Attracting a host of converts, Smith's new religion also garnered 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 the governor for their "extermination") and 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 settlements in Utah and nearby states.
Plural marriage proved a source of dissension within the Mormon religion, especially between the Utah Mormons and the smaller Community of Christ, which rejected this doctrine. Polygamy also caused considerable trouble between the LDS church and the U.S. government until the LDS church finally banned it in 1890. Throughout the twentieth century, Mormons fought to project an image of wholesome, family-oriented Christianity, reaping millions of converts and emerging as a formidible presence on the world religous scene. With the fall of communism, the LDS church extended 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 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]].
===The "Doctrine of Eternal Progression"===
A major pillar of Mormon belief is their concept of [[theosis|deification]], which they refer to as the "Doctrine of Eternal Progression."
This teaching bears little resemblance to the Orthodox doctrine of [[theosis]], as explained by the [[Holy Fathers]] of the Church. In opposition to the Trinitarian dogmas of the [[First Ecumenical Council|First]] and [[Second Ecumenical Council|Second]] [[Ecumenical Council|Ecumenical Councils]], Mormons believe that [[God]] the Father, whom they refer to as "Elohim"<ref>LDS Bible Dictionary, Entry "God," at http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/g/43. This doctrine, incidentally, is vehemently rejected by the Community of Christ and most smaller Mormon sects.</ref> or "Heavenly Father," was originally a flesh-and-blood human being, who was spiritually "begotten" by another "god" (and his "godess" wife) and then physically born on another planet (not this Earth). "Elohim" lived an ordinary human life, and by following his world's version of Mormonism, he "progressed" to "become" the "god" he is today.<ref>Numerous quotes from Mormon leaders on this topic, past and present, may be read at http://blog.mrm.org/category/eternal-progression/. See also the ''Mormonwiki'' article on "Eternal progression" at http://www.mormonwiki.org/Eternal_progression.</ref>
Mormonism's designation by Orthodoxy as "heretical"--as opposed to "heterodox," as is the case with the Roman Catholic and most major Protestant faiths--stems primarily from their spurious doctrines on the Holy Trinity and the nature of God, together with their other specious beliefs.
For a casual observer, this may seem similar to the Church's teaching of [[theosis]], but this is most emphatically ''not'' so:
:'''First''', there is a definite distinction in the Church between God and mankind, between the Creator and His Creation. God is eternal, and existed for eternity prior to (and entirely separate from) His creation, until the incarnation of the pre-eternal Word of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity as Our Lord Jesus Christ. This was a unique union between God and His creation, which never existed before. Mormonism, on the other hand, teaches that only matter and intelligence are truly eternal (not God), and that ''all'' of their "gods" essentially "evolved" in the same fashion, from physical matter.:'''Second''', the Orthodox Church clearly teaches that the Most Holy Trinity has ''always'' existed precisely as one God: "the Trinity, One in essence, and undivided." Mormonism, on the other hand, teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one in "purpose" only, and most emphatically ''not'' one in essence or hypostasis (as the Orthodox Church teaches). They are three "gods," say the Mormons, and not "one" in anything except a common purpose and mindset. Furthermore, say they, there are potentially
millions or even billions of "gods" beyond the three they acknowledge as belonging to this world. All of this is diametrically opposed to Orthodox Christian teaching.
:'''Third''', Theosis is a unification between God and mankind, not the creation of an entirely separate deity (or dieties).
While Mormonism claims to focus on salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ, their concept of ''exaltation'' goes far beyond this. All of mankind, say the Mormons, will be saved from death through the resurrection of Christ; but it is only those whom God judges as obedient and faithful, and who receive specific saving ordinances (which will be offered to every person that has ever lived), that will be exalted to the highest of the three "degrees of glory" which comprise the Mormon heaven. Only those exalted to this "Celestial glory" will become "gods." Those in the lower two degrees,<ref>These are referred to as "Terrestrial" and "Telestial," respectively, in LDS Doctrine & Covenants Section 76.</ref> while enjoying a blessed and happy state, will still be limited in their "progression" and will never have the chance to move to a higher state.
The Mormon hell is limited to those few who have apostasized from the Mormon religion, broken their oath of secrecy about the Temple rituals (see below), committed murder after becoming a Mormon, or are guilty of other very serious offenses
, together with the devil and his angels.
===Attaining to "Godhood"===
To attain to the "Celestial glory" (and thus, Mormon "godhood"), one must be baptized as a Mormon by "true authority" (meaning a regularly-ordained member of the LDS church), confirmed by the same, and then receive certain "sacred" or "higher" ordinances that can only be had within a Mormon temple. While Orthodox Christians tend to use the term "temple" to refer to any Orthodox Church building, Mormons use this term only for specific structures specially dedicated as such.<ref>The regular Mormon meetinghouses are generally called "chapels" or "stake centers," and unlike their temples, are generally open to the public.</ref>
Within these structures, Mormons practice (for themselves, or on behalf of others):
:'''Baptism for the Dead''', where proxies act on behalf of deceased persons who are then "baptized" into the LDS church; names are obtained from geneological research, for which the Mormons are world-famous. This practice was rejected by the Council of Hippo and the Third Council of Carthage, and St. John Chrysostom associated it with the heretical [[Marcionites]]. St. Clement of Alexandria indicated that Baptism for the Dead was a doctrine also particular to the [[
Gnosticism|Gnostics]].:'''The so-called "Endowment'''," where initiates are taught the "fullness" of Mormon doctrine on such subjects as the "plurality of Gods," the Mormon version of creation, and the process by which one may "progress to godhood." Additionally, participants take a solemn oath never to reveal anything that goes on in the temple, as well as oaths to faithfully abide by all Mormon teachings. This ceremony essentially becomes a "contract" between the Mormon "god" and his adherents, by which they promise to obey his laws and earthly leadership, and he in turn promises to advance them to "godhood" upon their resurrection. Many elements of this rite were stolen from the rituals of the heretical [[Freemasons]], and Joseph Smith (who had been a Master Mason himself) was expelled from membership in that fraternity as a result.
:'''Marriage for Eternity''', where participants, upon receiving their "Endowment," are married "for time and all eternity." This is seen as an indespensible requirement for "godhood." The Orthodox Church has traditionally rejected this concept.
===The Mormon Concept of Angels===
sharp contrast to Orthodoxy, which views angels (whether righteous or fallen) as a separate class of beings created by God prior to--and separate from--humanity, Mormonism sees angels as being either the pre-existent spirits of human beings not yet physically born, or the spirits of departed "righteous" men, such as characters from the Bible and the ''Book of Mormon'' , for instance. "Moroni," the alleged "angel" who showed the original golden plates of the ''Book of Mormon'' to Joseph Smith (see below), was supposed to have been an ancient American prophet who figures prominently in the final portions of that book.
==="The Great [[Apostasy]]" and Apostolic Succession===
Like many Restorationist heresies that arose in the 18th and 19th centuries, Mormons believe that the [[Orthodox Church|Church]] entered an age of opprobrium several years after its founding.<ref>Mormons tend to follow the Western error that posits Roman Catholicism, rather than Eastern Orthodoxy, as the most ancient of contemporary Christian faiths. Many are suprised to learn that Orthodoxy even exists! However, learning of Orthodoxy's existence and claims does not alter their beliefs in the slightest.</ref> In doing so, say they, it lost all right to perform sacraments, consecrate priests, or otherwise act in God's name. And from that moment until 1830, say the Mormons, there was no true Church anywhere on the earth.
While Mormons offer no specific date for this alleged catastrophe, they largely tend to believe that it had been accomplished by the time of St. [[Constantine the Great]] and
the calling of the [[First Ecumenical Council]] in A.D. 325. Essentially, Mormons reject the [[One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church]], by professing that while it may have once been the Church founded by [[Jesus Christ]] and promulgated through his [[Apostle|Apostles]], it long ago ceased to be so. The Orthodox Church, which at this very moment traces its unbroken succession to the Apostles themselves and ''alone'' teaches the fullness of their doctrine and practice, ergo is in apostasy according to the Mormons.
Mormons point to New Testament scriptures<ref>I Timothy 4:1, II Timothy 3:1-5, Acts 20:28-31, among others.</ref> that they assert as speaking of a complete apostasy of the entire Church, as proof of their
assertions. While Orthodox Christians would agree that these passages did indeed speak of apostates to come (such as [[Arius]], [[Nestorius]] and [[Paul of Samosata]], for instance ), they emphatically reject the Mormon interpretation (advanced to varying degrees by nearly all Protestants) that the entire Apostolic Church would fall into heresy. In St. Matthew 16:18, our Lord clearly states that the "gates of hell shall not prevail" against the Church He Himself had founded--a Church which the Mormons themselves agree indeed existed, but which they claim to have been subsequently lost, in violation of our Lord's words.
Mormons believe strongly in the concept of Apostolic Succession, which they refer to as "Priesthood succession" or "Priesthood lineage." However, since they recognize no church
prior to the establishment of their own in 1830, they trace their succession to one of four "exalted beings,"<ref>The Mormons claim these beings to have been St. John the Baptist, and the Holy Apostles SS Peter, James and John.</ref> who they claim visited Joseph Smith on two separate occasions in the 1820's, just prior to their church's founding.
===Mormonism and the Cross===
Utah Mormonism generally rejects all usage of the Holy [[Cross]] as a Christian symbol. The Mormon church teaches that the atonement of Christ took place, not primarily on the Cross, but rather in the Garden of Gethsamene the night before our Lord's crucifixion. This seems to be the main focus of their theology: the LDS Bible Dictionary entry for "Atonement" speaks of the shedding of Our Lord's blood as having taken place there; His subsequent death on the Cross the following day is relegated to a seemingly secondary place. There is no entry for "Cross" in the official LDS Bible dictionary, and its cursory entry for "crucifixion" makes no mention whatsoever of this salvific event having any role in His Atonement. In the ''Mormonwiki'', the article on the "Atonement of Jesus Christ" contains a section entitled "Gethsamene and Golgotha," which emphasizes the time our Lord spent in the Garden of Gethsamene, alleging that it was ''here'' that the
true "shedding of blood" took place to effect our salvation.
Many Mormon leaders have denounced the wearing or display of the Cross by Mormons.
Several of their statements are contained in an essay entitled "Why Are There No Crosses on Mormon Churches and Temples?"<ref>http://members.tripod.com/~Aarius/nocross.htm.</ref>
===Original Sin and Infant Baptism===
In contrast, Orthodoxy teaches that while only Adam and Eve bear the ''guilt'' for their sin in the Garden of Eden, they have transmitted the ''consequences'' of that sin to their posterity. St. Anastasius the Sinaite wrote this on the subject: "We became the inheritors of the curse in Adam. We were not punished as if we had disobeyed that divine commandment along with Adam; but because Adam became mortal, he transmitted sin to his posterity. We became mortal since we were born from a mortal."<ref>St. Anastasius the Sinaite, 19. Vide I.N. Karmirh, SUNOYIS THS DOGMATKHS THS ORQODOXOU EKKLHSIAS, s. 38. Quoted from Kalomiros, Dr. Alexandre, The River of Fire, ch. IV, found at http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm.</ref>
In keeping with the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition, the Orthodox Church baptizes infants by triple immersion (as
she does with adult converts, as well), not to cleanse them of any "original sin," but rather to give them the grace that this holy sacrament imparts, together with membership in the Orthodox Church and access to the [[Eucharist|Holy Eucharist]] and all of the other means of grace offered by the Church.<ref>Pomazansky, pp. 268-69,</ref>
===Miracles and Martyrs===
Mormons assert that one proof of their claims is the miracles claimed by members of their sect, and the comparative absence of these in other Christian denominations. This was
especially emphasized during the early years of Mormonism, where their assertions of the "restoration" of the "gifts of the Spirit" contrasted sharply with Campbellite and other Protestants' assertions that such miracles had entirely ceased among Christians. They assert that this cessation of such "gifts" comprises proof of their alleged "Great Apostasy" of the entire Church (see above).
Orthodoxy, however, offers an unbroken twenty-century history of wonderworkers, miracles and gifts far surpassing anything the Mormons can adduce. The twentieth century alone saw SS Nectarios of Aegina, John Maximovitch of San Francisco and John of Kronstadt, among others; each preceding century offers additional proof that the true "gifts of the Holy Spirit" ''never'' ceased in the one, true (Orthodox) Church of Christ.
Mormonism believes in the concept of martyrdom, offering various persons who have been
killed for professing the LDS religion since its inception. While it does not pray to these people, as Orthodox do to their martyrs and saints, it does venerate their memory and uphold them as examples to other Mormons. The LDS church offers its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., as its chief "martyr," as he was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844. However, whereas a martyr has always been understood by Orthodox Christians as one who dies voluntarily for the Faith without resisting his persecutors in any way (and indeed, while praying for and forgiving them), Joseph Smith did not die in this fashion. Rather, Smith used a six-shot pistol against his attackers, wounding three of them before being killed himself.
While the murder of Smith was indeed a deplorable and henious act, it cannot be described as true "martyrdom" by Orthodox standards--not only because of Smith's resistance to his killers, but equally because he died for a false religion. "The martyrdom of heretics is suicide," say the Holy Fathers.<ref>http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/i_believe.aspx.</ref>
==Distinctive Mormon "Scriptures"==
===The Book of Mormon===
In 1823 Smith claimed to have
a visitation by an [[angel]] named Moroni, who told him of a chronicle of ancient history which was supposedly engraved in an ancient Egyptian dialect (which Smith referred to as "Reformed Egyptian") on tablets of gold and buried in a hill near Manchester, New York. Smith was also told that he would be the instrument to bring this knowledge to the world. He allegedly obtained these plates in 1827 and supposedly translated them into English via the use of two seer-stones which he called the "Urim and Thummim" (Hebrew for ''lights and perfections''). These stones are not to be confused with the [[Old Testament]] Urim and Thummim, the stones on the High Priest’s breastplate used to relay messages from God to his people, though Mormons themselves sometimes try to connect the two.
This translation became ''The Book of Mormon'', which is revered as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" by Mormons. The monikers referring to
the church as "the Mormon Church " or "Mormonism" and its members as "Mormons" are derivations from the name ''The Book of Mormon.'' The book purports to be a religious and secular history of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, called Nephites, Lamanites, Mulekites, and Jaredites, from about 2200 B.C. to A.D. 421. It claims that at least some of the American Indians are descended from various groups of Near Eastern peoples (mostly [[Jews]]) who immigrated during pivotal periods in [[Israel|Israel’s]] history.
Smith claimed that many of these people were openly-practicing [[Christians]], ''before'' the birth of
Jesus Christ, with a functioning church organization that mirrored that later taught by the Holy Apostles, administering baptisms, confirmations and the Holy Eucharist eons ''before'' the coming of the Savior. The book even claims that our Lord came to visit these peoples Himself after His [[Ascension]]--after raining down several days of death and destruction on the apostates and other evildoers among them. About four-hundred years after this alleged event, the godly "Nephites" were destroyed by the evil "Lamanites," who became the principal ancestors of the Native American peoples.
Interestingly, over 3,000 changes have been noted between the ''Book of Mormon'' currently published by the LDS Church, and the original edition published by Joseph Smith. Most of these changes were made by Smith himself, in later editions of the book printed during his lifetime. Of potential interest to Orthodox Christians are passages in I Nephi 11:32, where our Lord
is originally referred to as "the eternal God," but is now referred to as "the ''son'' of the eternal God;" and I Nephi 11:18, where the Theotokos is originally referred to as "the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh," while today she is referred to as "the mother of the ''Son'' of God, after the manner of the flesh."<ref>http://www.geocities.com/swickersc/mormonbkchange.html.</ref>
Connections between the history and civilization portrayed in ''The Book of Mormon'' and evidence found by archaeologists in the Americas is debatable. Evidence of horses, elephants, cattle, barley, wheat, steel swords, chariots, shipbuilding, and other Old World paraphernalia has not been found to exist in the Americas until the advent of the Europeans. Evidence of these people, the gold plates, or the "seer-stones" has yet to be found.<ref>See, for instance, the Smithsonian Institutes' offical statement on the Book of Mormon, at http://www.irr.org/mit/smithson.html.</ref>
===Other Mormon "Scriptures"===
Mormons also accept as Scripture the ''Doctrine and Covenants'', containing 138 revelations and two "Official Declarations" allegedly given to Joseph Smith and his successors; together with the ''Pearl of Great Price'', containing the "Book of Moses" (a rewrite by Joseph Smith of the first part of the Book of Genesis), the "Book of Abraham" (a purported account of the
Holy Patriarch [[Abraham]], containing references to multiple "gods" in the act of creation, rather than one God), and various other texts by Smith.
Additionally, Joseph Smith rewrote the entire Bible "by inspiration" during his lifetime, making substantial additions to the text, deleting the Song of Solomon entirely, and otherwise shaping its text to conform to his own teachings (including an alleged prophecy of his own coming). While this text was never officially adopted by the main LDS church (it was adopted, on the other hand, by the Community of Christ), portions of it appear in the "Pearl of Great Price" and as footnotes in the official LDS editions of the King James Version of the Bible (still the "official" LDS version).
==Mormonism and Polygyny==
Plural marriage was practiced by early Mormon church leaders. Many sources say that Smith had as many as twenty to thirty wives, while Brigham Young counted fifty-two.<ref>D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1994, 685 pages, ISBN 1-56085-056-6; Appendix 6, "Biographical Sketches of Officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, 1830-47" pp. 607-608).</ref> The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
, the mainstream Mormon sect, practiced [[polygyny]] until 1890, when they ended the doctrine to ensure Utah’s statehood.
Today about 70% of Utah is Mormon, and around 60,000 practice polygyny, though the
main LDS Church excommunicates anyone advocating or practicing it. Other Mormon sects practice polygyny secretly. Despite the huge publicity campaign the LDS Church has constructed to dissuade people from associating them with polygyny, Mormons and plural marriages are still commonly associated in contemporary culture. While such a practice may have been given up by the mainstream, there is no doubt that Mormonism and the unholy practice of plural marriage remain closely entwined, especially since even mainline LDS members are still required to affirm the propriety of polygamy when it was authorized by their church (prior to 1890).
The Orthodox Church condemns all forms of plural marriage as an unnatural practice.