Question: What prior knowledge did George Q. Cannon have of the First Vision?

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Question: What prior knowledge did George Q. Cannon have of the First Vision?

In January 1866, Cannon wrote two articles that contain a detailed account of the First Vision

The best way to deal with the two George Q. Cannon quotations that are being used by critics is to show that Brother Cannnon was well aware of the orthodox First Vision account long before the time when the disputed quotes were made.

Cannon wrote two articles:

George Q. Cannon, "Biography: Joseph Smith, the Prophet," The Juvenile Instructor 1 no. 1 (1 January 1866), 1.
George Q. Cannon, "Biography: Joseph Smith, the Prophet," The Juvenile Instructor 1 no. 2 (15 January 1866), 5.

These two articles contain a detailed account of the First Vision. An analysis of these articles demonstrate that George Q. Cannon was gathering his First Vision material from the following published sources.

  • Joseph Smith, Dictated Church History (1838).
  • Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (1840).
  • Joseph Smith, Wentworth Letter (1842).

June 1871: Cannon states that the Lord told Joseph not to join any of the churches

Elder George Q. Cannon: "Joseph [Smith] sought the Lord diligently and earnestly to know which was the right way; his mind was distracted by the various claims set forth by one sect and another, and he was determined to seek unto the Lord for wisdom, for he had read in the Epistle of James, that if any lacked wisdom and would ask of God, he would give liberally and upbraid not. He did so, and the Lord communicated to him that in his own time he would establish his Church on the earth. He also told him not to join any of the churches then in existence, for all had departed from the right way.[1]

July 1880: Cannon refers to the First Vision

George Q. Cannon suggests that the First Vision story be used to teach children the nature of God[2]

October 1880: Cannon suggests that the Pearl of Great Price be canonized

The person who held up the Pearl of Great Price volume before a General Conference audience and suggested that its contents be canonized (including the First Vision story) was none other than President George Q. Cannon[3]

Cannon knew the details of the First Vision well before his 1882 and 1883 remarks about an "angel"

This documentary evidence all sustains the idea that long before George Q. Cannon made the 1882 and 1883 remarks that are being utilized by anti-Mormon critics he was perfectly familiar with the orthodox version of the First Vision story. Having this knowledge (and being a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church) it is unlikely that he would not accurately understand the foundational stories of the Restoration.

Notes

  1. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 14:171.
  2. George Q. Cannon, The Juvenile Instructor (15 July 1880), 162.
  3. See Journal History, 10 October 1880, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.