Sat | Sep 22, 2018

The story of Mormonism (Part 1)

Published:Saturday | May 20, 2017 | 12:04 AMPaul H. Williams

On Saturday, May 13, Kevin Brown, Mormon high councillor, told Family and Religion of the challenges and joy of being a Mormon for 32 years. Yet, Mormonism is not a popular movement in Jamaica. Thus, Family and Religion went exploring.

The research says that it is a Christian religious tradition said to have been founded by Joseph Smith Jr in New York, USA, in the 1830s during a religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.

Smith, it is said, was confused about which Christian denomination he should become a part of, so he prayed to God to find the answer. In the spring of 1820, he said he got a vision, in which God instructed him to not join one of the existing denominations because they were all not worthy.

As the 1820s went by, Smith said that he was visited several times by angels. He was told that God would use him to re-establish the Christian Church and that the Book of Mormon would be the basis of the re-establishment of the correct doctrine for the restored Church.

The Book of Mormon, he said, was translated from a reformed Egyptian language written on golden plates. He said an angel first showed him the location of the plates, buried on a hill in 1823, but he was only allowed to retrieve the plates in 1827.

Modern-day project

Around autumn of that year, Smith began the translation, and it is said that in the summer of the following year, he lost 116 translated pages. Yet, the arduous task was completed between April and June 1829. He said he translated the language on the golden plates by the gift and power of God. But, only a few people, it is said, saw the plates, which he said he returned to the angel after the translation was completed.

Shortly after the completion in 1829, Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and some of his early followers began to seek and baptise converts. He formally established the Church of Christ in 1830. His followers regarded him a modern-day prophet.

Yet, many people did not share that idea. So, Smith and his followers faced much persecution. To avoid physical confrontations, they moved from New York to Ohio. From there, they fled to Jackson county, Missouri, from where they were expelled in 1833 because violence erupted between them and some state residents.

They found refuge in a town called Commerce in Illinois. The Mormons bought the town and renamed it Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, they practised and worshipped in peace, and the movement enjoyed some amount of growth. However, there was also great opposition, which bred much tension. Smith himself was killed by a mob in 1844. His death led to significant divisions within the movement itself.