The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS Church is a restorationist Christian denomination founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. and currently headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Members of the LDS Church are often referred to as Latter-day Saints or Mormons, and the religion is referred to, along with offspring sects, as Mormonism.
The Church claims approximately 13 million members worldwide and approximately 53,000 currently-serving full-time missionaries.
Members of the LDS church believe that early Christianity entered a state of general apostasy sometime following the death of Paul of Tarsus and preceding the First Council of Nicaea, during which period the authority to perform ordinances such as baptism was lost and the original message of Christ was distorted and misrepresented. Members believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. was called of God to restore Christianity in its pure and unadulterated form, beginning in 1820 with what has become known as the First Vision, wherein God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Smith and instructed him to avoid all organized religions and wait for further instruction.
Smith claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni on September 21, 1823. Moroni, the last author in the Book of Mormon, informed Smith that there was a record of an ancient American civilization buried near his home, and that in time, he would receive and translate this record. On September 22, 1827, Smith attended a place previously appointed and retrieved the record from Moroni, with the specific charge to ensure its safety. Smith claimed that Moroni had visited him over twenty times over the course of the intervening years, preparing him for receipt of the record.
Employing revelation and two "seer stones" (which constituted an Urim and Thummim, according to Smith) included with the record, Smith translated the record from the "golden plates" on which they were inscribed to spoken English. Various associates, including Oliver Cowdery and Smith's wife Emma, transcribed the words as Smith spoke them. The first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in March 1830, directly preceding the formal organization of the Church.
In 1842, Joseph Smith, Jr., responded to a letter from Chicago newspaper editor John Wentworth with a list of thirteen basic points of doctrine. The list Smith provided is known as The Articles of Faith and is included in the Pearl of Great Price. This list can be referenced here.
Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and Savior of the world, providing a means to redemption from sin for every person who has ever lived. They believe that Jesus Christ is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that he governs through an established hierarchy of specifically ordained people. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are called as "special witnesses of Christ" and are the Church's highest governing bodies. The Church convenes semiannually for general conferences in Salt Lake City, Utah. The proceedings are broadcast over satellite networks to church meetinghouses worldwide, over the internet, radio, and some residential programming providers.
Members of the Church believe in revelation and recognize Church President Thomas S. Monson as a living prophet, analogous to the prophets in the Bible and other scriptures. Latter-day Saints believe that every man can receive revelation for that which he has rightful dominion over.
Latter-day Saints reject the concept of the Trinity and believe that each member of the Godhead is a physically distinct being, united in purpose but not in substance. They believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ have perfected physical bodies similar to those of modern-day humans, while the Holy Ghost is an unembodied spirit being, allowing the Godhead's influence to be felt by any amount of people at any place and any time.