The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, informally known as the Mormon Church, was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830. It started with a total of 6 people, the minimum according to New York state law at the time. The church migrated from New York to Kirtland Ohio, until they were forced out by mobs, after which they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. The church also sent large groups of Saints to Missouri while they were in Kirtland, Ohio. These missionaries were forced out of the sate of Missouri by an extermination order issued by the state governor and joined the Saints in Illinois. After several years in Nauvoo, mobs from local towns murdered Joseph Smith and forced the Mormons out. In 1847, Mormons, led by Brigham Young, traveled west to escape persecution and founded Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Latter-Day Saint Church continues to be headquarted today. The church has now expanded to more than 12.5 million members.
Church members follow a law of health known as the Word of Wisdom that promotes healthy eating as well as avoiding tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and illegal drugs.
BeliefsLatter-day Saints (Mormons) believe in Christ, and they strive to follow his example. They testify of Christ and their Church bears his name. From the organization of the LDS Church in 1830, the Church's doctrine focused on Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote in 1842 to Chicago Democrat editor John Wentworth a statement of Church beliefs. The first of these 13 doctrinal declarations, later called the Articles of Faith, stated the following:
“We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."The LDS website states:
"We believe in the Jesus of the New Testament, and we believe what the New Testament teaches about Him. We do believe things about Jesus that other Christians do not believe, but that is because we know, through revelation, things about Jesus that others do not know."
The four standard works of the Church are:
- The King James Version of the Bible - both the Old and New Testaments
- The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ
- Doctrine and Covenants - Modern-day revelation as received by the Prophet Joseph Smith and other modern-day prophets
- Pearl of Great Price - Selection of translations, revelations and narrations from the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Book of MormonPresident Gordon B. Hinckley said the following about the Book of Mormon in an October, 2002 General Conference address entitled "The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith":
"This remarkable book stands as a testimonial to the living reality of the Son of God. The Bible declares that 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established' (Matt. 18:16). The Bible, the testament of the Old World, is one witness. The Book of Mormon, the testament of the New World, is another witness.
I cannot understand why the Christian world does not accept this book. I would think they would be looking for anything and everything that would establish without question the reality and the divinity of the Savior of the world."
John the Baptist
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that on May 15, 1829 A.D., the resurrected John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to baptize.
Wards are local congregations of the church. The Bishop is the leader of the ward and he serves along with two of his counselors. The entire ward meets every week on Sunday to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and to receive counsel. The meetings are divided into three different hours:
- First hour - Sacrament meeting. Our main purpose in attending sacrament meeting is to renew our covenants through partaking of the sacrament and to worship our Heavenly Father through hymn singing and prayer. Sacrament meeting provides an opportunity for members to strengthen their faith, find inner peace and spiritual healing, receive inspiration, and be instructed in the gospel. A member of the bishopric begins the meeting welcoming all members and visitors. There is an opening hymn followed by an opening prayer (invocation). This is followed by conducting ward business where members are released and sustained from callings. Then the sacrament of bread and water is prepared, blessed by the priesthood, and passed to the congregation. The sacrament is a renewal of the covenants each member made at baptism to remember the Lord Jesus Christ and to keep his commandments. On the first Sunday of the month, the meeting conductor starts off the bearing of testimonies by offering his own personal testimony. A testimony is a personal witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. As inspired by the Spirit, other members give their testimonies. On the other three Sundays, there are talks from members. The sacrament meeting concludes with a closing hymn and prayer.
- Second hour - Sunday School, Primary and Nursery. Its purposes are to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and strengthen individuals and families by encouraging them to study the scriptures, obey the commandments, receive the essential ordinances, and keep the associated covenants. All the adults and youth meet in Sunday School classes. Children younger than twelve and three or older attend Primary. Children who are at least 18 months old but who are not yet 3 years old on 1 January may attend nursery at the discretion of their parents.
- Adult Sunday School - The adults meet in several different classes. New members to the Church usually attend a Gospel Essentials class where they learn the basic teachings of the Church. Most of the other adults attend a Gospel Doctrine class where they are instructed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the scriptures. The main subjects rotate every four years: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and the last year is Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and Church history. The bible used by Church members is the King James Version.
- Youth Sunday School - The youth meet in several different classes according to their ages. There are usually separate classes for twelve and thirteen year olds, fourteen and fifteen year olds and sixteen and seventeen year olds. When they turn eighteen, the member starts attending the adult classes.
- Primary - The purpose of Primary is to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it.
- Nursery - The purpose of the nursery class is to provide a loving, safe, organized place where young children can increase their understanding of and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, have positive experiences in a Church setting, and grow in feelings of self-worth.
- Third hour - Priesthood, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary and Nursery. The men meet in Priesthood, the adult women meet in Relief Society,the male youth meet in Young Men, the female youth meet in Young Women and the children continue to meet in Primary or Nursery.
- Priesthood - The purpose of the priesthood meetings are to increase priesthood holders’ knowledge of the gospel; strengthen their dedication to becoming better husbands, fathers, sons, and neighbors; and help them become active participants in fulfilling the mission of the Church.
- Relief Society - The purpose of Relief Society is to provide relief for the poor and needy and to bring people to Christ.
- Young Men - The purpose of the Young men group is to prepare the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, to receive the ordinances of the temple, and to serve a full-time mission.
- Young Women - The purpose of the Young Women organization is to help each young woman, ages 12 to 18, "come unto Christ".
The entire church meets twice a year (in April and October) to hear messages from the Prophet and President of the church, his two counselors, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders. The members listen to modern-day revelation from these church leaders.
Mormons' relationship to Christianity
Mormons are Christians who accept The Book of Mormon in addition to the King James Bible. The Book of Mormon includes an account of ancient peoples living in the Americas from long before, and until centuries after Christ's mortal ministry on Earth. According to the The Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas after his resurrection, healing the sick, blessing the children, and teaching the people.
Positions of Various Christian Groups
There are, however, significant difference between Mormonism and mainstream Protestant denominations. The United Methodist Church has stated that the Mormon faith has "some radically differing doctrine on such matters of belief as the nature and being of God; the nature, origin, and purpose of Jesus Christ; and the nature and way of salvation." The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod goes further, stating that it, "together with the vast majority of Christian denominations in the United States, does not regard the Mormon church as a Christian church.", while the Southern Baptist Convention states that the Mormon religion is "not consistent with biblical Christianity." Beliefnet.com details a number of differences between the Mormon faith and traditional Christianity.
Early ill will towards Mormons was sparked in part by its early practice of polygamy, which was sanctioned from 1840 until 1890. Even though it was officially discontinued in 1890, Mormonism and polygamy continue to be associated in the popular mind.
A 1998 statement by LDS Present Gordon B. Hinckley states:
- This Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. . . . If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.
However, in addition to "the" Church (the 12.5-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), there continue to be small splinter groups, which also consider themselves to be Mormons and do practice polygamy. The most notable is the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (often called "Fundamentalist Mormons.") This group numbers about ten thousand. It broke from the Mormon church in 1890 over the issue of polygamy. It made headlines in 2006 and 2007, when leader Warren Jeffs was arrested by the FBI and indicted by a grand jury on charges of arranging illegal "marriages" between male followers and underage girls.
- Style Guide - The Name of the Church LDS.org
- Worldwide Church Statistics LDS.org
- The Word of Wisdom Scriptures.lds.org
-  The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith] from the October 2002 General Conference
- Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a Christian church? As answered on the LDS Church's website
-  Mormons Reflect Christianity in Lifestyle] as stated in the April, 2007 newsroom article at lds.org
- Doctrine and Covenants 13
- What is the Church’s position on polygamy? LDS website