Definitions of unique :
1: being the only one
2 being without a like or equal
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, certainly fall into the category of unique in numerous ways.
1. Prophets – We have a living prophet of God guiding us today just as there were prophets guiding the Lord’s people during the days and times of the Bible. ” Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a prophet and apostles leading and guiding it today just as prophets and apostles did in the past.
2.The Priesthood – The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. During the great apostasy, the priesthood of God was lost upon the earth. This great apostasy was foretold in the Bible ( see 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ) and ( 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ). The Everlasting Priesthood was restored on earth once again when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained by Heavenly messengers in 1829.
3. No professional clergy – With no professional clergy, the survival of the different wards (meeting places) is entirely dependent on lay participation. No one is paid to perform their services. In my ward, which is very typical of most wards in the church, we have about 40 members that have a leadership role, and at least that many that teach and perform other duties within the church. And no one gets reimbursed for their up to 20+ hours of dedicated service to others each and every week. A Bishop, who would be the equivalent of a pastor, minister, or priest in another church, watches over each ward, and is not compensated for his untiring service and devotion to others.
4. Missionary work – I am aware of a lot of good work being done by missionaries of other faiths, so what makes our missionaries unique? More than 50,000 missionaries are serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at any one time. Most are young people under the age of 25, serving in nearly 350 missions throughout the world. A large percentage of young men and young women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give up part of their young lives to serve the Lord. The young men will serve a mission any where in the world for two years, while the young women serve for a year and a half. The men serve a little longer because they start out a little slower. ;-) Senior men and women also serve missions. I know of seniors who will come off one mission, and turn around and volunteer for another shortly thereafter. The missionaries, or their families, pay their own expenses. Imagine a 19 year old leaving college temporarily, then go to the missionary training center to learn how to speak Ukrainian, ( or whatever ) , and then leave their family and friends behind for two years…..and they pay their own way to do this? This just amazes me. I know of one young man who is leaving shortly to go to a foreign land as a missionary who has just started a blog. The plan is, as he writes home each week, his sister will put his letter on his blog for him. You see, the missionaries for the LDS Church cannot have lap tops, PC’s, or television for the time they are away. In fact, they are pretty well regimented as to what they can and cannot do. Like going to bed at a certain time and getting up at a certain time. Contacts with family and friends during this time of service are limited to letters and occasional phone calls to family at special times ( Christmas and Mothers Day). Missionaries avoid entertainment, parties or other activities common to this age-group as long as they are on their missions, so they can focus entirely on the work of serving and of teaching others the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amazing. It is said that the Salt Lake Valley in Utah has more spoken languages than anywhere else in the world due to all the returned missionaries from foreign lands. So in many ways, the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are unique.
5. Temples – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a Temple building people. With 124 Temples currently in operation and another 12 announced or under construction, I think that this makes the Mormons unique in a very special way. Our Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places where the Lord may visit. The Temples are not secret in any way, but are sacred in many, many, ways.
6. Baptism for the dead – ” Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” 1 – Corinthians 15:29
I know of no other church today who performs baptisms for the dead, yet we know from scripture that no man can enter into or see the kingdom of God without being born again. (John 3:1-5, 9-10 ) Paul indicated that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”. (Ephesians 4:5). Since baptism is so essential to our salvation, and the salvation of all those who preceded us in death, the Lord in His wisdom allows us to be baptized in proxy by those who hold the priesthood authority to do so.
7. Marriage for Time and all Eternity – Marriages performed in a Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not contain the words “until death do you part” as in a civil ceremony. In marriages performed in a Temple of our Lord by the proper Priesthood authority, a couple becomes husband and wife not only in this mortal life, but also in the life to come, provided they keep all the covenants made to our Heavenly Father. Mormons believe that families can be forever and that no success in this world can compensate for failure in the home. The very basic unit of the Church is indeed the family.
8. Genealogy – The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the largest genealogical library in the world and provides access to many collections of records, with more than two billion names of deceased people. Over 700 staff and volunteers assist patrons with family history work. Approximately 1,900 people visit the library each day. The Church also operates one of the most popular genealogical services on the Internet free of charge at http://www.familysearch.org/. The site contains a billion names from over 110 counties and territories including the 1880 United States Census, the 1881 Canadian Census, the 1881 British Census, the Ellis Island database and the Freedman’s Bank Records. However, most of the Church’s vast collection of genealogical resources is yet to come online. The Church is undertaking a massive digitization project to bring most of the additional collection of the Family History Library online over the next few years.
Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go through the expense and time involved with genealogy? Family history is, in Latter-day Saint belief, the essential forerunner for temple work for the dead. In Latter-day Saint belief, the dead have the choice to accept or reject the services performed for them. Baptisms for the dead, eternal marriages, endowments, and other sacred ordinances are performed for our dead ancestors, and in many cases, we can do the necessary work personally if we are worthy enough to enter into The House of the Lord. All members of the Church are encouraged to become involved in genealogy work for their ancestors.
9. Known as Saints – In the Bible, the followers of Jesus Christ were called saints. See Ephesians 2:19, 2 Corinthians 8:4, 1 Corinthians 14:33. Today, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are also known as saints.
10. Book of Mormon – In John 10:16 we read, “ And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus visited his “other sheep” on the American continent after He had been crucified and had ascended unto his Father. At this time, Jesus organized His church and chose 12 disciples on the American continent – just as He had done among the Jews. The Book of Mormon is written by and about these “other sheep”. The bringing forth of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith through the Angel Moroni is one of the greatest events in the history of mankind. Here we now have another testament of Jesus Christ. Upon reading the Book of Mormon, one has to ask themselves how an obscure farm boy with little education could have written this book without divine revelation. Read the Book of Mormon. As quoted in “Mormon Doctrine” by Bruce R. McConkie : But the great an conclusive evidence of the divinity of the Book of Mormon is the testimony of the Spirit to the honest truth seeker. Moroni promised: “When ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, and with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Yes, read the Book of Mormon and judge for yourself if it is of man or if it is of God. I know of a certainty that it is of God, but it is up to you to pick up the Book of Mormon, read it, and come to your own conclusion.
Tomorrow I will attempt to post ten more reasons that make Mormons unique from the other Christian churches found in the world today.