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First Vision - Perceived Inconsistencies


MDalby

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I am not trying to poke holes in Joseph Smith's testimony since I am a solid believer. I am reading Opening the Heavens by Welch and I have just got through the versions of the First Vision.

Can someone help me understand the following inconsistencies in some of the versions of the first Vision.

Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?

1832 account:

"...I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised 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..."

1838 account:

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The BYU Studies mentioned this but does not discuss how the two statements can be rectified.

On several occasions between 1832 and 1842, the young Prophet wrote or dictated accounts of the vision, each in a different setting, the last two for publication. Each record omits or adds some details. In 1832, for example, Joseph Smith wrote that prior to his First Vision he searched the scriptures and concluded that no society taught New Testament Christianity (Backman, p. 156; Jessee, p. 5). In the 1838 account he notes that he often said to himself, "Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?" Later in this same account he parenthetically adds "(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)" (JS-H 1:10, 18; Jessee, pp. 198, 200).

We have the question. Where is the answer?

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"Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?"

He certainly questioned which was right and the reason he went to the grove was because they all were teaching different things. I came to much of the same conclusion when I was studying different religions before I found the church. But believing that and wanting to know what church to join are different things. I doubt he expected the answer he actually got. I certainly had no concept that the church I read about in the Bible was actually restored. I just wanted to find a church to go to, even knowing they didn't have everything right.

"Did the Father speak to Joseph?"

We know he did because he said "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

I personally believe that the official version in the PoGP is the one that incorporates all these things he saw. He was a 14 year old boy who was likely overwhelmed by what he saw. It was as he learned more and as he received more he was able to actually understand what it was he saw. The fact that there are different accounts only means he was thinking about different things at different times.

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the following inconsistencies in some of the versions of the first Vision.

Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?

He may have wanted to know which of all the churches, which he had assessed as apostate, was right enough for him to join, or perhaps wanted to know which was the "most right" among them. He perhaps supposed there was a yet-unidentified substitute out there that was acceptable to God for him to join. It may have never entered into his heart that all of them were wrong to the point that none were "right" for him to join.

Why did Joseph say here that only one of them spoke to him?

It is interesting that he would make this self-clarification in writing, and keep in in the final draft, especially if he had proofread it a number of times. There must be a reason he kept it in there (note: some versions show it with brackets around "[or one of them did]"}. Perhaps both of Them did speak, but the salient message for which he was persecuted came from only One of Them, or One at a time. Perhaps the sound of Deity speaking ("as the sound of the rushing of great waters") may have given him pause to determine exactly whether they were speaking simultaneously, in unison, or in turn, or in some kind of harmony (physical or spiritual), or phasing in and out of these modes.

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The First Visitation or the First Apparition would have been a better title for what Joseph saw. A Vision is usually not the same as a in-person experience. Like Moroni's visits. They were not visions but actual visits.

As an investigator, I wanted to clarify whether Joseph had a vision or witnessed and apparition as in the case of Fatima or Mary's Annunciation.

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The First Visitation or the First Apparition would have been a better title for what Joseph saw. A Vision is usually not the same as a in-person experience. Like Moroni's visits. They were not visions but actual visits.

As an investigator, I wanted to clarify whether Joseph had a vision or witnessed and apparition as in the case of Fatima or Mary's Annunciation.

OT, but I tried to clear up this same issue when people in Sunday School kept calling Moses' experience a "vision." I usually just say manifestation. The word allows for both scenarios, IMO.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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I am not trying to poke holes in Joseph Smith's testimony since I am a solid believer. I am reading Opening the Heavens by Welch and I have just got through the versions of the First Vision.

Can someone help me understand the following inconsistencies in some of the versions of the first Vision.

Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?

1832 account:

"...I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised 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..."

1838 account:

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Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?

He was a teenager, and gave alot of thought to this question. Sometimes he wondered which church was true, other times he thought that none of them were.

As one professional antimormon said, "No big deal."

Why did Joseph say here that only one of them spoke to him?

He didn't say this. You got this phrase from the antimormons.

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OT, but I tried to clear up this same issue when people in Sunday School kept calling Moses' experience a "vision." I usually just say manifestation. The word allows for both scenarios, IMO.

Big UP!

Lamanite

I don't feel so alone in this anymore! Good job. If we look up the word "vision" versus "apparition" or "visitation", there are some significant differences. Lehi's vision is NOT the same as the First Vision. Lehi had a vision whereas Joseph had a personal visit. I think the title of Joseph's experience is not accurate.

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The First Visitation or the First Apparition would have been a better title for what Joseph saw. A Vision is usually not the same as a in-person experience. Like Moroni's visits. They were not visions but actual visits.

As an investigator, I wanted to clarify whether Joseph had a vision or witnessed and apparition as in the case of Fatima or Mary's Annunciation.

When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.

Then why did Joseph have to wake up from the vision (his words)?

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The First Visitation or the First Apparition would have been a better title for what Joseph saw. A Vision is usually not the same as a in-person experience. Like Moroni's visits. They were not visions but actual visits.

As an investigator, I wanted to clarify whether Joseph had a vision or witnessed and apparition as in the case of Fatima or Mary's Annunciation.

An interesting point of view, however if it was not a vision, was the visit of Elias and Moses to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration an actual visit? If they were indeed actual visits, then I submit the following is correct usage of the term vision:
(Matthew 17:9) "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead."
Here Jesus describes it as a vision and personally I believe it just as real and "in person" as the visit of the Father and the Son in the sacred grove. To me the phrase "First Vision" is much more dignified than "Visitation" or "apparition" and I personally believe that Satan can appear in an apparition or make a visitation... because Moses said he could look on Satan "in the natural man" and so I think it takes a Vision, with the protection of the Holy Ghost to make it possible for mortals to see God. Even though Joseph saw with his "spiritual eyes" as Moses refers to it, it is just as real as a "visitation" perhaps much more so because the spirit of truth is testifying as well as protecting the person from the glory and power of God, so the individual is not consumed by His presence. That is why the wicked and this earth will "burn" at the Second Coming but the righteous will be protected. At least that is my take on it.
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Then why did Joseph have to wake up from the vision (his words)?

John, I have many posts I need to catch up on, but I saw this first. The others will have to wait till this afternoon. Perhaps these references answer your question. Joseph collapsed without strength and then recovered. His experience is entirely consistent with ancient prophets who had similar encounters.

Dan. 10: 8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Moses 1:10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

Alma 27: 17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.

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Did Joseph think before the vision that all existing churches were wrong?

1832 account:

"...I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised 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..."

1838 account:

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An interesting point of view, however if it was not a vision, was the visit of Elias and Moses to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration an actual visit? If they were indeed actual visits, then I submit the following is correct usage of the term vision:Here Jesus describes it as a vision and personally I believe it just as real and "in person" as the visit of the Father and the Son in the sacred grove. To me the phrase "First Vision" is much more dignified than "Visitation" or "apparition" and I personally believe that Satan can appear in an apparition or make a visitation... because Moses said he could look on Satan "in the natural man" and so I think it takes a Vision, with the protection of the Holy Ghost to make it possible for mortals to see God. Even though Joseph saw with his "spiritual eyes" as Moses refers to it, it is just as real as a "visitation" perhaps much more so because the spirit of truth is testifying as well as protecting the person from the glory and power of God, so the individual is not consumed by His presence. That is why the wicked and this earth will "burn" at the Second Coming but the righteous will be protected. At least that is my take on it.

Most Bible translations support the word "vision" as you stated Some just say "what you have seen" but the majority say "vision". Your position seems to have full support of scripture. So what becomes the question now is: Is a vision a physical, materialized experience? If so, the dictionary's definition of "a vision" is off.

Vision

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Then why did Joseph have to wake up from the vision (his words)?

Was he sleeping, unconscious perhaps? Now I'm confused. I thought that Joseph was in the Grove, talking to the personages as one man talks to another kind of thing. Not that he was asleep, in a dream-like state or having visions. The Temple Square presentation doesn't show him lying on his back dreaming but an actual 3-dimensional visitation with the Father and the Son speaking to him, etc. What am I missing here? Did he pass out before, during or after the experience?

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The search for "the one correct church" was a pervading theme in the Smith family, and a common theme in general for early American Seekers who sought a Primitive Church. As Joseph states in his 1838 history, and in his earlier reminiscences, he had already come to the conclusion (or at least was inclined to believe) that none of the Palmyra denominations were the Lord's church.

According to Lucy's history, in 1811, Joseph Sr. "would not subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended for the ancient order, as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his apostles

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(for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)

This could be read to mean that the thought had never occurred to him, or, alternatively, it could mean that he never did accept the idea.

The latter interpretation makes the most since, in my opinion.

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It gets a little ridiculous at this point. Kind of toe-may-toe/ toe-mah-toe.

Today, vision and corporeal visitations are two different things.

Perhaps in NT and 19th century times these phrases were more synonymous than they are today.

This has absolutely ZERO salvational value, so we can go back and forth and always end up with a spiritual Twinkie. And sometimes empty spiritual calories are the funnest to eat!

Big UP!

Lamanite

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It gets a little ridiculous at this point. Kind of toe-may-toe/ toe-mah-toe.

Today, vision and corporeal visitations are two different things.

Perhaps in NT and 19th century times these phrases were more synonymous than they are today.

This has absolutely ZERO salvational value, so we can go back and forth and always end up with a spiritual Twinkie. And sometimes empty spiritual calories are the funnest to eat!

Big UP!

Lamanite

Hmmm. Many things have zero salvation value but, if I were researching this topic, I would very much like to know whether he had a vision or a visitation. They are two different things. Brushing it off as insignificant only leaves the question hanging. The dictionary wasn't invented TODAY though. The word vision is not new. In fact it's older the Joseph's story by hundreds of years. For example, the angel Moroni, as I understand it, personally visited him IN PERSON and not in vision. True?

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I think that is the best explanation for the differences between different accounts.

It's the only explanation, really.

Joseph likely did not understand the magnitude of the First Vision when it occurred. Obviously he was only fourteen, but he had also been conditioned to believe that visions were acceptable, and perhaps even expected and common-place. Based on the earliest references to the First Vision, and considering his interaction with Methodism drove Joseph into the Sacred Grove, the Prophet probably understood the First Vision foremost as an evangelical conversion experience. Thus at the time, knowing his current state of salvation and obtaining forgiveness for his sins were more meaningful than knowing which church to join.

Throughout the 1830s, there is a shift in emphasis until it seems that Joseph finally understands the application of his First Vision to the Church as a whole. His evangelical experience is no longer the important detail of the vision; in its final telling from 1838 onward, the Prophet emphasizes the aspect that is relevant to the world, which was the lack of the Lord's Church on the earth.

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Perhaps in NT and 19th century times these phrases were more synonymous than they are today.

The relevant entries in the 1828 edition of Webster's dictionary are:

VISION.

1. The act of seeing external objects; actual sight.

4. In Scripture, a revelation from God; an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events. Such were the visions of Isaiah, of Amos, of Ezekiel, &c.

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