Many people wonder how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fits in among all the other Christian denominations. The simple picture above illustrates the differences between many of the Christian churches.
The Catholic Church is represented by the solid line at the top. Catholics believe that their church maintains an unbroken line of authority from Peter to Pope Francis today. Christ in the New Testament bestowed upon Peter the "keys of the kingdom" and Catholics believe these keys and the authority to administer the kingdom of God have been passed down through the Popes to the present day. Accordingly, only the Catholic Church possesses the proper authority to administer the gospel and sacraments of Christ.
The second 'tree-looking' graph represents Christian Protestantism. When Catholics talk about the "primacy" of Peter and the Bishop of Rome, My Eastern Orthodox friend says that during the first thousand years of the Christian Church, there were many Christian capitals such as Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome and each of these capitals had ordained bishops who were equal in authority.
When Rome realized they couldn't burn enough Christians or feed enough of them to the lions to stop the spread of truth, Rome decided to take the Church over. If Rome couldn't stop the Christian movement, they would control it by giving believers an 'authorized version'. Rome took sole control over Christianity after the other Christian capitals were destroyed by the Muslims. Remaining Christians were forced by the Roman Empire to join the authorized State-Sponsored Christian Church. In Rome's New State-Sponsored Church, doctrine was decided by ecumenical councils of scholars, apologists and theologians and not by revelation by the Lord's anointed.
However, after Rome was weakened, a few Catholic clergy and members had the courage to protest against the doctrine and practices of the Catholic Church. These courageous reformers broke away from the Catholic Church forming their own alternative deniminations which were established based on their understanding of the Bible.
Some Christian denominations were formed because Christians believed: 1. baptism should be by immersion and not sprinkling, 2. clergy need not be celibate, 3. you cannot pay indulgance money for forgiveness of sins, 4. the Bible should be printed in the language of the people. Consequently, because of the many differing interpretations of the Bible, we see the many Christian denominations and non-denominations today.
Doctrines of Authority
All the denominations who have broken off from the Catholic Church also disagree with the Catholic doctrine of authority. Protestants believe that authority in the Catholic sense is not necessary because of the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers" or that a person can become qualified to be ordained after earning a theological degree.
The third broken line in the illustration depicts Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is the most popular religion in America. In reality, a person can be Catholic, Protestant or non-denominational and still be Evangelical. Evangelicals believe that the Kingdom of God is not a literal physical reality but a figurative spiritual reality. Evangelicals believe that it doesn't matter what Christian denomination or non-denomination you belong to; as long as a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they will be saved. Issues about authority and specific doctrine is secondary.
The fourth line describes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS Church recognizes that God the Son came to Earth as Jesus Christ and established His covenant with Peter. And formed a physical church with ordained Prophets, Apostles, Seventies, Bishops and Deacons.
However, because of the persecution of the Roman Empire, those with the keys and authority were killed. Without authority to receive revelation from God the gates of Hell did prevail against the Church and without revelation, the physical church soon strayed away from the truth and the Entire Christian world decended into the Dark Ages.
Despite the fall of the physical Church of Christ into Apostasy, the Evangelical fires of spiritual belief still burned. And when the hearts of mankind were sufficently prepared through the Reformation and the creation of a Constitutional Government in America, God was merciful and again restored His covenant, His Priesthood, His Church, and His Kingdom upon the Earth in these Last Days.
A young boy of 14 named Joseph Smith grew up in a Christian home in rural upstate New York. When the opportunity to join several Christian denominations arose, the Smith home was divided in which to choose. Joseph Smith Sr was disillusioned by organized religion, Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, was drawn to the Presbyterian faith. Joseph liked the Methodists. When it came time to decide, the young Joseph Smith searched thr Bible for direction.
Joseph read James 1:5 which saiys "If ant man lack wisdom, let him ask of God". Joseph Smith said that the Spirit of God filled his heart upon reading these words. In the Spring of 1820, Joseph went to a secluded grove of trees to offer a verbal prayer and ask God which Church he should join. In response to Joseph's humble prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and called Joseph as the prophet of this last disoensation before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Joseph's theophany is called the "First Vision" because it was only the first of many visitations by Christ and heavenly messengers who appeared to Joseph Smith and other Church Founders and revealed to them new and lost scripture, bestowed by the laying on of hands the proper keys and authority of Christ's Priesthood as well as restoring the doctrines of the Kingdom.
Now, when you consider the different patterns above of the Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and LDS Church. We need to then ask, which of these patterns fits the pattern given to us and foretold in the Bible?
I just recently was reading the Old Testament, and I was amazed at the pattern of history that the Bible illustrates.
The Bible starts out in Genesis telling us that after The Fall, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) established His covenant with Adam. Mankind went along okay for awhile until we fell away from the truth of God into apostasy. Consequently, God sent the Great Flood to wipe the slate clean and start over.
God then re-establishes His covenant with Noah and things go good for awhile until mankind again falls away into error and we have the scattering of the people and the confounding of the langages at the tower of Babel.
God then finds a true and honest man Abraham and again re-establishes His covenant. Mankind goes along okay for awhile in Egypt but soon fell away from God again and were allowed to be enslaved by the Egyptians.
When the Israelites in Egypt were sufficiently chastened and humbled, God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites from bondage and re-establish His covenant. Israel was led to their promised land and did okay for awhile until mankind yet again fell away from the truth of God and Israel was permitted to be conquered, scattered, and enslaved by Assyria and then Babylon.
In the meridian of time, God the Son (Jehovah) came down personally to Earth as Jesus Christ and re-established the Abrahamic covenant with Peter. Christ formed His Church for the perfecting of the Saints and called, ordained and commanded His servants to preach His truth to all nations, baptizing repentant believers in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Christ promised if the Church stayed with the revelatory authority of Peter, Hell would never prevail against them. However, it wasn't long after the martyrdom of Peter and the Church Fathers that the Church again strayed away from true doctrine to creeds by ecumenical councils. History testifies that the entire Christian world fell into the depths of the Dark Ages.
Then, in the Last Days in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God has promised to prune His vineyard one last time, to gather together scattered and lost branches of Israel from the four corners of the Earth and perform what Isaiah calls "a marvelous work and a wonder". Peter described this last dispensation when he spoke of a future "restoration of all things" and a future "dispensation of the fullness of times."
Joseph Smith was called by God to re-establish His covenant with man for the final time and restore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Earth. The Church of Christ is organized with the doctrines, ordinances, priesthood authority, and offices of Prophets, Apostles, Seventies, Bishops and Deacons identical to the original.
DANIEL INTERPRETS NEBUCHADEZZAR'S DREAM
Daniel Chapter 2 relates a great prophecy about the Last Days. The Book of Daniel recounts the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The Jews were in captivity to Babylon and Daniel was a member of the King's court. Only Daniel through the power of the Spirit of God was able to interpret the King's prophetic dream.
Daniel 2 tells us that God showed the King a great statue with a head of gold, shoulders of silver, belly of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. The King then was shown a small stone cut out of the mountain without hands that rolled forth and struck the idol at its feet, knocking the idol over and completely destroying the idol forever. Daniel told the King that the stone after striking the image would then become a great mountain (temple) and fill the whole Earth.
Daniel told the King that the Babylon Empire represented the head of God, and the arms of silver represented the Persian Empire that would follow. The Bronze was Greece that would conquer and replace Persia and the Legs of Iron represented a future Roman Empire that would be stronger and greater than all the previous Empires combined. However, the Roman Empire wouldn't last and would eventually be broken up. This division was represented by the feet of iron and clay.
Feet of Iron and Clay
Then Daniel gives one of the most important prophecies in scripture when he says:
44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Old Testament, Daniel, Chapter 2)
God reveals through Daniel that in the Last Days, the days of the feet of the kings represented by the feet of iron and clay, that God would establish a kingdom that would never fail or be destroyed. This everlasting Kingdom would start as a small stone cut out of a mountain without hands. This kingdom cannot be the Church given to Peter. The Christian Church given by Christ to Peter was established in the days of the Roman Empire represented by the legs of iron.
Precedes the Second Coming
This great and final kingdom is established before the Second Coming of Christ and not at His Coming or afterwards. Daniel clearly says the Kingdom would start out small during the days following the breakup of the Roman Empire and then after rolling forth and gaining some momentum would strike the great idol and completely destroy it. Only then after the idol is destroyed, will the stone grow into a great mountain and fill the Earth. The little stone cut out of the mountain is not Christ at His coming in glory but precedes it and prepares Christ's people for the Great Day of the Lord.
End of Holy Roman Empire
Like Greece, Rome started out as a free and democratic republic. However, this great nation was infiltrated by evil men who conspired together and transformed this free nation into an oppressive Empire. The aim of the conspiracy was not to maintain the Empire but to destroy it and subjugate the people under a feudal system where a ruling elite rule over surfs too weak, coarse, illiterate, and ignorant to ever oppose them. We see the same neo-feudalist game plan being carried our today which has transformed the West into a kind of Romanesque, oppressive, war-mongering Empire.
Despite the turbulence of the Days of the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire continued on for many more centuries. The Holy Roman Empire did not officially end until Emperor Francis 2 lost several wars to Napoleon and was forced to sign the Treaty of Pressburg in December 26, 1805. Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805.
Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands. Despite all the Satan-controlled media that tells you we are occult and worship another Christ. The LDS Church is the Kingdom of God and we worship the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost in spirit and in truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church and kingdom and the only true and living Church on the face of the Earth.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and part of the Evangelical spiritual Church of Christ, you are invited to join the physical Church that God has restored in these Last Days.