Thursday, October 11, 2012

The First Vision

One of the core principles or lessons taught by LDS missionaries is the story of the "First Vision", where Joseph Smith saw God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  (If you'd like to read more about it, I'm quite certain you can learn more at  I'm assuming most readers of this post are already familiar with the full account of what happened, so I'll proceed accordingly.)  People can agree or disagree as to the truth of that vision, whether or not it happened, or whether or not they believe Joesph.  I believe him, but regardless of that, I want to discuss what he said he was taught, and some principles behind it.

In the year 1820, Joseph went into a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, NY, to ask God in prayer a simple question: Which church do I join?  His experience was anything but ordinary, and he shares that he experienced a stifling power overtake him, which attempted to destroy him.  Only in calling out for God to save him from this unseen power was he relieved of it, and was next presented with a visitation from God the Father and Jesus, His Son (as I noted above).

This past week I have had opportunity to share my thoughts with a family member about my thoughts relating to this vision.  I am quite perplexed.  I am a Mormon, and I believe in visions.  I believe in healings, miracles, spiritual gifts of diverse kinds.  I believe that there is an unseen world, and we can be affected for good or ill by those within that realm.  I believe that most Mormons believe likewise, or at least purport to believe so.

Despite me believing that, doesn't mean it's true.  Not all Mormons appear to believe in these things.  How do I know?

It seems that the belief of many Latter-day Saints is that the president of the LDS Church is the only one entitled to have or experience such things.  As a young adult, I felt so strongly that psychics or mediums were "of the devil", and I remember distinctly sharing with my friend's mom that going to a psychic was unacceptable.  Anything similarly related to skills of a psychic (foretelling the future, as in prophecy) were likewise considered taboo to be avoided.

Do I still feel the same?  No.  Granted, I'm not calling up "Miss Hilda" on her 1-900 number in Jamaica.  But I have had occasion to meet people with spiritual gifts that some would call "psychic".  Do I think they're evil, or of the devil?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean they're perfect?  Or that because they can see things the rest of us can't see, they must be somehow more elect or chosen by God?  I don't think so.  I think it's a gift – a marvelous one – but we all receive unique gifts.  Some are just less visible than others.

What does this have to do with Joseph Smith?  Joseph was a visionary man, much like Lehi.  Also like Nephi, Alma, Abinadi, Moses, Noah, Moroni... the list goes on and on.  Do I think that the Bible and/or Book of Mormon are the only records that have any account of living prophets?  Or do I think that if it's not in those books, then it can't be true?  No way!  Do I think that anyone can receive the gift of visions, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc?  God willing, yes!

So why are we Mormons, Christians, so skeptical when someone says they have had a vision?  Or that they can see spirits?  Or that they can see someone's history or even their future by looking at them?  Why do we label them, medicate them, and call them schizophrenic?  I'm just curious, how this came to be.

If Joseph Smith walked up to us in our day, would we Mormons honestly believe him?  Would we sell our homes, move westward, and gather?  Would we study the words he was able to translate more fervently, if he still had a mortal body?  Would we take it more seriously?  Any of it?

Just curious.     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Has this post affected you for good? Please share your thoughts.