The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church)
The Mormon Church is an unofficial name for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormonism refers to the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith and succeeding prophets and leaders of the Church, which doctrines Mormons believe to be eternal, and a restoration of the original gospel preached by Jesus Christ.
Some people describe Mormonism as a branch of Christianity that encompasses several different denominations; however, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assert that their organization, its theology, and culture are the only true representative of Mormonism. Moreover, they believe that they are no sect or splinter group, but rather a complete restoration of the actual Church of Jesus Christ.
Such a restoration was necessary, because relatively soon after the ascension of Christ and the death of the Apostles, the philosophies of men corrupted many doctrines to such a degree that God’s authority was withdrawn. Through God’s prophet Joseph Smith, the Church was restored in these, the latter days (or last days of the world). Hence, members of today’s Church usually prefer to be called Latter-day Saints. This appellation simply distinguishes them from their ancient counterparts and reiterates the reality of a loss and subsequent renewal of doctrines, practices, and authority.
Other names for members of the Church include LDS, Saints, or Mormons. The latter term was initially used in derision, pointing to the Church’s belief in the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. Akin to the Bible, the Book of Mormon is accepted as divine scripture which testifies of the divinity and sacred mission of Jesus Christ. Mormons proffer that if the Book of Mormon is true—which can be ascertained through sincere reading, contemplation, and prayer—then Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ, once again restored on the earth.