Thoughts on the First Vision

I recently had some thoughts while pondering on Joseph Smith’s first vision. God’s a wee bit pissed at us earth dwellers, but it his tiny rant against us he never brings up the “priesthood” as related in to this anger. God doesn’t at any point say, “And behold, their rites and ordinances and sacraments are not authorized by mine priesthood! Lo, they have corrupted it!” (How my God-speak?) What is God actually saying? Missionaries and members are hell-bent on making a tie into the priesthood authority with the First Vision. No such marriage seems to exist when we move back into the text.

1838 Account

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. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the Personage who addressed me said  that all their Creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all  corrupt, that “they draw near to me to with their lips but their hearts are far from me, They  teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of Godliness but they deny  the power thereof.”

Okay, if I were to put this into note form, it would look like this:

– All sects = wrong, because:

a. all their creeds are abominable (to God, at least, if that matters to you)

b. all their professors = corrupt

c. they draw near to me to with their lips (seems good) BUT their hearts are far from me (bad, very bad)

d. they teach for doctrines the commandments of men

e. they have a form of Godliness (not necessarily bad) but they deny the power thereof (again, bad)

Now for a couple thoughts.

1st, I think in the flow of the quote, c, d , and e apply to the professors of the sects not the average congregant (who are being led astray).  God isn’t too mad at the misled flock, rather at the false shepherds. Examples abound in the New Testament gospels. You can read it in other ways, but in my reading God’s anger is mostly directed at these naughty ‘professors’.

2nd, The sects’ corruption comes from their creeds and their professors (who don’t yield their hearts to God (only their mouths), teach man-made commandments in place of true doctrine, and deny the power of Godliness (but pretend to it)). God is most concerned with what they are teaching, not their magical priesthood validity status. He’s concerned with the hearts of men and the doctrine they teach.

3rd, Often the “power of godliness” is what Mormons most often will try to weld to their concept of priesthood. The best evidence of this is D&C 84: 19-22

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God, therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

But while there is some sort of connection between the two, they clearly aren’t synonymous.  And if the power of godliness is equated with seeing the face of God and living after such an event, then priesthood in D&C 84 is clearly NOT priesthood as Mormons talk about it. It’s just not the same thing. If you are going to use D&C 84 to make the connection to priesthood, then use the full definition.

It’s funny that we still seem satisfied with a form of Godliness. After about 200 years following the first vision, the church’s “priesthood” has yet to deliver the power of godliness as defined in section 84.

Of course, it’s more convenient to read in 2015 TBM definitions into God’s words.

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See if you see the priesthood in these other two accounts of the first vision.

1832 Account

<behold> the world  lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no  not one they have turned asside 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 acording to thir ungodliness and to bring to pass  that which <hath> been spoken by the mouth of the prophe ts and Ap[o]stles

1842 Account

They told me that all  religious denominations were believing in  incorrect doctrines, and that none of them  was acknowledged of God as his church  and kingdom. And I was expressly com manded to “go not after them,” at the  same time receiving a promise that the  fulness of the gospel should at some future  time be made known unto me.

[all JS quotes from Joseph Smith Papers Project]