The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Paul Derengowski, ThM

 

Introduction

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the product of the efforts of Joseph Smith, Jr.  He was born in Turnbridge, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith on December 23, 1805.  Although he was raised with little formal education, a vivid imagination coupled with an association with those who were formally educated, as well as a liberal “borrowing” from several literary sources, involvement in Freemasonry and the occult, eventually led to the development of one of the United States’ most popular home grown religions: Mormonism.

Location

The main headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Salt Lake City, Utah.  Prior to establishing its headquarters in Salt Lake City under the leadership of Brigham Young, the church was founded in Palmyra, New York (1830) by Joseph Smith, Jr., who then moved the church to Kirtland, Ohio, Far West, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. While in Illinois Smith was arrested for destroying the Nauvoo Expositor, which exposed his polygamous affairs in explicit detail. During Smith’s wait for trial in a Carthage, Illinois jail, an angry mob stormed the facility on June 27, 1844, and amid an exchange of gunfire between Joseph Smith and the mob, Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed. Today, Mormons see Smith as a martyr, but it is difficult to reconcile the idea of martyrdom with trying to kill others in an attempt to preserve one’s life, nevertheless, that is what Smith did at Carthage.

Ruling Hierarchy

Mormonism’s form of ecclesiastical government is a patriarchal pyramid with a President (who assumes the role of a prophet, seer, and revelator) at the top, and his two associates, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the First Council of the Seventy, and then the Presiding Bishopric.  Even the Relief Society, which is a Mormon women’s charitable outreach, is overseen by the local stake president, which is a male.

Holy Books

Mormons do not recognize the Bible as the absolute authority in matters of faith and practice.  Instead the Bible is viewed as either erroneous or deficient and needs the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and pronouncements from the current Mormon “Prophet” during General Conference to either supplement the Bible or correct it where it is allegedly in error.

Eccentric Beliefs

Book of Mormon.  Alleged to be the foundation upon which Mormonism is built, the Book of Mormon is the story of two cultures, the Nephites and Lamanites, that are supposedly of Jewish decent and lived in the ancient Americas between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D.  When Joseph Smith finished “translating” the Book of Mormon from “Reformed Egyptian” characters written on golden plates, he deemed it “the most correct book on earth,” and a book that would bring a person closer to God more than any other book.  Unfortunately, no one, Mormon or otherwise, has ever located an artifact consistent with Book of Mormon claims, thereby discrediting it as a historical document.

God.  Is an exalted man who lives on a distant planet orbiting a star called “Kolob.”  He is also thought to be polygamously married and procreates “spirit children” by his wives. His children are then sent to earth to inhabit physical bodies for the express purpose of being tested as to their worthiness and eventual exaltation themselves unto godhood.

Jesus.  Was once a nebulous “intelligence” who co-existed with all other intelligences, including the being that would become God, in a monistic universe.  After “God” finally became God, Jesus was sired as a “spirit child” of God’s, thereby changing Jesus’ identity.  After presenting an accepted proposal to be the savior of humankind, a body was prepared for him when God the Father sired with Jesus’ sister, Mary, and Jesus took on human form.  Jesus is the savior in the sense that he atoned for sin to the extent of purchasing “General” (Universal) salvation for everyone and “Individual” salvation for those who merit it.

Baptism for the Dead.  Using 1 Corinthians 15:29 as a reference point, Temple worthy Mormons participate in proxy baptism for those who are deceased and are thought to have never had the opportunity to hear the Mormon gospel prior to dying.  It is believed that through this occult ritual a way is provided for the deceased to accept the “gospel” while in “spirit prison hell” and then be released, whereby that person can go on to become a god.

Temple Marriage.  Seen as a prerequisite to merit one’s “Individual Salvation,” Mormons believe that by being married to another Mormon, by a Mormon priesthood holder, in the Mormon Temple, they may secure an eternal and productive relationship with their spouses on earth, as well as on the planet they hope to inhabit in the afterlife. While on their own planet they will populate it through natural reproductive means, after the same order that God the Father supposedly populated planet earth with his polygamous wives. Only temple worthy Mormons are allowed to participate in such a ceremony, which are off-limits to non-Mormons, including parents and siblings of the bride and groom, while it takes place.

Logistics

The Mormon church claims to have approximately 15 million members worldwide, with about 85,000 of those members engaged in missionary work.  It possesses real estate and business ventures that have been estimated at $30 billion dollars.   The church owns and operates over 100 temples globally, as well as thousands of stakes, wards, and meeting houses to facilitate its members.  Members are mandated to pay ten percent of their income to remain temple worthy.  Aside from the Utah Mormons, which is the largest sect in Mormonism, there are hundreds of other Mormon splinter-groups, including the Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS), the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints), the Strangites, and the Hedrickites.

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