THE VISION OF THE FATHER AND THE SON

The Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded in 1830 by a man called Joseph Smith who claimed to be a prophet of God. Was this man really a prophet of God? We will soon see that he wasn’t.
 
Smith wrote in his scripture, The Pearl of Great Price (PGP), that in 1820 when he was praying about what Church to join the Father and the Son appeared to him to tell him to join none and that he would become the prophet of a new Church, the true Church of Jesus Christ. It was not recorded in its present form until 1838. This event is known in Mormonism as the First Vision. David O McKay who was a Mormon apostle and leader said that the vision was the foundation of the Church. Mormon apostle John A Widtsoe said that the vision is the most important event in the history of Smith and that everything Smith did after depends on it for validity. If it didn’t happen the other claims Smith made are false.  Smith didn’t get the priesthood until after 1830 and yet he gave a revelation from God in 1832 that can be read in Doctrine and Covenants 84  that claimed that no man could see God unless the man had the priesthood. Smith didn’t have the priesthood in 1820 so he did not see God the Father.

This vision is the foundation of Mormonism because it was the first time Smith was told there was no true Church on earth and it was the start of him becoming a prophet. The Church says that it cannot be the true Church if this vision never took place because Smith cannot be trusted in anything if he lied in any way concerning this vision.

Smith gave testimony about a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. And he reported later visions of the Angel Moroni who led him to the plates that he translated scripture from called the Book of Mormon. Both these vision claims have been disproved by careful research. The official First Vision account is suspicious for it is part of a story that claims Dr Charles Anthon authenticated Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon. Smith wrote that Anthon said the translation was correct. But that was impossible for at that time what Egyptian meant was just anybody's guess . But back to the Father and Son story.

There is no evidence that Smith told the same story from the start and the earliest Mormons never heard of it and there were no witnesses. Mormons reply that they don’t care if there were no witnesses because the origin of the Book of Mormon proves that Joseph was blessed by God and trusted to tell the truth. But if the vision was the foundation then it is more important to verify it than even to verify the Book of Mormon and it should be more verifiable. Why was it not recorded in the Book of Commandments? God may have mysterious ways but he can't be in situations like that or every fake prophet will be using the excuse, God has ways that seem strange to us.

Smith said that he had this vision in 1820 when there was a great revival and this has been disproved (page 3, New Light on Mormon Origins, Wesley P Walters page 19 of the booklet shows that Smith was agnostic about the existence of God in 1823 as recorded by his friend Oliver Cowdery which proves there was no vision in 1820). It would have to have happened in 1825 which would involved denying the first vision Smith reported of Moroni to tell him about the gold plates in 1823. His memory of such important events would not be that bad. He was lying. The first stories he told were nothing like what he wrote in The Pearl of Great Price. Mormons say these stories can fit the account.

For example, in the PGP he says he was inspired to pray for the guidance that led to the vision by a quotation from James by a preacher called Lane. In an earlier account he said his Bible reading inspired him. Both could have. He said that he saw angels. In a different account he mentioned that he saw Jesus and that he forgave his sins and did not mention that God was with Jesus. These things could be explained by Smith leaving out details in the PGP. But then one realises that things like that would not have been omitted especially when they were spoken of before. He would have wanted the official account to preserve them if they really happened for they would have been very precious to him. And why does the Father have a body in his PGP vision when the Book of Mormon itself never said that the Father had a body? It makes no sense.

The vision story was written after many Mormon sects claimed he became a fallen prophet. Their claim that he fell away from what he originally taught is certainly true and he started changing what he said was the word of God. The angel told Joseph that the Plates he would receive contained the whole gospel. Believers say that this must be true for Smith could not have made that up for the Book of Mormon does not contain the full gospel. It was so far short that he had to pretend to further revelations in the book of Doctrine and Covenants. In the original Book of Commandments which was Smith’s precursor to Doctrine and Covenants God told Smith to write no more scripture once the Book of Mormon was completed (Are the Mormon Scriptures Reliable? page 65).
 
MORMON ANSWERS TO THE FIRST VISION REFUTATION

The Mormon Church admits that the varying accounts of the first vision are real and do refer to the first vision. So what they do is try to reconcile them with the full version which they consider to be sacred scripture in the Pearl of Great Price.

They say that the early accounts which say angels appeared fit Smith’s claim in PGP that he saw the Father and the Son for even in the Bible God is sometimes called an angel. Smith would not have deployed that usage.

They say that Smith only reporting one personage in one account appearing does not matter for the Father and the Son did not appear at the one time. But when you read Smith’s account he said he saw two personages one of whom pointed to the other and introduced him saying, “Behold my Beloved Son, Hear Him”. Why would the Father appear first when the Father and Son were working together? If Smith had cared about the other stories and he was used to getting away with his lies so it comes as no surprise if he didn’t care he would have made his PGP version fit the prior stories.

Some Mormons say that the full version of the story was long in coming out for Smith regarded the vision as just something for himself. It was not about his appointment as a prophet or the translator of the Book of Mormon but only about encouraging him and forgiving his sins and directing him to the true Church. The Mormons say that since he did not use this vision at all to blow his trumpet makes it plausible. They say since he chose an unknown angel to be the messenger of his Book of Mormon and not God himself he must have been honest. They say that it was because the vision was his business that he did not have it included in the early histories of the Church. That is deception because Smith said he was told to join none of the existing Churches and when God and Jesus appeared to him it was clear that they had a plan for him so he alone had the chance to form the right faith. There is no greater honour that being told you alone have been chosen to restore the truth. No prophet ever claimed that honour before. Smith had already blown his trumpet by forming what he called the only true Church in 1830 which was quite a staggering claim because there had been Luther and Aquinas and tons of intelligent theologians and experts and he was saying they were all wrong. What business have the Mormons telling us what Smith’s motives were for he never said humility was the reason for his silence?

Mormons say that Smith misremembered the date of the revival or just chose 1820 for he thought it was a good compromise when he could not remember exactly when. Another thing they say is that it could have been that since Smith did not say how long after the revival that he decided to pray for guidance and the vision happened that there could have been years between the revival and the vision. The Mormons say the revival that stirred Smith could have happened in 1817 to 1818. Smith would have remembered events adjacent to his first vision and so he could have worked out the dates by asking people when X, Y and Z happened. He didn’t because it never happened and one year was as good as another.

The Mormons say that since Smith could not invent a date for the vision but kept contradicting himself on the dates that the vision must have really happened for he was sincerely trying his best to remember when. They say Smith did not keep the date in his mind because it was only later in his life that he decided he would speak about the vision.

The Mormons admit that changes were made by the Church including deletions and alterations in Joseph’s account of his first vision but blames the unprofessional editors that were used in the Church until recently for that. In fact it was to make the testimony suit the Church doctrine. When the Mormon Church belittles the vision itself then why should we believe in the vision?

The Mormons say that discrepancies between the accounts means nothing for all reliable testimonies conflict with one another in minor details. The reply to this is that it is not applicable in Smith’s case for he wrote all the accounts himself and they do not agree. Moreover, the accounts have been declared to be scripture.

Smith claimed in his history that he was sorely persecuted for his tale about the First Vision. Then why is there such a huge number of early Mormon documents and letters and diaries that never mention it though the Church clutched at every little thing it could get its hands on and used it in its effort to win the argument with the other Churches who all opposed it? That vision would have been the thing that upset the Churches most for it said they were all abominations and false so their silence is telling.

BOOKS CONSULTED
 
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NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, Fawn M Brodie, Vintage, New York, 1995
 
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THE BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS, Church of Christ, Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri, 1995
 
THE BOOK OF MORMON, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Enterprises Ltd, Manchester, UK, 1972
 
THE CASE AGAINST MORMONISM, VOL 2, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1968  
 
THE FACTS OF MORMONISM ARE STRANGER THAN FICTION, Charles Crane and J Edward Decker, Christian Information Outreach, Kent, 1982
 
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WHY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST WAS ESTABLISHED ANEW IN 1929?, Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, Independence, Missouri



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