A Pillar of Light in a World of Darkness: The First Vision & Joseph Smith's Early Years


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A brief history of the Bible's prophecy of a Christian Apostasy, the early life of Joseph Smith and accounts and descriptions of his vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, known as the "First Vision."

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A Pillar of Light in a World of Darkness: The First Vision & Joseph Smith's Early Years

  1. 1. A Pillar of Light in a World of Darkness The First Vision & Joseph Smith Smith’’s Early Years Cody B. LovelandCody Loveland
  2. 2. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 1-3 1 NOW we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.
  3. 3. Elder Thomas S. Monson Ensign, May 1975, 15 15-17 ““Crucified was the Lord, slain were the apostles, rejected was the truth. The bright daylight of enlightenment slipped away, and the lengthening shadows of a black night enshrouded the earth. One word and one word alone describes the dismal state that prevailed: apostasy. apostasy.””
  4. 4. Roger Williams, ( c.1603 1603––1683) ““There is no regularly regularly- constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance: nor could there be until, new apostles are sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming, [I am] seeking." (from Picturesque America, or the Land We Live In, William C. Bryant, ed. NY: Appleton Co, 1872, v. 1, p. 502.)
  5. 5. Thomas Jefferson (1743 1743-1826) ““I trust with you that the genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored; such as it was preached and practiced by himself himself……I hope that that day of restoration is to come. come.”” (Thomas Jefferson to Francis A. van der Kemp, July 9, 1820, The Thomas Jefferson Papers Papers, http:// , memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html html)
  6. 6. Elder Thomas S. Monson Ensign, May 1975, 15 15-17 ““Honest men with yearning hearts, at the peril of their very lives, attempted to establish points of reference, that they might find the true way. ... The reformers were like pioneers blazing wilderness trails in a desperate search for those lost points of reference which, they felt, when found would lead mankind back to the truth Jesus taught. John Wycliffe, ……Martin Luther, …… John Huss Huss, , …… [Ulrich] Zwingli of Switzerland, …… John Calvin, …… [and] William Tyndale …… Their deeds were heroic, their contributions many, their sacrifices great great——but they did not restore the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ.””
  7. 7. The Preparation of a Prophet zzJoseph Smith, Jr., Born, 23 December 1805, Sharon, Vermont. (5(5ththof 11 Children of of Joseph Smith, Sr., & Lucy Mack)zzHis Father Joseph Smith, Sr. Was A Visionary Man.zz7 Visions, 18117 1811--18191819
  8. 8. Providential Placement zz Moved 7 times in 14 years: (Tunbridge Tunbridge, Vermont; , Royalton, Vermont; West Lebanon, New Hampshire; Salem, Massachusetts (with Uncle); Norwich, Vermont; Palmyra, New York & Manchester, New York) CHURCH HISTORY MAP 1CHURCH 1
  9. 9. West Lebanon, New Hampshire zz7 Yrs Old, Typhoid Fever7 Fever zzComplications = 4 SurgeriesComplications Surgeries zzBone Infection: OsteomyelitisOsteomyelitis zzDr. Nathan Smith, Dartmouth Medical College in New Hampshire.
  10. 10. Move to Palmyra, New York zz 1816 Move to Palmyra 1816 Move to Palmyra zz 1818 Manchester, NY 1818 Manchester, NY zz 100 Acre Farm, $800 100 Acre Farm, $800 zz 20 20’’ X 30 X 30’’ ““snug log snug log house house”” zz Assassination Attempt Assassination Attempt
  11. 11. Palmyra Palmyra’’s Religious Revival zz 4 Corners, 4 Churches 4 Corners, 4 Churches (Methodist, Episcopalian, (Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, & Baptist.) Presbyterian, & Baptist.) zz 2nd nd Great Spiritual Great Spiritual Awakening. Awakening. zz Rev. George Lane Rev. George Lane
  12. 12. First Vision Accounts zz 1832 Draft History zz 1835 JS Journal zz 1838 JS JS——H zz 1840 Orson Pratt zz 1842 Wentworth Letter zz 1843 Pittsburg Gazette zz 1844 Neibaur Journal Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 66 -79.) Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, [1980], 170. Dean C. Jessee, "Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision," BYU Studies,Vol. 9 (Spring, 1969), 277-278. James B. Allen, Improvement Era, April 1970, 4-13
  13. 13. Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration 76 - 77. zz ““The Prophet seems to have been selective regarding what he made known of the sacred event in his …… known accounts of the vision. We have no idea, for example, how long it lasted, and he wrote that the Lord told him "many other things" that he was not at liberty to share with others. …… We respect the confidentiality of what the Lord has chosen not to make public and acknowledge that we are greatly blessed to learn all that he allowed his prophet to tell us. us.””
  14. 14. 1832 Draft History zz Written by Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams, scribe. zz ““a pillar of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day came down from above and rested upon me, and I was filled with the Spirit of God. God.”” zz ““my soul was filled with love, and for many days I could rejoice with great joy joy””
  15. 15. 1835 Joseph Smith Journal zz Related to Robert Mathews, ““Joshua the Jewish Minister Minister””; or ; ““Matthias Matthias”” written by a scribe Warren Parrish. zz ““My tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth, so that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me. I strove again to pray but could not. The noise of walking seemed to draw nearer. I sprang up on my feet and looked around but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. walking.””
  16. 16. 1835 Joseph Smith Journal zz ““A pillar 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. first.”” zz ““I saw many angels in this vision. vision.””
  17. 17. 1840 Orson Pratt zz 1st st published account written by Orson Pratt as a missionary tract ““A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records. Records.”” zz ““He at length, saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner.
  18. 18. 1840 Orson Pratt zz He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hope of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and immediately, his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. likeness.””
  19. 19. 1842 Wentworth Letter zz John Wentworth, Chicago Democrat zz ““Believing the word of God, I had confidence in the declaration of James James”” zz ““I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noonday. noonday.””
  20. 20. 1843 Pittsburg Gazette zz Pittsburg Weekly Gazette Gazette, "The Prairies, , Nauvoo, Joe Smith, the Temple, the Mormons, etc.," News Paper Article zz ““I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work. work.”” zz ““Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious personage in the light, and then another personage. personage.””
  21. 21. 1844 Neibaur Journal zz Alexander Neibaur Neibaur, German convert. , Taught Joseph Smith German and Hebrew. zz ““saw fire towards heaven came near near……saw a personage in the fire fire……blue eyes eyes……a other person came to the side of the first first””
  22. 22. 1838 Joseph Smith Smith——History zz ““It shows every indication of having been written with great care. It is the most deliberate, the most detailed, and the most formal of the accounts. It was first published in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842 and is now included in the Pearl of Great Price. Thus it is the only account that has been canonized as scripture. scripture.”” (Jackson, 71)
  23. 23. Doctrines Taught By First Vision zz God Exists zz God answers prayers zz God knows us by name zz God has glory zz God has a body (form) zz We are created in His image zz Christ is the Son of God zz 2 Separate Beings
  24. 24. Doctrines Taught By First Vision zz Scriptures lead to revelation zz Man can see God zz Christ is our Advocate zz Christ is the Word zz Satan is real zz God has power of Satan zz There was an apostasy zz God cares where you go to Church
  25. 25. Receiving Our Own Answers zz ““Serious reflection reflection”” vs. 8 zz ““Feelings were deep deep”” ““Poignant Poignant”” vs. 8 zz ““In process of time time”” vs. 8 zz ““Desire Desire”” vs. 8 zz ““What is to be done? done?”” vs. 10 zz ““Laboring Laboring”” vs. 11 zz ““Reading Reading”” vs. 11
  26. 26. Receiving Our Own Answers zz ““Reflected [ponder] ponder]”” vs. 12 zz ““Ask of God God”” vs. 14 zz ““Pray vocally vocally”” vs. 14 zz ““Kneeled down down”” vs. 15 zz ““Exerting all my powers powers”” vs. 16 zz ““I was answered answered”” vs. 19 zz ““I have learned for myself myself”” vs. 20
  27. 27. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. The Charted Course of the Church in Education, p. 1 1-3 zz2 Prime Things2 Things zzFirstFirst——that Jesus Christ is the Son of GodSon God zzSecondSecond……the Father and the Son actually and in truth and very deed appeared to the Prophet Joseph in a vision.zz““Any individual who does not accept the fulness of these doctrines as to Jesus of Nazareth or as to the restoration of the gospel and holy priesthood is not a Lattera Latter--day Saint.Saint.””
  28. 28. President Gordon B. Hinckley Church News News, Oct. 28, 1995 , p,7 ““I wish all of you today would sit down with your family sometime and read those words again, that testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, stated with simplicity, with honesty. Then ask the Lord to put it into your hearts and give you the privilege of a testimony of its truth. And whenever you have any doubt of any practice of this Church, you can reflect on that. If that opening of the curtain of light and knowledge which ushered in this the dispensation of the fulness of times is true then all else which the Prophet taught is true also.''