In all aspects of Mormonism you will find facts kept hidden from view, and in their place fallacy is being force-fed to the Mormon people and to those who - with a view to joining, are investigating the Mormon Church.
I have not produced this rather lengthy article to ridicule those who are members of that church. I believe the old adage: There but for the grace of God, go I. The fact is, the vast majority of Mormons are only members of that church because they have believed a lie - something which we have all been guilty of at one time or another.
What I intend to do in this article is reveal the truth behind the fallacy; truth which most Mormon people have never heard, why?
Because their leaders do not encourage them to check what they are told, in fact the church once published a document stating.
"When our leaders speak the thinking has been done. ...When they give direction it should mark the end of controversy" (Improvement Era, June 1945, p.354)How different that is from the Bible. When the people of Berea heard the Apostle Paul preach they did not rely wholly on his word, instead they: ...received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
The Bible does not criticise them for 'checking-up' on Paul, rather, it calls these people noble for doing so.
If you, the reader, are a Mormon please do not take my word regarding the contents of this article, check everything yourself. You will find that I'm telling the truth, but most importantly, you will then know the truth.
The Bible says:
We are only going to look at one of the many fallacies which abound in the Mormon Church. The true facts behind the fallacies are well known to the leaders of that Church but it suits their purpose to keep those facts hidden. If Mormonism is God's true church why does its leaders use lies and deceit? Do you think that pleases God?
The dwelling place of your eternal soul depends upon the decisions you make in this life. The teachings of men lead to hell, even if they seem right.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
The only sure way to heaven is to follow the instructions in our Makers handbook, the Bible, and let the truth set you free. Jesus said:
I have chosen what I consider to be one of the most important subjects which needs to be examined.
The reason I consider Joseph Smith's First Vision Story to be so important is this. All persons joining the Mormon Church are required to believe this story - after all, it is the moment of the conception of Mormonism, and if it is not true then no part of Mormonism can be true.
As we strip away the shroud of fallacy and reveal the true facts keep the following words in mind; not my words, but those of a Mormon Apostle:
"The First Vision of 1820 is of first importance in the history of Joseph Smith. "Upon its reality rest the truth and value of his subsequent work. Professed enemies of Joseph Smith, and his work have found themselves helpless in their efforts to destroy the reality of the First Vision and have said little about it." (Joseph Smith - Seeker After Truth, page 19 by Mormon Apostle, John A. Widstoe. - Emphasis mine)In view of the importance of the First Vision Story I intend giving space to the full story, as printed in Pearl of Great Price, and shall highlight important points in red. The numbers indicate the verse numbers, we begin at verse 2.
Joseph Smith's First Vision Story as printed in the 1967 edition of Pearl of Great Price. Except that I have changed the date of Alvin Smith's death, (v.4.) My 1967 Edition of Pearl of Great Price erroneously dates Alvin's death as November 19 1824,as did all Mormon Histories until the year 1981.
We shall look at the problems associated with this fallacy from two different angles.
The chronology (timing); and the history of events.
Another problem. We read in verse 3 of the story that the Smith family moved from the town of Palmyra to the town of Manchester about 2 years before the revival.
Verse 4 lists the family members involved in that move, notice the last on the list - Lucy (this is Joseph's youngest sister, not his mother who was also called Lucy).
So, young Lucy moved from the town of Palmyra to their new home in Manchester with the rest of the family. This is interesting since Lucy was born in the town of Palmyra. on July 18, 1822.
But if the Smith family were still living in Palmyra in July 1822 (which they were), and the revival began about 2 years after they moved to Manchester, how could the revival have been in 1820?
Have another read at this:
"The First Vision of 1820 is of first importance in the history of Joseph Smith. "Upon its reality rest the truth and value of his subsequent work. Professed enemies of Joseph Smith, and his work have found themselves helpless in their efforts to destroy the reality of the First Vision and have said little about it. (Joseph Smith - Seeker After Truth, page 19 by Mormon Apostle, John A. Widstoe - Emphasis mine
That was easy to understand, simply by adding event to event as told by Joseph Smith himself we see there are major problems with the First Vision Story.
Because of these very obvious problems Mormon writers have done everything they can to place the Smith's move to Manchster in the year 1818 so that the addition of the two years "after our removal to Manchester" would bring the story back on track, at least in part. As we shall see, these Mormon writers are fighting a lost cause.
The next part is not so simple to follow because events overlap and run into each other, but I shall try to keep it as clear as possible.
As we journey through this life we we cannot avoid leaving a trail of documents which, in time, become an historical record of our life - long after we are gone.
It starts with our Birth Certificate, then medical records; school records; employment records; Driving Licence; we may join our local library; any purchase we make which is officially recorded - a house for example - and let us not forget the dreaded Tax Records.
This is only a few. Throughout our entire life we accumulate them. Even in death we do not entirely avoid them for there is our Death Certificate and any Will we may have made. The Smith family were no exception.
In 1970 Brigham Young University (a Mormon University), microfilmed the road tax lists of the Palmyra township for the Smith's era. All male property owners over the age of 21 were required to pay a tax in order to maintain the roads in their area.
Joseph Smith Sr. is listed among the property owners who were required to keep the roads in 'Road District 26' (Palmyra District) repaired from April 1817 to April 1822.
Therefore any move to Manchester had to be after April 1822.
In her book, Joseph's mother, Lucy, says that they (her family) were contracted to purchase 100 acres of land. The book is called: Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and his progenitors for many Generations.
I shall be shortening this title to 'Sketches' if I refer to the book again. The information concerning the purchase of land is given on page 70. The same information is contained in Comprehensive History of the Church, Volume 1, page 31. This title will be abbreviated hereafter to CHC.
The Property Assessment Records show that all 300 acres of Lot number 1 were still owned by the Everson family in July 1820, for they paid the tax due on all 300 acres.
However, in the Summer of 1821 the records show 100 acres of Lot number one taxed to Joseph Smith Sr. at a tax of $7 per acre ($700), (this was the basic tax rate for land).
The following Summer, 1822, Joseph Smith Sr. was again billed at the basic land rate of $700.
But in 1823 the assessed value went up from $7 per acre to $10 per acre ($700 to $1000). Indicating that between the Summers of 1822 and 1823 a cabin was built on the land.
We have seen that the Smith family must have still been living in the town of Palmyra until at least April 1822 because they were paying road taxes for that area at that time, and remember, Lucy was born there just 3 months later. Now we see that between Summer of that same year and the Summer of the following year they built a cabin on their land. It fits beautifully, the historical record is obviously correct.
I have split up the history in order to keep it in easily digestible chunks. We have feasted upon tax records and land records and I hope and pray that Mormon readers will digest that information and fully realise what it means.
But that is not end, there is more food for thought.
Joseph Smith's brother, William, wrote a book entitled: William Smith on Mormonism. In his book he says the revival was led by a Reverend Lane, (Methodist). See also CHC. Vol. 1 pp. 51-53.
William dates the revival in 1822 and 1823, but he has his dates wrong! We shall see why shortly. William also says that the Reverend Stockton (Presbyterian) was the other minister involved in the revival, and he correctly identifies Rev. Stockton as the minister who previously preached at Alvin's funeral. The reader will remember that Alvin died on November 19, 1823.
The Reverend Stockton preached Alvin's funeral service during a visit to Palmyra. During the funeral service he indicated that Alvin had gone to hell, an insensitive thing to imply at a funeral. Because of this Joseph Smith Sr. would not join the Presbyterian Church. A quotation from William's book was printed in the Mormon owned Newspaper, Deseret News, it read:
"Hyrum, Samuel, Katharine and Mother were members of the Presbyterian Church. My father would not join. He did not like it because a Rev. Stockton had preached my brothers funeral sermon and intimated very strongly that he had gone to hell, for Alvin was not a church member, but he was a good boy and my father did not like it." Deseret News Jan. 20 1894
Both William Smith and the CHC. are correct when they say that the Reverend Lane and the Reverend Stockton were involved in the revival.
But that causes yet another problem for the Mormon position.
The Rev. Stockton was the first of the two ministers to take up his post in that region, he took over on February 18, 1824. His visit to the area a few months earlier, during which he buried Alvin Smith, might have taken place to get things organized prior to his arrival.
The Rev. George Lane arrived in July 1824 but due to ill health he
left the ministry in January 1825.
Therefore any revival in which
both these men took part must have been in the second half of the
In his First Vision Story Joseph Smith tells us that his mother, and
other family members, joined the Presbyterian Church during the revival.
His mother, Lucy, in her book Sketches, informs us that she joined
the Presbyterian Church following the death of her son Alvin.
We have already mentioned a number of times that Alvin died on November 19, 1823.
To state the obvious: if Lucy joined during the revival and following the death of Alvin, then the revival could not have been in 1820 - it had to be later than November 1823, the date of Alvin's death.
I am here referring, not to the Mormon Church, but to the records
of the churches involved in the revival.
According to Joseph's Story, in the year 1820 "great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties." Therefore if we look at the membership records of those churches we should see a large number of people joining in that year.
Wrong! In the year 1820 nothing unusual is recorded, the Methodist Church LOST six members and the Baptists gained six, hardly what you would call a revival, is it?
What about the year 1824? What do the records show? In 1824 the Lord did indeed save many souls in that area. The Baptists gained 94 people; The Presbyterians 99 and the Methodists 208.
The Presbyterian records also show that Lucy Smith and her two sons
Hyrum and Samuel were active in that church until 1828. It was about
September of that year that they started to fall away, and at the
end of March 1830 they were suspended as members.
(Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra, Sessions Records Vol. 2)
If, immediately after a vision (be it 1820 or 1824), Joseph Smith told his mother "I have learned for myself that presbyterianism is not true" as he claimed in verse 20 of his First Vision Story, why would she then join that very church and remain an active member until 1828? It makes no sense.
It is important to remember that the First Vision Story was not published
until the year 1842; twenty-two years after the supposed vision.
Also, the official version, as given in this article, is not the only version but merely the final version. In all there are about 13 different versions of the story. Two of the older versions are of particular importance, the first is recorded in Joseph Smith's 1832 diary, written in his own handwriting.
The second was recorded in Joseph Smith's
1835 diary under the date Monday November 9.
Each of these versions differ substantially from the published version and from each other.
Joseph's 1832 Version. (spelling retained)Between 1832 and 1835 Joseph has added the silent grove and hinted at the evil power, but still there was nothing said about a revival. The pillar of light had now become fire. One person, followed by another, appeared in this fiery pillar. This second person tells Joseph that:
In 1832 Joseph makes no mention of a revival; he claims that at age 12 his mind "became seriously imprest" about "the wellfare of my immortal Soul" which led him to search the scriptures.
From age 12 to fifteen he says: "I pondered many things in my heart".
The result of Joseph's pondering and reading of the scriptures was that all mankind had apostatised from the "true and liveing faith".
Joseph cries out to the Lord for mercy, no mention is made of going to a clearing in the woods, nor is he overpowered by any evil force. He says he was in the "16 year of my age" at the time (this information is inserted into the line of text). The piller if light is first called a piller of fire but the word 'fire' is scored out and the word 'light' inserted. In this piller of light Joseph says: "I saw the Lord". (Notice! One Person).
Joseph's 1835 Version. (Nov. 9th . Spelling retained)
Joseph said that between "the hours of ten &11" (am) a Jewish minister called Joshua who was tall and slender; had blue eyes and was of a fair complection called at his home. They got talking about religion, then Joseph says.
"I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, as follows - being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and I considered it of the first importance that I should be right... being thus purplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove... I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to pray, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me... I sprung to my feet but saw no person or thing... I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a piller of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeared like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and I saw many angels in this vision I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication:
This story was then published
But even this 'refined' version was not refined enough for the leaders
of the Church who were to follow when Joseph was killed.
The reader will remember that in verse 18 of the story I pointed out a hyphen in the middle of the verse. What is it doing there? The answer is this, it is replacing a sentence which once appeared at that place in parenthesis (brackets to most of us, as I am using now).
When the 1838 official version of the First Vision was first published in 1842 it appeared in the Mormon Newspaper 'Times and Seasons' and in the place where that hyphen now appears it then read:
"The First Vision of 1820 is of first importance in the history of Joseph Smith. "Upon its reality rest the truth and value of his subsequent work. Professed enemies of Joseph Smith, and his work have found themselves helpless in their efforts to destroy the reality of the First Vision and have said little about it. (Joseph Smith - Seeker After Truth, page 19 by Mormon Apostle, John A. Widstoe. - Emphasis mine)
Joseph Fielding Smith became the tenth prophet of the church. In his three volume Doctrines of Salvation he says:
Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith ...If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions which would be easy to detect. (Doctrines of Salvation Vol.,1 page 188)
The ninth prophet of the church was David O McKay. Speaking of the
First Vision Story he called it:
This is only three of the many statements made by Mormon leaders about the First Vision Story. Without exception, they all claim that this vision was one of the most important events in world history.
As you can see from each of the quotations above, if this story is not true, then Mormonism is not true. The first two imply that the church is founded upon this story, the third quotation, that by David O McKay, does not imply, but openly states that Joseph Smith's First Vision Story is:
The apostle Paul, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded for our benefit.
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:11
Now, if you are a Mormon, let me ask you. Which foundation would
you feel is the safest upon which to risk your soul? A story told
by a person who was well known for his tall stories - and as we have
seen, that is exactly what the First Vision Story is. Or would you
rather be firmly grounded on the Truth - The Lord Jesus Christ?
Understand this! You cannot believe in both, because they are opposites.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' Blood and Righteousness;
no merit of my own I claim but wholly trust in Jesus' name,
On Christ, the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.
E. Mote 1797-1874