By Eric Johnson
The historical First Vision is for Mormonism’s case. If the First Vision did not occur, then Mormonism is nothing more than fiction, as attested to by these important leaders. However, there are problems with the First Vision account, as summarized in the following 10 reasons.
1. It is impossible for anyone to see God the Father and live. Click here.
2. The actual date of this First Vision surely would have been recorded by Smith and his family, yet it was not. How could Smith forget the date when God and Jesus appeared to him? Some leaders, including Apostle James Talmage, have pointed to the event taking place on April 6, 1820–a convenient date since Mormonism teaches this is the day of Jesus’s birth as well as the date of the founding of the church in 1830. However, April 6, 1820 in Palmyra was not a “beautiful clear day, early in the spring” as reported by Smith. In addition, since the First Vision is supposed to have taken place just a decade before the foundation of the church in 1830, it would be natural to assume members would have inquired about the exact date so it could be remembered for posterity’s sake. There is not even one reference to the First Vision in the founding of the church, which would be very peculiar for such an important event as described by the presidents above.
3. If it is true that Smith’s telling his story “had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution” and that is was ” common among all the sects—all united to persecute me” (Joseph Smith-History 1:22), then it would be expected that there would be some type of accounting of this persecution in either the writings of Smith and his family or the ones who were doing the persecuting. However, there is no recording of any persecution in response to this First Vision story…none whatsoever.
4. The first mention ever of the First Vision did not take place until 1832 when Joseph Smith wrote about an appearance of the “Lord” in his private diary. This would have been more than a decade after this event supposedly took place. Click here and here.
5. There is no mention of a “First Vision” in early critical writings against Smith’s church, including Mormonism Unvailed published by Eber D. Howe in 1834. While Howe spent much time criticizing the Book of Mormon, he never mentioned the First Vision once, even though it would have made an easier target than the Book of Mormon. It makes no sense that Howe wouldn’t have brought up the subject unless he had never heard of this “First Vision” and it wasn’t a part of Mormonism until after 1834. (Consider reading the book with comments by LDS scholar Dan Vogel.)
6. There was no “revival” that took place in the spring of 1820, the time when the First Vision supposedly took place. In fact, there was no revival in that area of New York until 1824, four years later. Click here. For more information on this, read “The Palmyra Revival and Mormon Origins” available from MRM.
8. Smith had no witnesses vouching that he saw God the Father and Jesus appearing to him.
9. Smith’s integrity did not make him trustworthy. His lack of character included his false claim about the Book of Abraham, his lack of virtue such as marrying girls who were teenagers and marrying women already married to living husband, and his boasts about himself. This lack of integrity ought to raise eyebrows when accepting his story, as Smith must be taken at his word that this event really did take place.
10. God would not have honored a prayer based on the improper use of a biblical Bible verse (James 1:5) that fit the person’s purpose. Click here.
For more articles in the Top 10 series, click here.
And for an article evaluating the proclamation given by the church leaders at the Spring 2020 general conference, click here.