Definitions

Mormonism

Mormonism

[mawr-muhn]

Mormonism is a term used to describe the religious, ideological and cultural elements of certain branches of the Latter Day Saint movement, and specifically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

The term derives from the word Mormon, which was originally used as a pejorative term to describe those who believed in the Book of Mormon, a sacred text that adherents believe to be "another testament of Jesus Christ" and testifies of the Bible as part of the religion's canon. Today, Mormonism is improperly used in reference to the LDS Church. The term is only "acceptable in describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" ; however, several smaller denominations, and sects of Mormon fundamentalism also embrace the term despite opposition by the LDS Church. Most other Latter Day Saint movement denominations reject use of the term in reference to their faith, and such usage is now rare even though the term was used in the past.

Basic beliefs

In Mormonism, the Articles of Faith are an informal creed composed by Joseph Smith, Jr. as part of an 1842 letter sent to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat. It is a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism.Most Latter Day Saint denominations view the articles as an authoritative statement of basic theology. Some denominations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have adopted the articles as scripture (see Pearl of Great Price).

The Articles of Faith are as follows:

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit.
  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
  3. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  4. We 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 spirit.
  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 ordinances thereof.
  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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 this, 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.
  13. 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 these things.

Mormonism and Christianity

Mormonism is a restorationist Christian religion. Mormonism teaches that the Gospel of Christ has existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and that throughout history a series of departures from this gospel in its pure form (see apostasy) have occurred, always followed by a restoration; meaning that the doctrine taught by the LDS Church is believed to have been on the Earth throughout history, but at different eras was lost and later restored. According to Mormonism, one such apostasy, called the Great Apostasy, occurred after the death of Saint Peter and the other original twelve apostles, and the calling of Joseph Smith, Jr. marked a new restoration that has continued to this day.

The publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, in Palmyra, New York, 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 Mormon practices and political clout in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois also contributed to early animosity.

The church has joined with other Christian denominations in political operations, such as conducting service and humanitarian operations worldwide and opposing same-sex marriages. However, doctrinal conflicts between Mormonism and other Christian denominations remain. Mormonism does not accept the baptism of any other Christian church and rejects the apostolic succession of those churches that claim its existence. Many Christian denominations have acknowledged that Mormonism does not share their apostolic Christian tradition and have also declared Mormon baptisms to be invalid.

Today, the major differences between Mormonism and other Christian churches include the LDS church's views on the Trinity; the nature and purpose of Jesus Christ; the meaning of salvation, eternal life, "The Gospel," and the afterlife; its temple worship; and its open canon. Mormon cosmology is also substantially different from that of historical Christianity. Given its stance on the Trinity, traditional Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion and most branches of Protestantism consider Mormonism heretical. One recent Pew Research poll shows only 52 percent of Americans believe that Mormonism is a Christian denomination. However, among traditional Christians, more than six in ten said Mormonism and their own religion are very different and 57 respondents out of 1,461--3.9%--associated Mormonism with the word "cult.

Mormonism and Judaism

Because of the incorporation of many Old Testament ideas into its theology, Mormonism has a historical affinity for Judaism. The beliefs of Mormons sometimes parallel those of Judaism and certain elements of Jewish culture. This is primarily from what are historical and doctrinal connections with Judaism.

Joseph Smith Jr. named the largest Mormon settlement he founded Nauvoo, which means "to be beautiful" in Hebrew. Brigham Young named a tributary of the Great Salt Lake the "Jordan River." The LDS Church created a writing scheme called the Deseret Alphabet, which was based, in part, on Hebrew. Currently, the LDS Church has a Jerusalem Center in Israel, at which some college-aged youth study and learn to appreciate and respect the region.

The LDS church also teaches that its adherents are members of the House of Israel. Patriarchal blessings are received by most individuals in their youth. Among other things, this blessing's purpose is to declare one's lineage; in other words, to which tribe the individual belongs.

Conversely, there has been some controversy involving Jewish groups who see the actions of some elements of Mormonism as offensive. In the 1990s, Jewish groups vocally opposed the LDS practice of baptism for the dead on behalf of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and Jews in general. According to LDS Church general authority 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.'.

Mormonism and polygamy

Mormonism has been closely associated in public discourse with polygamy. In the 1830s, Joseph Smith, Jr. instituted a form of polygamy in which one man would have several wives (but not the reverse), referred to as plural marriage, which Brigham Young promoted after the LDS church's move to the Utah Territory. According to his own statements, Joseph Smith, Jr. was more than a little uneasy at facing the institution of plural marriage, and said that he did so only after being warned through subsequent divine revelation that he should begin the practice or "be destroyed" ; however, not all members practiced polygamy.

Upon learning about the practice, mainstream churches and political forces in the United States mounted a vigorous campaign to stamp it out. The United States Congress passed laws criminalizing the practice and dissolved polygamous families, disincorporated the LDS Church, and began seizing church property. A few months after a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the legality of the Federal government's actions to disincorporate the LDS church and force the forfeiture of its property, the church issued its 1890 Manifesto renouncing the practice of polygamy. Today, the LDS Church asserts the time for polygamy has ended, rejects the practice, and excommunicates members who engage in it. In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy."

The 1890 renunciation of polygamy by the LDS Church also led to a number of schisms involving relatively small groups who today describe themselves as Mormon fundamentalists and 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 remain true to the original teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young.

See also

Notes

External links

Official Mormon

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