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  1. Those all look good to me. I would simply as that as you put this together you include links to primary sources for each item. Not just a quote but the actual document with the quote. Other wise it will be like the BOM and not have any original source material and be suspect like the BOM.

    Thanks for your work.

  2. I believe what was called the Second Great Awakening began around 1790 in New England and was going pretty strong for quite a while.

  3. These facts would be well represented with thorough footnotes and sources. Links to all the known versions of the first vision would be helpful too, as well as which was canonized.

    One other problem i have is the JSH version doesn’t mention that he should start his own or the one true church. I have often replied that Joseph was told no church is true, and I’ve had my own “sacred grove” event and was also told that they are all wrong, and many have a form of godliness but deny the true power thereof.

  4. Comparing the 1832 Journal account to the Pearl of Great Price account, a stark difference that I see is that in the 1832 version, Joseph is able to discover the truth of all the denominations being false all by himself through his own knowledge of the various religions and vigorous study of the Bible. Knowing that he has nowhere else to go for legitimate repentance, he goes to God to ask for forgiveness. (Sounds an awful lot like salvation through faith/grace)

    The PoGP version, he is completely in the dark and has no idea what to do in search for the correct denomination. He doesn’t know enough about religion and everyone interprets the Bible in so many different ways, it’s not a reliable way to unravel the mystery, forcing him to ask God for help.

    How well did Joseph understand society and religion?

    1832:
    “…my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns of 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 differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that ​they did not adorn​ their profession by a holy walk…”

    PoGP:
    “…but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

    Answers found in the Bible or nah?

    1832:
    “…and by searching the scriptures I found that ​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…

    PoGP:
    …for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

    Reading the 1832 Journal actually highlights a lot of discrepancies with the PoGP history beyond the First Vision – the Moroni visitation in his room (Moroni is only referred to as an angel, who describes the plates as “engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days”. Sounds like the angel in the room is NOT “Maroni”) as well as the Harris/Anthon meeting (Anthon, “the learned”, is unable to read what Harris brings him, and Joseph, being “not learned”, is able to use the “spectacles” to read, fulfilling the prophecy.) I recommend reading the PoGP history, then reading through the 1832 Journal back to back… there are a LOT of differences.

    Side note – With point #22, there are pages still missing from the 1832 journal. The First Vision was cut out then taped back in when word got leaked, but there are still pages that were cut out that weren’t replaced. People say “If he thought the 1832 account was so problematic, why didn’t he just burn it?”. That’s a great question that leads to a possible explanation for the remaining cut out pages being missing – Either the other pages were worse than the First Vision account and he disposed of them immediately, or after being forced to return the First Vision he learned his lesson and disposed of the other pages rather than risking it. That’s speculation, of course, but the fact remains that there are still pages cut out that haven’t been replaced. From the JSP Project Source Notes: “One or more texts were inscribed in this side (the back) of the book, as is evident from inscriptions visible on the remaining stubs of the eight now-excised leaves…Also, the initial three leaves containing the history were excised from the volume. The eight inscribed leaves in the back of the volume may have been cut out at the same time.”

    https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/1

    1. I’d leave the age when it happened out. I feel like that’s an easy one for someone to get wrong, when remembering the event years later. It Could be that discussion with his mother or brothers convinced him after 1832 that his initial dates were wrong. It’s such a minor point, and easy enough to explain away, and it allows people to dismiss the whole list as nitpicking or having unrealistic expectations of consistency. If you take it out, readers are forced to deal with the more serious problems you outlined.

      1. I read the accounts to be between 14 and 15. You are actually 0 in your first year so you would be 15 in your 16th year. I agree approximately 14 to 15 isn’t a significant issue I would list. There are big events in my life I can’t remember if I was 10 or 12

        1. You could say JS was roughly the age of Helen Mar Kimball when JS married her…. a few months shy of 15. That should clear it right up!

  5. Hi, great work as usual!

    From #10 you have: “God and Jesus were/are the same person (aka “Trinitarian view”).”

    Actually this is not really the Trinitarian view. The Trinity is understood better as three Persons in one Nature.

    “Nature answers the question what we are; person answers the question who we are.”

    This quote is from the absolute best book I have ever read on the Trinity,. It’s called ‘Theology and Sanity’ by Frank Sheed. It helped make sense of the Mystery in a way I’d never heard before or since. Here’s a little bit more from the book – – definitely worth looking at:

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2011/fsheed_trinityts_may2011.asp

  6. Excellent list, thank you for doing this! You may have already caught this, but there is a slight typo in #16:

    It reads, “ that I right know which to join.”

    Should be, “ that I might know which to join.”

  7. I remember reading in the Messenger & Advocate about his first encounter with Moroni in September of 1823 that brought doubt to the 1st vision story for me: the 2 things that I remember from that Account was that it was identified as his 1st visitation of heavenly beings and that it occurred after he was praying to know if supreme beings actually exist (seems like and odd question if he had already be visited by God and/or Jesus.

  8. I think this list is incomplete without some discussion of Joseph Smith’s involvement with the Methodists in the 1820’s. This is a theme covered quite extensively in Grant Palmer’s An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins. If God had appeared to him declaring that all churches were corrupt, why was he so involved as an exhorter with the Methodists? Why did he try to join their ranks, only to be denied because of his reputation as a treasure digger?

    This could be appended to some of the existing points, such as those discussing the fact that the revival activity in the Palmyra area took place after 1820, or the discussion of Smith’s behavior after the vision was said to have occurred.

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  9. I was looking at the Joseph Smith papers, Journal 1835-1836, and reading pages after the 2nd account of the first vision. At the top of page 37, Joseph is giving a brief account of his history to a visitor and says “…juvenile years, say from 6, years old up to the time I received the first visitation of Angels which was when I was about 14, years old…”. It’s Angels in this story. He is consistent in saying is saw something. He was defiantly a true believer from what I read from his journal.

    I not taking sides on argument if Joseph saw Jesus, God, both, angels, or all of them, or nothing. Because, I just don’t know. Can’t see how anyone can say that they “Know”.
    They can say they believe, I guess.

  10. 1) In D&C 1:20, Joseph states following his vision, “When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven.” If Joseph was not awake, during the vision, to see with his natural eyes, how could he know God and Jesus had physical bodies of flesh and bones, or even existed at all, in any form, spiritual or otherwise?
    2) If God and Jesus really appeared to Joseph, surely he would have described to someone, their appearance and distinct features.

  11. I have found several problems with the 25 problems with the first vision. Starting with #1 I very much doubt they were identical to Joseph Smith’s vision. Many people have had NDEs, but they are very different. #2 Treasure digging was not an illegal practice People are still doing it today on beaches and parks with metal detectors. While it is true that Emma’s parents did not approve of her marrying Joseph Smith, that has nothing to do with his first vision. #3 How many exact dates do you remember from when you were 14? I didn’t even keep a diary when I was 14. #4 Lack of evidence proves nothing. Where is Noah’s arc? #5 Where did Joseph Smith live during the revivals? In one of the books written about him there was research done about the revivals in Palmyra although Joseph Smith lived in Manchester at the time. #6 Most people do not recite stories word for word. #7 – 20 I can not confirm or deny these claims as I have not read the various first vision stories. #21 Joseph Smith did translate ancient records although he didn’t translate the Kinderhook plates which were fake. There is NO proof of any extramarital affairs. He was sealed to other women none of whom had children by him. I believe that Emma knew about this although she did not acknowledge it. #22-25 As I said I have not read all of the accounts of the first vision, but I am offering this link https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Joseph_Smith%27s_First_Vision/Accounts#Question:_What_are_the_criticisms_related_to_Joseph_Smith.27s_accounts_of_the_First_Vision.3F

    1. You are right Gaylen,

      That is why missionaries should teach investigators to the Church all four accounts of the First Vision in the interest of honesty and fairness. They should also teach about Joseph’s plural marriages and his practice of polyandry. And while they’re at it they can share that a month before Joseph Smith’s death he told the dissenters at Nauvoo
      “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” And why stop there? They can teach how Joseph Smith, in the same speech said, “In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.”

      That would be an honest way to teach, don’t you think? Just give people these facts and let them decide for themselves. Just do what is right and let the consequence follow. Don’t you agree?

  12. My own gr-gr-great-grandfather had his own religious vision, which I have in his own handwriting in the original. He was in Massachusetts. This is it, written in 1866: In the winter of 1815 there was a very great religious excitement in the town of Lexington. My anxieties for the welfare of my immortal soul became very intense. I saw myself a lost and a ruined sinner. My convictions were so severe that I could not rest and I strove in vain to find relief in every way but the right one, and being driven to despair and finding myself sinking I cried out, Lord, save, I perish. And from that time onward my fears of suffering were gone, and I was greatly perplexed on that account, fearing that my conviction was not genuine, until I saw Christ on the cross and seemed to hear a voice proclaiming that Christ was thus crucified to atone for my transgression. Upon relating my experience to the church I was welcomed into their fellowship, was baptised…and became a member of the Baptist Church of Christ. And notwithstanding all of my wanderings, which are too numerous to attempt to enumerate here, I still hope in the mercy of God that…my sins which were many are all forgiven… And here I wish to state that I have no confidence in my own righteousness or in anything short of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Saved by grace through faith and that not of myself it is the gift of God. And here it becomes my duty and I esteem it my privilege to acknowledge to you my dear children, and to all that hear me, that I am sensible that I have failed and come short of doing my duty to those which have been committed to my charge. I cannot make amends. I commend you to God hoping and praying that God…will blot out all of our transgressions.

  13. I personally dont care so much for all the variations of the first vision. There are several for sure. My problem with the Mormon church is its claims to infallibility. That comes out all over the place. There is little humility of where they have been history or doctrinally. They are setting themselves up for a big huge problem with LGBT issues. They have flip flopped so many times and put money into things that have been proven incorrect such as the Spritzer study on change. When will they quite being so blind to realities Then all the damage they do to people in citing such untruths.

  14. Prophets, apostles who claim to be special witnesses of Christ and to know Him, but don’t act like Him… When did Boyd K, Bruce R, Russel M or Dallin ever act like Christ? Where is the love and humility that Christ taught? All of them are haughty, proud and full of themselves! Pharisees and the Sadducees, white washed tombs, wolves in sheep’s clothing!

  15. It seems to me that there was a talk given probably in the most recent general conference, by one of the apostles, or perhaps even the first presidency, in which the existence of several accounts of the “first vision” was acknowledged. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to find that talk, because I would be interested in your take on it. One idea that comes to mind is that if several tellings of the same story are identical, that would be more suspicious than varying accounts given at different times to different audiences. They would be expected to emphasize different things. The question is can you piece together a more complete idea of nearly everything that happened by studying the different accounts or is there so much contradiction that none, some, or all of them can or cannot be believed?

    We may never know for sure. Maybe the question for each of us is what do we do with all this in the here and now? Join the church, stay in the church, or run the other way? Any or all of these are probably valid reactions from various people.

    Thanks for putting all of this together, John. And if you happen to find that talk that I’m trying to remember (or if anyone else does), let me know. I for one would like to read it again after reading all this.

    — EDIL13 (Elohim’s Daughter in Law)

  16. Joseph Smith’s very deliberate and highly self-conscious theology and Christology until 1838 shows no evidence of the anti-credal and anti-Trinitarian “first vision.” Quite the contrary, even at the precise moments when Joseph Smith is thinking very deeply and expounding on Jesus and God and their relationship to each other. On multiple occasions when it would have been the most relevant, and would had solved Smith’s struggle and confusion, he never remembers that vision.

    There is no hint in early Joseph Smith teachings that the Christian creeds are an abomination.

    1. The theology and Christology in Book of Mormon may be confusing or inconsistent or imprecise, but it at least includes the Trinity, plus the repeated identification of Jesus or the Son with God or the Eternal Father. And where the Son is God the Father incarnate in the flesh. Not even Jesus and God in the Book of Mormon know they’re supposed to be two totally separate and distinct bodily beings and literal father and son.

    — Highly substantive edits to four key verses for the 1837 edition of Book of Mormon didn’t eliminate or change any of the other orthodox or Trinitarian verses.

    — It is not proper to retroactively interpret the BoM or any other early Joseph Smith teachings through the lens of a claimed vision that didn’t exist at the time, nor through later Joseph Smith teachings, nor through the 1916 doctrinal statement on the Godhead and the Father and the Son.

    2. D&C 20 includes Smith’s own personal highly orthodox and Trinitarian Christian creed.

    3. A highly self-conscious Smith made a very deliberate and premeditated change in KJV Luke 10:22 for his JST Luke 10:23 to create the most highly orthodox verse in the entire Bible where “ the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son.”

    4. The earliest versions that Smith of the vision are entirely compatible with the Trinity and the Christian creeds.

    5. The theology and Christology in the ‘Lectures on Faith” is a confused and struggling garbage can that includes God as omnipresent, the Father as a personage of Spirit, and where Jesus is known as the Son only because of the flesh.

    6. Joseph Smith didn’t get the idea of God with a physical body until after he acquired the Chandler papyri showing God with a great big erect penis on the hypocephalus of Facsimile 2.

    Simply the fact of multiple versions of the first vision is a minor issue compared to the orthodox and Trinitarian theology and Christology that Smith taught for years instead of the plain and precious and unforgettable doctrine contained within that first vision.

  17. What about the celebrations that should have occurred! This event if true is one of the most important events to occur in the HISTORY of the world. Just think about the talks and articles that should have been written and said. There was nothing. Not in 1821, not in 1822, not in 1823, 1824,1825,1826,1827,1828,1829 and NOT even on the day the church was organized.

  18. The one thing that has always concerned me about the claims of him seeing two personages , the bible claims that nobody has ever seen God. In Exodus 33:20
    But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” How is it that Joseph Smith was able to see God and his son and live. This alone
    is problematic.

  19. #1 – Not really a “problem,” but representative of the cultural milieu.
    #2 – Nothing to do with the “First Vision.”
    #3 – Not necessarily. Argument from silence.
    #4 – Not true – “But by 1831 a Palmyra newspaper was reporting that Smith claimed he “had seen God frequently and personally.” (Quinn, D. Michael. The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, citing the Palmyra Reflector)
    #7 – Not necessarily. The problem is not the date, but the content of the vision. Again, argument from silence.
    #11 – “Incidentally, Joseph also updated the text of the Book of Mormon to reflect his changing beliefs in the Godhead – which should not have been necessary if the Book of Mormon was translated from an ancient record.” The problem here is not the authenticity or source of the BOM, but the changes to 1 Nephi 11 and 13, which were unnecessary.
    #19 – “The 1838 First Vision account is NOT a first hand account of the story, though it is presented to members as such.” If it’s not a first hand account, why do you use it to illustrate all the “problems” of the First Vision? If earlier, first hand accounts are more accurate, then you should stick with those.
    #21 – There’s no “translation” of the Kinderhook plates that I’m aware of it. The original journal entry reads, ““I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adams County…” In 1909, when this “journal entry” was included with the History of the Church, it was changed to read, “I have translated a portion of them.” Source: https://rsc.byu.edu/no-weapon-shall-prosper/did-joseph-smith-translate-kinderhook-plates
    The polygamy issue is far from resolved. We have Brigham Young taking credit for it on at least three different occasions. None of the “extra marital affairs” produced any children. We know Sylvia Sessions lied about Josephine Lyon’s paternity. There are far too many issues with the pro-polygamy narrative to get into here.
    #22 – Not a problem with the First Vision, but the church’s response to the contradictory accounts.
    #23 – Ditto.
    #24 – Ditto
    #25 – Ditto

    If you wish to enumerate the problems with the “First Vision,” stick to the “First Vision.” You’re injecting a lot of superfluous information, opinion and conjecture in to it.

  20. I would find a comparison on the attached list to the narrative the church teaches quite useful. So many of the problems are blatantly different than the church narrative, on top of just something that isn’t taught. A simple highlight, eg:
    4) There is no evidence that Joseph told anyone the First Vision story, including his own family, until over a decade after it supposedly happened. [[He claims at one point to have told several ministers of his day, but there is no evidence of that either. Joseph did experience persecution between 1820 and 1830, but it was not because he claimed to see God and Jesus. Rather, it was because of his fraudulent and illegal treasure digging.]] – [[current church teaching/doctrine]]

    I second citing sources.

    Thank you for putting this together!

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