The Four Principles
Four Basic Principles
I) We explicitly accept people of all real, true, and valid religion in it's original sense of the word; that is, (re)ligion, to re-connect. All religion that serves to reconnect individuals with their Creator is welcomed.
II) We explicitly embrace human beings as persons of worth no matter what circumstance may avail them; all life has worth.
III) We explicitly believe in communal living, finding likeminded individuals to commune with and share our possessions and life with in a manner that benefits all.
IV) We explicitly meet all needs wheresoever we may find them, whether they be of our own flock or beyond.
Who is a Zionite?
Over the past few years, we have agreed - despite religious and theological differences - in four basic principles. A Zionite is anyone who believes in these Four Basic Principles of Zion:
Zion is also a traditional Biblical name of the place where Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple were. It was the dwelling place of a number of people for thousands of years, including but not limited to the Jebusites, Canaanites, and the Israelites. For the Israelites, it was the holiest place imaginable. Their self-identity was one of persecution and redemption by a God who covenants with them, dwells among them, and loves them more than anything.
As the Israelites were conquered by civilization after civilization - the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, and British - they became scattered across the world and their struggle for identity in alien cultures came to define them. Their lifestyles and works became a collective yearning for Zion, a remembrance of the land where their people dwelled and could live amongst themselves.
So as the peoples who originated the concept of Zion spread throughout the world, so did the concept of Zion evolve, change, and grow.
Today, Mount Zion is occupied in Jerusalem by people of all religions who consider the place Holy.
We also believe in a Heavenly Temple, real and existent, described in the many various books of scripture and principally in Revelations and Ezekiel of the Bible.
Who is God?
The short version is that God is our eternal Father and Mother, our loving creator, our Savior, our inspirer and sustainer, our all in all. He is existence itself and is beyond that. God is Love.
While the mind of God is unknowable, His heart is entirely knowable. It is to God's heart that He beckons us to understand in this life. In our next life, we will understand His mind.
To describe God in depth, a Zionite named Chester said it best:
God is the indescribable, uncreated, self existent, eternal all knowing source of all reality and being.
We who walk with God have come to know God as Creator, Destroyer, and Preserver. (S)he is Infinite, Eternal, Uncreated and Created. (S)he is both Immanent and Personal, and Transcendent and Impersonal.
Everyone who walks with God has three concepts when they think about God:
Zion proclaims that the most Personal and most perfect Image of God is Jesus of Nazareth. We affirm him to be God-in-flesh, the Eternal Word, and in Christian terms, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can all be described equally as being Uncreated, Created, and Personal.
We see this in Enoch who provides our example of one who walks with God. In the Book of Enoch, Enoch goes through a seven step process known as the Walk or the Way. Jesus of Nazareth, in human and divine form, Walked this Way to provide a modern example to all of mankind:
-not knowing God
-faith in God
-acting with God
Enoch comes to know God in many forms, just as we can. One's own God-image is personal and revealed. One's God-image will change over time, just as it did for Israel - just as it does for all cultures and all individuals.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus of Nazareth is the Perfect Image of God.
We, as human beings, are created in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27). Jesus Christ is the perfect fulfillment of that Image (Colossians 1:15). He said that whatever he does, we can do, and that we will do even greater things (John 14:12). He asked us to have the exact same type of relationship with God that he had (John 17:21-22). The Apostles of Jesus Christ teach that those who follow in Christ's footsteps are sons of God just as Jesus is a son of God (Romans 8:17) and that through him, we may partake in the divine nature just as Christ does (2 Peter 1:4).
Everything about Jesus Christ's life is correct. In all things, follow his example of conduct. Jesus Christ is the final authority of faith and the words of all prophets are subject to him.
We look towards prophets and scriptures both ancient and modern chosen and revealed by God for our information on Jesus Christ.
The Roles of Christ
Logos is a Greek word that carries many meanings. It is an essentially Greek concept that was familiar to the writers of the New Testament. In the Gospel According to St. John, John identifies the Logos as Christ, having always existed. The most familiar English translation of this word is "Word", from the King James Version, also called the Authorized Version or the 1611 Bible.
The simplest meaning of the word is "discourse" or "opinion" and ancient Greek philosophers used it as such.
Heraclitus linked the concept of Logos as discourse with an overarching rational power of the universe:
"This logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep." (From the Diels-Kranz collection, 22B1)
The wording of the New Testament supports the ideals of Heraclitus: "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God and theLogos was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-3).
For Aristotle, the Logos was the ability of man to manifest outwardly what one felt inwardly. It is easy to see how Greek philosophers would adopt this notion as a cosmological principle, bringing the scale of the manifestation to macrocosmological levels, the outward manifestation being the physical world and the inner existence as being the world of spirit. This would not have been unfamiliar to Greek readers, all of whom if they were educated were familiar with Plato's Theory of Forms.
The author of the book of Hebrews accepted this notion, introducing Christ as living in the spirit world now, fulfilling the true cosmological functions of His office, of which He showed shadows to the world of flesh through His teaching and actions. The Aristotelian-Platonic-Heraclitian notion of the Logos was also accepted by the author of the Gospel According to John; for him, Jesus was the fleshly manifestation of the spiritual Logos.
All of the writers of the New Testament were familiar with Greek. By the time of Hellenistic Judaism's social acceptability after the Maccabean Revolt, the Hebrew Bible was in popular circulation through a Greek translation known as the Septuagint. This is the version of the Hebrew Bible that would have been used by New Testament authors. Additionally, all of the oldest extant copies of the New Testament are in Koine Greek.
Throughout the Septuagint, the word Logos is used as the translation into Greek for one of the manifestations of God, called the Word in Psalm 33:6.
The Son of Man
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, Daniel has a vision of God, known as a theophany for Greek readers. The word itself is Greek and means 'appearance of God'. Daniel sees four great beasts who surround the throne of God. After describing the beasts, Daniel sees a vision of God the Father, described as "the Ancient of Days". Daniel writes of him, that "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
The Son of God
-King of Israel, Davidic monarch
-anointed one of God
The Gnostic Teacher
-Truth will set you free
-sanctifies the flesh
-Sermon on the mount as classical rabinnical commentary
-rejection of tradition of elders and thus talmud and mishnah
-rejection of Sadducee Torah-emphasis
The Maitreya Buddha
-beatitudes as eightfold path
-union with god
-take my yoke upon you
The Perfect Muslim
What do we believe?
There is no concise statement of Zionite belief. Zionites are not required to believe anything; even so, common belief is neither desirable nor even enforceable, as we have no central structure. Part of our way of life is the total rejection of creeds. We are open to all truth, no matter where that truth comes from. We all agree on the Four Principles, God, Love, and Jesus Christ. What we believe past that and the specifics of belief are up to the individual person and God.
This website represents a general consensus of belief among Zionites. Not all Zionites believe everything here, while others passionately embrace every word. We encourage each individual to pray to God and seek wisdom from Him and Him alone, letting God guide the person towards truth as they are able to accept it.
The below might offer some insight into what the majority of us believe and why we believe it.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
One of them, an expert in Moses’ Teachings, tested Yeshua by asking, “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in Moses’ Teachings?”
Yeshua answered him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All of Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” - Matthew 26:36-40
"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it,
Nor traditions because they are old and have been handed down generation-to-generation,
Nor in rumor because it has been spoken by many, and in many locations,
Nor in writings by sages because sages wrote them,
Nor in one's own fancies thinking that it is such an extraordinary thought, it must have been inspired by [God],
Nor in inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption made by us,
Nor in what seems to be of necessity by analogy,
Nor in anything merely because it is based on the authority of teachers, masters or elders.
However, after thorough observation, investigation, analysis, and reflection,
when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience,
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
and of the world at large; accept only that as true
and shape your life in accordance with it and live up to it."
- Buddha Gautama
These words, the Buddha went on to say, must be applied to his own teachings as well.
"I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." (History of the Church, 5:340)
- Joseph Smith, Jr.
"Pure religion, undefiled before God the Father, is to visit widows and orphans in their afflictions and to remain unspotted from the world." - James 1:27
Zion emphatically proclaims the revelation of God. We choose what He has revealed to us instead of the speculations and creations of man. We ask seven simple questions about every scripture we encounter:
We do not adhere to creeds of belief. Belief is particular to the individual and their understanding of God. The most widely used, acknowledged, and accepted Scriptures of Zion are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Torah, the Qur'an, and the Tao Te Ching.
Prayerfully seek God's wisdom for yourself. Let the Holy Spirit guide you to the Scripture that would help you understand God best.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the ultimate figure of all the scriptures of the great religions. He is the fulfillment of each of their promises: the Hebrew Messiah, the Perfect Muslim, the Taoist Sage, and so on and so forth.
What is Zion?
Zion is the Place, City, and People of God taken from everywhere in the world, united in purpose. Our mission is to proclaim an amazing God who is ultimately and personally knowable. God is intimately familiar with mankind as a whole and with each of us as individuals.
He has interacted with us throughout history in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to personal visitations (called theophanies), angels, incarnation into human form, priests, and much much more. In truth, there is no time we are not experiencing God. Some moments stand out more than others, and it is these experiences that call us to the spiritual life. As we grow in our walk with God, we learn to see Him in every day life and life itself becomes a spiritual experience.
This website is designed to be an introduction to our community and as an access gateway to those interested in learning more.
What's more, we do not advocate any singular religious ideology, theology, organisation, or group.
Rather, we believe Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 2:2-5, that "it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
We are a syncretist community similar to the Baha'i or Sikhs in that we sustain all previous revelation from God in addition to unique revelation given to us and to us alone. We can be regarded as an indigenous lifeway in the way that Judaism is for Jews. We can be regarded as Restorationists like Latter Day Saints or Muslims. We are not a religion, we are not just a community....
WE ARE ZION.
But the name ... what is it?
That's essentially the response we get when we tell people who we are for the first time.
This is a photo of the historical Mount Zion as viewed from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem [thanks Wikipedia]. Recorded in both archaeology and records of numerous cultures, this was the site of an ancient fortress that was overtaken by a righteous people.
Zion is really an ancient concept; it's the idea of a city of people who walk with God. We are people of all religions, faiths, ethnicity, and countries who lead lives close to the One we call God.
Enoch: Zion's Patriarch
The simplest symbol of Zion is the circle. It is unity, wholeness, oneness, and complete. The practitioners of Zen call it the enso.
Since Zion is an originally Hebrew concept, we can use Hebrew terminology and language to describe us. According to the mythology of the Bible, Enoch was the first human being of the creations after Adam and Eve to achieve God's purpose - that is, he walked with God (Genesis 5:24).
In the Book of Moses, Enoch founds a righteous city called Zion that is taken up with him to Heaven. As Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is among us and within us, Zion is nothing more than those who follow Enoch's path. We are those who walk with God.
The enso is the perfect symbol to describe our community and way of life. It is whole, complete, and never ending.
We, therefore, in perfect harmony and unity with our God and each other, seek to do exactly what Father Enoch did: walk with God.
If you are my disciples, you shall continue in my word, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. - Jesus of Nazareth
If anyone does not know love, he does not know God, for God is love - John the Apostle
The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching. - Joseph Smith, Jr.
Manifestations of God
In the Name of God, the most Beneficient, the most Merciful. His Name is Sabbath, Elohim, El, Ein Sof, I AM THAT I AM, Divine Light, Brahman, Anointed One, Will, Word, Ancient of Days, Son of Man, Spirit, Wisdom, Glory, One, Three, Creation, Kingdom, Self. HE IS just as I AM.
Further, we believe in the Seven Lampstands as the Seven Attributes of God. They are described in the Book of Enoch, in the Apocalypse of John and in Pseudo-Dionysus. Enoch personifies and names them as Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Remiel, Saraquel, and Raguel.
Their names, in Hebrew, carry specific meaning and weight as being the attributes of God.
The Book of Enoch was highly influential in Judaism, Gnosticism, and early Christianity and is even quoted in the Bible (Jude 14), despite being excluded from many Biblical canons. Some churches accept it as an official part of the canon.
We as Zion honor the Book of Enoch as a guiding and divinely inspired but not infallible work of scripture.
Zion believes in progressive revelation of God. If God is both knowable and supreme, then every aspect of God can be knowable; but, like any pursuit of knowledge, it takes time.
There is no place where God is not.
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. - 2 Nephi 25:26, from the Book of Mormon
Why did Jesus come?
Jesus Christ came to atone for the sin of all mankind. He did so by coming to God's chosen nation, Israel, and surrendering himself as a perfect sacrifice that meets the requirements of the law.
God chose Israel to be a choice nation (Deuteronomy 7:7) and an example to the whole world of Godly conduct and what He expects of His creation. When Moses went up to speak to God on Mount Sinai, He revealed the Torah to Moses, who wrote it down in a partially hidden form. The Torah was written in a hidden form so that only those who truly sought God could understand, and the information would not be abused. The Torah pointed out mankind's need for atonement for sin. Moses taught the people that all that God desired from His people was love (Deuteronomy 6:4-6), and the religious ordinances were there as an example to the nations of that love and as a reminder to Israel of the covenants that they had made with God.
Yet over time Israel forgot that the rituals were reminders and had no power in and of themselves, and they became obsessed with keeping the letter of the law, rather than keeping the law itself, which is to love God and love each other (Matthew 22:36-40).
Jesus reminded us of that love. He affirmed that God had sent prophets who tried to remind them of the true nature of their revelation (Hosea 6:6) and the people killed those prophets. They had ceased to understand God.
-set the perfect example
-gather the sheep of Israel
-fulfill the Law
-reveal God to people lost in illusion
-teach us how to know God
-Usher in the Kingdom of God
-bring the Gospel
You can know God like Christ does.
WE, THE CHILDREN OF GOD AND THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LIGHT THAT IS ZION, emphatically declare that any human being can know God exactly and fully, in the same standing and relationship, as Jesus Christ and God the Father in and through the Divinely Graceful Work that is the Atonement of Jesus Christ - if we would but seize hold of the opportunity.
No one has to come in between you and God to have a relationship with Him. Our patriarch Enoch is the great symbol for this. Like all great spiritual and religious figures, Enoch had both a literal and a symbolic existence. Enoch really did exist and lives today as an exalted being. His life was recorded in part as instruction to all of mankind. Enoch's faith was simple: he simply walked with God (Genesis 5:24).
Getting to know God is as simple as this. Have faith that God is knowable. All of the prophets, even before their calling, began with faith.
You are a part of a people to whom revelation has been given. Throughout all of the revelations given to humanity, we are called to honor our ancestry (Exodus 20:12, 1 Timothy 5:4, Doctrine and Covenants 127, Bhagavad Gita 9:16, Sura 17:23-24 are just some of the many verses dealing with ancestor honor). Therefore, we encourage you to seek the faith of your ancestors. If you have Jewish family, learn Judaism and seek the Torah. If you have Muslim family, seek the Qur'an. If you have Hindu roots, seek the Vedas and the Upanishads, and especially the Bhagavad Gita.
God is closer to humanity than our own jugular veins (Sura 50:16) and His Spirit is now upon all people (Acts 2:17-21).
God is both unknowable and knowable. We cannot know the mind of God, but we can know His heart. It is His heart that God calls us to come to know.
The way that we learn to be Christlike and have this Christed relationship with God is through learning and following the example of those who have done it before us. We call these people Prophets.
More familiar with their external than internal work, Prophets are almost always called to proclaim what they have learned aloud to any and all that would hear and receive such teachings, that everyone might enjoy that same type of beautiful relationship with God.
Throughout humanity's history, God has chosen individuals to have a special kind of intimate communication with Him. Part of this intimate relationship is communicating a specific message to their people using the language of their culture and historical period. These people are called prophets. God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Just as prophets have been called in the past, prophets are upon the earth today and will still come in the future. Anyone who receives revelation from God not only for themselves, but also for others, is a prophet.
We encourage everyone to prayerfully seek wisdom from these historical and modern prophets.
We speak of Adam first. Many Zionites come from a Christian background, and Adam is a familiar figure. Some of us believe in a literal, historical Adam. Others do not. What is evident is that Adam does exist in some form or another, and his story is meant to be listened to.
In the mystical aspect of Judaism, called Kaballah, Adam is viewed as "the original man" and is called Adam Kadmon. This concept is distinguished from the concept of a physical first man. In the Kaballistic view, he is both a created being and a divine being. Indeed, according to the Kaballistic interpretation of the Torah, humanity's essential nature is meant to be Divine; the fall of man recorded in Genesis is choosing to leave the presence of God so that we might return, and thereby bring about the eternal life and immortality of mankind.
Paul of Tarsus in his first letter to the Corinthians writes, "As was the earthly man [the fleshly Adam], so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man [Adam Kadmon], so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man." (1 Corinthians 15:48-49).
According to the New Testament, mankind was created as being greater than the angels: "the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful Word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs."(Hebrews 1:3-4)
The al-Qur'an tells us that the reason Satan fell from God's glory was refusing to submit to humanity (Sura 7:11), that he insisted that the glory of the angels was greater than the glory of man. Yet, as the above verses written by the Apostle Paul tells us, those who are born of flesh are destined to inherit the supreme spirit.ENOCHEnoch was a man that "walked with God" and, according to the traditional interpretation of the Torah, was an ancestor of Noah. Even in the midst of the wicked state of the world, Enoch was able to have a relationship with God.
He is beloved by Zionites because the first time the name Zion appears is in the mouth of Enoch. Many of those who have sought God from the time of Christ onward have relied on the revealed words of Enoch in the Book of Enoch, also referred to as 1 Enoch. It first appeared in written form in about 200 BC, records the visions of Enoch and purports to be written by Enoch himself. In the book that bears his name, Enoch is shown a vision of the World To Come, as well as the war between the angels of God and the angels of the Devil and the coming judgement on the wicked. At the end of the Book of Enoch, he is translated alive to Heaven. Many traditional Jewish rabbis identify the translated Enoch with the angel Metatron.
Enoch's message to Zion is the Eternal Good News: God is near to man, sins are forgiven, and we can inherit what God has prepared for us through covenanting with Him.NOAHNoah was a man called by God in a time of great wickedness.
ELIJAH AND ELISHA
THE TWELVE MINOR PROPHETS
Zoroaster was born in Persia.
The Prophet Mohammad was born in 570 AD in the Arabian Peninsula. He was a member of the Quryash tribe. His name is derived from an Arabic verb which means "to praise or glorify". He was raised in his childhood among the Bedouin tribes of the desert, a common practice for the time.
Mohammad live in a time of intense apostasy: his fellows worshiped either many gods or an idol. Mohammad found this reprehensible and throughout his life honored the one God, who in Arabic is called Allah. The word Allah stems from the same root as the Hebrew El, found throughout the Masoretic Text of the Tanakh as a name of God.
In 595, Mohammad married Kadijah and began a family. Fifteen years later, in 610 AD, Mohammad found himself making regular pilgrimages to a cave outside of his city of Mecca, where he chose to be alone in fasting and prayer to God. After a series of spiritual experiences, Mohammad found himself being gripped by a strong presence that instructed him to recite words. These words were of such intense beauty and power that Mohammad could not help but identify their source as God.
In 613 AD, Mohammad began publicly preaching the messages that he had received. He called for a restoration of the original monotheist faith that God had taught primordial humanity: to worship Him and Him alone. Tradition dictated that the Arabs were sons of Abraham through the line of Ishmael, just as Israel were sons of Abraham through Isaac.
This restorationist faith was called Islam, meaning "submission". For Mohammad, only submission to the almighty will of God could bring salvation. Nearly immediately, Mohammad's message was met with intense persecution. His denouncement of idolatry threatened the income of his tribe, the Quryash, who controlled the Ka'ba, a place of pilgrimage in the city of Mecca filled with idols.
In 622, fleeing the persecution of Mecca, Mohammad and the Muslims left to the city of Yathrib, north of Mecca. Yathrib had been embroiled by a brutal civil war and the leaders of the city had invited Mohammad to help them resolve the conflict. Mohammad did so, bringing peace to the city. Islam flourished in Yathrib, and the city was renamed Medina, meaning "city of the prophet".
Between 625 and 628, the Muslim community was persecuted relentlessly. Three major battles were fought: the Battle of Badr in 624 was a Muslim victory, the Battle of Uhud in 625 was a Muslim defeat, and the Seige of Medina in 627 was a Muslim victory. In 628, the Meccans signed a peace treaty with Mohammad, officially recognizing the right for Islam to exist. A year later, the Meccans broke the peace treaty.
For the next two years, the message of Islam spread wildly as tribe after tribe joined Mohammad's movement. Throughout this whole time, since receiving his commission as a prophet in 613, Mohammad had continued to receive revelation both on spiritual and temporal issues. In 630, Mohammad and the Muslim community marched into Mecca and took the city without bloodshed. He entered the Ka'ba and destroyed the idols, rededicating it as a center of worship for the One God.
He returned after the peaceful conquest to live in Medina. In 632, he made one final pilgrimage to Mecca, setting the precedent for the Islamic pilgrimage which every Muslim is mandated to take part in at least once if they are able. Three months after his pilgrimage, Mohammad passed away peacefully.
The teaching of Mohammad has been compiled in the Qur'an. The most authoritative translations continue to be extant in Arabic.
Mohammad's Basic Teachings
The essential teaching of Mohammad is called the Five Pillars of Islam:
Mohammad and the Seal of the Prophets
Zion affirms that the Qur'an is the word of God. The Qur'an affirms the truth of the Torah given to the Jews and the Gospel given to the Christians. Sura 33:40 tells us that "Mohammad is not the Father of any man, but is a messenger of God and a seal of the prophets. And God indeed has full knowledge of all things".
Contrary to a common folk belief, the Qur'an does not claim that no prophets will come after Mohammad. Rather, understood in context, a "seal" is a sign of authority, most often used to refer to a physical mark upon a proclamation. The seal would mark it as legitimate and authoritative. In the same way, Mohammad is the seal of the prophets: that is, to accept Mohammad's authority is to accept the authority of all the prophets who came before him.
Mohammad and Judaism
The city of Medina had a large Jewish community. Mohammad viewed the Jews as allies and affirmed that the Torah was given as true revelation from God (Sura 3:50), and that during the time of Jesus, the Torah was taught and followed accurately (Sura 61:6). Both Jews and Christians were called "People of the Book", because they had books of revelation from God. The Qur'an also teaches that among the People of the Book were both true and false followers (Sura 3:75).
The Qur'an makes the claim that the Torah was changed after the time of Jesus, and the people no longer followed true Torah (Sura 3:78). This is one of the reasons that Mohammad came: to restore true authentic faith to the peoples of God who had gone astray.
History confirms the claims of the Qur'an. The Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, Of the many sects of Judaism that existed around the Temple, only Pharisaic Judaism survived. The Judaism of the Pharisees was repudiated vehemently by Jesus (Matthew 23:13). Since Islam explicitly accepts Jesus as a messenger of God, it also explicitly rejects Pharisaic Judaism. Pharisaic Judaism transitioned into Rabbinical Judaism, which was Judaism without a temple. The "tradition of the elders" is also known as the Oral Law, and was rejected by Jesus (Matthew 15:1-3). This was finally written down and compiled by the Yeshiva at Yavne and became known as the Mishnah.
Thus, while Mohammad embraces Jews as fellow monotheists, he rejects their theology because they rejected Jesus, a messenger of God, and because they changed the revelation of God to suit their own lives.
Mohammad and Christians
Christians were also explicitly embraced by Mohammad as having true revelation from God, the Gospel. Mohammad taught that anyone who embraced the One God, even if they rejected Mohammad but did not fight against him would be saved (Sura 5:69).
The Qur'an affirms that compassion and mercy are the signs of a Christian, but mankind had invented something that God did not give: monasticism (Sura 57:27). By retreating into a monastery, Christians were ignoring the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20). Mohammad at various times identified Christians as true believers, and repudiated others who did not follow the authentic word of Jesus. For Mohammad, true faith comes down to following the revelation of God without adding anything invented by men.
Mohammad and Christ
A continual point of contention between Christians and Muslims even today is the view of Jesus. We intend to demonstrate that there is no conflict in truth, but a wrong interpretation of scriptures has created conflict. Revelation does not contradict previous revelation, and the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Thomas all affirm that Jesus rose from the dead.
A popular thought in mainstream Islam is that Jesus did not but rather ascended bodily to God without death. However, this directly contradicts the word of God: the Qur'an explicitly states that Jesus will die (Sura 19:33-34) and be raised to life again. In this verse, the resurrection spoken cannot be the general resurrection of the dead, for it is also written that Jesus will be raised up to God in his lifetime (Sura 3:55).
So why does the Qur'an say that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified (Sura 4:156-159)?
Special attention must be paid to the wording here. The Jews boasted that THEY crucified Jesus, yet the Qur'an tells us that it only appeared that they crucified him. The Qur'an is not refuting that Jesus was crucified; rather, it repudiates that the Jews were the ones to do it. This is exactly consistent with the words of Jesus himself, who said that no one could take his life from him, but that he had the power to lay it down and take it up again (John 20:17-18).
JOSEPH SMITH, JR.
Joseph Smith, Jr. is the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement and is best known as the historical prophet responsible for bringing the Book of Mormon to the world.
Joseph lived in the 19th century in the United States of America. He lived in near-perpetual poverty as a youth and moved frequently. He would marry Emma Smith as his first wife.
In the early 1820's, he had a remarkable visionary experience in response to a personal prayer. Following the admonition of James to seek wisdom from God if anyone lacks it, Joseph went to a nearby grove to pray and learned that his sins were forgiven and that no denomination was right before God because of their creeds.
Following this experience, Joseph met with an angel called Moroni who told him of a nearby record that was hidden by ancient inhabitants of the Americas, and that record contained the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.
In 1829, Joseph obtained this record and began the work of translating it over a three month period. A group of family and friends began to grow around the work of the Book of Mormon and they formed a church, calling themselves simply "the Church of Christ".
Joseph would later be visited by Peter, James, and John and continue to receive revelation from God throughout his life.
Four principle sites of concentrated Latter Day Saint activity existed during Joseph's lifetime: Kirtland, OH; Independence, MO; Far West, MO; and Nauvoo, IL.
In 1844, Joseph was killed while jailed in Carthage, IL. His movement split into a variety of factions which continue to this day.
Prophet of Restoration
Joseph was seized by the idea that a restoration of the truth of the Gospel was necessary. This was not an uncommon idea for his time period; indeed, an entire movement known anachronistically as the Restorationism exists based around this idea. There were many approaches to making this idea a reality. Of all the groups that fall under the Restoration umbrella, only a few of them claim a divine calling. Of those who claim a divine call, only one claims to be led by modern prophets, produced a sufficient body of evidence, and restored truths of the Gospel that are historically verifiable: the Latter Day Saints.
The concept of restoration is found in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Joseph rightly concluded that a restoration must come directly from God, and not from any man's efforts. It cannot come from the Bible, because the Bible itself testifies to it's own error. The Book of Mormon testifies of itself, saying that it will come forth at a time as a testament to both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ.
Joseph Smith's teachings evolved and changed throughout his life as he learned more and more of God. Some of the latest records are perhaps the best sources for his teaching.
He taught that there was one God who was expressed in four persons as the Father, the Son, Mother, and the Holy Ghost, whom Joseph called Elohim and YHVH, respectively. All human beings are children of this celestial family that is indeed one God. As children of God and as members of this eternal family, we have the opportunity to grow and become as they are! This is known as exaltation, divination, or theosis, and is a historically verifiable part of Christianity. Virtually all of the directly post-Apostolic church writers, such as Origen, Iraneus, and others, agree that exaltation is an essential part of the Gospel.
Today, many organisations claim succession to the original Church of Christ established by Joseph Smith and his associates in 1829. Of these, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ are the largest. The former is highly conservative and possesses a structure identical the one left behind by Joseph Smith. They embrace all of his teachings and maintain lines of unbroken Priesthood authority. They also believe that Brigham Young was the successor to Joseph Smith in the office of Church President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. Currently, the Church has several million adherents and is based in Salt Lake City, UT. The latter is quite liberal and has rejected most of Joseph's later revelations, including but not limited to celestial marriage and salvation for the dead. They believe that Joseph Smith III, the son of Joseph Smith, Jr., to be the legitimate successor. Until the early 21st century, they were known as the Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are based out of Independence, MO.
The Church of Christ (Temple Lot) owns the original temple lot dedicated by Joseph Smith in Independence, MO. They also reject most of Joseph's later revelations and maintain that God chose them to build the temple at an appointed time.
The Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a breakaway of the Community of Christ and embraces a more conservative vision of Reorganised Latter Day Saint theology.
Various other minor LDS factions exist, normally with membership in the hundreds or low thousands. Most of them are centered in Independence, MO. Every faction except the Community of Christs maintain that they are the sole legitimate successor to the original 1829 Church of Christ and accuse the others of apostasy.