The First Vision (also called the grove experience) is a religious belief held by many members of the Latter Day Saint movement (commonly called Mormonism) that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith, Jr. in a wooded area (now called the Sacred Grove) near Palmyra, New York in the early spring of 1820. Please see the talk page for this article and the "See also" list before adding content or adding a hyphen to Latter Day Saint Mormonism is a term used to describe the religious, ideological and cultural elements of certain branches of the Latter Day Saint movement In many religions the supreme Deity ( God) is given the title and attributions of Father. Jesus of Nazareth (7–2 BC / BCE —26–36 AD / CE) A major event leading to the eventual formation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took place in what is commonly referred to within the Church as The Palmyra New York may refer to Palmyra (town New York Palmyra (village New York
Interpretations of the event vary among Latter Day Saint denominations, but most teach that the vision inaugurated the Latter Day Saint movement and laid a foundation for the restoration of the lost doctrines and authority of primitive Christianity, thus ending the Great Apostasy. For other usages see Restoration (general disambiguation Apokatastasis (universal restoration Christian Zionism (restoration of Israel and In the Latter Day Saint movement, priesthood is considered to be the power and authority of God including the authority to act as a leader in the church and to perform Early Christianity is commonly defined as the Christianity of the three centuries between the Crucifixion of Jesus ( c The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to allege a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, or especially of Catholicism The vision also serves modern members of the LDS Church as the basis for distinctive theological concepts such as the belief that the Father and the Son are separate beings, each with a glorified body of flesh and bone. 
There is little evidence that Joseph Smith wrote about the First Vision for at least a decade after it was said to have occurred, but several accounts were recorded during the decade following the organization of the church in 1830. See also Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (disambiguation The Church of Christ, later called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was the Joseph Smith wrote the first known account in 1832. The 1838 version was first published in a missionary publication of the church in 1840 and was included in the original 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price, eventually canonized by the LDS Church in 1880. The Pearl of Great Price is part of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church see also Mormonism) and some 
Most members of the Latter Day Saint movement hold the First Vision to have been an authentic theophany that ushered in the restoration of the New Testament-era Christian church. Theophany, from the Greek, theophaneia (meaning "appearance/showing of God" refers to the appearance of a Deity to a human or to a divine disclosure For other usages see Restoration (general disambiguation Apokatastasis (universal restoration Christian Zionism (restoration of Israel and Skeptics offer alternative explanations for the story in its various versions, including the possibility that Joseph Smith fabricated the story or was deceived.
Joseph Smith, Jr. Childhood Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, the fifth child of Joseph Smith Sr , was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, to Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith. Events 962 - Byzantine-Arab Wars: Under the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, Byzantine troops stormed the city Year 1805 ( MDCCCV) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or Sharon is a town in Windsor County, Vermont Joseph Smith Sr (1771&ndash1840 was the father of Joseph Smith Jr Lucy Mack Smith ( July 8, 1775 - May 14, 1856) was the mother of Joseph Smith Jr The Smiths were a farming family who moved several times because of crop failures and ill-fated business ventures. In 1816 the family arrived in western New York, where they continued to farm just outside the border of the town of Palmyra. Palmyra is a Town in Wayne County, New York, USA. The population was 7672 at the 2000 census 
Like many other Americans living on the frontier at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Smith family accepted the veracity of visions, dreams, and other communications with God.  In 1811, Joseph Smith, Jr. Year 1811 ( MDCCCXI) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year '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. 
Between 1811 and 1819, Joseph, Sr. , reported seven visions, which, according to his wife, Lucy Mack Smith, occurred when he was "much excited upon the subject of religion. Lucy Mack Smith ( July 8, 1775 - May 14, 1856) was the mother of Joseph Smith Jr " The visions confirmed to Joseph, Sr. , the correctness of his refusal to join any organized religious group and led him to believe that he would be properly guided to his own salvation.  Before Joseph Smith, Jr. , was born, his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, prayed in a grove about her husband's repudiation of evangelical religion and that night had a vision in her sleep, which she interpreted as a prophecy that Joseph, Sr. Prophecy, generally describes the disclosing of Information that is not known to the Prophet by any ordinary means , would later accept the "pure and undefiled Gospel of the Son of God. "
Joseph was also exposed to the intense revivalism of his 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. The Second Great Awakening  (1790–1840s was the second great religious revival in United States history and consisted of renewed personal salvation experienced in revival  In the Palmyra area itself, the only large multi-denominational revivals occurred in 1816-1817 and 1824-1825.  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. Lyons is a Village in Wayne County, New York, USA. The population was 3695 at the 2000 census " 
The family also practiced a form of folk magic, 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. Folk religion consists of Beliefs Superstitions and Rituals transmitted from generation to generation in a specific Culture. " 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. In the early Latter Day Saint movement, Seer stones were used as method of Divination and played a significant role in its history and theology  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. 
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. Dennis Michael Quinn (born in 1944) is a historian who has focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. " 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. " 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. Jan Shipps is an American historian specializing in Mormon History particularly in the latter half of the 20th century to the present "
Richard Bushman has called the spiritual tradition of the Smith family "a religious melee. Richard Lyman Bushman (born June 20, 1931) is an American Historian and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University " 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. " No members of the Smith family were church members in 1820, the reported date of the First Vision. 
Smith said that his First Vision occurred in the early 1820s, when he was in his early teens but his accounts mention different dates within that period. A major event leading to the eventual formation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took place in what is commonly referred to within the Church as The George Edward Anderson (1860-1928 was an early American Photographer known for his portraiture and documentary photographs of early Church of Jesus Christ of In 1832, Joseph wrote that the vision had occurred "in the 16th year of [his] age" (about 1821), after he became concerned about religious matters beginning in his "twelfth year" (about 1817).  In a later account Smith said the vision took place "early in the spring of 1820" after an "unusual excitement on the subject of religion" ending during his 15th year. (1819)
According to non-Mormon critics, H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, there is no evidence that large multi-denominational revivals took place in the immediate Palmyra area between 1819 and 1820, the period specified by Smith in the canonized account of the First Vision. Joseph's statement that "great multitudes" joined the various religious denominations "in the neighborhood where I lived," is not borne out by the surviving documents. Neither the Presbyterian, Baptist, nor Methodist churches in Palmyra experienced any remarkable religious outpouring. The Methodist circuit in the area even showed net losses from 1819 to 1821. "Denominational magazines of that day were full of reports of revivals, some even devoting separate sections to them. " While these magazines covered the 1816-17 and the 1824-25 revivals in the Palmyra area, there is "not a single mention of any revival taking place in the Palmyra area" in 1819-20. 
Some apologists for the Mormon position treat Joseph words "whole district of country" as if they referred to "some kind of statewide revival, without notice of the fact that he is talking about a revival that commenced with the Methodists 'in the place where we lived' and then 'became general among all the sects in that region of country. '" Others move backward in time and use local Methodist camp meetings as the spark that ignited Smith's religious quest in 1820. For instance, D. Michael Quinn notes a Methodist camp meeting in Palmyra in June 1818.  In 1819, a large Methodist conference was held in the town of Vienna (today, Phelps), about fifteen miles from Palmyra, but there is no indication that there were any revival meetings held in conjunction with it. Phelps is a Town in Ontario County, New York, USA. The population was 7017 at the 2000 census 
In Smith's 1838 narrative, his family's decision to join the Presbyterian Church occurs prior to his First Vision.  But Lucy Mack Smith said that she and some of her children sought comfort in the church after the death of her oldest son, Alvin, in November 1823, which if her memory was correct, would place the date of the first vision no earlier than 1824.  In 1845, Lucy recalled that she tried to persuade her "husband to join with them as I wished to do so myself. "  Her three oldest children Hyrum, Samuel, and Sophronia also joined the Presbyterian church, but "the two Josephs resisted her enthusiasm. " Wesley Walters argues that "Smith's family could not have joined the Presbyterian Church in 1820 as a result of revival in the area, and then joined the same church again in 1823 as a result of another revival. "  D. Michael Quinn says that Smith's account is a conflation of events over several years, a typical biographical device for streamlining the narrative. Dennis Michael Quinn (born in 1944) is a historian who has focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
Local moves of the Smith family have also been used in attempts to identify the date of the vision. In 1838 Joseph Smith wrote that the First Vision occurred in "the second year after our removal to Manchester. " The evidence for the date of this move has been interpreted by believers as supporting 1820 and by non-believers, 1824. 
The LDS Church has canonized the 1838 account in which Joseph Smith said that this vision occurred "early in the spring of 1820. "  Two LDS scholars, researching weather reports and maple sugar production records, argue that the most likely exact date for the First Vision was Sunday, March 26th, 1820. 
What Joseph Smith said he saw during the first vision is recorded in several accounts that he wrote or dictated, as well as in interviews and reminiscences of those who said they heard the story:
On a beautiful, clear spring day, Smith went to a clearing in a forested area, to a stump where he had left his axe the day before, and there knelt to pray.  He said this was the first time he had ever tried to pray out loud.  An 1832 account said that he "cried unto the Lord for mercy" for his sins.  According to later accounts, he prayed, "O Lord, what church shall I join?"
His prayer was interrupted by an encounter with an evil spirit. According to an account from his diary, Smith stopped praying because his tongue became swollen in his mouth and because he heard a noise behind him like someone walking towards him. He tried to pray once more, and when he heard the noise grow louder, he sprang to his feet and looked around but saw no one. The third time he knelt to pray, his tongue was loosed and he received the vision.  In a later description of his encounter with the evil spirit, Smith said that when he first began to pray, he was immediately overcome by an evil "being from the unseen world" whose power was greater than that of any being he had previously felt.  The spirit bound his tongue and covered him with a thick darkness, and he thought he would be destroyed.  Nevertheless, at his darkest moment, he summoned all his power to pray, and, as he felt ready to sink into oblivion, the vision rescued him. 
Smith said he saw a pillar of "fire light," brighter than the noon-day sun, that slowly descended on him from above, growing in brightness as it descended, and lighting the entire area for some distance.  When the light reached the tops of the trees, Smith worried that the trees would catch fire, but they were not consumed, thus easing his fear that he too would be burned.  The light reached the ground and enveloped him, causing a "peculiar sensation. " Then "his mind was caught away from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision. "
While in the vision, he said he saw one or more "personages", who are described differently in Smith's various accounts. In one account, Smith said he "saw the Lord. " In diary entries, he said he saw a "visitation of Angels" or a "vision of angels" that included "a personage," and then "another personage" who testified that "Jesus Christ is the Son of God," as well as "many angels".  In later accounts, Smith consistently said that he had seen two personages who appeared one after the other.  These personages "exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. " The first personage had "light complexion, blue eyes, a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders, his right arm bare. " One of the personages called Smith by name "and said, (pointing to the other), 'This is my beloved Son, hear him. '" Most Latter Day Saints believe that these personages were God the Father and Jesus. In many religions the supreme Deity ( God) is given the title and attributions of Father. Jesus of Nazareth (7–2 BC / BCE —26–36 AD / CE) 
In one account, Smith said that "the Lord" told him his sins were forgiven, that he should obey the commandments, that the world was corrupt, and that the Second Coming was approaching. In Christianity, the Second Coming is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven to earth an event that will fulfill aspects of Messianic  Later accounts say that when the personages appeared, Smith asked them "O Lord, what church shall I join?" or "Must I join the Methodist Church?" In answer, he was told that "all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. " All churches and their professors were "corrupt", and "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight. " Smith was told not to join any of the churches, but that the "fulness of the gospel" would be known to him at a later time.  After the vision withdrew, Smith said he "came to myself" and found himself sprawled on his back. 
The importance of the First Vision within the Latter Day Saint movement evolved over time. Please see the talk page for this article and the "See also" list before adding content or adding a hyphen to Latter Day Saint There is little evidence that Smith discussed the First Vision publicly prior to 1830.  Mormon historian James B. Allen notes that
The fact that none of the available contemporary writings about Joseph Smith in the 1830s, none of the publications of the Church in that decade, and no contemporary journal or correspondence yet discovered mentions the story of the first vision is convincing evidence that at best it received only limited circulation in those early days. 
Smith said that he made an oblique reference to the vision in 1820 to his mother, telling her the day it happened that he had "learned for [him]self that Presbyterianism is not true. Presbyterianism is a family of Christian denominations within the Reformed branch of Protestant Western Christianity " Lucy did not mention this conversation in her memoirs. 
In the oldest known account of the First Vision, Joseph Smith, Jr. , said he "could find none that would believe" his experience.  He said that shortly after the experience, he told the story of his revelation to a Methodist minister who responded "with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there was no such thing as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there never would be any more of them. " He also said that the telling of his vision story "excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase. " There is no contemporary evidence for this persecution beyond Smith's testimony.  None of the earliest anti-Mormon literature mentioned the First Vision.  Smith also said he told others about the vision during the 1820s, and some family members said that they had heard him mention it, but none prior to 1823, when Smith said he had his second vision.
Amateur Mormon apologist Jeff Lindsay argues that Joseph Smith may have referred to the First Vision in the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, written in June 1830 and first published in 1831. Jeffrey Dean Lindsay is a Chemical engineer and Patent agent who received attention defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  In describing the beginnings of Smith's Church of Christ, the document says:
For, after that it truly was manifested unto the first elder that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel . See also Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (disambiguation The Church of Christ, later called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was the . . and gave unto him power, by the means which was before prepared that he should translate a book"
Lindsay says that the general outline, the heavenly manifestation, Smith's forgiveness and relapse into sin and his subsequent repentance and visit by an angel, is similar to subsequent accounts, but this 1830 statement does not mention an appearance of Jesus or God the Father and there is no condemnation of contemporary churches. 
The earliest extant account of the First Vision was handwritten by Joseph Smith in 1832, but it was not published until 1965. 
[T]he Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a pillar of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life <behold> the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned aside from the gospel and keep not <my> commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them according to th[e]ir ungodliness and to bring to pass that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Ap[o]stles behold and lo I come quickly as it [is] written of me in the cloud <clothed> in the glory of my Father . . . . "
Unlike later accounts of the vision, the emphasis of the 1832 account is on the young Joseph's quest for personal forgiveness. The account does not mention an appearance of God the Father, nor does it mention the phrase "This is my beloved Son, hear him. " In the 1832 account, Smith also stated that before he experienced the First Vision, his own searching of the Scriptures had led him to the conclusion that mankind had "apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament. "
In several issues of the LDS periodical Messenger and Advocate (1834-35), Oliver Cowdery wrote an early biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. Oliver Hervy Pliny Cowdery ( 3 October 1806 – 3 March 1850) was the primary participant with Joseph Smith Jr In one issue, Cowdery explained that Smith was confused by the different religions and local revivals during his "15th year" (1820), leading him to wonder which church was true. In the next issue of the biography, Cowdery explained that reference to Smith's "15th year" was a typographical error, and that actually the revivals and religious confusion took place in Smith's "17th year. " However, Cowdery apparently confused Smith's "17th year" (1822) with Smith being "seventeen years old" (1823), and thus he gave the year as 1823.
Therefore, according to Cowdery, the religious confusion led Smith to pray in his bedroom, late on the night of September 23, 1823, after the others had gone to sleep, to know which of the competing denominations was correct and whether "a Supreme being did exist. Events 1122 - Concordat of Worms. 1459 - Battle of Blore Heath, the first major battle of the English Year 1823 ( MDCCCXXIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Common " In response, an angel appeared and granted him forgiveness of his sins. The remainder of the story roughly parallels Smith's later description of a visit by angel in 1823 who told him about the Golden Plates. In Latter Day Saint theology the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th century literature the golden Bible Thus, Cowdery's account, containing a single vision, differs from Smith's 1832 account, which contains two separate visions, one in 1821 prompted by religious confusion (the First Vision) and a separate one regarding the plates on September 22, 1822. Events 66 - Emperor Nero creates the Legion I Italica. 1236 - The Lithuanians Year 1822 (MDCCCXXII was a Common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year starting on Sunday of the Cowdery's account also differs from Smith's 1838 account, which includes a First Vision in 1820 and a second vision on September 22, 1823. Events 66 - Emperor Nero creates the Legion I Italica. 1236 - The Lithuanians Year 1823 ( MDCCCXXIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Common
On November 9, 1835, Smith recorded an account of the First Vision in his diary that mentioned a vision of two unidentified personages and "many angels" when he was "about 14 years old. " Jesus is identified as the Son of God, but neither "personage" is identified with Him. Smith also noted that he had another vision in his bedroom when he was 17.  Unlike previous and subsequent accounts, there is no mention of all churches being condemned as corrupt.
In 1838, Joseph Smith said that eighteen years previous, in the spring of 1820, during a period of "confusion and strife among the different denominations" following an "unusual excitement on the subject of religion", he had debated which of the various Christian groups he should join. While in turmoil, he read from the Bible: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. "
One morning, deeply impressed by this scripture, the fourteen-year-old Smith went to a grove of trees behind the family farm, knelt, and began his first vocal prayer. Almost immediately he was confronted by an evil power that prevented speech. A darkness gathered around him, and Smith believed that he would be destroyed. He continued the prayer silently, asking for God's assistance though still resigned to destruction. At this moment a light brighter than the sun descended towards him, and he was delivered from the evil power.
In the light, Smith "saw two personages standing in the air", identified as God the Father and Jesus Christ. One pointed to the other and said "This is My Beloved Son, hear Him. " Smith asked which religious sect he should join and was told to join none of them because all existing religions had corrupted the teachings of Jesus Christ. 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has canonized Smith's 1838 account of the First Vision. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States and the largest and most well-known 
An 1840 missionary tract by Orson Pratt stated that after Smith saw the light, "his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision. Orson Pratt ( September 19, 1811 &ndash October 3, 1881) was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the " Pratt's account referred to "two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness", but did not identify them as angels or as God and Jesus, or otherwise.
In 1842, two years before his assassination, Joseph Smith, Jr., wrote a letter to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat. "Long" John Wentworth (March 5 1815 &ndash October 16 1888 was the editor of the Chicago Democrat, a two-term Mayor of Chicago The Chicago Democrat was the first Newspaper in Chicago Illinois. In the letter, Smith outlined the basic beliefs of the Latter Day Saint movement and included an account of the First Vision. Please see the talk page for this article and the "See also" list before adding content or adding a hyphen to Latter Day Saint  Smith said that he was "about fourteen years of age" when he had the First Vision.  Like the Orson Pratt account, Smith's Wentworth letter said that his "mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision. Orson Pratt ( September 19, 1811 &ndash October 3, 1881) was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the The Wentworth letter was a letter written in 1842 by Latter Day Saint founder Joseph Smith Jr " In language paralleling that used two years earlier by Orson Pratt, Smith said he "saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day", but Smith did not identify the personages or note whether they were angels or dieties. Smith said he was told that no religious denomination "was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom" and that he was "expressly commanded to 'go not after them. '"
Late in his life, Smith's brother, William, gave two accounts of the First Vision, dating it to 1823, when William was twelve years old. William Smith (also found as William B Smith) ( March 13 1811 – November 13, 1893) was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement William said the religious excitement in Palmyra had occurred in 1822-23 (rather than the actual date of 1824-25), that it was stimulated by the preaching of a Methodist, the Rev. George Lane, a "great revival preacher," and that his mother and some of his siblings had then joined the Presbyterian church. 
William Smith said he based his account on what Joseph had told William and the rest of his family the day after the First Vision:
[A] light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was. It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things. He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the true way should be made known to him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. 
In an 1884 account, William also stated that when Joseph first saw the light above the trees in the grove, he fell unconscious for an undetermined amount of time, after which he awoke and heard "the personage whom he saw" speak to him. 
The importance of the First Vision within the Latter Day Saint movement evolved over time. Please see the talk page for this article and the "See also" list before adding content or adding a hyphen to Latter Day Saint Early adherents were unaware of the details of the vision until 1840, when the earliest accounts were published in Great Britain. See also Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (Breatainn Mhòr Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Graet Breetain is the larger of the two main islands An account of the First Vision was not published in the United States until 1842, shortly before Joseph Smith's death. Preparation for succession See also Succession crisis (Mormonism Joseph's brother Hyrum Smith, the Assistant President of the Church, was Jan Shipps has written that the vision was "practically unknown" until an account of it written in 1838 was published in 1840. Jan Shipps is an American historian specializing in Mormon History particularly in the latter half of the 20th century to the present 
The canonical First Vision story was not emphasized in the sermons of Smith's immediate successors Brigham Young and John Taylor. Brigham Young (June 1 1801 &ndash August 29 1877 was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. John Taylor ( November 1, 1808 &ndash July 25, 1887) was the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Hugh Nibley noted that although a "favorite theme of Brigham Young's was the tangible, personal nature of God," he "never illustrates [the theme] by any mention of the first vision. Hugh Winder Nibley ( March 27, 1910 – February 24, 2005) was one of Mormonism's most celebrated Scholars Nibley is notable " John Taylor gave a complete account of the First Vision story in an 1850 letter written as he began missionary work in France, and he may have alluded to it in a discourse given in 1859.  However, when Taylor discussed the origins of Mormonism in 1863, he did so without alluding to the canonical First Vision story, and in 1879, he referred to Joseph Smith having asked "the angel" which of the sects was correct. 
Three non-Mormon students of Mormonism, Douglas Davies, Kurt Widmer, and Jan Shipps agree that the LDS emphasis on the First Vision was a "'late development', only gaining an influential status in LDS self-reflection late in the nineteenth century. Jan Shipps is an American historian specializing in Mormon History particularly in the latter half of the 20th century to the present "  Mormon historian James B. Allen also argues that the First Vision "did not figure prominently in any evangelistic endeavors by the Church until the 1880s. " The first important visual representation of the First Vision was painted by the Danish convert C. C. A. Christensen sometime between 1869 and 1878, and George Manwaring, inspired by the artist, wrote a hymn about the First Vision (later renamed "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning") first published in 1884. Carl Christian Anton Christensen ( November 28 1831 – July 3 1912) was a Danish-American artist who is known for his paintings George Manwaring (1854-1889 was a poet and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
Kurt Widner states that it was primarily through "the post 1883 sermons of LDS Apostle George Q. Cannon that the modern interpretation and significance of the First Vision in Mormonism began to take shape. George Quayle Cannon ( January 11, 1827 &ndash April 12, 1901) was an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The " As the sympathetic but non-Mormon historian Jan Shipps has written, "When the first generation of leadership died off, leaving the community to be guided mainly by men who had not known Joseph, the First Vision emerged as a symbol that could keep the slain Mormon leader at center stage. Jan Shipps is an American historian specializing in Mormon History particularly in the latter half of the 20th century to the present " The centennial anniversary of the vision in 1920 "was a far cry from the almost total lack of reference to it just fifty years before. " By 1939, even George D. Pyper, an LDS Sunday School superintendent and manager of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, found it "surprising that none of the first song writers wrote intimately of the first vision. George Dollinger Pyper ( November 21, 1860 – January 17, 1943) was the fifth general superintendent of the Sunday School of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a 360 member all-volunteer Choir. "
Most contemporary denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement include the First Vision as part of their doctrine and history. Please see the talk page for this article and the "See also" list before adding content or adding a hyphen to Latter Day Saint However, they differ in their teachings about both the details and significance of the First Vision, and a few denominations reject it altogether.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has canonized Smith's 1838 account of the First Vision within the book Joseph Smith—History in the Pearl of Great Price, and it is a foundational belief of the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States and the largest and most well-known Joseph Smith—History (abbreviated JS–H) is a book in the Pearl of Great Price that contains an autobiographical record of some of the early  An official website of the Church calls the First Vision "the greatest event in world history since the birth, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "
Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. Gordon Bitner Hinckley ( June 23 1910 – January 27 2008) was an American religious leader who served as the fifteenth president In the Latter Day Saint movement, the President of the Church is generally considered to be the highest office of the church Prophet seer and revelator is an ecclesiastical title used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is currently applied to the members of the First Presidency It was the parting of the curtain to open this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life. 
In 1961 Hinckley went even further, "Either Joseph Smith talked with the Father and the Son or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in a blasphemy. " Likewise, in a January 2007 interview conducted for the PBS documentary "The Mormons," Hinckley said of the First Vision, "[I]t's either true or false. If it's false, we're engaged in a great fraud. If it's true, it's the most important thing in the world. . . . That's our claim. That's where we stand, and that's where we fall, if we fall. But we don't. We just stand secure in that faith. "
According to the LDS church the vision teaches that God the Father and Jesus Christ are separate beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bone; that mankind was literally created in the image of God; that Satan is real but God infinitely greater; that God hears and answers prayer; that no other contemporary church had the fullness of Christ's gospel; and that revelation has not ceased. In the twenty-first century, the Vision features prominently in the Church's program of proselytism. 
William B. Smith, a younger brother of Joseph Smith, Jr. William Smith (also found as William B Smith) ( March 13 1811 – November 13, 1893) was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement , and a key figure in the early Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS, renamed Community of Christ in 2001) gave several accounts of the First Vision, although in 1883 he stated that a "more elaborate and accurate description of his vision" was to be found in Joseph Smith's own history
The RLDS Church did not emphasize the First Vision during the nineteenth century.  In the early twentieth century, there was a revival of interest, and during most of the century, the First Vision was viewed as an essential element of the Restoration. In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Restoration was a period in its early history during which a number of events occurred that were understood to be necessary to restore the In many cases, it was taught as the foundation and even the embodiment of the Restoration.  The Vision was also interpreted as a justification for the exclusive authority of the RLDS Church as the Church of Christ. See also Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (disambiguation The Church of Christ, later called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was the 
In the mid- to late-twentieth century, writers within the RLDS church emphasized the First Vision as an illustration of the centrality of Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth (7–2 BC / BCE —26–36 AD / CE)  The church began taking a broader view of the Vision, and used it as an example of how God evolves the church over time through revelation and restoration.  There was less emphasis on the Great Apostasy and a growing belief that the First Vision itself was not necessarily identical with Joseph Smith's later reconstructions and interpretations of the vision, what one RLDS Church Historian has called "genuine historical sophistication. The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to allege a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, or especially of Catholicism " In 1980, this Church Historian noted that he had "systematically brought to the attention" of hundreds of church members "the substantive differences in half a dozen accounts of the First Vision" and expressed his satisfaction that RLDS scholars, "deeply moved and augmented by the presence of the wondrously diverse and conflicting accounts of the First Vision," could "begin the exciting work of developing a mythology of Latter Day Saint beginnings. "
Today, the Community of Christ generally refers to the First Vision as the "grove experience" and takes a flexible view about its historicity, emphasizing the healing presence of God and the forgiving mercy of Jesus Christ felt by Joseph Smith. 
The Church of Jesus Christ, a Rigdonite branch with 15,000 members headquartered in Pennsylvania, has had an independent history from the Brighamite branches since the 1844 succession crisis. The Church of Jesus Christ is a Christian Religious denomination headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, United States. Rigdonite is a name given to members of the Latter Day Saint movement who accept Sidney Rigdon as the successor in the church presidency to movement founder The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States and the largest and most well-known The succession crisis in the Latter Day Saint movement occurred after the violent death of the movement's founder Joseph Smith Jr The church refers to the vision obliquely in a lengthy excerpt from Smith's 1838 account included in its official literature, in which the date "1820" and "a personage" (singular, not plural) are mentioned in paraphrases. 
The Church of Christ (Temple Lot), a non-Brighamite branch with 5000 adherents, follows the David Whitmer tradition in rejecting many of Smith's post-1832 revelations. The Church of Christ is a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement and is headquartered in Independence, Missouri on what is known as the Temple The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States and the largest and most well-known David Whitmer ( January 7, 1805 &ndash January 25, 1888) was an early adherent of the Latter Day Saint movement who eventually became Nevertheless, the church uses several elements of the 1838 account of the First Vision including Smith's desire to know which church he should join, his reading of James 1:5, his prayer in the grove, the appearance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the statement by Jesus Christ that all existing churches were corrupt, and the instruction that he should join none of them. 
Writing of the revivals described in the 1838 First Vision story (which has been canonized by the LDS Church), Milton V. Backman, Jr. , associate professor of history and religion at Brigham Young University said that although "the tools of the historian" could neither verify nor challenge the First Vision, "records of the past can be examined to determine the reliability of Joseph's description regarding the historical setting. " Grant Palmer and others claim that there are serious discrepancies between the various accounts, as well as anachronisms revealed by lack of contemporary corroboration. Grant H Palmer (MA American history Brigham Young University) is a historian perhaps best known for his controversial work An Insider's View of Mormon Origins An anachronism (from the Greek "ana" " ανά " "against anti-" and "chronos" " χρόνος " 
For instance, in his 1838 account, Smith said that when he shared his vision with a Methodist minister, the latter treated his "communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days. " Smith said that he became the "subject of great persecution, which continued to increase. " But according to emeritus Brigham Young University history professor James B. Allen, there is no evidence beyond Smith's word that he ever mentioned his vision to a minister—or in fact, to anyone else—for years after the event is supposed to have occurred. James or Jim Allen may refer to James Allen (American football (b Nor is there any evidence that the young Smith was persecuted for telling the First Vision story during the 1820s. 
In the 1832 account Smith said that by "Searching the Scriptures" he had concluded that "there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Christ".  In the 1838 account, he said that he was unable to determine which, if any, of the churches he studied were correct and then that it had never entered into his heart that all churches were wrong.  FARMS, an informal group of Brigham Young University scholars, does not dispute the difference between the accounts but argues that the "point of the 'official' version of Joseph Smith's story is that he received a revelation on the issue [, which does] not preclude the idea that he had already determined the answer and needed confirmation. The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies ( FARMS) is an informal collaboration of academics devoted to Mormon historical scholarship "
According to Smith, he indirectly mentioned the vision to his mother shortly after it occurred.  In her several recollections of the events that led to the founding of the LDS Church, there is no extant record that Lucy Mack Smith ever mentioned Joseph having had a vision before his bedroom visitation from Moroni in 1823. Lucy Mack Smith ( July 8, 1775 - May 14, 1856) was the mother of Joseph Smith Jr Lucy also said that Joseph's vision of Moroni followed a family discussion about the "diversity of churches. "
Joseph Smith may have become involved with at least two Methodist churches between 1820 and 1830.  While he almost certainly never formally joined the Methodist church, he did associate himself with the Methodists eight years after he said he had been instructed by God not to join any established denomination.  In 1828, following the death of Smith's first-born son and the loss of 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript, Smith asked to be enrolled in a Methodist class in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania, but a cousin of his wife "objected to the inclusion of a 'practicing necromancer' on the Methodist roll. Harmony Township is a township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, United States. "
Grant Palmer has noted that Joseph Smith had a clear motive for changing his story in 1838, a period of crisis within the Latter Day Saint Movement. Grant H Palmer (MA American history Brigham Young University) is a historian perhaps best known for his controversial work An Insider's View of Mormon Origins At the time there was open dissent against Smith's leadership. A quarter of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and some 300 members—perhaps fifteen percent of the total membership—had left the church. In the Latter Day Saint movement, the quorum of the Twelve (also known as the council of the Twelve, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Council Palmer argues that Smith "fearing the unraveling of the church," wrote a new "more impressive version of his epiphany" in which Smith claimed that his original call had come from God the Father and Jesus Christ rather than from an angel. 
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have acknowledged that the differences in the accounts can be troublesome. Apostle Neal A. Maxwell wrote:
In our own time, Joseph Smith, the First Vision, and the Book of Mormon constitute stumbling blocks for many—around which they cannot get—unless they are meek enough to examine all the evidence at hand, not being exclusionary as a result of accumulated attitudes in a secular society. Neal Ash Maxwell ( July 6, 1926 &ndash July 21, 2004) was an apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Humbleness of mind is the initiator of expansiveness of mind. "
Some believers view differences in the accounts as overstated. Richard L. Anderson, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University wrote, "What are the main problems of interpreting so many accounts? The first problem is the interpreter. One person perceives harmony and interconnections while another overstates differences. "
Other believers view the differences in the accounts as reflective of Smith's increase in maturity and knowledge over time. In a recent PBS interview, Marlin K. Jensen, General authority and Church Historian said:
I've actually studied the various accounts of Joseph's First Vision, and I'm struck by the difference in his recountings. The Public Broadcasting Service ( PBS) is a Non-profit Public broadcasting Television service with 354 member TV stations in the Marlin Keith Jensen (born May 18 1942 has been a General authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church since 1989 and has been the nineteenth List of general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church a general authority is a member Church Historian and Recorder (usually shortened to Church Historian) is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints But as I look back at my missionary journals, for instance, which I've kept and other journals which I've kept throughout my life, I'm struck now in my older years by the evolution and hopefully the progression that's taken place in my own life and how differently now from this perspective I view some things that happened in my younger years. 
My instinct is to attribute a sincerity to Joseph Smith. The Public Broadcasting Service ( PBS) is a Non-profit Public broadcasting Television service with 354 member TV stations in the Richard J Mouw is currently President at Fuller Theological Seminary. Evangelicalism is a theological movement tradition and system of beliefs most closely associated with Protestant Christianity, which identifies with the Gospel Theology is the study of a god or the gods from a religious perspective And yet at the same time, as an evangelical Christian, I do not believe that the members of the godhead really appeared to him and told him that he should start on a mission of, among other things, denouncing the kinds of things that I believe as a Presbyterian. I can't believe that. And yet at the same time, I really don't believe that he was simply making up a story that he knew to be false in order to manipulate people and to gain power over a religious movement. And so I live with the mystery.