The History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism1) is one of the most fascinating and interesting stories of the many religious movements to capture America. Although the actual history has been edited and polished by the LDS church, the current "canonized" tales of Joseph Smith and his LDS followers are sufficient to introduce the reader to basic and current Mormon claims.
According to the official "Joseph Smith History" (JS-H), found in today's LDS-canonized Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith was struggling in 1820 to find a true church. As a boy of only fourteen years or so, the dilemma was particularly hard for Joseph because of a so-called revival in the Palmyra, NY area at the time (JS-H 1:7-10). After much confusion, Joseph Smith was suddenly “enlightened” by the words found in James 1:5-6 (JS-H 1:11). Apparently, Joseph Smith prayed to the Lord about which church he should join and was subsequently visited by two heavenly personages with physical bodies (Smith’s version of a heavenly father and his son - JSH 1:14-17). Smith was told by these two exalted men to join none of the churches as they were all offensive in their sight (JS-H 1:19-20). Three years later in 1823, an angel named Moroni then visited Smith in the middle of the night and eventually revealed to him where he could find gold plates, which contained ancient holy writings of a North American people who were literal descendants of Israel (JS-H 1:30-34). Throughout the next few years Smith began a “translation” of his golden Bible, The Book of Mormon, and finally published it in 1830.
Although Smith first claimed to have no other gift than that of translating the Book of Mormon, he eventually raised his call to that of prophet and restorer, the agent through whom his god would work to restore the “true” church to an apostate world. In fact, Smith later claimed to receive restored priesthoods directly from John the Baptist (whom Smith designated as the key holder of a lesser Aaronic priesthood) and Peter, James and John (those whom Smith designated as the key holders of a higher Melchizedek Priesthood). Many of Smith’s revelations, “translations” of ancient manuscripts, and writings have been collected and “canonized” for Mormons to use with the Book of Mormon.
Today the LDS church has canonized four major works:
1 The term "Mormonism" or "Mormons" is derived from a character in the Mormon "keystone" religious text, The Book of Mormon, which also bears the figure's name: Mormon. It was used to refer to the early followers of Joseph Smith, the founder of the religious movement. Because several significantly sized religious bodies now claim to follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not, technically speaking, the only "Mormon" group around (see the article, "Mormonism's Many Denominations." However, because the LDS Church is by far the largest and most significant of the early "Mormons," they are normally the organization referred to when the term "Mormon" is used. In recent years, the LDS Church has been striving to dissociate itself from the designation, "Mormons."
2 The King James Version is believed by Mormons to be the best translation available and the only one to which they give any authority to. For this reason, all the articles on Mormonism on Xristian.org utilize and link to passages from the KJV of the bible. This is done not because Xristian.org agrees with Mormonism on the matter of the KJV, but because the teachings of Mormonism are so variant from Christian and Biblical theology, that it matters not which translation is used.
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