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Joseph Smith's First Vision/Accounts/Heber C. Kimball's statements regarding the First Vision
Heber C. Kimball denied the Father appeared in the First Vision?
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Question: Did Heber C. Kimball deny that the Father appeared in the First Vision?
This argument is a classic example of taking an isolated statement out of its proper context and drawing a false conclusion based upon faulty evidence
High-ranking Church authority Heber C. Kimball (counselor in the First Presidency) stated in a sermon given after the exodus to the Salt Lake valley that God the Father did not call upon Joseph Smith in person. Was Heber C. Kimball unaware of the details of the First Vision?
The very same evidence that was used in the construction of the anti-Mormon charge about Heber C. Kimball can be used to topple it. Brother Kimball's remarks about God not appearing cannot be legitimately applied to Joseph Smith's First Vision experience.
This argument is a classic example of taking an isolated statement out of its proper context and drawing a false conclusion based upon faulty evidence. When the entire sermon of Heber C. Kimball is examined in detail, the anti-Mormon argument quickly falls apart. On 8 November 1857 Heber C. Kimball said the following:
If God confers gifts, and blessings, and promises, and glories, and immortality, and eternal lives, and you receive them and treasure them up, then our Father and our God has joy in that man. . . . Do you not see [that] God is not pleased with any man except those that receive the gifts, and treasure them up, and practice upon those gifts? And He gives those gifts, and confers them upon you, and will have us to practice upon them. Now, these principles to me are plain and simple.
Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come Himself and call, but He sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come Himself? No: He sent Moroni and told him there was a record, and says he, "That record is [a] matter that pertains to the Lamanites, and it tells when their fathers came out of Jerusalem, and how they came, and all about it; and, says he, "If you will do as I tell you, I will confer a gift upon you." Well, he conferred it upon him, because Joseph said he would do as he told him. "I want you to go to work and take the Urim and Thummim, and translate this book, and have it published, that this nation may read it." Do you not see, by Joseph receiving the gift that was conferred upon him, you and I have that record?
Well, when this took place, Peter came along to him and gave power and authority, and, says he, "You go and baptize Oliver Cowdery, and then ordain him a priest." He did it, and do you not see his works were in exercise? Then Oliver, having authority, baptized Joseph and ordained him a priest. Do you not see the works, how they manifest themselves?
Well, then Peter comes along. Why did not God come? He sent Peter, do you not see? Why did He not come along? Because He has agents to attend to His business, and He sits upon His throne and is established at headquarters, and tells this man, 'Go and do this'; and it is behind the veil just as it is here."
Kimball was talking about the appearance of the angel Moroni in 1823 in connection with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon
From a careful reading of this text it can be concluded that on 8 November 1857 Heber C. Kimball was talking about (#1) the appearance of the angel Moroni in 1823 in connection with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and (#2) the appearance of the apostle Peter in 1829 in connection with the bestowal of the Melchizedek Priesthood. He was talking about two heavenly beings bestowing "gifts" upon Joseph Smith on two different occasions; he was saying that in these two instances God sent His agents to accomplish particular works. However, Heber C. Kimball said absolutely nothing in this statement about the First Vision which occurred in 1820.
It cannot be successfully argued that Heber C. Kimball was not aware of the First Vision story by this point in time either, since no less a person than President Brigham Young recorded in his journal that Brother Kimball was present with several other General Authorities about two and a half months earlier (13 August 1857) when they placed a copy of the Pearl of Great Price inside the southeast cornerstone of the Salt Lake Temple. This volume contained the 1838 account of the First Vision which was published by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1842. There were also several other publications placed inside the temple cornerstone which rehearsed the First Vision story.
- Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:29-30, (emphasis added).
- Brigham Young Journal, 13 August 1857, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.