Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints
By Evan Gainey, Spring 2016
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Mormon church that was established on April 6th, 1830. The church was founded by Joseph Smith who is considered a prophet. The Mormon religion is similar to Christianity in the sense that they both believe that god is their savior and Jesus Christ died for the sins of humanity. However, it is different in the sense that its core value is priesthood authority, or the authority of god. It is believed by the Mormons that one must gain priesthood authority in order to speak and act in the name of God. I was able to visit a branch of this church in Tallahassee, which is located across from Florida State’s campus at 312 Stadium Drive. I had the privilege of meeting with a few members of the church to discuss their religion. Although none of the members knew exactly when the church in Tallahassee was built, they were very helpful in explaining the history of the church as well as some of their beliefs. I was able to discuss a variety of topics with the members of the church including how it was founded, the specifics on how the religion is practiced, and how their church is both similar and different from other churches and religions.
Mormons believe that their church was founded by a prophet named Joseph Smith. It is believed that Smith was chosen by god to preach the gospel and lead the people, who are god’s children. The story involves Joseph Smith having a dream where God and Jesus Christ grant him with the knowledge and priesthood authority to lead the people. The year that this occurred was 1820, and Joseph Smith had grown confused with the many religions that had spread throughout the world. Smith decided to turn to the bible for answers, and found counsel in a bible verse known as James 1:5. The verse states “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of god, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Mormon.org, 2008). This simply means that if you are seeking wisdom or answers, turn to God for the truth. Joseph Smith decided to pray to God, and God came to him in his dream and explained to him the correct way to worship. Joseph Smith obeyed god and did not join any existing churches, but decided to establish a new church known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith experienced opposition and prosecution from society as he began to preach what he learned from god, but he persisted to preach what he had learned and now the church is well established worldwide with over 15 million followers worldwide (Intellectual Reserve, 2016).
The Mormon religion is based strongly on priesthood, or the authority and power to act in god’s name. It is believed that this priesthood must be granted by god, and once one is granted priesthood they are able to preach the gospel. There are two types of specific priesthood’s known as Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is the lesser priesthood which includes the authority to baptize and is named for Aaron in the old testament of the bible. Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher or greater priesthood and is named for Melchizedek in the Old Testament who was a righteous high priest and king. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that there is only one way to worship god, and that all other religions have false teachings. It was extremely interesting to listen to the members of the church explain how their religion is right and others are wrong. I found that the similarities between the Mormon religion and other religions far outweighed the differences.
I do not attend church regularly and therefore know very little about religion in general, but the members of The Church of Latter-day Saints were very helpful in explaining their practices to me. I was able to draw many comparisons between the Mormon religion and other religions. The first thing that I noticed was that the male members of the church referred to themselves as elders, while the female members referred to themselves as sisters. This struck me as being very similar to Catholicism in the sense that nuns are known as sisters. However, it seemed that every member of the church received this title and not only the priests or main advocates. This is different from Christianity and Catholicism because all members of these religions do not refer to themselves with such a title. Another difference that I discovered is that the Mormon religion follows multiple scriptures and books including the Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon. The members of the church were able to explain to me that they are both products of God, but The Book of Mormon was produced by the prophet Joseph Smith.
It was extremely interesting to visit this church and have so many members available to answer any questions I had regarding their religion. The elders and sisters of the church were very passionate about the Mormon religion and even offered to have me baptized in order to become an official member of the church. I was impressed at how well they knew the history of their religion without having to read information out of a book or pamphlet. I enjoyed learning about the specific teachings of the Mormon religion and how they compared to other religions. This religion seems relatively young due to the fact that the first church was established less than 200 years ago. This may seem like a long time but it does not come close to comparing to religions such as Christianity and Catholicism which were established thousands of years ago. I plan on returning to this church for a Sunday service in order to learn a little more about how their services are conducted so that I am able to compare the experience to other church services I have attended.
Intellectual Reserve. (2016, April 15). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng
Mormon.org. (2008). The Restoration of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Intellectual Reserve.