History of Mormonism

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The history of Mormonism began in 1820 near Palmyra, New York. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, claimed to have received a series of visions in which he was told by God that all the churches were "wrong", their "creeds were an abomination in his sight", and all their "professors were corrupt" [1]. He was told that God would restore the true New Testament church using him as a mouthpiece. Consequently, Mormons believe that the Christian Church went into apostasy after the death of the Apostles. Joseph Smith Jr. came to restore the church as it was before the Apostles died, thus, the Mormon church consider Smith the first prophet of a new dispensation.

In the course of his visions, an angel named Moroni is said to have visited Joseph to disclose the location of a book "written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this [American] continent, and the source from whence they sprang". Moroni also said that "the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants" [2]. Joseph was instructed to retrieve the plates and translate them with God's assistance. The result, called the Book of Mormon, was first published on March 26, 1830. Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion" [3]. Following these first visions came a series of additional revelations that were later published in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Pearl of Great Price houses the Book of Abraham. Joseph Smith supposedly translated this from "old manuscripts". There is a well-done DVD on the problems of Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham [4].

Today there are many churches that claim to be the true successor of the church Joseph Smith originally founded. The largest of these is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The second largest is the Community of Christ headquartered in Independance, Missouri.

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