History of the Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a religious movement within Christianity that arose during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century and that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called Mormonism, and to the existence of numerous Latter Day Saint churches. Its history is characterized by intense controversy and persecution in reaction to some of the movement's doctrines and practices and their relationship to mainstream Christianity (see Mormonism and Christianity). The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the different groups, beliefs, and denominations that began with the influence of Joseph Smith.
The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, who was raised in the burned-over district of Upstate New York, and claimed that, in response to prayer, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, as well as angels and other visions. This eventually led him to a restoration of Christian doctrine that, he said, was lost after the early Christian apostles were killed. In addition, several early leaders made marked doctrinal and leadership contributions to the movement, including Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Brigham Young. Modern-day revelation from God continues to be a principal belief of the Mormon faith.
Mormon history as an academic field is called Mormon studies.
The Mormon religion is predicated on what are said to be historical events such as the First Vision of Joseph Smith and the historicity of the Book of Mormon, which describes a detailed pre-Columbian history of the Americas. President Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth LDS prophet, declared that "Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground." As Jan Shipps has written, "Mormonism, unlike other modern religions, is a faith cast in the form of history," and until after World War II, Mormons did not critically examine the historical underpinnings of their faith; any "profane" investigation of the Church's history was perceived "as trespassing on forbidden ground."
Although traditional Christianity is likewise a history religion, few primary sources survive from two or three millennia ago, and biblical places such as Jerusalem, Jericho, and Bethlehem, are acknowledged to exist by scholars of every religious persuasion. Likewise, the Assyrian and Babylonian empires mentioned in the Bible are treated in all histories of the ancient Near East. By contrast, locations of Book of Mormon places are disputed even by Mormons, and the existence of those places is not acknowledged by any non-Mormon scholars. Martin Marty, a Lutheran scholar of American religion, has observed that LDS beginnings are so recent "that there is no place to hide....There is little protection for Mormon sacredness." Read more...
Monument depicting the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, erected at the site in 1960
The Priesthood Restoration Site, formally known as the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Site, is a historic site located in Oakland Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, United States. Because of its historical significance to Mormonism, the site is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The site comprises property once owned, and lived on, by Joseph Smith and is the spot where Latter Day Saints believe the resurrected John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829. In September 2015 the Church dedicated the site, which includes a visitors' center and meetinghouse, monuments, and the reconstructed homes of Joseph Smith and the Hale family. Read more...
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