In a previous conversation with historian Dan Vogel, he indicated visions of Jesus were common among Methodists in Joseph Smith’s day and questioned why a Methodist minister would object to Joseph’s account of a vision. I asked Dr. Mark Staker to weigh in on that issue, and Mark tells why he thinks a minister may have been upset. BUt to hear this conversation, you need to be signed up for our newsletter at https://GospelTangents.com .
Mark: Joseph goes to the woods and he begins to pray. What happens? Power falls on him. He says, “an unseen power comes to me that binds my tongue so I can’t speak.” [This is] exactly what the ministers are telling him is going to happen, happens. And what does he do? He prays that God will release him from this power, and no sooner does he pray asking God to release him from this power, that he sees a light. Then he sees the Father. The Father introduces the Son to him, and tells him, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” Well, the difference between Joseph and all those Methodists who had exactly that same experience was Joseph recognized that power was not what he wanted. It was not of God, and no sooner did he recognize that and asked to be delivered from that, that he has an experience, unlike any experience that anybody else has had. That’s what makes him different than everybody else.
Mark: Imagine when he goes back and tells a Methodist minister, “I went out, began to pray, and you know that power you told me was going to fall on me, that’s the devil.” Is that Methodist minister going to like that? No, naturally he’s going to condemn that, because that’s critical of everything he’s been teaching people and telling him to go out and experience. Imagine that he then says, “And then God, the Father, and Jesus Christ came and appeared to me.” That’s going to contradict all these others who’ve been saying that we don’t have visions like that these days. So, both of those extremes, Joseph’s experience counters, and contradicts, and that everybody is not going to like him, when he begins telling about those details, which is why he waits for so many years to do so because the initial experience was so negative.
GT: So, you would agree with Steven Harper that it was a Methodist minister that condemned him?
Mark: That’s the minister that he would know. That’s the one that he would go to, and we know some of those ministers that were in the area that spring in 1820 that he could possibly have gone to.
What do you think of this scenario? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with Mark!
36: Lucy’s Dreams, Joseph’s Rational Religion
534: When Joseph Met Lucy