The Truth Will Set You Free

10. Even assuming the veracity of the official 1838 official First Vision account, why would Joseph Smith have written a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the first edition of the Book of Mormon (later changed)?

gods

At the time of the formation of the Church, there is considerable evidence that Joseph had a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

1829 – 1834

In 2 Nephi 31:21 as well in the document he prepared for the “Three Witnesses” to sign, we read, “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

We also read in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11: 16, 18, 21, 32; 13:40: “Knowest thou the condescension of God? … [Mary] is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. … The Lamb of God, yea even the Eternal Father …. was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world [crucified]. … The Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.”

In Mosiah 7:27; 13:34, Abinadi tells us “that Christ was the God, the Father of all things” and “that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood”; also “that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man.”

In Mosiah 16: 15, Abinadi’s doctrine is summarized: “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.” In Alma 11:28-29, 38-39, 44, we learn: “Now Zeezrom saith, Is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answereth No.

… Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek saith unto him, Yea, he is the very Eternal Father. … Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.”

And, Joseph’s Trinitarian perspective at that time, could not be made more abundantly clear that, 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; 28:10, we read “that the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost are one” in thought and purpose; or in Mormon 7:7, where we read: “The Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which is one God.” In Mormon 9:12, we read: “Because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son,” or in Ether 3:14 and 4:12 where we again read, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son,” and “He that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father.”

As well, in the Book of Commandments 24:18 (1833) we also read: “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God”

In the Book of Moses, found within the Pearl of Great Price we read: “The Savior, he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God besides me, and. … this one God only will I worship.” 1

In Joseph Smith’s 1832 rendition of the First Vision, (November 1832) one God appears that forgives his sins, as these two additional passages in the Book of Mormon show:

“Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.” 2

“…that Christ was the God, the Father of all things” and “that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood.” 3

In the Lectures on Faith 1834 Joseph wrote the following:

“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh.”

Lectures on Faith #5, 1834 pp. 48-49,

Also included in the 1835 D&C.,

The above clearly shows that Joseph believed that God was a personage of Spirit, not tabernacle. This view, not in concert with Smith’s later view of the Godhead was removed from the D&C in 1921.

Apologists attack this passage by saying that Joseph didn’t write it. Firstly, if this were true, which I would contend it is not, it would still be a weak defense as nothing went into the Doctrine and Covenants without Joseph’s authorization.   

The most extensive authorship study was conducted by Alan J. Phipps as part of his master’s thesis in 1977, he demonstrated that Joseph personally wrote Lectures on Faith number five. Phipps compared the frequency of use of certain “function words” in the Lectures with the use of the same words in the writings of several persons who may have had a hand in writing the Lectures – Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, William W. Phelps, and Parley P. Pratt. His research concluded

“The study showed that Sidney Rigdon’s use of function words corresponded very closely with that in Lectures One and Seven, and fairly well with Two, Three, Four, and Six, Joseph Smith’s use of function words matched closely those in Lecture Five, with some evidence of his having co-authored or edited Two, Three, Four, and Six. . . . The data and tests appear, therefore, to assign the authorship of the Lectures on Faith mainly to Sidney Rigdon, with Lecture Five and perhaps some parts of the other lectures, except One and Seven, to Joseph Smith (66–67).

1835 – 1839

It is abundantly clear, however, that Joseph’s view of the Godhead changed from the 1829 – 1834 version, and beginning in 1835 we are introduced to a different rendition.

This new view required a retrofit and revision to earlier versions.

For example, these passages in 1 Nephi:

Original 1830 Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.

Current, Changed Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God.


1 Nephi 11:1

Original 1830 Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!

Current, Changed Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father!

(1 Nephi 11:21)

Original 1830 Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

Current, Changed Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

1 Nephi 11:32

Original 1830 Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.

Current, Changed Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1 Nephi 13:40)

Smith also made retroactive changes to the KJV of the Bible in the JST of Luke 10:22:

King James Version

“No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

Joseph Smith’s Translation

“No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.

We also see this change of view in his Lectures on Faith in 1835:

“There are two personages … the Father and the Son … the Father being a personage of spirit … the Son … a personage of tabernacle. … [Christ] received a fullness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit … and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one.” 4

In Joseph Smith’s November 1835 First Vision account, one Personage appears, and then a second Personage joins Him; in his 1838 First Vision account, two separate Gods (Father and Son) appear together from the start.

The references I provided above I believe clearly and authoritatively show that Smith held a Trinitarian view which he later modified.

Grant Palmer relates an interesting story of when future president Joseph Fielding Smith discovered the 1832 First Vision handwritten account in Joseph’s letter book, he ripped it out of the letter book and hid these pages in his personal safe for some thirty years. Only to release them in the 1960s. Upon learning that Jerald and Sandra Tanner, had become aware of these documents. 6

In Alma 11:26-28 we read:

“And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God. And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.”

Apologists Responses to the Changing View of the Godhead

“Such texts demonstrate that the supposed ‘evidence’ for Joseph altering his story later is only in the eyes of critical beholders. For example, Joseph’s 1832 First Vision account focuses on the remission of his sins. However, critics who wish to claim that in 1832 Joseph had only a vaguely “Trinitarian” idea of God (and so would see the Father and the Son as only one being) have missed vital evidence which must be considered.”

This is simply not true.

Joseph Smith first rendition of the First Vision talks about the Lord alone, not the Father and Son. In 2 Nephi, he writes, “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God.” In Mosiah, Smith writes, “that Christ was the God, the Father of all things” also “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.” “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.”

In 1833 in the Book of Commandments, he writes, “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God.” Not much ambiguity here. As well, Smith retroactively changes the original Book of Mormon to fit his changing view of the Godhead. For example:

1830 Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.

Changed Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:1

I have provided other examples of this retrofitting above. Likewise, Smith went back and changed the Bible to match his new view of the Deity:

King James Version

“No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

Joseph Smith’s Translation

“No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

FairMormon posted the following blurb regarding Joseph Smith’s view of the Godhead:

“Joseph and the early Saints were not trinitarian, (sic) and understood God’s embodiment and the identity of the Father and Son as separate beings very early on. This doctrine is apparent in the Book of Mormon and in the earliest friendly and non-friendly accounts of such matters from the Saints. Such texts demonstrate that the supposed ‘evidence’ for Joseph altering his story later is only in the eyes of critical beholders.”

However, even the apologists at FairMormon and/or their masters couldn’t live with this much prevarication and wisely deleted it.

1839-1844

After 1839 there was yet another reconstruction, Joseph it now moving toward a plurality of Gods:

In March 1839, we first read of the plurality of Gods in D&C 121:32: “According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was.”

“They shall pass by the angels, and the Gods. … Then shall they be gods, because they have no end. … They shall be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them.” 5

In March 1842 now in the Book of Abraham, we see that in chapters four and five, almost every verse of these chapters on the creation state, “The Gods” said, or pronounced, ordered, called, organized or prepared.

In the May 1842 Endowment, a plurality of Gods is taught during the creation period.

In July 1843, we read in Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20 that temple goers are promised in the marriage ceremony: “They shall pass by the angels, and the Gods. … Then shall they be gods, because they have no end. … They shall be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them.”

References

1 Moses 1:6, 20;

2 Mosiah 16: 15

3 Mosiah 7:27; 13:3

4 Lectures on Faith (compiled) Joseph Smith in January 1832

5 Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20

6 “Joseph Smith’s Changing View of God” with Grant Palmer https://www.youtube.com

trinity

FairMormon’s Comment

“Response to claim: “why would Joseph Smith have written a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the first edition of the Book of Mormon?”

The author(s) of A Letter to an Apostle make(s) the following claim:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The mistake: The author starts with the assumption that Joseph held a Trinitarian view. The facts: Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities, just like the Bible does.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As is their custom, FairMormon makes a claim without any substantiation, “Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities.”

In contrast, let me provide evidence to the contrary.

The following references clearly and authoritatively show Smith held a Trinitarian view which admittedly he later modified.

In 2 Nephi 31:21 as well in the document he prepared for the “Three Witnesses” to sign, we read, “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

We also read in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11: 16, 18, 21, 32; 13:40: “Knowest thou the condescension of God? … [Mary] is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. … The Lamb of God, yea even the Eternal Father …. was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world [crucified]. … The Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.”

In Mosiah 7:27; 13:34, Abinadi tells us “that Christ was the God, the Father of all things” and “that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood”; also “that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man.”

In Mosiah 16: 15, Abinadi’s doctrine is summarized: “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.”

In Alma 11:28-29, 38-39, 44, we learn: “Now Zeezrom saith, Is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answereth No … Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek saith unto him, Yea, he is the very Eternal Father. … Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.”

And, Joseph’s Trinitarian perspective at that time, could not be made more abundantly clear than, 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; 28:10, we read “that the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost are one” in thought and purpose; or in Mormon 7:7, where we read: “The Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

In Mormon 9:12, we read: “Because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son,” or in Ether 3:14 and 4:12 where we again read, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son,” ”As well, in the Book of Commandments 24:18 (1833) we also read: “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God.”

Doctrine and Covenants 20: 28.

In the Book of Moses, found in the Pearl of Great Price we read: “The Savior, he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and. … this one God only will I worship.”

Moses 1:6, 20; 7:11, 35 (June–Dec. 1830

In Joseph Smith’s 1832 rendition of the First Vision, (November 1832) one God appears.

How much more evidence do you need?

This new view of the Godhead, however, called for a retrofit had to be made to the Book of Mormon and Book of Commandments.At the time of the formation of the Church, there is considerable evidence that Joseph had a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

Not that further evidence is necessary, It is abundantly clear that Joseph’s view of the Godhead changed after 1834. This new view of the Godhead calls for his new view required a retrofit and revision to earlier versions where Joseph could. For example, in 1 Nephi 11:1 Joseph rewrites:

Original 1830 Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.

Current, Changed Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:1

Original 1830 Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!

Current, Changed Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:21)

Original 1830 Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

Current, Changed Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. (1 Nephi 11:32)

Original 1830 Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.

Current, Changed Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1 Nephi 13:40)

Smith also made retroactive changes to the KJV of the Bible in the JST of Luke 10:22 to reflect the abandonment of his initial Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

King James Version

“No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

Joseph Smith’s Translation

“No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

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