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Delays in written accounts  — Section 21

Why the long delays in Joseph Smith’s written accounts of his experiences

Representative of a Christian church:

I have questions about your ‘Joseph Smith’s Testimony’ pamphlet.  We read that his own story was not printed until May 2, 1838, over 15 years after the Angel Moroni supposedly appeared to him, and over 18 years after God and Christ supposedly appeared to him.  Why did he wait so long to write his stories, and how do yo know he didn’t add or subtract things after such a long time lapse?  Secondly, within the pamphlet, on page 9, we read of the Angel Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith and the angel referring to Joel 2:28-31, and the angel saying, “It has not yet been fulfilled”.  However, in Acts 2:16-18 Peter declares “But this that was spoken by the prophet Joel”, referring to Joel 2:28-31 and announcing its fulfillment.  Why did Moroni state that Joel’s prophecy was not yet fulfilled, but Peter stated that is was fulfilled?  How could Joseph Smith accurately quote the Savior and other messengers up to 20 years after many of these experiences occurred?

Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thank you for those questions.  Joseph Smith wrote the record of his own story in order to publish to the world the true account of his vision in 1820.  Many false rumors and reports were circulating, and so it was published to clear up confusion and also as a missionary aid.  You express concern that Joseph Smith might not have quoted heavenly messengers correctly after 18 years had elapsed between the event and his writing, but we would point out that the Book of John, which records many word-for-word conversations with the Savior, was written between 90 and 100 A.D., according to most authorities.  That is a 70 year gap.  We feel that the answer is simple.  Joseph Smith, as well as the apostle John, had the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and inspire them as they wrote.  The events had left a powerful imprint on Joseph’ mind.  Also, he kept a daily journal which probably assisted him as he compiled his record.  Regarding your question regarding Joel’s prophecy, it is our opinion that Peter did not declare the prophecy to be fulfilled.  He merely said that the prophecy referred to our day.  It is very common for prophecies to have partial fulfillment.  For example, we have the Jewish people who boldly said, during the crucifixion of Christ, “his blood be upon us and upon our children”.  This was fulfilled in 70 A.D., again in the Dark Ages, and again during World War II.  Another example is when Christ said, as recorded in Matthew 24:14, “…this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”  From the holy scriptures, Paul states that “the gospel was preached unto every creature under heaven” where Paul was called to preach the Gospel.  According to Christ, the end should have come, but it was only a partial fulfillment.  We could cite countless cases.  That Joel’s prophecy was only partially fulfilled on Pentecost is pointed out in the last half of the prophecy.  “And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come”.  I believe you can see that this was not fulfilled and therefore, Moroni could correctly say that “This was not yet fulfilled.”

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