Category Archives: First Vision Accounts

Addendum #48- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (09:03-10:10)

joseph smith profile 1.6

ADDENDUM:  Although the film dramatizes the impact that Joseph’s telling of the first vision had both personally on his relationship with one particular minister, as well as on his family with the greater community surrounding their family, as FAIR acknowledges, there is no documentation that the first vision was related to anyone until 1827, 7 years after it was said to have occurred.  While the account that Joseph related years later can be taken at face value as historical, full disclosure of this lack of parallel evidence is needed.  Additionally, numerous accounts demonstrate that Joseph’s initial treasure-seeking endeavors focused on the finding of the gold plates without any telling of the first vision and that his efforts were initially devoid of any religious intent, which later increasingly grew with time.  Members of the church can choose to have faith in the first vision and its impact on the community as related by Joseph, but the telling of the story should include the full historical record, to contextualize the account and facilitate the  choice to exercise faith and believe that the vision occurred as is claimed.

Addendum #47- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (06:18-08:00)

The first vision 1.2

ADDENDUM:  The different accounts of the first vision are of equal historical legitimacy.  The church should teach the details of each account even if they favor one over the others.  In film, it would be reasonable to create film depictions of each account.  Even if they weren’t as widely dispersed as the others, the effort to create a media library that actually reflect the other accounts would legitimate them to all members, allowing the church and its members to better know and accept its true history.  such a film wouldn’t necessarily be shown in the Legacy Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building with as much fanfare, but currently no film depictions of the other accounts even exist.

Addendum #45- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (02:32)

joseph smith profile 1.4 (accessed 13 AUG 2014)

Addendum #43- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (01:12-01:48)

joseph smith profile 1.2

FAIR references (all accessed 13 AUG 2014):

Smith family money digging 

1826 court

First vision 1827

Joseph Sr’s dream

Addendum #38- Children’s Songbook, Page 88, On A Golden Springtime

children's songbook 1.1

For the different accounts of the first vision, see Addendum #11

Addendum #37- Hymns, #26, Joseph Smith’s First Prayer

hymns 1.1

For the different accounts of the first vision, see Addendum #11

Addendum #35- Nursery Manual, Behold Your Little Ones, Chapter 21, Joseph Smith Saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

nursery 1.1

For accounts of First Vision, see Addendum #11

Addendum #31- Introduction to The Doctrine and Covenants

doctrine and covenants 1.2

Click to access scripture-comparison_eng.pdf

Addendum #5- Gospel Principles, Chapter 17: The Church of Jesus Christ Today

The Church of Jesus Christ Was Taken from the Earth

  • Why was the Church of Jesus Christ removed from the earth shortly after the Savior’s death and Resurrection?

When Jesus lived on the earth, He established His Church, the only true Church. He organized His Church so the truths of the gospel could be taught to all people and the ordinances of the gospel could be administered correctly with authority. Through this organization, Christ could bring the blessings of salvation to mankind.

After the Savior ascended into heaven, men changed the ordinances and doctrines that He and His Apostles had established. Because of apostasy, there was no direct revelation from God. The true Church was no longer on the earth. Men organized different churches that claimed to be true but taught conflicting doctrines. There was much confusion and contention over religion. The Lord had foreseen these conditions of apostasy, saying there would be “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. … They shall … seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11–12).

The Lord Promised to Restore His True Church

  • What were some of the conditions in the world that prepared the way for the Restoration of the gospel?

The Savior promised to restore His Church in the latter days. He said, “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).

For many years people lived in spiritual darkness. About 1,700 years after Christ, people were becoming more and more interested in knowing the truth about God and religion. Some of them could see that the gospel Jesus taught was no longer on the earth. Some recognized that there was no revelation and no true authority and that the Church that Christ organized did not exist on the earth. The time had arrived for the Church of Jesus Christ to be restored to the earth.

  • In what ways is the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel a “marvelous work”?

New Revelation from God

  • When Joseph Smith received his First Vision, what did he learn about God?

In the spring of 1820, one of the most important events in the history of the world occurred. The time had come for the marvelous work and wonder of which the Lord had spoken. As a young boy, Joseph Smith wanted to know which of all the churches was the true Church of Jesus Christ. He went into the woods near his home and prayed humbly and intently to his Heavenly Father, asking which church he should join. On that morning a miraculous thing happened, as recorded in four separate accounts written (at the earliest) 12 years after the event. [1]  In one of these accounts, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.  In that account, the The Savior told him not to join any church because the true Church was not on the earth.  He also said that the creeds of present churches were “an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19; see also verses 7–18, 20). Beginning with this event, there was again direct revelation from the heavens. The Lord had chosen a new prophet. Since that time the heavens have not been closed. Revelation continues to this day through each of His chosen prophets and members are invited to seek personal revelation to confirm in their own hearts what they hear from church leaders. [2]  Joseph was to be the one to help restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Why was the First Vision one of the most important events in the history of the world?

Authority from God Was Restored

  • Why was the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods necessary?

In restoring the gospel, God again gave the priesthood to men. John the Baptist came in 1829 to confer the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (see D&C 1327:8), as Joseph first taught 3 years later in 1832 and first included in revisions of church documents 6 years later in 1835. [3, 4] Then Peter, James, and John, the presidency of the Church in ancient times, came and gave Joseph and Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys of the kingdom of God (see D&C 27:12–13), although the actual date was never known. [3] Later, additional keys of the priesthood were restored by heavenly messengers such as Moses, Elias, and Elijah (see D&C 110:11–16). Through the Restoration, the priesthood was returned to the earth. Those who hold this priesthood today have the authority to perform ordinances such as baptism. They also have the authority to direct the Lord’s kingdom on earth.

For teachers: Bearing testimony invites the Spirit. As part of this lesson, bear your testimony of the Restoration and give others the opportunity to do the same.

Christ’s Church Was Organized Again

  • What events led to the organization of the Church on the earth again?

On April 6, 1830, the Savior again directed the organizing of His Church on the earth (see D&C 20:1). His Church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4), but was actually first named “The Church of Christ” in 1830, then was changed to “The Church of the Latter-Day Saints” in 1834, and then ultimately changed to its current name in 1838. [5] Christ is the head of His Church today, just as He was in ancient times. The Lord has said that it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (D&C 1:30).

Joseph Smith was sustained as prophet and “first elder” of the Church (see D&C 20:2–4). Later the First Presidency was organized, and he was sustained as President. When the Church was first organized, only the framework was set up, although the ambiguity surrounding appropriate leadership after the death of Joseph Smith led to numerous factions splintering and forming separate churches. [6, 7]  That members of the church that followed Brigham Young grew into the  The organization that continued to would develop as the Church continued to grow. [7]

Addendum: There were multiple at least 4 accounts of the first vision, of which the 1838 version is most commonly cited, with significant differences and discrepancies between the accounts.  The name of the church went through multiple revisions and renamings, each of which in a context of controversy and disagreement among members of the church at each timepoint.  The Priesthood restoration documentation occurred retrospectively after many years, which emphasizes that immediately after 1829, the majority of members were not aware of its occurrence.  At the time of succession, the church splintered into multiple factions based on doctrinal differences, which has now grown into multiple smaller organizations that fall within the umbrella of the LDS movement, namely the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and others.








Addendum #1- Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith, Chapter 1, Our Father in Heaven“

Beginning with Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the true knowledge of God has been restored in our day.

I am very grateful for the 1838 account of the first vision, in which the Father and the Son appeared to the youthful prophet and again restored to man the true knowledge of God.3

Through Joseph Smith’s First Vision, “the true knowledge of God” was restored.

It should be remembered that the entire Christian world in 1820 had lost the true doctrine concerning God. The simple truth which was understood so clearly by the apostles and saints of old had been lost in the mysteries of an apostate world. All the ancient prophets, and the apostles of Jesus Christ had a clear understanding that the Father and the Son were separate personages, as our scriptures so clearly teach. Through apostasy this knowledge was lost. … God had become a mystery, and both Father and Son were considered to be one unknowable effusion of spirit, without body, parts, or passions. The coming of the Father and the Son placed on the earth a divine witness who was able by knowledge to restore to the world the true nature of God.4

The 1838 account of the [first] vision of Joseph Smith made it clear that the Father and the Son are separate personages, having bodies as tangible as the body of man. It was further revealed to him that the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, distinct and separate from the personalities of the Father and the Son [seeD&C 130:22]. This all-important truth staggered the world; yet, when we consider the clear expressions of holy writ, it is a most astounding and wonderful fact that man could have gone so far astray. The Savior said, “My Father is greater than I;” [John 14:28] and he invited his disciples, after his resurrection, to handle him and see that it was he, for, said he, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” [Luke 24:39.] The apostles clearly understood the distinct entities of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to which they constantly refer in their epistles; and Paul informed the Corinthians of the fact that when all things are subjected to the Father, “then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” [1 Corinthians 15:28.]

In the 1838 account of the first vision, Joseph Smith beheld the Father and the Son; therefore he could testify with personal knowledge that the scriptures were true wherein we read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” [Genesis 1:27.] This was to be understood literally, and not in some mystical or figurative sense.5

Addendum:  There are several (at least 4) different recorded accounts of the first vision given by Joseph Smith, which contain some contradictory information.  Although the first vision occurred in 1820, the first recitation of the vision was not documented until 12 years later in 1832 [1], and subsequent version were recorded in 1835 [2], 1838 (most common) [3], and 1842[4].  The personages appearing to Joseph in these encounters are different and the significance of this is debated.  In 1832, Joseph reported that two unidentified personages appeared sequential (and not simultaneously) to him, that the second verbally referenced Jesus Christ, and that he thereafter saw many angels during the vision.  In 1835, Joseph recorded that “the Lord” appeared to him without mention of the Father.  The 1838 account is the one most commonly known and taught, and the 1842 account records the appearance of two personages of exact likeness.
Meaning:  From a secular perspective the discrepancies of accounts as well the prolonged time between when the vision occurred and when the vision was reported are problematic and suggest that the vision may have been changed over time and that is certainly less important (and perhaps unknown) in the early church than it currently taught.  From a faithful perspective, the discrepancies may be explained by the difficulty of retelling a story so many years later.  While acknowledging that historical discrepancies exist, the later emphasis of subsequent church leaders on the 1838 rendition highlights attention on the significance the Church wants members to place on God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate personages.

1-The Joseph Smith Papers.  Accessed 7/3/14.

2-The Joseph Smith Papers. Accessed 7/3/14.

3-The Joseph Smith Papers. Accessed 7/3/14.

4-The Joseph Smith Papers. Accessed 7/3/14.