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I am writing this letter to explain in detail how I came to the conclusion that the Church is not all it claims to be. You are my whole world. I have been known to get intellectually excited about various subjects on occasion. I tend to investigate every piece of information and exhaust all resources to satisfy my curiosity. One day I came across an Ensign article discussing the new Joseph Smith Papers project that caused my curiosity to extend into Church history. I soon became captivated.
I began reading every Church-approved historical resource I could find. It was all so fascinating. My intent was to learn more about the history and to strengthen my testimony, but every so often I would run across well-known events that did not match the narrative I was taught growing up in the Church. This letter is a collection of these events and other inconsistencies.
I would like to address something before you continue reading. Much of this information will be new to you; it was to me. It may feel uncomfortable learning things we were never taught in church.
We have been told that this feeling is the Spirit warning us; but please consider that any information that seriously challenges our worldview will make us feel this way. My only request is that you read this with an open mind about the possibility that anything is possible in this crazy world.
Church Historian, Elder Steven E. We might not have all the answers, but if we are open — and we now have pretty remarkable transparency — then I think in the long run that will serve us well. I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. Snow — Start With Faith: A Conversation with Elder Steven E. Snow, Religious Educator 14, no.
The truth is not uplifting; it destroys…Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting. Elder Packer counsels that not all truth should be shared, but what determines which should be shared and which should be censored? At what point do partial truths become lies? I feel that a true church should not have a troublesome past to hide and be open to full disclosure if there is any.
If it did not, then this work is a fraud. When studying the circumstances surrounding the First Vision, issues arise that are not taught to members of the Church. Joseph Smith claimed to have experienced the First Vision in , yet there appears to be no record before The Church confirms this fact when it states,. If this event occurred in , then it was 12 years later when Joseph decided to first make a record of it; 2 years after the organization of the Church.
No contemporary periodicals in the s mention Joseph Smith, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no journal or correspondence from that time mention the story of the First Vision. Former Church Historian James B. A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn According to the historical record, there is no reference to the First Vision as we know it, in any published material in the s. Five years later the Church decided to add to the Book of Commandments a series of lectures that Joseph prepared for teaching in the School of the Prophets.
The story of the First Vision was not printed in the s. Before its first publication, none of the more than 16, members of the Church ever recorded hearing about it.
Several religious publications in the New England area demonstrate that such visions were common during the early Church. Norris Stearns published his own vision in Greenfield, Massachusetts in ; not far from where the Joseph Smith Senior family lived in Vermont. At the same time, there appeared a small gleam of light in the room, above the brightness of the sun, then at his meridian, which grew brighter and brighter… At length, being in an ecstasy of joy, I turned to the other side of the bed, whether in the body or out I cannot tell, God knoweth there I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight.
But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man—His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. All was condescension, peace, and love! Asa Wild — Wayne Sentinel, Billy Hibbard, a New York preacher, published his memoirs in and included an experience with meeting Jesus and God the Father when was a young boy.
Minister of the Gospel, Solomon Chamberlin, an early member of the Church, published a pamphlet of his experience before he met Joseph Smith. The angel told him that the churches were corrupt and that God would soon raise up an apostolic church. Chamberlain printed up an account of his visions and was still distributing them and looking for the apostolic church when he stopped in Palmyra.
It appears that when Joseph Smith initially wrote his First Vision experience in , many people related stories of visionary experiences with Heavenly Father and Jesus. Fourth account — account from the Wentworth Letter notes two beings; again neither identified as God or Jesus. Just after the turn of the century the Church needed to decide on an official account of the First Vision.
It picked the version that was printed in the Times and Seasons on March 15th, It was the first time any account identified the heavenly visitor s , as anything other than angels. Compared to the earliest mention of the First Vision written by Joseph Smith himself, the official account written by Mulholland shows some discrepancies. Also, the near-death experience of being overcome by an evil power is only found in the James Mulholland version. Summary from pearl of Great price.
The differences between both accounts are quite significant, especially in the most important piece of information they are communicating. No priesthood, relief society or Sunday school manual has ever mentioned that the First Vision story found in the Pearl of Great Price differs significantly from the one Joseph originally wrote. It appears that Joseph told the elders of the Church a very different experience than any of his written accounts. Brigham Young — Journal of Discourses, vol.
How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven, who held converse with man, and revealed unto him the darkness that enveloped the world … He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world … Joseph was strengthened by the Spirit and power of God, and was enabled to listen to the teachings of the angel.
The man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the Gospel. Wilford Woodruff — Journal of Discourses , vol. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong. Smith — Journal of Discourses, , vol. None of them was right, just as it was when the Prophet Joseph asked the angel which of the sects was right that he might join it. The answer was that none of them are right. What, none of them? We will not stop to argue that question; the angel merely told him to join none of them that none of them were right.
John Taylor — Journal of Discourses, vol. It also appears that average members are not the only ones surprised by this evidence. President of the First Quorum of the Seventy, S. Dilworth Young, published a statement in the Improvement Era on this subject. I am concerned however with one item which has recently been called to my attention on this matter. There appears to be going about our communities some writing to the effect that the Prophet Joseph Smith evolved his doctrine from what might have been a vision, in which he is supposed to have said that he saw an angel, instead of the Father and the Son.
According to this theory, by the time he was inspired to write the occurrence in , he had come to the conclusion that there were two beings. This rather shocked me. I can see no reason why the Prophet, with his brilliant mind, would have failed to remember in sharp relief every detail of that eventful day. I can remember quite vividly that in I had a mere dream, and while the dream was prophetic in nature, it was not startling. It has been long since fulfilled, but I can remember every detail of it as sharply and clearly as though it had happened yesterday.
How then could any man conceive that the Prophet, receiving such a vision as he received, would not remember it and would fail to write it clearly, distinctly, and accurately? According to the historical record, there no reference to the First Vision as we know it, in any published material in the s. The Church has always taught that the translation process of the Book of Mormon looked like this: Joseph Smith read the golden plates like a book, translating the text out loud to Oliver Cowdery, who served as scribe.
The context surrounding the translation process raises issues that are not evident to members of the Church. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.
Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man. Contrary to general Church teachings, Joseph did not read the gold plates like an open book at all. Rather, during the translation process he buried his face in a hat that contained a common rock.
The gold plates were either covered by a cloth where no one, including Joseph, could see them or they were in a different location altogether. The Church knew the true method, yet commission works of art and film and use the education system to teach otherwise.
In December the Church released an essay addressing the translation of the Book of Mormon issue. Finally, after public criticisms, the seer stone is again mentioned for a new generation of members.
On August 4th, , LDS./p>
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