Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons)
name Mormon is a term used to describe the adherents,
practitioners, or followers of Mormonism. The term refers mostly to a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which is commonly called the Mormon
Church. The LDS Church believes that "Mormon" may only properly be
applied to its members, but, the term is also used to describe any individual or group that claims belief in the
Book of Mormon, including other Latter Day Saints groups. According to
Latter Day Saint belief, Mormon is the name of the prophet who compiled
the book of scripture known as the Book of Mormon, which is
believed by Latter Day Saints to be a collection of writings and
teachings of the ancient prophets and followers of Jesus Christ who
lived in the Americas from approximately 600BC to AD421. Mormons
believe that Joseph Smith Jr. (Junior, his father was also Joseph Smith) translated the Book of Mormon into
English by divine inspiration from golden plates that he received from
the angel Moroni. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is another
scriptural witness of Jesus Christ in addition to the Bible,
which they also believe to be the word of God.
There are some 13.5 million members worldwide and the headquarters are
at Salt Lake City, Utah USA, where a great mormon temple stands.
Although Mormons consider themselves Christian, Mormonism has historically
had an uneasy relationship with traditional Christianity, i.e.
Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and most branches of
Protestantism. This is due in part to the
Mormonism claim that the movement is a "restoration" of the earliest
Christian and Judaic doctrines.
teach that the Gospel of
Christ has existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and that throughout
history a series of apostasies have occurred each time followed by a
restoration; meaning that the doctrine taught by the LDS church was on
the Earth throughout history, but at some points was lost, and later
restored again. Mormons teach that one such apostasy occurred after the
death of Saint Peter and the other original twelve apostles, that the
spiritual truths were absent from earth during that period and that
the calling of Joseph Smith, Jr. marked a new restoration was has
The publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, in New York, USA. aroused great animosity among Protestants. Mormons
believe that the Book of Mormon is holy scripture and as another
testament of Jesus Christ, a companion to the Bible. Some of the
Mormons' practices and political power in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois
(states of the USA) also contributed to early animosity. Mormonism's greatest conflict with
other branches of Christianity has been over the issues of traditional
views of Christ, additions to the scriptural canon and plural marriage
(a form of polygamy, where a man can marry multiple wives, that was
officially discontinued by the LDS Church in 1890). In fact, animosity
to plural marriage was so great in the 19th century that for the only
time in U.S. history, a law was passed nullifying a particular practice
associated with a religion, in direct contravention of the first
amendment! This ruling was however in keeping with the dominant cultural norms.
the early 20th century, Mormonism has engaged in a long-term campaign
to counter perceptions that it is not a Christian faith. It has also
joined with many other Christian denominations in political operations,
such as opposing same-sex marriages and conducting service and
humanitarian operations worldwide. Many conflicts between Mormonism and
other Christian denominations have remained and several Protestant and
Catholic denominations have declared Mormonism as not part of the
apostolic Christian tradition, and have declared Mormon baptisms to be
invalid. Today, the major differences between Mormonism and other
Christian churches include the LDS's unique beliefs on the Trinity,
temple worship, and its expanded canon. Yet the
majority of Americans (and other nationalities) view Mormonism as a Christian religion.
Mormonism and Judaism
of the incorporation of many Old Testament ideas into its theology,
Mormonism has a historical affinity for Judaism and things Jewish.
Mormons as a religious body generally embrace Jews, Judaism, and some
elements of Jewish culture with enthusiasm. This commitment derives
primarily from what Mormons believe are historical and doctrinal
connections with Judaism.
Joseph Smith Jr. named the largest
Mormon settlement he founded 'Nauvoo', which means "beautiful" in Hebrew.
Brigham Young named a tributary of the Great Salt Lake the "Jordan
River." The LDS Church created a writing scheme (language) called the Deseret
Alphabet, which is based, partially, on Hebrew. The LDS
Church has a Jerusalem Center in Israel, where college-aged
youth study and learn to appreciate and respect the country and its history and culture.
there has been some controversy involving Jewish groups who see
elements of Mormonism as offensive. In the 1990s, Jewish groups vocally
opposed the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead on behalf of Jewish
survivors of the Holocaust. According to LDS official Monte J. Brough,
"Mormons who baptized 380,000 Holocaust victims posthumously were
motivated by love and compassion and did not understand their gesture
might offend Jews ... they did not realize that what they intended as a
'Christian act of service' was 'misguided and insensitive' ".
Picture Right: Latter Day Saints Temple at Salt Lake, City Utah, USA. from Utah visitor website.
Mormonism, Marriage and Polygamy
has been associated in public discourse and in LDS
scriptures with polygamy. In the 1830s, Joseph Smith, Jr. instituted
a form of polygamy referred to as 'Plural Marriage', which Brigham
first acknowledged and promoted after the LDS church's move to Utah
USA. According to his own statements, Joseph Smith, Jr. was more
than a little unhappy with the institution of plural marriage, and
said that he suported it only after being warned through
revelation that he should agree to it or "be destroyed." Polygamy was
not practiced all
Upon learning about the
practice of 'Plural Marriage', mainstream religions and political forces in the United
States mounted a vigorous campaign to stamp it out. The United States
Congress passed laws outlawing the practice and dissolving
polygamous families; it disincorporated the LDS Church, and began seizing
church property. A few months after a U.S. Supreme Court decision
upheld the legality of the church's disincorporation and forfeiture
of property, the church issued its 1890 Manifesto renouncing the
practice of polygamy. However, the action of the
U.S. government was in contravention of the first amendment rights of a
religious group to develop its own practices, but was in keeping with
the cultural and religious norms of the majority of Americans. Today,
the LDS Church strongly rejects the practice and excommunicates members
who engage in any form of polygamy.
The 1890 renunciation of polygamy by the LDS
Church led to a number of schisms involving relatively small
groups described as Mormon fundamentalists, who still
practice polygamy as well as other elements of 19th century Mormonism
that have been rejected or denounced by the LDS Church. These
organizations believe that their doctrines and practices are true
to the original teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young.
Rigdon, an early church leader, and others within the Latter Day Saint
movement strongly opposed plural marriage and repeatedly labeled it
as sin. The largest group from this part of the movement is The
Church of Jesus Christ, which has its headquarters in
Picture below: Mormon Tabernacle Choir, picture from their website.
Beliefs and Practices
believe in two sources of scriptural authority: The Book of Mormon and
the Bible. Other writings like the 'Pearl of Great Price' are
considered to contribute to understanding also. Mormons believe that
God is the Supreme Being of the universe and that he has a physical
body not just a spiritual one. Humans exist before their birth
according to Mormonism and are given physical bodies at birth. Jesus is
seen as a son of God and Satan is seen as his spiritual brother. Jesus
chose to accept God's plan for the world and salvation whereas Satan
rejected this in favour of his own plan. Mormons believe that Jesus
overcame physical death at His resurrection guaranteeing also
resurrection for mankind. Spiritual death is seen as the severest
consequence of sin, and spiritual death can only be avoided by total
obedience to God's will. Mormons believe that the dead may be baptised
postumously and that the living should research their ancestry and
offer the proper ordinances for their dead. The Mormon beliefs are
represented by their 13 articles of faith which are given below:-
Articles of Faith
13 Articles of Faith, written by Joseph Smith, are the basic beliefs of
the LDS Church and a good summary of what Mormons believe. They are:
1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be
saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:
first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third,
Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of
hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. We believe that a man must
be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those
who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the
6. We believe in the same organization that
existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors,
teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated
correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and
we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things
pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10. We believe in the literal
gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion
(the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that
Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will
be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11. We claim the
privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our
own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship
how, where, or what they may.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in
doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition
of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many
things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything
virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after
LDS and mormonism in general require the members to research their
geneology and have gathered a huge database, in fact the largest
collection of family tree and geneology records in the world.