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Gospel Topics Chapter 5 Howlett Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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May 2, 2021 9:00 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 5 Howlett Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 2, 2021 9:00 pm

In our ongoing series reviewing the book The LDS Gospel Topics Series, this week we consider chapter 5 (“the Cultural Work of the ‘First Vision Accounts’ Essay”) and take a closer look at the First Vision.

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

Mormonism 101 is research ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson has helped many more to understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith. Mormonism 101 is available at your favorite Christian bookstore .1 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 welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson my colleague MRM we continue our look at a book titled the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement. This is a book that was published in late 2020 and as the title implies it is a critique of what were known to be 13 original gospel topics essays that were posted on the official website of the now that URL is Church of Jesus it was edited by Matthew L.

Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst.

Today we are going to be looking at chapter 5. Chapter 5 is titled the cultural work of the first vision accounts essay in this chapter was written by David J. Howlett, according to the Bayou of Mr. Howlett on page 373, it says that Howlett is in eighth generation member of the community of Christ and serves as one of three volunteer world church historians for the church and of course the community of Christ originally was known as the reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints bill.

I think those that little bios are important because everybody has a bias we all have worldviews we all have presuppositions and so that will be interesting to see how somebody from the community of Christ is going to deal with the topic of the first vision which officially has held to the basic idea of the first vision. If you look at the community of Christ website as it's known. Now you're going to find that though they may somewhat believe in it it's it's almost like you don't have to. It's not that big of a deal with the community of Christ. Certainly not as big a deal as it is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City and I think Mr. Howlett emphasizes that as he begins his essay that is found on page 131 so he writes in his last conference talk before his 2008 death LDS Church Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley returned to the subject of which he often spoke Joseph Smith's 1820, theophany, near Palmyra, New York widely known by Mormons as the first vision to his LDS audience.

Hinckley exhorted quote you and I are faced with the stark question of accepting the truth of the first vision and that which followed it on the question of its reality lies the very validity of this church" only two years before this talk Hinckley had written quote this grant theophany is, in my judgment, the greatest such event since the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord in the meridian of time" and the decade before his final talk Hinckley had written quote. Our entire case as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious first vision, it stands as an absolute fundamental in the church and its history and its well-being." Again, and again, Hinckley referred to the first vision as a foundational part of the LDS mythos that had to have happened as a historical event or else he suggested the LDS church itself was a sham. I think the importance of what was just cited out of this book cannot be underestimated and you and I have talked about this many times. Eric on the show and in our writings that Hinckley made it very clear as is pointed out in the opening lines of this chapter. If the first vision, as understood by the way, the LDS church's teaching that was not in fact a historical event or something that Joseph Smith actually experienced. Then everything spring boarding from that story is obviously false. And as Hinckley brings out the church is a sham. He was even stronger language than that, showing that it can't just be off on this story. This had to have actually happened to Joseph Smith.

If not, then everything really is church is telling us these to just be taken with a grain of salt, and I would say not even taken seriously. We talked about this before, but in Christianity, we have what's called the resurrection of Jesus, and in first Corinthians chapter 15 Paul says if you don't accept that or believe it or didn't happen, then Christianity doesn't exist and I think you're right.

And Hinckley is right, because without the first vision being a historical event without the book of Mormon.

Being a historical event. Those two events cannot be symbolic.

They cannot just be figurative. They have to be literal events or Mormonism is just a feel-good religion but it's not based in reality, while at the top of page 132 David Howlett makes this statement which I think is absolutely correct.

He says that Hinckley surely raise the stakes held by LDS members vis--vis the first vision I would have to agree with that statement and so here's what we have we have a Mormon president on numerous occasions, showing how important the first vision is and I would have to include the way the LDS church is teaching it today and he's going to get in to what the church has historically taught regarding the first vision and how that understanding was kind of put into question based on some other things that were found in the 1960s, but I don't want to get ahead of myself read that On page 132 where as Hinckley knew when he made his remarks. Smith's first vision had been the subject of simmering controversies within and outside the LDS church since the mid-1960s until the mid-20th century LDS church officials by and large, acknowledged only one first vision account authored by Smith, the officially recognized account written in 1838 and later published in the LDS church is newspaper in 1842 had been canonized in 1880 and became a foundational narrative for the church. By the early 20th century. Then in the mid-1960s, and LDS graduate student in his masters thesis included the text of an even earlier account of Smith's first vision and account eventually dated to 1832 found in a then restricted manuscript and in the LDS church historian's office later archives. The 1832 account had been penned by Smith himself unlike any other known account with unfortunate is that Mr. Howlett does not name the individual. This undergraduate student.

It was a man by the name of Paul, it looks like Cheeseman.

I've heard some say it's pronounced chessmen. But if CHEESM a and he is the one that brought to light. This 1832 account and what's interesting is that Jerald and Sandra Tanner in their book Mormonism shadow or reality mention the coming forth of what was known originally as the strange account now when you read with the tanners set about this and then you read with the Mormon church is trying to do with it. They say these harmonize. I say they don't harmonize it all and I'll explain why. But I think it would be important. Eric if we read what the tanners had to say about this strange account that's found on page 145 of Mormonism shadow or reality. It says for years that Mormon leaders have publicly maintained that Joseph Smith told only one story concerning the first vision Preston Nibley made this statement quote Joseph Smith, lived a little more than 24 years after this first vision during this time he told that one story." Without that's found in Joseph Smith the Prophet dated 1944, page 30 Joseph Smith told but one story. According to Preston Nibley in this account goes on and says at the very time that Preston Nibley made the statement that Mormon leaders were suppressing at least two accounts of the first vision which were written prior to that the account which Joseph Smith published in the times and seasons, Levi Edgar Young who was head of the seven presidents of 70s and the Mormon church told Lamar Peterson that he had examined a quote on quote strange account of the first vision and was told not to reveal what it contained. The following is from notes by Lamar Peterson of an interview with Levi Edgar Young, which was held on February 3, 1953. Quote a list of five questions was presented. Brother Young indicated some surprise at the nature of the questions but said he heartily approved of them being asked said they were important fundamental were being asked more by members of the church and should be asked said the church should have a committee available were answers to such questions could be obtained.

He has quit going down with his own questions to brother Joseph Fielding Smith because he was laughed at and put off stop you there. Joseph Fielding Smith at this time is the church historian, so this question comes up to a man like Joseph Fielding Smith and according to these notes, we find that he was laughed at and put off. What would it be laughed at, and put off especially in light of how the LDS church is portraying this alleged strange account today. Why would they do that now.

Does that sound to you from what we've read so far that the church is really excited about this 1832 account barely Joseph Fielding Smith wasn't too excited about it. He didn't seem all that interested. But what did the tanners quote in the His curiosity was excited when reading in Roberts documentary history reference to documents from which these writings were compiled asked to see them hold to get higher permission obtain that permission. Examine the documents written. He thought about 1837 or 1838, was told not to copy or tell what they contained said it was a strange account of the first vision was put back involved remains unused unknown" was told not to copy or tell what they contained. Now the church today when taking all the various accounts that are available makes it appear as if there's no problem here, it's nothing but a case of gas lighting, and they knew they had a problem they want to put those out to the general membership but yet today the church acknowledging that they can ignore this any longer have tried to make their people feel comfortable with these various accounts as if there's no problem whatsoever. But notice back here on February 3, 1953 and as we just read the following is from notes by Lamar Peterson of an interview with Levi Edgar Young 1953. That doesn't seem to be the attitude that the leadership of the church has regarding this account that Joseph Smith wrote in 1832 and tomorrow's show were going to talk a little bit more about what he wrote in 1832.

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