Throughout my many travels I'm frequently asked by persons who don't know much about Mormons, Are Mormons Christians? With a smile I always give the same answer, "Yes we are, very much so."

Mormons quite often are referred to as Latter-Day Saint Christians due to the official name of the church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But it's more than just a name, Latter-Day Saints strive daily to live the life of Christ and abide by his teachings and those of his apostles.

The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) The word Christian means “a follower of Christ" but the word disciple means “student” or “pupil.” Hence a true Christian is not someone who simply says they believe in Christ but rather someone who ardently follows and studies the Savior their entire lives. Mormons do exactly that, therefore we are very much Christian in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

'The First Vision' harmonizes accounts of Joseph Smith's theophany

(by Rosemarie Howard 4-29-15)

Matthew B. Christensen's first book, “The First Vision: A Harmonization of 10 Accounts from the Sacred Grove,” brings together historical accounts of the initial appearance of God and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Using Joseph's account of the First Vision found in the Pearl of Great Price as a base, Christensen inserts additional words or sentences from nine other accounts of the experience recorded before the prophet’s death on June 27, 1844. Inserted words are color coded according to their source, and a key to the code is provided at the bottom of each page.

Of the 10 accounts, five were written or dictated by Joseph Smith; the other five were written by contemporaries who heard the account from him: Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Levi Richards, David White and Alexander Neibaur.

Christensen hopes to share the original accounts of the First Vision in a way that provides fresh insights and builds faith.

The book is a valuable resource and a fine introduction for those wanting to learn more about this foundational event in the history of the LDS Church. For those wanting to do more in-depth study, sources for the complete texts of the 10 accounts are included in the seven pages of endnotes.

Beautiful illustrations include a cover painting by Walter Rane and other full-color depictions of the Sacred Grove and the First Vision.

As an adjunct instructor, Christensen has taught Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants classes at Brigham Young University, and was a contributing researcher and writer for the last 11 books of the late Joseph Fielding McConkie. He works as a donor liaison at LDS Philanthropies and lives in Provo.

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