Question: Did any twentieth century leader after Joseph Smith report divine visions?

Table of Contents

Question: Did any twentieth century leader after Joseph Smith report divine visions?

Many such visions are recorded

See also: 19th century divine visions and 20th century divine visions

Ezra Taft Benson

As one of those called as special witnesses, I add my testimony to those of fellow Apostles: He lives! He lives with resurrected body. There is no truth or fact of which I am more assured, or know better by personal experience, than the truth of the literal resurrection of our Lord.[1]

And so on the third day following His burial, He came forth from the tomb alive and showed Himself to many. There were witnesses then who saw Him. There have been many in this dispensation who have seen Him. As one of those special witnesses…I testify to you that He lives. He lives with a resurrected body.[2]

Hugh B. Brown

Hugh B. Brown reported an event that his nephew, Harold B. Lee, recorded in his journal and later shared:

‘He [Elder Brown] said it was not a vision, but the Lord appeared to him, very informal, the same as I was sitting talking to him. The Lord said, ‘You have had some difficult times in your life.’ Uncle Hugh responded, ‘Yes, and your life was more difficult than any of us have had.’ In the conversation Uncle Hugh asked when he would be finished here, and the Lord said, ‘I don’t know and I wouldn’t tell you if I did.’ Then He said, ‘Remain faithful to the end, and everything will be all right.’[3]

Henry B. Eyring

I am grateful that I know as surely as did the Apostles Peter, James, and John that Jesus is the Christ, our risen Lord, and that he is our advocate with the Father. I know that the Father bore direct witness of His Beloved Son by introducing the resurrected Lord to the boy Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the Prophet Joseph through the power of God. I know that the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored by those who received them from the Savior and that President Gordon B. Hinckley is now the only person on earth authorized to direct the use of all those keys. I bear solemn testimony that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ, in which the ordinances and the covenants are offered, which if accepted and honored produce peace in this life and assure us eternal life in the world to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[4]

James E. Faust

Mine is the certain knowledge that Jesus is our divine Savior, Redeemer, and the son of God the Father. I know of his reality by a sure perception so sacred I cannot give utterance to it. I know and testify with an absolute awareness that Joseph Smith restored the keys of the fulness of times and that every President of the Church has held those keys, as does President Gordon B. Hinckley today.[5]

David B. Haight

  • Elder Haight recounted a lengthy vision granted to him during a serious illness.[6]
  • See below for Elder Haight on the 1978 revelation.

Spencer W. Kimball

  • “I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives,” said John Taylor, my predecessor, “for I have seen him.” I bear this testimony to you brethren in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."[7]
  • Brethren and Sisters, we come now to the close of this great conference. You have heard from most of the Brethren, as I have said and their testimonies have been inspiring. What they have told you is true. It has come from their hearts. They have this same testimony, and they know it is true. They are true servants sent to you from our Heavenly Father. I pray that you will be listening, that you will be remembering, that you will take these many truths with you to your homes and in your lives and to your families. Brethren and Sisters, I want to add to these testimonies of these prophets my testimony that I know that He lives. And I know that we may see him, and that we may be with him, and that we may enjoy his presence always if we will live the commandments of the Lord and do the things which we have been commanded by him to do and reminded by the Brethren to do.[8]

Harold B. Lee

  • I know that this is the Lord’s work. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he is closer to this Church and appears more often in holy places than any of us realize, excepting those to whom he makes personal appearance.[9]
  • In 1974:
I shall never forget my feelings of loneliness the Saturday night after I was told by the President of the Church that I was to be sustained the next day as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. That was a sleepless night….

And then one of the Brethren, who arranged for Sunday evening radio programs, said, “Now you know that after having been ordained, you are a special witness to the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. We want you to give the Easter talk next Sunday night.”

The assignment was to bear testimony of the mission of the Lord concerning His resurrection, His life, and His ministry, so I went to a room in the Church Office Building where I could be alone, and I read the Gospels, particularly those that had to do with the closing days and weeks and months of the life of Jesus. And as I read, I realized that I was having a new experience.

It wasn’t any longer just a story; it seemed as though I was actually seeing the events about which I was reading, and when I gave my talk and closed with my testimony, I said, “I am now the least of all my brethren and want to witness to you that I know, as I have never known before this call came, that Jesus is the Savior of this world. He lives and He died for us.” Why did I know? Because there had come a witness, that special kind of a witness, that may have been the more sure word of prophecy that one must have if he is to be a special witness.[10]
  • He also testified:
May I bear my own testimony. Some years ago two missionaries came to me with what seemed to them to be a very difficult question. A young Methodist minister had laughed at them when they had said that apostles were necessary today in order for the true church to be upon the earth. They said that the minister said, “Do you realize that when the apostles met to choose one to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judas, they said it had to be one who companied with them and had been a witness of all things pertaining to the mission and resurrection of the Lord? How can you say you have apostles, if that be the measure of an apostle?”

And so these young men said, “What shall we answer?”

I said to them, “Go back and ask your minister friend two questions. First, how did the Apostle Paul gain what was necessary to be called an apostle? He didn’t know the Lord, had no personal acquaintance. He hadn’t accompanied the apostles. He hadn’t been a witness of the ministry nor of the resurrection of the Lord. How did he gain his testimony sufficient to be an apostle? And the second question you ask him is, How does he know that all who are today apostles have not likewise received that witness?”

I bear witness to you that those who hold the apostolic calling may, and do, know of the reality of the mission of the Lord. To know is to be born and quickened in the inner man.[11]

Dallin H. Oaks

Why don't our talks in general conference and local meetings say more about the miracles we have seen? Most of the miracles we experience are not to be shared. Consistent with the teachings of the scriptures, we hold them sacred and share them only when the Spirit prompts us to do so…In bearing testimonies and in our public addresses we rarely mention our most miraculous experiences, and we rarely rely on signs that the gospel is true. We usually just affirm our testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and give few details on how we obtained it. Why is this? Signs _follow_ those that believe. Seeking a miracle to convert someone is improper sign seeking. By the same token, it is usually inappropriate to recite miraculous circumstances to a general audience that includes people with very different levels of spiritual maturity. To a general audience, miracles will be faith-reinforcing for some but an inappropriate sign for others.[12]

Visions do happen. Voices are heard from beyond the veil. I know this. But these experiences are exceptional. And those who have these great and exceptional experiences rarely speak of them publicly because we are instructed not to do so (see D&C 63:64) and because we understand that the channels of revelation will be closed if we show these things before the world.[13]

Boyd K. Packer

  • There has come, these last several years, a succession of announcements that show our day to be a day of intense revelation, equaled, perhaps, only in those days of beginning, 150 years ago But then, as now, the world did not believe. They say that ordinary men are not inspired; that there are no prophets, no apostles; that angels do not minister unto men—not to ordinary men. That doubt and disbelief have not changed. But now, as then, their disbelief cannot change the truth. We lay no claim to being Apostles of the world—but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The test is not whether men will believe, but whether the Lord has called us—and of that there is no doubt. We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so. But we are free, indeed, we are obliged, to bear that special witness…Like all of my Brethren, I too come from among the ordinary people of the Church. I am the seventy–eighth man to be accepted by ordination into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation. Compared to the others who have been called, I am nowhere near their equal, save it be, perhaps, in the certainty of the witness we share. I feel compelled, on this 150th anniversary of the Church, to certify to you that I know that the day of miracles has not ceased. I know that angels minister unto men. I am a witness to the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; that He has a body of flesh and bone; that He knows those who are His servants here and that He is known of them. I know that He directs this Church now, as He established it then, through a prophet of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[14]
  • Dreams and visions and visitations are not uncommon in the Church and are a part of all that the Lord has revealed in this dispensation. Thus a worthy Church member may be the recipient of a marvelous spiritual experience. I have come to know that these experiences are personal and are to be kept private. Recipients should ponder them in their heart and not talk lightly about them. [15]
  • I did not accept it [my spiritual witness] as a commission or a setting apart. It was a testimony, a witness, the witness. From that time to this, my challenge has not been with obedience, nor with resolution or diligence; it has been with restraint! The challenge has been to temper myself and bridle my impulsive Danish personality. It has been to keep sacred and keep private that which each of us must learn for one's own self. Such an experience is at once a light to follow and a burden to carry.[16]
  • Revelation continues with us today. The promptings of the Spirit, the dreams, and the visions and the visitations, and the ministering of angels all are with us now. And the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost “is a lamp unto [our] feet, and a light unto [our] path.” (Psalms 119:105.) Of that I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[17]
  • All teachers are, of course, themselves students. While as teachers there are some difficult questions that we can hardly attempt to answer, likewise as students there are some questions that we could not in propriety ask.

One question of this type I am asked occasionally, usually by someone who is curious, is, "Have you seen Him?" That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my Brethren in the Council of the Twelve, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration—indeed, some authorization—even to ask it.

Though I have not asked that question of others, I have heard them answer it—but not when they were asked. I have heard one of my Brethren declare, "I know, from experiences too sacred to relate, that Jesus is the Christ." I have heard another testify, "I know that God lives, I know that the Lord lives, and more than that, I know the Lord." I repeat: they have answered this question not when they were asked, but under the prompting of the Spirit, on sacred occasions, when "the Spirit beareth record." (D&C 1:39.)

There are some things just too sacred to discuss: not secret, but sacred; not to be discussed, but to be harbored and protected and regarded with the deepest of reverence.[18]

  • "Have you seen Him?' That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my brethren in the Quorum, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration, indeed, some authorization, even to ask it.… I have come to know what the Prophet Alma meant:
"It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full." (Alma 12:9-10.)
There are those who hear testimonies borne in the Church, by those in high station and by members in the wards and branches, all using the same words-"I know that God lives; I know that Jesus is the Christ," and come to question, "Why cannot it be said in plainer words? Why aren't they more explicit and more descriptive. Cannot the Apostles say more?"
Some seek for a witness to be given in some new and dramatic and different way.… To one who is honestly seeking, the testimony borne in these simple phrases is enough; for it is the Spirit that beareth record, not the words.[19]
  • “I want our family to know that they have heard grandpa bear his testimony. I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, that the gospel is true, and that I know Him when I see Him, and I know His voice when I hear Him. I want you little ones to remember that you heard your grandfather bear a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[20]
  • After all the years that I have lived and taught and served, after the millions of miles I have traveled around the world, with all that I have experienced, there is one great truth that I would share. That is my witness of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon recorded the following after a sacred experience:
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him” (D&C 76:22–23).

Their words are my words.

I believe and I am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He lives. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, and “by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).
I bear my witness that the Savior lives. I know the Lord. I am His witness. I know of His great sacrifice and eternal love for all of Heavenly Father’s children. I bear my special witness in all humility but with absolute certainty, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[21]

George F. Richards

The Lord has revealed to men by dreams something more than I [President Kimball] ever understood or felt before. I heard this more than once in quorum meetings of the Council of the Twelve when George F. Richards was president. He was the venerable father of Brother LeGrand Richards who has just spoken to us. He said,
“I believe in dreams, brethren. The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, which was the means of saving a nation from starvation, or the dream of Lehi who through a dream led his colony out of the old country across the mighty deep to this promised land, or any other dreams that we might read in the scriptures.
“It is not out of place for us to have important dreams,” he said. “And then more than 40 years ago I had a dream which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it to him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him.
“As a result of that dream, I had this feeling that no matter what might be required of my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do even to the laying down of my life.
“And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2–3.) I think that is where I want to be.
“If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life.”[22]

Marion G. Romney

[In his journal, Marion G. Romney wrote:] I don't know just how to answer people when they ask the question, "Have you seen the Lord?" I think that the witness that I have and the witness that each of us has, and the details of how it came, are too sacred to tell. I have never told anybody some of the experiences I have had, not even my wife. I know that God lives. I not only know that he lives, but I know him.[23]

George Albert Smith

Recalling a time of great sickness, President Smith said:

I became so weak as to be scarcely able to move. It was a slow and exhausting effort for me even to turn over in bed. One day, under these conditions, I lost consciousness of my surroundings and thought I had passed to the Other Side…. I saw a man coming towards me. I became aware that he was a very large man, and I hurried my steps to reach him, because I recognized him as my grandfather.

When Grandfather came within a few feet of me, he stopped. His stopping was an invitation for me to stop. Then—and this I would like the boys and girls and young people never to forget—he looked at me very earnestly and said:

“I would like to know what you have done with my name.”

Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen—everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said:

[Page 228]“I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”

He stepped forward and took me in his arms, and as he did so, I became conscious again of my earthly surroundings. My pillow was as wet as though water had been poured on it—wet with tears of gratitude that I could answer unashamed.[24]

1978 Revelation

Many witnesses described the 1978 revelation on the priesthood. Wrote the past LDS Church Historian:

As a historian I sought to learn the particulars and record them in my private diary. The following account is based on dozens of interviews with persons who talked with church officials after the revelation was announced. Although members of the Twelve and the First Presidency with whom I sought interviews felt they should not elaborate on what happened, I learned details from family members and friends to whom they had made comments. . . .

Those in attendance said that as [President Kimball] began his earnest prayer, they suddenly realized that it was not Kimball's prayer, but the Lord speaking through him. A revelation was being declared. Kimball himself realized that the words were not his but the Lord's. During that prayer some of the Twelve -- at least two who have said so publicly -- were transported into a celestial atmosphere, saw a divine presence and the figures of former presidents of the church (portraits of whom were hanging on the walls around them) smiling to indicate their approval and sanction. . . .

At the end of the heavenly manifestation Kimball, weeping for joy, confronted the church members, many of them also sobbing, and asked if they sustained this heavenly instruction. Embracing, all nodded vigorously and jubilantly their sanction. There had been a startling and commanding revelation from God -- an ineffable experience.

Two of the apostles present described the experience as a "day of Pentecost" similar to the one in the Kirtland Temple on April 6, 1836, the day of its dedication. They saw a heavenly personage and heard heavenly music. To the temple-clothed members, the gathering, incredible and without compare, was the greatest single event of their lives. Those I talked with wept as they spoke of it. All were certain they had witnessed a revelation from God.[25]

Elder David B. Haight said of the same experience:

I would hope someday that our great-grandson Mark and others of our posterity would have similar spiritual experiences and that they would feel the spiritual power and influence of this gospel. I hope that Mark and others will have opportunities such as I had when I was in the temple when President Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation regarding the priesthood. I was the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was there. I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterwards. We just left quietly to go back to the office. No one could say anything because of the powerful outpouring of the heavenly spiritual experience.

But just a few hours after the announcement was made to the press, I was assigned to attend a stake conference in Detroit, Michigan. When my plane landed in Chicago, I noticed an edition of the Chicago Tribune on the newsstand. The headline in the paper said, "Mormons Give Blacks Priesthood." And the subheading said, "President Kimball Claims to Have Received a Revelation." I bought a copy of the newspaper. I stared at one word in that subheading: claims. It stood out to me just like it was in red neon. As I walked along the hallway to make my plane connection, I thought, Here I am now in Chicago walking through this busy airport, yet I was a witness to this revelation. I was there. I witnessed it. I felt that heavenly influence. I was part of it. Little did the editor of that newspaper realize the truth of that revelation when he wrote, "Claims to Have Received a Revelation." Little did he know, or the printer, or the man who put the ink on the press, or the one who delivered the newspaper -- little did any of them know that it was truly a revelation from God. Little did they know what I knew because I was a witness to it.[26]


See also: 19th century divine visions and 20th century divine visions


Notes

  1. Ezra Taft Benson, “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” University of Utah fireside, 9 December 1979. Published in New Era 10 (December 1980): 48 and Ensign (December 2001).
  2. Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ: Our Savior, Our God," Ensign (April 1991), 4; citing a talk given in San Diego, California on 21 December 1979.
  3. Cited in G. Homer Durham, N. Eldon Tanner: His Life and Service (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1982), 254-256.
  4. Henry B. Eyring, "Witnesses for God," Ensign (November 1996), 30.
  5. James E. Faust, Conference Report (April 1995), 83. See also James E. Faust, "Heirs of the Kingdom of God," Ensign (May 1995), 61.
  6. David B. Haight, "The Sacrament and the Sacrifice," Ensign (November 1989), 59-60.
  7. Spencer W. Kimball, "Strengthening the Family—the Basic Unit of the Church," Ensign (May 1978), 45. (President Kimball misspoke the name--it should be George Q. Cannon, not John Taylor.)
  8. Spencer W. Kimball, "The Cause is Just and Worthy," Ensign (May 1974), 119.
  9. Harold B. Lee, “Everlasting Covenant,” MIA conference address, 29 June 1969, 9–10; cited in Living Prophets for a Living Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973), 119; also in Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 11 and portion in Ye Are the Light of the World (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1974), 10.
  10. Harold B. Lee, Joint Nottingham and Leicester Conference Nottingham Stake, England, 2 September 1973; cited in "Speaking for Himself—President Lee’s Stories," Ensign (February 1974), 18. Also in Leon R. Hartshorn, Classic Stories from the Lives of Our Prophets (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1971), 337.
  11. Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1974), 64–65.
  12. Dallin H. Oaks, "Miracles," CES Fireside in Calgary, Canada, 7 May 2000, 3. See selections in "Miracles," Ensign (June 2001).
  13. Dallin H. Oaks, "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign (March 1997), 14.
  14. Boyd K. Packer, "A Tribute to the Rank and File of the Church," Ensign (May 1980), 65.
  15. Boyd K. Packer, The Things of the Soul (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 56, [Address given at Young Adults Church Education System broadcast 7 November 1993.
  16. Boyd K. Packer, cited in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1995), 60.
  17. Boyd K. Packer, "Revelation in a Changing World," Ensign (November 1989), 16.
  18. Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 86–87.
  19. Boyd K. Packer, "'The Spirit Beareth Record'," Ensign (June 1971), 87–88.
  20. Boyd K. Packer, “Jesus is the Christ,” Church News (25 December 2010): 3.
  21. Boyd K. Packer, "The Witness," Ensign (May 2014).
  22. Spencer W. Kimball, "The Cause Is Just and Worthy," Ensign (May 1974).
  23. Marion G. Romney, cited in F. Burton Howard, Marion G. Romney: His Life and Faith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988), 222.
  24. George Albert Smith and Preston Nibley, Sharing the Gospel with Others (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1948), 111–112; also available in Leon R. Hartshorn, Classic Stories from the Lives of Our Prophets (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1971), 239.
  25. Leonard J. Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 176-177
  26. David B. Haight, "This Work Is True," Ensign (May 1996), 22.


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims