A First Vision

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Various authors — most of them professors at church-owned Brigham Young University — tackle tough topics, including the Mormon view of God; the differing accounts of founder Joseph Smith’s "First Vision"; Smith’s money-digging activities and plural marriage to teenage girls; the lengthy quoting of biblical passages in the Book of Mormon; and new questions surrounding the faith’s signature scripture from DNA analysis.
~ LDS general authority
   Marlin Jensen

SL TribuneJan 30 2012


 "Dad, why didn't you ever tell me that Joseph Smith was a polygamist"
~ the daughter of LDS
  general authority Marlin Jensen



"I definitely get the sense that this is a real crisis.  It is an epidemic."

~ Mormon scholar
  and writer Terryl Givens

SL TribuneJan 30 2012


... "I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But  if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man-His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to be his! All was condescension, peace, and love."

There were many visions about the time that Joseph smith had his famous one.   Above is one of them.  It is the 1815 vision of Norris Stearns.

" I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the <State> of Vermont, North America on the twenty third day of December AD 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in <the> christian religion.

At the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior [Senior] moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances [we] were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine children and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading and writing and the ground  <rules> of Arithmatic which const[it]uted my whole literary acquirements.

At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the scriptures believeing as I was   taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that <they did not adorn> instead of adorning their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul.

Thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the of the minds of mankind My mind become excedingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mand <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own sins and for the sins of the world.

For I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever [and] that he was no respecter to [of] persons for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intillgence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created him <them>.

And when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said the <it is a> fool <that> saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when I considered all these things and that <that> being seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age*> a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord.

And he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the gospel and keep, not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father.

And my soul was filled with love and or many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me but [1] could find none that would believe the hevnly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart..."

* in the 16th year of my age -- if this means "16 years old", this dates the vision to 1822;  if it means "15 years old" it would have been 1821.

1    The preceding  is a transcript of Joseph Smith's  earliest known account, which has been dated to 1832, and is the only version of a vision written in Joseph Smith's own hand.  <angled brackets signify above-the-line insertions made in the original manuscript>;   [square brackets are editorial comments or additions].

2   A second account of the vision was made in 1835 to Robert Matthews (Robert Matthias).  Joseph says he was "about 14 years old at the time of the vision. [ This  would have been 1820 ].  In this account of his vision Smith said he saw two personages, not just one as in the first account.  In addition he said  "I saw many angels in this vision."

3   In a third variant of the vision to Erastus Holmes of Newbury Ohio, Smith told him that that he had received only a "visitation of angels".  (This does not square with his first account of the vision in which angels were not mentioned).

4   Since Smith's earliest account, several other  renditions have been made by him, but they differ in considerable detail.  In the 1832 account Smith saw only one personage in 1821 (or 1822).   One of several accounts  (the last one) dictated six years later in 1838, has Joseph Smith see "two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) floating above me in the air..."

In this version of the vision Smith saw "two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness".  [Click here for an UNKIND and pornographic rendition of the First Vision -- this is NOT recommended!]

This fourth account is the one upon which mormon scholars rely on as the bedrock true faith of Mormonism.  It is the account which, as the official version of the truth, made its entry into the Mormon canon in the pearl of Great price.  Mormon scholars sometimes dread the fact that Smith can't remember how old he was when he had his vision.  Inaccuracy hurts, especially when one is translating unique golden plates, and translating them correctly, indeed.

Mormon scholars often fear that the fact that Smith's accounts of his visions are not recounted correctly, owing to the several variations of visions.  They are afraid that Mormonism may not be taken seriously -- after all, who is to say Smith's vision might not mistakenly be lumped in with visions of false prophets, such as that of Norris Stearns, whose "vision" introduces this article.   Visions seem to have been common in the early seventeenth century in North America, (as they are today, except no one considers them seriously.).

In fact, according to Mormon scholar Lamar Peterson in his book "The Creation of the Book of Mormon", the  American theological landscape was filled with accounts of visions in the early 1800's.

Wondrous thing were being discovered by science.  Planetary science was a hot topic, as was Egyptology. Unknown planets were being discovered with powerful new telescopes; Napoleon's  Rosetta Stone (discovered in 1799) was about to be deciphered by Champollion in France.
(By 1822 Champollion had deciphered the hieroglyphic forms of the names on the Rosetta Stone, and a full translation was soon to follow.  If only Smith had known this, he might have thought again about the idea of translating his Egyptian papiri into the Book of Abraham).

Jean François Champollion



In 1822 -
Jean François Champollion (1790-1832), 
using the
ROSETTA STONE,   made the decisive discovery concerning the decipherment of the hieroglyphs and became the founder of  Egyptology  ...



...At the same time,
 Joseph Smith, using 
 a SEER STONE founded

Joseph Smith




No doubt it was only a coincidence that Mormonism was to discover, in the constellation Cancer, (sector 2813) the place where our gods live --  KOLOB.  And having translated Gods golden plates, it was a cinch for the seer and revelator to translate the Egyptian Hieroglyphics which he had purchased form a peddler.

5   Another version:   Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith - History 1:5-8, 14-19, 22

Sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion.
It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. . . . and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties. . . . Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist. . . . my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect . . . but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible . . . to come to any certain conclusion who was right, and who was wrong. . . . So in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. . . . I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. . . . I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description. . . . One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other 'This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!' . . . I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong. . . . I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors [believers] of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age . . . yet men of
high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects all united to persecute me.

By his Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look At The Joseph Smith Papyri
Critical Thinking: Mormonism
Other Visions: Vibravision
Vision Loss

The Short form

 External Link
Book: The Creation of the Book of Mormon

Seventeen years after being forced into a polygamous marriage, Jessop escaped from the cult-like Fundamentalist LDS church withher eight children. She recounts the horrid events that led her to break free Escaped.

by  Carolyn Jessop

Girls ready to be married.
From "Banking on Heaven" DVD