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I, Baura Kale, will give $1000 (USD) to anyone who can show that Joseph Smith even CLAIMED that he saw God, the Father and Jesus Christ as separate personages when he was a teenager and that they told him to join none of the then-existing churches. Note that I'm not asking that anyone prove that the First Vision actually happened, just that JS CLAIMED that it happened.

The kicker is that I will only accept sources that were in existence BEFORE 1835. With all the newspaper accounts, Church publications (including a history of the beginnings of Mormonism written by Oliver Cowdery who was working in close association with JS), journals, letters, missionary pamphlets, broadsides etc. that were in print, all the sermons published and even books written about Mormonism, one of which included affidavits from dozens of JS's Palmyra neighbors, surely there MUST be some record of it in the pre-1835 documents. That's a full 14 years after it supposedly happened.

I will not accept what JS LATER claimed to have happened to him way back in 1820; I will not accept a "testimony" that the First Vision is true; I will not accept a remembrance from some Mormon in the 1890s saying he remembers JS talking about the FV back in 1834. I will only accept documentary evidence that was in existence before 1835. Find that and you get the thousand bucks.

Feel free to forward my challenge to any TBMs you might know. I've posted THE BAURA CHALLENGE many times here and have yet to have anyone come up with an attempt to meet it. Surely if JS told people and got in trouble for telling as it says in the PoGP there would be SOME record of it in the mountains of documents pertaining to early Mormonism pre 1835, right?

Remember: God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate personages appearing and telling teenage JS not to join any of the existing churches. Find ANY mention of that by ANYONE before 1835 and you get a cool thousand bucks.

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OK, I admit it. I was a little late for the “Who Do You Say That I Am?” conference. Thank you Watermark Dallas for putting this apologetics conference together! It turns out late is better than never. The event was challenging and enlightening. Ted and Anne Paul from Credo Courses were there. We fellowshipped some and they exercised their stellar expertise in photography (see all the images in this post).

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One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truth contained in scripture......After we ceased conversation he [Joseph] went to bed and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true way but he had not laid there long till he saw a bright light enter the room where he lay. He looked up and saw an angel of the Lord standing by him. The angel spoke, I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church. There is not a true church on earth." (This original version was deleted by Brigham Young when Lucy's book was ordered recalled and re-published, obviously because Lucy's version contradicted Smith's 1842 "official version.)
To see Lucy's original book as she wrote it: All of the contradictions, originating in accounts from Smith and his closest family and friends, indicate to reasonable investigators, that the best sources for facts about Mormon origins has not been church leaders, members or church curriculum. And that of course, leads investigators and doubting members to believe that Smith may have invented the "first vision" story, probably around 1832 when he wrote his original version of it. And then the story changed with each re-telling, to meet Smith's need to reestablish his authority with the Mormon faithful. Or so it has been suggested by some historians.There are other contradictions which cast doubt on the "first vision," such as the some of the Smith family joining the Presbyterian church AFTER God has supposedly told Joseph that all churches were corrupt; Cowdery's statement that Smith had wondered, several years after the alleged "first vision," as to whether "a Supreme Being did exist"; and the fact that as late as 1851, church publications such as the "Times and Seasons" were calling the angel that visited Joseph "Nephi," rather than Moroni. Since Joseph Smith was the editor of the "Times and Seasons," it seems incredible that he would allow his own paper to misstate the name of the angel, and not issue a correction.Adapted from Ex-Mormon LDS critic Randy JordanClick here for a PDF comparison chart of the details of six accounts of the First Vision: Here is a comparison of nine different accounts from an apologist's site: The following is provided by Mormon Infographics. Click on the image to see it full size. For more information, view the Mormon Infographics' website: .According to the church essay a minister passed through Smith's community and this confirms the revival in 1820 Smith mentioned in his last version of the first vision. Since Joseph claimed that the revival is what motivated him pray for wisdom, it is necessary to find evidence to confirm his story.According to the historical evidence Joseph Smith could not have been stirred by an 1820 revival to ask which church was true, since there was no revival in 1820 anywhere near Manchester, New York, where he was living. A revival as described by Joseph Smith did occur there beginning in the spring of 1824. However, this then seriously disrupts Joseph's later version of his story, because there is not enough time between the First vision and the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon for all the events described in the First Vision story to occur.A young Joseph, an amazing vision, the birth of Mormonism - all started with a great revival according to the fully evolved story. Joseph Smith described the revival that took place in his boyhood town of Palmyra, New York:

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Who Do You Say That I Am - Watermark Apologetics Conference

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The church essay did not provide evidence why Joseph Smith re-worked and altered his first vision story from 1832 until 1838. Many people record important events in their lives when they happen in letters, diaries, and conversation. This way they can remember where they were when their first child was born; or when they received their patriarchal blessing; or their wedding night. Skepticism from investigators is triggered because Joseph Smith shared the 1820 vision story with no one, and did not consistently recall critical facts correctly. The story also grew and evolved into a grander and more impressive vision than the one he originally reported.In Joseph Smith's first handwritten testimony of the 1820 first vision written in 1832, he states that he already knew all other churches were false before he prayed.

by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
See: Yet in the "official" story written years later by a scribe, Smith is quoted as saying (emphasis added):
"I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join."
Examining the different versions of the first vision story, a pattern of contradictions and evolution, not a pattern of mere elaboration on a single original experience emerges.Issues related to authorship of the first vision were not sufficiently addressed by the church's essay on the first vision, except to claim that the stories were consistent.The 'Joseph Smith History' in the Pearl of Great Price was written by a scribe in 1838, James Mulholland, and remained unpublished until 1842. Oddly, the “official” story was unknown to Smith's family, church leaders and members until nearly a half century later. The earliest version of the first vision story in Joseph Smith's own handwriting is not considered "official." Church leaders led members to believe that Smith did not offer different accounts, until critics discovered them and forced the church's hand.Joseph did not tell a consistent story, but changed key elements over the years.Also common elements from early accounts raise questions about what appears to be a gradual evolution of Joseph Smith's first vision story. Did Joseph begin to include a "Christian experience" in the telling of his story because Bauder noticed it was lacking? The earliest accounts given to Chase and Harris do not include this.There is a noticeable shift in the context of finding the gold plates, from a 17 year-old money-digger to a 14 year-old spiritual seeker. Is this an attempt to put his story into a more socially acceptable context? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that as time went on, Joseph omitted uncomfortable but historically correct events, and then replaced them with fictitious elements in order to make his story more socially acceptable and spiritually compelling.“Misleading” or related synonyms are the words heard most, when investigators learn that facts are deliberately withheld by the LDS church. The spirit of full disclosure is not an option or going the extra mile. It is the minimum standard expected of an institution claiming to represent God's will and his moral truths to the rest of the world.- adapted from Joel B. Groat

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Another manuscript in the NHL which had not been known before is called "On the Origin of the World." It is very important because, like the passage from John above, it gives an account of Creation quite different from the one found in the Bible. In this text, the creation of the world is described in similar terms as mentioned above. Sophia, it states, sent her daughter Eve, as an instructor to raise up Adam, in whom there was no soul, so that those whom he would beget might become vessels of the light. When Adam saw her, he said, "You will be called 'the mother of the living' because you are the one who gave me life." According to this text, the wicked demiurge and his helpers (called in this account the "authorities") created Adam's body but were incapable of giving him a soul, nor did they want him to have a soul. Then, and this is very important, the text continues that the anger of the authorities was very great: "Now come, let us seize her (Eve) and let us cast our seed on her, so that when she is polluted she will not be able to ascend to her light, but those whom she will beget will serve us. But let us not tell Adam that she is not derived from us, but ." (italics mine) Eve, however, being of divine origin, overhears them, and outwits their foul intention. What happens at the Tree of Knowledge is quite different from the account we are given in the Bible. The "authorities"--the wicked demiurge and company--do not want Adam and Eve to know of their divine origin because the authorities are envious and cannot create or distribute that divine spark, only Sophia can. The following passage describes what happened in the Garden of Eden according to the gnostic version:

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*Note: this series begins with Quakers and Jesus: First Things

It is clear that biology is not at issue, but the archetypal meaning of masculine and feminine. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist who acquired one of the NHL codices (called the Jung Codex) would interpret this passage psychologically. Perhaps he would say that wholeness or the recovery of the archetype of Self (i.e., Christ as Logos, the human God image) is not possible without the coming of consciousness, the assimilation, of the anima for a man and the animus for a woman. What is unconscious in each sex is the opposite gender; this is what acts as a bridge to the wholeness of the psyche. For Jung, we are indeed androgynous in the unconscious. A feminist voice, however, might question why the same would not hold true for the male: that he needs to become conscious of his feminine side, the anima, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven or wholeness.