History Of The Mormons - Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints

Brief Mormon overview of the historical beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and its founds Joseph Smith.

What are the beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? The official formation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is considered to be April 6, 1830. The route leading up to that formation is fascinating and insightful as concerns this rapidly growing religious denomination. All discussion of the origin of this Christian church has to begin with Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder. Born December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont, Joseph Smith, Jr. was the third of nine children born to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Smith. The Smiths lived in Vermont until Joseph was about fourteen, when the family moved to Palmyra, New York. Being farmers, Joseph was soon busy clearing trees and stumps to prepare areas for planting crops.

In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith describes in his personal history a growing excitement concerning religion in general in the region. Four of Joseph's family joined the Presbyterian faith, namely his mother, two of his brothers and a sister. Joseph himself was leaning toward the Methodists but he declined to formally join that faith.

Joseph relates how a certain passage in the New Testament struck him with great force. In James chapter 1, verse 5 he read: "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," (Bible King James Version). Joseph decided to take this verse as a direct invitation from God to pray. He went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt down to pray and ask God which church was right, which church he should join. Joseph Smith states in his history that in a vision he was visited by God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, who told him to join none of the churches. He recounts that they stood in the air above him and told him many things.

After the heavenly visitors left, he recovered his composure and went home. Some three years after this vision, Joseph was visited again by a different heavenly being who instructed him that God had a work for Joseph to do. He told Joseph of some ancient records engraved on plates of gold buried in a nearby hill. These plates supposedly contained a written religious record of an ancient people who had lived on the American continent previously. Joseph was told he would retrieve these plates and translate them by the power of God. Joseph went to the designated hill and retrieved the plates. In 1829, Joseph Smith and an associate, Oliver Cowdery, began to translate the gold plates into the English language. Oliver Cowdery acted as scribe while Joseph Smith translated the history of an ancient people. The finished translation was called the Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hold this book to be a companion piece to the Holy Bible. The church treats the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ.

Following the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and four others officially began The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. From these six original members the church grew to several thousand members in just a few short years. The church built houses of worship and even raised the city of Nauvoo, Illinois. They later had to evacuate that city because of mob violence against the church in that area. Joseph Smith and his older brother, Hyrum Smith, were executed by a mob on June 27, 1844 in Carthage, Illinois while being held in the Carthage Jail on trumped up charges. Joseph Smith was 38 years of age.

After the death of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young became the next leader and prophet of the church. In 1847, Brigham Young led thousands of members of the church to the Utah Territory to establish a place the church could have some peace from the mob violence. Since 1847 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has grown to be a world-wide religion. As of December 31, 1999, world membership was listed as 10,752,986 with over half of that population residing outside of the United States.

The beginnings of the religion were modest. Indeed, the whole foundation of the religion rests on the word of a fourteen year-old boy who reported that he saw God and Jesus Christ in the spring of 1820 and that they commanded that he join none of the churches around him and that he had a work to do for God. Until his dying day Joseph Smith never denied his claim of having been visited by divine beings from the heavens. His accounts form the beginnings of what is now a world-wide religion. For members of this religion, the whole crux of their membership resides in their ability to believe the related history of its beginnings.

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