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'''Mormonism''' is a [[heresy|heretical]] religious movement religion founded in the early 19th century 1830 by [[Joseph Smith, Jr.]] It is self-described as a form of ''[[Christian Restorationism]]'', and it encompasses over one-hundred sects, each of which tends to differ significantly differs substantially from the others. The Its largest of these churches body is [[The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints]] (LDS), with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah; while the second-largest is the [[Community of Christ]] church, headquartered in Independence, Missouri. Total membership for the LDS church as of 2008 is approximately 13,000,000,<ref>"LDS Church says membership now 13 million worldwide", ''Salt Lake Tribune'', June 25, 2007.</ref> with 250,000 in the Community of Christ<ref> This organization was known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" until 2001.</ref> and perhaps twenty or thirty fifty thousand more scattered throughout in the other various smaller sects.
==Brief History==
Mormonism had its formal beginning began on April 6, 1830 in upstate New York, as the an alleged "restoration" of the original Apostolic churchChurch. Its founderoriginator, Joseph Smith, Jr., asserted that he had seen a vision in 1820 of two celestial "personages" who claimed to be God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These "personages" supposedly told Smith that all existing churches--including the Orthodox Church--were false, and that he was to "restore" the one true Church, which Smith claimed had vanished completely from the earth sometime after the deaths of the last of the Holy [[Apostles]].
Attracting a host of converts, Smith's new religion also garnered a great deal of intense persecution, necessitating moves in turn to Ohio, Missouri (where the Mormons were brutally expelled in 1838 after a civil war between themselves and the state militia, culminating in the issuance of an order from Missouri's the governor for their "extermination") and ultimately finally Illinois, where Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844. Smith's movement fragmented following his demise, with the majority eventually following Brigham Young to Utah. Here, the Mormons established themselves, planting numerous settlements in Utah and nearby states.
The practice of plural Plural marriage, proved a source of considerable dissension within the Mormon religion (, especially between the Utah Mormons and the smaller Community of Christ, which rejected polygamy), this doctrine. Polygamy also caused considerable trouble with between the LDS church and the U.S. government until the LDS church finally banned it in 1890. During Throughout the twentieth century, the Mormons successfully fought to project an image of wholesome, family-oriented Christianity, reaping millions of converts and emerging as a force to be reckoned with formidible presence on the world religous scene. With the fall of communism, Mormons the LDS church extended their its prosletyzing efforts into traditionally Orthodox countries, including Russia, which passed a law in 1997 designed to hamper their efforts and those of other Western sects.
==Mormonism, As Compared To Holy Orthodoxy==''(This section is concerned with the organization and theology of the Utah LDS church, which encompasses over 95% of the world's Mormons. While the Community of Christ church is similarly organized, its beliefs differ rather sharply from LDS Mormonism in many respects, as do the beliefs and organization of the smaller sects. However, all Latter Day Saint sects remain diametrically opposed to Orthodox Church teaching in many most essential respects.)''
Mormonism as a whole encompasses a mélange of many different religious beliefs, the vast majority of which are contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Joseph Smith gleaned inspiration from various religious movements of his time, including [[Campbellism|Campbellite]], [[Restorationism|Restorationist]], and [[Universalism|Universalist]]. However, the foundation of Mormon belief is the acceptance of modern prophecy and revelation, and an "open canon" of [[Scripture|Holy Scripture]].
===Mormon Organization===
Joseph Smith and early Mormon leaders taught that any person with a testimony of Christ is a [[prophet]]. However, the LDS church itself is remains a highly hierarchial organization, with a president-prophet (usually assisted by two "Counselors") who claims to alone possess all the "keys" to prophetic power and authority. Most modern members of the LDS church believe that their current president, Gordon B. Hinkley (as of 2008), is a living prophet, and the sole person authorized to speak definitively for God on the earth today. Below this president and his counselors are twelve "Apostles," who are also considered "prophets, seers, and revelators," but do not exercize the authority held by the church president. Beneath the Mormon apostles are the "Seventies," concerned mainly with heading up Mormon missionary efforts worldwide, together with a "presiding Bishopric" mostly concerned with temporal church affairs. These men are collectively referred to as the "General Authorities" of the Mormon church.<ref>All Utah LDS priesthood offices are limited to men; the Community of Christ, on the other hand, ordains both men and women (since 1984).</ref>
A local Mormon congregation, called a "ward" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish) is headed by a "bishop" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish priest), while a . A group of wards occupying a specific geographical area is organized into a "stake" (equivalent to an Orthodox diocese), headed by a "stake president" (equivalent to an Orthodox bishop; the ). The disparity between Mormon and Orthodox usage of the term "bishop" can cause confusion for the uninitiated!).
Another potential source of confusion is the Mormon usage of the word "Elder." in Mormonism and Orthodoxy. Whereas Orthodox Christians use the term "Elder" to refer to a holy person who has been given a special gift or charism of spiritual insight and direction (but who is not necessarily a priest or monk, or even a male), Mormons use this term to refer to a specific office in the higher of their two "priesthoods" (the lower is called the "Aaronic Priesthood," while the higher is called the "Melchizedek Priesthood;" "Elder" is the lowest office in this second or "higher priesthood") which is generally held by all male members of their church over the age of eighteen who are deemed "worthy" of it (which encompasses the vast majority of Mormon men).
===The "Doctrine of Eternal Progression"===
*[[w:Mormonism|Wikipedia: Mormonism]]
*[ Community of Christ] (Website for the Community of Christ, the second-largest Mormon sect)
*[ To Those Who Are Investigating Mormonism by Richard Packham] (Packham is a former member of the LDS)
*[ HBO’s Big Love] (Big Love is a television drama portraying Mormon polygamists living secretly in modern-day Utah)

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