The LDS Church lays all its chips on Joseph Smith's 1820 theophany. When telling the story of the Church we begin with the story of a young teenage boy who was struggling to find the truth but then found the answer through an earnest prayer. That prayer parted the heavens and brought down God - Heavenly Father, The Eternal Father, Elohim - from his celestial throne with his Choicest of Children, Jesus the Anointed, The Creator, The Savior of the World, The Judge, The Father.
Theophanies aren't all that unusual and they're not always as pleasant as Joseph's was. My concern here is that it might not have ever happened in the first place.
Why would I doubt the reality of the First Vision? Mainly because
1. Joseph was not persecuted between the age of 14 and 17 for having seen God. No family member or anyone close to Joseph mentions persecution during these years and neither does Joseph until a decade later or more.
2. Family, friends and followers all attributed Joseph's prophetic call to his vision of Moroni at the age of 17 (1823).
3. The extant accounts of the First Vision begin in 1832. This seems to be the year Joseph invented his theophany. He begins by saying he was 16 but pushes his age back gradually until he says he was 14.
4. Age is not the only detail Joseph plays around with when recounting his First Vision. He can't keep straight who even showed up and spoke with him. Basically Joseph wanted everyone to believe he had a vision but he wasn't sure when, was unsure for years who appeared and wasn't sure what was communicated.
5. In the now official version of the story we understand that God told Joseph not to join any churches because "all creeds were an abomination" in the sight of God. So why did Joseph try to join the Methodists in 1828?
The whole story stinks. But the LDS Church will tell you it all harmonizes beautifully.
I don't know. I really don't see it.