Mormonism - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

I. Introduction

Mormons is the common name of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian body to United States origin. The name is from the prophet Mormon, whose writings, members believe, form the sacred Book of Mormon.

The present-day church is descended from the persecuted sect that established a self-sufficient colony in the barren dessert of Utah in 1847. The Mormons still have their major strength in Utah, but have expanded into other sections of the country and have made converts in many foreign countries. Headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah (Davies, 2003).

The purpose of this study is to: (1) know the history of Mormonism; (2) analyze the beliefs, practices, and organization of the movement from a biblical (Christian) perspective and; (3) explain the movement’s response to Biblical claims of Jesus Christ as well as why or why not I believe this group deserves the label of Contemporary Religious Movement (Cult).

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II. Background

A. History

Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith (1805-1844), who lived as a youth near Palmyra, western New York. At 14 he began to have visions. In 1827, he announced that after revelation in 1823 he found golden plates with hieroglyphics, which he translated with divine aid and published as the Book of Mormon (1830). The golden plates were not made public, but 11 men testified that they had seen them. Smith founded the church in 1830 with sex members. The sect grew rapidly in numbers (“Interview of Martin Harris”).

In 1831 the Mormons established their first temple in Kirtland, Ohio, near Cleveland, but the group suffered severe financial problems and lost many of its members. Other Mormons settled in Independence, Missouri. Soon forced to move because of the hostility of their neighbors, they next founded the town of their neighbors, they next founded the town of Far West in Caldwell County. In 1838-39 they were driven out of Missouri because of religious prejudice and fear of Mormon political power.

The refugees next settled in Commerce, Illinois, and renamed the town Nauvoo. Here on swampy land along the Mississippi the Mormons built an impressive city of about 20,000, then the largest city in Illinois. Again there was religious persecution and bitter strife over the growing political power of the Mormons. A new source of conflict was the doctrine of polygamy introduced by Joseph Smith. In 1844, Smith was murdered by a mob. Because of continued harassment by their neighbors, the Mormons abandoned Nauvoo in 1846 (“Mormonism’s History,” 2006).

III. Discussion

The Mormons believe their church is the true modern successor of the early church of Jesus Christ. The church’s aim “is to prepare the world, by the preaching of the restored gospel and the founding of the Latter-day Zion, for the Messiah’s second coming and the advent of the millennium.

A. Beliefs

The Mormons accept the Bible as sacred and look upon the Book of Mormon as equal to it in authority. But I strongly believe that there is no book in the world that would equal to the Bible, not even the Book of Mormons because this Scripture (Bible) is God-breathed as stated in second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” This would mean that the writers of the Bible are inspired and anointed by the Spirit of God (Barlow, 1997).

The Book of Mormons tells the history of an ancient band of Jewish exiles believed by Mormons to be the ancestors of the American Indians but the Bible is silent about it. Other books of scripture are the Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations given through the founder, Joseph Smith; and the Pearl of Great Price, containing the writings-not found in the Bible-which Mormons believe are revelation of Abraham and Moses. Moreover, I contest that the church should not be under the beliefs of its founder but should be followed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church.

The Mormons believe in continuous revelation by God. Yes, I agree to it but the revelation must always be in the context of the Scripture; thus, anything that is not in the word of God is not of God. In addition, the Mormons believe that God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. Individual members may receive revelations from God for the guidance of their own lives. But only one man at a time may receive revelations from God for the whole church, and he is the president of the whole church. Mormons emphasize faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for sins (Barlow, 1997).

I disagree to what the Mormons believe because no one ever sees God. Even Moses and Abraham and other great men of God did not see him face to face because no one can stand in his presence for he is a Holy God. When God appeared to Moses, God showed himself in a form of burning bush and Moses trembled because of God’s presence. Moreover, God can do anything he wants to do because he is an omnipotent God. He can speak to different people at the same time. He doesn’t only reveal himself and speak to the leader of the church but also reveal himself and speak to us individually through the Holy Spirit and his words because God has no favoritism.

B. Practices

The Mormons baptize by immersion for the remission of sins and practice laying of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Communion is celebrated with bread and water. In the Bible, the remission of sin is through the blood of Jesus Christ. Water baptism is mentioned in the Bible but it simply signifies that you buried your old life and new life has waited for you.

The Mormons have two practices exclusive with them: baptism for the dead and celestial marriage. Baptism for the dead is chiefly for ancestors not baptized as Mormons; a living person is baptized in proxy for the dead. A celestial marriage is one in which a couple is married under the authority of the priesthood in a Mormon temple and is “sealed for eternity” so that in the celestial kingdom the family the family relationship will be resumed. Marriages outside a temple are for life on earth only (Givens, 1997). From the 1840’s until 1890, Mormon doctrine permitted “plural marriage,” or polygamy. I would say that these teachings are not found and written in the Bible. Our marriage to our partner here on earth is only temporary.

Mormon temples are used only for secret rites, primarily those of celestial marriage and baptism of the dead. They are open only to Mormons of good standing. Sunday services are held in local churches called ward halls, and non-Mormons are welcomed. Visitors may also enter the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, which is used for conferences and concerts (Davies, 2003).

Mormonism looks upon health as a spiritual value and bans the use of liquor, tobacco, coffee, and tea. Recreation is encouraged. There is emphasis on education and on work and thrift. The church operates a vast welfare program for its members who are in need, and it disapproves of public aid. Members support the church by tithing (giving one-tenth of their gross income).  On the other hand in the Bible, we are taught that our body is the temple of the Living God as stated in first Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19-20 that is why we should take care of our bodies because we need to glorify God—body, soul and Spirit.

IV. Conclusion

In conclusion, I will base my belief according to the word of God which is the Bible so I would say that Mormonism or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a cult because it does not follow fully to the word of God. They have practices and beliefs which cannot be found in the Scripture. As I said earlier, anything that is not from the word of God is not of God. Though they may claim that they believe on Jesus Christ yet their practices are not in line the teachings of Jesus.

Reference:

1. “Mormonism’s History”. CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH             MINISTRY.    http://www.carm.org/lds/beginning.htm  2006.

2. “Interview of Martin Harris.” https://user.xmission.com/~research/about/docum4.htm

3. Barlow, Philip L. (1997). Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-Day Saints in          American Religion. Oxford University Press. New York.

4. Davies, Douglas J. (2003). An Introduction to Mormonism. Cambridge University Press.         Cambridge, England.

5. Givens, Terryl L. (1997). The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy. Oxford University Press. New York

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