The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Portal
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), often informally known as the Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 67,000 missionaries and a membership of over 16 million. In 2012, it was ranked by the National Council of Churches as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 6.5 million members reported by the church, as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.
Adherents, often referred to as "Latter-day Saints" or, less formally, "Mormons", view faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement as fundamental principles of their religion. LDS theology includes the Christian doctrine of salvation only through Jesus Christ, though LDS doctrines regarding the nature of God and the potential of mankind differ significantly from mainstream Christianity. The church has an open canon which includes four scriptural texts: the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Other than the Bible, the majority of the LDS canon constitutes revelation received by Joseph Smith and recorded by his scribes which includes commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by ancient prophets. Because of some of the doctrinal differences, Catholic, Orthodox, and several Protestant churches consider the LDS Church to be distinct and separate from mainstream Christianity.
Under the doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the church president is a modern-day "prophet, seer, and revelator" and that Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president. Individual members of the church believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives. The president heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations. Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead local congregations. Male members, after reaching age 12, may be ordained to the priesthood, provided they are living the standards of the church. Women are not allowed to hold positions within the priesthood but do occupy leadership roles in some church auxiliary organizations.
Both men and women may serve as missionaries and the church maintains a large missionary program that proselytizes and conducts humanitarian services worldwide. Faithful members adhere to church laws of sexual purity, health, fasting, and Sabbath observance, and contribute ten percent of their income to the church in tithing. The church also teaches about sacred ordinances through which adherents make covenants with God, including baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (holy communion), priesthood ordination, endowment, and celestial marriage (marriage blessings which extend beyond mortality)—all of which are of great significance to church members.
An anti-Mormon political cartoon from the late 19th century.
Anti-Mormonism is discrimination, persecution, hostility or prejudice directed against the Latter Day Saint movement, particularly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The term is often used to describe persons or literature that are critical of their adherents, institutions, or beliefs, or physical attacks against specific Mormons or the LDS Church as a whole.
Opposition to Mormonism began before the first Latter Day Saint church was established in 1830 and continues to the present day. The most vocal and strident opposition occurred during the 19th century, particularly during the Utah War of the 1850s, and in the second half of the century when the practice of polygamy in Utah Territory was widely considered by the U.S. Republican Party as one of the "twin relics of barbarism" along with slavery.
Modern-day opposition generally takes the form of websites offering alternative views about Mormonism or non-violent protest at large Latter-day Saint gatherings such as the church's biannual General Conference, outside of Latter-day Saint pageants, or at events surrounding the construction of new LDS temples. Opponents generally believe that the church's claims to divine origin are false, that it is non-Christian, or that it is a religion based on fraud or deceit on the part of its past and present leaders. Read more...
The Three Witnesses as depicted by Edward Hart, 1883: Oliver Cowdery (top), David Whitmer (left), and Martin Harris (right).
The Three Witnesses is the collective name for three men connected with the early Latter Day Saint movement who stated that an angel had shown them the golden plates from which Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon; they also stated that they had heard God's voice, informing them that the book had been translated by divine power. The Three are part of twelve Book of Mormon witnesses, who also include Smith and the Eight Witnesses.
The joint statement of the Three Witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer—has been printed (with a separate statement by the Eight Witnesses) in nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three men eventually broke with Smith and the church he organized, although Harris and Cowdery were eventually rebaptized into the church after Smith's death. Whitmer founded his own Church of Christ (Whitmerite). All three men upheld their testimony of the Book of Mormon at their deaths. Read more...
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Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. When he was 24, Smith published the Book of Mormon. By the time of his death fourteen years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religious culture that continues to the present.
Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont. By 1817, he had moved with his family to what became known as the burned-over district of western New York, an area of intense religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening. According to Smith, he experienced a series of visions, including one in which he saw "two personages" (presumably God the Father and Jesus Christ) and others in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization. In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon. The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church. Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons", and in 1838, Smith announced a revelation that renamed the church as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In 1831, Smith and his followers moved west, planning to build a communalistic American Zion. They first gathered in Kirtland, Ohio, and established an outpost in Independence, Missouri, which was intended to be Zion's "center place". During the 1830s, Smith sent out missionaries, published revelations, and supervised construction of the Kirtland Temple. The collapse of the church-sponsored Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company and violent skirmishes with non-Mormon Missourians caused Smith and his followers to establish a new settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he became a spiritual and political leader. In 1844, Smith and the Nauvoo city council angered non-Mormons by destroying a newspaper that had criticized Smith's power and practice of polygamy. After Smith was imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois, he was killed when a mob stormed the jailhouse. Read more...
Nephi and Lehi devote themselves to preaching—Their names invite them to pattern their lives after their forebears—Christ redeems those who repent—Nephi and Lehi make many converts and are imprisoned, and fire encircles them—A cloud of darkness overshadows three hundred people—The earth shakes, and a voice commands men to repent—Nephi and Lehi converse with angels, and the multitude is encircled by fire.
6 Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.
7 Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.
8 And now my sons, behold I have somewhat more to desire of you, which desire is, that ye may not do these things that ye may boast, but that ye may do these things to lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason to suppose hath been given to our fathers.
9 O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.
10 And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
11 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.
12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
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