History of Mormonism. I have written many posts concerning Joseph: Meeting Moroni, the Gold Plates, Translation, the "Missing Pages," and even the vision with Sidney Rigdon, but I must now do the first vision.
Let us go back to the beginning of it now. Joseph Smith grew up in the very early 19th century in New England. This area at that time was going through the Second Great Awakening. The 'Awakening' was a type of religious movement that was big in the New England area. Christian denominations were working hard at this time to bring new people into their church. This urge to get new members was so intense there were many arguments between the religious groups.
The family of Joseph Smith were religious, like most people at the time. Some members of the Smith family went to one church while some others went to another church. And there were members that did not attend a church, not knowing which one best fit their personal religious beliefs. Joseph Smith was one that did not join a church. He did not know which to join. But all these religions believed to teach from the Bible and the Smith family had a Bible. So this is where the young Joseph turned for help.
In the beginning of the book of James Joseph read the following verse:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him as of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)
*You may recognize that scripture from the post "Back to the Beginning of 'Mormonism' - Prayer." If you'd like to go in more depth on that scripture check out that post.
The scripture simply explains that if a person needs guidance, especially spiritual guidance as was Joseph's case, then they could pray to God and receive the answer. Understanding this, the young Smith decided to do just that.
Joseph chose the grove of trees near his house to say this prayer. And now I'd like to use Joseph's own words:
"Having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.Standing in front of young Joseph Smith were God, the Father, and Jesus the Christ. Having prayed to learn which church to join he then asked the two divine beings which church he should join. The answer was that none of the churches at the time held the full gospel of Christ and so Joseph was not supposed to join any of them. But the time would come that the true gospel of Christ would be restored to the world.
"But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction - not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being form the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being - just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the birghtness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
- Joseph Smith History -
That church, formed by Joseph Smith in 1830 and restoring the gospel of Christ, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
*If you'd like to better understand what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes (what some people refer to as 'Mormonism') visit this post: "What is Mormonism?"
You can also chat with a missionary about the Church and ask your questions here: Chat with a Missionary.