Kirjallisuus > Mormonismin keksiminen

Joseph Smith ja metodistit

Tässä s. 53-55 siteeraataan m.m. Orsamus Turneria, History of Phelp's and Gorham's Purchase, p. 214, joka kertoo että Smith oli epävirallinen saarnaaja metodistien leirikokouksissa ennen v. 1822; samoin siteerataan Pomeroy Tuckeria, The Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism (NY 1867), p 18: Smith liittyi metodistikirkon "kokelasluokkaan"; Palmyrassa ei ollut metodistikirkkoa ennen heinäkuuta 1821 (alaviite 44).

Marquardt & Walters, Inventing Mormonism, Ch.3, p.53 - 57


The seventh and last vision of Joseph Smith, Sr., occurred, according to his wife, in 1819 or 1820 while he was living in Palmyra.39 It was about this time that young Joseph would say that he experienced his first vision. The earliest account of that vision survives from 1832 in Joseph Jr.'s own hand.

He begins his narration by pointing out that his parents "spared no pains to instructing me in christian religion." He then describes his youthful religious questing:

At about the age of twelve years my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul, which led me to searching the scriptures, believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God. Thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel exce[e]dingly, for I discovered that adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository, this was a grief to my Soul. Thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart . . . my mind become exce[e]dingly distressed for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament.

p.53 - p.54

However, he continued, "I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday, to day and forever." By observing the wonders of nature, Joseph confirmed for himself "well hath the wise man said fool saith in his heart there is no God." Thus by considering both the Bible and creation he concluded: "All, all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power, a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds, who filleth Eternity, who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity." Thus convinced that the God of the Bible existed, but no denomination any longer taught the New Testament gospel, he continued praying:


I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in attitude of calling upon the Lord a piller of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying, Joseph thy sins are forgiven thee. ... behold I am the Lord of glory, I was crucifyed for the world.40

Several observations can be drawn from this earliest written narration of Smith's teenage religious experience. First, like his mother, he finds the Bible his only reliable guide and his interpretation of it the only correct one. Second, like his parents, he realizes that no church any longer has the truth; everyone else has apostatized. Third, unlike others, much of his conviction is of the sins of other professing Christians. Finally, like his parents and many others, he feels conviction of his sins and finds forgiveness through a direct vision of the Savior granting him pardon.

p.54 - p.55

Orsamus Turner, the young apprentice working at the Palmyra Register newspaper office, noted young Joseph's presence at a Methodist camp meeting and found him "a very passable exhorter."41 In the Methodist style of worship, a sermon was preached in which points were drawn from a given text or passage from the Bible. After the message, an exhortation was usually given by another speaker who would reemphasize the points made in the preacher's exposition and plead with the people to take seriously the message they had just heard. The Methodist structure provided for the licensing of official exhorters by the District Conference.42 However, in more informal situations, such as camp meetings and evening services (where the liturgical format used at the morning worship was dispensed with), even those as young as twelve or thirteen could rise and give exhortations.43 Since Turner completed his apprenticeship and left Palmyra in the summer of 1822, his words provide a valuable insight into Joseph's religious activities before his seventeenth birthday.


Joseph did not become a licensed exhorter because such persons had to be members in full standing with the denomination. However, Pomeroy Tucker, another early resident of Palmyra, remarked concerning Joseph, "at one time he joined the probationary class of the Methodist church in Palmyra, and made some active demonstrations of engagedness, . . . [but] he soon withdrew from the class."44 Formal church membership would have required Joseph's meeting with the class leader "at least six months on trial."45

Joseph attended a debating club in Palmyra Village, and Turner recalled the following:

Joseph had a little ambition; and some very laudable aspirations; the mother's intellect occasionally shone out in him feebly, especially when he used to help us solve some portentous questions of moral or political ethics, in our juvenile debating club, which we moved down to the old red school house on Durfee street, to get rid of the annoyance of critics that used to drop in upon us in the village . . . 46

Joseph wrote about his "intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations" during his youth and his partiality toward the Methodists. But by the time he was approaching nineteen, during the 1824-25 revival meetings, he felt little need for organized religion. He later wrote in his 1838-39 account: "During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as occasion would permit."47 His mother recalled, "Joseph never said many words upon any subject but always seemed to reflect more deeply than common persons of his age upon everything of a religious nature."48

p.55 - p.56

According to his later colleague Oliver Cowdery, Joseph was impressed by the revival preaching of Reverend George Lane. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Lane was the Methodist presiding elder of the Ontario District from July 1824 until January 1825. Cowdery wrote, "much good instruction was always drawn from his [Lane's] discourses on the scriptures, and in common with others, our brother's [Joseph Smith's] mind became awakened."49 Joseph would have been eighteen years old when he heard Lane preaching.


After the family discussed "the subject of the diversity of churches," Lucy Smith recalled, Joseph saw an angel who revealed the gold plates: "After we ceased conversation, he went to bed but he had not laid there long till a bright enter the room where he lay. He looked up and saw an angel of the Lord 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. No, not one, has not been since Peter took the Keys into the Kingdom of Heaven. The churches that are now upon the Earth are all man made churches."50

Lucy later remembered "listening in breathless anxiety to the teachings" of her son Joseph, "for Joseph was less inclined to the study of books than any child we had but much more given to reflection and deep study."51 These teachings would have been the theological expositions resulting from Joseph's deep study expressed within the Smith family.

Joseph Smith's childhood vision, as his 1832 narrative describes, of Christ's appearing and granting him forgiveness for his sins was similar to those of other young people of his day. The later 1838-39 version of his first vision introduces a revival before his vision and creates a chronologically implausible picture.

From what we can learn about the religious background of the Smith family, Joseph Jr.'s parents taught religious values to their children. Though his father did not attend church, he did sing and pray with his family. Joseph Jr.'s religious instruction included hearing ministers's sermons, revival homilies, private family worship, and personal Bible study. Joseph was not uninformed, ignorant, or illiterate.

p.56 - p.57

While the Smith family held Christian beliefs, they also believed in treasures supernaturally buried in the earth which could be obtained only through magical rituals. [...]


  1. Lucy Mack Smith, Preliminary MS, 31; Biographical Sketches (1853), 74; History of Joseph Smith (1958), 68.
  2. "A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr.," 1-2, LDS archives, and Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:5-6. In June 1830 there was a brief reference to Joseph's experience of forgiveness recorded in the Book of Commandments: "For, after that it truly was manifested unto this first elder [Joseph Smith], that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world" (BC 24:6). Joseph saw this experience as his call to start into the ministry. In his 1832 recollection he wrote that he was in his sixteenth year of age (1821) when he received forgiveness. In 1838-39 he recorded both the season and the year, "It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of Eightteen hundred and twenty" (Manuscript History, Book A-1:3; JS-H 1:14, PGP; Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:272). For various accounts by Joseph Smith and others of this vision, see Milton V. Backman, Jr., Joseph Smith's First Vision: The First Vision in its Historical Context (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971; 2d ed., 1980), and Richard P. Howard, "Joseph Smith's First Vision: An Analysis of Six Contemporary Accounts," Restoration Studies I (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, 1980), 95-117.
  3. Turner, History of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, 214. See also Calvin N. Smith, "Joseph Smith as a Public Speaker," Improvement Era 69 (Apr. 1966): 277. The Methodist work in Palmyra was still only a "class meeting" on the circuit at this time. It was not until 3 July 1821 that the Methodist Society of Palmyra was incorporated as a church "by the name of the first Methodist Episcopal Church of Palmyra" (see Miscellaneous Records, Book C: 385-86, in the County Clerk's Office, Ontario County, Canandaigua, New York). Four days later, on 7 July 1821, Durfee Chase deeded to the Methodist Church his property on Vienna Road (see Deeds of Ontario County, Book G:345, Ontario County Records Center and Archives, Canandaigua, New York). It was not until 1822 that they were able to begin construction of a meeting house (see Palmyra Herald 2 [19 June 1822]: 2).
  4. The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church (New York: J. Emory and B. Waugh, 1828), 28, 43, 45, 64, 74, 80. For background on the Methodist Class, see David Lowes Watson, The Early Methodist Class Meeting: Its Origins and Significance (Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 1987). Members of the class were to "bear one another's burdens" (94) and "there was no prerequisite for Methodist membership other than a desire for salvation, the societies were open to all, regardless of their spiritual state" (108).
  5. Doctrine and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 71.
  6. Pomeroy Tucker, The Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1867), 18.
  7. Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 80.
  8. Turner, History of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, 214. Also published in Littell's Living Age 30 (30 Aug. 1851): 429, reprinted from the Rochester American. This statement by Turner is cited in John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith, An American Prophet, (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 32. The Western Farmer 1 (23 Jan. 1822): 3, Palmyra, New York, contained the following: "NOTICE. The young people of the village of Palmyra and its vicinity are requested to attend a Debating school at the school house near Mr. Billings' on Friday next." Notice dated 19 Jan. 1822.
  9. Manuscript History, Book A-1: 2; JS-H 1:8, PGP; Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:270.
  10. Lucy Mack Smith, Preliminary MS, 46, not in Biographical Sketches or History of Joseph Smith.
  11. Messenger and Advocate 1 (Dec. 1834): 42. In 1879 Joseph and Hiel Lewis, cousins to Joseph's first wife, Emma Hale, stated that Joseph joined the Methodist Episcopal church or class in Harmony, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1828. There was disagreement about how long Joseph's name remained on class rolls. See the articles in the Amboy [Illinois] Journal vol. 24 for the following issues: 23, 30 Apr., 21 May, 4, 11 June, 2, 9, 30 July, and 6 Aug. 1879. See also Saints' Herald 26 (15 June 1879): 190-91, and (15 Dec. 1879): 376. It is possible that Joseph attended class with his wife Emma because of the death of their first son on 15 June 1828. That Joseph was a member of the class was not questioned, only the length of time his name remained on the class record. Like so many of the early Methodist records, the early class books of the Harmony (now Lanesboro) church are lost, so it will never be known for certain whether he remained on the rolls for only three days or for six months.
  12. Lucy Mack Smith, Preliminary MS, 46, not in Biographical Sketches or History of Joseph Smith.
  13. Lucy Mack Smith, Preliminary MS, 49; Biographical Sketches (1853), 84; History of Joseph Smith (1958), 82.

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