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1835 First Vision (Part 5 of 9)

There are several First Vision accounts, and we’re going to tackle the 1835 account in our next episode. What distinguishes it from the 1832 account, and the much more famous 1838 account?  Historian Dan will answer that question.

Dan:  Yeah, from the 1832 to 1835 accounts, there’s two people. How those two people figure, they both looked the same. They are mirror images of each other. But how he viewed that, it’s not so clear from the description. Even the 1838 account, there’s two personages, but is it God the spirit like in the Lectures on Faith? And Jesus, the tabernacle? Is that how he views that when he’s dictating that? You can’t take the Nauvoo period where God has a body of flesh and bones and the Son also, you can’t take that and read it into this.

That’s why the 1832 account has one Jesus. In the meantime, what happened to make it in 1838? There’s another issue. In 1832 account, he’s already concluded that all the churches are false. In 1838, he hasn’t. He’s praying to ask which church is true. Those contradict each other. You can you can try to harmonize them like Richard Anderson tried, by just making general description so general that they look the same, but they are diametrically opposed. Why does it change?

So, my view on that is that in 1820, or 21, he has concluded all churches are false. He has a born again experience. But the revival he describes where his mother is proselyted to the Presbyterian Church, he says, “I was at this time in my 15th year. My father’s family were proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church namely, my mother, Lucy, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison, and my sister Sopronia. That’s part of his 1820 [account], but we know that didn’t happen in 1820. We know that they joined in 1824 and 25 revival, because Lucy in her own history says it was after Alvin’s death. After Alvin died, she was grieving and she wanted to have religious community, and she went. They went and actually the Presbyterian minister at the time, Reverend Stockton preached Alvin’s funeral sermon, and implied that Alvin had gone to hell because he hadn’t been baptized. Joseph Smith, Sr. got angry at that, incensed and refused going anymore. Joseph Smith’s family was split. Lucy, like a good convert, is trying to get other people in the family converted. She’s hounding people, and three of her older children do join. Joseph Smith is caught between his parents. He’s ambivalent. He doesn’t want to join a church. He said he was more in tune with Methodism anyway, probably because of the emotional appeal it has and Presbyterianism is a little more conservative and is of the quietest tradition, they call it where the Spirit comes on you and you’re quiet and peace.

GT:  Is that what’s happened to Mormons, we’ve become Presbyterians?

Dan:  Yeah, yeah. You became the church of Hyrum Smith.

Do you think these changes are significant?  Check out our conversation….

Dan Vogel says the 1832 account of the First Vision has just one messenger, but the 1835 account has two.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dan!

291: 1835 Account of First Vision

290: Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831?

289: Methodist Visions

288: Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287: Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!

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Making a Case for Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831 (Part 4 of 9)

There has been a discrepancy as to when the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored.  Was it in June of 1829, 1830, or 1831?  Historian Dan weighs in on the controversy and makes a case for later than the official Church story.

GT: Okay, so it sounds to me like you’re making a pretty strong case for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood being 1831, which really wasn’t known about until 1835. Is that what you’re saying?

Dan   Yeah, 1835.  Alma Chapter 13 talks about the high priesthood and associates the high priesthood with Melchizedek.  So in June 1831, it’s the high priesthood that is given to elders, and for time it was the elders with more authority. It wasn’t a separate office at first.  It takes several months before it becomes the high priest office, but it was elders that had the high priesthood. So, that high priesthood, of course, because Alma is going to be associated with Melchizedek, and that’s why it says for the first time.  The eldership wasn’t associated with Melchizedek. So in the church you had, for a while, elders.  Elders were the charismatic leaders of the church, and the teachers, priests and deacons. were under elders.

GT:  Yeah. So from what I understand, I spoke with Greg Prince about a year and a half ago, one of the things he said was when the church was very first organized, you had elders, priests and teachers. Those are the only three authorized.

Dan:  Right, deacon came a little later.

GT:  Deacon and Bishop came when Sidney Rigdon was baptized, and he said the Bible has Bishop and Deacon and so those were added later, both to the Aaronic priesthood, but it sounds like..

Dan:  There’s no Aaronic, yet.

GT:  So it was just the priesthood. Okay. I’m trying to remember because Quinn also delves into this and it sounded like elders were kind of like, “We’re not sure if they’re Aaronic or Melchizedek,” because it was kind of confusing.

Dan:  Elders and then the High Priests were separate.  Not until the expansion of D & C 107 were elders included in the High Priesthood and formed two layers.

Dan will also weigh in on Michael Marquardt’s claim that the Church was restored in Manchester, rather than Fayette.  Check out our conversation….

Historian Dan Vogel thinks the restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood dates to 1831.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Dan!

289 – Methodist Visions

288 – Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287 – Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!


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Methodist Visions (Part 3 of 9)

The number of prophets who have claimed to have seen God is very small:  Moses, and Joseph Smith.  The First Vision is known as one of the most unique visions in all of religion. But it turns out that accounts of Methodist visions were common in Joseph’s day.  Is it true that Joseph’s First Vision may not have been as unique as we thought?  Historian Dan tackles that question. He believes something happened to Joseph Smith in 1820 or 21, but doesn’t think it was a vision.  Was Joseph’s experience similar to Methodist visions?

Dan:  People at the revival, especially Methodist ones, would get religious enthusiasm, as they called it. They would get all excited and some people would have heavenly visions. Some people would see Jesus.  Forget about the revivals, a lot of ministers at the time, when they wrote their autobiographies would write about their conversion story, and it would include seeing Jesus or some experience with deity, a born-again type experience.  This is what I would suggest that Joseph Smith really had–we’ll eventually get to that, and that the story evolved over time.

Dan:  The 1832 account has Joseph Smith concluding that all the churches are false, at the age of 12, like his parents. Lucy, and Joseph Smith, Sr. had both made the same conclusion, that all of the churches were false. But it wasn’t tied to they [the churches] didn’t have authority. They were just corrupted by the traditions of men. No one’s thinking of, “Oh, they don’t have priesthood authority, because Christians didn’t think that way.” Catholics did [think that way], but Protestants didn’t think of, “Oh, we have authority and the Catholics don’t,” or whatever. Protestants got their authority to baptize because the Bible commanded that you be baptized, and that is the authority, the commandment coming from the Bible. Whereas Joseph Smith said, “No, it has to come from revelation.” So, when the angel commands to baptize or you got a revelation through the stone to baptize, that is a new revelation, and that is the new authority. So he has current authority, current revelation. That is the original concept of authority, before there were any stories of angelic ordinations. But, in the 1832 account, Joseph Smith has already concluded there’s no church. So when he goes to pray, he’s not asking which church is true. He’s asking, “How am I going to be saved? There’s no true church. They’re all apostate, and what am I to do?” Jesus appears and basically, confirms his belief that there the world liest under sin and all that, and says that those who believe on my name shall be saved. So it’s very close to a revival experience. You have faith in Jesus and you’re saved.

GT : Almost a born again kind of experience?

Dan:  That’s what I say. What I say is, if you take Jesus out of it, it would be born again experience. So, why does he have to see Jesus?

GT:  You think he basically in 1820 or ‘21, did have a born again experience?

Dan:  Yes.

Check out our conversation…. and don’t miss our previous conversations with Dan!

Dan Vogel thinks Joseph had a born-again experience in 1820 or ’21, but it was common for many Methodist visions at that time.

288 – Why “Pious Fraud” Ticks off Everyone

287 – Dan Vogel Was a McConkie Mormon!