Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

178th Anniversary of “The Vision”

Posted by robf on February 16, 2010

February 16th is one of my favorite days, the anniversary of “The Vision” of the three degrees of glory given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon now recorded in Doctrine & Covenants 76.

We cherish this section of scripture, and teach about the three degrees of glory in our missionary discussions, though it seems like we rarely actually read “The Vision” itself. What do we really find when we “feast upon” D&C 76?

Before others (hopefully) share their own thoughts, here are a few of my own:

The Big If: Here’s what Joseph Smith said about some of the thinking that led to this vision (found in the D&C 76 section heading): “It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one [my emphasis].”

That’s a pretty big “if” and places Joseph Smith in 1832 on a collision course with a Christianity dedicated to the proposition that heaven is not a reward for “deeds done in the body”.

While we meditated upon these things. While meditating, “the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about” (verse 19). Sounds a lot like Nephi and the pondering that led to his vision of the Tree of Life. Or Joseph Smith before the First Vision or the appearance of Moroni. How much time do we spend pondering the scriptures ourselves? Are we somehow distracted from a focus that might lead us to having the Lord touch our own eyes?

On the right hand of God. Apparently they didn’t just see Jesus (which in and of itself we don’t really talk much about), but they must also have seen The Father in order to determine that he Christ was on his right hand.

Begotten sons and daughters unto God. Note the gendered language. Do we talk much about this? What’s the difference between being begotten a son or being begotten a daughter? And what do we mean that we are begotten sons and daughters of God “by”, “through”, or “of” Christ? Have we really unpacked what this verse is telling us?

Well, that’s enough fun for now. And I haven’t even gotten to Outer Darkness or the Degrees of Glory. Feel free to share your own thoughts or favorite insights from D&C 76 today on its anniversary. Either here or (even better) on the Feast Upon the Word Wiki (the wiki could use a little love!).

3 Responses to “178th Anniversary of “The Vision””

  1. Robert C. said

    Great thoughts, Rob—thanks for the reminder of the anniversary. This notion of (speculative!) as a precursor and catalyst to revelation is a great insight. Too often we think that the “pondering has been done” for us by our leaders (pace Pres. Packer…). But if we don’t read and think carefully, we will not be prepared for the “more” that God continually promises he has in store to reveal to us.

  2. RobF said

    Here’s a little third-hand tidbit I hadn’t read before about The Vision:
    “Brother Dibble stated to me that the Prophet Joseph told him in connection with the others who were present in Father Johnson’s home at the time the Vision was given to the Prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon, that (the Prophet speaking): ‘My whole body was full of light and I could even see out at the ends of my fingers and toes.” (Sarah N. Williams Reynolds quoted in Lundwall, N. B. The Vision: Or the Degrees of Glory. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951).

  3. KirkC said

    I often think about the Father and the Son being seen in this vision. However, I think about Sidney Rigdon having this vision more then Joseph. I am used to hearing about Joseph having amazing experiences, but not so used to hearing about others having them. Maybe even more amazing is the fact that Rigdon left the church after having an experience like this! I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that.

    Although, I have a great love for Sidney Ridgon. He was one of the great religious preachers of the nineteenth century, and if he would have stuck with Alexander Campbell I think the world would know more of him than they do now.

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