What is a “Mormon” anyway? Most people really don’t know unless they have friends or family who are members of the Church. And where does the name “Mormon” come from?
First of all, let me begin by saying we are Christians. The real name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We read the Bible, both Old and New Testament, along with other books of scripture, one of those being entitled The Book of Mormon. So, what’s the Book of Mormon and where does it come from?
To answer that, I must give some Church history. As we read the Bible we find God has always called righteous men to be prophets to lead and teach His people such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jonah. The people than had the option to accept or reject the teachings of the prophets. When a prophet died or was killed another would be called. God kept with this pattern until the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. When Christ was on the earth He did many things, one being He set up His church. He called 12 apostles and gave them the Priesthood, or the authority to act in His name. However, after Christ’s death & resurrection the apostles were all eventually killed. The church fell apart and righteous men tried to pick up the pieces and go forward.
Then we come to the reformers, those who tried to change religion during times of religious oppression. And finally, when the “New World” was settled the time was once again right for God to call a prophet to lead His people. In 1820 in upstate NY lived a young boy named Joseph Smith. Joseph and his family were in the middle of a time of religious revival. Each religion contended against the next. His own family members belonged to different churches. He was confused about which church was right. He trusted in his Christian upbringing and turned to the Bible for guidance. He read in James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . .”. And so, he did just that. He went out to the wood to pray and got an answer which would later be known as the first vision. He said:
I saw a pillar of clight exactly over my head, above the brightness of the dsun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I bsaw two cPersonages, whose brightness and dglory defy all description, estanding above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My fBeloved gSon. Hear Him!
Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. He was told to join none of the churches, that Christ’s church was not on the earth at that time. He was called as a prophet to restore that church back to the earth in it’s purity. The Church was founded April 6, 1830. The priesthood of God was restored to the earth, prophets and apostles were called, Temples built, all things that existed in the time of Christ’s ministry were restored! Today we have a prophet and apostles onthe earth, Temples on every continent, and all blessings that come from the restoration of Christ’s church.
So, what’s the Book of Mormon then? The scriptures say “by their fruits ye shall know them”. The Book of Mormon is one of the fruits of Joseph Smith’s labors. When he was called to be a prophet he was shown where an ancient record was buried. It was in a hill in NY called the hill Cumorah. He was commanded to translate this record and did so by the power of God. For the complete explanation I refer to the Title Page of The Book of Mormon: