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The Persecuted Church

 

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RLDS

The Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints

                                                           Community of Christ 
This Church is right in between Christian orthodoxy and Mormonism. It is almost Christian and almost Mormon. Essentially it is neither.  It can’t be considered Christian since it holds to many Mormon doctrines contrary to historic Christian faith. However they considered themselves to be the true Mormons and the true church. The LDS church considers them an apostate group because of their refusal to submit to the leaders of the true church after Joseph Smith was killed, in 1844.  

After Smith was killed several  prophets claimed that God or some heavenly messenger had told them that the mantle had fallen upon them.

  Each of these new "prophets" gathered segments of Joseph's flock and many dispersed to set up new Zions elsewhere. The largest group, even though it was less than half of the Saints in Nauvoo, followed Brigham Young on the migration headed to “the original destination was California” (Restoration, April 1987, p. 8), but stopped and settled what in now Utah, this group is known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons).

  Since the inception of the Mormon Church there has been over 100 separate restorationist groups all claiming their authority comes from the prophet Joseph Smith. The Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saint (RLDS) is The second largest group, and 2nd in line to the claim this authority. Most Latter Day Saints (Mormons) followed Brigham Young to Utah while this group separated from the rest of the LDS body.   They believed that a descendent of Smith should head the Church. That the Lord would raise up the eldest son of the Joseph Smith to be the prophet-President of the Church. Since Joseph the 3rd was only twelve years of age at the time of his father's death in 1844, this could not be possible.

  They have approximately 250,000 in membership being the 2nd largest offshoot of the Church located in Utah.

 They have recently changed their name to Community of Christ for the public. The Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saint will continue to be their legal name.

  By 1852, the several groups that held this belief joined together and in 1860, Joseph Smith the 3rd was asked to take his rightful place as his father's true successor. A Church conference held in August of that same year, during which the Council of the Twelve Apostles was sustained by unanimous vote as the First Presidency of the church. (History of the Church, Aug 8. 1844). He held this position for 54 years.

The headquarters stayed in Illinois through the 1800’s then in the early years of 1900 the headquarters moved to Independence.

  Both church groups went under the same name until the second group added the word “Reorganized” in 1872 (Saints Herald p. 6 Mar.19, 1972). This group became the “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” located in Independence Missouri. They are sometimes called the Saints Church, RLDS, Josephite Mormons, although members of the RLDS Church prefer not to be called Mormons.

  Joseph Fielding Smith whom was an LDS Apostle for 60 years later became the tenth prophet of the Church said this about the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). This group, who refused to follow Brigham Young after the death of Joseph Smith, formed their own Church with Smith's son as their prophet leader. Joseph Fielding Smith said the founders of the RLDS Church “bowed the knee to Baal.” He claimed the RLDS Church itself was counterfeit, without divine authority, and fraudulent, and that the members flounder in unbelief and ignorance.   Smith said the group would dissolve and disappear, yet the RLDS Church remains the second largest sect of those which claim Joseph Smith as founder. (Doctrines of Salvation 1:248, 253, 267, 263)

  In the 1970's the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began to experience what many lay members considered serious problems with the hierarchy of the Church. Some were trying to change the church by “a major shift in the General Church teachings a de-emphasis of the Book of Mormon, the Second Advent and celestial life in favor of more conventional Protestant-like Christianity” (Saints Herald, January 1974, p. 52). In 1974 the First Presidency had begun a more open policy allowing Non members communion in which they use grape juice, the LDS will use water. They are also more openness in their school curriculum.

Over the years members have quit attending over issues such as presidential succession, more open Communion, and especially ordination of women. Instead of formally withdrawing their membership, former attendees have started their own congregations with the aim of retaining Smith's original intention. These spinoffs have names such as the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Church of Jesus Christ Center Branch Restoration.

The tradition of having a descendent of Joseph Smith as president which was the original reason they separated from Brigham Young was broken in 1996. W. Grant McMurray was appointed the head and for the first time since the RLDS organized in 1860 that a descendant of smith had not led the church. McMurray whose vote  was  nearly unanimous  into the RLDS church  office Smith's great-grandson, Wallace B. Smith who had no male heir, he chose McMurray as his successor. McMurray earned his master of divinity degree at a United Methodist seminary. In an effort to increase membership, the RLDS has abandoned language that defined the church as the truest reflection of Smith's vision. The RLDS, with its leaning toward Trinitarian theology, no longer emphasizes the beliefs that make it distinct from Protestants.

In 1984 they began ordaining women and now have more than 5,000 women among its 19,000 ordained leaders. In April, the RLDS World Conference approved appointing two women to the church's Council of Twelve Apostles. The Mormon Church has only male leadership, from the local to national levels.
The RLDS is also discussing the place of homosexuals in local congregations.

Basic doctrinal Agreements with Mormonism

There was a complete apostasy in the early Christian church, there needed a restoration. God and Christ spoke to Joseph Smith Joseph and raised him up as the prophet of this final restoration. The Angel, Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and led him to the discovery of the gold plates.  The RLDS versions of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] are considered to be scripture containing the continuity of divine revelation, through Joseph Smith (and their own individual prophets (as edited by their own group). They also accept Joseph Smith's rewritten version of the Bible, as the Inspired Version as scripture.  The copyright which has always been in the possession of the RLDS group. Those who do not hear the RLDS gospel in this life will have another opportunity in the next (D&C 76:6c). This is the very same teaching of the Mormon church has with Spirit missionaries The restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood. Baptism For the remission of sins (Baptismal regeneration).  Jesus will return to, Independence, Missouri for His thousand year reign of peace.  (I.V. of Gen. 7:20-25, D and C 57, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 710).

Heaven has three levels (D and C 76:5-7). The holy Sprit is mostly regarded as `the living power and presence of God.' The Church believes in an open canon and “present-day revelation.” their doctrines are in a state of change.

Disagreements with Mormonism

They do not accept the pearl of Great Price. They reject baptism for the Dead. Marriage is for our time not eternity. The RLDS church rejects the LDS doctrine of the nature of God and Man's progression to Godhood on another planet entirely.  They do not hold to Adam being the God of this world as Brigham young taught. They do not believe in temple secret initiation rites, or closed temples or services from which the public is barred. They reject the whole system of temple rituals, secret names, signs, oaths, and handshakes for salvation believing them not to have any effect in this life or in the next. According to the RLDS Church has always denounced polygamy and rejects that Joseph Smith was ever a practicing polygamist, or the originator of this teaching. The RLDS Church has never held the view of the blacks not able to hold the priesthood (as the LDS church did until 1978) although Joseph Smith III claimed to have received a revelation which warned the RLDS Church to “not be hasty in ordaining men of the Negro race to offices in my church” since “all are not acceptable unto me as servants ...” (Reorganized Doctrine and Covenants 116:4.)   The LDS Church practices the tithe as 1/10 of one's net income after all obligations are met.  The RLDS rejects the doctrine that Adam is the God of this present world and in so doing rejects Brigham Young’s revelation . One of the major differences is that the RDLS do not send missionaries which may explain the lack of growth over the years.

 

While the RLDS church operates from a base that seems like orthodox doctrine regarding the nature of God and man, they still uphold many of the doctrines of Joseph Smith.

They Recognize that the perception of truth is always qualified by human nature and experience, there is no official creed of the church that must be accepted by all members, the creed of the Church is “all truth.” They do encourage people to pursue the scriptures on their own.

The Nature of God

RLDS reinterpretation of Jn.1:1 “In the beginning was the gospel preached through the son, and the gospel was the word and the word was with the son,  and the son was with God, and the son was of God.”

While they affirm the son is the word they ignore the intended meaning that he is God. They quote Isa.9:6 The Jews never conceived of him as God the ultimate being. They interpret the Christian view of Jesus as a creature called into existence by a creator.

“God exists in modes of being which mortals describe as Creator (Father), the Word made flesh (Son), and quickening power (Holy Spirit)”

This is called modalism which J. Smith had first taught before he progressed further away form understanding the Scriptures.

Jesus Christ is “God with us,” the Son of God, and the living expression of God in the flesh. Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, died, and rose again. The nature, love, and purpose of God are most clearly seen in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

The Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of God in the world. The Spirit works in our minds and hearts through intelligence, comfort, guidance, love, and power to sustain and inspire us. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are One.

They may say it this way but they do not mean they’re are one God.  Kurt Goedelman of Personal Freedom Outreach, points out, “While it is easy to find stated that the Father and Son are regarded as persons in RLDS literature, it is difficult to find references to the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) as a person. Rather, He is mainly regarded as `the living power and presence of God'“ (Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 7).

On salvation -Those who accept the gospel are called to respond to Christ though baptism and by becoming committed disciples. As individuals exercise faith in Christ, and mold their lives to his example and teachings, they become new people.

Much of this can be agreed upon but what do they mean by these terms and how is this practiced? What gospel, which Christ?

They agree that the authority of Christ was lost and the church went into a total apostasy. That it required a restoration by Smith. There is the need for a continuing prophet/revelator.  Their “restoration” of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are necessary to function. While the RLDS church operates from a base of orthodox doctrine regarding the nature of God and man, they have added many of the doctrines of Joseph Smith to the gospel of grace. Their extra-Biblical scripture all take away from the bibles revelation the finished work of Christ as well as salvation by the grace of God. Change is good even if it is in the wrong direction at least they are open. They have along way to go but there is still hope as they are heading for change in the right direction. 

Pray that they will move toward the truth of the bible instead of liberalism, and see that Joseph Smith was an inventor of a new religion that took portions of Christianity as his basis.

In the Beginning MAN

What Ye think of the Scriptures

  Were Christians too 

Its in Black and White The Confusion of Mormonism The Virgin Birth
Polygamy a Revelation from God Why do you say the things you do? Adams test
Image and Likeness of God or man? What do they actually mean when they say
History of the Mormon Church

  Can I get a Witness for the B o M

Basics of Mormonism
How was the Book of Mormon translated?

 

 

 

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