The Importance Of Doing Your Homework

I have been active in witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons on the Topix.net forums. Months ago on one of the conversation threads, a Mormon, who goes by the name “Larry,” asked me about a quote used by Gerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry. According to Larry, the Tanners are guilty of “telling outright lies about what the Early LDS Leaders have said” (Post #13 of the above thread). I decided to look into the issue for Larry. This exercise was a good reminder of how important it is to take care in research and to be sure to consult primary resources, and if necessary, even contact the originator of the quote.

To give a little history, Larry challenged me about this issue some time late last year and produced two quotes for me to evaluate. One of the quotes was easily dealt with, but the other one was not. I did not have the primary resource (a talk given by the Tanners) and Larry did not provide it. I told him that until he could provide me with a reference, I could not comment on the quote because I wanted to see the context in which the statement was made. Since that issue last year, I temporarily stopped posting on Topix because other ministry responsibilities were taking priority.

I’ve recently started posting on Topix again and Larry brought up the same issue once more. I answered Larry’s challenge with the following post (#57), “I did, months ago. But at this point, I do not remember which thread it is on or even which quote you are referring to. If you would be so kind as to provide the quote in question, I will look at it again.” Larry says that he never saw the post. At this point I need to say something about Topix.

Since it is primarily a source for news, they do not have any features available for forum posters to search for older posts. I tried to go back and find Larry’s original question and my original answer by looking at older threads, but since conversations rarely stay on topic and there are no search features, it was near impossible to find our original posts. Instead of continuing to waste time looking for the old posts, I just asked Larry to resubmit his question so that I could take a look at it.

Larry reposted his concerns in post #62.

The link in Larry’s post is to an LDS apologetics site (FAIR) which addresses this alleged misquote of the Tanners near the bottom of the page. Look for the “Orson Pratt” heading. As FAIR does, Larry believes this to be a dishonest use of this resource and wants to know if I agree. To make his case, Larry quotes the Tanner’s partial use of this resource (only showing the appearance of an angel) and then gives the full quote which shows that Orson Pratt did know about the Father and Son in the First Vision. According to Larry in post (Post #81);

It is realy (sic) not that hard. Sandra Tanner said Orson Pratt and the other Early LDS leaders did not know about the first vision and gave a quote from Orson Pratt to show this. I gave both he (sic) quote and the original quote from Orson Pratt with the 200+ words that Sandra Tanner removed. Is it wrong to remove 200+ words tomake (sic) a quote say the exact opposite of what the person said? I did not ask for anything on the other items like the 1840 pamphlet printed by Orson 2 years before the official version was published that gave every account found in the official version. i (sic) just asked about the one quote and gave you both the Tanners version and the original version. It shold (sic) not take more than 10 min. to come up with an oppinion. (sic)

Due to family and other ministry responsibilities, I was not able to immediately look at this issue. Once I had the time, I tried to post my response. As mentioned in my Monday, March 31st blog entry, I have been having trouble with my posts appearing on Topix. For some unknown reason, a good number of my responses were never posted on Topix. I did not realize just how many of them were never posted until I started writing this response to Larry.

In order to look at the resource, I asked Larry for the reference to the Tanner talk. If the Tanners supposedly said something on a recording, I want to hear the recording so that I can understand the context in which the quote was used. I do not think it is fair to ask me to judge a statement outside of its context. As show above, Larry has already provided a context for me, but I reserve the right to evaluate that for myself. Here is Larry’s less than cordial response to my request for the reference. “I gave you thye (sic) date of the Talk. Do I need to go to your house and do the work for you? You asked for the site I got the information from and gave it to you. Have you even looked at the information or are you just dodging me still?” (post # 113)

Do you see the problem here? Larry trusts a secondary source and thinks I am trying to avoid the subject because I want more information. When I ask him for the primary resource, he becomes indignant. Since Larry does not have the primary resource, and has probably never heard the Tanner talk himself, I decided to look at the reference anyway and try to understand how the Tanners were using the quote. If I could not understand how the quote was used, I could easily call Sandra Tanner and ask her.

When I look at the partial quote by the Tanners and then the whole quote provided by FAIR, I can understand why Larry has a problem with the use of this quote. If the Tanners used this partial quote to try to prove that Joseph Smith did not see the Father and the Son, then this is clearly a quote taken out of context.

It is interesting to note that FAIR does not provide a reference link to the Tanner’s web site so that you can check the quote for accuracy. The FAIR article is referring to this item on the Tanner’s web site which Larry later provided for me. When you look at this web page, you will see that it is a list of “References for a talk given Nov. 8, 1998, Salt Lake City, Utah.” The reference in question is the second quote under the 1869 heading. On of the first things you will notice is that very little of the information on this Tanner web page is written in article format. Since most of what appears on this page is just references, it is not possible to determine the context in which the quotes are given or how they were used in the talk. Remember, Larry said in post #81 that Sandra Tanner claims, “Orson Pratt and the other Early LDS leaders did not know about the first vision and gave a quote from Orson Pratt to show this,” and disregarded the fact that the whole quote shows the opposite.

If this is what the Tanners have done, then they have born false witness against the LDS Church. If Larry is wrong about how the quote was used in the Tanner talk, then he is bearing false witness against the Tanners. Because there is no context given on the Tanner’s web site about this talk, I decided to call Sandra Tanner and ask her about it.

Sandra and I talked on March 28, 2008. When I brought up the item on her web site, she was already familiar with which quote was in question and how Mormon apologists have attacked it. We talked for 10-15 minutes and I made sure that I understood her argument and how the quote was used in her talk. I will do my best to explain that here.

Sandra explained that the topic of her talk was how the first vision itself has changed throughout the years and that it was not always used to prove that God has a physical body, especially in early Mormon history. In other words, the first vision story was never used by Smith as proof that God the Father has a physical body. Although he mentions seeing two personages in an 1838 vision account, the purpose of Smith sharing that alleged vision was never to prove the physicality of the Father like the LDS Church does today. According to Tanner, the first vision was never used as proof of the physical nature until “YEARS after Brigham Young died, probably around the turn of the century” (Personal email from Sandra Tanner to me).

Tanner also noted that the quote in question mentions the appearance of an angel before the appearance of the Father and the Son and then another appearance by an angel. Tanner’s use of the ellipsis is not to try to hide the fact that the Father and Son are mentioned, but instead to show that angels are mentioned both before and after the alleged appearance of the Father and Son. With this information the question must be raised, “If Smith saw an angel before the first vision, then why is the appearance of the Father and Son called the first vision when it would have had to have been the second vision? Let’s look at the quote.

By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaims the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This occurred before this young man was fifteen years of age; and it was a startling announcement to make in the midst of a generation so completely given up to the traditions of their fathers; and when this was proclaimed by this young, unlettered boy to the priests and the religious societies in the State of New York, they laughed him to scorn. “What!” said they, “visions and revelations in our day! God speaking to men in our day!” They looked upon him as deluded; they pointed the finger of scorn at him and warned their congregations against him. “The canon of Scripture is closed up; no more communications are to be expected from Heaven. The ancients saw heavenly visions and personages; they heard the voice of the Lord; they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to receive revelations, but behold no such thing is to be given to man in our day, neither has there been for many generations past.” This was the style of the remarks made by religionists forty years ago. This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel. (Journal of Discourses V.13 P. 65-66)

Notice that the second mention of the angel says that Smith was visited “again by a holy angel.” According to the official version of the first vision, the initial vision Smith ever had was of the Father and the Son, then three years later Smith claims to have been visited by an angel in his bedroom. The above quote shows that Smith was visited by an angel, then by the Father and the Son, then four years later was visited again by an angel.

Now that we have seen how the Tanner quote was used, we see that there are no motives of deception, thus the Tanners are not guilty of bearing false witness against the LDS Church. Even if you disagree with the Tanner interpretation of the quote, there is no basis for accusing them of dishonesty. I understand where the miscommunication has taken place and think there is a simple solution to avoid any confusion in the future.

If there was a bit of commentary on the Tanner web page that explains how and why each quote is being used, there would be no misunderstanding of the quotes. Regardless of the fact that there is no commentary on this page, I believe that it is irresponsible to create your own context for how these quotes are being used and then accuse the Tanners of deception. Remember, in post #81 of the Topix thread, Larry said that, “It shold (sic) not take more than 10 min. to come up with an opinion.” (sic) That is precisely why Larry and FAIR have misunderstood the Tanners. If Larry and FAIR had just done a little homework, they would not be guilty of bearing false witness against the Tanners.

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  1. Show me the homework!Dale Caswell chiming in again.Keith, I’m a bit confused here. Not that you can be faulted for shoddy work; you’ve obviously spent some good time on this issue. But this is how I read the situation here:(1) LDS “Larry” accuses Sandra Tanner of using ellipsis to remove evidence of the First Vision in a late 19th cent. quote by Orson Pratt. While the quote mentions Smith’s encounter with angels, the ellipsis utterly removes a rather thorough summary of the First Vision from Smith’s 1832, 1835 & 1838 accounts: (1) a pillar of fire/light; (2) radiance of the vision paralleled the noon-day sun, (3) a personal conversation with the embodied Christ; and from Smith’s 1835 & 1838 accounts: (4) two complementary personages appearing, the second being identified as Christ, the Son; and from Smith’s 1838 account: (5) the first personage identifying the second as his “beloved Son” and proclaiming him to be heard by Smith. Larry’s contention is that the ellipsis was used by Tanner to bolster her point that early Mormon leaders were not cognisant of–or clear on–Joseph Smith’s claim that as a young teenager he saw and heard a vision of God the Father and his Son Jesus. It is well-known that Tanner has for several decades drawn attention to the fact that Smith’s 1832 hand-written account makes no mention of the first personage, the Father; and that his 1835 account mentions the first personage, but does not clearly identify him as the Father. Her claim is that this and other differences in the First Vision accounts–and the fact that Smith does not mention the experience until two years after the Book of Mormon’s publishing and the Church’s organization–cast doubt on the reality of the vision (that it was a later fabrication by Smith, embellished by him over time to meet his evolving theological purposes). In the last two decades Tanner has further claimed that the First Vision did not form an integral part of the belief system of 19th century Mormonism, and that the early leaders of the LDS church were indeed themselves unsure of the details of the First Vision as it was recorded in its most lengthy version by Smith in 1838–the version that serves as a centerpiece in the current LDS belief system. Tanner’s Doctored Orson Pratt Quote (as Provided by “Larry”):”By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaimed the startling news that God had sent an angel to him;… This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.13, pp.65-66)(2) Keith then questions the “context” of the doctored Pratt quote used by Tanner. Did she really take out the very clear First Vision description from the quote to argue that Pratt did not indeed understand that Joseph Smith had and early vision of the personified and distinct Father and Son? Keith admits that if she had used the quote in such a manner that she was indeed guilty of rewriting Mormon history to blatantly deceive by falsify its literal claims(3) Keith then calls Tanner on the phone and learns personally from her that she used the doctored quote–not as evidence that Pratt didn’t understand that Smith’s First Vision happened, and in the way that Smith’s 1838 account said that is happened–but as evidence that Pratt understood Smith to have encountered an angel prior to his First Vision experience, and therefore many years subsequent to his encounters with the “holy angel,” Moroni (or, Nephi, if you conclude that the angel’s name in the 1838 version was not a mere scribal or verbal slip). This evidence is based on a literary argument that Keith gives following the Pratt quote in its undoctored form:Full Orson Pratt Quote (as Provided by Keith):By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaims the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This occurred before this young man was fifteen years of age; and it was a startling announcement to make in the midst of a generation so completely given up to the traditions of their fathers; and when this was proclaimed by this young, unlettered boy to the priests and the religious societies in the State of New York, they laughed him to scorn. “What!” said they, “visions and revelations in our day! God speaking to men in our day!” They looked upon him as deluded; they pointed the finger of scorn at him and warned their congregations against him. “The canon of Scripture is closed up; no more communications are to be expected from Heaven. The ancients saw heavenly visions and personages; they heard the voice of the Lord; they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to receive revelations, but behold no such thing is to be given to man in our day, neither has there been for many generations past.” This was the style of the remarks made by religionists forty years ago. This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel. (Journal of Discourses V.13 P. 65-66)Keith’s immediately subsequent commentary: Notice that the second mention of the angel says that Smith was visited “again by a holy angel.” According to the official version of the first vision, the initial vision Smith ever had was of the Father and the Son, then three years later Smith claims to have been visited by an angel in his bedroom. The above quote shows that Smith was visited by an angel, then by the Father and the Son, then four years later was visited again by an angel.(4) Keith subsequently concludes that Tanner was justified in using her doctored quote, and that it was Larry who was guilty of deception by accusing Tanner of using her doctored quote in a manner that she claims (by phone) not to have done.I hope you can see Keith that the crux of your case is that you have simply taken Tanner’s word over Larry’s word. But you have still entirely failed to show the actual source of the argument that can only be found in Tanner’s book (that was partially quoted (but not doctored) online at FAIR). Hence, the title of my response, “Show me the Homework!” Keith, I appreciate the fact that you have fairly supplied links to both your conversation with Larry, and to the source of Larry’s argument from FAIR (which at least appears to be a sound pro-LDS essay), but still, the only pertinent source to your argument (and your personal accusation against Larry) goes entirely unquoted! Until you can show that the FAIR essay’s use of Tanner’s quote is contrary to the way she uses it in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?, then you’ve proven only that you (quite naturally) favor Tanner’s word over LDS Larry’s. I was tempted to travel a town over to a library where I could confirm the argument for myself and for your website, but in the end decided that I will leave it to you (or someone else listening here) to prove otherwise–in the end, I just don’t care who is being the deceptive punk. (From my own experience with Tanner’s literature and argumentation, my own hunch is that Larry and FAIR are right, but I’ll admit that I just don’t know.) I’ve thoroughly analyzed Joseph Smith’s First Vision accounts many, many times over–an have prayed about them many, many times over–and fully believe the experience took place just as Joseph quite consistently said it took place. (For Smith’s three versions of the event–incidentally, all from an anti-LDS site–go to: http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/first-vision-1832.html; http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/first-vision-1835A.html; and http://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Scans/first-vision-1838.html.)Let me summarize a few of the strictly analytical reasons why I believe the veracity of Smith’s several versions of the vision:(1) For the consistency of details that have no bearing on Smith’s theology: referring to the experience as “vision” and describing it in extra-bodily terms (which contradicts typical LDS cinema’s portrayal of the event); seeking resolution about (religious) contentions in society; secluding himself in a wilderness/forest for a formal prayer; a descending pillar of light/fire; radiance comparable to the noon-day sun; fixation on the heavenly beings’ brilliance of countenance and clothing; personal vision dominated by a mainly one-sided conversation with the embodied Christ.(2) For Smith’s continued devotion to “the vision” of his youth, even at the height of his prophetic claims. Given the audacity, complexity and splendor of Smith’s later visions and encounters with the divine, particularly in Kirtland; and also by the fact that in these later visions he was almost always accompanied by at least one other person who claims to have seen the very same things (whether it be Cowdery, Rigdon, or the School of the Prophets), there is no good reason to believe that Smith in any way (theological or other) needed the First Vision to round out his religious system. It seems plain to me that Smith saw all his later experiences with the divine–and the theological ramifications they provided–as a fulfillment and completion of his original vision of God, and the calling that Christ personally presented him with in that vision. Smith’s great vision of his youth mystified him–and at times maybe even haunted him–throughout the rest of his life. He simply doesn’t need it; yet he never abandons it.(3) For the simple fact that none of the variations in the vision accounts contradict one another. It is by no means a stretched argument to claim that Smith simply could have left out some facts in some accounts because they were simply overshadowed by other facts. In several accounts Smith mentions seeing “angels” in the vision–in his 1838 account “many angels”–but I can see how even this glorious detail could reasonably fade into the background when we consider his claim to have spoken with the embodied Christ. And even the appearance of the first personage, the Father, is understandably absent when we consider that even in the 1838 account his identity as God the Father is only implied by his introduction of the Son. None of the accounts suggest that the Father does anything more than introduce the Son, and the 1835 account strongly suggests that He immediately makes his exit after this, leaving Christ to complete the remainder of the exchange alone or with angels only (this detail is also often compromised by LDS cinema). It seems reasonable given these details why in 1832 Joseph only saw reason to mention his exchange with the embodied Christ. (4) Relative to point 3, and quite contrary to Tanner’s classic position that Smith embellished the vision by later adding an embodied Father personage to establish his later theological innovation of the Christian Godhead: in the original vision account to include the Father “personage” (the 1835 account), the personage’s identity as God the Father is barely insinuated (the second “personage,” Christ, being simply described by Smith as “like the first”). I think it’s insinuated enough to understand that by this point in time Joseph himself had made the connection between the personages , but it also suggests that it may have been a detail of the vision whose theological significance escaped him for many years. Keith, you mention how Tanner explained to you that in 19th century Mormonism the First Vision was not used as a proof of God the Father’s embodied, physical nature, and I don’t doubt this, as I think they were more sensitive than current media-infected LDSs to the visionary, extra-bodily quality of the experience; however, I highly doubt that they failed to clearly see the theological significance–just as their modern counterparts–of a Father and Son that are essentially and personally distinct. For me it seems plain that the theological significance of the First Vision doesn’t come immediately to the young Joseph Smith, but only after many years of reflection, and after later revelations give him more understanding. Leading, naturally, to some of the “embellishments” of these points of the vision over time.But as a final point of my argument, Keith, I’d like to point out a few details in your (and Tanner’s) literay argument ascribing two angel visitations to Joseph Smith–details that I think show that doing one’s “homework” should never be too hastily performed–even if the time we spend on it suggests hastiness is the last thing we should need to worry about. After all, our personal biases often counteract our vigor and diligence. You claim, Keith (speaking in behalf of Tanner), that the opening portion of the Orson Pratt passage describes that Smith had an experience with an angel before his First Vision of God. This is of course contrary to classic descriptions of Smith’s early experiences–given by Smith himself–and suggests that Pratt may have been privy to one of a conundrum of verbal accounts that call to question the purity of what Smith actually recorded in ink. Did Smith at times mention contact with an angel before his First Vision, and therefore years before his encounters with the angel Moroni? Might there have therefore been other divine experiences in Smith’s youth that compromise the integrity the formally set forth story?–that is, that in the year (I believe) 1824 he received his first of a number of exchanges with the angel Moroni that would culminate in the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon–and that several years prior he had experienced his original divine encounter–in a vision–where the embodied Christ instructed him in a number of things and was the first to confide in him his divine calling in life. Did it really happen this way, cut and dry, or was Smith just some kid that was full of endless, casual stories of angels and visions–that for all we know could stretch back to early childhood? I think this is really the ideological issue that is at stake in Tanner’s overall argument, is it not? Well, let’s re-examine the opening of Pratt’s quote in question:By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaims the startling news (1) that God had sent an angel to him; (2) that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, (3) that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; (4) that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.”As you can see, Keith, I’ve added numbers before each of the “that” clauses to appear in the passage. I’ve done this because I want to point out some of the syntactic ambiguity of the passage. I think it’s fair to say that structurally speaking, all four of these parallel clauses could be referring to different divine events experienced by Smith. The only clear literary challenge to this reading would be that “one of these personages” in clause 4 seems to very plainly reference the “two glorious personages” in clause 3, and we can therefore safely conclude that clauses 3 and 4 refer to the self-same event. I think that you will agree with me, however, Keith, that the majority of other historical sources seem to confirm that the “supernatural vision” referred to in clause 2 is comprised of the “pillar of fire” and “two glorious personages” described in clause 3. We can therefore safely presume, I think, that clauses 2, 3, and 4 all describe the self-same event. But what of clause 1? Despite the fact that Joseph Smith in a few accounts of the First Vision mentions the appearance of “angels” besides the Godly “personages,” for some reason you think that clause 1 refers to a different experience than clauses 2, 3, and 4. And I would have to strongly agree with you. Pratt introduces clause 2 by explaining that “through [Smith’s] faith, prayers, and sincere repentence he had beheld…” I think that this introduction clearly implies that the “angel” sent to Smith by God in clause 1 is not part of the vision that follows Smith’s faith, prayers and repentence–the vision described in clauses 2, 3, and 4. Everything you have written seems to concur that we are in complete agreement to this point, are we not, Keith?Where we differ, Keith, is that you presume that the angel experience described in clause 1 necessarily describes an experience that chronologically precedes the vision experience of clauses 2, 3, and 4. Though this is a viable reading of the passage, I don’t think there’s any reason to presume this has got to be the right reading–certainly no more reason than to also presume that clause 2 refers to a different experience than clauses 3 and 4 (a reading neither of us agrees with). It seems clear to both of us that Pratt is summarizing here Smith’s divine encounters as including (1) an encounter (or encounters) of sorts with an angel, and (2) a vision of God and Christ. But it is strictly a presumption on your part (and the part of Tanner, apparently) that the textual order of clause 1 and 2 represents a chronological order of events. As I read the passage, Pratt is simply acknowledging that Joseph was “sent an angel,” who we know to be Moroni, and that Joseph also saw a vision that included a pillar of fire and the personages of the Father and Son. This is the viable reading that neatly supports Smith’s classic accounts of his (only) two early encounters with the divine. But you have a literary argument against this plain reading of the text. As you explain (in support of Tanner), the wording of Pratt’s description of a “holy angel” at the end of the passage seems to suggest that Smith saw the angel Moroni four years after his First Vision–as another angel–in addition to the angel he describes in clause 1:Keith (once again):Notice that the second mention of the angel says that Smith was visited “again by a holy angel.” According to the official version of the first vision, the initial vision Smith ever had was of the Father and the Son, then three years later Smith claims to have been visited by an angel in his bedroom. The above quote shows that Smith was visited by an angel, then by the Father and the Son, then four years later was visited again by an angel.In this reading of Pratt’s passage, Keith, you presume that Smith’s being “visited again by a holy angel” means that Smith had previously been “visited” by another angel–the “angel” described earlier in the paragraph in clause 1. However, you fail to see that Pratt likely was simply acknowledging that Smith was “visited again”–not by another angel–but by another encounter from the divine realm–this time not by a vision Godly Personages, but by and encounter with “a holy angel.” In this reading, Pratt is simply getting back to describing in detail Smith’s encounter with the “angel” that he had introduced in clause 1. I hope you can see that in the syntactic ambiguity of the text, this reading is just as fair as the one offered by you and Tanner. And, more importantly, it neatly jives with the other statements made by Joseph Smith about his early encounters with the divine. There’s no good reason to presume that Pratt had news of other divine events claimed by Smith. As I plainly see it, he didn’t.But whether or not Larry and FAIR were indeed fair in their portrayal of Tanner’s use of ellipsis, I hope you can acknowledge that Tanner’s use of ellipsis removed the substance (and “context”) from Pratt’s quote that allows the alternate reading that I have provided. She therefore set up her reading in a way that is deceptive. Perhaps not blatantly so…but personally I have to wonder.Sincerely,Your bud, Dale.

  2. Hey Keith,I’m here to apologize to you once again for jumping the gun on your words. I’ll just have to admit that my own bias seems to have outdone my own vigor and diligence. After all, I didn’t get the right reference to the Tanner quote in question on the FAIR board–which was to her 1989 talk rather than to her book.So all I accomplished–other than wrongly jump on your back–was to challenge Tanner’s literary conclusion regarding the angelic experiences of a youthful Joseph Smith, AND maybe also explain how a believing LDS can rather easily accept a divine experience that is often caracatured in a way that would make anyone wonder how a rational minded person could ever believe such a claim.Well, whatever their faults, I will continue to believe that as a group, Mormons are the most rational-minded Christian Fundamentalists in the nation. Hands down, in my estimation. (Though I wish they were better still.)As for Tanner’s specific argument concerning Pratt’s quote–I have to wonder that even if she did give her doctored quote specifically in reference to a ‘two angel’ argument–still, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t presented under the larger premise that 19th century Mormon leaders didn’t know or care much of Joseph Smith’s First Vision experience. I know well of her energies spent in this vein.While it is true that the limitations in publishing back in 19th-century Deseret territory caused a bit of confusion on the details of this and other historic topics, by en large, everything I’ve read suggests Mormons of the 19th century were well aware of Joseph Smith’s First Vision claims. Orson Pratt, and many, many others high and low. Only smoke-and-mirrors can make it seem otherwise.Sincerely,Dale.

  3. Mr WalkerAs you seem to have had research the subject of the Mormon Church (LDS & RLDS) so well. You, to the best of my knowledge have missed a step in your research. Please look at the LDS nasty little secret. The orignal church. Still alive and well! cofcavvaa.net

  4. Dale,Thanks for the time you spent looking into this issue. Thanks also for the great care you took in trying to follow the argument. I must admit that I am impressed that you were able to correctly describe the issue I was having with Larry. Well done!I also appreciate your apology about the confusion of Tanner’s talk with “Shadow or Reality.” As I was reading through your response, I had written that down as something that really didn’t have anything to do with the argument. I am glad that now I do not have to address that in depth.However, I do have some things that I would like to make mention of and clarify.1) You keep referring to Tanner’s “Doctored” quote. There isn’t one in her argument. A doctored quote gives the false impression that something has been changed when both of us know that this is not the case. It is a partial quote, not a doctored one.2) I did not accuse Larry of “deception” per se. I now accuse him of bearing false witness. Although the two are closely related, I see a difference. I could even say that Larry is attempting to be deceptive by bearing false witness. Minor point, but I did want to bring it up.3) I have to admit that I was shocked to read that you reduced my argument to “taking Sandra’s word over Larry’s.” I cannot think of an example where anyone could rightly take the word of someone who claims that someone else said something, when they themselves never heard them say it or have any references to the context in which the statement was made.In all honesty, if Tanner said that some anti-anti-Mormon (Peterson for example) said something, but she has no references and never heard the statement herself, I would have to take the word of Peterson if he says that he said something different. Yes, I know this is a lot of “he says, she says,” but in a case like this, you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker, regardless of who that speaker is. I think it FAIR to say, yes, pun intended, that if the accuser has no proof of accusation, then you have to side with the defendant.4) I never made a case for “a different” angel. I explained that Tanner’s argument was a second appearance of “an angel.” Whether it was the same angel or not makes no difference.5) I see your point about the ambiguity of the language referring to being visited “again by an angel” and thought about that while writing my first response. While I will grant that it is a bit ambiguous, I think the normal, natural reading is that of another angel visitation and not just a second mention of it.Why do I believe that? Because in this account, the angel is mentioned as first. I’m not talking about chronology here, I am referring to importance. I find it difficult to fathom why someone keeps mentioning the visitation of an angel if he also saw the Father and Son. Which visitation is more important?I think that pretty much covers my concerns with your posts. Thanks for dropping in and I look forward to seeing you in again in Manti. (The fact that I said “again” means that I have seen you there previously ;-)) Are you planning on coming the first or second week?

  5. Hi again, Keith. Here are my responses to your concerns of my original post.Keith: 1) You keep referring to Tanner’s “Doctored” quote. There isn’t one in her argument. A doctored quote gives the false impression that something has been changed when both of us know that this is not the case. It is a partial quote, not a doctored one.Dale’s Response: I think your difficult wording here is not what you intended, Keith. I think you intended to define “doctored quote,” as something giving a “false impression” by changing something in the quote—such as a word or phrase, while a partial quote simply removes part of the text for the sake of condensation. Is that right? If that were truly the definition of a “doctored quote” then I’d concede I do know that Tanner’s quote is merely a “partial quote.” But that’s not the case. If the act of removing text amounts in a skewing of a passage’s meaning to suit the needs of the commentator contrary to the intent of the author—then ellipsis can be just as culpable a craft in doctoring a passage than the blatant changing of words or addition of foreign clauses. But I’ll also admit that the author’s intention is an elusive and subjective thing, so in this case I won’t stick doggedly by my terminology if it offends or irritates. Of course, the real issue here is what Mrs. Tanner intended, and as I’m not her, and as I haven’t heard her ’89 talk, I’m really not in a position to be much of a critic here. At this point, the most I can say is that I suspect that Mrs. Tanner was guilty of a doctored quotation in this case. But I’m not sure if that matters much, anymore. In fairness to Tanner, like Orson Pratt, her quote was taken from a public discourse and is therefore fully rhetorical, and should be granted a bit more liberty by the critic than a highly polished literary text. Even if her use of ellipsis was deliberately misleading—in the arena of scholarship (and I think this is what Tanner herself would say she aspires to, whatever her shortcomings) a public address usually can’t be accepted as anything more than a condensed summary of more involved arguments reserved for a literary stage. As Tanner is a fairly prolific writer, I think that LDS critics of Tanner’s arguments should stick with her published texts. So I’ll admit that in further reflection, Keith, whatever the intention of Tanner’s 1989 remark, I don’t think it should be raised as too important a case in challenging her positions. So even if the FAIR argument is indeed fair, I don’t think it’s that significant in challenging Tanner’s positions.Keith: 2) I did not accuse Larry of “deception” per se. I now accuse him of bearing false witness. Although the two are closely related, I see a difference. I could even say that Larry is attempting to be deceptive by bearing false witness. Minor point, but I did want to bring it up.Dale’s Response:Fair enough, but I still think you need more than Tanner’s latest word to the contrary in accusing Larry or FAIR as a “false witnesses.” Because the accusation is in response to their comments made about a specific literary argument made by Tanner 1989, what you still need to respond to is the actual Tanner source, her ’89 speech. How do you know from a phone conversation that Tanner was fairly defending her own past statements? People waffle all the time on their positions, particularly after they’ve been challenged a number of times over the years.I’m not even saying that Tanner threw you a deceptive smokescreen by explaining that her statement referred to Pratt believing in two different angel visitations by Smith—rather than to Larry’s claim that it was in reference to Pratt not understanding Smith’s First Vision claims. As I stated in detail in my original post, I see the ambiguity of the Pratt passage fair enough, and don’t doubt that Tanner’s specific literary argument in ’89 was indeed that Pratt claimed Smith to have had an angelic experience that preceded the Moroni experience and the First Vision. But I also can plainly see that this literary argument could easily serve as a specific point in forming a larger argument that Tanner has undoubtedly spoken and published on many times: that 19th century Mormons—even ones of prominence—had numerous ideas about Smith’s First Vision claims that conflicted with the official claims put forth by Smith—and endorsed by the current LDS church. Was this or was this not the larger argument of Tanner’s 1989 speech? I think that this is the ultimate question to be answered if we are to fairly criticize Tanner’s fair use of the Pratt quote. Though it might be argued that Tanner simply clipped the Pratt quote for condensation sake in proving his belief in two different angelic visitations by Smith—if her speech was indeed aimed at proving a general 19th century Mormon ignorance and confusion over Smith’s First Vision claims, then it has to be admitted at least strangely convenient or ironic that what she clipped from Pratt’s speech was in fact a succinct summation of Smith’s several First Vision accounts, described most fully by him in 1838. I can therefore see the reason for Larry (and FAIR’s) complaint and challenge, even if they failed to acknowledge Tanner’s specific use of the quote.However, as I also argued in my original response, Tanner’s literary argument of an additional angelic visitation is indeed strengthened by her use of ellipsis because it removes the grounds for a significant alternate reading, and makes her own reading appear way too succinctly cut and dry. Additionally, the rhetorical (speech) nature of her words would have totally obscured the fact that she had indeed used ellipsis at all. That’s the persuasive strength of speeches!Keith: 3) I have to admit that I was shocked to read that you reduced my argument to “taking Sandra’s word over Larry’s.” I cannot think of an example where anyone could rightly take the word of someone who claims that someone else said something, when they themselves never heard them say it or have any references to the context in which the statement was made.In all honesty, if Tanner said that some anti-anti-Mormon (Peterson for example) said something, but she has no references and never heard the statement herself, I would have to take the word of Peterson if he says that he said something different. Yes, I know this is a lot of “he says, she says,” but in a case like this, you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker, regardless of who that speaker is. I think it FAIR to say, yes, pun intended, that if the accuser has no proof of accusation, then you have to side with the defendant.Dale’s Response: Sorry if my reducing of your argument (and accusation) to an ethical preference and bias on your part sounds rash, Keith. I consider you a friend, but (as an admittedly biased Mormon) I’m honestly trying to be fair here. To a point my position loses its edge because I admit (very loudly) that I totally missed the correct source of FAIR’s Tanner quote, which you had correctly identified many times in your blog. However, my overall position still stands that ultimately you are guilty of turning a logical argument (FAIR’s challenge (endorsed by Larry) of Tanner’s fair use of quotational ellipsis) into an ethical argument—by going NOT to Tanner’s discourse directly in coming to your accusation against Larry (and FAIR), but to Tanner’s explanation of that essay, and how FAIR and Larry have misunderstood (and falsely represented) her. You are therefore ultimately supporting a personality rather than an issue. I think you must candidly admit that Sandra Tanner is an avowed and fully invested anti-Mormon. Her point is to discredit the LDS Church and its history wherever she can. Do you really think she’s going to retract her words easily? I’m not saying the writer at FAIR or Larry are going to be any less dogged in their own positions on the other side of the polemical divide, but if you’re going to fairly judge one side over the other you must go to the specific source of the debate. It doesn’t matter who is the accused and who is the accuser. In polemical debates everyone sees themselves as the victim, and both sides laugh at the other in their rationale of seeing themselves as the victim. (I myself laugh at Evangelical Protestants who justify getting all in a bunch (and a highly person bunch at that!) over the fact that Mormons claim that an apostasy occurred in early Christianity, and that with the exception of Joseph Smith’s restored faith, Christianity in all its modern forms is a good distance removed from the original teachings of Jesus. For us Mormons, it is a claim and belief justifying our own message, not an assault on anyone (and everyone) else’s. We don’t take the fact that everyone else is wrong as part of the “Good News” of our own message, but from the way some of our good Protestant neighbors react to us, obviously that point is not clear. And I’m not sure it ever will be.) Keith: 4) I never made a case for “a different” angel. I explained that Tanner’s argument was a second appearance of “an angel.” Whether it was the same angel or not makes no difference.Dale’s Response: I’ll agree it may not make a difference in finding a basic variance between Pratt and Smith’s accounts of the First Vision, but if you are to read Pratt’s text as you and Tanner suggest, it is clearly the meaning that the text leaves you with. I wasn’t trying to put words into your mouth, Keith, I was simply trying to represent your (and Tanner’s) reading accurately as it plays out in the text. If in Pratt’s discourse ‘the first’ of Smith’s angels is introduced with an indefinite article (as it is), and Smith is said to have later been visited “again” by an angel, if that ‘second’ angel were indeed the same angel as ‘the first’ then we should expect it to be introduced with a definite article. Pratt’s text, however, uses another indefinite article. Therefore, if the reading of two different angelic visitations is to be accepted, then we must fairly deduce two different angels as well. Keith: 5) I see your point about the ambiguity of the language referring to being visited “again by an angel” and thought about that while writing my first response. While I will grant that it is a bit ambiguous, I think the normal, natural reading is that of another angel visitation and not just a second mention of it.Dale’s response:As I explained in my original response, this is the “normal, natural reading” only if one deduces that the “again” in Pratt’s statement, “visited again by an angel,” modifies the whole rest of the predicate, “visited…by an angel.” But the “again” appears before the phrase “by an angel” and therefore reasonably modifies only the act of being visited (by the heavenly realm, whether by angels or by Gods). In other words, in his “second” angelic description, Pratt is simply referring back to his earlier statement that Smith was indeed sent an angel by God—in addition to receiving a vision/visitation by God the Son and God the Father. When we consider the “fuller” quote provided by you Keith—in its even larger rhetorical context of Pratt’s speech–we see that Pratt’s intent wasn’t to describe angels versus Gods, but to describe them together as the common manifestations of heaven to Smith and humanity. I’ve therefore given an even lengthier version of the Pratt statement at the end of my response (and its online source). Keith: Why do I believe that? Because in this account, the angel is mentioned as first. I’m not talking about chronology here, I am referring to importance. I find it difficult to fathom why someone keeps mentioning the visitation of an angel if he also saw the Father and Son. Which visitation is more important?Dale’s Response: Actually, Keith, it is I who is talking of Pratt’s first mentioning of an angel in terms of first importance; you and Tanner are undeniably talking about Pratt’s first mentioning of an angel in terms of first chronology—that is, that it came before his First Vision, and therefore long before his visitations by angel Moroni concerning the plates—and therefore represents some other claimed angelic visitation that Pratt seems to have known about (presumably from Smith personally). Honestly, Keith, if Pratt’s first description of an angelic visitation isn’t intended to represent a “first” in terms of chronology then the whole logic of the Tanner reading you’re endorsing fades fast. If your intention here is to defend Tanner’s reading, then I really don’t think you thought this problem through all too well before posting. Take your final question for instance. Fleshed out, the question re-reads: If Pratt indeed believed that Smith was visited by an angel at a time other than the angel Moroni visits, then why does Pratt find this otherwise undocumented visitation by an angel not only more important than the oft-documented Moroni visits, but even more important than Smith’s visitation in vision by the Father and Son?? Put that way, Keith, I admit that you’ve definitely got me. I guess you’re saying that Tanner’s found tucked amid Mormon history not only convincing proof of a revelatory anomaly by Smith—but proof of a theological Atlantis as well! A shady angel that trumps Moroni and God…and heaven knows what!But to answer your question in the more sober light of a single angelic visitation reading of Pratt’s discourse is quite easy. That is, why would Pratt feel a need to put Smith’s visitation with the angel Moroni even ahead of his visitation/vision of the Father and Son in terms of importance? Well there’s several possible reasons, but the most likely, I think, concerns the quote’s immediate rhetorical “context” in Pratt’s speech. That pesky little word “context” again. You will note that Orson Pratt’s text is found in a collection known as The Journal of Discourses. As I’m pretty sure you know, Keith, this is a collection of public discourses—that is, speeches—given by important Mormon leaders in the mid to late 19th century. These texts do not represent polished written texts upon which the speeches were based (most of these speeches were based on sketchy notes at best), but are records of the speeches taken by clerical attendants—usually transcribed from a Gregg shorthand original. I think we can fairly bet that Pratt’s speech was more makeshift in nature than Tanner’s ’89 speech. It was certainly more sketchily recorded. So as critics not only should we cut Pratt some slack, but we should critique the logical ordering, development and cohesion of the speech with this in mind (which was to some degree surely polished up—and at other times likely fudged up—by the clerk). You will notice in my lengthy quotation appearing at the end of this post—that just before Pratt’s first mention of Smith and an angel and his subsequent description of Smith’s First Vision, he had just finished summarizing general Christianity’s belief that revelation from God was contained in a “full,” “complete,” and “closed” scripture cannon (the Bible, of course). While it became Pratt’s next point to prove that Joseph Smith’s heavenly visitations and visions overturned the Christian world’s concept of a closed revelation, really, I can’t help but believe that Pratt’s reference specifically to a “cannon of scripture” brought the angel Moroni to the forefront of his mind—and speech. After all, it was Smith’s visits with Moroni—not his vision of the Father and Son—that led directly to the publishing of the Book of Mormon—which, for believing Mormons like Pratt, represents God’s expansion of Christianity’s traditional “scripture,” the Bible. However, Keith, to answer in more general terms why Pratt might have seen the visit of angel Moroni as preceding even the vision of Father and Son in importance—well, it was likely a reflection of the fact that Smith himself had always been more vocal and open about sharing the visitations of Moroni rather than the First Vision because…(1) People often closed their hearts absolutely to Smith’s claims he had seen and spoken with God directly—whether it be Father or Son, never mind both in distinction to one another. A “mere” angel was a far more palatable claim for many than Jesus himself, let alone God the Father.(2) Jesus Christ in the First Vision had a very personal message and calling for specifically Joseph Smith. On the other hand, the message from Moroni to Smith was directly to all Christianity and beyond—that God was bringing forth the Book of Mormon to serve as another testament of Jesus Christ, complementing the testament of the Bible.Keith: I think that pretty much covers my concerns with your posts. Thanks for dropping in and I look forward to seeing you in again in Manti. (The fact that I said “again” means that I have seen you there previously ;-)) Are you planning on coming the first or second week?Dale’s Response: Look forward to seeing you “again” too, Keith. I hope to make it up to Manti several nights this year—both the first and second weeks. But I haven’t figured out my work schedule in full yet. July’s vacation is first priority, but June’s Manti pageant ranks high too. Your bud, Dale.Pratt’s “Yet Fuller” Quote:When you talked to them about new revelation, they considered the very idea of such a thing a folly. Tradition had taught them and their fathers for many generations, that the book called the Old and New Testaments contained all that God ever did reveal or ever would reveal to the human family. This notion was not peculiar to some few classes of Christian society, but it was almost universal throughout Christendom. Such a thing as new revelation was discarded by them, all over the world. Said they, “The canon of Scripture is full, it is complete, and it is the very height of blasphemy to suppose that God would give any more!”This was the condition of mankind before this Church arose, forty years ago. By and by an obscure individual, a young man, rose up, and, in the midst of all Christendom, proclaims the startling news that God had sent an angel to him; that through his faith, prayers, and sincere repentance he had beheld a supernatural vision, that he had seen a pillar of fire descend from Heaven, and saw two glorious personages clothed upon with this pillar of fire, whose countenance shone like the sun at noonday; that he heard one of these personages say, pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” This occurred before this young man was fifteen years of age; and it was a startling announcement to make in the midst of a generation so completely given up to the traditions of their fathers; and when this was proclaimed by this young, unlettered boy to the priests and the religious societies in the State of New York, they laughed him to scorn. “What!” said they, “visions and revelations in our day! God speaking to men in our day!” They looked upon him as deluded; they pointed the finger of scorn at him and warned their congregations against him. “The canon of Scripture is closed up; no more communications are to be expected from Heaven. The ancients saw heavenly visions and personages; they heard the voice of the Lord; they were inspired by the Holy Ghost to receive revelations, but behold no such thing is to be given to man in our day, neither has there been for many generations past.” This was the style of the remarks made by religionists forty years ago.This young man, some four years afterwards, was visited again by a holy angel. It was not merely something speaking in the dark; it was not something wrapped up in mystery, with no glory attending it, but a glorious angel whose countenance shone like a vivid flash of lightning, and who was arrayed in a white robe, and stood before him. This young man saw the countenance of the angel; he saw his person and his glory and rejoiced therein. This angel revealed to him some great realities; not mysterious or dark sayings, covered up without any particular information, light or knowledge, but certain realities were made manifest to him concerning the ancient inhabitants of this land. This angel told him that they were a branch of the House of Israel; that they kept sacred and holy records; that those records were kept by prophets and inspired men; that they were deposited, some fourteen centuries ago, after the nation had fallen into wickedness, by one of their last prophets, and that the time was at hand for this record to be brought forth by the gift and power of God.Here, then, was a reality-something great and glorious, and after having received from time to time, visits from these glorious personages, and talking with them, as one man would talk with another, face to face, beholding their glory, he was permitted to go and take these plates from the place of their deposit-plates of gold-records, some of which were made nearly six hundred years before Christ. And then, to show still further a reality, something tangible, the Urim and Thummim, a glorious instrument, used by ancient seers, was also obtained with the record, through which, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost and by the commandment of Almighty God, he translated that record into our language, and the book was published in the fore part of the year 1830.

  6. (From McKay V. Jones)Keith: I emailed you a scan of the beginning of a mass mailing the Tanners circulated in the mail in Utah at the beginning of their ministry (third week of February, 1961). It uses statements from President Brigham Young and apostle Orson Hyde from Journal of Discourses to transition into a statement from Joseph Smith that his “first visitation of angels . . . was when [he] was about fourteen years old,” the claim (which I’m sure you are well familiar with) being that the First Vision narrative and details have changed over time.Before even looking at the quotations, it’s clear that they are being disingenuous and dishonest in this mass mailing. They claim here that the “party line” of the First Vision story still hadn’t been hammered out in 1877 (“It has recently been discovered that the teaching that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 was not a part of early church doctrine until after the death of Brigham Young”), while their writings (as I’m sure you know) emphasize the view that Joseph Smith and Co. “invented” the First Vision story as it now stands between 1838 and 1842. The Mormon “party-line” version is in the Pearl of Great Price and was undisputably written between 1838 and 1842, and the Tanners knew this when they wrote this mailing. I think it’s clear that they wanted to inject excitement (“It has recently been discovered . . .”) and shock value (“until after the death of Brigham Young”) into this mass mailing, which was obviously intended to undermine Mormons’ faith and cause them to question its foundations. 1820 to 1877 is a long, long time, and the Tanners were aware of many “orthodox” First Vision accounts before 1877, as evidenced by their writings on the First Vision.You’ll notice that the Brigham Young quote from Journal of Discourses has been “Tanner-ized” with ellipses, which they employ to claim that Brigham Young taught that the Lord never came to Joseph Smith at all. They obviously had to have had the original quote in front of them in order to choose what to eliminate and omit in their version. Notice the “shadow” the Tanners give of these two Journal of Discourses quotes compared to the reality of what is actually there. Tanners: “Instead, the leaders of the church taught that it was only angels that appeared to him in 1820. Brigham Young said, ‘The Lord did not come . . . But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., . . . and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong . . .” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 171) The apostle Orson Hyde said, “Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Savior come himself to communicate this intelleligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 335)”Full text of Young’s statement quoted:But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith Jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.Note how they cut out important portions and destroy vital context in an effort to make it appear that President Young was saying that the Lord did not come to Joseph Smith at all (which is absurd given that President Young and the other Church leaders had to have assimilated the Mormon “party line” by 1855, the year of this talk). President Young said that the Lord did not come in glory to the established ministers of Christian orthodoxy or “with the armies of heaven in power and great glory” to Joseph Smith. He indicates that the Lord did “communicate to the meek the lowly, the youth of humble origin” AND “send His angel to this same obscure person . . . AND informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong . . .” (emphasis mine). In other words, it was the Lord who told him not to join any of the other churches, not the angel (grammatically, “and,” not the “who,” the Tanners’ reading requires).Likewise, through their trademark underlining technique, they try to make it look like Elder Hyde said that the Lord did not come at any time to Joseph Smith, only angels. What he said was that the Lord didn’t come to communicate this intelligence to the world; God worked through ministering angels to His chosen prophet. The missing context makes it clear that Hyde is not discussing the First Vision at all, he is discussing the role that the ministering of angels has in ushering in the gathering of Israel in the latter days. Continuing where the Tanners left off:“And after the mighty champions that hold the keys of this dispensation came and brought the intelligence that the time of harvest was now — that the time of the end was drawing nigh — when this proclamation was made, and the announcement saluted the ears of the children of men, what was to be done next? Behold, the gathering of the Saints.”This is not an isolated instance or a “youthful indiscretion” on the part of the Tanners; when one compares their versions of quotations with the originals, they do this frequently, and especially in trying to make their case about the First Vision. For example, they quote Heber C. Kimball thus:“Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call . . . Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, ‘Go and do this;’ and it is behind the veil just as it is here. You have got to learn that.” (Shadow or Reality, 154)The full text of the quotation exposes their dishonesty better than examples previously discussed here or on this blog (bolded portions in the original and purposely left out by the Tanners):”Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record . . .. . . Well, when this took place, Peter came along to him and gave power and authority, and, says he, “You go and baptise Oliver Cowdery, and then ordain him a Priest.” He did it, and do you not see his works were in exercise? Then Oliver, having authority, baptised Joseph and ordained him a Priest. Do you not see the works, how they manifest themselves?Well, then Peter comes along. Why did not God come? He sent Peter, do you not see? Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, ‘Go and do this;’ and it is behind the vail just as it is here. You have got to learn that.” (Heber C. Kimball, November 8, 1857. Journal of Discourses 6:29)Do you see how bad this one is? Kimball was discussing why God didn’t ordain Joseph Himself or come to tell him about the plates. He sent authorized representatives. He did NOT say that God didn’t ever come AT ALL (in fact, even in the Tanners’ version, he says that “God called upon him,” but their ellipses placement is clearly meant to make it look like he said that “God did not come Himself and call.”) Their intentional removal of the references to Peter are dishonest and unconscionable.The Tanners’ bearing of false witness is so frustrating to Mormons because it gives people who want to believe that Mormonism has been proven false apparently well-researched and documented “exposés,” so they rest easy, confident in the Tanners’ research. Almost nobody who opposes Mormonism largely based on the Tanners’ writings takes the time to “do their homework,” which is what the Tanners counted on when they doctored and butchered passages.

  7. (from McKay Jones)Were you aware of Sandra Tanner’s three-year lawsuit against FAIR? She appealed the District Court’s dismissal of all claims to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (Denver), and the 10th Circuit upheld on Thursday all rulings by the District Court. http://www.ck10.uscourts.gov/opinions/07/07-4095.pdfThe unanimous decision by the 10th Circuit makes an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court unlikely and ill-advised, but Sandra may regard this as a good fundraising and PR strategy (nationwide publicity for the “cause”).You might ask her about this when you talk next. Hopefully, the next issue of the Salt Lake City Messenger will discuss this! 🙂

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