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The Catalog of Antimormon Accusations
The Elder Smith Learned...
by Woody Brison

This is one leaf of a review of "Inside Mormonism: What Mormons Really Believe" by Isaiah Bennett
Back to the main page of the review

Bennett's statement: In 1811, the elder Smith learned in a vision that "all churches were in darkness," none of them professing the true Christian faith.3
<=== Found on p. 22
at the top of the page

Bennett's footnote:
3 "See H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Rcord, 49. This work is a good general source for information on the First Vision and book of Mormon stages."
Why cite a secondary source? It's right in eyewitness Mother Smith's History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 56-57:
One night my husband retired to his bed in a very thoughtful state of mind, contemplating the situation of the Christian religion, or the confusion and discord that were extant. He soon fell into a sleep, and before waking had the following vision, which I shall relate in his own words, just as he told it to me the next morning:

"I seemed to be traveling in an open, barren field, and as I was traveling, I turned my eyes towards the east, the west, the north and the south, but could see nothing save dead, fallen timber. Not a vestige of life, either animal or vegetable, could be seen; besides, to render the scene still more dreary, the most death-like silence prevailed, no sound of anything animate could be heard in all the field. I was alone in this gloomy desert, with the exception of an attendant spirit, who kept constantly by my side. Of him I inquired the meaning of what I saw, and why I was thus traveling in such a dismal place. He answered thus: `This field is the world, which now lieth inanimate and dumb, in regard to the true religion, or plan of salvation..."
In point of fact, not only is this the primary source, it is the only source.

BTW, there is no indication that the year was 1811. Joseph's mother lists some of her children's birth dates (1808, 1810, and 1811) and says it was "about this time" that her husband had this dream or vision. So it was around 1808 to 1811. Since she recounted this from memory many years later, we might extend the range a couple of years or more. A span of ten years wouldn't be entirely impossible: 1805 to 1814. I have no idea why Bennett or Walters claims it was 1811.
Notes

1. Woody Brison is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this website is not affiliated with the church. It may be thought of as an additional, somewhat independent witness.

2. I want this page to be as accurate as I can make it. If you have a correction, please email me.

3. All biblical quotations are from the King James unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2013 Woody Brison. All rights reserved.