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Latter Day Saints

(Latter-Day; Latter-day; Latter day). a. The Ch. of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see also par. g 1) was founded 1830 with 6 mems. at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, by Joseph Smith* Sr. He claimed that Moroni, son of Mormon (alleged 4th c. AD prophet in Am.; collected and revised the material later pub. in The Book of Mormon), repeatedly appeared to him and said that God had work for him (Smith) to do in the latter days to help restore the full Gospel in preparation for the premillennial coming of Christ. He claimed that in 1827, at the direction of Moroni, he found thin metal plates, ca. 6 inches by 7 inches, gold in appearance, which had been buried ca. 420 AD near the top of the W side of a hill (anciently called Cumorah) near Manchester, Ont. Co., New York; the plates, he said, contained a record in “Reformed Egyptian” and 2 stones in silver bows, fastened to a breastplate (Urim and Thummim), by which he tr. part of the record; he pub. his tr. 1830 as The Book of Mormon; the plates, he said, were returned to Moroni when he called for them. The Book of Mormon includes a purported hist. of ancient Am., parts of the Bible (e.g., parts of Is; the Sermon on the Mount acc. to Mt.; Pauline passages), and apparent reflections of some Ref. confessions of faith.

b. Smith and Oliver Cowdery claimed ordination to Aaronic priesthood by John the Baptist May 1829 and to Melchizedek priesthood by Peter, James, and John shortly thereafter. In 1831 the ch. numbered several hundred. It moved to Kirtland, Ohio, the same yr. and also began to settle in Jackson Co., Missouri, where it hoped to build the city of Zion with a magnificent temple. It was driven from Jackson Co. 1833. Lillburn W. Boggs (1792–1860; b. Lexington, Kentucky; gov. Missouri 1836–40) expelled the Mormons from Missouri by military force 1838–39. They moved to Illinois and immediately settled in Hancock Co. at Commerce, renaming the settlement Nauvoo (“Beautiful Place,” acc. to Mormons from Heb. naveh, “pleasant”); Smith had civil and military control of it. Discontent arose when Smith claimed a revelation authorizing polygamy. Civil war became imminent. State militia intervened 1844. Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were imprisoned in Carthage, where a mob stormed the jail, killed both, and wounded other Mormons including John Taylor.*

c. B. Young* assumed leadership. When persecution again became fierce 1846, the Mormons moved from Illinois first to Iowa, then W of the Missouri R. near Omaha, and 1847 to Great Salt Lake, Utah, where they founded Salt Lake City and est. the “provisional govt. of the State of Deseret [which, Mormons say, means 'honeybee']” with Young as gov.; other settlements were scattered over the face of the entire region.

d. The Territory of Utah was created 1850. Young was appointed gov., reappointed 1854 when Colonel E. J. Steptoe declined to accept the appointment; succeeded 1857 under US military pressure by Alfred Cumming (1802–73; b. Augusta, Georgia; gov. Territory of Utah 1857–60). Peaceful relations were restored 1858.

e. Mormon Articles of Faith:

“1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. 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:—(1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. 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, viz: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc. 7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. 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 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 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, we seek after these things.” (“Articles of Faith … ” by Joseph Smith, in J. E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City, 1899], p. iii)

f. Smith claimed sanction of polygamy by revelation, which Young openly promulgated first 1852. The practice of plural marriage, as it was called, was undergirded by the thought that it insured more inhabitants of heaven. Marriage rites took place in temples to which outsiders were not admitted. W. Woodruff* issued a “manifesto” against polygamy 1890: “I now publicly declare that my advice … is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.”

In baptism for the dead, performed only in temples, with only approved Mormons admitted, a living person is proxy for one who died without a chance to hear or accept the Gospel.

g. Latter Day Saints divided:

1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See also pars. a-f.

2. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Josephites [after Joseph Smith* Jr.]). Formed as a result of division among Latter Day Saints after the death of Joseph Smith* Sr. Differences involved the question of succession of leadership, the doctrine of the Godhead, and polygamy. Joseph Smith Jr. became leader of the dissenters. Reorganization began in Wisconsin 1852, was completed 1860. Headquarters were moved to Plano, Illinois, 1865, Lamoni, Iowa, 1881, Independence, Missouri, 1920.

3. Church of Christ. Formed in Bloomington, Illinois, as a result of division among Latter Day Saints after the death of Joseph Smith* Sr., by men who opposed baptism for dead, exaltation of men to be gods, and the idea that God was once man like other men, the doctrine of lineal right to office since the Christian era began, and the doctrine of polygamy; to Independence, Missouri, 1867; bought “temple lot” there. Headquarters: Temple Lot, Independence, Missouri

4. Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites). Organized 1862 at Greenock (Green Oak), Pennsylvania, by William Bickerton; opposed baptism for dead, polygamy, and other features of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerites). Organized 1853 at Fisher Grove, Fremont Co., Iowa, by Alphaeus Cutler.

6. Church of Jesus Christ (Strangites). Organized 1844 near Burlington, Wisconsin, at a place which was given the name Voree (said to mean “garden of peace”), by J. J. Strang* after the death of Joseph Smith* Sr. Denied virgin birth of Christ.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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