Many Anti-Mormons find great joy in pointing out the differences between the accounts given by Joseph Smith of the First Vision. In the earlier versions Joseph failed to mention that he had seen God and Jesus, but in later accounts he adds this important detail. This however should not cause suspicion amongst faithful latter-day saints for we know that even our current living prophet Thomas S. Monson does similarly with the stories he tells, adding line upon line, detail upon detail for our own good and understanding. One could say that this is a trademark of a true prophet of the Lord.
Along these lines let’s take for example a faith promoting story told by Thomas S. Monson. In 1969 during a *general conference address Monson spoke of that fateful “eighth day of May in 1942 when the mammoth aircraft carrier Lexington slipped to its final resting place on the ocean floor….. One who went down with his ship was my boyhood friend, Arthur Patton.”
In the 2007 general conference Monson tells the rest of this faith promoting **story wherein he states that “In March 1944, with the war now raging, Arthur was transferred from the USS Dorsey, a destroyer, to the USS White Plains, an aircraft carrier. While at
Saipan in the South Pacific, the ship was attacked. Arthur was one of those on board who was lost at sea.”
Much like the case with Joseph’s First Vision critics may point out inconsistencies between the accounts. In this case they will say that in the first account Arthur died in 1942 on a ship named
and in the second he died in 1944 when the ship named the USS White Plains was attacked. They may also point out that according to Wikipedia ***"the Lexington herself suffered NO enemy attacks." White Plains
Critics who look for such inconsistencies fail to see the whole point of the story which can be best explained by looking at the website of the Church owned advertising company Bonneville Communications. The people at Bonneville know that by creating feelings in people (helping them to feel the spirit and perhaps even shed tears as I did in 2007 when I heard President Monson’s address) they can get people to emotionally connect to their message and act accordingly. On their website it says ****“Our unique strength is the ability to touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and, finally, action. We call this uniquely powerful brand of creative "HeartSell"® - strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response.”
All true prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson and I would even include myself and several other talented Church leaders use this "HeartSell"® method without even knowing it. It is an approved method for getting people to live in accordance with the teachings of the Lord and is used only for the righteous purpose of bringing people unto the truth.
So next time a critic brings up insignificant inconsistencies in the stories of our prophets you can explain to them that while the stories themselves may ‘seem’ to be lacking in accuracy it is the emotional impact on the members that is important. When seen in the proper perspective and with the assistance of the spirit, the truths of these stories will touch our hearts and lead us onto the path towards eternal life and exaltation.
Please keep this in mind as you feast upon the talks and wonderful faith promoting stories that we have just been privileged to receive at this the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.