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Dating the First Vision (Part 2 of 9 John Pratt)

When did the First Vision take place? The late Dr. John Pratt says it was March 26, 1820. That calculation is based on the Enoch Calendar. We’re going to take a deep dive into calendar systems and find out how John came up with that date.

John:  So, in the grand years of 364, he’s born in the year–it should be called zero for astronomers. They call it 1 BC, but they had no zero. So, he’s born in the Year Zero, and then the years 364 and 728, you go up five of those, and it’s the year 1820. So, that’s why it’s such a massive big year and big day because it is it’s all the way from Christ and Christ is more than one of these years, too.  So, there you go.

GT:  Okay, so this is a really interesting.  So, you’re tying the birth of Christ into…

John:  Into the First Vision, exactly.

GT:  So, you think you’ve nailed the date as March 26, 1820?

John:  Well, it was all proposed until– and I can say it in a sentence, John Lefgren rides up on a white horse. [He’s] an independent researcher who finds two confirming things.  One, he finds weather reports that shows that March 26 was the best warm day of spring up in New England, when it was snowing on April 6. A lot of people have thought [that] well, he was probably born on April 6. [I mean] the First Vision, they thought might be on April 6.  It turned out it was very cold and not good weather that day. But, on March 26th, it’s the one day that had perfect, sunny weather. That’s why Joseph Smith would remember that. He said, “I don’t know what the day was, but it was a warm, clear spring day.” Well, yeah, and because it snowed the whole month after that, so he’s going to remember that. So, he has the weather reports and the first weather reports ever made, in the world, as far as he can figure out, was in the United States in that year 1820.

GT:  (Chuckling) If it had been 1819, we’d have been out of luck.

John:  You’re out of luck.  So, it’s 1820 and we’ve got the weather.

GT:  The army started tracking the weather, for awhile now.

John:  The weather [tracking] started with the army. The Surgeon General of the United States Army saying, “If we knew the weather, we could keep our soldiers healthier.” So, he took 14–now I’m going to try to do short answers. But, in 14 military stations around, he had people take the weather, and notice the wind and the rain and the temperature three times a day, 14 all around.

GT:  Like 7am, noon and then…

John:  Right, and so we have the weather reports. Number one, there’s confirmation that that was a warm, spring sunny day. This John Lefgren guy happens to be up in New England and he has a maple syrup business, where he makes maple syrup. He knows the process. It turns out by looking– Lucy Mack was the one that knew how to make maple sugar and maple syrup. It turns out that that weather pattern is exactly the day, the time when they would have been working hard doing maple syrup. The story is that Joseph had left his axe in the tree, and he goes to the grove to pray. He couldn’t have prayed on the Friday or the Saturday. But, then on Sunday, it’s the day of rest, and there’s no maple sugar running. You do that when it runs.  It has to do with temperature changes. So, he had two different, separate witnesses that the day was correct. So, that’s what made me think…

GT:  So, it has to do with the maple sugar runs, and that was a perfect day.

John:  It was a perfect day to be after the maple sugar runs were over, to have a day of rest, and it was clear and sunny. Those were confirming. If all it was my Enoch date, nobody would have cared, because they’d say, “Oh yeah, Dr. Pratt and his woo woo calendars. He thinks he knows the date.” But, when you have, “Wait a minute, there’s weather reports. If it’s not that date, what day was it?”  They’d say, “Oh, yeah, it snowed all through April, and this is New England.”

GT:  So, the idea is if you’re making maple syrup, you need a lot of changes in temperature for the sap to run.

John:  Changes, it’s got to go from cold to hot, and then the pressure change. Then you get about two days of that. But, the Sunday was the third day and it was from hot to hot, and there’s no change. So, nothing was running on Sunday, and incidentally you’re supposed to rest anyway, and a perfect day for him to go pray.

What do you think of John’s calculations and these weather reports.  Are they convincing?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. John Pratt calculates that the First Vision took plance on March 26, 1820.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with John!

586:  Dating Christ’s Birth

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*Comparing Mormons & Pentecostals (Part 8 of 8)

Dr. Christopher Thomas of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary discusses similarities and differences with Mormon Culture. We also learn about the structure of the various Pentecostal Churches.

Chris:  Well, the version of Pentecostalism I grew up in is the Holiness tradition. And there were real clear kind of dress mores. I mean, the women seem to bear a disproportionate amount of the weight of those. In my tradition, women were really looked down on if they didn’t wear dresses or something similar to a dress.  They couldn’t wear pants, for example. [They] sure couldn’t do that in church, but just in normal attire. I remember, as a boy, hearing discussions of women who worked in factories saying, “Well, I know, we’re not supposed to, but it is not decent for me to not wear pants being up on the next floor. The people can see up their dresses,” etc. We were pretty concerned about what we called unnecessary jewelry. Now, not all Pentecostals would have been like that. Bu it was an attempt to deal, I think, with ostentatious displays. We were teetotalers, and still are in our tradition. We don’t have anything like, well, early on, there was a question about whether you can drink Coca Cola or not, because early, early on it had a bit of coke (cocaine) in it.

GT:  Right.

Chris:  So, we may not have been completely wrong about that one. One of the big differences would be that dancing was taboo.

GT:  Right, Footloose.

Chris:  That’s right, completely taboo. So, those kinds of negotiating the culture always presented a challenge.

GT:  I think you went through my interviews, and I think you told me you skipped one, and it was with Joseph Freeman. He grew up in the Holiness Church. One of the things he told me was, they didn’t, at least in his congregation, I don’t think this is Pentecostal-wide, but they didn’t even like you to do sports.

Chris:  Well, when I was a young guy, I mean, pre-ten, I remember that there was a brother in our church who was a leader in our church. He was what we called the Councilman.  He left the council, because he went to see his son play. It may have been football or basketball regularly. I remember talking to my parents about it and saying, “What’s that about?”  It was interesting how discerning their response was because it was a mixture of, “Well, there are people in the church that don’t believe that we should be going to these worldly amusements. But he really loves this son so much that he’s willing to make this sacrifice.” Of course, within a few years, that was not an issue anymore. But my dad started teaching a Sunday School class. He was a really good athlete, my dad, and he got a little bit of criticism when he would take the young men that he was working with, rent a high school gym and have the time of playing basketball together. So, there were people that had these really rigid notions.

GT:  And, every [LDS] Church has a basketball court.  (Chuckling)

Chris:  Right? Well, we should have known more Mormons. (Chuckling)

In some ways, the Holiness tradition seems more strict than Mormons.  Do you agree?  To check out our final conversation with Chris, be sure that you’re signed up for our free newsletter so I can send you a link to the final part.  Go to

Dr. Chris Thomas compares Mormons & Pentecostals.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Thomas!

584: Pentecostals in Book of Mormon

583: Troubling Stories in Scripture

582: Protestant Theology in Book of Mormon?

581: Tongue-Speech in Book of Mormon

580: Pentecostal View of Book of Mormon Theology

579: Is Book of Mormon a Pacifist Book?

578: Pentecostal Theologian Gives Book of Mormon the Bible Treatment

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Pentecostals in Book of Mormon (Part 7 of 8 Chris Thomas)

As we’ve mentioned before, publication of the Book of Mormon pre-dates the Pentecostal movement by almost 8 decades. What are some examples? Dr. Christopher Thomas teaches at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, and he shares his thoughts about speaking in tongues in the Book of Mormon.

Chris:  Then, the next big section of the book, I wanted to put the Book of Mormon into conversation with Pentecostalism.

GT:  Right. Yeah, that’s where I wanted to go next. That’s awesome.

Chris:  I started with these kind of proto-Pentecostals with whom there seems to have been some connection with the restoration. There was this Irvingite pastor who met with Joseph Smith in Kirtland. I think it was 1835. He proposed an amalgamation because the Catholic Apostolic Church believed in the restoration of apostles, prophets, etc. and in the gifts of the Spirit. So, it’s documented that there was this meeting. Smith, or one of his assistants, apparently respond to this, but several years later. Some, I think it’s Bruce Van Orden, argues that this piece, it may have been the Times and Seasons, was not written by Smith, but by one of his subordinates.

GT:  W.W. Phelps, probably.

Chris:  Yes, thanks for that. In part, because apparently, Joseph is acknowledging certain status issues for women. But part of the reason the Irvingites get rejected, in this article, is because of the role women played at the beginning of the movement. So, that’s been an interesting tension that people have picked up on. I wanted to look at that. I wanted to look at this guy named John Alexander Dowie. Dowie, I think he may have been Scottish. He wound up in Australia. His daughter nearly dies. He becomes a healing evangelist. He comes to the United States, passes through Salt Lake. It’s in older newspapers, Dowie’s story, and he wants to be an apostle in the LDS church. When they explain that’s not quite how it works, Dowie castigates them all, moves to Chicago and establishes Zion, Illinois.

GT:  Oh.

Chris:  Then, you can track it in the newspapers. He sends word to Salt Lake that he’s bringing 3000, I think it was, evangelists and he’s going to convert the lot of Mormons.

GT:  John Hamer spoke about this at John Whitmer a couple of years ago.

Chris:  Did he?  The brethren said, “Well, come on.” What people didn’t know was that Dowie was going to reveal that polygamy was to be lived out in Mexico, and this was right in the middle of the mopping up period. This was 1890s.

GT:  Right. Mormons were doing that, anyway.

Chris:  That’s right. Then, there was this guy who some look upon as the founder of Pentecostalism who believed in British Israelism. His name was [Charles F.] Parham. [He was] very similar to the man who did the concordance on the Book of Mormon, George Reynolds.

GT:  Oh, George Reynolds was also the guy who the Supreme Court case was about for polygamy.[1]

Chris:  That’s right. That’s right, and Reynolds was very similar in the British Israelism. Now, I was never able to quite connect Parham. I’d heard him a rumor that he had been laughed off a stage in the Independence group. But I could never track that down. But I tried to ease into things that way. Then I looked at early Pentecostal responses to the Book of Mormon and Mormonism in the early Pentecostal periodical literature. The very first one was amazingly generous, because somebody had written into the paper and said, “Why don’t you talk about the Mormons speaking in tongues?” The editor kind of castigates the Mormons, “They’re not trustworthy,” blah, blah, blah. Then he says, “But when I lived in the Rocky Mountains in the 1870s, I came across this older woman, who seemed to be a real saint of God, who told me that the Mormons were like the old time Methodists.” He said, “It reminded me of the text that said, ‘God may have a people even among these people.'” Well, I didn’t expect that. Because it’s usually knives and daggers, right? So, nobody have ever done that.

[1] For a brief summary of legal issues, see

What are your thoughts on the connections between Pentecostals & Mormons?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. Chris Thomas discusses pentecostal passages in the Book of Mormon.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Thomas.

583: Troubling Stories in Scripture (C. Thomas)

582: Protestant Theology in Book of Mormon? (C. Thomas)

581: Tongue-Speech in Book of Mormon (C. Thomas)

580: Pentecostal View of Book of Mormon Theology

579: Is Book of Mormon a Pacifist Book? (C. Thomas)

578: Pentecostal Theologian Gives Book of Mormon the Bible Treatment