of Christ - Temple Lot] [Church
of Jesus Christ - Bickertonite]
The Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is a truly amazing institution. It has grown from a small handful of men in 1830 to an institution now having over 10 million members worldwide enjoying an influence in the western America not enjoyed by any other church. They have one of the most distinctive theologies of any Christian bodies; indeed; many more orthodox Christian communities denounce the LDS Church as being so unorthodox as to be non-Christian.
In addition to the Old and New Testaments, the Latter-day Saints base their beliefs on the Book of Mormon, discovered by Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844) in the 1920s, and two later works by Smith, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price. They believe the authentic church established by Jesus Christ was eventually lost during during a Great Apostasy, and needed to be re-established. This was accomplished with new revelation to Smith whereby he was made Prophet, apostles were chosen, and new Scripture was revealed. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Latter-day Saints were able to build a civilization based upon Mormon teaching in the Utah Territory. Chased by angry mobs and even invaded by Federal Army troops, they founded a religious community in the desert and have established themselves as one of the outstanding religious groups in the nations. Few churches live with such clear identity and have established such a large, loyal following as have the Mormons. Today, the Saints are conservative politically and morally, giving a predominant place to family life. However, even as they are becoming more accepted today, they have had one of the most tempestuous histories of any church in America.
History. The early years of the Church centered around the prophet and translator of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith Jr. He originally organized the church with six members at Fayette, New York, in 1830. Joseph Smith grew up in the famous "burned-over district" of upstate New York, so called because of the frequency and intensity of the religious revivals there during the Second Great awakening at he close of the 17th century and the early years of the 18th century. Joseph Smith claimed to have received a series of heavenly visitations beginning with the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. During these visits, he was informed that all existing churches were in fact in error and that the true gospel was yet to be restored. The restored gospel would be revealed to him, and he was to re-establish the true church on earth.
An angel named Moroni led Smith to a hill called Cumorah near Manchester, New York, where he found a book written on gold plates left there by an ancient prophet named Mormon. Later, Joseph Smith was given a "seer stone" that gave him the ability - along with special revelation given by God - to translate the mysterious hieroglyphic-like images on these plates. The plates contained the sacred records of ancient civilizations which inhabited North America (and possibly Central America). One of these groups were righteous Jews which fled from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and sailed to America in a divinely designed ark. According to Smith, these golden plates were then returned to the angel. There were eleven other people besides Smith who claimed they had witnessed these plates before they were returned.
During the Great Apostasy, not only doctrine, but also the Priesthood was lost from the earth through death and ignorance. The Aaronic Priesthood was conferred upon Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850) by a heavenly messenger, John the Baptist, who instructed them to baptize each other. In 1829, a year before the founding of the church, three other divine messengers, Peter, James, and John, bestowed upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, and gave them the keys of apostleship.
Opposition to the new Church arose almost immediately, and in 1831, the small group of Mormons left New York for Ohio, where headquarters were established in Kirkland. Smith moved on to Independence, Missouri in 1838, where he and his followers planned to build the ideal community with a temple at its heart. Friction with other settlers in the area because so severe that they left Missouri during 1838 and 1839 and settled at Nauvoo, Illinois. Never far from controversy, violence followed them there and reached its peak when Joseph Smith announced his intention to run for President of the United States, and acted to shut down a newspaper that had criticized him. He and his brother Hyrum Smith (1800 - 1844) were murdered by a mob while in jail at Carthage, Illinois, in 1844.
The death of Joseph Smith threw the foundling church into some disarray. The majority accepted the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as head of the Church, and Brigham Young (1803-1877) was made president of the Quorum and Prophet of the Church. A defeated minority, objected that Young was not the legal successor to Smith, withdrew to form other churches. Some followed James J. Strang (1813-1856) to Wisconsin to form a body known as Strangites; others joined various other dissenting groups. The largest body of "anti-Brighamites" believed that the leadership belonged to direct descendants of Joseph Smith, and in 1847 the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by Joseph Smith's son, Joseph Smith III (1832 - 1914).
Brigham Young held his office as Prophet of the Church with the sustaining vote of the majority of the Church after Joseph Smith's death, and led the Saints out of Nauvoo in February 1846 to being their epic march through the plains and over the Rocky Mountains to what is now Utah. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, and there they build the famous Mormon Tabernacle and later the Salt Lake Temple.
The issue of polygamy is closely identified with the Mormon Church. Most historians and Mormon scholars believe that Joseph Smith led a polygamous life prior to his death and instructed his church that a polygamous lifestyle was not only sanctioned by God, but even encouraged. The doctrine of polygamy was publicly announced by Brigham Young in 1852, and this doctrine further estranged the Mormon Church from its neighbors. Following the Civil War, the United States government mounted an increasingly intense campaign against Mormon polygamy. In 1882, the Edmunds Act provided stringent penalties, and in 1887, the church was unincorporated and its property confiscated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1890 that it was unconstitutional to deny all privileges of citizenship to every members of the church. Later that year, the church president issued a manifesto that officially discontinued the practice of contracting new polygamous relationships. It should be noted, however, that not every Mormon has followed this manifesto and even today there are polygamous families living in Utah. Some followers of Joseph Smith III deny that polygamy was ever formally sanctioned by the Church, while a few other groups believe the doctrine of polygamy and the sacredness of such a relationship will never end.
I have spent the greater part of my life studying
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and present below some
of the more useful links to sites discussing this issue.
Christ (Temple Lot)
After the main body of Latter-day Saints followed Brigham Young westward, there were several bodies that stayed behind. These groups became convinced that Brigham Young was advocating new teachings which were at variance with original doctrine. By 1852, there were two protesting groups. One was known as the New Organization; the other, centered in Crow Creek, Illinois, functioned under the name Church of Christ. The latter group returned to Independence, MO in response to a revelation given in 1864 through the Presiding elder at that time, Granville Hedrick.
In the "appointed year" of 1867, they returned to the land dedicated in 1831 by Joseph Smith, Jr., for the building of the Lord's Temple. Their belief is that the Lord will designate the time of the building of the temple. While the church is unable to build until the appointed time, they nevertheless have a sacred obligation to "hold and keep this land free' when the time of building comes, it can be accomplished as the Lord sees fit." The church has won legal battles with other Mormon bodies to maintain control of these lots.
The Church of Christ puts its faith in the pattern and thought of the church "as it existed at the time of Christ and His apostles." Thus, they have twelve apostles which are charged with the missionary work and general supervision of the church. Temporal affairs are administered directly by the General Bishopric, under the direction of the General Conference and the Council of Apostles. Local churches administer their own affairs but must keep their teachings and practice in harmony with those of the denomination.
The church accepts the King James version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon as its standards. It holds that all latter-day revelation, including that of Joseph Smith, Jr., must be tested by these scriptures; thus, it does not accept all that was given through Smith. Because changes were made in the early revelations, this church prefers The Book of Commandments to Doctrine and Covenants, which includes changes. Thus, the doctrines of plural marriage, baptism for the dead, celestial marriage, and plurality of gods are not accepted by this group as they are for the larger Mormon church.
The Church of Christ notes,
Sidney Rigdon (1793-1876), one of the closest associates of Joseph Smith, refused to join the march west led by Brigham Young, denouncing Young's teachings of polygamy, the pleurality of gods, and baptism for the dead. In 1846, his followers purchased a farm near Greencastle, PA. A small group led by William Bickerton, one of Rigdon's elders, did not go to Greencastle but remained at West Elizabeth, PA. In 1862, they were formally organized as the Church of Jesus Christ. The name "Bickertonites" is employed to distinguish this body from other Mormon gruops; members prefer to be known as the Bickerton Organization.
Foot washing is practiced, and members salute one another with the holy kiss. Monogamy is required, and members are called to obedience to all state and civil laws. The church has its own edition of the Book of Mormon, and publishes a monthly periodical, The Gospel News, along with other denominational material. A general conference meets annually at the headquarters in Monongahela, PA, and missionary work is conducted in Italy, Nigeria, Mexico, and among Native Americans of the United States and Canada.
The Cutlerite branch of the Mormon Church is conservative - perhaps even more conservative than the largest branch in Utah. The Cutlerite branch believes that there was a general rejection of the LDS Church by God due to its failure to build the Nauvoo Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. Prior to the Joseph Smith's death, the LDS Church was instructed to build a building or temple at Nauvoo, Illinois. They were told enough had been given or would be given to complete it in an appointed time, and if they failed to do so in that time, they would be rejected as a "church with their dead". (See section 107, verse 11a, RLDS book of Doctrine and Covenants). This building was never completed or accepted, and consequently the church was rejected and ceased to be a church.
The body of the former church was driven out of Nauvoo by persecution and mobs, and the main part fled westward across Iowa, reaching a place in Nebraska, just north of present day Omaha at Winter Quarters. There, a general break-up of the group occurred with the largest group following Brigham Young who journeyed west to Utah, while others went their various ways.
Alpheus Cutler, a member of this earlier Kingdom Order, was sent on a mission to the Indians, in Kansas. Completing this and not wishing to return to Winter Quarters, Cutler settled in southwestern Iowa at a place they called Manti. Here they established a colony consisting of farms, stores, and shops of various kinds. Cutler, being one of the "Order of Seven" of the original Kingdom Order (see section 83, verse 1a, RLDS book of Doctrine and Covenants) and being ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith Jr. to the same rights to lead the church that the Prophet enjoyed; after receiving a sign, reorganized The Church of Jesus Christ on September 19, 1853, at Manti, Iowa. Of all the groups coming out of the break-up at Winter Quarters, Cutler was the only one who came out teaching the same principles and doctrine that the original church espoused. He stated that he took Joseph Smith the Prophet, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the Constitution of these United States as the platform to build the church upon. The Cutlerite branch, however, denies that polygamy was practiced by Joseph Smith and rather it was introduced by Brigham Young. To substantiate this assertion, they note that the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants in which section 132 appears is 1876, printed by the Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah…32 years after the prophet’s death. The Cutlerite Church owns a Doctrine and Covenants printed by the Utah Church in 1851, and it did not contain section 132. They also note that in the Doctrine and Covenants (1846 edition), Section 13, verse 7 states: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else; and he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, shall deny the faith, and shall not have the spirit, and if he repents not he shall be cast out.” They also note Section 109, known as the Marriage Covenant, was not a revelation, but was read at the General Assembly of the Church at Kirtland on August 17, 1835 where the acceptance and adoption of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was voted on and acknowledged by a unanimous vote. They note that this article was also read, voted on and acknowledged by a unanimous vote and was ordered to be printed in the book. It is a clear affirmation of the laws of the Church concerning the sacrament of marriage. This Covenant clearly condemns polygamy: “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death when either is at liberty to marry again.”
One of his main tenets was the Order of Enoch, or all things common. This order has always been present whenever a great outpouring of the spirit occurred, such as at the days of Pentecost and during the Book of Mormon days when they lived to it's principles for 200 years. See Book of Mormon 3rd Nephi, chapter 12, verse 11 and 4th Nephi, chapter 1, verse 4. This requires from man, a sacrifice of their all unto the Lord, a sacrifice that is not at all popular with the natural mind of man.
Alpheus Cutler died August 10, 1864, and was succeeded in office by Chauncey Whiting. Shortly after Cutler's death the church moved to Minnesota where they established a thriving community at Clitherall or Old Town, as it is now known. During this next 10 year period they were visited by missionaries of a different restoration group who offered an easier way of life and lead off those who were weak in the faith, and many young members.
Chauncy Whiting passed away in 1902 and was followed by his son, Isaac, in church leadership. Isaac continued in his office until his death in 1922, at which time Emery Fletcher assumed the role of President. About 1912, the Order of Enoch, having been discontinued, for a time, due to the reluctance of some in turning in the homesteads they had proved out upon, it was decided to again set up the Order as originally instituted, and it has been maintained to the present day.
In 1928 a movement was made for the church to return to Zion. A committee was sent to Independence, Missouri. They purchased property and built a church building at 807 South Cottage Ave, which is the present headquarters of the church. Other families eventually followed until at present there is only one member residing in Minnesota. Emery Fletcher passed away in 1953 and was followed in office by Erle Whiting who continued, until his death in 1958, at which time Rupert Fletcher succeeded him.
Before his death in 1974, Brother Fletcher wrote a book titled Alpheus Cutler and The Church of Jesus Christ. This book is recommended reading to anyone desiring to know the beliefs and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ. It also contains an interesting historical account of the church from Cutler's day to the present time, written by Mrs. Fletcher (Daisy Whiting Fletcher).
Perhaps where we differ most from the other groups of the Restoration movement, is that we believe that a man is called to come with his all, with a broken heart and contrite spirit. He should offer himself up for baptism and at the water's edge make a covenant with his Lord to keep all the commandments that He has given and will give, as long as he shall live. After immersion and a washing away of his sin, he will continue in his covenant to his God and grow in knowledge and understanding, through a constant search of the Holy Scriptures and prayer, that he might have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide him in his efforts. By practicing the Order of Enoch, he places himself on an equal with his brothers and they grow together and sanctify themselves before their God. This is a close road and few there be who will be willing to make the required sacrifices.
We believe that a man must be fully converted, believing this course is necessary, before he can be an acceptable candidate for baptism. Unless a man is fully converted to these principles, he will be unable to meet the requirements and fail in his efforts. We do not seek members for the sake of membership only, but true converts who are willing to take upon themselves a whole new way of life, and who will work with their might, mind and strength for the up building of their church. We have been told our membership or entrance requirements are too high and in order to get new members we must lower them. As stated before, we seek only true converts and we want each one to make his own decision, as we do not believe in the "hard sell". We welcome anyone who is truly seeking his salvation and we know that someday a people will be inspired to meet these requirements and join in building this Zion prophesied of, by the Holy prophets in days gone by. This great work will only be done by people living to those laws and commandments in their entirety, working together in love and union under His true authority and thus will have the promise of the Lord that He will go before them and be their rearward.
Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
This is the main body of Mormons headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Beliefs and Practices. Mormonism clearly comes out of the Christian tradition and in some respects resembles evangelical Christian churches; but certain aspects of Latter-day Saint theology depart significantly from traditional Christian theology. For example, in Mormon teaching there are three persons who comprise the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. however, the Father and the son both have bodies of flesh and bone. It is also maintained that persons will be punished for their own individual sins, and not for "Adam's transgressions." All humankind, even those who have already died, may be saved through the atonement of Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Mormons hold that Christ will return one day to rule the earth from his capitals in Zion (Salt Lake City) and Jerusalem, following the restoration of the ten tribes of Israel.
For this Mormon group, revelation is not to be regarded as confined to the Bible or to the Book of Mormon; it continues today in the living apostles and prophets of the Latter-day Saints church. Latter-day Saints are to adhere to the official pronouncements of the living president (prophet). Subjection to civil laws and rules is advocated, together with insistence on the right of the individual to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.
Ordinances include faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the observance of the Lord's Supper each Sunday. Baptism is necessary for salvation. Like Pentecostal churches, Mormons believe in the gift of tongues and of interpretation of tongues, visions, prophecy, and healing.
There are (at least) two practices which are exclusive to this church and are not practiced by the other branches: baptism for the dead and sealing in marriage for eternity. Baptism and salvation for the dead are based upon the conviction that persons who died without a chance to hear the gospel cannot possibly be condemned by a just and merciful god. the gospel must be preached to them after death; they find authority for this practice in 1 Pet. 4:6. Baptism is considered as essential for the dead as it is for the living, even though the rites will not finally save them without personal faith and repentance - the dead still have to accept their salvation. The ceremony is preformed with a living person standing in proxy for the dead.
Marriage has two forms: marriage for time and marriage for eternity (celestial marriage). Mormons who are married only by civil authority still remain in good standing in the church, but marriage for time and eternity in one of the Church's temples is regarded as a prerequisite for the high reward in eternity.
Mormons believe in the doctrine of "eternal progression" in that those who remain faithful to the gospel (the church) will have the opportunity to achieve further rewards in the afterlife. Thus, those who have been faithful to the precepts of the church will have the opportunity to progress to godhood, to have spiritual children through their wife (generally sealed to them in a Temple during their earthly life), and to have their spiritual children born into bodies on another earth who then - if they are faithful - can likewise become gods and continue the process. In similar manner, God - our Heavenly Father - is held to have once been a spiritual being who was born into a body on another earth and through His faithfulness over eons of time progressed to became God the Father. Matter is taken to be eternal - God is not.
Polity. Latter-day Saints recognize two priesthoods: (1) the higher priesthood of Melchizedek, which holds power of presidency and authority over the offices of the church and whose officers include apostles, patriarchs, high priests, seventies, and elders, and (2) the lesser priesthood of Aaron, which guides the temporal affairs of the church through its bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons.
The presiding council of the church is the First Presidency, made up of three high priests - the president and tow counselors. Its authority is final in both spiritual and temporal affairs. The president of the church is "the mouthpiece of God"; through him come the laws of the church by direct revelation.
Next to the presidency stands the Council of the Twelve Apostles, chosen by revelation to supervise, under the direction of the First Presidency, the whole work of the church. The church is divided into areas, regions, and stakes (geographical divisions) composed of a number of wards (local churches or parishes). Members of two quorums of seventy preside over the areas, under the direction of the Twelve. High priests, assisted by elders, are in charge of the stakes and wards. Members of the Melchizedek priesthood, under the direction of the presidency, officiate in all ordinances of the gospel. The stake presidency, officiate in all ordinances of the gospel. The stake presidents, ward bishops, patriarchs, high priests, and elders supervise the work within the stakes and wards of the church. The Aaronic priesthood is governed by three presiding bishops known collectively as the Presiding Bishopric, who also supervise the work of the members of the priesthood in the stakes and wards. In June, 1879, it was ruled that "all worthy male members of the church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color." Prior to this revelation, those who were of African descent, such as African Americans, could not hold the Priesthood in this Church.
This church claims to be the true continuation of the original church organization founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. with leadership passed to his son Joseph Smith III in 1860. It bases the claim of succession on the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and court action taken in Ohio in 1880 and in Missouri in 1894.
This Church rejected the claims made by Brigham Young due to doctrinal disagreements and abandonment of this rule of succession. Those holding to the lineal succession eventually reorganized, the first collective expression of this movement coming at a conference in Beloit, Wisconsin in 1852. Joseph Smith III was chosen president in 1860 at Amboy, Illinois, and all of his successors have been descendants of the founder. Interestingly, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s wife, Emma Smith Bidamon, who married Lewis Crum Bidamon three-and-a-half years after Joseph's death, accompanied her son Joseph Smith III to the pivotal conference at Amboy, Illinois, on April 6, 1860. According to the conference minutes, she was received into fellowship by unanimous vote on the basis of her baptism in the early church, as was the custom then. The most respected book on Emma Smith is Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery's Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, second edition, University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Headquarters of the church have been in Independence, MO since 1920 where a temple was built late in the twentieth century. The temple is open to all to enter and participate (unlike the Utah LDS temples). The Church also owns the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio which is maintained as a monument to the inspiration and dedication of early members.
The Reorganized Church holds the doctrine of polygamy to be contrary to the teachings of the Book of Mormon and the book of Doctrine and Covenants of the original organization (but not the Pearl of Great Price). It also differs on the doctrine of the Godhead, celestial marriage, and baptism of the dead. Basic beliefs include faith in the universality of God the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father, the Holy Spirit, the worth and dignity of persons, repentance of sin, baptism by immersion, the efficacy of various sacramental ordinances, the resurrection of the dead, the open canon of scriptures, and the continuity of revelation, the doctrine of stewardship, and the accountability of all people to God.
The work of the church is supported by the tithes and free-will offerings of the members. This is regarded as a divine principle, and the tithe is calculated on a tenth of each member's annual increase over needs and just wants.
Church doctrines, policies, and matters of legislation must be approved by a delegate conference held biennially in Independence. General administration of the church is by a First Presidency of three high priests and elders, a Quorum of Twelve Apostles who represent the presidency in the field, and a pastoral arm under the high priests and elders. Bishops are responsible for church properties, the stewardship of members, and church finances.
The church has developed ministries and has expanded since 1960 into non-Western cultures. with work in over thirty countries, it has a worldwide membership of nearly 250,000. It supports several homes for the aged, medical clinics, and educational facilities both in the United States and abroad. Graceland College in Lamoni, IA, which also operates a Community of Christ seminary, and Park College in Parkville, MO are both associated with the Community of Christ. The church seeks to dedicate itself to the pursuit of world peace and reconciliation. The ordination of women was approved in 1984, and by 2000 more than 3,500 women had been ordained to ecclesiastical orders.
In 2000, church officials and members agreed to change the name of this Mormon church to Community of Christ, effective in April, 2001.
The Strangites were a large group of Mormons who followed James J. Strang rather than Brigham Young. The church asserts that that Joseph Smith Jr. appointed James J. Strang to be his successor with a document that still survives and is located at Yale University. Scholars have determined that the letter has an authentic postmark "Nauvoo, June 19, 1844" on an envelope addressed in the same hand as the whole document. The envelope is block-printed in a style similar to that occasionally used by Hyram Smith's scribe, but is probably in the rare printing of Joseph Smith Jr. Himself. The text of the document matches the language, style, and passion of Joseph Smith Jr, and is published with the Revelations of James J. Strang. The letter was convincing enough so as to encourage John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, Hiram Page, John E. Page, William McLellin, William Smith, Emma Smith (Joseph Smith's wife), the sisters of Joseph Smith, William Marks, George Miller, and an array of other family members and scribes who would have known Joseph Smith Jr.'s handwriting and writing style.
Joseph Smith had written revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants that said he alone had the keys to receive revelations for the church and indicated that he would eventually appoint his successor but that he could not ordain a successor to his sole office. James J. Strang later announced that he had been ordained by angels in the same hour that Joseph Smith Jr. was killed, but he and smith were two hundred miles apart. The ordination is also published in the Revelations of James J. Strang.
Brass Plates. Interestingly, James Strang translated metallic plates in a similar manner to Joseph Smith. Furthermore, eleven witnesses signed testimonies that they saw the plates - also in the same manner as with the Book of Mormon. The testimony of the Voree Plates is published in the Revelations of James J. Strang and the testimony to the Book of the Law of the Lord is published in front of that law. The Book of the Law a translation from the Egyptian of the Law given to Moses at Mt. Sinai. The church notes that Book of the Law of the Lord is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, and believes it was translated from the brass plates of Laban taken by Nephi from Jerusalem.
James Strang apparently recovered these brass plates in 1845 buried in a hillside beneath the roots of a giant oak tree at Voree, Wisconsin Territory, and were then lost at the beginning of this century. The precise location is along the county line between Racine and Walworth Counties, where Mormon Road now runs. James Strang proclaimed himself Joseph Smith's successor on August 5, 1844, in response to a letter he received from Joseph Smith. Following the pattern of Smith, Strang promised to manifest his power as a divine translator in a revelation dated in January, 1845,
On September 1, 1845, Strang announced another revelation which was so important that he used it repeatedly in latter papers,
Strang then translated the plates in five days, and became a brief historical account called "The Record of Rajah Manchou of Vorito,"
Unlike Joseph Smith who showed his plates to just eleven witnesses, Strang proudly displayed the plates at public gatherings of Mormons and Gentiles alike. Strang related the public reaction in his 1854 Prophetic Controversy,
News of the plates found in remote Wisconsin was published in newspapers throughout the country. H.V. Reed wrote an article for the Chicago Illustrated Journal described the box in which the Voree Plates were found, "a box of blue clay, six inches square and twelve inches long" and a characterization as to how the plates were fastened together with a wire ring.
Hiram P. Brown described meeting Strang in the Gospel Herald, September 1848,
C. Latham Sholes, who patented the first typewriter, viewed the plates and published his observations in the Southport Telegraph on September 30, 1845,
Sholes was so intrigued and bewildered by the circumstances surrounding the Voree Plates that he indicated he could reach no conclusion. In his judgment, Strang was "honest and earnest in all he said" and his witnesses were "among the most honest and intelligent in that neighborhood" although it was enough to "stagger" him.The plates are described to be "three small pieces of brassa bout 2 1/2 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide, and about the thickness of a piece of tin, fastened together at one corner by a ring passing through them." Stephen Post, an outsider, visited Strang in 1850, and noted how Strang carried the plates everywhere he went. An account of his meetings with Strang is currently housed in the LDS Historical Department: "I told him I wished to see the plates if it was convenient, upon which he handed them to me from his pocked. The plates were three in number, small, about 1 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches; they were not polished very smooth before engraving, from appearance."
Two modern studies of the Voree plates have been made by two non-Mormon scholars. Derek J. Masson, in an unpublished November 1977 paper "A Comparison of the Voree Record with Some Eastern Scripts" concluded,
Robert Madison, in another unpublished paper, July 7, 1990, "A Preliminary Linguistic Analysis of James J. Strang's Voree Plates" concluded,
Scriptures. “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” We prefer the last printing of the Book of Mormon during Joseph Smith Jr.’s lifetime, the Nauvoo, 1842 edition “carefully revised by the translator.” We prefer the last printing of the Doctrine and Covenants during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, the Nauvoo, 1844 edition. The Nauvoo Doctrine and Covenants contains the “Lectures of Faith,” and the revelations from the Book of Commandments (1833) and from the first Doctrine and Covenants (1835), and the additional revelations from 1835 to 1844. The Nauvoo edition does not have the purported revelations which may or may not have some historical validity (such as one on eternal marriage, first published in Utah in 1852). But we have not discarded any of Joseph Smith Jr.’s revelations that were printed in the Doctrine and Covenants before his death. The Nauvoo scripture editions are available in our Catalogue.
Chiasmus. Chiasmus is a Hebrew literary structural form that appears in the Bible. Portions of text parallel each other in reverse order. Chiasmus was first recognized by a handful of scholars in 1820, but not well-known until 1942. In 1967 chiasmus was discovered in the Book of Mormon, and the findings were published in BYU Studies. Since then, two organizations (FARMS and FRAA) have published extensive literature to show that the Book of Mormon translated by Joseph Smith Jr. has Hebrew origins. They are correct on the Book of Mormon, but what they cannot explain is how another early Mormon, James J. Strang, could produce works in 1845 and 1851 with the same chiastic style, unless Strang’s translations have the same sacred origins as the Book of Mormon. Strang said that his translation of the Book of the Law of the Lord was made from the brass plates that the ancient Book of Mormon author named Nephi obtained from Jerusalem (as in 2 Chronicles 17:9), and the book had a testimony of witnesses.
Brigham Young was summoned to appear before this Church in a trial (to which he of course did not come), but was excommunicated by a high council on April 6, 1846. Young, in turn, claimed that also excommunicated James J. Strang. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the Mormons present when Joseph Smith Jr. was assassinated followed James Strang rather than Brigham Young. James Strang was later killed in 1856, just twelve years after his appointment, and the church barely survived being driven from northern Michigan at that time. Most of the members of this church later joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaving only a small remnant which is still in existence today.
Mormon Church Christian? This link provides "answers" to this question
- you can just about guess the answer!
Certainly, not everybody agrees that the LDS Church is a poor, false, and misleading copy of Biblical Christianity. The LDS Church has about 10 million followers throughout the world, and about 4 million adherents just in the United States alone. Certainly, it can no longer claim to be the fastest growing church in the United States, but it is arguably one of the most influential. In an effort to be fair and let readers judge for themselves, I have included these sites on the LDS page for comparison.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. This is the official web address of the LDS Church.
You will note that the first picture to open up is a mural of Jesus Christ;
the LDS Church is very sensitive about its being Christian - not merely
a cult. The readers may judge for themselves.