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===Mormon Organization===
Joseph Smith and early Mormon leaders taught that any person with a testimony of Christ is a [[prophet]]. However, the LDS church remains a highly hierarchial organization, with a president-prophet (usually assisted by two "Counselors") who claims to alone possess all possesses 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 "First Presidency" are twelve "Apostles," who are also considered "prophets, seers, and revelators," but do not exercize the authority prerogatives 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 relegated to temporal church affairs. These men are collectively referred to as the "General Authorities" of the Mormon LDS 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). 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 the term "bishop" can cause confusion for the uninitiated!
Another potential source of confusion is the Mormon usage use of the word "Elder." Whereas While Orthodox Christians use "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 "Melchizedek Priesthood," the higher of their two "priesthoods" (the lower is called the lesser "Aaronic Priesthood,priesthood" while the higher is called referred to as the "Melchizedek Aaronic Priesthood;" ). "Elder" is the lowest office in this higher "higher priesthood,") which and is generally held by all male members of their church over the age of eighteen who are deemed "worthy" of it(the vast majority).
===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 doctrine teaching bears little genuine resemblance to the Orthodox doctrine of [[theosis]], as explained by the [[Holy Fathers]] of the Church. In diametric 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 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) who lived before him 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 gradually "progressed" to "become" the "god" he is today.<ref>Numerous quotes from Mormon leaders on this topic, past and present, may be read at See also the ''Mormonwiki'' article on "Eternal progression" at</ref>
Having attained Mormonism's designation by Orthodoxy as "heretical"--as opposed to "godhoodheterodox," this "Elohim" and his wife were able to create as is the case with the Roman Catholic and populate their own worldmost major Protestant faiths--namely, ours--with pre-existent spiritual offspring who, by coming to earth and taking human flesh, embracing and living stems primarily from their spurious doctrines on the Mormon religion, Holy Trinity and "enduring to the end," could themselves acquire "godhood," where they in turn could begin this process anew. It should be noted that the LDS doctrine nature of "pre-existence" of spiritsGod, 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]]together with their other specious beliefs.
''The Mormon Encyclopedia'' states Having attained to "godhood," this "eternal progressionElohim" doctrine succinctly::"There is no ultimate disparity between the divine and his wife were able to create and populate their own universe--namely, ours--with pre-existent spiritual offspring who, by coming to earth and taking human natures; Joseph Smith asserted that mankind is of flesh, embracing and living the same species as GodMormon religion, having been made in God's image (theomorphism) and being eternal"enduring to the end, with unlimited capacity." One early LDS leader proclaimedcould themselves acquire "godhood, "As man now is, God once waswhere they in turn could begin this process anew. As God now is, man may It should benoted that the LDS doctrine of " (President Lorenzo Snow). Latterpre-day Saints speak existence" of man as a spirits, by which we all are alleged to have existed "God in embryo.spiritually" [ Deification], then, in Mormon terminologyheaven prior to our birth on this earth, is a system of progression was specifically condemned by which man becomes a godthe [[Fifth Ecumenical Council]].
For a casual observer, this may seem similar to the Church's teaching of [[theosis]], but this is most emphatically ''not'' so:
:'''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 Jesus 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), and who fully accept the atonement of Jesus Christ before the judgment who that will be exalted to the highest of the three "degrees of glory" which comprise the Mormon vision of heaven. Only those exalted to this highest "Celestial glory" will become "gods." and go on to create their own worlds. 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 become "servants" never have the chance to move to those in the highest "degreea 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 "true authoritythe 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 of the 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 ceremony 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===
In 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.
In contrast to the traditional Orthodox admonition to mistrust ''any'' seemingly spiritual manifestations one might see (even Orthodox saints have been deceived by demons, such as St. [[Nikitathe Venerable]] the Venerable of Novgorod, for instance!), Joseph Smith offered his followers a rather novel test by which he claimed to be able to discern true angels of God from demons. This test, which involved asking to shake the "angel's" hand, is found in LDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 129,<ref></ref> and illustrates the deluded kind enjoined upon all of teaching this "American Prophet" offered his followersSmith's disciples. However, In the life story of St. Martin of Tours, one may see learns that the fallen angels are quite capable of affecting the human sense of touch (, contrary to Joseph Smith's assertion), the same as all other human senses.<ref>See St. Martin's story at, or in Chapter Five of Rose, Fr. Seraphim Rose's , ''Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future'', St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1980.</ref>
==="The Great [[Apostasy]]" and Apostolic Succession===
Like many Restorationist heresies that arose in the early 18th and 19th centuries, Mormons believe that the [[Orthodox Church|Church]] entered an age of opprobrium several years after its founding. Since most <ref>Mormons tend to follow the erroneous Western viewpoint error that posits [[Roman Catholicism]] as the "ancient church" (, rather than Eastern Orthodoxy), they as the most ancient of contemporary Christian faiths. Many are often surprised suprised to hear learn that Orthodoxy even exists, much less that it predates Roman Catholicism and all other Christian sects. ! But no matterHowever, say they; the original Church learning of Christ--whatever its name might have been--"fell away" completely sometime after Orthodoxy's existence and claims does not alter their beliefs in the Apostolic Ageslightest. </ref> In doing so, say they, it lost all right to perform sacraments, consecrate priests, or otherwise act in the Name of God's name. And from that moment until 1830, say the Mormons, there was no true Church of any kind anywhere on the earth.
While Mormons offer no specific date for this alleged eventcatastrophe, 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, and --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.