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The Beginnings of Mormonism. The Life of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism. Early Years. Born -- December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith There was a revival in his area when he was around the age of 17 (he later said age 14).

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The beginnings of mormonism

The Beginnings of Mormonism

The Life of Joseph Smith, Jr.,

the founder of Mormonism


Early years
Early Years

  • Born -- December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith

  • There was a revival in his area when he was around the age of 17 (he later said age 14).

  • He asked in prayer which church to join and was told in a vision they were all wrong and he was to join none of them.


The first vision
The First Vision

  • In the earliest accounts of this reported vision, an angel appeared to him.

  • In 1832 he said it was the Lord who appeared to him and forgave his sins.

  • By 1838 he said it was two personages, God the Father and Jesus Christ who appeared to him. This is the official version of the Mormon Church.


Treasure hunting
Treasure Hunting

  • Smith became a treasure hunter, using a looking glass to find buried treasure.

  • In 1826, court records in Bainbridge, New York show he was convicted of being a "disorderly person" and an "impostor."

  • In 1827, he eloped with Emma Hale, whom he had met in 1825 on a treasure hunting trip to Harmony, Pennsylvania.


Emma the first wife
Emma– The First Wife

  • Emma was married to Joseph on January 18, 1827, the day after they eloped, in Afton, NY.

  • She lived with him until his death in 1844.


The golden plates
The Golden Plates

  • Joseph said that in 1823, an angel (first called Nephi, later Moroni) appeared to him and told him of golden plates.

  • In 1827 he was allowed to discover the “golden plates.”

  • He kept them in a wooden box and “translated” them by looking into his hat containing a seer’s stone or two stones, sometimes called the Urim and Thummim.


The golden plates cont
The Golden Plates (cont.)

  • The plates were said to make a book 6” x 7” by 8” tall. Such a book of gold would have weighed over 200 pounds.

  • Most people were not allowed to see them. However, they were supposedly seen by 3 witnesses: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris; and by 8 other witnesses: 4 Whitmers and 3 Smiths.


The translation
The Translation

  • Smith dictated pages from the golden plates according to what he saw in the hat first to Emma and then to Martin Harris, a wealthy farmer.

  • Harris took the first 116 pages to his wife and he hid or destroyed them.

  • Smith only summarized the contents of the missing 116 pages as he continued.


The translation cont
The Translation (cont.)

  • Smith finished “translating” the Book of Mormon in 1829, dictating what he saw to Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher.

  • The Book of Mormon was first published in March 1830, paid for by Martin Harris after he mortgaged his farm.


The book of mormon
The Book of Mormon

  • The Book of Mormon tells how Jews sailed to the New World to become the American Indians.

  • After His resurrection, Christ appeared to these people to establish His church in the New World.

  • Ultimately, the bad people, the Lamanites, killed the good people, the Nephites, and were cursed with a dark skin.


The book of mormon cont
The Book of Mormon (cont.)

  • The storyline is remarkably similar to View of the Hebrews written by Ethan Smith in 1823.

  • It contains numerous similarities to the King James Version.

  • Alexander Campbell stated that the Book of Mormon contained every truth and almost every error that had been taught in New York. It is very Trinitarian.


The church of christ
The “Church of Christ”

  • In 1830 in New York Smith and Cowdery organized the “Church of Christ,” later known as the “Church of the Latter Day Saints” and then as the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”

  • This early name was taken from the Book of Mormon, which says that the church as bride of Christ should wear His name.


Kirtland ohio
Kirtland, Ohio

  • In 1830 Restoration ministers Sydney Rigdon and Parley Pratt were converted in northern Ohio, together with hundreds in their churches.

  • Smith had a revelation to move to Ohio to join these, so he and his followers moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

  • A temple was built in Kirtland from 1833 to 1836.


Kirtland ohio cont
Kirtland, Ohio (cont.)

  • In Kirtland, Smith began his own translation of the Bible, gave the “word of wisdom,” and “translated” the Book of Abraham.

  • There was a mission established at Far West, Missouri.

  • Having been denied a charter to operate a bank, Smith formed The Kirkland AntiBanking Safety Society, but it failed, lossing a lot of money.


Far west missouri
Far West, Missouri

  • Smith and Ridgon left Kirtland for the mission site in Far West, Missouri.

  • The other Mormons soon followed.

  • Smith prophesied that Missouri was the location of the Garden of Eden, a temple would be built at Independence, Missouri, and Jesus’ second coming would be to Missouri.


Far west missouri cont
Far West, Missouri (cont.)

  • The Mormons were most from the north thus being anti-slavery and voted as a block.

  • This led to violence with the locals and the formation of the Danites, a Mormon vigilante group.

  • The ensuing “Mormon War” led to the Mormons leaving Missouri for Illinois.


Nauvoo illinois
Nauvoo, Illinois

  • The Mormons fled to Illinois and built a city on the Mississippi River called Nauvoo.

  • It was in Nauvoo that the practice of plural wives (polygamy), which had begun in Kirtland and expanded in Far West, began to be practiced by a number of people.

  • Joseph Smith always denied polygamy, but Fawn Brodie lists 49 wives.


Joseph smith s 49 wives
Joseph Smith’s 49(?) Wives

  • The first plural wife is listed as Fannie Alger, a 17-year-old staying at his Kirtland house. She became pregnant and Emma expelled her.

  • Of the next 11 plural wives, 9 were married to other men at the time of their “marriage” to Joseph Smith. These were taken at Far West, MO, and Nauvoo, IL.


Nauvoo illinois cont
Nauvoo, Illinois (cont.)

  • A temple was begun in Nauvoo.

  • Smith became a Mason in Nauvoo and modeled many of the temple ceremonies after Masonic rituals.

  • It was there he started baptism for the dead.

  • At Nauvoo Smith proposed to Jane Law and incurred the wrath of her husband.


The nauvoo expositor
The Nauvoo Expositor

  • William Law was a newspaper man who published the only issue of the Nauvoo Expositor directed against Joseph Smith.

  • Smith led other Mormons in destroying the printing press.

  • This led to Smith and his brother Hyrum being arrested and placed in jail in Carthage.


Joseph smith s death
Joseph Smith’s Death

  • On the evening of June 27, 1844, the men of the Warsaw militia stormed the jail.

  • Hyrum had a one-shot pistol and was immediately shot.

  • Joseph emptied his six-shooter, scoring 3 hits, and then jumped from the second story window. He was shot in the window and then again after he fell.


The question of succession
The Question of Succession

  • Upon Joseph Smith’s death, the movement split at least four ways:

  • Brigham Young led the great majority westward to Utah and openly practiced and taught polygamy.

  • Young Joseph Smith III led a group to form the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, later called the Community of Christ .


Succession cont
Succession (cont.)

  • Sydney Rigdon led a small group to Pennsylvania to form the Church of Christ, later called the Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion or Rigdonites. William Bickerton later led this group, called The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite).

  • James Strang led a group to form the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).


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