“Mormons” refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Morman Church” by the media). However, Mormon was actually a person that lived in the ancient Americas and died approximately A.D. 400. He abridged the writings of many ancient prophets into a book called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ (Introduction). This book was translated in modern times by the prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820’s. Because others aren’t as familiar with our beliefs they may be surprised to learn that “Mormons” are in fact Christians and that Christ is the center of our beliefs. In reality, members of the Church of Jesus Christ follow Him.
Mormons are Latter-day Saints
Another informal name for members of the Church of Jesus Christ includes “Latter-day Saints [LDS]“. Members of the LDS church live worldwide. I myself have met many faithful members in Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, England, and Switzerland. It doesn’t matter where members live because the church is the same and led by the same Head: our Master Jesus Christ. The current living prophet (Thomas S. Monson) is President of the LDS church who leads Christ’s church by revelation and with God’s authority. Elder Quentin L. Cook (modern Apostle of Christ) answered:
What does it mean to be a Saint? In the Lord’s Church, the members are Latter-day Saints, and they attempt to emulate the Savior, follow His teachings, and receive saving ordinances in order to live in the celestial kingdom with God the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ (See 2 Nephi 9:18 & “Are you a Saint?” Ensign, October 2003).
Mormon are Christians
Barely over half of U.S. citizens believe that Latter-day Saints are Christians compared to almost 100% of LDS members polled (Executive Summary: “Mormons in America: Certain in Their beliefs, Uncertain of their Place in Society“, Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, January 12, 2012). The LDS Church teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches from the scriptures and revelations from modern prophets who testify of Christ. Ancient prophets in the Americas wrote:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26).
Modern prophets testify that, “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” 1995).” I have found true joy and happiness as I’ve patterned my life after the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As followers of Christ, we believe in His teachings and strive to be Christlike. The apostle John wrote that Jesus taught “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (John 13:15).” The apostle Paul advised us to “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).” The Prophet Joseph Smith (modern prophet) stated:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things (The Articles of Faith 1:13).
The LDS young women (aged 12-18) work towards developing the 8 values of faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, integrity, and virtue (Young Women Personal Progress). Modern prophets ask the missionaries to develop the Christlike attributes of faith, hope, charity, love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p. 126). I have noticed a difference in my life as I’ve tried to develop these Christlike attributes and follow Jesus’ example-I am happier and more willing to help those around me.
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The Apostle Paul, in one of his epistles (letters) to Timothy, mentioned that “in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).
There is such a great need today to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people—greater than ever before. The sermons and warnings of Paul and other holy men of God are real and literal. and are being fulfilled in our day. The admonition of the Lord to preach the gospel is still as important in the times past as well as in our time. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15–16). One of the Lord’s greatest commandments unto His disciples in the ancient days as well as today is to preach the gospel to all people.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known to many people as the Mormon Church—as it has been nicknamed, has put a huge emphasis on missionary work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that every individual is precious to the point that God has given His Only Begotten Son to save mankind. The Lord said, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–13).
The “Mormon Church” believes that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was taken from earth for a time when men rejected, cast away, stoned, or killed the Apostles and Prophets. But the fullness of the gospel was brought back when God again called a prophet, Joseph Smith, and restored the plain and precious truth that was lost for centuries. That is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sending missionaries everywhere in the world where religious freedom is granted to all people; to preach the fullness of the gospel and to teach the absolute truth about God’s love and His incomparable Plan of Happiness for His children.
The LDS Church is encouraging its members, especially the able young men ages 19 to 25, to serve a full-time mission. This means dedicating all of one’s efforts, time, and attention to focus only on preaching the gospel for two years. Young women are also welcome to serve a full-time mission, if they wish to do so, for a period of 18 months. Older couples who wish to serve a mission are also given the opportunity to serve, as well persons with handicaps, depending on the level of capacity they can tackle.
Mormon missionaries teach the gospel to those investigating the Church not just once, but rather in a sequence of lessons. Topics included in the missionary discussions include: the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, the basic elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the commandments. These lessons are essential for everyone to know, and they are God’s straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life.
The LDS Church provides trainings for new missionaries in facilities called Missionary Training Centers (or MTCs), which are located in different parts of the world. Which MTC a missionary attends depends on his or her assigned area. The LDS Church takes care of housing accomadations for missionaries, though missionaries generally pay for their own missions. These expenses cover housing, food, transportation, and other basic needs. The ”Mormon Church” provides all teaching materials to missionaries.
Missionaries serve in pairs, called companionships, though occassionally there are three members to a companionship. Companionships are all of the same gender, unless a senior couple is serving. Then they serve as each other’s companion. Mormon missionaries have a strict schedule to adhere to, rising at about 6:00 a.m. to have scripture study, and arriving at home by about 9:00 p.m.
Missionaries also have additional trainings once a week in the area of their assignments and monthly training with their mission president on a certain day of each month to ensure the purity of the doctrine being taught to the people.
Preaching the gospel ensures that all men, women, and children learn of God’s love for His children. God wants all of His children to be with Him again someday, so every effort of saving His children is taken to ensure as many as choose to can participate in His choicest blessings through obedience. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invites people everywhere to listen to the missionaries and to ponder the teachings of Jesus Christ. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
History is important, and a lot can be learned from the history of an organization. This article gives a brief overview of Mormon History and highlights some important people and events.
The Church of Christ (the original name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, casually called the “Mormon Church”) was organized with six members on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York. It only got its complete name as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 1838, when a revelation was received to change its name. It can be noted that the original members of the Mormon Church were relatives and friends of the prophet Joseph Smith (known as the “prophet of the restoration,” because through him Christ founded the Church, and by him the Book of Mormon was translated). The Church faced a lot of persecution during its early years, so that it was moved from New York to Ohio to Missouri, Illinois, and then on to the other side of the Rocky Mountains. Although the Church has faced a lot of adversity and persecution, it has still continued to grow and progress through the years. This progress still continues today.
Below are some important matters pertaining to the history of the Mormon Church.
Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel
Joseph, (believed to be the first modern prophet and the first prophet of the Lord in the latter days by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), was called of God at the age 14, as an instrument for many marvelous things to occur. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Him and taught him more about the nature of God than had been known for centuries. Ancient prophets and apostles bestowed sacred priesthood power upon Joseph, making him a new, authorized witness of God in this last dispensation of time before the Second Comin of Christ. An incomparable outpouring of knowledge and doctrine was revealed through the Prophet, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Through him, Christ restored the Lord’s true Church once again upon the earth. Indeed, as the scripture states: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (D&C 135:3).
The First Vision
“For Latter-day Saints (sometimes called Mormons) the First Vision is foundational—God’s declaration, unequivocal and utterly authoritative, of the results of the Great Apostasy and the need for a restoration.”
In 1820, as many Christian churches vied for converts, Joseph’s mother and 3 of his siblings joined the Presbyterian Church, but Joseph, his brother and father held back. Joseph was confused about which church he should join.
When he was 14, he came across a passage from the Book of James while he was deeply studying the scriptures, the verse states:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
He was inspired by the passage and then went into the woods near his home and prayed, offering the real desires of his heart to God. At first, he was seized upon by powers of darkness, which made him fear that he would be destroyed. Nevertheless, in response to his sincere prayer, the heavens opened wide, delivering him from the power of darkness. In a pillar of light brighter than the sun, he saw two Personages standing above him in the air. One spoke, calling the boy by name, and said, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
The brightest glory filled the sky that instance and in glorious manifestation, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared in person to Joseph Smith. During His conversation with Them, he was told not to join any of the churches because “they were all wrong” and “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; … they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Joseph was also promised “that the fullness of the Gospel should at some future time be made known unto [him].”
Visitations of Moroni
Joseph’s Smith declaration that he had seen God and Christ was only treated with scorn by other people. Since he had seen two separate beings in the form of men, his vision went completely against the accepted doctrine of the Trinity. Three years passed, and at the age of 17, on the evening of September 21, 1823, he prayed earnestly for direction and for forgiveness of his youthful “sins and follies” (Joseph Smith—History 1:29). After which, a heavenly messenger named Moroni appeared to give him an answer. Joseph recalled:
“[He] proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations that a people might be prepared for the Millennial reign. I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation.”
Moroni also told Joseph that a compilation of ancient writings, engraved on gold plates by ancient prophets, was buried in a nearby hill. This sacred record described a people whom God had led from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere 600 years before Jesus’s birth. Moroni was the last prophet among the people who wrote it and had buried the record, which God had promised to bring forth in the latter days. Joseph Smith was to translate this sacred work into English.
For the next four years, Joseph was to meet Moroni at the hill each September 22nd to receive further knowledge and instructions. He would need these years of preparation and personal refinement in order to translate the ancient record. He had to be equal to the task of bringing forth a work whose purpose was to convince “Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (title page of the Book of Mormon). Joseph Smith then started translating the Book of Mormon and together with his scribe Oliver Cowdery, they finished it. At the same time, they also received the Aaronic Priesthood from John The Baptist (a heavenly being) when they went to the banks of the Susquehanna River, near Joseph’s home in Harmony, to pray. Later, as promised by John the Baptist, the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John also appeared to Joseph and Oliver and bestowed upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained them Apostles. Later, Moses, Elias, and Elijah gave them further keys through which these bretheren could further use this priesthood power and authority of God necessary to establish His Church and to perform the ordinances of salvation.
The Church was later established on April 6, 1830. Then Joseph Smith formally organized the Church, later designated by revelation as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ was once again established on the earth.
Expansion of the Church, Continuing Revelation and Continuous Growth
Joseph Smith continued to receive revelation from the Lord, which was later written and used today as the words in the Doctrine and Covenants (one of the 4 standard works of the Mormon Church). The Church also continued to grow under his leadership. The Lord revealed unto him the importance of the presence of holy temples on earth. As a result, the Saints built the first temple in Kirtland, Ohio. The saints also changed their settlements from Jackson County to Northern Missouri, then finally Nauvoo, Illinois, where they built another temple.
Throughout Joseph Smith’s ministry, the Lord continued to reveal the need to preach the gospel. In the early days of the Church, missionaries were being sent to Canada, USA, and later on England. Joseph Smith himself continually preached the gospel. However, Joseph’s life had neared its end, when in June 1844, a riot was charged against the prophet. Although he was not to blame for the riot and he was innocent, he was still incarcerated in the local jail.
On the 27th day of June, the same year, while staying in jail, mobs of men with blackened faces murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. At the age of 38, he sealed his testimony with his own blood.
Next to Joseph Smith as the president and prophet of the Church was Brigham Young. After the death of Joseph Smith, many wanted to take his place as president of the Church; However, Brigham Young reminded them that the Quorum of the Twelve apostles should lead the Church, since Joseph had given them all the priesthood keys to do so. Young was ordained President of the Church in December 1847, more than two and a half years after Smith’s death.
It can be noted from history that Brigham Young was the longest serving President of the LDS Church in history, having served for 29 years. Repeated persecution led Young to relocate his group of Latter-day Saints to a territory in what is now Utah, then part of Mexico. Young organized the journey that would take the faithful to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, in 1846, then to the Salt Lake Valley. Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, a date now recognized as Pioneer Day in Utah. Hundreds of Latter-day Saints died in Winter Quarters and many more on the trails to the Rockies.
Shortly after the arrival of Young’s pioneers, the new Mormon colonies were incorporated into the United States through Mexican Cession, Young petitioned the U.S. Congress to create the State of Deseret. The Compromise of 1850 instead carved out Utah Territory, and Young was installed as governor. As governor and church president, Young directed both religious and economic matters. He encouraged independence and self-sufficiency. Many cities and towns in Utah, and some in neighboring states, were founded under Young’s direction.
During his ministry, the practice of polygamy was made public as the Lord had instructed.
Young died on August 29, 1877, of peritonitis.
The Church experienced a lot of persecution because of the brief practice of polygamy. That is why although the Mormon Church has not practiced polygamy for more than a hundred years, it still faces a lot of negative remarks attributed to it. Many still think of the LDS Church as a church with members that have multiple wives. The practice of Mormon polygamy from about 1840 to 1890 was commanded by the Lord. The exact rationale and reasoning behind it is uncertain. However, the following may be considered as possible explanations:
First, God restored His Church through Joseph Smith. All things were to be restored – all principles, all knowledge, all parts of the Lord’s gospel. Ancient prophets, such as Abraham and Isaac, practiced polygamy. The practice of polygamy would therefore be part of “all things,” all parts of the Lord’s gospel, and could be restored. In fact, the Lord gave the law to Joseph Smith when Joseph inquired about the ancients. When the Lord reinstituted polygamy as part of the restoration of all things, all of the Church elders, including Joseph Smith, found it difficult to accept and follow.
Second, in the Book of Mormon, polygamy is prohibited unless the Lord needs to “raise up seed unto [Himself]” (Jacob 2:30). Polygamy, or plural marriage, would increase the descendents of faithful Mormon families. And, in fact, the descendents of polygamous families sustained the Church for years.
Third, polygamy taught the people humility, patience, and love; all attributes that Christians strive to attain. Mormon polygamy was not an easy practice to live. It went against societal norms. Husbands had to learn how to divide their time among their wives. Women had to learn how to share their husband and get along with each other. Those who lived the law of plural marriage were refined and became better people because of the difficulty of polygamy.
Fourth, polygamy provided for the plethora of women who had joined the Church, and for widows, and enabled them to have families. Also, at that time, married men were sent off to serve missions, leaving their families behind. Families missing husbands and fathers did better when plural marriage gave women support. With the help of other wives, some women were able to launch out into higher education and professional careers.
In addition, the Lord sanctioned plural marriage in ancient times. Christians generally accept that Abraham and Israel, or Jacob, had more than one wife and that this was not condemned of the Lord. Indeed, both Abraham and Jacob were blessed beyond measure. Although having multiple wives was a societal norm of the time (in a way it isn’t in the modern United States), idol worship was also a societal norm and soundly forbidden of the Lord. Most Christians do not accept the idea of modern, and Christian polygamy, and Mormons still draw criticism for the practice, even a century after it was discontinued.
Furthermore, Mormon polygamy was practiced for about fifty years, although only about fifteen to twenty-five percent of the members of the Mormon Church were involved in the practice. Polygamy was practiced by choice by the men of the Church, and women were also never forced to enter into a polygamist marriage. They also had the right to divorce.
During the latter half of this fifty years, more specifically, during the 1870s and the 1880s, the United States government took action against polygamists. They revoked voting rights, seized Church property, and imprisoned polygamist men – about 1,300 total.
In September of 1890, then Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff received a revelation of the Lord to stop the practice of polygamy.
The Lord explained His reasoning in Doctrine and Covenants 124:49,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.”
When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through his prophet (Latter-day Saints believe that at each period of time, the Lord calls prophets, seers and revelators to govern His Church in His behalf). Indeed, today the Lord continues to guide the Church by revealing His will to His chosen servants. From the time of the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith up to the ministry of the living Prophet today (who is Thomas S. Monson), the Church continues to receive revelation from the Lord. Indeed, history has shown that the Church has continuous access to revelation from the Lord.
Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has over 14 million members all over the world, nearly fulfilling the prophecy of Joseph Smith that the restored gospel would be taken to every nation, tongue, and kindred. The Church has a remarkable welfare program, a perpetual education fund to help returned missionaries from impoverished countries, a vast and efficient humanitarian aid program, and adoption services and addiction counseling. There is no more well-organized church on earth, as the Lord’s house is a house of order. Because of the restoration of Christ’s priesthood authority, all the charismatic gifts are found in abundance in the Church, and the members are greatly blessed because of that. Families are at the center of the Church, and all programs are geared to strengthen the family unit. The women’s organization of the Mormon Church is the oldest and larget sisterhood in the world, with 5 million members. The Church has a lay clergy, so Mormons are more liable to volunteer than any other people. The LDS Church has at least 50,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving at any given time all over the world. The Mormon Church also sponsors institutions of higher education, especially Brigham Young University, with campuses in Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, and study-abroad programs; LDS Business College, and schools in the South Pacific.
“Apostasy, Restoration, and Lessons in Faith,” Andrew C. Skinner, December 2005
“Lesson 2: The Apostasy and the Need for the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Church,” Primary 5: Doctrine and Covenants: Church History, (1997)
“The Wondrous Restoration,” Neal A. Maxwell, April 2003
“Chapter 47: “Praise to the Man”: Latter-day Prophets Bear Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007)
“The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007)
Joseph Smith’s Testimony of the First Vision, Richard L. Anderson
“Chapter Two: Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage,” Church History In The Fulness Of Times Student Manual, (2003)
Have you ever seen a building that looks so marvelous, or that is historical and of great importance? How did it feel when you were able to behold the beautiful rooms of the building and had the chance to enter every room? What then do you think you would feel when given an opportunity to enter a the temple of the Lord?
An online dictionary defines an open house as a social event in which hospitality is extended to all. It could also be an occasion when an institution is open for visiting and observation by the public. Before a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is dedicated, it is opened for public viewing. It gives a chance for friends of other faiths, and local government officials to behold what is inside. A Temple Open house is then a great chance and an awesome experience both for members and non-members of the Church. Indeed, it is an event that is worth waiting for.
Reservations for entry into the temple are often required and tickets are available and are free of charge. Oftentimes, Latter-day Saints (also called Mormons) invite people they know to tour the temple with them when an open house is held. Missionaries of the Church can also extend the invitation.
Since it is open for the general public, anyone is allowed to come, once he or she has secured a ticket. Guests will then be taken on guided tours in the temple. Even though the temple is not yet dedicated at the time of visit during an open house, all are still asked to be reverent and respectful of the building, as it is the house of the Lord. Even if it is still to be dedicated, the Spirit can still be felt while in there.
Some who have attended a Mormon Temple open house bear witness of the feeling they had. Some even have borne a testimony that the Spirit testified to them that the building is truly a house of the Lord. It is a chance to share the restored gospel, and sometimes an opportunity that leads the people to want to be baptized members of the Church.
A missionary shared his experience about the open house of the Kyiv Temple. “People are saying, “Wow! If I had known you had such a beautiful building, I would have invited ALL of my family and friends to see it!” Some have said they plan to make a second trip to do so. Miracles are happening, and it’s only day two of the public open house.”
Eternal marriage just felt right to me.
I was 14 years old when I moved from California to the Salt Lake Valley, and I was more than a little worried about how I was going to fit in with all those Mormons I had heard about. One of the few things I knew about Latter-day Saints was that they didn’t let people from other churches into their temples. That had been a big disappointment to me when my family stopped at Temple Square on our way through Salt Lake City on vacation. My parents had warned me that we wouldn’t be allowed inside the temple, but I thought maybe they had changed the rules. “Sorry. Because the temple is so sacred, only people with a current temple recommend can go inside,” the missionary told me.
A couple of years later the Jordan River Temple was nearing completion, and my LDS friends were excited to have a new temple close by. I didn’t pay much attention to it until a man my father worked with invited our family to the temple open house. I hadn’t realized that during an open house, the temple is open to the public and that anyone could go inside. It felt like, in a way, the rules had changed for me, at least until the temple was dedicated.
From the moment I stepped into the Jordan River Temple, I could tell there was something special about this new building. It was more than the physical beauty of the exterior or the lovely decor inside. Instead, it was the unique work that went on inside that most intrigued me.
At one point our guide led us into a sealing room and showed us an altar where couples would kneel across from each other to be married for time and all eternity. As I gazed into the mirrors hanging on opposite walls in that room and saw countless images of my face, I knew in my heart that God intended for marriage to last forever. I was at the age when I was beginning to envision my future as a wife and mother, but I had never even considered that marriage could last longer than “till death do you part.” My whole philosophy of marriage changed that day, and I decided then and there that I would marry someone for eternity.
There was one small problem. I didn’t belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fortunately, my LDS friends recognized a “golden opportunity,” and began slowly teaching me about the Church. Though it took me a few years to feel comfortable meeting with the missionaries, I eventually overcame my anxiety, took the missionary lessons, and was baptized.
As I look back on the many people and events that led to my conversion, one event stands above the rest—the tour of the Jordan River Temple. That open house opened my mind to the sacred sealing ordinances performed in the Mormon temple and opened my heart to the dream of eternal marriage. A few years later when I went to the Salt Lake Temple to be married, I looked again into the endless succession of mirrors and knew my dream had become a reality.
It is important to realize that an open house is not just a simple event meant to let others see the building and just appreciate its beauty. It is meant to let others feel the Holy Spirit and give them a testimony that what they are beholding is a true house of the Lord. An open house can change lives, even as a dedicated temple of the Lord helps people go back to his presence.
“An Open House Opened My Heart,” Wendy Kenney
At some period of time, the true church was lost from the face of the earth. It became non-existent. There was what people may call blindness about the truth. People may recall that when Jesus Christwas on the earth, He established His Church among His followers. After His Crucifixion and the deaths of His Apostles, the fulness of the gospel was taken from the earth because of widespread apostasy. With this happening, a glorious restoration was vital.
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christrestored the fulness of the gospel. The true Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again and has been organized as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church). Because of this restoration, the teachings and ordinances necessary for salvation are available to all people. People are blessed today because of this great restoration.
The word “restore” means to “bring back into existence . . . or into a former or original state” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. , 1063). Many of the biblical prophets promised that in the last days God would restore the gospel one last time before the Savior’s Second Coming. In 1820, God began restoring the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ restored the fullness of the gospel. The true Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again. Because of the Restoration, the teachings and ordinances necessary for salvation are once again available to all people.
Below is an outline of events about the Restoration of the True Church:
Early spring of 1820: Seeking the true Church of Jesus Christ, 14-year-old Joseph Smith prayed in a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York. In answer to his humble prayer, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited him and told him that he must not join any of the churches on the earth at that time. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:11-19.) In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this experience is referred to as Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
September 21–22, 1823: Joseph Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni. Moroni prophesied of coming events and told Joseph of the Book of Mormonrecord, written on plates of gold. The angel allowed Joseph to see the gold plates, which were buried in the nearby Hill Cumorah. On the plates was a record of the ancient peoples of the Americas and Jesus Christ’s dealings with them. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:27-53.)
September 22, 1827. Joseph Smith received the gold plates from Moroni at the Hill Cumorah after having met with Moroni on 22 September of each of the previous four years. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:53, 59.)
May 15, 1829: Having read about baptism for the remission of sins as they worked on the translation of the gold plates, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went to a secluded area to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. There, on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, they received the answer to their prayer. John the Baptist, a resurrected being, came to them as “a messenger from heaven . . . in a cloud of light.” He conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, in obedience to John’s instructions, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; see also D&C 13.)
May 1829: The ancient apostles Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (See D&C 128:20.)
June 1829: Guided “by the gift and power of God” (D&C 135:3), the Prophet Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.
March 26, 1830: The first printed copies of the Book of Mormon became available in Palmyra, New York.
April 6, 1830: The Church was organized in Fayette Township, New York, beginning with six members.
March 27, 1836: The Kirtland Temple, the first temple built in this dispensation, was dedicated. The Prophet Joseph Smith offered the dedicatory prayer, which had been given to him by revelation. (See D&C 109.)
April 3, 1836: The Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared and gave priesthood keys to Joseph and Oliver. Elijah brought the keys of the sealing power, which make it possible for families to be sealed together forever. (See D&C 110.)
The need for restoration has been explain in various ways in the scriptures which include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
a. “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). This also means the restoration of all things including the true church, the gospel, the priesthood, and sacred covenants and ordinances needed to return to the presence of God.
b. “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19)
c. “that faith also might increase in the earth” (D&C 1:21). One of the parts of the great message of restoration is the Book of Mormon. It is the cornerstone of the restored religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The written words found in the Book of Mormon serve as a testimony of the restoration of the true church. The Book of Mormon also says, “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:3).
The restoration is a manifestation of the Lord’s love for His children. Indeed, the partakers of this great restoration are so blessed that they should exclaim in gratitude to the Lord.
Just as Jacob (one of the prophets of the Book of Mormon) said regarding this knowledge as it let people see “things as they really are” and “as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13), this great restoration should be a a time of refreshing, a time of restitution, and a time of quiet faith. This is God’s work.
The lives of people today are blessed because of the restoration. Because of past apostasy , restoration is vital for the Plan of Salvation to be fulfilled. We must know all required of us to return to the presence of God.
“Apostasy, Restoration, and Lessons in Faith,” Andrew C. Skinner, December 2005
“The Wondrous Restoration,” Neal A. Maxwell, April 2003
A lot of people think that Mormon women are oppressed and forced to be submissive. Mormon polygamy is a huge misconception The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as the Mormon Church if officially known) faces today. Even though the Mormon Church has not practice polygamy for more than 100 years, people still think they do and that Mormon women are forced into these plural marriages with little freedom and a warped sense of reality. Though Mormons did once practice polygamy, this was never the life of Mormon women. Mormon women had many freedoms, including the right to vote, before many of the other women in this country and in the world. Mormon women today continue to live unique lives, filled with talents, families, and happiness.
The official doctrine of the Mormon Church is quite empowering to women. They are constantly being told about their divine potential as daughters of God. They were not made to be lesser than man or to be subservient to them, but to be their equals (often their superiors). Men and women were created with divine, inherent, complementary traits. Mormon doctrine teaches that families are eternal units. There is nothing more important than the family. Latter-day Saints believe in eternal families. This doctrine often means large families for Mormons, though it is not a requirement or even doctrine. Each couple should decide between themselves and the Lord what is best for them and their family.
Mormon women do not have to sacrifice their careers in order to be mothers, though many choose to. Because the service a woman renders as a mother is the most important thing she can offer the world, everything else pales in comparison, but this does not mean that a woman must sacrifice all other things. All Mormon women are encouraged to gain good educations and to develop all their talents. This not only helps them be better teachers to their children, but also allows them to provide for their families if the needs arises.
By and large, Mormon women are among the happiest of women in the world. This is because of their knowledge of God’s plan for them and for each of us. The whole purpose of our existence is to have joy and to share that joy with others, to continually try to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
The Mormon Church has received a lot of criticism for failing to “conform to the times” and give more leadership responsibility and equality to women in the Church. The priesthood, or the authority to act in God’s name, may be held by all worthy male members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though women do not hold this power, they receive all the blessings of this power. The Mormon Church is led by those who hold the priesthood because that is God’s will. Women certainly have no lack of responsibility in Church leadership, however, and certainly suffer no lack of benefits from not holding the priesthood themselves. Women preside over three organizations in the Church, under the direction of priesthood leadership: the Primary (Sunday School program for children ages 3 to 11), the Young Women (program from young women ages 12 to 18), and the Relief Society (program for women ages 18 and up). Each of these carries a great deal of responsibility and demands a lot of time and sacrifice.
All positions in the Mormon Church are filled by volunteers, by men and women alike. There is no monetary compensation for any service in the Mormon Church. However, nearly all callings are temporary. A person will be asked to serve in a certain capacity until their time is fulfilled, though one never knows when accepting a calling exactly how long they will hold that calling. A person who has held a relatively high leadership position, when released from that calling, may be called to serve in a seemingly insignificant calling, but the truth is, all callings are equal and important in the sight of God. Each calling offers the opportunity to serve others and to learn new skills.
Mormon women tend to be involved in their communities and in their children’s lives. Families are encouraged to have a specific family time every Monday night to build relationships and bonds and to learn about God, Jesus Christ, and the gospel.
Here are some Mormon women who share some of their experiences:
The Word of Wisdom
In 1833, Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received a revelation from God which prescribed certain rules for healthy and righteous living, particularly as regards the use of food and other substances that are not suited to the body. This revelation was officially announced to the Church on 27 February 1833 as the “Word of Wisdom,” which can now be found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants – one of the standard works of the Mormon Church.
The Word of Wisdom stipulates that Latter-day Saints abstain from eating or taking any substance that is unfit for the body. This includes coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, harmful drugs, and other substances that are addictive in nature. The Lord does not want His children to use, let alone abuse, these substances because of their harmful effects to the body.
Aside from health-related reasons, Latter-day Saints are required to live the Word of Wisdom by reason of its spiritual significance, because God’s commandments are spiritual; not temporal or natural, neither carnal nor sensual. (See Doctrine and Covenants 29:35.)
An Ancient Principle
Like other revelations that have been introduced to the Mormon Church in the present dispensation (e.g. the Law of Tithing, the Law of Chastity, etc.), the Word of Wisdom is not a new commandment. According to James E. Talmage, a Mormon theologian and former high official of the Church, the Word of Wisdom is as old as the human race. The Word of Wisdom is actually one of the first commandments revealed by the Lord to Adam, and all the essential principles contained in it were made known unto him while he was still in his immortal state in the Garden of Eden. To Adam the Lord said:
“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
God has given Adam many good fruits to be plucked and eaten, and to be enjoyed. However, he was strictly cautioned to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, because if he did so, his body would be corrupted, and his life would be shortened. When Adam did partake of the fruit the Lord told him not to eat, his body underwent a process of physical degeneration and lost its power to live forever. Consequently, he became vulnerable to pain, sicknesses, and death – the natural consequences of mortality.
In giving the Word of Wisdom to the Church, the Lord is teaching the Saints the same principles he revealed to Adam concerning his will in the temporal and spiritual salvation of His children. He pointed out that while there are many foods to be enjoyed at hand, Church members (and non-members as well) should not touch and take into their bodies certain things that would harm them.
A Brief History of the Word of Wisdom
In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith organized a School of the Prophets to train elders of the Church on both theological and secular matters. The first meetings of the school were held in Kirtland, Ohio, in a small room of a home-based store owned by Newel K. Whitney, which was also the place of residence of the Prophet and his family. When the elders of the Church assembled together in this small room after breakfast, the first thing they did was to light their pipes, and while smoking, talk about the great things of the Kingdom, and spit all over the floor.
Too often, when Joseph Smith entered the room to give instructions, he would find himself in a thick cloud of tobacco smoke. This concerned the Prophet and his wife, Emma, who was having a hard time cleaning so filthy a floor. Troubled about the conduct of the elders with regard to the use of tobacco, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. In response to his inquiry, the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was given.
At first, the Word of Wisdom was given to the Church by “greeting” or invitation and “not by commandment or constraint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:2), because smoking and drinking wine were common practices in the American society in the early 1800s. Yet, for some members of the Church, the revelation was a new thought, and sooner or later, they would be required to undergo an uncomfortable change of behavior in order to live it. However, the Lord indicated that the Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 89:3.)
At a Church General Conference held on September 9, 1851, Brigham Young, then prophet of the Mormon Church, called for a sustaining vote to make the revelation binding on every Latter-day Saint, to which the conference concurred unanimously. Since that time, the revelation became a commandment, which particularly forbade the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea throughout the Church.
However, throughout the 1860s and 1870s, the Word of Wisdom had not been fully observed by many Church members, even after the death of Brigham Young. In the early 1800s, several Church leaders led by President John Taylor started reforms and made campaigns to increase adherence to this commandment. Truly, keeping the word of wisdom had been a real test of faith for many Latter-day Saints. Even so, leaders of the Church continued to encourage them to be faithful, pointing out the strictness of God’s commandments. In 1894, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Mormon Church, delivered a powerful statement, where he addressed Church leaders on the importance of strict adherence to the Word of Wisdom. He said:
“The Word of Wisdom applies to Wilford Woodruff, the President of the Church, and it applies to all the leaders of Israel as well as to the members of the Church; and if there are any of these leading men who cannot refrain from using tobacco or liquor in violation of the Word of Wisdom, let them resign, and others take their places. As leaders of Israel, we have no business to indulge in these things. There may be things contrary to the Word of Wisdom that we indulge in, and that we think we cannot live without; if we cannot, let us die.”
By the end of the 19th century, the Word of Wisdom was becoming a widely accepted and a practical observance of the Church in general. Since then, the Word of Wisdom has become closely associated with Mormonism.
The Word of Wisdom in the Modern Church
The Word of Wisdom contains principles of healthy living that were far beyond the scientific knowledge of the time when it was revealed. It was given to the Church through Joseph Smith long before the hazards of tobacco became known to the world. Nowadays, when someone introduces himself as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is usually reputed as someone who neither smokes nor drinks. Strict adherence to the Word of Wisdom is something that separates Latter-day Saints from those who belong to other religious organizations.
Provisions of the Word of Wisdom have been explained clearly to the Church to make sure that each one is well understood and observed. Based on the revelation given to Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints are advised against the use of strong drinks (i.e., alcoholic drinks and other harmful beverages), tobacco, and “hot drinks.” While the original revelation offered no specific definition for hot drinks, Joseph Smith explained what the Lord meant when He said it. Joseph Smith said:
“I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said ‘hot drinks’ in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. Tea and coffee are what the Lord meant when he said ‘hot drinks’.”
In addition to the provisions already mentioned, the Word of Wisdom prohibits the use of harmful drugs, and promotes certain foods which are good for man – wholesome herbs, grain, and fruits that are in season. Meat is also ordained of God for man’s consumption. However, it should be used sparingly and in the spirit of thanksgiving. The fundamental principle behind the Word of Wisdom is that all healthy foods should be used in moderation, and unhealthy foods should be avoided.
Does the Word of Wisdom prohibit caffeine?
The Mormon Church does not have an official stand with regard to consumption of caffeine found in many beverages including cola and chocolate. However, the Lord has specifically advised the saints against the use of coffee and tea, both of which contain caffeine, though it may not be the exact reason for such proscription, as the Lord did not specify which chemicals in tea and coffee He is more concerned with. In addition, alcoholic drinks and beverages that contain harmful habit-forming drugs are also prohibited.
While the Word of Wisdom was given for the temporal salvation of the saints in the last days, abiding by the principles of this commandment has spiritual and eternal significance. The Lord promised that those who walk in obedience to this commandment “shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-20).
Mormons who do not keep the Word of Wisdom will lose the spirit of the Lord, for the Spirit does not dwell in unholy temples. Also, they will not be allowed to enter the holy Mormon Temples or participate in sacred ordinances in the Church. Those who do, on the other hand, are blessed with healthy minds and bodies which are necessary for them to be fruitful and receive more revelation from God. For how can someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol hear the silent whisper of the still small voice?
Truly, the Word of Wisdom was revealed by the Savior for the furtherance of His work in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. It was given by God for the temporal and spiritual benefit of His children. Since it is a principle with promise, those who obey it will receive the promised blessings.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Ask someone about Las Vegas, and you’ll typically get answers the describe lavish night-life, glitzy gamblng, and huge hotels. There is more to “Sin City” than just gambling and tourism, however. It is also the home to a rich and diverse religious community. One facet of that community is exemplified in the lives of the area’s tens of thousands of Mormons.
Just north of the glitter and glitz that are the hallmarks of downtown and the Strip, you’ll find the crowning jewel of Las Vegas’ Mormon community—a Mormon temple. High on the slopes of the mountains that border the east side of Las Vegas, the temple overlooks the valley and serves as the beacon to the faithful and a spiritual oasis in the desert Southwest. Situated on a ten-acre plot at the upper edge of a residential area, the temple can be seen from many points in the valley as it towers above the surrounding area.
To many people familiar with only the entertainment side of Las Vegas, a Mormon temple may seem out of place. Why would the Mormons build a temple in Las Vegas? What goes on in such a building? Why do so many Mormons seek out spiritual side of life, as embodied in the temple?
Questions such as these have been asked by many people. The Las Vegas Mormon temple was the Church’s forty-third operating temple, dedicated at the end of 1989. Since that time, millions of people have visited the building or noticed it as they drive through the valley. This Web site was created to answer at least a few of the questions you may have about this temple. Click one of the links available on this site, and you will discover more about Mormon temples and what they really are.
Any religion has a set of beliefs which reflect their understanding of God and their relationship to Him. At the root of what Mormons believe is the statement that “we believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” This is the first of thirteen basic beliefs that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, once wrote in response to a reporter’s questions. We believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves us (His children) and wants us to succeed. He created us and He has a plan for us to one day return to live with Him.
Mormons believe that temples are very sacred, very special places. The blessings available through temples are held in the highest of esteem by Mormons, and they want those blessings to be available to all people. While it is possible for everyone to qualify to enter the temple, it may not be possible for all people to physically make it to the temples, particularly if they live in areas that are far from a temple. For instance, before the Las Vegas temple was dedicated in 1989, faithful Mormons needed to travel hundreds of miles to visit a temple.
To make the burden of travel easier on members, the Church continually tries to build temples all over the world so that the blessings of the temple can be available to the largest number of Mormons. It is expected that the building of temples will continue, as part of the Church’s preparation for the return of the Savior at the Second Coming:
We expect to see the day when temples will dot the earth, each one a house of the Lord; each one built in the mountains of the lord; each one a sacred sanctuary to which Israel and the Gentiles shall gather to receive the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps they will number in the hundreds, or even in the thousands, before the Lord returns. [Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1982), 277.]
The Las Vegas Mormon temple is not, therefore, the only Mormon temple. There are over 125 other temples, all over the world. Here are just a few sites where you can get information about specific temples:
- Oakland Temple (California, USA). Nestled in the Berkeley Hills, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Oakland temple has become a well-known area landmark.
- San Diego Temple (California, USA). This dazzling white temple provides a breathtaking sight for travelers down I-5 just north of San Diego.
To find out more about temples in general, consider visiting the general temples site sponsored by the Mormon Church.