|Posted on August 6, 2012 at 5:15 PM|
Mormonism began in the early 1820s with Joseph Smith. He claimed to have found a set of golden plates with ancient writings buried in the hills in upstate New York. With the help of the angel Moroni, Smith was able to translate these plates. The translation became known as the Book of Mormon, the main sacred text of Mormonism. It is described as “Another Testament of Christ.” They believe it is complementary to the Holy Bible, which they also believe to be true. The Church is often called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Mormons often refer to themselves simply as LDS. Today, Mormons number almost 200,000. Most Mormons live outside the United States and most of the U.S. population live outside Utah.
The Plan of Salvation
Perhaps the most striking Mormon belief that sets it apart from other Christian doctrine is the belief that God is an actual physical person. He has a wife and we are their literal offspring. They believe God was once a mortal man, just like us. After his mortal life and subsequent resurrection, he was able to perfect himself and achieve what they call “God-hood”, or the “highest degree of glory.” Likewise, they believe that we too can become gods through perfecting ourselves throughout eternity. Once we achieve this “highest degree of glory” we can have spirit children of our own. We can do this, through the “Plan of Salvation,” which provides answers to basic questions such as, “Who are we? Why are we here? What is the purpose of mortality?” It can be broken down into three separate stages: Pre-existence, Earthly-existence, and post-judgment eternity. Before we came down to this earth, we existed in heaven, with God, as spiritual entities. However, before we could live forever we had to decide, of our own volition, to be born as mortals on earth to live as human beings. This life is described as a “probationary state”, where we will be tested. Depending on how we lived our lives here on earth we will be judged accordingly. This judgment will place us into three different kingdoms of heaven: the Celestial, Terrestrial or Telestial kingdoms. It is only in the highest level of the Celestial kingdom however that one could have the possibility of perfection and the eventual achievement of ‘God-hood’. Our God, went through this process himself. Because of this, he has compassion, empathy and love for humankind.
The Articles of Faith
Joseph Smith, in Mormonism’s nascent stages, composed thirteen articles of faith to define and describe the doctrine of Mormonism to others. The articles are as follows:
1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
You can find more information at lds.org