Detractors of the LDS Church have long pointed out that the official first vision account is not the version recorded in many of the historical records. They point to the fact that the earliest account Joseph Smith gives in his own hand states only that he saw Jesus Christ. They also point out that early converts to the Church probably never heard about the first vision at all, let alone as currently published by LDS sources. It wasn’t until later that Joseph claimed God the Father appeared to him at the same time as Christ. In total, there are 7-9 different accounts of the first vision. Many of these are second hand accounts written by members of the LDS faith after hearing it from Joseph Smith. However, even the first hand accounts of Joseph himself differ in the details offered or lack there of.
Critics of the LDS Church claim that there is no possible way that Joseph could have neglected to mention God the Father appearing to him. They also say that Joseph’s account of the vision “evolved” or became grander over time. In addition, detractors claim that if Joseph had really seen God he would have written down and publicized it widely among early converts (the first account was written nearly 12 years after the actual event). Supporters say that Joseph gave different accounts to different audiences and, while some are abbreviated or leave things out, none of them conflict with the standard version now accepted by the Church.
If you are LDS, did you know about the different accounts? How many members of the Church do you think are aware of this? What do you think about this? If non-LDS please give your perspective and explain why you think this is proof that Joseph’s vision did not occur as the LDS Church now presents it.