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Joseph Smith’S First Vision Accounts: More Mormon Church Suppression And Cover-Up


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Except they are big on the born again experience.

Ironically, many evangelicals' descriptions of their personal born-again experiences would sound very familiar to a Latter-day Saint. See, for example, how Matt Slick of CARM describes his experience in his testimony here. And yet he criticizes and questions the very same experience that Mormons claim to have.

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Ironically, many evangelicals' descriptions of their personal born-again experiences would sound very familiar to a Latter-day Saint. See, for example, how Matt Slick of CARM describes his experience in his testimony here. And yet he criticizes and questions the very same experience that Mormons claim to have.

That is what I meant.

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Except they are big on the born again experience.

Yeah, go figure. Some of the same folks who recount their emotion associated with an altar call are apt to cite Jeremiah 17:9 about the heart being "deceitful above all things" as they ridicule or condemn a Mormon's spiritual experience in connection with reading Moroni 10:3-5.

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Yeah, go figure. Some of the same folks who recount their emotion associated with an altar call are apt to cite Jeremiah 17:9 about the heart being "deceitful above all things" as they ridicule or condemn a Mormon's spiritual experience in connection with reading Moroni 10:3-5.

I don't see how Jeremiah 17:9 supports the evangelical position on this. Again using Matt Slick as an example, there's a page on CARM which says that the typical Mormon would respond to the question "Where is your testimony?" (which question doesn't make any sense anyway) with "In my heart." Then, in an attempt to refute this, Jeremiah 17:9 is quoted. But I'm sure if you asked Mr. Slick if he believes in his heart that Jesus Christ is his Savior, that he would say yes, thus destroying that argument completely.

Edited by altersteve
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I know next to nothing about Islam. Does it have a teaching similar to Mormonism, that one can pray and ask God if it is true and receive a personal revelation regarding its authenticity?

No.

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Except they are big on the born again experience.

Ironically, many evangelicals' descriptions of their personal born-again experiences would sound very familiar to a Latter-day Saint. See, for example, how Matt Slick of CARM describes his experience in his testimony here. And yet he criticizes and questions the very same experience that Mormons claim to have.

That is what I meant.

Despite what personal "experience" an Evangelical might express, it is not a part of their theology that you can know the truth of something (e.g. the gospel or the Bible), by preying about it and receiving a personal revelation by the Holy Ghost. Their theology is that you have to "believe in your heart and confess with your mouth" that Jesus is the Christ, and you are "saved". Having a "spiritual experience" or "personal revelation" is not part of the deal. Their idea of being "born again" is not to have a spiritual experience as such, but simply to declare belief in Jesus Christ. Have a look at this article. If you click on the "loudspeaker" button at the top right, you can listen to it in audio form. And if you scroll down the page, there is a button that says, "I have accepted Christ today". That is all that you need to do to be "born again". "Accept Christ," and click on that button, and you are done. There is nothing in their theology comparable to Moroni 10:4-5.

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I'm not in principle against a subjective experience validating a religious claim. And I don't denigrate Mormon testimonies by labeling them mere brain states (since unlike you guys I'm not a materialist :)).

But believing something primarily because of an internal experience strikes me as inherently problematic.

Assuming Joseph Smith's reported account actually occurred, he didn't believe it occurred because of a merely internal experience. It was a sensory experience at least even if there was a "spiritual" component.

We don't have access to the objective data of that experience, which is true of all events in the past to which we were not party.

So, why should we believe X was an historical event? It's an open question, one amenable to all sorts of historical inquiry.

We do it all the time.

But Mormons want others to take the Moroni challenge seriously and they typically build two HUGE assumptions into its apologetic deployment: namely, that Mormonism is true and that subjective experiences validate the factuality of historical events.

If I don't stipulate that those two things are already true, Moroni's challenge is likely to falter.

I think Mormons generally recognize the second assumption, but often don't recognize the first. Not in all cases.

I'm not speaking about the subjective experiences of those who get the "right" answer, but about the apologetic deployment of the challenge by those who already believe.

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But Mormons want others to take the Moroni challenge seriously and they typically build two HUGE assumptions into its apologetic deployment: namely, that Mormonism is true and that subjective experiences validate the factuality of historical events.

As you have said, verifying historical events can be problematic, but I think this is a straw man. I have never thought for a minute that my spiritual experiences have "verified an historical event", but have indicated to me that becoming LDS was the path that God wanted me to take.

I personally had a pretty profound experience, but I think that is actually irrelevant to the point- it is a question only of degree. But let's take a hypothetical person who simply, after hearing the gospel, feels comfortable with it, has a sense of peace, and feels that it is "the right thing" for him to be baptized.

That is the way we all make decisions every day of our lives- decisions of a moral nature, decisions about what school to attend, decisions about whom to marry, decisions about what political party to join etc.

Often these decisions are based totally subjectively on what "feels right" to us.

Since historical events of this nature cannot be proven anyway- as you have conceded- we have no rational basis for making such a decision based on history anyway.

One could never conclude that Jesus was the Son of God or the savior of the world based on historical evidence- based on that, one might very well doubt that Jesus even existed, possibly being a legendary figure, or just a confusion with Mithras, for example.

Christians do not make the decision to accept Christ based on history, and we do not make the decision to become a Mormon based on history either.

Many argue that in fact religion has nothing to do with history or science, that they exist in different rational realms and deal with different needs in our personal lives and evidentiary issues are totally irrelevant to religious belief

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fideism

Fideism is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths (see natural theology). The word fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means "faith-ism."[1]

Theologians and philosophers have responded in various ways to the place of faith and reason in determining the truth of metaphysical ideas, morality, and religious beliefs. The term fideist, one who argues for fideism, is very rarely self-applied. Support of fideism is most commonly ascribed to five philosophers: Montaigne, Pascal, Kierkegaard, William James, and Wittgenstein; with fideism being a label applied in a negative sense by their opponents, but which is not supported by their own ideas and works or followers.[2] There are a number of different forms of fideism.[3]

Here's more on the topic:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fideism/

Personally I adhere to a position much like constructivism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivist_epistemology

Another similar group who adhere to similar principles are the process theologians which many feel would include Blake Ostler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_theology

http://www.ctr4process.org/

(Lest anyone think this is weird old Bukowski dreaming stuff up again!)

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As you have said, verifying historical events can be problematic, but I think this is a straw man. I have never thought for a minute that my spiritual experiences have "verified an historical event", but have indicated to me that becoming LDS was the path that God wanted me to take.

I personally had a pretty profound experience, but I think that is actually irrelevant to the point- it is a question only of degree. But let's take a hypothetical person who simply, after hearing the gospel, feels comfortable with it, has a sense of peace, and feels that it is "the right thing" for him to be baptized.

That is the way we all make decisions every day of our lives- decisions of a moral nature, decisions about what school to attend, decisions about whom to marry, decisions about what political party to join etc.

Often these decisions are based totally subjectively on what "feels right" to us.

Since historical events of this nature cannot be proven anyway- as you have conceded- we have no rational basis for making such a decision based on history anyway.

There's the rub. I hope you'll forgive me for disregarding what comes after. But, I don't at all concede that we can have "no rational basis" for deciding that a reported historical event actually occurred. We can and we do. All the time.

When I admit that I have no direct access to the initial objective data, I do not mean to imply that all historical claims of that manner are therefore placed on equal footing. Not at all.

I'm neither a fideist nor a constructivist.

You know that, though.

"Christians do not make the decision to accept Christ based on history."

Of course they have done so.

Do you really believe that no Christian has ever done so, in any case, in any time or place?

Are you saying that there are no such Christian believers? On what basis would you hold that position if not on a presuppositional one?

It seems that you're importing an assumption that I'm not willing to grant, m.

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There's the rub. I hope you'll forgive me for disregarding what comes after. But, I don't at all concede that we can have "no rational basis" for deciding that a reported historical event actually occurred. We can and we do. All the time.

Incidentally I find "what comes after" incredibly important to understanding the point I am making, but I understand it is a lot to take on and probably beyond the scope of this thread

But I was going by this which I must have misinterpreted :

We don't have access to the objective data of that experience, which is true of all events in the past to which we were not party.

So, why should we believe X was an historical event? It's an open question, one amenable to all sorts of historical inquiry.

And besides I never said that we had "no rational basis for deciding that a historical event actually occurred"- that I agree would be lunacy!

What I did say was this:

That is the way we all make decisions every day of our lives- decisions of a moral nature, decisions about what school to attend, decisions about whom to marry, decisions about what political party to join etc.

Often these decisions are based totally subjectively on what "feels right" to us.

Since historical events of this nature cannot be proven anyway- as you have conceded- we have no rational basis for making such a decision based on history anyway.

The point I thought I was making was combining your statement:

We don't have access to the objective data of that experience, which is true of all events in the past to which we were not party.

with my statement:

Often these decisions are based totally subjectively on what "feels right" to us.

And making the point that since we do not have objective data, that lack of objective data becomes irrelevant anyway when we are making a subjective decision about what "feels right" to us.

And I'm gonna stick to that.

I'm neither a fideist nor a constructivist.

You know that, though.

Yeah, I do, and probably never the twain shall meet- we have pretty radically different ways of seeing the world if I can recall. Of course mine is better ;)

"Christians do not make the decision to accept Christ based on history."

Of course they have done so.

Do you really believe that no Christian has ever done so, in any case, in any time or place?

Are you saying that there are no such Christian believers? On what basis would you hold that position if not on a presuppositional one?

I would be a fool to agree that there is no one who ever has done so- I am sure that in fact many have.

But that is not the question. The question is, is it rational to do so based on, as you said the fact that:

We don't have access to the objective data of that experience, which is true of all events in the past to which we were not party.

So, why should we believe X was an historical event? It's an open question, one amenable to all sorts of historical inquiry.

The entire point is- is it rational to base your eternal salvation on someone's allegation of an historical event which you can never prove for yourself to be true, because you weren't there?

How do you show historically that Jesus really was the Son of God and died for our sins? How do you know for sure that it wasn't all based on the cult of Mithras? After all, burning in hell forever is what awaits your decision based on that history which you can never verify (assuming you are an EV Christian)

Gonna be a bit busy for a day or two now, but I shall return!

Edited by mfbukowski
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I was watching some youtube videos by people who were exmormon. One man said it was after reading Rough Stone Rolling, that he started on his quest to leave the church. I thought one of the reasons Bushman's writing was to support those who came accross difficult issues in LDS history.

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Bushman cannot control how people react to his book. My husband and I read the same book at the same time and had dramatically different reactions to it. While I felt he had missed some stuff that should have been included, overall I thought he demonstrated very well Joseph's desire to bring heaven down to earth, to establish God's kingdom in reality here and now, to bind time and eternity and family and friend and faith all together in one eternal web. My husband was closer in opinion to what Will stated, while he liked the overall book and felt it worthwhile, he felt that Bushman had taken too much care to not offend nonbelievers, thus diminishing the power and essence of the man.

Doesn't surprise me in the least if people had more extreme responses than we did, someone who had seen JS as a one dimensional idealized figure and insisted that must be how 'real' prophets were would have a hard time with the book and if he couldn't adjust to seeing Joseph as human....I could see that as easily causing him to lead himself out of the faith.

OTOH, if a person was struggling due to the idealized version of JS that many have, reading a book that made Joseph real, squarely placed him in his time and place and presented him as some guy that was completely human and yet still managed to be all that a prophet of God needs to be....well, I can see that person's faith deepening through his encounter with Bushman's book.

Edited by calmoriah
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How can Joseph miss key componets in the first vision like, first an angel, then Jesus and then God and Jesus? That isn't just sketchiness those are subjects that wouldn't be forgetable for anyone. Not that this is a testimony breaker for me. It's just something I learned about recently. I guess my faith level isn't as strong as yours and many others on this forum.

The first vision was, after all, a vision. It could have even been a dream, because Smith sometimes used the terms vision and dream interchangeably, as did his mother in describing her own vision and the seven visions of Joseph, Sr. Also, Smith "came to himself" after this vision by finding that he was lying on his back. I have had very vivid and meaningful dreams, but it is hard to remember the specific details. Mostly, you just remember feelings, images, and general impressions. Plus, it is easy to "enhance" your memory of the dream so that it makes more rational sense than it originally might have had.

If it was a waking vision (which I think it probably was), then you would expect the clarity to be at least a little better than a dream. But still, I am not surprised that he later had difficulty reconstructing the details of that vision. And I would not be surprised if some of the details he began to remember were reconstructed details in light of the evolution of his theology.

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I don't know if I have ever met a Christian that believed in Jesus Christ strictly because of historical evidence. When I think about what such a believer would be I am overcome with pity and sorrow. What is the purpose of "knowing" God if he must fit within the confines of historical evidence? How does the resurrected Christ fit within history? How does being born of the water and of the Spirit within any form of historical context as a foundation for belief. What a paltry religion would be Christianity if this was all that was needed.

Evangelicals like to praise being spiritually born again, but then denigrate it if revelation is used in any other way than their specific, once in a life time, proscribed manner. The Early Church Fathers of both East and West were much more comfortable talking about "feelings" and their value in prayer, guidance, and knowing God. Yes, I know that many Catholics today when in the context of talking about the LDS Church would prefer to forget all of this, but it remains their doctrine and teaching.

Gads, if discipleship is devolved into a state of strict historicity, without need of the Holy Spirit to guide, to testify, and to lead to all truth, what good is it? Thank God that the heavens remain open to the children of God today just as much as in ancient Israel and at the time of Peter, Stephen, and Paul. I leave you your silent gods of stone; I will take the Living God that loves us as much today as he did our ancestors.

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According to these standards we are setting to nail "First Vision", has anyone read "Four Gospels"?

And reflected discrepancies?

I think reading the early gospel of Mark versus the late gospel of John shows how the human mind can develop in the perception of a supernatural experience.

Although sometimes enlightenment and understanding grows over they years, I think often the factor of embellishment can better explain the differences between the early and late gospels.

As for Josephs first vision story, Im one of those "less intelligent or uninterested members" according to some, as I managed to pass through the LDS life from nursery, seminar, institute, mission, marriage, callings etc, without ever hearing a whim of there being alternate versions. But thats probably just me.

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Despite what personal "experience" an Evangelical might express, it is not a part of their theology that you can know the truth of something (e.g. the gospel or the Bible), by preying about it and receiving a personal revelation by the Holy Ghost. Their theology is that you have to "believe in your heart and confess with your mouth" that Jesus is the Christ, and you are "saved". Having a "spiritual experience" or "personal revelation" is not part of the deal. Their idea of being "born again" is not to have a spiritual experience as such, but simply to declare belief in Jesus Christ. Have a look at this article. If you click on the "loudspeaker" button at the top right, you can listen to it in audio form. And if you scroll down the page, there is a button that says, "I have accepted Christ today". That is all that you need to do to be "born again". "Accept Christ," and click on that button, and you are done. There is nothing in their theology comparable to Moroni 10:4-5.

I know. My point is that evangelicals criticize our use of the terms "feelings" and "burning in the bosom" to describe our experiences, yet those same words could probably be used to describe their experiences as well. Jeremiah 17:9 does nothing to support their criticisms.

Edited by altersteve
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I don't know if I have ever met a Christian that believed in Jesus Christ strictly because of historical evidence.

I think of evangelists like Billy Graham who deliver a brilliant sermon, and then issue an altar call- asking all those who want to accept Christ as their savior to come forward and pray, and usually take some other commitment step, like signing a card or some other tangible action.

I don't recall any of these being preceded by a scholarly discussion of the historical "reality" of Jesus, or a comparison of rational arguments for and against him being the savior.

Gee, I wonder why?

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I think of evangelists like Billy Graham who deliver a brilliant sermon, and then issue an altar call- asking all those who want to accept Christ as their savior to come forward and pray, and usually take some other commitment step, like signing a card or some other tangible action.

I don't recall any of these being preceded by a scholarly discussion of the historical "reality" of Jesus, or a comparison of rational arguments for and against him being the savior.

Gee, I wonder why?

Very good point.

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M:

I still think you're conflating warrant to believe X with personal feelings about X, however you wish to parse feelings.

I'm not denying the role of subjective approbation in decision-making. But I don't believe objective data is irrelevant to the process of forming beliefs.

I wasn't clear above. I meant that while I may have no firsthand data regarding X, it is not the case that I am thereby prohibited from claiming that I have warrant for believing that X unless and until I have a subjective experience that tends to confirm X.

Back to one of my former points.

Consider the cases of two supernaturalists--one LDS, the other not. Further, consider Moroni's challenge.

Do you know any Mormons who would believe that the non-LDS supernaturalist could follow the steps accurately, employ those steps judiciously, and come to the sincere conclusion that BoM is false and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God?

For the sake of argument, let's suppose that the subjective experience of the non-LDS supernaturalist is taken by him to be just as veridical as that of his LDS peer. But their conclusions are diametrically opposed to one another.

Does the LDS supernaturalist respond, "Well, your subjective experience is just as valid as mine, so apparently my subjective experience is no guarantor of truth; I need to widen my net"?

Or does he assume that the other guy failed to follow the prescribed methodology correctly.

That is: can subjective experience falsify Mormonism just as well as it can confirm it? Or does the Mormon roadmap point inexorably in only one direction?

The epistemological road ahead forks here, doesn't it?

Edited by cksalmon
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LOG - The link with the comparison of the 9 versions was pretty cool. It shows much more harmony then we give credit. I know when I tell one of my best stories of something that happed to me I tell it slightly different each time, though not intentional. And these are events which hold great importance and weight on my memory. It happens. and it isn't about decepion. In memory facts can and do change. Also sometimes you remeber something later that you hadn't thought of in an earlier telling.

Edited by DBMormon
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