Mar 30 2013
In my view:
We want people to ask God whether the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ is true. That is the question. All that matters is whether it is true. It is not Joseph Smith’s story as recounted in various letters and news articles. It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only way anyone can know whether it’s true is to get a revelation from God saying so. It doesn’t matter what anyone said or wrote about the Church–yes, those things should be correlative to the answer, but they are not the answer. Reading and studying helps people receive the answer through revelation, but reading and studying and lining up paragraphs will not produce a spiritual experience of themselves. Otherwise people with lower IQs or less education would go to Hell. Otherwise there’d be some positive correlation between how many retellings of the Joseph Smith story you’ve read and your odds of going to Heaven. Otherwise we would throw out Jesus because Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote books that don’t always correlate either. As with the Bible, if literary analysis or methodical research or archaeology could solve the great religious questions it would have been done by now. As a mythology professor of mine once said, “I can fly you to Greece and prove to you that the Trojan War happened,” but that doesn’t mean you should believe in Zeus.
So that’s my personal view. We don’t want people becoming converted to the Church any more than we want them becoming “converted to the missionaries.” We want them becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that only comes through revelation. If the Church of Jesus Christ is the vehicle-by-which, and I believe it is, then the Holy Spirit will tell them that. Hiding information will hurt that process, but offering up information irrelevant to the end goal of bringing souls to Christ will also hurt that process.
This post was in answer to a reader-submitted question at (http://www.quora.com/The-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-day-Saints-the-Mormons/Why-dont-we-as-Mormons-openly-teach-that-there-are-multiple-versions-of-the-first-vision/answer/Colin-Jensen). If you have comments, or if there is a topic you would like Colin to address, please comment below!