Difference between revisions of "Mormonism"
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===Attaining to "Godhood"===
===Attaining to "Godhood"===
While Mormonism 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), who will be exalted to the highest of the three "degrees of glory" which comprise the Mormon heaven. Only those exalted to "Celestial glory" will become "gods." Those in the lower two degrees, referred to as "Terrestrial" and "Telestial" respectively, Doctrine & Covenants Section 76 a blessed and happy state will still be their progression and will never have the chance to move to a higher existence.
To attain to "Celestial glory," one must be baptized as a Mormon by "true authority" (meaning a
To attain to "Celestial glory," one must be baptized as a Mormon by "true authority" (meaning a member of their church ), "confirmed" by the same, and receive certain sacred ordinances that can only be had within a Mormon temple. While Orthodox Christians often tend to use the term "temple" to refer to any Orthodox Church building, Mormons use it 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) certain esoteric rituals:
Within these structures, Mormons practice (for themselves, or on behalf of others) certain esoteric rituals:
Revision as of 05:23, November 20, 2018
Mormonism is a heretical religion founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. Most of its adherents comprise the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or "LDS" Church, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah; its second-largest sect is the Community of Christ, in Independence, Missouri. Total membership for the LDS church as of 2008 is 13,000,000, with 250,000 in the Community of Christ and perhaps 50,000 in several smaller sects.
- 1 Brief History
- 2 Compared To Holy Orthodoxy
- 3 =Mormon Organization
- 4 Distinctive Mormon "Scriptures"
- 5 Mormonism and Polygamy
- 6 Citations
- 7 Sources and External Links
Mormonism began on April 6, 1830 in Fayette, New York, as an alleged "restoration" of the original Apostolic Church. Its originator, Joseph Smith, Jr., asserted that he had seen two celestial "personages" in 1820 who claimed to be God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. These "personages" told Smith that all existing churches--including the Orthodox Church--were false, and that he had been chosen to "restore" the one true Church. This restoration included a variety of things, including modern prophets, new revelations of scripture, and a calling of a modern group of Twelve Apostles. From the Mormon perspective, the most important elements of this "restoration" was the claimed appearance of a resurrected John the Baptist to convey upon Joseph Smith and his cohort Oliver Cowdery in May of 1829 to "restore" what Mormons call the "Aaronic Priesthood" and the authority to baptize and administer the Mormon version of holy communion and then, according to Mormons, later that same month the resurrected Peter, James, and John, the same as the biblical Apostles, appeared before Smith and Cowdery and conferred upon them the higher or "Melchizedek" Priesthood, which Mormons believe holds the power to do things like confirm membership in the LDS Church, confer the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and give anointings and blessings to the sick so that they may be healed ( perhaps best understood as the Mormon parallel of Holy Unction.) It was also at this time Mormons believe Smith was given the "keys of the kingdom" by the Apostles and ordained as an apostle himself. It is from these "visitations" that Mormons draw their claims of priesthood and divine authority.
Attracting a host of converts, Smith's new religion also garnered intense persecution, necessitating moves in turn to Ohio, Missouri, and finally Illinois, where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were murdered in 1844. Smith's movement fragmented following his demise, with the majority eventually following Brigham Young, then head of the LDS Church's Council of Twelve Apostles, to Utah.
Plural marriage proved a source of dissension, especially between the Utah Mormons and the smaller Community of Christ, which rejected the doctrine. Polygamy also caused trouble between the LDS church and the U.S. government, until its practice was banned in 1890. Throughout the last 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 extended their 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.
Compared To Holy Orthodoxy
(This section is concerned with the organization and theology of the Utah LDS church, which contains the majority 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 regards.)
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 Campbellite, Restorationist, and Universalist. However, the foundation of Mormon belief is the acceptance of modern prophecy and revelation, and an "open canon" of Holy Scripture.
While Joseph Smith taught that any person with a testimony of Christ may have the spiritual gift of prophecy, the LDS Church remains a hierarchical organization. At the head of the organization is the President of the Church who Mormons believe is a prophet in the mold of the Old Testament prophets, such as Moses. This President is usually assisted by two "counselors," who, along with the President, form what is called the "First Presidency." Most members of the LDS church believe that their current president, Russell M. Nelson (as of 2018), is the sole person authorized to speak definitively for God on the earth today. Below this "First Presidency" is the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" who are also considered "prophets, seers, and revelators," but who do not exercise the prerogatives of leadership held by the President of the Church, who has "final say" in all matters. This First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles constitute the highest leadership bodies in the LDS Church and Mormons believe they hold and exercise the "keys of the kingdom" as Jesus promised Peter. Beneath these are the various "Quorums of the Seventy" concerned with heading up Mormon missionary efforts and representing the leadership of the church to the various members throughout the world. Along with the First Presidency and the Twelve APostles, the Seventies are referred to as General Authorities as they are considered to have authority over the entire church in general. The "Presiding Bishopric" oversees the temporal needs of the LDS Church and manages its massive welfare programs. 
A local Mormon congregation, called a "ward" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish), is headed by a "bishop" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish priest). 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 disparity between Mormon and Orthodox usage of "bishop" can cause confusion for the uninitiated!
An important point to understand that all Mormon males above age 12 who attend church regularly and live the church's moral guidelines are ordained into an office in the LDS priesthood. At 12 young men are ordained Deacons and given responsibilities in distributing the bread and water used for holy communion to the congregation (Mormons do not generally use wine.)At 14 young men are ordained as Teachers and have responsibilities to prepare the bread and water for blessing as well as distributing it to the congregation. At 16 young men are ordained as Priests and are given, along with all previous responsibilities, the authority to baptize and bless the holy communion.
Generally, at 18, Mormon men are ordained as Elders. While Orthodox Christians use "elder" to refer to a holy person who has been given a special gift of spiritual insight and direction (but who is not necessarily a priest, or even a male), Mormons use this term to refer to the first office in the "Melchizedek Priesthood." Along with all previous responsibilities, it is at this time Mormon young men go on a preaching mission for two years where they try to convert everyone who will listen to their beliefs. Elders also have the authority the the LDS Church to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit, oversee church meetings in the absence of a bishopric, anoint and bless for healing, bless children, bestow the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, and ordain men to the offices of deacon, teacher, priest, or elder.
"Patriarch" also has a different usage for Mormons than for Orthodox Christians. Instead of referring to the chiefest of bishops a sit does among the Orthodox, the term "patriarch" is used by Mormons to describe an office in the higher Mormon priesthood mostly concerned with the giving of special "patriarchal blessings" to church members. Mormons believe that patriarchal blessings declares a person’s lineage in the house of Israel and contains personal counsel from the Lord to that person, something of a personal revelation from God through the Mormon patriarch. As Mormons believe their patriarchs declares the will of God, if not His exact words, in these blessings they equate patriarchs with the biblical term evangelist.
The "Doctrine of Eternal Progression"
A major pillar of Mormon belief is their concept of deification, which they refer to as the "Doctrine of Eternal Progression." In opposition to the Trinitarian dogmas of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, Mormons believe that God the Father, whom they refer to by the Old Testament Hebrew term "Elohim" (which, translated into English literally, means "gods") as a way to refer to God the Father separately form His Son, Jehovah/Yahweh, who Mormons believe incarnated on Earth as Jesus Christ. Mormons also refer to God the Father as "Heavenly Father" as Mormons believe that He is literally the father of the human spirit. Mormons believe that all human beings are literal spirit children of God and lived with Him in Heaven before being born on this Earth. (It should be noted that this LDS doctrine of per-existence of spirits, by which we all are alleged to have existed "spiritually" in heaven prior to our birth on this earth, was specifically condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.) Thus, Mormons believe the difference between is not one of kind -Created v. Uncreated- but of degree -Fallen v. Perfect and Eternal. Because of this Mormons believe that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ all people can be made perfect and be made like God by God, i.e. they can become gods. This is laid out in one of Joseph Smith's "revelations" known as Doctrine and Covenants section 132, verse 20 which says: "Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them."
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 (which, unlike its Creator, is not eternal), 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 man and God are of the same "race" and men have the potential not just to achieve complete union with God but to become gods as He is now.
- 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, power, and perfection but most emphatically are not one in essence or hypostasis (as the Orthodox Church teaches). They are three completely individual beings and "gods," say the Mormons, and not "one" in substance. Mormons thus reject the Trinity.
- Third, Theosis is a unification between God and mankind, not the creation of an entirely separate deity (or deities).
Mormonism's designation by Orthodoxy as being "heretical"--instead of "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 various other specious beliefs.
Mormons have a very difficult time understanding why Orthodox and other Christians deny that they are Christian. The simplest answer to this question is that the Mormon god is simply not God--at least not the God worshiped by Orthodox Christians (and other Trinitarians). This does not mean that the Mormons are necessarily immoral or wicked people, simply that they worship a god different from the God worshiped in the Christian Trinity.
Attaining to "Godhood"
While Mormonism focuses 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), who will be exalted to the highest of the three "degrees of glory" which comprise the Mormon heaven. Mormons, building on Paul's explication that there are three types of resurrection -one with a glory like the Sun, another with a glory like the Moon, and another a glory like the Stars- combined with the teachings of Joseph Smith have developed a Heaven with multiple glories and rewards. Only those exalted to the greatest or "Celestial glory" will become "gods." Those in the lower two degrees, referred to in order of glory as the "Terrestrial" and "Telestial" glories respectively, Doctrine & Covenants Section 76 will enjoy a blessed and happy state but will still be damned as their spiritual progression will be frozen and they will never have the chance to move to a higher existence.
To attain to "Celestial glory," one must be baptized as a Mormon by "true authority" (meaning a member of their church ordained to the LDS priesthood), "confirmed" by the same, and receive certain sacred ordinances that can only be had within a Mormon temple. While Orthodox Christians often tend to use the term "temple" to refer to any Orthodox Church building, Mormons use it only for specific structures specially dedicated as such.
Within these structures, Mormons practice (for themselves, or on behalf of others) certain esoteric rituals:
- Baptism for the Dead, where living 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 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 ritual is essentially 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 heretical Freemasons, and Joseph Smith (who had been a Master Mason himself) was expelled from 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 hell, by the way, is limited to those few who have apostasized from the Mormon religion, broken their oath of secrecy about the Temple rituals, committed murder after becoming a Mormon, or are guilty of other very serious offenses--together with the devil and his fallen angels.
Alleged "brotherhood" of Christ and Satan
In the Pearl of Great Price, "Book of Moses" 4:1-4 and "Book of Abraham" 3:27, Mormonism's god explains that in the "preexistence," he asked for a volunteer to serve as the savior of humankind. Two of his "spirit-sons," Jesus and Lucifer, obliged. Lucifer wanted to compel all humans to follow God, while Jesus insisted on the right of each person to choose for themselves. When "Elohim" chose Jesus over Lucifer, say the Mormons, Lucifer rebelled and was cast out of heaven with his followers. They were deprived of all chance to receive a fleshly body, and thus barred from any chance at "godhood."
The June 1986 Ensign, official magazine of the LDS Church, affirmed the teaching that Christ and Satan are, indeed, "spirit brothers"--albeit diametrically opposed "brothers."
All of these teachings, needless to say, are emphatically rejected by the Orthodox Church.
The Mormon Concept of Angels
In 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 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. "Moroni," the alleged "angel" who showed the 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.
While the Orthodox Church traditionally admonishes her children to mistrust any spiritual manifestations they might see (even the saints have sometimes been deceived by demons, such as St. Nikita the Venerable of Novgorod, for instance!), Joseph Smith offered his followers a novel test by which he claimed to be able to discern true angels of God from demons. This task, which involved asking to shake the "angel's" hand (Smith said one would not feel the "angel's" hand, if it were a demon), may be found in LDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 129. However, the life of St. Martin of Tours illustrates that the demons are quite capable of affecting human sensory perceptions--including the human sense of touch--contrary to Joseph Smith's assertion.
"The Great Apostasy" and Apostolic Succession
Like many Restorationist heresies, Mormons believe that the Church entered an age of opprobrium several years after its founding. 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 tend to believe that it had occurred by the era of St. Constantine the Great and the First Ecumenical Council in A.D. 325. The Orthodox Church, which traces her unbroken succession to the Apostles themselves and alone teaches the fullness of their doctrine, is ergo in apostasy (with all other non-LDS churches) according to the Mormons.
Mormons point to New Testament scriptures that they assert as speaking of a complete apostasy of the entire Church, as proof of their claims. 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 had founded--a Church which the Mormons agree existed, but which they claim to have been subsequently "lost", in violation of our Lord's words.
Mormons believe ardently in the necessity of Apostolic Succession, which they refer to as "Priesthood succession" or "Priesthood lineage." However, since they recognize no valid church between the alleged "Great Apostasy" and the establishment of their own in 1830, they trace their succession to one of four "exalted beings," who purportedly visited Joseph Smith on two separate occasions in the 1820's, just prior to their church's founding.
Gethsamene and Golgotha
Utah Mormons generally reject 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 His crucifixion. 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 LDS Bible Dictionary, and its cursory article on "crucifixion" makes no mention whatsoever of this salvific event having any role in His Atonement. The Mormonwiki article on "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 genuine "shedding of blood" took place to effect our salvation.
Many Mormon leaders have denounced the wearing or display of the Cross by Mormons. Some of their statements are contained in an essay entitled "Why Are There No Crosses on Mormon Churches and Temples?"
On the other hand, the late Fr. Michael Pomazansky, author of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, shows the Orthodox teaching on the Cross as both the path, power and banner of the Church. In his essay "The Cross of Christ" (printed in this same book), he gives the Orthodox teaching on the vital importance of our Lord's Cross as the indispensible weapon, not merely in the general victory against Satan and his angels won at Calvary, but equally in our own individual struggles for salvation.
Original Sin and Infant Baptism
Similar to the ancient heresy of Pelagius, Mormons teach that all human beings are born unafflicted by the fall; and they further assert that children are incapable of sin until they reach the age of eight years. The second Mormon "Article of Faith" (contained in the Pearl of Great Price) teaches: "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression." Accordingly, infant baptism is vehemently rejected by the Mormon church.
In contrast, Orthodoxy teaches (unlike Roman Catholics and most Protestants) that while only Adam and Eve bear the guilt for their sin in the Garden of Eden, they transmitted the consequences of that sin to their progeny. St. Anastasius the Sinaite wrote: "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." Thus, in keeping with Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, the Orthodox Church baptizes infants by triple immersion (as she does with adult converts, as well)--not to cleanse them of "original sin," but rather to give them the grace this holy sacrament imparts, together with access to the Holy Eucharist and all of the other means of grace she offers.
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 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. Mormons insist 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 murdered 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.
In contrast, Orthodoxy offers numerous genuine martyrs throughout her 2,000 year history, including nearly twenty-million who died during the twentieth century under Communist persecution. This list extends from the Holy Apostles themselves and their immediate disciples, right up to the present day. Fr. Alexander Men, for instance, was martyred in Semkhoz, Russia in 1990, and Priestmonk Nestor Savchuk of Zharky, Russia was martyred there in 1993. Other Orthodox Christians have been martyred in the Serbian provice of Kosovo, within the past decade.
Distinctive Mormon "Scriptures"
The Book of Mormon
In 1823 Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni, who told him of a chronicle of ancient history supposedly engraved in "Reformed Egyptian" on tablets of gold, and buried in a hill near Manchester, New York. Smith allegedly obtained these plates in 1827 and translated them into English via the use of two seer-stones which he called the "Urim and Thummim." These stones should not be confused with the Old Testament Urim and Thummim (the stones on the High Priest’s breastplate used to relay messages from God to the Israelites), though Mormons 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 Smith's church as "the Mormon Church" and its members as "Mormons" are derivations fromThe Book of Mormon. This 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 Native Americans are descended from groups of Near Eastern peoples (mostly Jews) who immigrated during pivotal periods in Israel’s history.
The Book of Mormon claims that many of these people were openly-practicing Christians, before the birth of Christ, with a functioning church organization that mirrored that later taught by Joseph Smith. According to Smith's text, the godly "Nephites" openly administered 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 evildoers among them. About four-hundred years after this alleged event, the "Nephites" were destroyed by the wicked "Lamanites," who became the primary 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 1830 edition published by Joseph Smith. Most of these alterations were made by Smith himself, in later editions of the book printed during his own lifetime. For instance, in I Nephi 11:32, our Lord was originally referred to as "the eternal God," but is now referred to as "the son of the eternal God." In I Nephi 11:18, the Theotokos was initially referred to as "the mother of God," while today she is referred to as "the mother of the Son of God."
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 Europeans. Evidence of these people, the gold plates, or the "seer-stones" has yet to be found.
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 rewriting by Joseph Smith of the first part of the Book of Genesis), the "Book of Abraham" (a purported account of the Patriarch Abraham, with 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 Polygamy
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. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints practiced polygamy until 1890, when they ended it to ensure Utah’s statehood.
Today about 70% of Utah is Mormon, and around 60,000 or so are polygamous, though the mainline LDS Church excommunicates anyone advocating or practicing it. Other breakaway Mormon sects practice polygamy secretly. Despite the huge publicity campaign the LDS Church has constructed to disassociate itself from polygamy, Mormons and plural marriage are still commonly associated in contemporary culture. While it may have been renounced by the main LDS body, there is no doubt that Mormonism and its unholy practice of plural marriage remain closely entwined, especially since 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.
- "LDS Church says membership now 13 million worldwide", Salt Lake Tribune, June 25, 2007.
- http://www.cofchrist.org/news/GeneralInfo.asp. This organization was known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" until 2001.
- All Utah LDS priesthood offices are limited to men; the Community of Christ, on the other hand, ordains both men and women (since 1984).
- LDS Bible Dictionary, Entry "God," at http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/g/43.
- The regular Mormon meetinghouses are generally called "chapels" or "stake centers," and unlike their temples, are generally open to the public.
- LDS Doctrine & Covenants, Section 131. See http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/131.
- Read the entire article at http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=4a10ef960417b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1.
- See St. Martin's story at http://celticchristianity.org/COCQ/COCM200111.html, or in Chapter Five of Rose, Fr. Seraphim, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1980.
- 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.
- I Timothy 4:1, II Timothy 3:1-5, Acts 20:28-31, among others.
- The Mormons claim these beings to have been St. John the Baptist, and the Holy Apostles SS Peter, James and John.
- Pomazansky, Protopresbyter Michael, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition; St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1997, pp. 326-30.
- See http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=21bc9fbee98db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=c2fb94859a4bb010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1.
- 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.
- Pomazansky, pp. 268-69.
- History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 7, p. 100, 102 & 103.
- See, for instance, the Smithsonian Institute's offical statement on the Book of Mormon, at http://www.irr.org/mit/smithson.html.
- 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).
Sources and External Links
- The Official LDS Website
- Mormonwiki.com (A Mormon version of the Wikipedia)
- 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)