Thursday, June 24, 2004

Email Exchange With JosephLied.com's Author

----- Original Message -----
From: RBV
To: mike@josephlied.com
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 9:21 AM
Subject: What are your motives?

I have read through your web pages, and aside from understandable minor mistakes in your citations, I am trying to understand your level of scholarship. Maybe it would be better stated to ask your level of personal research into the things you write? Since your opening page outlines a 'bait-and-switch, let the buyer beware' sort of description of purported lies and distortions by the LDS Church, and your personal story mentions you did a lot of research into Church history, I am trying to reconcile what I see as basically two possibilities for your motivations in writing your follow-on WebPages. I have in the past two days done a little research, maybe 4 hours total, on your citations and sources. In particular, I researched your page on the first vision and the page on the angel Moroni vs. Nephi.

Which brings me to my hypothesis about you, which I am looking for you to confirm what is correct. Because of the gross errors in your statements I can only see two or three possibilities:

1. You are an incredibly inept historical researcher. You make statements that John Taylor, Brigham Young, Lucy Mack Smith, George A. Smith and Orson Hyde are unaware of the first vision story. Yet each of them wrote about or quoted directly from the first vision accounts stating it occurred in 1820, and that Joseph Smith was visited by two personages. The only one who is confused was William Smith, who in fact made several documented errors in his relating of historical facts, and the chief error he makes is to combine elements of the first vision with the visit from Moroni. Here is your problem. If all or most of these people correctly relate in detail the events of the first vision as currently and historically taught by the LDS Church, then their comments which you deem contradictory demand being correctly set into the historic setting of where they were delivered. In any case, they clearly are not "unaware" 40 years after the first vision of the accepted LDS version, as you falsely state.

2. (This is really a subset of #1) You have done virtually no in-depth research of your own, and therefore have relied upon anti-Mormon literature for the sources you cite. Your changes to the Book of Mormon is almost a mirror site of CARM and the Tanner's slipshod work. I have sat in on seminars by Royal Skousen, which were free to the public, and just laugh at the gross errors and poor scholarship of your posting. But it may not be your fault. Other than being the electronic version of a rumor monger, you may be genuinely ignorant of the "history" you purport to be clarifying.

3. For your own reasons, which I would like to understand better, you feel justified in lying about and distorting LDS history.

The fourth choice would have been you have correctly relayed the facts around LDS history pertaining to teachings of the first vision and the visit by the angel Moroni. The specific and concrete evidence contradicting your conclusions makes this choice unlikely.

I don't really see how there can be a fourth choice. You present as facts events out of their context and draw false conclusions. Joseph Smith always taught there had been a first vision in 1820, and a visitation from Moroni and other angels in 1823. The early leaders of the Church, and Joseph Smith's mother, also always taught this when they were concerned about being exact. John Taylor wrote a very specific and detailed tract in 1850 outlining this understanding. The fact that you say he and Brigham Young are unaware of the first vision occuring in 1820 is a lie. It may have been an error on your part, but now you have a fact to check and fix the error. If you do not, then I will be forced to conclude that hypothesis 3 is correct.

The irony of your opening page is not lost on me. You are perhaps the real bait-and-switch artist, if you are in fact inclined to hypothesis 3.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
RBV
or Bob the anti-anti as my blog says.


From: Mike [mailto:Mike@JosephLied.com]
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 9:50 AM
To: RBV
Subject: Re: What are your motives?
Bob,
I do not make the claim that the contemporaries of Joseph's Myth were "unaware" of his first vision in 1820. I stand by my claim that they were unaware that it was a vision of God and Christ though. By all means, let's see the quotes that say otherwise. The same goes for the quotes regarding his angel Nephi, later changed to Moroni.

I suppose I am also mistaken about the Kinderhook plates and the "translation" of the Book of Abraham too.

Give me a break Bob. I've been in your shoes. I too was a so called "anti-anti" and I find my job MUCH easier when I don't have to make excuses and try to defend a lie anymore. You should give it a try. It's MUCH easier when the truth is actually on your side.

Mike Norton

P.S. You talk of all these errors and yet don't give ANY specifics. Typical.




From: RBV
Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 9:00 PM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: What are your motives?
Thank you for the response Mike.

“But all this was swept away in one moment by the appearance of the Almighty Himself--by the appearance of God, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, to the boy Joseph, as he kneeled in the forest beseeching God for knowledge concerning Him, and concerning the Gospel of salvation…The Father came accompanied by the Son, thus showing that there were two personages of the Godhead, two presiding personages whom we worship and to whom we look, the one the Father, and the other the Son. Joseph saw that the Father had a form; that He had a head; that He had arms; that He had limbs; that He had feet; that He had a face and a tongue with which to express His thoughts; for He said unto Joseph: "This is my beloved Son"--pointing to the Son--"hear Him."” George Q. Cannon, JD vol.24 page 373, September 2, 1883.

Note this quote is 6 years before your proof-text. Oops.

"There were two personages [who] appeared unto Joseph Smith, Jun.,--God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ." George Q. Cannon, April 7, 1889 Collected Discourses Vol.1

"And finally, when all the preparations were made and everything was ready, or the time had fully come, the Father and the Son appeared to the youth Joseph Smith to introduce the great work of the latter days."- John Taylor, JD, 22:298-299, August 28, 1881.

"He [Joseph Smith] presented himself before the world and informed the people that God had spoken, and that he had spoken to him. He told them that the heavens had been opened and that angels clothed in light and glory had appeared to him and revealed unto him certain things." John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, from JD, 10:127-128, March 1, 1863.

"and two glorious personages presented themselves before him, who exactly resembled each other in features" John Taylor, 1850.

What did John Taylor interpret the Two Personages to be? The Father and the Son.

“When our Heavenly Father appeared unto Joseph Smith, the Prophet, he pointed to the Savior who was with him, (and who, it is said, is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person) and said: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." There was an evidence manifested through his servant to the world, that God lived, that the Redeemer, who was crucified and put to death to atone for the sins of the world, also lived, that there was a message which had to be communicated to the human family, and that the Son was the personage through which it should be communicated.” John Taylor, JD, 25:177-178, May 18, 1884.

"He believed that statement and went to the Lord and asked him, and the Lord revealed himself to him together with his Son Jesus, and pointing to the latter, said: "This is My beloved Son, Hear Him!"" John Taylor, JD, 21:161, December 7, 1879.

The discourses of John Taylor affirming that God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith during the first vision, and that they are the 'two personages' cannot be seriously questioned. They are numerous, and can be found with virtually no effort.

"Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said to the second, Behold my beloved Son, hear him.--I then addressed this second person, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? He replied, "don't join any of them, they are all corrupt."" An early non-Mormon publication of the First Vision based on an interview with Joseph Smith by the editor of the Pittsburg Gazette who visited Nauvoo in 1843. This account was published in the New York Spectator, September 23, 1843.[Odd that non-Mormons understood and published that Joseph Smith was talking with the Lord, after interviewing him, but you contend that his teachings were so shifty the members did not know? Not very tenable.--BV]

"When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him a knowledge pertaining to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the work of the last days, Satan came also with his power and tempted Joseph." George A. Smith, J.D. 11 pg 1-2. Delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, on Tuesday, November 15, 1864.

What of course is most interesting is how in this same discourse by George A. Smith, he quotes the first vision story verbatim:

"...It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other--'This is my beloved son, hear him.'" George A. Smith, J.D. 11 pg 1-2. Delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, on Tuesday, November 15, 1864.

So how does George A. Smith, who served as an apostle and counselor to Brigham Young, interpret the words "two personages"? As God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The same as John Taylor.

"He saw in this light two glorious personages, one of whom spoke to him, pointing to the other, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." This was a glorious vision given to this boy. When these persons interrogated him to know what he desired, he answered and said, "Lord show me which is the true church." " Orson Pratt, JD Vol 14, pg 141, March 19, 1871

"The Lord also informed him that, at some future period of time, if he would be faithful in giving heed to the instructions which were then imparted to him, and in his prayers to the Lord, he would impart to him his own doctrine in plainness and simplicity."Orson Pratt, JD Vol 15 page 183, September 22, 1872.

So we now have George Q. Cannon, Orson Pratt, John Taylor and George A. Smith who all say the personages are God the Father and His Son or Lord.

Joseph’s 1832 account records: “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 crucified for the world, that all those who believe on my name may have eternal life.’”

"He [God] called upon his servant Joseph Smith, jun., when he was but a boy, to lay the foundation of his kingdom for the last time. Why did he call upon Joseph Smith to do it? because he was disposed to do it... Before Joseph Smith made known what the Lord had revealed to him, before his name was even known among many of his neighbours, I knew that Jesus Christ had no true Church upon the earth." Brigham Young, JD 11:253, 254

"...and we testify, to the whole world that we know, by divine revelation, even through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that he revealed himself to Joseph Smith as personally as he did to his Apostles, anciently, after he arose from the tomb, and that he made known unto him those heavenly truths by which alone mankind can be saved." Lorenzo Snow, JD vol. 18, page 299, October 6, 1876. Note this is a General Conference address.

Now we have Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow, John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, Orson Pratt and George A. Smith all saying that the two personages were really God and Christ.

Now, due to the limitations of being at home, I cannot get much depth into the works of William Smith, Orson Hyde or Lucy Mack Smith. There is an excellent discussion of William Smith’s statements at http://www.wasatchnet.net/users/ewatson/wmsmith.htm#6 .

But here is the problem you have. Your assertion is that the use of the word “personages” did not convey a concept of divinity, and that, according to you, it was not established to be God and Christ until much later. But Joseph in his 1832 statement says it was the Lord. All of the people I have been able to research believe the same. You must prove, to carry your argument, that those personages were thought to be angels AND that the persons using the phrase NEVER associate the participants in the first vision with God or Christ. If there is even one example of their understanding being different than your assertion that

personages = angels but not God or Christ

then your argument fails. Further, you must prove that the common and reasonable understanding of the context of the personages was generally understood to not be God and Christ. You have completely failed in that regard.

Let me now compare your statements:

"I stand by my claim that they were unaware that it was a vision of God and Christ though."

"Isn't it odd that over 40 years after Joseph's alleged "first vision", Church leaders like Brigham Young and John Taylor were still unaware of Joseph Smith's claim of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ?"

Both statements are now demonstrated false. Your theory is wrong. Show some honor here and admit it. And change your web site.

Since you cite only 11 sources, all but one I would say are presented out of context, I hope the 15 citations I present are adequate to fulfill your derisive comment about lacking details. By the way, I did it on purpose to see how you would answer. Do you really think I am going to walk into a debate without my facts in hand ahead of time? You don't know me, so maybe you did. But I never do. Further, I will concede that the quote by Brigham Young is weak (I will research a few more), but I think the other 14 quotes are solid. Moreover, your quote from Joseph Smith’s diary is very misleading because, as you must know, Joseph says in his 1835 recital of the first vision experience that he saw many angels in addition to the two personages when he was 14, and the fact he says in the 14 November 1835 entry that he first was visited by angels at that age is correct. By the way, you do know the word angel means messenger, right? So Christ, though divine, is the messenger of the Father, for example. Check out Acts 17:18 where Christ is described as a daimonion / strange deity in his roll between God and men.

I have other aspects to my life than to document falsehoods on anti-Mormon sites. I will get after the Moroni-Nephi discussion another day. But since I have presented unimpeachable and irrefutable proof of the falseness of your statements, I am now going to be watching to see what you do. If you do nothing, then I know that my 3rd hypothesis about your motives was correct.

I actually agree with you. It is much easier when the truth is on one's side. I cannot really offer you a break of any kind, since you have put out material easily refuted. Like I say, I will be interested to see your response. I can vigorously disagree with people and still enjoy them. What I have a tough time with is the hypocrisy of double standards. Since I have now spent a total of about 7 hours researching your material, and have easily located statements contradicting your thesis, I am still waiting to discover where you fall in the spectrum of sincerity.


I await your response.

Best wishes,
RBV

From: Mike [mailto:Mike@JosephLied.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 10:45 AM
To: RBV
Cc: Rob Sivulka
Subject: Re: What are your motives?
Bob, just some very quick comments. I am moving this week and simply don't have time for a long drawn out e-mail. I will make my comments in this larger blue font. First off, I feel the need to emphasize a comment made on my website about the issue of the "First Vision". On my site I wrote,

"Isn't it odd that over 40 years after Joseph's alleged "first vision", Church leaders like Brigham Young and John Taylor were still unaware of Joseph Smith's claim of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ?
"That's because Joseph's "first vision" was a consistently changing story that was virtually unknown to early Latter-day Saints. Over the years Joseph's story changed from an event in the year 1823 to 1821 to 1820."

On that note, let me comment on your comments now.

Thank you for the response Mike.

“But all this was swept away in one moment by the appearance of the Almighty Himself--by the appearance of God, the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, to the boy Joseph, as he kneeled in the forest beseeching God for knowledge concerning Him, and concerning the Gospel of salvation…The Father came accompanied by the Son, thus showing that there were two personages of the Godhead, two presiding personages whom we worship and to whom we look, the one the Father, and the other the Son. Joseph saw that the Father had a form; that He had a head; that He had arms; that He had limbs; that He had feet; that He had a face and a tongue with which to express His thoughts; for He said unto Joseph: "This is my beloved Son"--pointing to the Son--"hear Him."” George Q. Cannon, JD vol.24 page 373, September 2, 1883.

Note this quote is 6 years before your proof-text. Oops.

Oops indeed. Don't fret, this isn't the only example of early Church leaders having a hard time keeping the story straight. However, I find it interesting that you couldn't find a single quote from any of Joseph Smith's close friends or family members until well past 1860 (or as I said on my site, "40 years after Joseph's first vision") that clearly identified the person (or persons) in his first vision as that of God and Christ.


"There were two personages [who] appeared unto Joseph Smith, Jun.,--God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ." George Q. Cannon, April 7, 1889 Collected Discourses Vol.1

Yup. By 1889 pretty much all of "the brethren" had gotten their story straight and were consistently claiming it was God and Christ that Joseph saw in 1820. I find it interesting that in the same year that this quote was given, George Q. Cannon said of the first vision, "But suppose that the statement that Joseph Smith says the angel made to him should be true-that there was no church upon the face of the earth whom God recognized as His, and whose acts He acknowledged-suppose this were true..."




"And finally, when all the preparations were made and everything was ready, or the time had fully come, the Father and the Son appeared to the youth Joseph Smith to introduce the great work of the latter days."- John Taylor, JD, 22:298-299, August 28, 1881.

Yet, just two years before Taylor said, "None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right." Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 167 (1879)



"He [Joseph Smith] presented himself before the world and informed the people that God had spoken, and that he had spoken to him. He told them that the heavens had been opened and that angels clothed in light and glory had appeared to him and revealed unto him certain things." John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, from JD, 10:127-128, March 1, 1863.

Who was it that "...revealed unto him certain things"? Angels, Bob. Angels.



"and two glorious personages presented themselves before him, who exactly resembled each other in features" John Taylor, 1850.

Bob, are you intentionally trying to prove my point? Who on earth refers to God and Jesus Christ as "personages"?

What did John Taylor interpret the Two Personages to be? The Father and the Son.

34 years later!!!!!!

“When our Heavenly Father appeared unto Joseph Smith, the Prophet, he pointed to the Savior who was with him, (and who, it is said, is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person) and said: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." There was an evidence manifested through his servant to the world, that God lived, that the Redeemer, who was crucified and put to death to atone for the sins of the world, also lived, that there was a message which had to be communicated to the human family, and that the Son was the personage through which it should be communicated.” John Taylor, JD, 25:177-178, May 18, 1884.

"He believed that statement and went to the Lord and asked him, and the Lord revealed himself to him together with his Son Jesus, and pointing to the latter, said: "This is My beloved Son, Hear Him!"" John Taylor, JD, 21:161, December 7, 1879.

Almost 60 years after the fact and John Taylor starts to claim it was God and Christ. He will go back and forth on this issue for the next 10 years.

The discourses of John Taylor affirming that God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith during the first vision, and that they are the 'two personages' cannot be seriously questioned. They are numerous, and can be found with virtually no effort.

As can quotes that show he thought it was an angel.

"Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said to the second, Behold my beloved Son, hear him.--I then addressed this second person, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join? He replied, "don't join any of them, they are all corrupt."" An early non-Mormon publication of the First Vision based on an interview with Joseph Smith by the editor of the Pittsburg Gazette who visited Nauvoo in 1843. This account was published in the New York Spectator, September 23, 1843.[Odd that non-Mormons understood and published that Joseph Smith was talking with the Lord, after interviewing him, but you contend that his teachings were so shifty the members did not know? Not very tenable.--BV]

By 1843 Joseph Smith had almost become consistent when telling the story of his first vision. However, he had told everyone for so many years that it was an angel (or angels) that it is nearly impossible to find a single quote from any close friends or family members of Joseph's that identify the heavenly visitors in 1820 (or 1821 or 1823, depends on who you ask and when) as God and Jesus Christ.


"When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him a knowledge pertaining to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the work of the last days, Satan came also with his power and tempted Joseph." George A. Smith, J.D. 11 pg 1-2. Delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, on Tuesday, November 15, 1864.

What?? Were the "two personages" Jesus and Satan?! Where is God in this version? Oh, I see this was in 1864. George A. Smith didn't have his story straight until well into the 1870's as can be seen by the following quote from him in 1869: "[Joseph] was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, one of the first inquiries was 'Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?' " Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 78

Heck, even the year before the quote you share George A. Smith said, "...he [Joseph Smith] went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels , the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared , Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong" Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 334

What of course is most interesting is how in this same discourse by George A. Smith, he quotes the first vision story verbatim:

"...It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other--'This is my beloved son, hear him.'" George A. Smith, J.D. 11 pg 1-2. Delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, on Tuesday, November 15, 1864.

I agree, it is interesting that Joseph Smith referred to the creator of all living things and the Savior of the world as simply "two personages". Oh, wait....that wasn't your point. I'm sorry, what was your point?


So how does George A. Smith, who served as an apostle and counselor to Brigham Young, interpret the words "two personages"? As God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The same as John Taylor.

When? Where?



"He saw in this light two glorious personages, one of whom spoke to him, pointing to the other, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." This was a glorious vision given to this boy. When these persons interrogated him to know what he desired, he answered and said, "Lord show me which is the true church." " Orson Pratt, JD Vol 14, pg 141, March 19, 1871

Sorry, according to the "official version" that is not what Joseph said. Now we have Orson Pratt putting words into Joseph's mouth 51 years after the fact. It won't be the last time that they try to change history retroactively.



"The Lord also informed him that, at some future period of time, if he would be faithful in giving heed to the instructions which were then imparted to him, and in his prayers to the Lord, he would impart to him his own doctrine in plainness and simplicity."Orson Pratt, JD Vol 15 page 183, September 22, 1872.

No, I do believe the official version says that the "personage" said something to this effect. Not "the Lord".



So we now have George Q. Cannon, Orson Pratt, John Taylor and George A. Smith who all say the personages are God the Father and His Son or Lord.

No we don't. And those that did say that did so over 40 years after the fact.

Joseph’s 1832 account records: “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 crucified for the world, that all those who believe on my name may have eternal life.’”

Isn't it odd that he didn't make it more clear to his closest friends and family that it was God and Christ he saw in 1820? Hey, why didn't you mention that in the 1832 account Joseph places his first vision in 1821 (his 15th year) and makes no reference to the religious revival in town that he mentions later and makes the claim that he already knew that none of the churches were true? In the "official version" given in 1838 the entire reason Joseph went to God in prayer was to find out which church was true. But, in 1832 he claims he knew that "...there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ." Joseph also failed to mention the fact that he saw God as well. What?!?!? He saw Christ and God but failed to mention the big guy? I find that hard to believe. But, then again, Joseph was probably lucky to be alive. After all, around the same time that he wrote this account he came up with D&C 84. In verses 21 and 22 he makes it clear that without the Priesthood, "...no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
What?!? When did Joseph get the Priesthood, Bob? Wow! Ol' Joseph is lucky to be alive in 1832. I guess he must have been the exception to the old "No-man-can-see-the-face-of-God-and-live-unless-he-has-the-Priesthood" rule.




"He [God] called upon his servant Joseph Smith, jun., when he was but a boy, to lay the foundation of his kingdom for the last time. Why did he call upon Joseph Smith to do it? because he was disposed to do it... Before Joseph Smith made known what the Lord had revealed to him, before his name was even known among many of his neighbours, I knew that Jesus Christ had no true Church upon the earth." Brigham Young, JD 11:253, 254

"...and we testify, to the whole world that we know, by divine revelation, even through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that he revealed himself to Joseph Smith as personally as he did to his Apostles, anciently, after he arose from the tomb, and that he made known unto him those heavenly truths by which alone mankind can be saved." Lorenzo Snow, JD vol. 18, page 299, October 6, 1876. Note this is a General Conference address.

Now we have Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow, John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, Orson Pratt and George A. Smith all saying that the two personages were really God and Christ.

Bob, are you reading the same things I'm reading? Where in the above quote does Brigham Young say that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ in the Spring of 1820? Where did Lorenzo Snow say that? Was Lorenzo Snow referring to the vision in 1821 that Joseph wrote about in 1832? Now I'm confused. Please send me the quotes that you are talking about because you clearly must be reading one thing and sending me another.


Now, due to the limitations of being at home, I cannot get much depth into the works of William Smith, Orson Hyde or Lucy Mack Smith. There is an excellent discussion of William Smith’s statements at http://www.wasatchnet.net/users/ewatson/wmsmith.htm#6 .

But here is the problem you have. Your assertion is that the use of the word “personages” did not convey a concept of divinity, and that, according to you, it was not established to be God and Christ until much later. But Joseph in his 1832 statement says it was the Lord. He also said that it took place in 1821 and he failed to mention God at all. All of the people I have been able to research believe the same. But not until well after 1860. You must prove, to carry your argument, that those personages were thought to be angels AND that the persons using the phrase NEVER associate the participants in the first vision with God or Christ. I never make the claim that Joseph's contemporaries "never associate the participants in the first vision with God and Christ." You are putting words into my mouth Bob. I simply said that "...over 40 years after Joseph's alleged 'first vision', Church leaders like Brigham Young and John Taylor were still unaware of Joseph Smith's claim of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ?

"That's because Joseph's "first vision" was a consistently changing story that was virtually unknown to early Latter-day Saints. Over the years Joseph's story changed from an event in the year 1823 to 1821 to 1820.

"His motive for seeking God in prayer also changed significantly over the years. From no motive (a spirit appears with news of gold plates), to a desire to know if God exists, to a desire for forgiveness of sins, and finally, to a local religious revival.

"Most importantly, even the heavenly visitor(s) that he saw were constantly changing. Depending on the account Joseph gave, it was either a spirit, an angel, two angels, many angels, Jesus, and finally, the Father and the Son."



If there is even one example of their understanding being different than your assertion that personages = angels but not God or Christ then your argument fails.

You have yet to show me a single quote from any of Joseph's close friends or family members prior to 1860 (40 years after the vision) that show a firm belief that Joseph saw God and Christ in the Spring on 1820. C'mon...if he saw them like we are told, surely there must be a few quotes from his friends and family within 40 years of the event to back it up.

Further, you must prove that the common and reasonable understanding of the context of the personages was generally understood to not be God and Christ. You have completely failed in that regard.

They all repeatedly refer to his 1820 vision as one of "an angel". I think you would be hard pressed to find any rational person who would believe that "an angel" is the same as God and Jesus Christ.


Let me now compare your statements:

"I stand by my claim that they were unaware that it was a vision of God and Christ though."

"Isn't it odd that over 40 years after Joseph's alleged "first vision", Church leaders like Brigham Young and John Taylor were still unaware of Joseph Smith's claim of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ?"

Both statements are now demonstrated false. Your theory is wrong. Show some honor here and admit it. And change your web site.

Nope. Once again, you still haven't shown me a single quote from a single friend or family member of Joseph Smith that believed (or stated) prior to 1860 that Joseph saw God and Christ in 1820. Show some honor here and admit that Joseph's friends and family members clearly were unaware of this claim until well after 1860 when they put their heads together and started to get their story straight. It kind of reminds me of a bunch of teenage school boys who made statements to the police about some petty crime and then later try to put all of their stories together in an attempt to get their story straight. If they could only somehow get rid of their earlier damning statements.......



Since you cite only 11 sources, all but one I would say are presented out of context, Really? So you are now claiming that all but one of my quotes are not referring to Joseph's first vision? Ah, it is so amusing to watch the futile attempts of a Mormon apologist. When in doubt, deny deny, deny. Next you'll tell me that there are no significant changes made to the temple endowment or the D&C. I hope the 15 citations I present are adequate to fulfill your derisive comment about lacking details. All of them post 1860. By the way, I did it on purpose to see how you would answer. Do you really think I am going to walk into a debate without my facts in hand ahead of time? Yes. You see Bob, the "facts" and evidence (not to mention the truth) are on my side. You don't know me, so maybe you did. But I never do. Further, I will concede that the quote by Brigham Young is weak (I will research a few more), but I think the other 14 quotes are solid. Solidly over 40 years after the fact. Moreover, your quote from Joseph Smith’s diary is very misleading because, as you must know, Joseph says in his 1835 recital of the first vision experience that he saw many angels in addition to the two personages when he was 14, and the fact he says in the 14 November 1835 entry that he first was visited by angels at that age is correct. Which November 1835 story? The Nov. 9, 1835 story refers to two personages but in no way identifies them as God and Christ. He does however mention seeing many angels. Joseph gave another account of the first vision on Nov. 14, 1835. When this account was incorporated into the History of the Church, it was changed. It originally read “I received the first visitation of angels, which was when I was about fourteen years old” but was amended to read “I received my first vision when I was about fourteen years old”. Thus, by eliminating one account from the official church history (the one on Nov. 9th) and altering the second, a clear contradiction is removed between Joseph’s earlier claim to see angels in the first vision, and his claim in a later version to see the Father and Son in the first vision.

By the way, you do know the word angel means messenger, right? So Christ, though divine, is the messenger of the Father, for example. Check out Acts 17:18 where Christ is described as a daimonion / strange deity in his roll between God and men.

Oh, so now it appears as though you are saying, "I think you took your quotes out of context but if you are right then that's ok because the dictionary definition of angel is a heavenly messenger and I'm sure we both agree that Christ was certainly a heavenly messenger." How very sad that you need to stretch so far to rationalize your faith in Mormonism. Bob, would you ever in a million years tell people you had "seen an angel" if in fact you had just seen the Savior of the world? I sure as hell wouldn't. We are to believe that Joseph Smith would.

I have other aspects to my life than to document falsehoods on anti-Mormon sites. I will get after the Moroni-Nephi discussion another day. Sure you will Bob, sure you will. Better yet, skip right over to the false translation of the Book of Abraham. Your denial mode will need to be set to full strength for that one. But since I have presented unimpeachable and irrefutable proof of the falseness of your statements, No you haven't. All you've proven is that sometime after 1860 many LDS Church leaders started showing the belief that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ in 1820. Likewise, I have proven that that belief was virtually unheard of until at least 1860. I am now going to be watching to see what you do. If you do nothing, then I know that my 3rd hypothesis about your motives was correct. Your "3rd hypothesis" was that I "...feel justified in lying about and distorting LDS history". You have yet to show where I lied. My original statement still stands: Joseph's "first vision" was a consistently changing story that was virtually unknown to early Latter-day Saints until at least 40 years after the alleged incident took place.

I actually agree with you. It is much easier when the truth is on one's side. I cannot really offer you a break of any kind, since you have put out material easily refuted. You have yet to "refute" any of it. Like I say, I will be interested to see your response. I can vigorously disagree with people and still enjoy them. What I have a tough time with is the hypocrisy of double standards. Since I have now spent a total of about 7 hours researching your material, and have easily located statements contradicting your thesis, I am still waiting to discover where you fall in the spectrum of sincerity. It took you 7 hours to find evidence that "the brethren" started showing a belief in today's version of the "first vision" somewhere after 1860? You could've just asked me, "When did the story start to change?" and I could've saved you 6 hours and 58 minutes. You need to invest your time more wisely, Bob. You have found nothing that "contradicts my thesis". I was well aware of the fact that starting in the 1860's "the brethren" started to polish Joseph Smith's story to make it more consistent. I was also aware of the fact (that you seem to be unaware of) that "the brethren" have also taken great steps to change the history books retroactively in an attempt to make many inconsistencies in early Church history disappear. Joseph Smith himself started that trend with the second drafts of the Book of Mormon and the D&C. You really should compare the 1833 D&C (aka the Book of Commandments) with the 1835 D&C. The massive changes made to the D&C in 1835 prompted Book of Mormon witness David Whitmer to say, "Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations...and then afterwards command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? Is it possible that a man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in any such manner?" (An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887) It should be noted that several Church leaders over the decades have denied that any changes have been made to the Doctrine & Covenants. Apostle John A. Widtsoe, for instance, maintained that the revelations "...have remained unchanged. There has been no tampering with God's Word." (Joseph Smith — Seeker After Truth, p. 119) Joseph Fielding Smith, who became the tenth president of the church, likewise maintained that there "...was no need for eliminating, changing, or adjusting " the revelations." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 170)


I await your response.

Best wishes,
RBV


Sorry for the delay but, like I said, I'm moving and answering e-mails is not a high priority right now. Especially e-mails from those who desire the Mormon Church to be true more than they desire the truth (no offense). Frankly Bob, the only reason that I responded at all was because I was once like you. I firmly believed in the Church and even went so far as to write letters and make phone calls to some of the biggest anti-Mormons around (FYI, I am not a fan of the term "anti-Mormon". I couldn't possibly be more "pro-Mormon". They are "my people". However, I do strongly practice "anti-Mormonism" because I have no doubt that it will cause many sincere and decent people like yourself to follow prophets to damnation. Just curious, who do you think the Savior was talking about when he warned of false prophets? Interesting how the Mormon Church (and many of its 200 splinter churches) is one of the few churches on earth that insists that it has a "Prophet" at its helm. By the way, what good is there in having a "living Prophet" if he almost never offers any new revelations? At the very least one of them could "translate" the Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith identified as "the Book of Joseph". It has been in the Church's hands since the late 1960's. Oh, wait.....I forgot, there's no need for the prophet to translate the Book of Joseph papyri. It's already been done by professional Egyptologists and they all (even the Mormon ones) are certain that the papyri has nothing to do with Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

I look forward to your response (not really, but I am trying to be polite).

Sincerely,

Mike Norton


From: RBV
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 1:50 PM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: What are your motives?

Mike,
Interesting response. Who in the heavens, besides God and Christ, ever appears to anyone in scripture, at any time, and introduces themselves as Father and Son? You miss the logic of the argument and history in general. If you can prove that the two personages could reasonably be construed as any beings other than the Father and the Son, that is your first step. And you fail at that. Second, you must prove that the leaders are confused about the first vision characters and "Church leaders [were] having a hard time keeping the story straight". The more logical and straightforward explanation, proven from their writings, is that they felt no need to issue an exact narrative each time they spoke, like Paul the Apostle, and saw the first vision as an event to be related in summary at times, and in detail at others. Your point lacks logic that they can give a highly detailed description of the first vision before and after talks that you claim show they are confused. What evidence of confusion due you have? Dimentia? Disorientation? Fainting or calling people in the rooms by the wrong names? Hardly. What you have are various venues of stories being related to audiences familiar with the facts of the first vision, since it was widely published, and not feeling a need to meet your standard of consistency.

Further, you blatantly dodge the fact that you said "I stand by my claim that they were unaware that it was a vision of God and Christ though." WRONG. FLAT OUT WRONG and a continued distortion. Which is it. A shifting story, or one they are unaware of . Logically you are inconsistent and contradicting yourself. Either they knew the story, which contradicts your quote above, or they just willy-nilly chose between multiple stories. But your problem is that ultimately they are retelling Joseph Smith's story, and the exemplars intact from that have Joseph speaking with the Father and Son, whom he calls Lord, and mentioning multiple appearances of angels, which makes it possible for all of the stories to be accurate in the venues they were given.

Please address your logical inconsistencies. Which is it? You cannot have it both ways. Pick one. The problem with anti-Mormons in general is they don't feel the need to apply logic or history to their balderdash.

Since the Wentworth letter was widely published throughout the Church, and was more or less incorporated into the Pof GP early on, what do you think was the official position of the Church about the beings who appeared to Joseph Smith? Your quotations are certainly not representative of the general understanding of the leaders you cite, as I demonstrated, your cute comments not withstanding. You must deal with the evidence, and do that consistently, or you have no credibility. The first quote I place from George Q. Cannon devastes your assertion they were unaware of the fact it was a vision of God and Christ. You are wrong. Do you still stand by that, or are we now going to try and figure out the context and reasons why since we now know he did know it was God and Christ, why would he contract the story in a manner which you feel is unmerited? Further, we have the John Taylor, 1850 quote, less than 6 years after Joseph's death, explaining the first vision as being the Father and Son. Will you change your argument again when we pull contemporary journal and published accounts that Joseph testified of seeing the faither and son?

You are like talking to jello. Fortunately, I like jello. If we are to move forward, please actually respond to the information. I proved you were wrong. Admit it. If you want to change the subject and deal with inconsistent descriptions, that is a different point. Can you be a man about it and acknowledge that you have been flatly contradicted by history, but you want to move on? Your repetitious redirecting to the original quotes simply confirms my point: They did know it was god and christ, but in settings they used the term angel interchangeably with the two personages, whom he later id. John Taylor does it on his tract. Did you know that? Did you check? Since you particularly comment on his use of singular and plurals, let's see how he describes it in one place. He later calls the personages God and Christ, and he describes it as a visitation of an angel. Singular. And yet in the tract he describes two personages. So while you may not like the fact he mixes the number and description of the heavenly visitation, in the same letter he is comfortable with the context. Which means your attempt to portray John Taylor at the very least as being confused about the identity of the beings in the visit as wrong. Worse, John Taylor says this was related to him by Joseph Smith, and since it varies in certain unimportant ways in terms of its consistency with other accounts of the first vision, it is unmistakably genuine.

The story was widely published in official documents, something you also ignore. Get real here. Almost everyone in the audiences addressed by the extracts you want to cite knew the official version. And they did not have a problem with it. You must explain, and I honestly am dying to hear your explanation, how the widely published version of the first vision which even Lucy Smith quoted from in her book, how is it everyone had read the account, and you claim it was unknown? Really, explain that. I am all ears. You say virtually no one knew of the first vision account. Published, widespread history and the Churches 19th century critics all contradict you. This will be fun. Shall we go after this concept now? I will, since it refutes another point on your first vision page.

So pick your subject. We have established they DID know the vision was of God and Christ. Do you now want to argue some other point? Your webpage is still wrong, and honesty demands you change it. Or just acknowledge that you are not really interested in the truth, and leave it the way it is. Or leave it the way it is, and your actions will speak for you.

Peace.
Bob


From: RBV
Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 10:52 AM
To: 'Mike'
Subject: RE: What are your motives?

Really quick, you asked what was apparently to you an insightful and devastating question: "Bob, are you intentionally trying to prove my point? Who on earth refers to God and Jesus Christ as "personages"? " Well, in early Church publications prior to 1850, there are probably at least 25 references to God and Christ as personages. And since you quote from one of the sources, "The Lectures on Faith", I would think you would already know the answer to that question.
.
136Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
136A. Two: the Father and the Son. [§5. 1.]
...
138Q. Do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the God-head?
138A. They do. [§3. 2.]

Since the lectures date from 1835, what do you think the accepted meaning of the 1838-1844 published statements of the Two personages, one of whom says "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; ". This was published in the April 1, 1842 Times and Seasons, the official publication of the LDS Church. Everyone read it. Who was the "me" ? Since the personage is quoting the OT in the first person, let's see:

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
So, since God and Christ are described as personages in the LDS scriptures of the day (did you forget, you point out that the Lectures were considered "The Doctrine" part of "The Doctrine and Covenants" on your web page?), and the personages quote scriptures attributed to the Lord in the first person, and since Joseph Smith had published at least since 1835 in the official LDS publications that the Lord had appeared to him in the first vision, I am certain that given all the statements I supplied you, everyone knew of the personages of the first vision being God and Christ, and you provide only a few out of context quotes from people who elsewhere get it right. They weren't having trouble "getting their story straight", they were abbreviating a story they were relating to groups that all knew for themselves the circumstances of the first vision. Remember, it wasn't a virtually unknown event to Latter-day Saints. It was widely published in the US and England. Every member of the Church old enough to read had read of the vision or had access to it.

What you need to prove, which you cannot, is that despite it being widely published, consumed by every believing Mormon, they had recurring episodes of brief amensia scattered among very clear and precise recollection of the details of the first vision. You may not want to concede something so obvious, but it is like I always say, it is logic like this that makes the anti-Mormon positions so silly to anyone who seriously researches them. The Times and Seasons articles and the 1835 accounts also refute your assertion that no contemporaries for 40 years after the death of Joseph had the story straight. It was straight for at least 9 years prior to Joseph's death, and as you mention, it is in the Lectures on Faith that two personages constitute the godhead. The words and context, as well as the accepted LDS teachings of the day made it clear the two personages were God and Christ.

For 10 years after the first vision, the Church was not formed, so knowledge of the first vision was shared in a very limited fashion. Then, after the formation of the Church, it was verbally circulated, as stated by John Taylor and Parley P. Pratt, as well as accounts by Alexander Niebaurer (sp) and the press. It was widely published and discussed by anti-Mormons as well. You are the one on your web page quoting sources in the 1880's saying they still were confused and did not know the story, but it not so, and it is clear you know it. Keep shifting to new arguments, avoid getting pinned down. I am prepared to discuss this topic, and your writings, as long as you want. But understand, I will bring the discussion back to the point every time. So respond to the quotes, the data. From at least 1835 on, the use of the term personages and angel to describe the visit of the Father and Son to Joseph was not considered out of the norm in the group using the terms. I have provided examples, you have provided only your (profane) opinion that you would not use such language if it were you. That is the definition of an anachronism. Look it up. It is a word that if you really would understand, it would explain a lot about your being offended by what people did 120+ years before you were born. They did not know or care what you might consider acceptable. Your inability to put their remarks in context is why you make mistakes in interpreting history no historian would consider acceptable. But do what you want. The whole beam and mote analogy comes to mind.

Lastly, after you see you are thrashed, you want to move to the Book of Abraham. I told you I would go to the Moroni vs. Nephi farce, because, like this first vision abstraction, it is very easy to document the errors and deception of your approach. You have lied, since you assert that I have not pointed any out. You said they did not know of God and Christ visiting Joseph in the first vision, and you say "That's because Joseph's "first vision" was a consistently changing story that was virtually unknown to early Latter-day Saints." That is a lie, flat out.

I will get to the other areas of your webpage, but apparently you left the Church on the basis of not wanting to examine evidence at any depth. Let's at least get all the evidence on the table. This will make a great counter-point post to the lies on the Josephlied.com website, so I want to be thorough. And as I always say, if the evidence is so compelling, why do people need to lie and distort history. Really Mike, do you think anyone is going to take your statements seriously when you quote an 1889 George Q. Cannon text to prove he doesn't know about God and Christ appearing to Joseph, when in 1883 he quotes specifically that it was God and Christ that appeared? Or the John Taylor quotes from 1850? Or the 1842 Times and Seasons and 1835 Lectures on Faith, or D&C 130:22-23 published in April 1843? You may not care about historical facts, but I am willing to bet the average person reading this and comparing it with your webpages and statements will make the correct choice.

Game, match, set.

Let's move on to Moroni and Nephi. I will get to it next week.

Take a jello break while you move your household. Peace.

2 comments:

byyourfruits said...

Bob, your work is appreciated by many. Though the doctrinal debate has found to be extremely entertaining, there is always a greater reason (than doctrinal questioning) why individual apostacy occurs. The author of josephlied.com was excommunicated years before his little experience with the kinderhook plates. Contrary to his story, he wasn't excommunicated because of his questions or issues with mormon doctrine. By your fruits! If the author of josephlied.com has fabricated his story, his 'doctrine' is also fabricated. A sour apple comes from a sour tree! While I won't ask you to stop disputing these issues with Mike, I would ask you to cut to the chase. Why did he leave the church? Why did he break his covenants? Why would he spend his time and money opposing a church that teaches everyone to be the best they can be? The question isn't about the rumors of first vision accounts, the question is how could he walk away from the gospel that God has so carefully restored to the earth?

P.S. The book of Abraham had some very interesting confirmation about the explanation of Facsimile 2. Physicists just found out the milky way galaxy is revolving in proportions with other galaxies around a greater gravitational force (Hau-ko-kobeam). A very interesting observation for a farm boy 160 years ago..... Good luck and thank you!

mike@josephlied said...

Bob, freedom of the press does NOT allow for slander, libel and defamation of character. You have a comment on your site now that claims that I was really excommunicated years earlier than I claim.

My wife and I submitted a letter to my Bishop on Jan. 6, 2002 that can be read online here: www.josephlied.com/exit.html. At the time we turned that letter in, we were very active in the Church and were the co-teachers of the Gospel Essentials class.

At the request of our Stake President, we put our request "on the back burner" pending some in-depth correspondence with Brother Rhett James, the author of the Martin Harris pageant. Later in the year (2002) we had moved and asked again (a different Bishop this time) to have our names removed from the records of the Church. After more than 60 days I had to threaten to sue the LDS Church because they kept dragging their feet on honoring our request.

Our request was finally granted and I received 3 letters; one for myself, one for my wife and one for our daughter (who was 11 years old at the time) confirming that, per our request, our names had been removed from the records of the Church and that we were no longer members of "The Church".

I would respectfully request that you remove the slanderous comment by a poster to your site that claims I was excommunicated rather then left of my own volition.

Lastly, this is the most pathetic attempt to rationalize the problems with Mormonism that I list on my site. The poster suggests that since I lied about my excommunication (or lack thereof) then everything I say must be untrue. How sad that this is the only way that SOME Mormons can rationalize their faith in what is an obviously false religion.

Sincerely,

Mike Norton

P.S. If you provide a fax number or mailing address, I would be happy to send you a copy of my confirmation letter honoring my REQUEST to have my name removed from the LDS rolls.