Mormonism, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a religion with membership of 12,275,822 as of December 31, 2004, with 6.7 million residing outside the United States. Their headquarters are stationed in Utah, where roughly 65% of the state are Latter-day Saints (hereafter "LDS"). In a plethora of ways, Mormonism deviates from Biblical, historic Christian beliefs.

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Mormon

History

Although Mormonism began roughly 175 years ago in 1830, it's history is rich and extensive. LDS pride themselves on their past, especially on their founder Joseph Smith. LDS history is riddled with many problems, and although most Mormons know much about their history, they have either avoided or tend to be ignorant of the many problems that exist. Such problems are: polygamy, racism, deception, and murder, just to name a few. It is important to know the basics of their history in order to understand the overall thought of Mormonism, and although many problems exist, when talking with Mormons one should be respectful as Scripture calls us to be (1 Peter 3:15).

See main pages: History of the Mormon church and Joseph Smith

Doctrine

The body of Mormon doctrine is a deep, tangled, and fascinating web of teachings that strike at the heart of biblical Christianity. Among other things, Mormons deny the unique nature of God that makes him distinctly worthy of worship, the design of salvation by grace through faith apart from works, and the purpose of the universe (to glorify the one God). It's thought is thoroughly Pelagian and places an enormous emphasis on one's worthiness and the appeal of maintaining the family unit in the afterlife. Perhaps the most foundational component of their doctrine is found in the following couplet, made by Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow: "As god once was, man is. As God is, man may become."

See main pages: Doctrines of Mormonism, Deprecated doctrines within Mormonism, Disputed doctrines within Mormonism

Historical development

Historically, Mormonism highly emphasized theological distinctives from other churches. Today, a much smaller set of distinctives is made and similarities are stressed with those who possess Christian backgrounds and traditional moral values.

What has resulted is a theology that is different from what historic Mormonism originally taught. This naturally flows out of their belief in modern day revelation. Whenever a Mormon prophet (or president) receives a revelation, it is binding on the church. Sometimes little change is seen, however the effects of some revelations have been monumental. The most explicit examples are when blacks were finally given the right to hold the priesthood (1978), and when polygamy was banned by Mormon President Wilford Woodruff (1890). Mormon theology is still changing today, especially in discussions concerning salvation.

See main pages: Development of Mormon theology and Neo-Mormon theology

Culture

Part of the typical Mormon experience involves a tight-knit family and social environment. It is often noted that Mormonism is more of a culture than a religion. That is because the Mormon identity, or "glue", is primarily the culture and not doctrine or theology. While there are some basic, bedrock doctrines that unite Mormonism, Mormons are generally atheological. Because of this, Mormons often have difficulty understanding the significant differences between Mormonism and Christianity.

See main page: Mormon culture

Evangelism to Mormons

A variety of methods are used by evangelical Christians to evangelize to the Mormons, many of which depend on one's view or attitude toward: 1) The status of the Mormon people as either a reached or unreached people group. 2) The Mormon's self-understanding of doctrine. 3) The implications of enculturation for methods of interacting with the people.

See main page: Evangelism to Mormons

Quotes

  • "[M]ost LDS converts come from nominal Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, which makes sense given the way in which Mormon missionaries present their message. They offer a Restored Gospel, a term that is easy to understand if one already has an idea of what “gospel” means. LDS missionar­ies offer instruction to their prospective apostles, churches, beliefs, angels, God, Jesus, and Scripture—none of which make any sense unless the listeners and their ecclesiastical predecessors are the result of traditional Christian evangelism, catechism, and Bible study. The Bible used by LDS missionaries in their quest for converts, the King James Version, is a translation produced by non-LDS Christian scholars. Consequently, LDS success, according to Mosser, is parasitical on Catholic and Protestant missionary work, education, and scholarship." - Francis Beckwith, "Sects In The City: Mormonism and the Philosophical Perils of Being a Missionary Faith" [1]

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