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Elder Richard J. Maynes encouraged Mormon young adults around the world to follow the example of the faith’s first leader and ask questions, seek truth and find purpose for their lives.
Elder Maynes, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Presidency of the Seventy, spoke Sunday, May 1, 2016, at a worldwide broadcast for young adults from the Tabernacle on Temple Square. He used the various known accounts of founding prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision — the time when Smith prayed and saw in vision God the Father and Jesus Christ, ushering in what Latter-day Saints consider the restoration of the same church Jesus Christ established when He lived on earth. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by Joseph Smith in April 1830.)
In addition to the First Vision being an example of what it means to be a truth seeker, Elder Maynes said it is also the source of more than a dozen other truths. For example, he said, “We learn that God knows us personally and is aware of our needs and concerns. He called Joseph by name [in the vision].” He also said, “We learn that when we care enough to desire God’s input in our life, He will reveal a refining course for us.” And he said, “We learn that knowledge alone isn’t enough; acting on what we know results in God’s blessings.”
Elder Maynes also elaborated on the historical details of the accounts of Joseph Smith’s vision and its unprecedented documentation.
“Joseph wrote or dictated four known accounts of his First Vision,” Elder Maynes said. “Additionally, his contemporaries recorded their memories of what they heard Joseph say about the vision; five such accounts are known. It is a blessing to have these records. They make Joseph’s First Vision the best-documented vision in history.”
He directed young adults to online resources Church historians have provided for easier access to information about the various First Vision accounts. These resources include the various accounts, articles, images and videos and have been consolidated and posted at history.lds.org.
“The differences in these accounts are what you would expect to find in accounts of events given over time,” said Steven C. Harper, historian of the Church History Department. “Like the different accounts of Jesus’s ministry and Resurrection in the New Testament, each version shares different details but tells a consistent story.”
During the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith went into the woods near his home in New York at the age of 14 to pray about what church to join. In several of the accounts, he described seeing two personages identified as God the Father and Jesus Christ, who told him not to join any of the churches.
“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other — This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” he recorded in 1838.
Joseph Smith wrote a narrative of the First Vision in his own handwriting in 1832. That version and several other accounts dating back to 1835, 1838 and 1842 are published online in their entirety. The 1838 account also appears in the Pearl of Great Price, which is a part of the Latter-day Saint canon of scripture.