Mormonism History Beliefs - LDS Temple Church

The Truth About Mormonism - What Does Mormon Stand For?

For many people, images of dry, puritanical communities living in the dusty surrounds of Utah seem to conflict with stories of Mormon 'tribes' practising polygamy as they roamed the deserts. What is the reality of this undeniably different and controversial religious affair?

To many people, Mormonism is something of a mystery. It's a relatively new religion, as religions go - founded in America in 1830 by one Joseph Smith - and one that's received a lot of bad press. But like any religion, it is split into many different branches, each with their own different beliefs and practices - the largest, and most well-known, being that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS movement).

 Differences aside, what do all Mormons believe?

It may surprise you to learn that the very foundation of Mormonism is not that far from that of Christianity. Mormons believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that the apostles were His chosen representatives in this world - like many Christians, they also believe that the death of the apostles at the hands of the Romans took that word from us. However, whereas Christianity believes that the Word of God was restored in the modern Christian Church, Mormonism states that the Word was entrusted to Mormon, a citizen of America thousands of years before the arrival of the Pilgrims. His son Moroni buried the gold plates for safety, and returned in 1830 as an angel to show Joseph Smith where they were buried.

 The key belief for all Mormons is that humans, through living a holy life, can become like God. To early Christians, this was heresy, and Mormons suffered great persecution for it. Mormons argue that becoming like God is not the same as becoming God; they believe that mankind can take on the attributes of God but must always be subservient to Him.
Aren't Mormons really fundamentalist?

The teachings of the Book of Mormon are largely based on those of the Bible, but are often stricter; Mormons do not drink alcohol, and some do not even drink hot drinks! The passage in question says that "The hot drinks are neither for the body nor the belly"; depending on interpretation, this can refer to any hot drinks, but many believe it refers to drinks containing lots of caffeine or only to the hot drinks available at the time. So it's easy to see why many perceive them as fundamentalist, but there's more behind it than that!

 Famously, Mormonism was vilified by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, at the end of his novel A Study in Scarlet. He describes the Mormons as practising polygamy - and it's true. Joseph Smith did in fact advocate plural marriage, and while it was not originally an official part of the religion it became doctrine in 1852. What most people don't know is that this was partly because, due to Christian persecution of Mormon pioneers, there were few Mormon men left and the pioneers desperately needed children.

 Many people still have a hazy image of today's Mormons as polygamists, but it's not true! The doctrine allowing polygamy was later rescinded, and since 1904 the LDS movement excommunicates anyone who still practises it.

So there you have it - the truth about Mormonism. Was it anything like the image you had? What was once a secretive, persecuted religion continues to grow, with a total of 13.5 million members worldwide in 2008? Hopefully now you understand a little more of what it represents.


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