Friday, January 16, 2009

What Is It About The First Vision?

Most people who use (or will use) this site will agree with me that the 1838 account of the First Vision is a very compelling story. For almost all members of the Church, this story plays a significant role in our conversion to the Church and is a cornerstone of our personal testimony of the gospel. The story has become so familiar that many members of the Church can almost recite it from memory. The story binds together all members of the Church the world over.

But what is it that makes The First Vision so compelling? Joseph begins with a strong statement, prefacing his account almost like a legal brief and explaining that he wants to set the record straight about many false things that had been said about the Church. The story contains a lot of strong elements: the universal search for truth, the tension between conflict and peace, a battle between good and evil. Joseph tells a good story, using strong language and moving ideas.

But for me, there is one phrase that embodies why this story is so important and so powerful: "I was answered . . ." JS-Hist. 1:19. Joseph struggled with a question that was deeply troubling, but that he could not answer himself. He decided to do something he had never done before - - pose the question to God. He knelt to pray and asked his question. And he was answered. He did not have some metaphysical experience that he could not really explain or describe. He asked a question, and God answered it.

We see this pattern over and over in the D&C. Time and again, Joseph or one of his colleagues had a specific question, asked the Lord, and got an answer. And, I will venture that this pattern is an integral part of the belief system and personal testimony of almost all members of the Church. Think what it means to really know that you can verbalize a question to your Father in Heaven, and that he will answer you. Personally. Directly. You will not likely see a pillar of light or an angel. You will probably not have a face-to-face conversation with God. But if you ask, you will be answered.

What do you think? What makes The First Vision compelling to you?

1 comment:

  1. The vision should be compared with visions encountered by people in the word. On thing that seems to be missing in the account of Joseph Smith is fear.

    One of the most famous lines quoted by the angel of God was fear not. This is because an incounter by an angelic being is so out of the ordinary that we as humans are stricken with fear. Mary was told not to fear when she was first told about Christ.

    The word tells us that the word shouldn't be alterted, even by an angel. God's word is complete yet man in his war against the flesh, which is often more loss than gain, chooses to alter the word to apease his desires.

    The truth is what it is and the words tells us to guard our hearts against those who would teach us falsly. We should be capable of discerning, through the holy spirit, what is flesh and what is spirit, and ween ourselves from the former.


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