A Meditation on the Relevance of Christ’s Teaching That “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand” to Joseph Smith’s First Vision in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By Ken K. Gourdin
The restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was heralded by the appearance of God, the Father, and of His Son, Jesus Christ, on a Spring day in 1820 to a young farm boy who was seeking answers to life’s fundamental questions. This Vision occurred in a locale known to members of the Church of Jesus Christ as The Sacred Grove, or simply, the Grove.
In accordance with the counsel contained in the book of James, chapter 1, verse 5 of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Joseph determined to take his questions to God. That passage reads: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
In a conversation about the veracity of what, in the Church of Jesus Christ, is known as the First Vision, at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion [sic], my interlocutor wrote, “Some have even asserted J[oseph] S[mith] was visited by a false spirit.” Pointing out Matthew 12:25, I wrote (emphasis mine):
Those who assert this are either ignorant of the fact that Satan was also in the Grove, or they wish others to be ignorant of that fact because it advances whatever nefarious purpose they may have. Christ (you do trust Him, don’t you? ) said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. In order to dismiss Joseph Smith’s Sacred Grove experience, one must either conclude that: (a) the spirit which appeared in thick darkness which gathered around Joseph and “had such an astonishing influence” over Joseph “so as to bind [his] tongue” was actually a benevolent spirit, while the two beings who appeared to him bathed in light which was brighter than the noonday sun (and whose presence banished that of the influence which had bound his tongue) were actually malevolent spirits; or (b), Joseph Smith lied about the whole experience.
Bottom line, the question remains: If Joseph Smith wasn’t a liar but one has concluded that he was deceived, what was Satan doing in the Grove?