The Mormon Church
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seen continuous growth since being restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830. Along with growth, the “Mormon Church” as those outside the church frequently misname it, has also seen its fair share of opposition. However, it seems as though the opposition that the church and its members have dealt with has made them stronger and created curiosity among those who are not members.
There are many reasons that the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Church receives the type of attention that it does. That being said, it is important that those who really want to make a decision about what to think with regard to the LDS Church obtain correct information so their decision is truly an informed one. In a world where it has become increasingly easy and simple to obtain information, it has also allowed those who oppose the church to create inaccurate material that causes great confusion. In an effort to help clear that confusion, it is important to look at some of the things that both interest and confuse people about the “Mormon Church.”
Those who believe in the Holy Bible know that its contents are the writings of ancient prophets. The prophets’ lives and teachings were kept in a way that would help benefit and bless people for thousands of years. The New Testament speaks of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and many religions use the Bible as their text for teaching. It is important to understand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also uses the Holy Bible as scripture. The inspired writings found within the Bible help believers to come closer to Jesus Christ. However, the LDS Church teaches that if God is a just God and loves His children, then why would He have prophets back then but not now? It is the LDS answer to that question that causes many to question whether Mormons are Christians. Along with the Holy Bible, the LDS Church also uses other scripture, including the Book of Mormon, which carries the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
Just like in a court case, if you can produce two or three witnesses, you make a stronger case and it becomes more difficult to argue against any one of those witnesses. The scriptures are full of references to the benefit of multiple witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6, 2 Corinthians 13:1). The LDS Church operates on this concept as they use the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other scriptures as witnesses of Jesus Christ. The history of the Book of Mormon takes place in the Americas. As one takes the time to read and ponder the writings in the Book of Mormon, he or she will see that it supports what is in the Bible while also helping to clarify doctrine of Jesus Christ. In addition to the LDS Church having additional scripture, it is difficult for those outside the LDS Church to understand and believe how the Book of Mormon was found and translated through revelation directly from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
There is another stumbling block for those outside of the LDS Church: the belief Latter-day Saints have that God continues to talk to man today through living prophets. However, this is a necessity if Jesus Christ is to lead His church today, which He does. He needs to chosen, worthy men to lead, and that is where the importance of prophets and apostles comes into play. The LDS Church is led by a living prophet who receives inspiration and provides direction to the members of the church.
There is no campaigning to become prophet; there is no voting; there is no pay for the service provided by the prophet, apostles, or any leaders within the church. It is what is known as a lay clergy. This is something that can be hard for many to believe when they realize the amount of time spent in these leadership callings. Although there is no voting, there is an important process where the members of the church sustain those leaders who have been called. This sustaining of the leaders is a representation of one’s willingness to follow and support those called. Once a leader has been called and sustained, he is then set-apart by those who hold the priesthood, or the authority to act in God’s name.
In an effort to try and understand the “Mormon Church,” it is essential that one tries to understand the importance of the priesthood within the church. The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. That means one who holds the priesthood has a special gift that comes from God, not man. Just as the prophets and apostles of the Bible who were called, set-apart, and asked to minister to the needy did so through the power of the priesthood, it is important today that those who minister do so with the proper authority. That authority can only come from God, not man. Many religions talk about the priesthood and some claim to have this power within their church, which can create confusion. Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in modern-day prophets and revelation, it is their belief that this authority to act in God’s name by way of the priesthood is given to their leaders.
In order to qualify to receive the priesthood, one must be a worthy male of at least 12 years of age. Priesthood holders do not go to school to study to become a pastor or priest, but they must be living a worthy life. For members of the LDS faith, worthy means you are living the teachings of the church. Among those teachings are things like not drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea; keeping oneself morally clean by living the Law of Chastity (no sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage); attending church meetings; paying tithing (10 percent of one’s annual income); and being honest. Being worthy is critical for all members of the church—men and women—so they can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. As is taught in the bible, this Spirit plays many roles including the ability to comfort, protect, inspire, and provide personal revelation.
One misperception is that men and women are not equal in the LDS Church because only men can hold the priesthood. However, the truth is, women in the “Mormon Church” spend much of their time serving those in need, instructing one another, and supporting those in leadership positions. Without these efforts, those who hold the priesthood and serve in demanding callings would not be nearly as effective and in many cases would fail completely. Charity is at the heart of those organizations within the church that are led by women. Faithful women are true examples of what it means to have the pure love of Christ. Women are considered as having divine potential and as being equal to, or even superior to, men.
In a world of chaos and confusion, the role that organized religion plays is going to become increasingly important as many are searching for true happiness. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches families and individuals about the Plan of Happiness, or God’s plan for His children. There is simplicity within these teachings, but it is important to clear out all the clutter that others might try and insert. It seems that the majority of the members of the “Mormon Church” try very hard not label others or judge them. They feel the need and desire to help all of their neighbors no matter what those neighbors believe. Latter-day Saints do this in large part because that is how the church as a whole functions, especially when you see the efforts made through the humanitarian program of the LDS Church. It has been recognized as one of the most organized, efficient, and helpful humanitarian aid programs in the world.
It is important that if one is to make a sound judgment of Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that they have the correct information. This is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the LDS church, but the more you know, the more you want to know.