Christensen: "Runnells shifts the argument regarding the First Vision from 'absolutely no record of' to...'the first vision was unknown to the Saints and the world before 1832'"

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Christensen: "Runnells shifts the argument regarding the First Vision from 'absolutely no record of' to...'the first vision was unknown to the Saints and the world before 1832'"

Kevin Christensen: [1]

On page 22 of his Letter, Runnells claims that “there is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832.”[2] The FairMormon website response points out an article in the Palmyra Reflector from 1831 that indicates discussion of Joseph’s vision as early as November 1830. They also point to the allusion in D&C 20, which dates to April 1830. Notice that in his response to FairMormon, Runnells shifts the argument regarding the First Vision from “absolutely no record” to “this actually confirms the point I’m making in that the first vision was unknown to the Saints and the world before 1832. In fact, most of the Saints were unaware of a first vision until it was published in 1842.” But of course, that was not the point he was making. “Absolutely no record” is the point he was making. His response swaps in a very different claim, one much easier to defend....

In his original Letter, Runnells says, “Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834.”[3] He uncritically repeats [Grant] Palmer’s claims about an 1834 date and leaves this crucially important information from 1832 off the table. When FairMormon points out the 1832 account, he labors to devalue the significance of this passage, and of other earlier sources that FairMormon mentions: “FAIR’s above answer actually confirms my point that the general Church membership was unfamiliar with the now official story of the Priesthood restoration until 1834. The best FAIR can do after scouring through everything for their rebuttal is this?”[4]

Notice again the shift from an original argument against the priesthood restoration based on “no such claim until 1834” to a much softer complaint about the general membership being “unfamiliar with the now official story.”

Notes

  1. Kevin Christensen, "Eye of the Beholder, Law of the Harvest: Observations on the Inevitable Consequences of the Different Investigative Approaches of Jeremy Runnells and Jeff Lindsay," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10:175-238 (2014).
  2. Jeremy Runnells, “Letter to a CES Director,” 22.
  3. Runnells, “Letter to a CES Director,” 49.
  4. Runnells, “Debunking FAIR’s Debunking”.