Latter Day Saint movement

Latter Day Saint movement

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The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement or LDS restorationist movement) is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members. The vast majority of them are Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and their predominant theology is Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

. A minority of Latter Day Saint adherents, such as members of the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

, believe in traditional Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 theology, and have distanced themselves from the distinctive doctrines of Mormonism.

The movement began in western New York during the Second Great Awakening
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revival movement during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement began around 1800, had begun to gain momentum by 1820, and was in decline by 1870. The Second Great Awakening expressed Arminian theology, by which every person could be...

 when Smith said that he received visions revealing a new sacred text, the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

, which he published in 1830 as a supplement to the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Based on the teachings of this book and other revelations, Smith founded a Christian primitivist church, called the Church of Christ. The Book of Mormon brought hundreds of early followers, who later became known as "Mormons", "Latter-day Saints", or just "Saints." In 1831 Smith soon moved the church headquarters to Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland, Ohio
Kirtland is a city in Lake County, Ohio, USA. The population was 6,670 at the 2000 census. Kirtland is famous for being the early headquarters of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Origins of Kirtland:...

, and in 1834 changed its name to the "Church of the Latter Day Saints."

After the church in Ohio collapsed by dissensions in 1838, Smith moved to Missouri. After Smith's death
Death of Joseph Smith, Jr.
The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. on June 27, 1844 marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was attacked and killed by a mob, Smith was the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States...

 in 1844, a succession crisis led to the organization splitting into several groups, the largest of which, the LDS Church, migrated to the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

 (now Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

) and became most prominently known for its 19th-century practice of polygamy. The LDS Church officially renounced
1890 Manifesto
The "1890 Manifesto", sometimes simply called "The Manifesto", is a statement which officially disavowed the continuing practice of plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

 this practice in 1890, and gradually discontinued it, resulting in the Territory of Utah being able to become a State. This change resulted in the formation of a number of small sects who sought to maintain polygamy and other 19th-century Mormon doctrines and practices, now referred to as Mormon fundamentalism.

Other groups originating within the Latter Day Saint movement followed different paths in Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. For the most part these groups rejected plural marriage and some of Smith's later teachings. The largest of these, the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

 (originally known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), was formed in Illinois in 1860 by several groups uniting around Smith's son, Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III was the eldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and Emma Hale Smith...

. Most denominations existing today that adhere to the teachings of Smith have some historical relationship with the movement.

History



The driving force behind and founder of the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, Jr., and to a lesser extent, during the movement's first two years, Oliver Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery
Oliver H. P. Cowdery was, with Joseph Smith, Jr., an important participant in the formative period of the Latter Day Saint movement between 1829 and 1836, becoming one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon's golden plates, one of the first Latter Day Saint apostles, and the Second Elder of...

. Throughout his life, Smith told of an experience he had as a boy having seen God the Father and Jesus Christ
First Vision
The First Vision refers to a vision that Joseph Smith, Jr. said he received as a youth in a wooded area in Manchester, New York, which his followers call the Sacred Grove. Smith described it as a personal theophany in which he received a forgiveness of sins...

 as two separate beings, who told him that the true church had been lost and would be restored through him, and that he would be given the authority to organize and lead the true Church of Christ. Smith and Cowdery also explained that the angels John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, James and John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 visited them in 1829 and gave them authority to reestablish the Church of Christ.

The first Latter Day Saint church was formed in April 1830, consisting of a community of believers in the western New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 towns of Fayette
Fayette, New York
Fayette is a town in Seneca County, New York, United States. The population was 3,643 at the 2000 census.The Town of Fayette is on the western border of the county and is southeast of Geneva, New York.- History :...

, Manchester
Manchester (town), New York
Manchester is a town in Ontario County, New York, USA. The population was 9,258 at the 2000 census. The town was named after one of its villages, which in turn was named after the original Manchester in Greater Manchester, England....

, and Colesville
Colesville, New York
Colesville is a town in Broome County, New York, United States. The population was 5,441 at the 2000 census.The Town of Colesville is in the northeast part of the county and is northeast of Binghamton.- History :...

. They called themselves the Church of Christ, and on April 6, 1830, the church formally organized into a legal institution under that name. By 1834, the church was being referred to as the Church of the Latter Day Saints in early church publications, and in 1838 Joseph Smith announced that he had received a revelation from God that officially changed the name to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In 1844, William Law
William Law (Mormonism)
William Law was an important figure in the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement, holding a position in the early church's First Presidency under Joseph Smith, Jr...

 and several other Latter Day Saints in church leadership positions publicly denounced Smith's secret practice of polygamy in the controversial Nauvoo Expositor
Nauvoo Expositor
The Nauvoo Expositor was a newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois that published only one issue, which was dated June 7, 1844. Its publication set off a chain of events that led to the death of Latter Day Saint movement founder, Joseph Smith, Jr....

, and formed their own church
True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Reformed Mormon Church was a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement. It was founded in the spring of 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois by leaders dissenting from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.The Reformed Church's president...

. The city council of Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. Although the population was just 1,063 at the 2000 census, and despite being difficult to reach due to its location in a remote corner of Illinois, Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its...

 subsequently had the printing press of the Expositor destroyed. In spite of Smith's later offer to pay damages for destroyed property, critics of Smith and the church considered the destruction heavy-handed. Some called for the Latter Day Saints to be either expelled or destroyed.

Following Smith's assassination
Death of Joseph Smith, Jr.
The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. on June 27, 1844 marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was attacked and killed by a mob, Smith was the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States...

 by a mob in Carthage, Illinois
Carthage, Illinois
Carthage is a city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. The population was 2,725 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Hancock County. Carthage is most famous for being the site of the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844.- History :...

, some prominent members of the church claimed to be Smith's legitimate successor. These various claims resulted in a succession crisis, in which the majority of church members followed Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

, he being the senior Apostle of the church; others followed Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon
Sidney Rigdon was a leader during the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement.-Baptist background:...

 or James Strang
James Strang
James Jesse Strang was an American religious leader, politician and self-proclaimed monarch who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , a faction of the Latter Day Saint movement...

. The crisis resulted in several permanent schisms as well as the formation of occasional splinter groups, some of which no longer exist. These various groups are occasionally referred to under two geographical headings: "Prairie Saints" (those that remained in the Midwest United States) and "Rocky Mountain Saints" (those who followed Brigham Young to what would later become the state of Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

).

Today, there are many small schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 organizations who regard themselves as a part of the Latter Day Saint movement, though in most cases they do not acknowledge the other branches as valid and regard their own tradition as the only correct and authorized version of the church Smith originally founded. The vast majority (over 98 percent) of Latter Day Saints belong to the largest denomination, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) which reports 14 million members worldwide. The second-largest denomination is the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

, which reports over 250,000 members. There are also tens of thousands of adherents within small sects of Mormon fundamentalism. These sects separated from the LDS Church because they continue to practice plural marriage
Plural marriage
Polygamy was taught by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890.The Church's practice of polygamy has been highly controversial, both within...

, which the LDS Church officially abandoned
1890 Manifesto
The "1890 Manifesto", sometimes simply called "The Manifesto", is a statement which officially disavowed the continuing practice of plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

 in 1890.

Saint-designation of members


Latter Day Saints adopt a definition of "saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

" that all members of the church are considered "Saints". The term "latter day" distinguishes between biblical saints and modern saints who "live in the latter days".

Restoration



The Latter Day Saint movement classifies itself within Christianity, but as a distinct restored dispensation. Latter Day Saints hold that a Great Apostasy began in Christianity not long after the ascension of Jesus Christ, marked with the corruption of Christian doctrine by Greek
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

 and other philosophies, and followers dividing into different ideological groups.
Additionally, Latter Day Saints claim the martyrdom of the Apostles
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...


lead to a loss of Priesthood authority to administer the church and its ordinances.

According to Latter Day Saint churches, the Lord re-established the early Christian
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 church as found in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 through Joseph Smith. In particular, Latter Day Saints believe that angels such as Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, James, John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

, and John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 appeared to Joseph Smith and others and bestowed various Priesthood authorities on them. Thus, Smith and his successors are considered modern prophets who receive revelation from God to guide the church.

Theology


Most members of Latter Day Saint churches are adherents to Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

, a theology based on Joseph Smith's later teachings and further developed by Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

, James Strang
James Strang
James Jesse Strang was an American religious leader, politician and self-proclaimed monarch who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , a faction of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 and Smith's other successors. The term Mormon derives from the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

, and these adherents refer to themselves as Latter Day Saints or Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

. Mormonism and Christianity have a complex theological, historical, and sociological relationship. Mormons express the doctrines of Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

 using standard biblical terminology, and claim to have similar views about the nature of Jesus' atonement, bodily resurrection, and Second Coming as traditional Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Nevertheless, Mormons agree with non-Mormons that their view of God is significantly different from the trinitarian view of the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 of the 4th century.

Though Mormons consider the Bible as scripture (insofar as it is "translated correctly"), they have also adopted additional scriptures. Mormons not only practice baptism and celebrate the eucharist but also participate in religious rituals not practiced in traditional Christianity. Although the various branches of Christianity have diverse views about the nature of salvation, the Mormon view is particularly idiosyncratic.

Focusing on differences, some Christians consider Mormonism "non-Christian"; and Mormons, focusing on similarities, are offended at being so characterized. Mormons do not accept non-Mormon baptism nor do non-Mormon Christians usually accept Mormon baptism. Mormons regularly proselytize individuals actually or nominally within the Christian tradition, and some Christians, especially evangelicals, proselytize Mormons. A prominent scholarly view is that Mormonism is a form of Christianity, but is distinct enough from traditional Christianity so as to form a new religious tradition, much as Christianity is more than just a sect of Judaism.

The Mormonism
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

 that originated with Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1820s shared strong similarities with some elements of 19th-century Protestant Christianity. However, during the 1830s and 40s, Smith departed significantly from traditional Christianity, claiming all churches of his day were part of a Great Apostasy
Great Apostasy
The Great Apostasy is a term used by some religious groups to describe a general fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Papacy, because it allowed the traditional Roman mysteries and deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus and idol worship back into the church,...

 that had distorted or abandoned doctrinal truths. Mormons believe that God, through Smith and his successors, restored these truths, and thus restored the original Christianity taught by Jesus. For example, Smith ultimately rejected the Nicene
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 doctrine of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and instead taught that all humans are co-eternal with God and have the potential to become gods themselves. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Mormon denomination, while acknowledging its differences with mainstream Christianity, often focuses on its commonalities.

A small fraction of Latter Day Saints, most notably those within the Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

, the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination, follow a traditional Protestant theology more similar to the Mormonism of the 1830s. The Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

 view God in trinitarian
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 terms, and reject the distinctive theological developments of later Mormonism.

Denominations


See also


  • Criticism of Mormonism
  • Mormonism and Christianity
    Mormonism and Christianity
    Mormonism and Christianity have a complex theological, historical, and sociological relationship. Mormons express the doctrines of Mormonism using standard biblical terminology, and have similar views about the nature of Jesus' atonement, bodily resurrection, and Second Coming as traditional...

  • Succession crisis

External links