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Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church

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Joseph Smith Jr. was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. Smith was characterized as being literate, but far from well-educated. His family's rough existence led them across Vermont and eventually to Rochester, New York. It was here, in the spring of 1820, that Joseph Smith retired to a secluded grove of trees behind his house and said a prayer for guidance about whether to join the Presbyterians as his mother demanded, or whether to join the credo of the Baptists, take up the faith of the Methodists, or follow some other of the contending sects within Christianity at the time. It was here Joseph Smith claimed to receive his first of many visions. Smith claimed that God and Jesus Christ appeared before Joseph as separate entities and told him that all of the Christian sects and denominations were in error and that he should no join any of them. And that he should anticipate a major personal assignment in the restoration of the original church of Christ.

Joseph's later visions, beginning in 1827, led to the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon, a book of sacred scripture written on gold plates that were buried nearby in the Hill Cumorah and were given him by a divine messenger, Moroni, himself an earlier prophet among the peoples described in the book. The book was, Moroni told Joseph Smith, a record of God's dealings with people who had lived before and after Christ's appearance in the New World. As in ancient Israel, they too had prophets who broth them God's word and were visited by the resurrected Jesus Christ with his message and hope. Their Civilizations had eventually disappeared because of sin and strife, and their records had been lost until the Book of Mormon and presented for public consideration in March, 1830.

Joseph Smith also received many other revelations from God that he documented forming other books, with the Book of Mormon. These consist of the Doctrines and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Doctrine and Covenants is a unique collection of revelations and inspired writings bearing witness to the modern world that Jesus Christ lives. Unlike the other standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in modern times by latter-day prophets and therefore are not translations of ancient documents. The last canonized revelation was a vision given in 1918 and there are also tow official declarations-the abolishment of polygamy in 1890 and the extension of the priesthood to all races in 1978. The Pearl of Great Price was penned by Joseph Smith, is deemed inspired, and consists of several books and 13 articles of faith. These books include the book of Moses (a revision of parts of Genesis), the Book of Abraham, The Book of Joseph Smith-Matthew (a revision of Matthew 24) and the book of Joseph Smith-History (his testimony to the church).

The completion of The Book of Mormon, proved to be the most important and significant act that Joseph Smith contributed to his church and organization. The Book of Mormon served as a new doctrine and guideline of Christ's restored church, with which to believe and abide by. This served to his new Mormon congregation building the early religious foundation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stating the highly important concept of an "open cannon" doctrine, established belief of divine revelation.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints categorizes their concept of divine revelation into two categories; Revelation to the Church and Personal Revelation. Their belief in the revelation to the church is their belief that God will always appoint a prophet to guide his people. This prophet's purpose is not to be an intermediary between God and others, though a prophet must often do so. His purpose is rather, to assist others to receive from God the personal revelation that he, the prophet, has taught God's truth, which will show the way. The prophet, as the head, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and all other people who preside in the Church may receive revelation for the benefit of those over whom they preside. These revelations can then be passed on to the membership



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