Mormonism is a term used to describe religious, ideological, and cultural aspects of the various denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. The term Mormonism is often used to describe the belief systems of those who believe in the Book of Mormon, a "sacred" text which Mormons believe was translated by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1829 from golden plates, described as the "sacred" writings of the inhabitants of North and South America from approximately 600 BC to 420 AD. In 1830 Smith published the Book of Mormon and restored the Church of Christ, and the faithful were known amongst themselves as Latter Day Saints. Outside the church, church members have come to be called Mormons because of their belief in the Book of Mormon as the restoration of their religion. As the result of a "revelation" in 1838, the name to the Church was officially stated as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". After the death of Joseph Smith, a succession crisis ensued and the church membership was divided among various sects. The largest group accepted Brigham Young as the new prophet-president of the church and followed him West to the Salt Lake Valley in the current state of Utah. However, there was a large faction that did not accept Brigham Young's claim to leadership and remained in the Midwest. The Community of Christ is the largest church that emerged from the Latter Day Saints who did follow Brigham Young and it also claims to be the original church founded by Joseph Smith, Jr.
After The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice of plural marriage, more sects emerged in support of the practice usually in the form of polygamy. Mormonism is generally used to describe the main body of the Utah sect exclusively, mainly due to its prominence amongst Latter Day Saint denominations, but the practice of plural marriage is still heavily associated with Mormonism despite the church's efforts to distance itself and the term from polygamy. Other sects embrace or accept the term Mormonism, including the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, other Mormon fundamentalist organizations, Reform Mormonism, and cultural Mormons.
Most adherents of Mormonism may be called Latter Day Saints (or the hyphenated Latter-day Saints in reference to the largest denomination). Other generally acceptable terms include LDS, Saints, and Mormons. A minority of adherents object to the terms Mormon and Mormonism, since these are terms coined by outsiders to label members of the Church.
The Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham is the manuscript translated by Joseph Smith Jr, in 1835 that was purchased from a traveling mummy exhibition. It contains stories of Abraham's early life and a type of creation story different from the Genesis text conveying a multiplicity of gods. At a time when knowledge of the Egyptian language was not yet in America, Smith translated the papyri manuscript and it is now contained within the Mormon scriptures called the Pearl of Great Price. Not only that but Joseph Smith completely mislabeled and misidentified crucial Egyptian cultural and religious symbols, taking the manuscript out of its cultural context. Because of the blatant anachronisms and historical inaccuracies the Book of Abraham is largely discredited as having any serious substance. Dr. Archibald Henry Sayce (1846 - 1933) in the 1900's was able to settle the controversy by bringing scholarship in dealing with the translation process of the Book of Abraham. According to A. H. Sayce the manuscript papyri was in fact from Egypt, but dated many centuries after Abraham. Joseph Smith's translation was wholly inaccurate and hard to take serious by scholars of the beginning of the twentieth century.
|“||It is difficult to deal seriously with Joseph Smith's impudent fraud. His facsimile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied so ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct. I need scarce say that Kolob, etc., are unknown to the Egyptian language. Number 3 is a representation of the Goddess Maat leading the Pharaoh before Osiris, behind whom stands the Goddess Isis. Smith has turned the Goddess into a king and Osiris into Abraham. The hieroglyphics, again, have been transformed into un-intelligible lines. Hardly one of them is copied correctly.||”|
- The Lost Book of Abraham By Institute for Religious Research
- Joseph Smith, Jr., as a translator: An Inquiry By F. S. Spalding, D. D. Bishop of Utah
- Brigham Young Was a False Prophet
- Mormon Scriptures Revealed By Sean McDowell
- Mormonism, Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints by CARM