Question: Why did George Q. Cannon say that Joseph Smith was visited by an "angel" during the First Vision?

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Question: Why did George Q. Cannon say that Joseph Smith was visited by an "angel" during the First Vision?

Cannon's 1882 and 1883 statements are in perfect harmony with the canonized story of Joseph Smith's First Vision experience

On several occasions, George Q. Cannnon identified First Vision story themes with the visit of an "angel" instead of Deity. "George Q. Cannon seemed to start Joseph’s call with the vision of Moroni. He did mention that Joseph saw Jesus and God but did not put those experiences in the framework of the first vision." [1]

The text used to justify criticism #1 reads as follows:

29 October 1882 - "[Joseph Smith] was visited constantly by angels; and the Son of God Himself condescended to come and minister unto him, the Father having also shown Himself unto him; and these various angels, the heads of dispensations, having also ministered unto him. Moroni, in the beginning, as you know, to prepare him for his mission, came and ministered and talked to him from time to time"[2]

The text used to justify criticism #2 reads as follows:

27 May 1883 - "But suppose that the statement that Joseph Smith says the angel made to him should be true - that there was no church upon the face of the earth whom God recognized as His, and whose acts He acknowledged - suppose this were true" [3]

However, Cannon clearly was aware of the details of the First Vision for years prior to making these statements. Furthermore, Cannon's 1882 and 1883 statements are in perfect harmony with the canonized story of Joseph Smith's First Vision experience. They do not lend any weight to the charge that late nineteenth century General Authorities were in a state of confusion over what happened in 1820 to the founding Prophet of the dispensation of the fulness of times. The critics' use of this material demonstrates that they suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of LDS history and the documents that record it.

Notes

  1. Christian Research and Counsel, "Documented History of Joseph Smith's First Vision," full-color pamphlet, 10 pages. [There is a notation within this pamphlet indicating that research and portions of text were garnered from Utah Lighthouse Ministry]
  2. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 23:362.
  3. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 24:38.