference between the totality of natural laws and our current scientific theories.

Focusing on sleep paralysis again, to say that the "thick darkness" etc. that Joseph Smith experienced is typical during sleep paralysis does take something away from the uniqueness of Joseph Smith's experience. It is not simply to say that the experience had a neurological basis. It denies that Joseph Smith struggled to pray vocally as he experienced actual evil. It is implied that Joseph Smith experienced essentially the same thing thousands of people experience every day, the legendary dark figure/entity of sleep paralysis. Nonetheless, even if Satan, anticipating the vision, caused what would otherwise be mundane sleep paralysis in Joseph Smith's case, wouldn't that, and the rest of Joseph Smith's experience, be remarkable? I think it would.

tchg-pix.nfo:o:10d0.jpg

Edited by supersnail

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Wayfarer my friend, this i must disagree.

In Ex. 24:9-10, they couldn't having been having "lucid dream".

Now, how could Joseph have seen God in a "dream" and yet come to tell me He has a body of "flesh and bone"?

Please! I have no reason to believe it was a "lucid dream".

So I'm late to the party but I had a question about the idea of the FV being where the idea of God having a body of flesh and bone was revealed. I've seen that said elsewhere— including I think a quote by President Hinckley. Does any know where this idea started— the idea that it was revealed in the FV. Lectures on Faith (Lecture 5 I think) from 1835 talks of God being a personage of spirit and so I had though that the revelation of flesh and bone came later. Sorry is this is a derail but thought I'd address it.

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