Free Mormonism Essay
Mormonism is a religion that was established in the US in the 1830. It is one of the youngest religions in the world, and is believed to be based on the Bible. It is also found on the scriptures of its founder which are recorded in the book of Mormons. The followership of this religion is generally referred to as Mormonism while the followers are refer to as Mormons. Mormons are in a group or a movement called the Latter-day Saints (LDS) (Beam 8).
Foundation and the Tradition of Mormonism (History, Founder and Location)
The founder of the religion was Joseph Smith, who lived between 1805 and 1844. He was born in Sharon, located in the city of Vermont in the US. When he reached the age of 24 years, he compiled a book which was published and called The Book of Mormon, however, he did not live for long and died only 14 years afterwards. Before his death, he had become an important religious leader by attracting tens of thousands of followers. He had also begun a religion that is present to this day (Rawson et al. 153). Joseph Smith claimed to have received personal visits from God and sometimes Jesus gave him instructions. In other instances, he claimed to have been led by a prophet to a place where the prophet had hided some scriptures which he translated himself into The Book of Mormon and other scriptures.
Through the visits he claimed to receive from God, he was told that all the existing churches were a disgrace to God’s true teaching, which necessitated the restoration of Christianity. For this reason, he started a church, which rapidly attracted many followers. He also claimed that his church was the only true one in the whole world. Joseph Smith distanced himself from the general Protestantism. For this reason, the doctrine and the teaching of the Mormons saw the Bible versions used by Christianity as inadequate in some areas. Therefore, the Mormons sometimes contradict, expand and modify the Bible. This has been the main point of conflict between Mormons and the main stream of Protestants (Smith 91).
There were several instances in the early history of this church that made it particularly hard to establish where this religion begun. For example, Smith was born in Vermont but had to move to the Western New York, a point which he called the Point of Second Awaking of the church. This was a site where he claimed to have found golden plates buried in which the story of the ‘Christian’ American civilization was inscribed. According to Smith, the plates were written in Judeo-Christian, and he translated them into English compiling a book that is called The Book of Mormon in 1830. This is sometimes thought to have been the original location of the church (Mormons of LDS) but was not. In the following year, Smith and his converts headed southwest to Kirtland, Ohio where they hoped to start a communalistic American Zion. In this place, they built a post in Missouri in a place called independence, which they thought would have been the central place for their Zion. In the same decade, Smith sent out missionaries, oversaw the construction of great temples, such as the Expansive Temple and disseminated revelations.
Their efforts received a major challenge when their church sponsored bank became insolvent. Additionally, they were violently expulsed by the Missourians, who were non-Mormons which made Smith and his followers to move to the city of Illinois and settle at a place that was referred to as Nauvoo. At this point, Smith was a religious as well as a political leader. In the 1844, a magazine was published in Illinois that criticized Smith’s power and polygamous lifestyle. Nauvoo town council and Smith destroyed the newspaper, which angered non-Mormon population. Smith was imprisoned in cartage. Later on, an irate mob stormed the jailhouses and killed Smith. Hence, all the above places are sometimes cited as the origin of Mormons church.
Due to Smith’s declaration that his church was the only true one seen above, the rate of growth of his religion was exponential (Beam 17). Despite having begun in Vermont in less than 200 years ago, it has become one of the major religions in the world. Nowadays, it is in several parts of the world with an estimated followership of around 13 million globally.
Adherents of Mormonism
Today, there is no generalization in terms or region, economic, political or social class that can be said to be followers of Mormonism. In other words, the religion is spread across all spheres of life, where each and every member of the society can be a Mormon. Mormons are seen as the primary group in the Later-days Saints (LDS). The most common characteristic is that they believe and work towards the ‘restoration’ of Christianity.
However, the US as a county has the greatest number of followers of this religion. After the death of Smith, the followers moved to the Utah territory under the leadership of Brigham Youth. Today, most of the adherents of Mormonism are members of the LDS whether practicing or non-practicing. Utah is considered to be the modern day headquarters of Mormonism and its cultural influence radiates from this place. The North American content has the greatest number of Mormons compared to all other continents. Most of Mormons are out of the North American continent.
Mormons have been observed to have a very strong sense of community especially among themselves. From the days of Smith, they aggregated themselves together and formed a structure of internal governance within themselves. New converts were known to move to places where there were more Mormons (Andersen 12).
Tenets and Beliefs
Mormons have a series of believes like any other religion. These are factors that make it distinct from other religions and especially Christianity. Additionally, some of these believes coincides with the doctrine taught in Christianity. One of the principle believe held by Mormons relates to atonement, which they believe occurred at the cross and in the garden of Gethsemane. For that reason, Mormons like Christians believe that everyone is forgiven of their sins if they believe. In Mormonism, the procedure means that a person repents ones sins, is baptized and accepts to receive the gift of Holy Spirit. Additionally, Mormons believe that one should also follow this up through following the Ten Commandments.
The second most crucial belief of the Mormon is the baptism. As seen above, it is listed as one of the avenues that one should follow to accept God’s atonement through the Death of Jesus Christ. In Mormonism, it is done for the reason of those who are dead. Additionally, Mormons believe that one who is newly baptized will be able to access higher levels of Mormon heaven that the rest.
Another important tenet of the Mormon faith is the Bible. Mormon believes that the Bible still is the written word of God. However, they disagree with various aspects of the conventional versions of the Bible in use today claiming that some of them were not translated well or some precious information was deliberately or otherwise concealed. For this reason, their article of faith as well as other scriptures that they consider holly allow for retranslation, expansion and modifications of some areas of the Bible.
Another book that is highly regarded in the faith of Mormons is The Book of Mormon. This was a book that was authored by Smith himself which he claimed was a translation from the gold tablets he found buried in the Western New York. For this reason, the content of the book is considered to have been inspired or maybe written by God himself and shows the history of Christianity in the ancient American civilization. The book is considered to be the foundation of the Mormon’s faith. Moreover, name ‘Mormons’ comes from the title of this book which is The Book of Mormons.
According to Mormons, God was a man from another planet. However, now he is enthroned in high places and is the eternal farther of all creation. Additionally, they also believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. They believe that their primary aim is to restore the church through re-awakening as all the current churches go against the God as well as the intended teachings of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Mormons believe in the existence of the devil, which was born after Jesus in the dawn of pre-existence. For this reason, they view Satan and Jesus as spirit brothers. The reason that both Satan and Jesus had offered a plan to save mankind so God who chose Jesus’ over Satan’s since it (Satan’s) had ulterior motives (Beam 34). Humans are all spirits like gods. All the spirits were created by God who put them in bodies. Some like Jesus have a more superior body because he was fathered by God.
Mormons only accept the readings that have been accepted and approved by their church. In other worlds, when it comes to religious matters, they do not read other religious books but only The Book of Mormon, the Bible and other materials that have been approved by the church. They do so to protect their faith from being adulterated and from preventing other groups from eroding their faith which they strongly believe is the true faith. Others believe that any other material that is critical about their religion, which sometimes they refer to as ‘the church,’ is either satanic or written by discontented people, who do not know the truth. In addition, any constructive criticism that such may have is readily dismissed on the bases described above. They are usually not ready for any idea that may oppose Mormonism (Faith in Every Footstep 31).
Rituals and Worship Practices
Mormons conducts various worship practices and rituals. For instance, they have a set day of the week where they meet to worship. In the US, for instance, they meet on Sunday. In other countries, they rearrange their meeting day in order to fit the working week of the natives, for example, Mormons in Israel worship on Saturdays as Jews do while Mormons in Egypt worship on Friday as Muslim do. Mormons rarely engage in any public ritual but they perform a number of rituals in their temples.
The very first ritual that is conducted on a Mormon child is the naming right. The child is blessed and named in front of the house congregants. In most cases, the farther performs this ritual as he is taken to head the priesthood of the family. Children, in Mormonism, are not baptized until they are the age of 8. When this age is attained, a baptism ritual is conducted where a child gets baptized through immersion. Another very crucial passage in Mormonism is ordination into priesthood, which occurs at 12 or 18 depending on the priesthood (Aaronic or Melchizedek) (Smith 200).
The most common of the Mormons rituals is the Mormons version of Holy Communion in Catholics or Protestants. It is called Sacrament and in this faith, it is based on Joseph Smith revelation that it was crucial for the Mormons to convene often and perform this ritual in remembrance of Jesus Christ. The ritual as in Protestants and Catholics involves sharing of bread and wine as Jesus did with his disciples. This ritual is rather common in Mormonism as it is done weekly and involves bread and water, which is usually sanctified by young Aaronic priest using some preset prayers. It reminds the Mormons of their covenant with God, the baptism and the Ten Commandments and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. Other rituals include the receiving of the Holy Spirit after baptism, the blessing of the sick among others. The worship practices in Mormons are rather similar to what is present in mainstream Christianity. For instance, men, women, teenagers and children attend their temple on the day of the worship. Their worship activities include singing hymns praying together. Mormons do not recite prayers and each pray freely. Mormon worship events also have the Bible classes where teachings and discussions are done. Additionally, Mormons share congregational responsibilities, give their faith stories ‘testimonies’ and participate in sacrament and each of their worship event culminates in sharing of sermons.
One of the most common and important worship practices of any Mormon is to spread the faith to maximum possible number of people (Rawson et al. 153). Spreading of their faith is very crucial to them; for this reason, every Mormon aspires to participate in a mission one of several times in his time. Where possible, members participate in an evangelical mission when young and another one when old and married.
Holy Places and Days
There are several holy sites according to the history of Mormons. These include the private residence of Smith’s family among others. There is also the sacred grove in the Wesernt New York where it was believed that Smith retrieved the golden plates. This place nowadays has a temple called The Book of Mormons. Other sites are in Ohio and Illinois where Smith and his earlier coverts built temples and other structures. In addition to all these sites and structures, each of the thousands of the temples and the worship places of the Mormons are considered to be holy worship sites for Mormons. As seen early, most of the Mormons are the members of the LDS church. Therefore, every LDS church is a holy worship site for a Mormon. The most crucial of such places is The Salt Lake which is in Utah territory (Andersen 76).
Mormons celebrate several holy days. Most of these days are shared with Christianity while others are specific to Mormonism. Some of the holy days in the Mormonism are the Good Friday and the Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ respectively. Additionally, they also celebrate the Christmas, when Jesus Christ was born. All the Mormons have set out one day of the week for worship. Mormons also celebrate all the national days as well as personal and family anniversaries.
There are several days that are very important and specific in Mormons calendar. These include Pioneer Day. This day is marked on the 24 July of every year and commemorates the first entry of Marmon’s into The Salt Lake Valley which took place in 1848 to escape persecution in the East. Mormons all over the world and especially in the US mark this day. Another important day is 6 April, which commemorates the day of the founding of the first LDS church in New York in 1830. Other Mormons believe that John the Baptist visited Joseph Smith on15th May, 1829 and for them, 15th May becomes a holy day.