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This text, which reads something like the Old Testament, tells the story of an ancient Hebrew patriarch and prophet named Lehi, who, in roughly 600 B.
In the pre-mortal realm, spirits dwell with God, the literal father of all people, and develop talents and knowledge to prepare for mortal life.
When their preparation is complete, individuals must progress and spend time on earth.
They base this contention on the fact that the Mormon conception of God -- summarized by LDS President Lorenzo Snow, who said, "As man is God once was, and as God is man may become" -- differs from traditional Christian ideas.
They also point to the Mormons' avoidance of the cross as a religious symbol (Mormons believe it is a symbol of Christ's death, and they prefer to focus on his life, his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his resurrection); their belief in the fallibility of the Bible (because of its human translation); their acceptance of continuing revelation (which gives Mormonism an open canon); and their rejection of the Nicene Creed, a list of common Christian beliefs originally authored in 325 AD and subscribed to by most denominations.
Those who did not devoutly follow but also did not actively reject the word of God are sent to the Terrestrial Kingdom, and those who actively rejected the Gospel or committed grievous sins must dwell in the Telestial Kingdom, away from God's light.
Latter-day Saints believe entrance into each kingdom depends on a person's worthiness and their adherence to the commandments of God and the ordinances he has prescribed.
They have come to recognize that we are, and that we have a very vital and dynamic religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ." To clarify the Christian themes at the center of their faith, the church added the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" to the Book of Mormon in 1981.
There are Christians -- particularly among the modern evangelical and fundamentalist communities -- who argue that Mormons are not Christians.
A group of followers coalesced around Smith as he dictated his translation of the plates to scribes.
Soon after the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the prophet and his followers organized the Church of Christ, an ecclesiastical institution that differed from all other Christian churches at the time because it was led by a prophet and had another sacred text in addition to the Old and New Testaments.
Like many conservative Christians, the Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus will return to earth to establish Zion, the paradisiacal Promised Land, but the Mormons believe specifically that Jesus will establish his new kingdom on the American continent.