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Gospel Topics Chapter 5 Howlett Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2021 9:18 pm

Gospel Topics Chapter 5 Howlett Part 4

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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May 5, 2021 9:18 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”) written by David J. Howlett and take a closer look at the First Vision.

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

Jim, your own words a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by women as research ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic and pick up your copy of the neutral lighthouse bookstore or viewpoint on his commandment 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. Our thanks to Adams Road bad for that musical introduction welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.

My colleague at MRM chapter 5 of the book the LDS gospel topics series a scholarly engagement deals with the subject of the first vision, and as we been talking about this week. For the most part of LDS history people within the church thought there was only one account of the first vision that God the father and Jesus showed up when Joseph Smith was concerned as to which church he should join. He claims he was told by these personages that all the churches were wrong that their creeds were an abomination and the professors were all corrupt.

Then in the mid-1960s.

Another version pops up. This was in 1965 when a graduate student at Brigham Young University came up with a document later to be determined that it was in the handwriting of Joseph Smith himself, claiming that there was only one personage that showed up at personage that Joseph Smith described as the Lord's reason for inquiring of the Lord was merely to know for sure his sins were forgiven. No mention of a revival that allegedly took place in the spring of 1820 and no shock. You might say to learn later on in the 1838 account that all the churches were wrong because in the 1832 account Smith seems to already have drawn that conclusion. The first vision becomes very important in the Mormon narrative and this is what David J. Howlett brings up in chapter 5 of the book the LDS gospel topics series. He mentions John Charles Duffy, Eric. What does he say about John Charles Duffy as a religious studies scholar John Charles Duffy has shown quote all standardized missionary discussions," published from 1952 to 2004 have introduced the first vision as part of the first discussion the explicit use of the first vision varied as Duffy notes in 1952 the first vision was used to introduce the restoration of a knowledge of the true nature of God. In 1961 in 1973 the restoration of the true church. These works both reflected popular approaches to the first vision and further systemize how Mormons both converts and cradle born used the first vision that Duffy brings out the fact that you just stated how important it was that this was a part of the missionary discussions.

In fact, he says up to 2004.

That would include preach my gospel. The manual that came out that missionary still used to this day even though it is been revised in the electronic version over the hardcopy version. I'm looking at preach my gospel.

Page 37 there's a picture of Joe Smith with God the father and Jesus in section is titled the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith and it follows the section on the great apostasy. This is very important in the first lesson so that the person who is hearing the gospel will know that all the churches were wrong and all their creeds were an abomination in God's sight.

That's what Joseph Smith was told when he saw God the father and Jesus appeared to him.

So when David Howlett, the author of this chapter mentions John Charles Duffy.

He's basically making the point that this had to be a part of the discussions because it was a very important aspect of the Mormon narrative in the However, he's going to cite James B. Allen, a Mormon historian and James B. Allen is going to explain why it was so important. By the mid-1960s. Historian James B. Allen could note that the 1838 account of the first vision was quote used by church leaders and teachers to demonstrate for believers many other aspects of the Mormon faith other than what Joseph Smith apparently first intended. The idea that God actually hears and answers prayers the concept that there is a personal devil who tries to stop the progress of truth, and perhaps most fundamental of all the Mormon doctrine that the divine Godhead are actually separate, distinct physical personages as opposed to the Trinitarian concept of traditional Christianity" in other words, the canonized first vision had become, among other things, a series of foundational LDS scriptural proof text to support various formal and informal church doctrines and we do know that the doctrine of the Trinity is something that is been highly criticized not only by Joseph Smith, the founder, but other LDS leaders in years afterwards but you notice something though. They need the 1838 account to bolster that position regarding the Trinity, the 1832 account would not do that.

It's only Jesus showing up so that there's no attack on the Trinity by just merely having Jesus show up, but when you have God the father and Jesus show up.

Now the Mormon church can use that as a blatant attack on the historical doctrine of the Trinity. The book goes on page 139 to say.

By the late 1960s to new movements would further transform the cultural life of the first vision, the new Mormon history and the Evangelical counter cult movement. The new Mormon history of movement among both professional and amateur historians asked new sets of questions of old materials and narratives and hope to more deeply contextualize Mormonism within its American context it continues. Indeed, Allen's 1966 article quoted above and the debate about what to do with multiple accounts of Smith's first vision became a touchstone for historical investigations into the wider context of early Mormonism. Such research provoked responses from the then nascent Evangelical counter cult movement, most notably evangelical Presbyterian minister Wesley P.

Walters, and later Evangelical fundamentalist Jerald and Sandra Tanner seriously question details that Smith related in these various accounts so as I mentioned earlier in this series I don't think that Wes Walters should be put within the category of being counter cult. He was a Presbyterian minister in a little town called Marissa Illinois. But it goes on to say that LDS historians and researchers.

Many of them professionally trained in teaching at universities responded to these various criticisms in 1967 to 68.

For instance, more than 40 LDS researchers and historians organized by BYU Prof. Truman Jean Madsen told New York archives to refute Walters claim about the lack of a Palmyra revival earlier in this series. We discussed Walters essay that became a booklet called new light on Mormon origins and he I think did an excellent job showing that there could not have been a revival in 1820, as Joseph Smith claim for woman we know that the players the pastors that were involved in that revival, some of whom weren't even in the area at that time will you can have an 1820 revival when these guys are even around. And yet this is what Mormons were led to believe, at least still use this date of 1820 in all their discussions regarding the first vision and as I mentioned in an earlier show the reason why the church cannot use the proper date for that revival that Joseph Smith clearly describes in his account in the pearl of great price is because if you put it in 1824 and that's the revival. Smith is describing now you have the angel Moron I showing up in 1823, so that messes up the whole timeline they can't change it so what they are doing, in effect, is they are still lying to their members telling them that this first vision took place in the spring of 1820, when in fact the revival described by Joseph Smith took place in 1824 in this chapter David Howlett mentions the fact that Mormon apologists and scholars have tried to use what were known as Methodist camp meetings that took place in 1820, you can't do that. Folks if the Methodist camp meeting with Joseph Smith describes a revival that included Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterians normally folks Baptist and Presbyterians usually have a part in the Methodist Meeting why because it's a Methodist Meeting. If not, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian Meeting and yet that's where Mormon apologists have to go.

Oh, there was a Methodist campaign in 1820, so that must've been what Joseph Smith was talking about, not at all. It couldn't of been what Joseph Smith was talking about. The details are not the same. Why do you think the church had a sick more than 40 LDS researchers and historians on this project to try to debunk what Wesley Walters said in his paper, new light on Mormon origins from the Palmyra, New York revival here you have one pastor who does this on a part-time basis as a hobby and they have to put together 40 scholars and are knocking to be able to refute his claim about a Palmyra revival. To me that's just totally bizarre that the church would go to such lengths. If in fact this is supposed to harmonize the two accounts harmonize together and I think that's what needs to be taken away from this whole thing.

When the book goes on to say, even as LDS historians seriously engage these questions, they found themselves occasionally attacked by various officials within the LDS church who thought that their work overly secularized LDS salvation history and use sources that should be kept confidential.

Even sacred sacred the board sacred. Often times when you're talking for instance about Temple and what happens inside there and you say what happens in their secret.

The word sacred is used to while that's really not meant to be talked about and so you're not supposed to talk about it.

It goes on and says, for instance, the supervisor and the church historian's office berated Dean see Jesse another employee for writing an article in 1969 about various first vision accounts.

He told Jesse quote you have had published photographs of manuscripts which I have instructed not to talk about" and the supervisor demanded a written apology by Jesse to be placed in the LDS first presidency's files. Jesse oblige by continued publishing. As will be seen. The questions raised by counter cult ministers, the answers posed by LDS historians and the fears of certain LDS church leaders about even engaging in discourse on the multiple accounts which shape the content of the gospel topics essay almost 50 years later, that is an incredible statement. They knew they had a problem on their hands. Now you wouldn't get that impression by reading the gospel topic essay on the first vision because it's written now in such a way where we don't see a problem, there's no problem here whatsoever.

In fact we been told by some of their leaders harmonizes perfectly if it harmonizes perfectly in the story just flows with a few more extra details that give us a better understanding why do we read this on page 140. In this book dealing with these essays we read it because they knew they had a problem they had to deal with this. How are you going to deal with facts. The only way you can deal with facts is either obfuscate or lie and I have a feeling that we saw little bit of both. In this essay that these historians, whoever they are, because they're all anonymous. That's what we see in this essay. Thank you for listening you would like more information regarding this research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website you can request a free newsletter Mormonism research. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint is

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