Mormonism Essay, Research Paper
Mormonism is a very unique and interesting religion. Originally founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 in Sharon, Vermont. Smith had a vision, and formed a sect based on his visions and teachings from God.
There are many beliefs that Mormons have that many people do not understand. In this paper I will present some of them and offer an explanation of why they have these beliefs. I will also give a detailed description of the history and the members of this community. In closing I will offer my opinion on this religion sect.
History: Joseph Smith was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. He was a religious seeker and at the age of fourteen felt a strong desire to affiliate himself with a belief, and a church. He found that many different beliefs and stories were being preached. There were many conflicting arguments, and he became frustrated with the Christian faiths and denominations. He was determined to figure out what was the ?true? religion.
Joseph went into the woods one spring morning in 1820, hoping to find guidance in his decision. According to him, while he was praying, God and his son Jesus Christ appeared. They told him they knew of his struggle, and instructed him not to join any of the churches. They spoke of the ?true? religion and said the church originally organized by God would soon be restored upon the earth. Deeply touched by what he had encountered, Joseph didn?t join any of the churches.
Three years later on the evening of September 21, 1823, while Joseph was sleeping a light appeared in his room. An angel appeared, claiming to be a heavenly messenger sent from the presence of God. His name was Moroni. He claimed to be the lost survivor of a lost race. He spoke of work that God had for Joseph, and spoke of a book written upon golden plates.
He proved himself to Moroni, by keeping the knowledge of the plates a secret. In 1827 Moroni directed to the hills of Cumorah, where the golden plates were buried. He then instructed Joseph to translate the writings and then copy the onto paper. The golden plates were a written testimony to the spiritual history of early America.
In June of 1829, Joseph dictated the translations to a man named Cowdery. Together they finished what is today known as ?The Book of Mormon.? In 1830 it was published and has since then been translated into twenty-six different languages.
Beliefs: Mormons incorporate in their religious belief, all of the ethical standards and basic doctrines of The New Testament. They teach the necessity for good works, faith, virtue and honor. Primary among Mormon teaching is belief and faith in God-the father, Jesus Christ- his son, and the Holy Ghost. (Hinckley)
God is in form of a man, he is wise and powerful, merciful and kind, he is the father of the spirits of all men.
Jesus Christ is his son, he lived, died and was resurrected, and he was the savior and redeemer of men.
Holy Ghost is a personage of a spirit-yet nonetheless an individual personality.
The Mormons believe man is a child of God, and that the individual is the most important in the universe. According to them, all men are brothers and man is God?s greatest creation.
The Mormons believe that life on earth in the mortal body, is an opportunity for experience, for improvement, and for growth. They believe that the soul will continue to live and grow after death, that individuality will be retained, and that people will know each other there as they know each other here. However, there is nothing of reincarnation, nothing of Nirvana, and nothing of a heaven, nor a hell in the Latter- Day Saints philosophy.
Priesthood in Mormonism has something of the same meaning as is attached to it by other churches. Authority to act in the name of God, but among the Latter- day Saints it is not restricted to a few who have been trained in seminaries and universities. Every man and boy over twelve years of age may hold the priesthood provided he conforms to the standards of the church.
There are two orders of Priesthood- the Aaronic, which mainly deals with temporal affairs of the church. The Melchizedek, which deals with spiritual affairs of the church. Within each of these orders are various grades: Deacon, Teacher, and Priest in the Aaronic and Elder, Seventy, and High Priest in the Melchizedek. Young boys are ordained deacons at age twelve provided their lives conform with the principles of the gospel.
In Mormon theology, the principle of modern revelation is relevant. They believe that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, they believe that he will yet reveal many more great and important things. Mormonism maintains that the need for divine guidance is as great in the modern world as it was in the comparatively simple times of the Hebrews.
They believe the bible is the word of God, written by men. The Latter- day Saints recognize that errors have somehow crept into this sacred work because of the manner in which the book has come to us. They regard it as not being a complete guide. Supplementing the Bible, the Latter- Day Saints have three other books. These along with the bible constitute the standard works of the church. They are known as the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
?Plural marriage? popularly known as polygamy, was the nineteenth century LDS practice of a man marrying more than one wife. Although polygamy had been practiced for much of history in many parts of the world, to do so in ?enlightened? America in the nineteenth century was viewed by most as incomprehensible and unacceptable, making it the church?s most controversial and least understood practice.
The Old Testament teaches that the patriarchs-those men favored of God in ancient times-had more than one wife under divine sanction. Only those whose characters were of the highest, and who had proved themselves capable of maintaining more than one family, were permitted so to marry into more than one family. The practice was regarded strictly as a religious principle. In the late Eighties, Congress passed various measures prohibiting the practice, and when the Supreme Court declared the law constitutional, the Church indicated its willingness to comply.
Marriage in Mormon theology is a sacred contract, divinely ordained. Under the authority of the priesthood a man and woman are married not only for this life as legal husband and wife, but for eternity as well. Marriage takes place only in sacred temples, and the ceremony is performed only by a few men delegated with authority to do so. The Church places great emphasis on the sanctity of the home and teaches that children are a blessing from the Lord. There is no principle on which the Latter-day Saints emphasize than the sacredness of the marriage covenant. Adultery ranks with murder in Mormon theology. Strict morality is taught, and the church has used its means liberally to teach its youth the necessity for moral cleanliness and the blessings of a happy marriage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially disapproves of divorce but does permit both divorce and annulment in civil marriages. Mormons believe that God intended marriage to be an eternal union when he commanded that a man and woman ?shall be one flesh?.
There is no mandatory collection in the Mormon meetings. The Mormons believe and accept the offerings as a contribution. The tithing that is collected goes into the general funds of the Church, and is then distributed according to various needs. The first Sunday of each month is known, among the Mormons, as Fast Day. All members are expected to refrain from two meals on this day and to contribute the cost of these missed meals to help in the relief of the poor.
Members: Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions, with more than 10,000,000 members worldwide and more than 5,000,000 in the United States. (LDS official web site figures December 31, 1999). If the church continues to rapidly grow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will become the fourth major denomination, after Christianity, Judaism, and the Islamic faith. (LDS official web site)
Mormons are usually classed as Protestants. The movement did not arise out of any Christian denomination. Nor did it result within any religious society.
Branches of the church are found in every state in the U.S., and in most provinces of Canada and in every county and city in England. (Hinckley) Mormonism spreads worldwide. Mormonism is generally the same all over the world. It philosophy, teaching, and its local organizations are similar.
The majority of church members live in the United States. Primarily residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over seventy percent of Utah?s population is mainly Mormon and more than sixty percent of Salt Lake City?s population is registered on the membership records of the church. For this reason Salt Lake City is known as the Mormon City and Utah as the Mormon State.
The church has a very successful missionary program in which young men and women from ages 19-21 serve for two years. On the mission they recruit for the church. Currently, there are 53,000 missionaries in 160 countries.(Bushman)
Mormons live in a very close society. Perhaps the most important and central focus of the LDS church is the family. Families live close to one another and keep strong ties throughout their lifetime.
Mormons are ordinary working people. Members, for example, are holding down jobs in society; educators, doctors, farmers, and bankers to just name a few. They are found in responsible positions in government, finance, and industry as well. A great number of them is listed in the Who?s Who in America. (Avery)
Mormons are very much ordinary people, but with very unordinary beliefs. They are particularly interesting because in many parts of the world and in many varieties of political, economic, and social conditions they have adjusted to twentieth century living.
My Opinion: I selected this religious community to write my paper on because I find the Mormon religion and beliefs very interesting. The Mormon beliefs have changed over the centuries. Their views of marriage, family, and daily living has become more modern and socially accepted.
Many of the Mormon beliefs and rituals are very similar to other religions in today?s society. It is the past-beliefs and rituals of the nineteenth century that I find difficult to relate with. Their beliefs on marriage, divorce and style of living.
Mormonism at one time was thought of as a cult, but is becoming widely accepted around the world. Because the religion is more accepted, the church is continuing to grow more and more each year.