He then read to listeners his 1979 journal entry, which included misspellings and language more common to a 19-year-old. The 1979 version is roughly 200 words, while the 2019 version is about 750, Elder McKay said. The 1991 and 2004 versions contain historical, factual errors. In one version, he identifies the meeting as an MTC devotional. It was actually a mission conference. In the other, he misidentifies the speaker.

“Do those two errors in those two versions and whatever embellishment might appear to some—does that blow up the entire account? Am I making this up? Anyone who listens to this is left to judge for themselves. I will just tell you that it happened — just as I recorded in 1979, just as I recorded in 2019 and just as I recorded in ’91 and ’04.”

This experience has helped him to understand Joseph’s experience, Elder McKay said. “The differences and discrepancies and even some errors in nonmaterial facts—they simply do not bother me.”

One of the most important applications of the First Vision, Elder McKay said in conclusion, is that God is responsive to His children. He quoted President Russell M. Nelson, who said, “If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children. The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” October 2018 general conference).

Elder McKay reminded listeners that the First Vision is an individual child’s quest for salvation and forgiveness. By placing this event at the beginning of the Restoration, God “is taking a child, this 14-year-old child, and placing him in our midst and inviting us to become like him. With so many words and so many ways, including the placement of that First Vision at the beginning, God is saying to us: ‘You come to me in a secluded place, and with unwavering faith, you ask me for forgiveness. Ask me for truth and light and knowledge. Ask me using the words of your mouth, and if you ask with unwavering faith, I will come to you. I will forgive you. I will give you light and knowledge and truth.’”