Episode 33: Joseph Smith History 1:1-26
Shiloh and Ben open up a discussion about Joseph Smith’s First Vision and his “call to adventure.” Joseph lived in a day when there were arguments abounding over what was true and correct doctrine. People of all faiths around him seemed to exhibit “great love” and “zeal” at “the time of their conversion.” But whatever form or façade of conversion and love that existed soon digressed, and it became evident to Joseph that God is not discovered through argument and scriptural apologetics. Joseph had no context for how to gain more light and truth, but he realized that “the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible” (JS-H 1:12). The Spirit worked within Joseph, and Joseph experienced a type of contemplative lectio divina with God (i.e., “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again.”). The First Vision was more than the imparting of truth through argument, reason, rational, and an appeal to the text. Through the First Vision account we begin to see what God truly has in store for us: To know truth by experience with Him. Whereas the world clamors to define and defend God through whatever perceived and appropriate methods of belief, argument, and dogma, the First Vision teaches us that truth is far, far more powerful and known through divine experience. As Joseph states, “For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it” (JS-H 1:25).