Summary of the Mormon Church
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also called the LDS Church or Mormon Church) is a Christian denomination that was established in 1830. The church teach Christian theologies, including restorationism, millenialism, rejection of original sin, baptism by immersion, and the atonement of Jesus Christ. Thirteen statements known as the Articles of Faith, written by the restoring prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., list the main beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The LDS Church believes that the true church was restored to the earth following the "great apostasy", a period of time when true prophets and priesthood authority were no longer present on earth. In 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith, Jr. prayed to know which of the many Christian denominations were true. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that there was no true church at that time, and that Joseph would be the one to establish Christ's church upon the earth in that era. Years later, an angel came to Smith, informing him that there was an ancient record engraven on golden plates buried in a nearby hill, and that in time, he was to translate them from an ancient language into English. More years passed, and Smith translated the ancient record and published it into a book known as "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ". Smith later established Christ's church on the earth. As the church continued to grow John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John the apostles came to Smith and restored the priesthood to the earth by conferring it upon him. Smith continued to receive revelations from God, many of which are recorded in a book called the Doctrine and Covenants. Following prophets also contributed to the Doctrine and Covenants by writing revelations they had received from God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not practice nor advocate worship of Joseph Smith or any other following prophets, though it does respect and revere these men.
LDS buildings and literature are not labeled with crosses. It has been asked before, "How can Mormons claim to believe in Christ if they are not represented by the cross, the symbol of Christianity?" Gordon B. Hinckley, late president of the LDS Church, responded to this inquiry, "I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ" ("The Symbol of Christ", Ensign, May 1975). In contrast to common belief, members of the LDS Church put Christ at the center of their worship and religion. He is the only One that could possibly save men from their sins. God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are the only beings worshiped by Latter-day Saints, and they worship no other objects or people.
On January 1, 2000, the First Presidency of the LDS church penned and published their testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. It is known as The Living Christ, the Testimony of the Apostles. It reads:
"As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. 'All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made' (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He 'went about doing good' (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
He rose from the grave to 'become the firstfruits of them that slept' (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His 'other sheep' (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised 'dispensation of the fulness of times' (Ephesians 1:10).
Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: 'His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
'I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father" (D&C 110:3–4).
Of Him the Prophet also declared: 'And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
'For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
'That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God' (D&C 76:22–24).
We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—'built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone' (Ephesians 2:20).
We testify that He will someday return to earth. 'And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together' (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."
Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind. Under the direction of God the Father, He created the Earth and volunteered to take upon mortality and sacrifice Himself by atoning for the sins of mankind. In the garden of Gethsemane, He bled from every pore as He suffered for all temporal and spiritual pains, afflictions, and sorrows. His suffering for mankind continued as He hung upon a cross at Calvary. Through His Atonement, Jesus redeemed all men from their sins, conditioned upon their repentence with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He resurrected His body three days after His crucifixion, making it possible for every person who has ever lived on the earth to be reunited with their physical body after their spirits leave their bodies in death. Christ lives. He loves each and every soul that has ever existed, righteous and wicked alike, and He invites all men to come to Him.
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ was translated by Joseph Smith, Jr. from an ancient record written on gold plates. It is a historic and doctrinal record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, who are the progenators of today's Native Americans. The book reveals that native North, Central, and South Americans are descendants of two main groups; one that came to Mesoamerica at the time of the Tower of Babel, and another from Israel around 600 B.C. The record is a history of two main branches of the latter group, the Nephites and Lamanites. The plates record the significant preachings, wars, and main events of their history. The pinnacle of the record is Christ's visitation and ministry to the Nephites following his crucifixion. The record ends after the Lamanites destroy the entire Nephite civilization hundreds of years later. The record's namesake, Mormon, abridged the golden plates from many various records he kept. He passed them on to his son Moroni, who buried them in a hill side and revealed their location to Joseph Smith many hundreds of years later as an angel. The Book of Mormon is the main scriptural reference for Latter-day Saints, and is sometimes referred to as the "keystone" to their religion. It supplements the Bible as another testament of Jesus Christ. To learn more about the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, visit mormon.org.
The Mormon Pioneers
Free Book of Mormon
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Early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endured much persecution because of their religious beliefs. Threatening mobs forced them to uproot and move west from place to place. Only two short years after the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph Smith in 1844, persecutions for the Saints grew so unbearable that they departed westward on a journey of about 1300 miles through uncharted terrain. Equipping handcarts and covered ox-driven wagons for an exodus that would span over several months, more than 7000 members departed from Nauvoo, Illinois in February of 1846 to obtain a land and home where they could worship freely without fearing persecution. Leaving virtually all they owned behind, the Saints faithfully sacrificed their past lives to follow the Lord through His new prophet, Brigham Young. The journey across the Great Plains was difficult and dangerous and it claimed many lives. Families struggled to reach their destination, suffering from malnutrition and starvation, disease, exhaustion, extreme weather conditions, Native American ambushes, and the brutal natural conditions of the wilderness. Many men and boys left their families to support the United States in the Mexican-American war, forming a small army called the Mormon Battalion. They would later meet up with their families and continue the journey. Finally, in July of 1847 the Saints arrived in the Great Basin in a place which is now Salt Lake City, Utah. The valley was uninhabited desert land, but the industrious Saints immediately began building, farming, and establishing cities. In the following years, the Latter-day Saints built up an organized system in which they could live normal lives in harmony, while freely worshipping according to their beliefs.
The LDS Church Today
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by current president Thomas S. Monson, his two counselors, and twelve additional apostles, similar to the organization of Christ’s church under Peter following the crucifixion. These men are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators by church members, meaning that they receive guidance from God to direct the church. While the prophets receive revelation, members are also able and expected to receive personal answers from God through fervent scripture study, prayer, and worship.
The LDS church is one of temple-building. Members believe that the temple is a house of the Lord. Certain important ordinances required for salvation are performed in the temple for those who enter. Admittance into the temple requires a temple recommend, which verifies that the holder is a church member who lives righteously enough to be considered worthy to be in God’s house. The temple is the most sacred place on earth. There are currently over 140 temples in operation, and many more are under construction. Temple construction is a constant endeavor of the LDS church, so that each member, regardless of their location, may have the opportunity to partake of the blessings of the temple.
There are over 14 million members of the LDS church and it is still growing due to missionary work. The church is well known for the missionaries that represent it, but ordinary members are also encouraged to give invitations to others, to express their beliefs, and share their knowledge and testimony of Christ. Another popular characteristic of the LDS church is its enthusiasm for humanitarian aid. Members are urged to donate their time, money, and talents for charitable causes according to their circumstances. The church actively supplies aid to victims of many natural disasters and other tragedies. The Relief Society, the largest women’s organization in the world, is designed to give local aid to those who will accept it. Members are encouraged to help everyone, whether they are LDS or not.
Some famous members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints include:
- David Archuleta, pop singer/TV Show "American Idol" contestant
- Gladys Knight, R&B/soul/pop singer
- Donny & Marie Osmond, television hosts/singers
- Thurl Bailey, former Utah Jazz (NBA) basketball player and sports announcer
- Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (NFL) quarterback
- Rulon Gardner, Olympic wrestling champion
- Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to China
- Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts/presidential campaigner
- Henry Eyring, chemistry pioneer
...and many more, including The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is a world-renowned choir and receiver of the Grammy Award. Each Sunday, the choir produces a television broadcast, Music & the Spoken Word, that runs at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on the BYU-TV channel. Learn how to get this channel at http://byutv.org/about/getbyu.
There are many myths surrounding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some myths merely originate from confusing the LDS church with other denominations or misunderstanding various church practices, while others are created rumors that are farfetched and impractical. There are countless rumors and myths about the LDS church in existence. To clarify some of the most popular myths:
- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christian.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cult, but a religion.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints neither practices nor accepts polygamy. This misconception is due to confusion between the LDS church and other religions that do practice polygamy.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not worship Joseph Smith. Members revere and respect his name, for he was an honorable man and a martyr who lost his life for the Lord’s cause. All worship practiced by Latter-day Saints is directed to God the Father and Jesus Christ.
- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not believe that women are subordinate to men. The Church advocates equality and respect between both men and women.
- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t wear "pioneer clothes". They utilize electricity, plumbing, and other modern conveniences.
- There are no animal—or human—sacrifices that take place in the temple.
- Grave-digging is not a practice advocated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Soft drinks are not forbidden to Latter-day Saints.
- Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not have horns, and they are not vampires!