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Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 5

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2020 1:51 pm

Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 5

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 25, 2020 1:51 pm

Mormonism stands or falls on two important historical events: the First Vision and the Book of Mormon. Dr. Robert Bowman has researched the topics and shows how these two events do not stand the historical test, especially in relation to the Resurrection of Jesus. This week Bill and Eric interview Dr. Bowman and discuss these … Continue reading Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions Part 5 →

Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Beacon Baptist
Gregory N. Barkman

Viewpoint on Naomi Musim, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint on Mormonism, is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry since 1979. Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism, hoping you're having a very pleasant Friday.

Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry. And with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. But this week, we've also been honored to have Dr. Rob Bowman with us. Rob is with faith thinkers. And you can check out their Web site at Faith Thinker's dot org. We've been talking about Rob's book, Jesus's Resurrection and Joseph's Visions, examining the foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. You can find this book online at or go to Utah Lighthouse Ministry. Dot org u t l m dot org. And you can order it directly from them. Eric has also written a full review of this book. And if you go to our Web site, MRM dot org slash bowmen, that's b o w m a n. He also includes a lot of pertinent information regarding this book. Now, Rob, I want to talk about a table that you have. It's called Table eight, and it's on page 224 where you list the different accounts of Joseph Smith's first vision. Why do you think these different accounts is a problem for the first vision being a historical event?

Well, the number of accounts that I list there is 11 ranging from Joseph's 1832 history draft that never saw the light of day until the 1960s, all the way to some accounts in May of 1844, just weeks before Joseph's death before he was killed. Several of these are accounts from Joseph directly, his own personal accounts, firsthand accounts, and some of them are accounts written by associates of his. None of these are hostile. They're all accounts from people who said that they talked to Joseph or got this information from Joseph. So we have these 11 accounts now. Having multiple counts is not a problem. Doesn't call into question the historicity of the event. If we have multiple accounts, it's only a problem if these multiple accounts in some way suggest that we're not being told the truth in at least some of them. And that's the problem in some of these accounts. We have statements that directly contradict or are in serious conflict with statements and other accounts, even though they're coming directly from Joseph himself. The two most important of these accounts are the 1832 account, which I mentioned. It was a draft of his history that never got used and the official account that was originally dictated in 1838 and eventually published in 1842. And that's the account that we find in Joseph Smith history and the Pearl of Great Price. Now, these two accounts contradict each other on some very important issues, and these issues go to the heart of whether these thing happened at all. And so that's why these multiple accounts are so important and why, again, without us who are not Mormons saying or doing anything as LDS people have read these online or in books. But typically they found these online. They've been scandalized by the differences. They've recognized the problems. And so all I'm simply doing is helping to explain why these differences really do matter and what relevance they have from a sober historical perspective as to whether Joseph really had the first vision or not.

When it comes to the appearance of God, the father, isn't that kind of a big thing to leave out in all your other accounts? I mean, that is, I think, really sets it all apart. And for some reason, he doesn't even get mentioned, right?

No. Let me compare this to something Eric asked me about in a previous segment that we did. Eric asked me, well, what about this apparent discrepancy in the Gospels as to whether the messengers at the tomb were one angel or two angels? Is that a significant discrepancy? Not really. The message is the same. The kind of messenger is the same. One messenger more or less doesn't really matter. It's it is a potential discrepancy, depending on how strictly you're looking for, you know, precision in the accounts. But it's it's not a serious problem. Contrast that with the problem that in the 1832 account, Joseph only mentioned seeing the Lord meaning Jesus. And in the 18th. Thirty eight account. He says he saw God, the father and Jesus Christ. Now, that's a big difference because not because I say so where you say so, Bill, but because the LDS church presidents over the years have said so. They've told us that what makes this vision so revolutionary and so foundational to LDS faith is the fact that God, the father himself, appeared alongside Jesus as a separately embodied person and in doing so immediately dispelled the falsehood of the doctrine of the Trinity, showed that God was an embodied being, that we are the same type, basic type of being as him. We can become gods like him. All of these things are supposedly revealed in that one momentary vision in which Joseph says he saw the father and the son as two separate embodied beings. So if the father isn't even mentioned in the earliest attempt to tell the story, that's very puzzling. It be like if I said I went to Washington, D.C. and I met with the vice president, the United States, and then several years later, for the first time I mentioned, by the way, the president of the United States was also there.

That would be the big story, right? I actually met the president of the United States. No, I only mentioned the vice president. I forgot to mention the president or I didn't want to say anything about that at that time. I I was just holding back. That doesn't make sense. That's not if that's the big point of this story, you would include it. And so the fact that there is no mention of the father appearing in this 1832 account or as some of the other early accounts that we have is a serious problem.

I like that illustration between the president and the vice president, because it would be ridiculous for you to say the vice president when you were actually met with the president.

So not that not that meeting Vice President Pence wouldn't be at all. But I mean, goodness sakes, if you meet the actual president of the United States the same time, you're going to mention that.

Sure. Absolutely. Rob, tell describe the problem of the timing of the Christian revival where Joseph Smith lived.

Yeah, this is an interesting issue. And I have to tell you an honest confession here. Before I wrote the book, I really wasn't sure that I even wanted to bring this up, because at the time I hadn't researched it carefully. And I didn't know that there was a I didn't know how strong of an issue this would actually be. I was quite open to the possibility that there was some kind of revival that took place in 1820 that Joseph experienced and that that, you know, maybe we can argue about this or that detail, but maybe he was trying to tell the truth about it. As I researched the matter, I discovered and kind of retrace the steps of people that have gone before me in researching the matter. I realized the evidence was overwhelming, that the revival that Joseph describes in Joseph Smith history did, in fact, take place. But it took place four years after the first vision supposedly happened. Now, that's a serious problem, not for those who are trying to struggle with all the dates here. Just think about that. It's four years later, Joseph says the first mission took place in 1820. We know that this revival that started with the Methodists spread to the Presbyterians and the Baptists did happen, but it happened in 1824. What makes that really surprising and very difficult to explain away is that Joseph is quite clear that he saw the angel Moroni year after the first vision in 1823, but even then the revival hadn't taken place. The revival takes place after the alleged first appearance of Marone. That's it. Chronological discrepancy of major proportions. It's like having Jesus rice in the dead after he appears to the apostle Paul. It doesn't make sense.

I think that's a very serious problem, especially since it was that revival, we are told in the Joseph Smith history that compelled him to want to go and pray to God in the first place as to which church is true. You need that revival. That revival doesn't happen in 1820. But as you say, it happens in 1824. I agree. I think that is a serious problem, especially since it's supposedly happening after the appearance of the angel Moroni, which, of course, nobody disputes that that took place in 1823. So I would agree totally with you. And that's something that I don't find Mormon apologist addressing. I've looked and I've looked and I don't see too many of them even wanting to talk about the date of that revival. Have you read something that maybe I'm missing?

Well, they used to spend a lot of time on it. In fact, after this issue of the timing of the revival was first brought up back in the 1960s, the LDS church organized a cadre of dozens, dozens of LDS scholars and specialists to go try to find evidence to refute the claim that the revival took place at the wrong time, according to one Mormon person who was involved in this. There were some 40 or more individuals who were sent to various libraries and museums and old churches comb through church records and, you know, they were all over the country, but especially in these areas that would be relevant to the first vision in upstate New York and Pennsylvania and Ohio trying to find anything that they might be able to latch on to to corroborate Joseph's story and refute the argument against it. So they took it very seriously at the time. Richard Bushman, who is one of the leading premiere. He is the premier historian and biographer of Joseph Smith within the LDS church. Basically, it came down to having to say, well, that might not have been as as dramatic a revival as some people are assuming it should have been. But there was one. And the problem is, is that Bushman and the other LDS apologists who attempted to defend Joseph's account did not pay close attention to or take seriously enough the specific details that Joseph gives in his first vision account. And Joseph Smith history that are corroborated by all over Kotori in his account and by other LDS individuals that were close to Joseph Smith, including his mother, and including one of his brothers who confirmed various specific details, including the name of the Methodist minister who was leading the revival. And we know who that was. And we have a firsthand account from him. His name was George Lane. We have a firsthand account of the revival from George Lane in early 1825, talking about its having happened starting in 1824. Lennon isn't writing this because he's trying to refute the Mormons. He probably doesn't even know about them. He's simply talking about his denomination's involvement and how it spread to these other denominations. And he basically says everything that Joseph Smith said about the revival except as to when it happened. And again, I I came to this quite open and prepared to find that there was nothing here. I don't like latching onto every possible argument. It gets Mormonism just because it's against Mormonism. I never want to operate that way. I want to look at the evidence and see if it really means something and if it's significant. In this case, I was blown away by how much evidence there is that Joseph misdated the revival and that it completely throws off his account, as you've explained, because if the revival didn't happen in 1819 or 1820, he couldn't have been praying to know which church in the revival he should join.

Rob, let me ask you this question as our final question. Would you be interested in debating on this topic? Because if you were I think we had MRM might be willing to help sponsor this maybe into 2021. We have a facility. We would just need an opponent. So are you interested? I very much so, absolutely.

So if anybody out. There knows somebody who is connected with the LDS church and would like to see a debate with Rob Boehm and in Utah somewhere. We ask for you to contact us at contact at MRM, dawg. We'd be interested to hear about possible opponents.

Rob's book, Jesus is Resurrection and Joseph's Visions Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism. We encourage you. Take a look at this book. Rob, thanks for being on. We appreciate it. My pleasure. Thank you.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Morman is a research ministry. We encourage you to visit our Web site at W W W dot m or M dot org, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.

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