History of the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement is a religious movement within
Christianity that arose during the
Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century and that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called
Mormonism, and to the existence of numerous
Latter Day Saint churches. Its history is characterized by intense controversy and persecution in reaction to some of the movement's doctrines and practices and their relationship to
mainstream Christianity (see
Mormonism and Christianity). The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the different groups, beliefs, and denominations that began with the influence of Joseph Smith.
The founder of the
Latter Day Saint movement was
Joseph Smith, who was raised in the
burned-over district of Upstate
New York, and claimed that, in response to prayer, he saw
God the Father and
Jesus Christ, as well as
angels and other visions. This eventually led him to a restoration of Christian doctrine that, he said, was lost after the early Christian apostles were killed. In addition, several early leaders made marked doctrinal and leadership contributions to the movement, including
Sidney Rigdon, and
Brigham Young. Modern-day revelation from God continues to be a principal belief of the Mormon faith.
Mormon history as an academic field is called
A reconstruction of the original Peter Whitmer home in Fayette, New York.
The Church of Christ was the original name of the
Latter Day Saint church founded by
Joseph Smith. Organized informally in 1829 in
New York and then formally on April 6, 1830, it was the first organization to implement the principles found in Smith's newly published
Book of Mormon, and thus represents the formal beginning of the
Latter Day Saint movement. Later names for this organization included the Church of the Latter Day Saints (by 1834 resolution), the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God, the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (by an 1838 revelation).
Smith and his associates asserted that the Church of Christ was a
restoration of the 1st-century
Christian church, which Smith claimed had fallen from God's favor and authority because of what he called a "
Great Apostasy". After
Smith's death in 1844, there was a
crisis of authority, with the majority of the members following
Brigham Young to
Utah Territory, but with several smaller denominations remaining in Illinois or settling in Missouri and in other states. Each of the churches that resulted from this
schism considers itself to be the rightful continuation of Smith's original "Church of Christ", regardless of the name they may currently bear (
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church),
Community of Christ,
The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite),
Church of Christ (Temple Lot), etc.).
This church is unrelated to other bodies bearing the same name, including the
United Church of Christ, a
Reformed church body, and the
Churches of Christ, an offshoot of the
Campbellite movement. Today, there are several Latter Day Saint churches called "Church of Christ", largely within the
Hedrickite branch of the movement.
Partial reconstruction of Liberty Jail
Liberty Jail is a former jail in
Liberty, Missouri, United States, where
Joseph Smith, founder of the
Latter Day Saint movement, and other associates were imprisoned from December 1, 1838, to April 6, 1839, during the
1838 Mormon War.
Joseph Smith received
revelations during his imprisonment there, which are now recorded as sections 121, 122, and 123 of the LDS
Doctrine and Covenants, and encapsulated more fully in the Restoration Edition.
The site at 216 North Main, two blocks northwest of the
Clay County courthouse in downtown Liberty, is now owned by
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which operates a visitors' center featuring an indoor, cut-away reconstruction of the jail on the original site.
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