First Vision. Occurred in 1820 (officially) when Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was 14 years old. Confused about religion and reflecting on James 1:5, Smith retired to the woods to pray and ask God which church to join. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. According to Joseph Smith-History 1:19, “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt.”. It was this vision that ultimately led Joseph Smith to organize what is today known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The historic reality of the First Vision is extremely important to Latter-day Saints. Gordon B. Hinckley, fifteenth President of the Church, said, “Upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this Church. … The truth of that unique, singular, and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith” (Ensign, November 2002, p. 80). Though the official version of the First Vision is contained in the Pearl of Great Price, there are at least nine different versions of this vision, each of which differs in the more significant parts of the story.
For more information on the problems of the First Vision account, see the following articles:
- “The First Vision’s Slow Entrance Into the LDS Story”
- “Joseph Smith’s First Vision: Fact or Fiction”
- “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all substantially correct”
- “Joseph Smith’s 1832 Handwritten History”
- For a two-part audio podcast, go here and here.
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