Mormon Church Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2076 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

¶ … Mormon Church

In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith Jr. went into the woods near his home in Palmyra, New York, and there offered a simple prayer to our Father in Heaven. This humble prayer set into motion a series of events that brought forth the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from its obscure beginnings in upstate New York to a worldwide church (History Pp).

Joseph Smith, 1805-1844, and his family of origin were called Seekers, Christians who respected the teachings of all denominations but were not affiliated with a church (Church Pp). When Joseph was in his teens, his mother and the majority of the family converted to Presbyterianism, however, he was deeply concerned by the multiplicity of Christian sects and wondered which, if any, was the true Christian religion (Church Pp). In 1820 at the age of fourteen, Joseph received his first vision when God and Jesus Christ appeared before him as separate entities and told him that all of the Christian sects and denominations were in error and cautioned him not to join any of them, for he would receive a major personal assignment in the future (Church Pp).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Mormon Church Assignment

In 1823, at the time of the Autumn Equinox, Joseph received three visitations from the angel Moroni, some texts say Nephi, who told him the location of golden tablets on which were written the history of two early American tribes (Church Pp). He went to the site and found a breastplate, much as those worn by ancient Israelites, and golden plates upon which ancient American authors Ether, Mormon, Lehi and Nephi had recorded additions to Biblical history (Church Pp). He also found the Urim and Thummin which were two stones in silver bows that appear in Number 27:21 and 1 Samuel 28:6 of the Hebrew Scriptures, apparently devices that the high priest consulted to determine the will of God, similar to a pair of dice (Church Pp). Smith claimed that through the stones "and by the gift and power of God" he was able to translate the unknown script on the golden plates into English (Church Pp). He also found brass plates upon which another author, Laban, had quoted from Hebrew Scriptures and recorded genealogies (Church Pp). However, he was instructed not to remove the plates at that time, but to return to the spot at each Autumn Equinox, until four years later, in 1827, when he was finally allowed to take possession of the material (Church Pp).

In an effort to authenticate the tablets, Martin Harris, a friend of Smith, took copies of some of the inscriptions to Professor Charles Anton and claimed to have received verbal confirmation that the tables were written in "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics (Church Pp). However, no such language exists and Professor Anton later denied making such a confirmation and wrote that the symbols he had seen were a combination of Greek, Hebrew, inverted or sideways Roman letters, and elements from a Mexican calendar (Church Pp).

Positioning himself behind a curtain, Smith used the special stones to translate the inscriptions of the golden plates as Emma Smith, Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery served at various times as scribes (Church Pp). Over a two-month interval, a 116-page Book of Lehi was translated, yet unfortunately, Harris showed the only copies to his wife, a skeptic, who promptly lost them, believing the book to be a fraud (Church Pp).

She believed that by forcing Smith to retranslate the book, it would demonstrate discrepancies between the two versions, thus proving the book a hoax (Church Pp). Unable to retranslate, Smith believed that God was so angry at this loss that he temporarily took away the special stones, however, Smith later translate the plates of Nephi, which described the same events as the Book of Lehi (Church Pp).

Later on John the Baptist appeared to both Smith and Cowdery, "investing them in the Aaronic Priesthood" and showing them how to baptize each other by total immersion in water, and later still, the Apostles Peter, James and John invested Smith and Cowdery in the Melchizedec priesthood and commissioned them as the first two elders of the new church (Church Pp).

In 1830 Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and during its first twelve months attracted some 1,000 members (Church Pp). First Smith and a small band of followers moved to Kirtland, near Cleveland Ohio, and then later to Jackson County Missouri, which he called Zion (Church Pp). Non-Mormons persecuted Church members largely because they believed the church was promoting the establishment of a religious dictatorship, a theocracy, and also because of the Mormon's belief that the Book of Mormon was the revealed work of God, placing it with the same status as the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament and the Christian Scriptures of the New Testament (Church Pp). Yet, despite opposition, the church increased greatly in numbers, even as homes were destroyed and many Mormons died while trying to survive winter without adequate shelter (Church Pp). When the church was expelled from Jackson County, it settled in Far West, Missouri, in Caldwell County, which had been reserved for them (Church Pp).

Between 1831 and 1939, in spite of an apparent bipolar affective disorder, Sidney Rigdon had a major influence on the Church (Church Pp). Rigdon was Smith's spokesperson and was responsible for a number of doctrines, policies and key portions of Mormon history, such as the current two- tiered priesthood structure, moving to Kirtland, temple building, the belief of an immanent second coming in early Mormonism, the Joseph Smith 'translation' of the Bible and portions of the Pearl of Great Price, the Word of Wisdom, the United Order, a First Presidency, a salary for some church leaders, the name of the church and the term 'Latter-day Saint,' the Lectures on Faith, a new Jerusalem and Zion in Jackson

County, Zion's Camp, and settling in Nauvoo"

Church Pp).

All of these were due in large part or exclusively to Rigdon and it is very safe to say that Mormon Church would be a very different religion today were it not for Rigdon's influence (Church Pp). Although Rigdon delivered nearly every significant Mormon sermon during the 1830's, few present-day Mormons are familiar with his massive contributions to the church during its early years (Church Pp).

The Mormon community formed a public Danite organization to organize defense, construct homes and obtain provisions (Church Pp). In late 1838, the original European settlers, concerned that the Mormons might become a political majority in their locality, attacked the Mormons, apparently in an effort to prevent them from voting (Church Pp). The state militia became involved and Sampson Avard, believed to have been both a captain within the Danites as well as an officer in the militia, persuaded his men to become a "covert renegade band" and avenge the attacks against the Mormons, however, when Smith heard of the group's illegal activity, he removed Avard from command and disbanded the group (Church Pp).

In 1839 Smith moved again to Commerce Illinois, which he renamed Nauvoo, and it is here that polygamy, the concept of a man taking more than one wife, was introduced when Smith personally assigned women to some of the Mormon men (Church Pp). Polygamy has also been called the Law of Abraham, or the Patriarchal Order of Marriage, or Celestial Plural Marriage (Church Pp). Associated with these was the Law of Sarah, the belief that a man's first wife must give permission for her husband to marry again (Church Pp).

Avard became a Mormon dissident and also a star witness at a court inquiry into the Missouri conflict, testifying that it had been the Church who had organized the secret band and from his testimony, the legend of the Danites was created (Church Pp).

Over the next sixty years, more than fifty novels were published about the Danites, including works by Arthur Conan Doyle, Zane Grey and Robert Louis Stevenson, resulting in the Danites legend becoming imbedded in the public consciousness (Church Pp).

At the age of thirty-eight, Smith decided to run for the presidency of the United States with Rigdon as vice-president (Church Pp). The Nauvoo Expositor, a local newspaper, was critical of his political platform, revealing to its readers that the Mormons practiced polygamy (Church Pp). To silence the opposition, Smith ordered his followers to destroy the presses, and in 1844, he and his brother Hyrum were arrested for the crime and assassinated when a mob broke into the jail (Church Pp).

Smith's death provoked a major crisis. The Twelve Apostles prayed about a successor and received a revelation from God that Brigham Young, 1801-1877, should be the second president of the church (Church Pp). Another group under the leadership of Joseph Smith III and Emma Smith, created the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ (Church Pp).

Although Sidney Rigdon was the logical choice to succeed Smith, he fell out of favor… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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