Brothers and sisters many of us have been fooled. Not by our belief in God but in the teachings of man and how man has interacted with God. Because of this I thought today we look at the beginning first and look how people might be fooled.
Genesis 1: 1-28: In the beginning
The Story of Creation.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth 2 and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters 3 Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness.5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day. 6 Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.7 God made the dome,* and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened. 8 God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day. 9 Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared.10 God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: 12 the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. 13 Evening came, and morning followed—the third day. 14 Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years, 15 and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened: 16 God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day. 20 Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. 21 God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, 22 and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth. 23 Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day. 24 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: 25 God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said: Let us make* human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. 27 God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth
Now, considering that man has since the beginning of mankind tried to play God, remember to preface these articles with the concept that God created man not the other way around. We begin with this thesis because it puts the rest into perspective. How could or can man change what is God’s?
Because of this belief we must ask this question: if God established His Church why would man have to restore it? Would this act not out man above God? How could a Church be changed by man and if a man claimed to be acting under God's direction would his story five or six times just to adopt convenient concepts or ideas?
Therefore why would we need a restoration by man’s hands? If you listen to the Mormon Missionaries tell the story of the First Vision, Joseph Smith clearly stated that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in a grove of trees near his parents’ home in western New York State when he was about 14 years old. However, was this the real truth? Why was there a real need for a change in Christianity in 1820? Why not earlier? Why at all?
Part of this is answered by the Missionaries when they explain that it was concerned about his sins and his not knowing what spiritual path to follow, Joseph sought guidance by attending meetings, reading scripture, and praying. They explain that this was a time of great revivals of the church in western New York. What person when they are having a faith crisis actually starts their own church? However, this is not as unusual as one might think. The common thread is that they all will claim that they had the authority to do so by God. Who gave them this authority? This is what makes each different and important for everyone to understand. Joseph Smith claimed he was told by God. To better understand this claim let us look at the fact that Smith’s story changed at least four times and possibly as many as nine or more times. Many of his claims are contradictory in nature and take out the entire claim of the other stories.
In answer, he received a heavenly manifestation. Joseph shared and documented the First Vision, as it came to be known, on multiple occasions; he wrote or assigned scribes to write four different accounts of the vision. Yes, you heard correctly
Joseph Smith published two accounts of the First Vision during his lifetime. The first of these, known today as Joseph Smith—History, was canonized in the Pearl of Great Price and thus became the best known account. This is the story that Missionaries use today. The two unpublished accounts, recorded in Joseph Smith’s earliest autobiography and a later journal, were generally forgotten until historians working for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rediscovered and published them in the 1960s. Since that time, these documents have been discussed repeatedly in Church magazines, in works printed by Church-owned and Church-affiliated presses, and by Latter-day Saint scholars in other venues. In addition to the firsthand accounts, there are also five descriptions of Joseph Smith’s vision recorded by his contemporaries.
The various accounts of the First Vision tell a consistent story, though naturally they differ in emphasis and detail. These accounts could be considered consistent if Joseph Smith was the same age in each, if he saw the same number of people in each one and if the words were the same in each. In every case-the stories of the first vision change. The first vision had only God (Trinitarian Belief) and for eight years plus the LDS was Trinitarian (The Community of Christ- formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints- still believes in the Trinity.) Then in the late 1830’s the LDS Church began to believe in separate beings for Jesus and Christ-it was at that time that the LDS Church changed the first vision story to go along with their new beliefs.
Historians expect that when an individual retells an experience in multiple settings to different audiences over many years, each account will emphasize various aspects of the experience and contain unique details. However, these contradictory are more than repeating unique ideas these are out right changing vast amounts of information to cause people to change their beliefs.
Indeed, differences similar to those in the First Vision accounts exist in the multiple scriptural accounts of Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus and the Apostles’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is very interesting to note here that these stories didn’t change as much as the first vision.
Yet despite the differences, the LDS Church holds fast to their arguments that this basic consistency remains across all the accounts of the First Vision. They claim that some have mistakenly argued that any variation in the retelling of the story is evidence of fabrication. I ask you this question: is not changing a story for material gain evidence of fabrication? Is not knowing the truth and once you report decide to change the truth to fit your own purposes evidence of fabrication?
Accounts of the First Vision
Each account of the First Vision by Joseph Smith and his contemporaries has its own history and context that influenced how the event was recalled, communicated, and recorded. These accounts are discussed below. The following information is from the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Website. Look for yourself how the characters, events, words, and age has changed
1832 Account. The earliest known account of the First Vision, the only account written in Joseph Smith’s own hand, is found in a short, unpublished autobiography Joseph Smith produced in the second half of 1832. In the account, Joseph Smith described his consciousness of his own sins and his frustration at being unable to find a church that matched the one he had read about in the New Testament and that would lead him to redemption. He emphasized Jesus Christ’s Atonement and the personal redemption it offered. He wrote that “the Lord” appeared and forgave him of his sins. As a result of the vision, Joseph experienced joy and love, though, as he noted, he could find no one who believed his account. Read the 1832 account here.
1835 Account. In the fall of 1835, Joseph Smith recounted his First Vision to Robert Matthews, a visitor to Kirtland, Ohio. The retelling, recorded in Joseph’s journal by his scribe Warren Parrish, emphasizes his attempt to discover which church was right, the opposition he felt as he prayed, and the appearance of one divine personage who was followed shortly by another. This account also notes the appearance of angels in the vision. Read the 1835 account here.
1838 Account. The narration of the First Vision best known to Latter-day Saints today is the 1838 account. First published in 1842 in the Times and Seasons, the Church’s newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois, the account was part of a longer history dictated by Joseph Smith between periods of intense opposition. Whereas the 1832 account emphasizes the more personal story of Joseph Smith as a young man seeking forgiveness, the 1838 account focuses on the vision as the beginning of the “rise and progress of the Church.” Like the 1835 account, the central question of the narrative is which church is right. Read the 1838 account here.
1842 Account. Written in response to Chicago Democrat editor John Wentworth’s request for information about the Latter-day Saints, this account was printed in the Times and Seasons in 1842. (The “Wentworth letter,” as it is commonly known, is also the source for the Articles of Faith.)4 The account, intended for publication to an audience unfamiliar with Mormon beliefs, is concise and straightforward. As with earlier accounts, Joseph Smith noted the confusion he experienced and the appearance of two personages in answer to his prayer. The following year, Joseph Smith sent this account with minor modifications to a historian named Israel Daniel Rupp, who published it as a chapter in his book, He Pasa Ekklesia [The Whole Church]: An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States.5 Read the 1842 account here.
Secondhand Accounts. Besides these accounts from Joseph Smith himself, five accounts were written by contemporaries who heard Joseph Smith speak about the vision. Read these accounts here.
You read the accounts and you will see that words were changed, ideas were changed, and truths were indeed manipulated for the purpose of reinforcing a changing narrative. There can be no other reason to do this, can there? Is not the truth eternal when it comes to God? Is it not the purpose of this life to live our life in such a way so that we can get back to him? If this is the case, why mess around such a story when you can have the truth? If the truth shall set you free, set yourself free of the shackles of this manipulated story and return back to Christ and the Church.