“Who are the Mormons?” you might ask. Many people first think of the Mormon faith as a sheltered religion tucked away in the Rocky Mountains of Utah. Actually, there are more than 12 million members worldwide and more than 50% live outside the United States. You have probably met some of the Mormon HBS students and know that both Dean Clark and Governor Romney are members of this religion.
Given the growth of the church and its visibility here in Massachusetts, it isn’t surprising that over 50 people showed up at a presentation last Wednesday to learn more about what Mormons believe. After a brief presentation about basic beliefs, participants were allowed to ask questions of a panel comprised of two RC and two EC students. The following is a brief overview of the material shared at the presentation:
Mormons believe that God is our Heavenly Father. He is kind and loving and wants us to return to live with Him. In order to help us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to provide a way for us to return to Heaven.
During his life, Jesus Christ organized His church in Jerusalem. After Christ ascended to heaven, twelve apostles continued to receive revelation from him on how to guide the church. Yet after these apostles were killed, members changed the teachings of the Church that He had established. While good people and some truth remained, a general falling away from the truth brought about the withdrawal of the Church from the earth. Centuries of conflict and disagreement followed regarding the truths that had been clearly taught by Christ. By 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith found confusion among all the religions that claimed stewardship for Christianity’s truths.
After searching the Bible, Joseph earnestly prayed to know which church he should join. As a result of that prayer, Joseph Smith was visited by two heavenly beings, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They told Joseph not to join any church. As a result of this and other experiences, Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet-a powerful witness of Christ-with a mission to restore to earth Christ’s original church.
As part of his calling, Joseph Smith was led to discover and translate into English an ancient record known as the Book of Mormon. It is a record of civilizations that inhabited the ancient Americas from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D.
The book contains a record of their lives and the teachings of prophets about the Savior Jesus Christ. The nickname “Mormon” comes from this book. The official name of the Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The word “Latter-day” is to differentiate the original church in Christ’s time and the later or restored church. Today, the Church is the fastest growing major religion in the United States.
Some of the questions that were asked on Wednesday included the following:
Q: Are Mormons polygamists?
A: No. There was a brief period in Mormon history when polygamy was practiced by a small number of church members; however, this practice was discontinued in 1890.
Q: How does the Church view gay marriage?
A: The Church does not support gay marriage. God has given laws that govern the institution of marriage. These laws include the commandment that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman-lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Q: Do Mormons drink beer or smoke?
A: No. Mormons don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea. They also don’t use tobacco or any illegal drugs.
Q. Can anyone go into a Mormon temple?
A. Anyone can visit a Mormon church where Sunday worship takes place. Only members in good standing can go inside a temple. The temple is a very sacred place where special ordinances such as marriage take place.
Q: If your faith is the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ from ancient days, what happened to religion between then and the time of Joseph Smith?
A: After Christ and His followers were killed, the power and authority to lead the official Christian church was lost from the earth. Although inspired reformers and Protestants (like Luther and Calvin) sought to correct unorthodox practices, the “priesthood” (God’s authority given to mankind) was not found on the earth. By the year 1830, Joseph Smith and others had received this authority from heavenly messengers and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.
Still have questions? See http://www.mormon.org, or ask one of those
Mormons at HBS-there’s probably one in your section.