In a court of law, it is customary to have at least two witnesses to collaborate any account—the following 16 accounts (five of whom are eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Joseph Smith) are more than enough evidence from the finest men of our time to give testimony and powerful accounts of the divine calling and prophetic mantel of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
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Can you imagine what it would have been like to personally hear Joseph Smith testify of seeing God and angels? If you had lived in the days of the Prophet Joseph, what sacrifices would you have made to hear him speak?
Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was a committed believer in her son’s divine calling. Towards the end of her life, and not long after the deaths of her sons Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel in 1844, Lucy, “perhaps in part as a salve to her grief,” and at the behest of the Quorum of the Twelve, “began recording her family’s story.”
A wildly contagious flu with no vaccine in sight. Missionaries called home. Temples closed. General conference altered. Members asked to practice social distancing and preventive hygiene. A government edict to shut down all meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The year was 1918.
Fascinatingly, the social and historical developments that set the stage for Jesus Christ have strong counterparts in the cultural and religious developments that prepared the way for the Restoration of the Gospel by Joseph Smith. As I began tabulating these parallels, the case became stronger and more interesting than I had ever surmised.
When President Nelson urged us to prepare for this upcoming General Conference, to be held in April of 2020, I decided that until that conference, every time I spoke or lectured somewhere, regardless of the topic, I would find a way to include something about the First Vision. I did not expect that it would be as easy it was.