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The Mormons: A Profile
AUTHOR: Watchman Fellowship
PUBLISHED ON: April 29, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
TAGS: Mormonism

þ The Mormons: A Profile

Watchman Fellowship Profile:

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Founder: Joseph Smith

Founding Date: April 6, 1830

Scriptures: Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl
of Great Price, Bible.

Official Publications: Church News is a weekly 16 page
news paper and the Ensign is a monthly magazine.

Organizational Structure: One prophet leads the Church.
Beneath the prophet in authority is the Council of the
Twelve Apostles.  A third group of men are called the First
and Second Councils of the Seventy.  All of these men
together are called the General Authorities.

Unique Terms:  Local churches called Wards or Stake
Centers.  The Temples are not for worship, but are used
for ceremonies for the living and the dead.  Less than ten
percent of all LDS are allowed to enter these structures.

Other Names: The Mormons or LDS

History:

Born in Sharon, Vermont, Joseph Smith would begin just a
few years later what would become one of the world’s
largest and fastest growing non-Christian religions.

According to the official story of the LDS Church, in 1820
Smith was visited by God the Father and God the Son after
praying about which church to join. He was told by Jesus
he should join none of them for they were “all wrong” and
all the Christian church’s doctrines “were an abomination”
(Joseph Smith – History 19, Pearl of Great Price.

This First Vision was followed by several visits from an
angel named Moroni who, in 1827, allowed Smith to retrieve
a set of Golden Plates which had been buried in a hill
near Smith’s home in Palmyra, New York.

Between 1827-1830, Smith, with the help of friends,
translated the Golden Plates into the LDS structure, the
Book of Mormon.  Published in 1830, this was to become the
first of many scriptures for the Mormon Church. By this
time, Smith had also officially organized the LDS Church
and was gaining a following.  Over the next ten years the
church headquarters would move to Kirkland, Ohio;
Independence, Missouri, and Far West, Missouri. Finally it
would find a resting place in Nauvoo, Illinois between
1839-1844.

It was in Nauvoo that many of its more unique doctrines
were to find their beginnings.  Nauvoo grew to be the
second largest town in the state.  This growth, however,
brought several problems with its neighboring towns. 
Problems which would eventually lead to the death of Smith
at Carthage, Illinois on June 27, 1844 (Truth Restored,
Gordon B.  Hinckley, pp.41-86).

After Smith’s murder, several LDS leaders stepped forward
to take control of the Church.  Each claimed to have the
authority to lead the Church, and some even claimed Smith
had appointed them to be his successor.  This fracturing
of the Church has caused over 100 splinter groups
throughout the movement’s history (Divergent Paths of the
Restoration, Steven Shields).  The largest of these
splinter groups is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints.

The majority of the Mormons followed Brigham Young, who
himself added several strange and unique doctrines to the
LDS Church’s repertoire after arriving in the Salt Lake
Valley.  Today the LDS Church is headquartered in Salt
Lake City, Utah with a network of worldwide outreaches.

Doctrines:

Trinity – Mormonism is a polytheistic religion.  Joseph
Smith declared, “I will preach on the plurality of Gods.
— I have always declared God to be a distinct personage,
Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God
the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage
and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct
personages and three Gods” (Teachings of the Prophet
Joseph Smith, p.370).

Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead
in this way, “Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages
– Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – comprise the Godhead.  As
each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this
standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists.  To us,
speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the
only Gods we worship.  But in addition there is an
infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds
without number, who have passed on to exhaltation and are
thus gods” (Mormon Doctrine, pp.576-577).

God the Father – Joseph Smith explained, “…I am going to
tell you how God came to be God.  We have imagined and
supposed that God was God from all eternity.  I will
refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may
see… He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself,
the father of us all, dwelt on the earth, the same as
Jesus Christ himself did…”  (LDS History of the Church,
Vol. 6, p.305).

God the Son – Brigham Young stated. “The birth of the
Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children;
it was the result of natural action.  He partook of flesh
and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our
fathers” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p.115).  Mormon
Apostle McConkie explained, “And Christ was born into the
world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; he was born
in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any
mortal son is born to a mortal father. …he was begotten,
conceived and born in the normal and natural course of
events…(Mormon Doctrine, p.742).

Jesus, according to Milton Hunter of the LDS First Council
of the Seventy, is the brother of Lucifer.  “The
appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was
contested by one of the other sons of God.  He was called
Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and
covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus
desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind” (The
Gospel Through the Ages, p.15).

God the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit – In Mormonism a
distinction is drawn between the Holy Ghost and the Holy
Spirit.  As LDS Apostle Marion G. Rommey stated, “The Holy
Ghost is a person, a spirit, the third member of the
Godhead” (Ensign, May 1977, pp. 43-44).  The sixth LDS
prophet, Joseph F.  Smith explains that the Holy Spirit is
not a person but rather an impersonal force.  “You may
call it the Spirit of God, you may call it the influence
of God’s intelligence, you may call it the substance of
his power; no matter what it is called, it is the spirit
of intelligence that permeates the universe…” (Mormon
Doctrine, McConkie, p.752- 753).

Man’s Destiny – As Lorenzo Snow, fifth prophet of the LDS
Church exclaimed, “As man now is, God once was; as God now
is, man may be” (Ensign, February 1982, pp.39-40).  This
means that every worthy male, according to the standards
of Mormonism, will become a god and rule over his own
planet.  But what about the women?  That question was
answered by Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth prophet of the
Church, when he spoke of salvation or exaltation as it is
called in Mormonism.

“The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness
we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom.  In
other words we will have the privilege of becoming like
him. To become like him we must have all the powers of
godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have
spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like
this one we are on and pass through the same kind of
experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if
faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of
exaltation and partake of the same blessings.  There is no
end to this development; it will go on forever.  We will
become gods and have jurisdiction over worlds, and these
worlds will be peopled by our own offspring.  We will have
an endless eternity for this” (Doctrines of Salvation,
Vol. 2, p.48).

Other Doctrines

1) God the Father is married and there is a Mother God
(Answers to Gospel Question, Joseph Fielding Smith, Vol. 3,
pp.143-144).

2) All men and women who have ever lived on Earth are the
spirit offspring of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.
Every person was conceived and born in a pre-existent
spiritual realm (Mormon Doctrine, p.589).

3) Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the
pre-existence (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J.
Ballard, p.21).

4) Temple ceremonies include Baptism for the Dead, Washing
and Anointing for the living and the dead (Mormon Doctrine,
McConkie, pp.72-74, 226-228).

5) Salvation or exaltation, whereby men become gods, is
based on one’s own good works or merit (Church News, 8
October 1988, p.23 and The Religion of the Latter-Day
Saints, Lowell Bennion, LDS Institute of Religion Director,
p.160).

6) The Bible is considered usable, but suspect due to its
many errors and missing parts (Articles of Faith, No.8,
Ensign, January 1989, pp.25,27).

Biblical Response

1) Only one God (Isaiah 43:10, 44:6-8, 18, 22, 46:9, 48:12,
1 Corinthians 8:4).

2) Mankind is not a son or daughter of God from a pre-
existent birth (John 1:12 “power to become”).

3) Salvation is a free gift from God, not something to be
worked for or earned (Romans 3:24, 4:4-5, 5:1; Ephesians
2:8- 10, Titus 3:5-7).

4) Holy Spirit is a Person, not simply a force (John 16:13-
14).

Resources

1) “Is Mormonism Christian,” Gordon Fraser.  This is a
good general information, easy to read book.  Some
documentation, 192 page paperback, $5.00.

2) “Mormonism, Mama, and Me,” Thelma Geer.  This book is
an easy to read, well documented book.  It has some
personal testimony intermingled with the information. 258
page paperback, $7.00.

3) “Mormonism: Shadow or Reality,” Jerald and Sandra
Tanner.  This is THE definitive book on Mormonism. Extremely
well documented, covers every subject the reader would
want.  Nearly 700 page hard back, $17.00.

For Witnessing to Members of the LDS Church

1) “Witnessing to Mormons with the Book of Mormon,” compiled
by James Walker.  Documentation manual with cassette tape.
Examines photocopies of various versions of the Book of
Mormon and demonstrates the changes that have taken place
over the years.  Very effective and easy to use. $8.00.

2) “Mormonism: How Shaky A Foundation,” compiled by Rick
Branch.  Documentation manual with cassette tape.  Examines
photocopies of some of Joseph Smith’s false prophecies and
the evolving nature of the Mormon God.  Very effective and
easy to use. $8.00.

3) “Witnessing to Mormons with the Book of Abraham,”
compiled by James Walker.  Documentation manual with
cassette tape.  Compares Joseph Smith’s translation of the
Book of Abraham with that of recognized Egyptologists.
Photocopies include portions of Smith’s “Egyptian Alphabet
and Grammar” and papyri fragments.

4) “Looking Into the Book of Mormon: The Search for
Archaeological Evidence,” compiled by Rick Branch.
Documentation manual and cassette tape.  Refutes LDS claims
of archaeologists and Mormon sources.  Topics include
Quetzacoatl, the absence of pre-Christian metallurgy, and
faulty trait comparisons. $8.00.
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