Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on Mormons - Introduction and Church History

One depiction of The Sacred Grove
I went to a seminar with my church this past weekend.  There were breakout events where we had the options of choosing from various sessions.  I went to the sections on Mormonism and learned a lot.  I learned about some of the history as well as some of the differences between Non-Mormon Christianity and the Mormons.  I was not expecting the differences to be as stark as they were.  I think I will create several posts on these differences.  Please comment if you have any more information.  The point of these posts is for me to continue learning.

For this post, I will start with some of the history of John Smith.  He was from the “burned-over district” in New York.  This specific area of New York was ‘burned-over” with religious revivals including Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, occultism, spiritualism, Millerites, Shakers, and the Oneida Soceiety.  Soon, LDS can be added to this list.  John Smith being in the midst of all these religions (and branches of Christianity) saw a vision in the Sacred Grove.  There were two (the number varries) angels.  John Smith asked which church he should join and the angels responded that “none of the surrounding religions are correct” and he was going to be the father of the true religion.
Later on, Joseph Smith found/was given gold plates that only he could translate.  The process he used to decipher these plates included using a “seer stone.”  He placed the stone in his hat and had visions on the inside of his hat, one page at a time.  The visions did not pass on to the next page until he read them back aloud.  This is how we know that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct book on earth.”  This practice was common among some of the occult religions in the “burned-over district,” which is most likly where he learned it.
The original version was later revised to correct the incorrect old English grammar and some other wording.  John Smith also rewrote the Old and New Testaments (JST) because he was told that the Bible had been corrupted after Jesus and the disciples died.  We now know that this is not true, due to findings such as the dead sea scrolls.  I believe that most Mormons use the original King James Bible with Smith’s changes in the foot notes.
Facts I never knew about John Smith - Everybody has Their Dirty Little Secrets
Another depiction of the Sacred Grove
1. John Smith practiced Polygamy and Polyandry
            He had 34 wives
            Polyandry is where a woman has more than one husband.  John Smith married women whose husbands were away.  The difference between their first marriages and the marriage with JS is that his was said to be “forever and eternity.”   That meant that his was a marriage in heaven, and the woman’s first marriage was just on earth.  I think this goes back to the idea of marrying the deceased for eternity, so you are married in heaven.  Does anyone know how this works?
2. John Smith committed bank fraud by printing money with no gold to back it up.
3. Joseph Smith was martyred while in prison.  He fired several shots in self defense, missing all but one person.
4. In addition to the "seer stones" John Smith used a "Jupiter Talisman" to find buried treasure.  I would like to research more about this practice because I don't know much (Here is some YouTube research, see 3:48 in the video below or click the link).  Not only was JS involved in occultism but he was also involved in Freemasonry.  This article from the Institute for Religious Research explores Smith involvement in Freemasonry and the Mason symbolism in the Mormon Church.

Images from What Mormons Believe and Truth and Grace
I really didn't look at these sites - I am only linking to them to site where the images came from.

The information about the Jupiter Talisman lines up with what the speakers (from a church in Salt Lake City, Utah) at the seminar I attended.

And finally, I am not Mormon and am unsure of the exact beliefs and what they mean to those who practice the religion. That being said I am sure that I don't have it all perfect. These posts are simply my research. I would love to read the explanations of those who practice Mormonism. Thank you!

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