New ‘First Vision’ film from the Mormon Church

The new film is avaialble here.

This new portrayal of the First Vision claims to draw on nine known accounts “to provide additional insight.” It doesn’t include anything from most of them because so many aspects contradict each other. The film is essentially the same as previous portrayals.

Joseph Smith did not record the ‘official version’ of his First Vision, as now used by the Mormon Church, until the year 1838, and it wasn’t even published until 1842, some twenty-two years after his supposed experience.

Smith’s first written claim to a First Vision was in 1832. The record appears within the work A History of the life of Joseph Smith, partly written by his then scribe, Frederick G. Williams and partly (including this version of events) in Smith’s very own handwriting. In it, Smith declares that between the ages of twelve and fifteen he became exceedingly distressed concerning the situation of the world and of his own sins, and concluded that mankind had: “apostatised [sic] from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is an astonishing conclusion for Smith to have written down in his own hand in 1832 as it completely contradicts the later official 1838 version wherein Smith claims that he went to the grove “to know which of the sects was right” and that “at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong.” We now know this was not the case from Smith’s personally handwritten claim of 1832; and yet the film, rather than ‘drawing’ on that first hand account, ignores the 1832 claim and has Smith state “I knew not who was right and who was wrong…”

Smith’s 1832 account goes on to state that he was in his sixteenth year of age [age 15]. In the later official version, he was only fourteen. Within the pillar of light – originally written as ‘fire’, which Smith crossed out – the Lord, assumed to be Jesus Christ, appeared alone and addressed Smith as his son. Naturally, there is no fire in the film.

In 1835, within a week, Smith attempted two further First Vision accounts. In the first one, Smith relates what he told “Joshua the Jewish Minister” (an alias for ‘Matthias the Prophet’ who was actually from another cult). One personage appeared in the pillar of “flame”, then a second personage appeared who forgave Smith’s sins and testified that “Jesus Christ is the son of God”, thus clearly identifying the fact that neither visitor was actually the Saviour as He is only spoken of in the third person. Neither ‘personage’ is specifically identified but Smith confirms he saw “many angels” during the vision – and that is all. A Church essay on the subjest claims “This account also notes the appearance of angels in the vision” leading people to assume that this is in addition to God and Jesus appearing, as members are so familiar with the later backdated story. They neglect to say that it ONLY notes angels, and that no forms of deity are mentioned as appearing at all. Smith states that he was about fourteen years old: “when I received this first communication.” Smith didn’t invent the ‘God and Jesus appearing together’ idea until much later – in 1838.

Smith then continues in his diary to relate to Joshua “another vision of angels” when he was seventeen, thus indicating that the First Vision was deemed by Smith, in 1835, to be one of angels rather than one of deity. One would expect to see this record included in Mormon Church history alongside others appearing in History of the Church, Vol. 2 but it is conspicuous by its absence. The Church has simply ignored the account (along with Smith’s visitor) and it has been left out of Joseph Smith–History altogether.

Erastus Holmes visited Joseph Smith the following Saturday afternoon, on 14 November 1835, enquiring about the Church and asking to be instructed. Smith recorded what he said to Holmes, in his diary. Relating the experience of his First Vision, Smith states that he was about fourteen years old when “I received the first visitation of Angels”, unambiguously confirming his intended meaning when he had spoken to Joshua just a few days earlier. Smith also writes that he told Holmes about later visitations concerning the Book of Mormon.

Clearly, in late 1835, Smith was still sticking with the idea, in two separate accounts in his own diary, that it was an angel (or angels) rather than deity that first visited him in 1820 at age fourteen.

The exact wording of this version of the First Vision from Smith’s diary was later faithfully published, word for word, in the Church newspaper. (Deseret News, Vol. 2. No. 15, Saturday, 29 May 1852). This published First Vision account by Joseph Smith specifically included the words: “I received the first visitation of Angels.”

However, when the account was later entered into History of the Church (V2:312), Joseph Smith’s own wording was deliberately altered. Rather than tell the truth about what Joseph Smith claimed at the time he wrote of the experience, the account was falsified by others. It was changed from “first visitation of angels” to read “first vision” instead, in order to make it consistent with the later, more dynamic idea the First Vision ultimately became, which was not to be one of angels as Smith had earlier claimed, but one of actual deity. Many angels appear in these accounts and yet there are none in the film – even as ‘extras’. So, there’s the rub; ‘it draws on nine accounts’ – and yet it only includes what is convenient and omits details that Smith himself recorded.

This method of falsifying truth went on to become a regular habit within the Mormon Church. They actually have a name for it. They call it ‘lying for the Lord’ and it still continues to this day. It is more than evident in this ‘faith promoting’ film in which Smith has a pious humble voice and God and Jesus speak with American English accents. It’s funny that throughout the D&C, Smith has God and Jesus use no end of very badly phrased 17th Century Early Modern English and yet here God and Jesus use modern day language.

Research reveals underlying claims surrounding the vision were also untrue and even BYU confirms  that Smith lied about being persecuted for saying he had seen God and Jesus in the early years. (Scroll down the page that opens – past ‘Open Document’ to read “Joseph Smith discussed this transcendent vision only privately with a few trusted friends during the Church’s first decade.”) Thus, Smith lied several times in PoGP: JS History v.20-28, claimig persecution between 1820-1823 for saying he had seen the vision.

The Smiths didn’t even live in Manchester in 1820 – and there was no revival that year. Full and real documenteed evidence surrounding the First Vision claim is available here:

A video explanation of events is also avalable in the second half of my Exmormon Foundation Presention from 2010 here:

 

 

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The Bible Delusion. Pp.266-267.

Let’s talk about donkeys – or rather, let one speak for itself…

Numbers 22 tells the story of Balaam chatting with an ass. As with a snake, the vocal system of an ass is not remotely capable of human speech and of course their brains are not capable of processing thoughts in the way humans do. The only advantage the ass has over a snake is that it can hear – which doesn’t actually help.

Balak, king of the Moabites, sent messengers to Balaam, asking him to come and curse Israel as he was afraid there were so many of them that he would be overrun. God “came unto Balaam” (v.8) and asked who the men were (as if God wouldn’t already know). God tells Balaam not to go with them – or to curse the Israelites. God is God – so what would it have mattered if Balaam had cursed Israel; it would have been of no effect whatsoever.

Balaam duly says he won’t go, so Balak sends princes to persuade him, but he still refuses, saying God won’t let him. Balak sends even ‘more honourable’ princes, who promise Balaam promotion to great honour. Balaam dutifully says they could promise him a house full of silver and gold but God still says he can’t go.

The messengers stay overnight; meanwhile God again comes to Balaam and now says he can go with the men after all (what had changed?) and God will tell him what to do. Next morning, off they go to Moab; Balaam on his ass.

Now, God’s anger is ‘kindled’ because Balaam went – yet God had said he could go – Balaam simply can’t win, and God is contradicting himself.

An angel of the Lord stands in the way. The ass sees the angel who has a drawn sword in his hand. Why can’t Balaam see the angel at this point? Isn’t it so human to imagine angels with swords? The ass turns into a field to avoid the angel and Balaam hits the ass to turn it back. Now the angel stands between two walls that they must pass through and the ass turns into a wall crushing Balaam’s foot, so he hits the ass again. Next, the angel stands in a ‘narrow place’ so there is nowhere to go, so the ass just falls to the ground. Balaam hits it with his staff. Notice, as is often the case, that there are three events here.

Now, God opens the mouth of the ass. God could have just spoken himself, like he did during the previous nights. He didn’t even need to send an angel. But God’s ever mysterious ways are being played out for the sake of a good fairy tale.

The ass asks Balaam what he has done to deserve being hit three times. (v.28). Now the ass can count! Balaam replies, because she mocked him and if he had a sword in his hand he would kill her. Balaam does not for a moment wonder why, let alone how, the ass can actually be speaking. He just has a conversation with her in which the ass says “Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?” (v.30). Balaam says “Nay.” Then Balaam’s eyes are opened and he can see the angel (and the sword) and he falls flat on his face. Why God had let the ass see the angel previously, yet not let Balaam see him, is not explained.

It becomes even more comical when the angel asks Balaam why he had been hitting his ass, recounting all the events that had just taken place. Balaam admits he sinned and offers to go back, but the angel says he should go forward with the men. That was just what God had told Balaam to do the previous night only later to get angry about him going. God and his weird ways are making absolutely no sense whatsoever. The angel claims, had the ass not turned away, he would have slain Balaam – and saved the ass. What an utterly ridiculous statement.

It is a pointless story with no purpose and clearly just a fable. Balaam is told to go with the men, but only to say what God tells him. If that was to be the outcome, what need was there for an angel or talking donkey? There was never a reason for them at all.

The story pans out in a bizarre and unbelievable sequence of events which are so far beyond implausible that they leave you completely bemused – they are nonsensical and absolutely impossible, not to mention preposterous ideas. (See The Bible Delusion – Hang on a Minute Moment No.34 for details).