Mormonism and Wikipedia/First Vision/Background in the supernatural

Table of Contents

An analysis of the Wikipedia article "First Vision"


A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/First Vision
A work by a collaboration of authors (Link to Wikipedia article here)
The name Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Wikipedia content is copied and made available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Context and development of the vision story  Updated 9/17/2011

Background

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on December 23, 1805 in Vermont, and c. 1816-17, his family moved to a farm just outside the town of Palmyra.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1832) , p. 1

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Like many other Americans living on the frontier at the beginning of the 19th century, Joseph Smith, Jr. and his family believed in visions, dreams, and other mystical communications with God.

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (1998)

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

For example, in 1811, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s maternal grandfather, Solomon Mack, described a series of visions and voices from God that resulted in his conversion to Christianity at the age of seventy-six.

Author's sources:
  1. "About midnight I saw a light about a foot from my face as bright as fire; the doors were all shut and no one stirring in the house. I thought by this that I had but a few moments to live, and oh what distress I was in....Another night soon after, I saw another light as bright as the first, at a small distance from my face, and I thought I had but a few moments to live. And not sleeping nights and reading, all day I was in misery; well you may think I was in distress, soul and body. At another time in the dead of the night I was called by my Christian name; I arise up to answer to my name. The doors all being shut and the house still, I thought the Lord called, and I had but a moment to live."Mack (1811) , p. 25

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • Although this is interesting, we are not quite sure why this is even mentioned, unless the wiki editors are attempting to prove that having visions is hereditary.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Before Joseph Smith, Jr. was born, his mother Lucy Mack Smith went to a grove near her home in Vermont and prayed about her husband Joseph Smith, Sr.'s repudiation of evangelical religion.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , p. 54

FairMormon Response

  • This event is also referred to in Lucy's 1845 manuscript. In the 1845 manuscript, Lucy writes

I was very much hurt by this but did not reply to him then but retired to a grove of handsome wild cherry trees and pray[ed] to the Lord that he <would> so influence the heart of my husband that he would <one day> be induced to rec[e]ive the Gospel whenever it was preached[.]

  • As it is known that Lucy prayed many times and for many reasons, we can only assume that the wiki editor chose to include this because she went to a grove of trees to pray and he wants to relate that to her son Joseph's later experience in a grove.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

That night she said she had a dream which she interpreted as a prophecy that Joseph, Sr., would later accept the "pure and undefiled Gospel of the Son of God."

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , pp. 55–56; Quinn (1998) .

FairMormon Response

  • Lucy states,

And the interpretation given to me was...Joseph, when he was more advanced in life, would hear and received with his whole heart, and rejoice therein; and unto him would be added intelligence, happiness, glory and everlasting life.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

She also stated that Smith, Sr. had a number of dreams or visions between 1811 and 1819,

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , pp. 56–59, 70–74. Smith, Sr.'s first vision was around 1811 (id. at 56-57), and his "seventh and last vision" was in 1819 (id. at 73–74). Bushman says, "The best barometer of the household's religious climate are seven dreams Joseph Sr. had in the years before and after his son's first vision. Lucy wrote down five of them, calling them visions. Since no other member of the family gave an account of the dreams or even referred to them, and Lucy recorded them thirty years later, there is no way of testing the accuracy of her memory." Bushman (2005) , p. 36.

FairMormon Response

 Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

The primary source is interpreted by the wiki editor to say that the dreams and visions occurred between 1811 and 1819, while an allowable secondary source (Bushman) states that they occurred "before and after" Joseph Smith's first vision.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

the first vision occurring when his mind was "much excited upon the subject of religion."

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , pp. 56–57.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Sr.'s first vision confirmed to him the correctness of his refusal to join any organized religious group.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1853) , pp. 57–58. Joseph Smith, Sr.'s second vision as reported by Lucy Mack Smith exhibits many similarities to the Tree of life vision which Joseph Smith, Jr. would later dictate as part of the Book of Mormon Bushman (2005) , p. 36.

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • Lucy Mack Smith's 1853 history may be found in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 1:254. Note also that this phrase was added to the 1853 history and does not appear in the 1845 manuscript. Lucy notes this event as sometime around March 1811, after the birth of their son William:

About this time my husband's mind became much excited upon the subject of religion; yet he would not subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended or the ancient order, as established by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and his Apostles.

Question: Did Joseph Smith incorporate his father's dream of the tree of life into the Book of Mormon?

The details of Joseph's father's dream were written long after the Book of Mormon was published

Critics point to similarities between a dream Joseph Smith's father had and Lehi's dream of the tree of life as evidence that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon based on his own experiences. Significantly, none of Joseph's family regarded the similarities as evidence that Joseph Jr. was engaging in a forgery.

The details of the dream were written long after the Book of Mormon was published. Lucy's account is (at the very least) influenced in its verbiage by the Book of Mormon. Either Joseph Sr. had a remarkably similar dream, or Lucy used the material in the Book of Mormon to either bolster her memory, or it unwittingly influenced her memory.

There are three potential explanations for the similarities

  1. Joseph Smith plagiarized Joseph Sr.'s dream when he wrote the Book of Mormon. This is the stance adopted by the critics.
  2. Joseph Sr. had a dream that was similar to the dream experienced by Lehi, and this was a sign to the Prophet's family that he was translating a real record that came from God. This is certainly possible, though it is impossible to prove or disprove by historical techniques, and so will not be elaborated on. It remains, however, a viable option.
  3. Lucy Mack Smith's account of the dream (which she recorded many years after the fact, when the Book of Mormon account was well-known and published) may have influenced how she remembered and/or recorded her account of Joseph Sr's dream.

Details of Joseph Smith, Sr.'s dream of the tree of life

According to Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith, Senior, the father of the Prophet, had the following dream in 1811 when the family was living in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Joseph Smith, Junior, would have been 5 years old at the time.

I thought...I was traveling in an open, desolate field, which appeared to be very barren. As I was thus traveling, the thought suddenly came into my mind that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing, before I went any further. So I asked myself, "What motive can I have in traveling here, and what place can this be?" My guide, who was by my side, as before, said, "This is the desolate world; but travel on." The road was so broad and barren that I wondered why I should travel in it; for, said I to myself, "Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and straight is the gate that leads to everlasting' life, and few there be that go in there at."

Traveling a short distance farther, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered, and, when I had traveled a little way in it, I beheld a beautiful stream of water, which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream I could see neither the source nor yet the termination; but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope running along the bank of it, about as high as a man could reach, and beyond me was a low, but very pleasant valley, in which stood a tree such as I had never seen before. It was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration. Its beautiful branches spread themselves somewhat like an umbrella, and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape much like a chestnut bur, and as white as snow, or, if possible whiter. I gazed upon the same with considerable interest, and as I was doing so the burs or shells commenced opening and shedding their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description. As I was eating, I said in my heart, "I can not eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me." Accordingly, I went and brought my family, which consisted of a wife and seven children, and we all commenced eating, and praising God for this blessing. We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.

While thus engaged, I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in, and it appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were filled with people, who were very finely dressed. When these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us, and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded.

I presently turned to my guide, and inquired of him the meaning of the fruit that was so delicious. He told me it was the pure love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him, and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children. I told him that we were all there. "No," he replied, "look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also." Upon raising my eyes, I saw two small children, standing some distance off. I immediately went to them, and brought them to the tree; upon which they commenced eating with the rest, and we all rejoiced together. The more we ate, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees, and scooped it up, eating it by double handfuls.

After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building which I saw. He replied, "It is Babylon, it is Babylon, and it must fall. The people in the doors and windows are the inhabitants thereof, who scorn and despise the Saints of God because of their humility."

I soon awoke, clapping my hands together for joy.[1]

There are many obvious connections between this dream and Lehi's vision of the tree of life

There are many obvious connections between this dream and Lehi's vision of the tree of life recorded in 1 Nephi 8:

  • A desolate field representing the world (8:4).
  • A narrow path (8:20).
  • A river of water (8:13).
  • A rope running along the bank of the river (similar in function to the rod of iron in 8:19, 24).
  • A tree with dazzling white fruit (8:10–11).
  • Joseph, Sr. desires that his family should partake of the fruit also (8:12).
  • A spacious building filled with people who are mocking those who eat the fruit (8:26–27).
  • Joseph, Sr. and his family ignore the mocking (8:33).
  • The fruit represents the love of God (11:22).
  • The building represents the world (11:36; 12:18).

The source of the dream is Lucy's manuscript for which she dictated in the winter of 1844–45, 15 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon

The source of the dream is Lucy's manuscript for Joseph Smith, The Prophet And His Progenitors For Many Generations, which she dictated to Martha Jane Coray in the winter of 1844–45. Note the date of Lucy's dictation: more than 15 years after Joseph Smith, Junior, dictated the Book of Mormon.

Dreams are notoriously ephemeral. It is difficult for most people to remember the details of a dream, and those details quickly fade in the first few minutes after awaking.

The amount of detail Lucy records and the second-hand nature and late date of her testimony have led many to the conclusion that Lucy's recollection was strongly influenced by what she read in the Book of Mormon. That is, it is difficult to establish how much Joseph Sr.'s original dream had in common with the Book of Mormon, since the details which we have are only available after the fact, when Lucy's memory would have been affected by what she learned in the more detailed Book of Mormon account (even as it stands, the Book of Mormon account is far more detailed and lengthy than the material from 1844-45).

Thus, it seems plausible that there is a relationship between the Book of Mormon and Lucy's text--but, we cannot know in what direction(s) that influence moved.


The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

The Smith family was also exposed to the intense revivalism of this era. During the Second Great Awakening, numerous revivals occurred in many communities in the northeastern United States and were often reported in the Palmyra Register, a local paper read by the Smith family.

Author's sources:
  1. Turner (1852) , p. 214

FairMormon Response

  • The wiki article is making the assumption that Joseph Smith's First Vision was triggered by a formal religious revival. Joseph claimed that there was an "unusual excitement."

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

In the Palmyra area itself, the only large multi-denominational revivals occurred in 1816-1817 and 1824-1825.

Author's sources:
  1. Bushman (2005) , pp. 36, 46; Vogel (2004) , pp. 26, 58–60: "Indeed, it was the revival of 1824-25, his family's conversion, and his mother's pressure that caused [Smith] so much pain and suffering rather than the revival of 1817 or the one he 'remembered' for 1820." Even Bushman does not argue for an 1820 revival in Palmyra, stating only that the "great revival of 1816 and 1817, which nearly doubled the number of Palmyra Presbyterians, was in progress when the Smiths arrived." (36)

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Synthesis off-site: Do not put together information from multiple sources to reach a conclusion that is not stated explicitly by any of the sources.
    Violated by Bytebear —Diff: off-site

    The statement says that "the only" large revivals occurred before and after 1820. This is not stated in the cited source (Bushman), and is only implied by the second cited source (Vogel). If the words "the only" were removed, the sentence would be correct.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    The wiki editor is attempting to employ LDS historian Richard L. Bushman to set the stage to "prove" that there was no "revival" during the 1820 period associated with Joseph Smith's First Vision. The use of the phrase "Even Bushman does not argue for an 1820 revival" is pejorative. Bushman does not argue in favor of such an event, nor does he argue against it. Instead, he describes Joseph's state of mind in the years leading up to 1820 based upon the religious excitement that had occurred during the previous years.

</blockquote>

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

In the intervening years, there were Methodist revivals, at least within twenty road miles of Palmyra; and more than sixty years later a newspaper editor in Lyons, New York, recalled "various religious awakenings in the neighborhood."

Author's sources:
  1. Mather (1880) , pp. 198–199Roberts (1902) .

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    There is no reason to dwell upon the number of revivals, or their proximity to Palmyra. This is simply an attempt to set the stage to imply that Joseph Smith was lying about the religious excitement that he said he experienced prior to the First Vision in 1820. Also note that the wiki editor is careful to state that the newspaper editor did not make this claim until "more than sixty years later." This subtle spin is intended to maintain doubt that such a revival might actually have occurred.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    It would be more accurate to acknowledge that the Palmyra Register reported a number of events that it called "revivals" during 1820 in the surrounding regions. The following primary source references are from secondary source Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: Confirming Evidences and Contemporary Accounts, 2d ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 192-194. Although Backman is mentioned later in the Wikipedia article as having primary sources of revival activity, the article never mentions that some of these were in the Palmyra Register itself - a newspaper which the wiki article acknowledges was "read by the Smith family."
  • GREAT REVIVALS IN RELIGION. The religious excitement which has for some months prevailed in the towns of this vicinity...This is a time the prophets desired to see, but they never saw it....—Palmyra Register, June 7, 1820
  • REVIVAL. A letter from Homer [N.Y.] dated May 29, received in this town, states, that 200 persons had been hopefully converted in that town since January first; 100 of whom had been added to the Baptist church. The work was still progressing.—Palmyra Register, August 16, 1820
  • REVIVALS OF RELIGION. "The county of Saratoga, for a long time, has been as barren of revivals of religion, as perhaps any other part of this state. It has been like 'the mountains of Gilboa, on which were neither rain nor dew.' But the face of the country has been wonderfully changed of late. The little cloud made its first appearance at Saratoga Springs last summer. As the result of this revival about 40 have made a public profession of religion in Rev. Mr. Griswold's church....A revival has just commenced in the town of Nassau, a little east of Albany. It has commenced in a very powerful manner....—Palmyra Register, September 13, 1820
  • FROM THE RELIGIOUS REMEMBRANCER A SPIRITUAL HARVEST. "I wish you could have been with us yesterday. I had the pleasure to witness 80 persons receive the seal of the covenant, in front of our Church. Soon after 135 persons, new members, were received into full communion. All the first floor of the Church was cleared; the seats and pews were all crowded with the members...Palmyra Register, October 4, 1820
  • For full citations, see Religious revivals in 1820/Primary sources

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

The family also practiced a form of folk magic,

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (1998) , p. xx-xxi A 1985 memorandum sent from the headquarter of the LDS Church Educational System to regional and local administrators read, "Even if the [Mark Hofmann] letters were to be unauthentic, such issues as Joseph Smith's involvement in treasure-seeking and folk magic remain. Ample evidence exists for both of these, even without the letters."

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

which, although not uncommon in this time and place, was criticized by many contemporary Protestants "as either fraudulent illusion or the workings of the Devil."

Author's sources:
  1. Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), 256.

FairMormon Response

  • The wiki editor fails to mention that some practitioners of "folk magic," such as Willard Chase, were also ministers themselves. The editor is, however, quite aware of this fact. Note the comment that editor John Foxe makes on the talk page of a different Wikipedia article "Golden Plates":

Chase is an odd duck, a money digger and a Methodist preacher, who really seems most irritated at Joseph Smith for taking his seer stone. (Get over it, Willard; it's just a rock.) My biggest problem with Chase as a witness is not that he disbelieves in Smith but that he does believe in money digging. --John Foxe (15 February 2007) off-site

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Both Joseph Smith, Sr. and at least two of his sons worked at "money digging," using seer stones in (mostly unsuccessful) attempts to locate lost items and buried treasure.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1838a) , pp. 42–43 (saying that he had been a "money digger" but that it "was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it"). Elders’ Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,1: 43 (July 1838). For a discussion of Joseph Smith's money-digging activities by a sympathetic academic biographer, see Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 48-49.

FairMormon Response

  • From History of the Church 3:29:

Tenth—"Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?" Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

  • Note how Richard L. Bushman is qualified as a "sympathetic" academic biographer.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

In a draft of her memoirs, Lucy Mack Smith referred to folk magic:
I shall change my theme for the present, but let not my reader suppose that because I shall pursue another topic for a season that we stopt our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac, drawing magic circles or soothsaying, to the neglect of all kinds of business. We never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation. But whilst we worked with our hands, we endeavored to remember the service of and the welfare of our souls.
</blockquote>

Author's sources:
  1. Lucy Smith "Preliminary Manuscript," LDS Church Archives, in EMD, 1: 285

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • The wiki editor has updated the text and punctuation somewhat. From Vogel, p. 285:

Now I shall change my theme for the present but let not my reader suppose that because I shall pursue our labor and went <at> tryin=g to win the faculty of Abrac[,] drawing Magic circles or sooth saying to the neglect of all kinds of but[i.sness we never during our lives suffered one important interest to swallow up every other obligation but whilst we worked with our hands we endeavored to remmember the service of & the welfare of our souls.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

D. Michael Quinn has written that Lucy Mack Smith viewed these magical practices as "part of her family's religious quest" while denying that they prevented "family members from accomplishing other, equally important work."

Author's sources:
  1. D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View ((Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 55: "Joseph Smith's mother did not deny her family participation in occult activities but simply affirmed that these did not prevent family members from accomplishing other, equally important work." In a note at EMD 1: 285 (n. 84), Dan Vogel argues that this sentence from the draft may have been excised from the 1853 edition of Lucy Mack Smith's memoirs because of its allusion to folk magic, "which was a sensitive subject for those not wishing to give credence to claims made in affidavits collected in 1833 by Philastus Hurlbut."

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources
  • Vogel states that the allusion to folk magic is "[o]ne possible reason" for the exclusion of this reference from the 1853 edition.
  • The Quinn citation is actually part of Vogel's footnote on page 285, note 84:

D. Michael Quinn has noted, "Joseph Smith's mother did not deny her family's participation in occult activities but simply affirmed that these did not prevent family members from accomplishing other, equally important work. More significantly, she also affirmed that these folk magic activities were part of her family's religious quest" (Quinn 1987, 55)

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Quinn also notes that the Smith family "participated in a wide range of magic practices, and Smith's first vision occurred within the context of his family's treasure quest."

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (1998) , p. 31. Michael Coe, professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale, has called Joseph Smith "a great religious leader...one of the greatest people who ever lived" because like "like a shaman in anthropology," like "magicians doing magic," he "started out faking it" but ended up convincing himself (as well as others) that his visions were true. Coe interview on PBS "The Mormons."

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    It strikes us as odd that Michael D. Coe, an Anthropology professor who is well known as one of the foremost experts on the Maya, is quoted in an article describing the environment in which Joseph Smith's first vision occurred. Dr. Coe is not considered an authority on the First Vision—he is used here simply because of his opinion that Joseph Smith was like a "shaman" and that he started out "faking it." It is helpful to view Dr. Coe's quote in context.

I realized what kind of a person this Joseph Smith was. In my opinion, he was not just a great religious leader; he was a really great American, and I think he was one of the greatest people who ever lived. This extraordinary man, who put together a religion -- probably with many falsities in it, falsehoods, so forth, to begin with -- eventually came to believe in it so much that he really bought his own story and made it believable to other people. In this respect, he's a lot like a shaman in anthropology: these extraordinary religious practitioners in places like Siberia, North America among the Eskimo, the Inuit, who start out probably in their profession as almost like magicians doing magic.

I really think that Joseph Smith, like shamans everywhere, started out faking it. I have to believe this -- that he didn't believe this at all, that he was out to impress, but he got caught up in the mythology that he created. This is what happens to shamans: They begin to believe they can do these things. It becomes a revelation: They're speaking to God. And I don't think they start out that way; I really do not. ... (Michael D. Coe interview off-site)

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Jan Shipps notes that while Joseph Smith's "religious claims were rejected by many of the persons who had known him in the 1820s because they remembered him as a practitioner of the magic arts," others of his earliest followers were attracted to his claims "for precisely the same reason."

Author's sources:
  1. Shipps (1985) , p. 18.

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

Richard Bushman has called the spiritual tradition of the Smith family "a religious melee." Joseph Smith, Sr., insisted on morning and evening prayers, but he was spiritually adrift. "If there was a personal motive for Joseph Smith Jr.'s revelations, it was to satisfy his family's religious want and, above all, to meet the need of his oft-defeated, unmoored father."

Author's sources:
  1. Bushman , pp. 25–27

FairMormon Response

  • From the cited source, p. 25:

Joseph Sr. was not lacking in religion. He spontaneously knelt with his wife to pray for Sophronia in her illness and insisted on morning and evening prayers. Revival seasons aroused his desire for religion. when Solomon Mack was converted during the revival of 1810 and 1811, Joseph Sr. "became much excited upon the subject of religion." What he could not embrace was the institutional religion of his time.

The author(s) of Check link or content make(s) the following claim:

No members of the Smith family were church members before 1820, the reported date of the First Vision.

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (1998) , p. 322. Quinn calls the Smiths "unchurched Christians" who "possessed seer stones, a dagger for drawing the required circles, as well as magic parchments to ward off thieves and communicate with good spirits to help find treasures."

FairMormon Response

  • John A. Matzko notes: "[S]ometime before 1828 Lucy and three of her children—Hyrum, Samuel, and Sophronia—joined the Presbyterian church..." (John A. Matzko, "The Encounter of Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism," Dialogue 40/3 (2007): 71.) Matzko's statement is correct based upon known historical documents, without speculating upon whether or not the Smith's had joined in 1820.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    Lucy's baptism prior to 1820, as recorded in her own history, is not noted.
  • Lucy states,

This course I pursued for many years till at last I concluded that my mind would be easier if I were baptized and I found a minister who was willing to baptize me and leave me free from any membership in any church after which I pursued the same course untill the a my oldest son attained his 22nd year. (1845 manuscript, original spelling retained) (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 1:242)

References

Wikipedia references for "First Vision"
  • Abanes, Richard, (2002), One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church , New York: Four Walls Eight Windows .
  • Allen, James B., (1980), Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Religious Thought off-site .
  • Allen, James B., (1966), The Significance of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Thought off-site .
  • Anderson, Richard Lloyd, Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision off-site .
  • Anderson, Richard Lloyd, (1969), Circumstantial Confirmation Of the first Vision Through Reminiscences off-site .
  • Backman, Milton V., Jr., (1969), Awakenings in the Burned-over District: New Light on the Historical Setting of the first Vision off-site .
  • Berge, Dale L., Archaeological Work at the Smith Log House off-site .
  • Bauder, Peter, Vogel, Dan (editor) (1834), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Bitton, Davis, (1994), Historical Dictionary of Mormonism , Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press .
  • Brown, Matthew B., Historical or Hysterical— Anti-Mormons and Documentary Sources Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research off-site .
  • Bushman, Richard Lyman, (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling , New York: Knopf .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844 , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, (1834), Letter III off-site .
  • Cowdery, Oliver, (1835), Letter IV off-site .
  • Flake, Kathleen, (2004), The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle University of North Carolina Press .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1980), The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation .
  • Howard, Richard P., (1980), Joseph Smith's First Vision: The RLDS Tradition off-site .
  • Howe, Eber Dudley, ed., The Mormon Creed off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean (1989), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings {{{pages}}}
  • Jessee, Dean C., (Spring, 1971), How Lovely was the Morning off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean C., (1969), Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision .
  • Mormon History off-site .
  • Mack, Solomon, (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack Windsor: Solomon Mack off-site .
  • Matzko, John A., (2007), The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism .
  • McKune, Joshua, Review of Mormonism: Rejoiner to Elder Cadwell off-site .
  • Neibaur, Alexander, (1841–48), Journal of Alexander Neibaur off-site .
  • Palmer, Grant H., (2002), An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Signature Books .
  • Phelps, W.W., ed., (1833), A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ , Zion: William Wines Phelps & Co. off-site .
  • Porter, Larry C., (1969), Reverend George Lane—Good "Gifts", Much "Grace", and Marked "Usefulness" off-site .
  • Pratt, Orson, (1840), A Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records , Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes off-site .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1998), Early Mormonism and the Magic World View Signature Books .
  • Ray, Craig N., (2002), Joseph Smith's History Confirmed Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research off-site .
  • Riley, I. Woodbridge, (1903), The Founder of Mormonism: A Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. , New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. off-site
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints LDS Church off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1832), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1835), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1838), History of the Church , copied to Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1839–1843), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Deseret Book .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842a), Church History [Wentworth Letter] off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842b), History of Joseph Smith off-site .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1842c), History of Joseph Smith off-site .
  • Smith, Lucy Mack, (1853), Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations , Liverpool: S.W. Richards off-site .
  • Smith, William, (1883), William Smith on Mormonism: A True Account of the Origin of the Book of Mormon , Lamoni, Iowa: RLDS Church off-site .
  • Smith, William, (1884), The Old Soldier's Testimony off-site .
  • Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987 (5th ed)), Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? {{{pages}}}
  • Taylor, John, How a Knowledge of God is Obtained—The Gospel to the Dead—Various Dispensations of the Most High to Mankind—Power of the Priesthood—Restoration of the Gospel Through Joseph Smith—Failings of the Saints—Corruptions of the Wicked off-site .
  • Tucker, Pomeroy, (1867), Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism , New York: D. Appleton off-site .
  • Turner, Orasmus, (1851), History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris' Reserve , Rochester, New York: William Alling off-site .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (1996), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (1999), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2000), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2002), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan (editor) (2003), Early Mormon Documents , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan, (2004), Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet , Salt Lake City: Signature Books .
  • Waite, David Nye, Sr., The Prairies, Nauvoo, Joseph Smith, the Temple, the Mormons &c off-site .


Copyright © 2005–2013 FairMormon. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The content of this page may not be copied, published, or redistributed without the prior written consent of FairMormon.
We welcome your suggestions for improving the content of this FAIR Wiki article.

Sites we recommend:


  1. Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith, The Prophet And His Progenitors For Many Generations, chapter 14