There are 9 thoughts on “Evaluating Three Arguments Against Joseph Smith’s First Vision”.

  1. Thought I’d just point out a headline spelling error in the article, assuming it might be readily corrected in electronic format. The bolded headline in the article reads: “A Hemeneutic of Suspicion” instead of “Hermeneutic.”

    • Thank you for the heads up. This has been fixed. This particular error wasn’t one of mine–but it well could have been. I’ve made that kind of mistake before and know first hand how hard it is to “see” things when you mind simply corrects them for you.

  2. Steve has laid out well the fact that there are at least two general conditions related to understanding history correctly. There are the assumptions and dispositions one brings to the activity and second, the many historical and commentaries related to the historical events. Believers and non-believers bring the first and, as they look at the second, draw conclusions accordingly.

    How, then, can we determine who is right in all of this? When we think of Jesus the Christ, I can imagine that if anyone could persuade using historical and contemporary evidences it was he. What did he hope for from his followers, though? It was not to just see the evidences he presented (healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding thousands, etc.). What he wanted most was individuals seeking to gain a witness of his calling from God. When Peter received this Jesus was clearly happy.

    The only way to really know definitively if Joseph Smith was a prophet or not is through seeking a spiritual confirmation, desiring to believe that God can answer as Alma tells us (chapter 32) and James (1:5) counsels us, but then seeking to know from God. For those of us who believe it is the definitive form of proof that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

  3. Thank you for your timely and insightful article–it is a great synopsis of other articles on the same topic. That it was timely for me, was due to the fact that a young man in our ward was preparing for his mission. I believed your article would be helpful to him, and so I provided him with a copy just before he departed.

    I also want to thank you for the speed at which you resumed writing and publishing articles like those formerly printed in the FARMS REVIEW.

    Sincerely, Robert B. Hawes

  4. To view a person who has a different view with empathy and indeed charity is to be respected and applauded. There is a needed humility in recognizing that in the writing of history we come with differences of perspective and experience that will impact the history we write. At some point, though, we cross the line between recognizing and empathizing differences and dealing with conduct that can only be categorized as incompetence or dishonesty. While even such circumstances still call for the charitable response, labeling the disingenuous, dishonest or the shoddy, incompetent, is not uncharitable but necessary so that truth does not get waylaid. When I read of Ms. Brodie’s substantive unwillingness to alter her views despite new research contradicting her, it is not uncharitable, is it, to label such for what it is–acting in poor form–even if one is charitable and seeking to be empathetic? I would have welcomed the author’s perspective on this tension.

  5. If memory serves me, I read a quote by Fawn Brody admitting she lied about why she wanted access to the Church archives so she could get in. After some time someone in the Church found out what she was really up to and she was denied further access to the archives. She was a niece of Pres. David O. McKay, which is why she was able to have access to the archives so easily at first. Trivia: Fawn Brodie does not have a doctorate but yet her supporters call her Dr. Brodie.
    I spent a lot of time in libraries (still do) before the Internet age. I read any and all books about religion including the LDS church. Most books were unbiased, just stated facts, and in them it talked about the religious revivals that happened in the 1820’s, and in the area where Joseph Smith lived it was called the “Burned Over District”. It is even in Wikipedia. I could find this information over thirty years ago in books so for Church critics to say the revivals never happened just goes to show they want to pick and choose information that supports their beliefs and opinions.
    Even though LDS critics attack and use hateful language we must take the high road and be civil, which at times can be difficult. Very good article! Thank you.

  6. I believe this was a really good article. I believe that it is so important to recognize that although we need to engage critics of various aspects of the church, it is also important that this is done in a thoughtful and respectful way. I appreciated Harpers apparent empathy for the critics as well as those members of the church that engage criticisms in ways that are not the most productive. I also liked that he recognized that had he been in a different circumstance, he may have had those same views. (I hope I am not reading too much in this.) I am often turned off by apologetic writings which are too defensive and reactionary. Although I do not appreciate papers which to me feel to attack the critics instead of the arguments, I also feel that it is important to engage these topics in thoughtful and faithful ways. I feel that Harpers article is a good example of how this an be done.

  7. Was this intentionally formatted to be all in italics except for the section titles? I would expect italics for the abstract but not for the entire article.

    • The italics problem appears to be an issue with older versions of Internet Explorer. We are working on a fix. In the meantime, you could upgrade to IE9, or use a different browser.

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