Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

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Please Note Well — It is not my intent to belittle, unduly criticize, or “bash” anyone who may hold religious persuasions or opinions other than my own. Even though I may absolutely and totally disagree with your opinion, I will defend to the death your God-given right to hold it. Since this website was originally launched in 1995, I have continually held the position that I am not “anti-”anybody; I am only pro-Truth [click here for the definition of “Truth”].

    I firmly believe that it can be proven with absolute certainty that the Bible, and the Bible only, is the revealed Word of God, and is the standard by which all knowledge and opinion must be judged. Information on this website that concerns non-Biblical religious beliefs is provided for the sole purpose of comparing those beliefs with the Revealed Truth of the Bible. I also attempt to demonstrate how far the Body of Messiah has drifted from its Jewish origins. We earnestly await the return of Messiah and the “Restoration of All Things” as promised by the prophets. If you disagree with my position, please click this link before emailing me.

Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The following description of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) — now called the Community of Christ — is from their official website.

We are an international Christian church with 250,000 members found in more than fifty nations. Our World Headquarters, including a Temple dedicated to the pursuit of peace, is located in Independence, Missouri. The church was organized in 1830 in New York State.

OUR HISTORY:

In the early 1800s, a young boy named Joseph Smith knelt in the woods near his family home in Manchester Township, New York. He felt separated from G-d; he also wanted to know how he could make his life count for good in a world full of confusion and sin. He wanted to join with God’s people, but he had no idea how to do that. So, in response to the scripture from James, he prayed to God.

How long this first attempt at verbal prayer lasted is not known, but he came to a point of deep despair. At this point, a vision surrounded him with love and mercy. From that light came a voice as clear as his own. As the vision ebbed and the voice faded, Joseph felt that he knew the truth. He felt the healing presence of God within and the forgiving mercy of Christ. He knew that God would be with him.

He struggled through his teen years, trying to balance his experience with God with his desire to be accepted by others in his community. He continued to have significant spiritual experiences, one of which led to the Book of Mormon. In response to these experiences he was instrumental in organizing the church on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York. Shortly thereafter he and a small group of members moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where a dynamic minister, Sidney Rigdon, and some of his followers joined the infant church.

Kirtland represented an effort by the church to create a religious and social community to serve as the base for spreading the gospel message into the world. Today the Kirtland Temple stands as a monument to the efforts of these faithful people.

While the Kirtland experiment grew, missionaries visited Jackson County, Missouri, designated by Joseph Smith as the center of God’s earthly kingdom (Zion) in 1831. Increased tensions between the Saints and local residents resulted in church members moving northward from county to county. The Jackson County experience was tragic, yet it provided a lesson in tolerance both for the Saints and for the native Missourians.

Saints from Jackson County and the Kirtland experiment, which was nearing financial collapse in the depression of 1837 - 1838, joined to form a new center at Far West, Missouri.

In 1839 the church was evicted entirely from the state of Missouri. The Saints founded Nauvoo (Illinois), the "city beautiful," on the banks of the Mississippi River. The town grew rapidly with Joseph Smith Jr. as its spiritual and secular leader shaping a social, religious, and political community. Internal confusion and conflicts with the surrounding communities grew as Nauvoo increased in size. On June 27, 1844, an angry mob broke into the Carthage, Illinois, jail and killed Joseph and his brother Hyrum who had been imprisoned there.

Following Joseph's death the church was in a state of confusion and disorganization for several years, and divided into factions. The largest group moved westward to the Great Salt Lake Valley under the direction of an influential church leader, Brigham Young. Smaller factions scattered in all directions.

The Reorganized Church came into being in the 1850s. The "Reorganization" believed that Joseph Smith Jr. had designated his eldest son, Joseph III, to be his successor as president of the church. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized on April 6, 1860, at Amboy, Illinois, under the leadership of Joseph Smith III. His leadership spanned 54 years marked by wisdom and sensitivity. His presidency saw the church grow from a small fragmented group to a church of over 70,000 persons with representation throughout the United States and in several other countries. Since April 1920, the official corporate headquarters of the church has been in Independence, Missouri.

[In 1880, an Ohio court declared that the Reorganized Church was the legal owner of Joseph Smith’s property, including the Kirkland Temple and the temple lot. During the 1970s the LDS church initiated suits against the RLDS church, asking the courts for title to some of its land, personal property, and a change of the RLDS name. The courts denied the LDS claim of being the original church.]

In 1915, Frederick Madison Smith succeeded his father in the presidency. He emphasized the social expression of the gospel, advocating the establishment of Zionic conditions merging both spiritual and temporal dimensions. After his death in 1946, Frederick M. Smith was succeeded by his brother, Israel A. Smith.

Israel A. Smith’s twelve years of presidency were marked by a postwar, post-depression search for stability and growth. However, due to his pastoral caring personality, the period provided a growing unity unprecedented in the church's history. It was highlighted by an increased missionary emphasis and progress toward completion of the Auditorium in Independence, Missouri, the headquarters building Frederick M. had conceived and begun many years earlier.

In 1958, W. Wallace Smith became the third of Joseph III's sons to follow him in the presidency. His presidency experienced the expansion of the church into other Western and non-Western cultures. The 1960s and 1970s were marked by evaluation of program and message and the adoption of a more decentralized style of church administration.

In 1976, W. Wallace Smith designated his son, Wallace B. Smith, to succeed him as prophet-president after a two-year period of preparation. Wallace B. Smith was ordained to the office in 1978 and presided over the church's sesquicentennial celebrations in 1980.

In 1995, President Wallace B. Smith designated W. Grant McMurray as his successor upon his retirement in April 1996. McMurray was ordained at the 1996 World Conference in Independence, Missouri, and currently presides over the church.

Delegates at the church's 2000 World Conference passed legislation to change the name of the church to Community of Christ--a name that more adequately represents the church's theology and mission: "We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace." On April 6, 2001, the anniversary of the church's 1830 founding, the church officially became Community of Christ.

Additional information on the history of the Community of Christ may be found on the following pages:

The Early Church (1830)
The Book of Mormon
Kirtland, Ohio (1831-1838)
Missouri (1830-1839)
Nauvoo, Illinois (1839-1844)
Years of Confusion and Disorganization (1844-1860)

The church under the leadership of…

Joseph Smith III (1860-1914)
Frederick M. Smith (1915-1946)
Israel A. Smith (1946-1958)
W. Wallace Smith (1958-1978)
Wallace B. Smith (1978-1996)
W. Grant McMurray (1996- )

Our Mission

We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.

We Offer...

• a community of people where the gospel of Jesus Christ is the focus of worship, learning, caring, and mission.

• an opportunity for genuine spiritual growth and relationship with the Holy Spirit.

• local congregations where deep friendships are established, individual ideas are valued, and where those special needs find security, care, and support.

• a faith community that encourages the ministry of all people, including children and youth.

• a global community with a worldwide mission that values all cultures and celebrates the rich diversity of human life.

• meaningful opportunities to serve Jesus Christ by helping others and promoting peace.

Our Faith and Beliefs

Recognizing that the perception of truth is always qualified by human nature and experience, there is no official church creed that must be accepted by all members. However, through the years various statements, such as those listed below, have been developed to present the generally accepted beliefs of the church. All people are encouraged to study the scriptures, to participate in the life and mission of the church, and to examine their own experiences as they grow in understanding and response to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God

The one eternal, living God is triune: one God in three persons. The God who meets us in the testimony of Israel is the same God who meets us in Jesus Christ, and who indwells creation as the Holy Spirit. God is the Eternal Creator, the source of love, life, and truth. God actively loves and cares for each person. All things that exist owe their being to God who alone is worthy of our worship.

Jesus Christ

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.

Spirit

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, inspire, and remake us.

Salvation

God loves us even though we are sinful. Through the ministry of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are able to turn to God and receive the gifts of salvation and eternal life. Those who accept the gospel are called to respond to Christ through baptism and committed discipleship. As individuals exercise faith in Christ and follow his example and teachings, they become new people.

The Church

Christian discipleship is most fully possible when it is pursued in a community of committed believers. The church, as part of the body of Christ, is the means through which the ministry of Christ continues in the world today. It is a community of people seeking to bring God’s love to all through compassionate ministry, worship, the sacraments, and witness.

Revelation

The process through which God reveals divine will and love is called revelation. God continues to reveal today as in the past. God is revealed to us through scripture, the faith community, prayer, nature, and in human history.

Scripture

The scriptures provide divine guidance and inspired insight for life when responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied. With other Christians, we affirm the Bible as scripture for the church. In our tradition, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants are additional scriptural witnesses of God’s love and Christ’s ministry.

Sacraments

The sacraments express the continuing presence of Christ through the church. They help us establish and continually renew our relationship with God. Through them we establish or reaffirm our covenant with God in response to God’s grace. The sacraments of the church are baptism, confirmation of membership, the Lord's Supper (Communion), marriage, blessing of children, administration to the sick, ordination to the priesthood, and the evangelist's blessing.

Baptism

Baptism is a covenant entered into between the individual and God. It is an expression of our faith and trust in God. For us, baptism means that we are baptized into Community of Christ and become members of that particular fellowship. Baptism also signifies commitment to the universal task of Christianity to which the contributions of other Christians are acknowledged and appreciated. Community of Christ requires that persons reach the "age of accountability" before becoming baptized. This became identified as at least eight years of age as early as the spring of 1831. The term "age of accountability" means more than a minimum age for baptism; it also suggests that we are accountable to God for our decisions, our resources, our whole lives. In the Community of Christ tradition, we baptize by immersion. Emerging from the water symbolizes resurrection and the rising to a new life.

Confirmation

Confirmation, otherwise known as baptism of the Spirit, follows baptism by water and completes a person's initiation into the church. The only prerequisite for the rite of confirmation is that a person is baptized into Community of Christ. Confirmation sometimes occurs immediately following baptism in the same service of worship. More often, however, several days or weeks elapse between baptism and confirmation. Confirmation is administered by the laying on of hands. The candidate sits in a chair and two elders lay their hands on the candidate's head, one offering the prayer of confirmation. There are no prescribed words that must be included in the prayer of confirmation.

The Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper is the most frequently and widely observed of the sacraments within the church. Usually celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, it is unique among the sacraments in that each member participates directly on a repeated basis rather than only once in a lifetime as with baptism, confirmation and blessing.

Blessing of Children

The blessing of children recognizes the entrance of a new life into the church community. It is based primarily on the Gospel accounts of Jesus receiving and blessing children and symbolizes and demonstrates God’s love and concern for the child. Children from birth to the eighth birthday are eligible for blessing. Normally children of members of the church are brought for blessing some time during the first six months after birth. It is not unusual, however, for older children and children of friends of the church to be blessed.

Ordination

The sacrament of ordination is the procedure by which "calls" to specific ministries in the church are both recognized and accepted in the lives of individuals. It is the rite by which certain ecclesiastical privileges and responsibilities are conferred. Ordination grants the authority to perform certain duties. This authority is given to the individual by God and also by the church. Although God’s call is primary in the ordination process for the church, the individual's own sense of call is also important. Some persons accept the call to be ordained only after they feel personal assurance that God has indeed called them. Others accept as a result of faith in the process by which calls originate or out of a sincere desire to serve.

Marriage

The church recognizes that marriage is subject to legal provisions established by various nations and states. This aspect of marriage makes it unique among the church's sacraments. Marriages within the church should be solemnized in public meeting of some kind. This usually occurs in the context of a service of worship. Marriages within the church are to be performed by members of the Melchisedec priesthood or by Aaronic priests. The church also recognizes the marriages of persons who choose to be married by authorities outside the church, such as civil authorities or ministers of other faiths.

The Evangelist's Blessing

The evangelist’s blessing serves as a sacramental vehicle for God to affirm and support persons in their life ventures. It is an experience of laying on of hands and prayer focusing on God’s accepting and creative love in the life of the person, family, or congregation. The blessing is a defining experience to help persons know who they are, their value and giftedness, purpose and meanings of life. It helps persons to refocus their lives according to the purposes of God and God’s call to them. The sacrament is extended to individuals, families, or congregations. There are no age, race, gender, membership, or life conditions that restrict persons from sharing in this sacrament. Recording of the blessing is optional. The sacrament of the evangelist’s blessing is not a one-time experience but is available at different junctures of a person’s life. Sharing with the evangelist as a spiritual companion is an integral part of the total blessing experience.

Administration to the Sick

The sacrament of administration is available to members and nonmembers alike. A person who is physically ill, emotionally strained, or sick in any other way may request administration. The purpose of this sacrament is to provide assurance of God’s care and concern and also of the church's interest in that person. Administration is usually done in the privacy of the church, a person's home, office, or hospital room. On occasion, however, administration may be performed while other persons are present or even as part of a formal service of worship.

Human Worth

God loves each of us equally and unconditionally. All persons have great worth and should be respected as creations of God with basic human rights. The willingness to love and accept others is essential to faithfulness to the gospel of Christ.

All Are Called

All men, women, youth, and children are given gifts and abilities to enhance life and to become involved in Christ's mission. Some are called to particular responsibility as ordained ministers (priesthood) in the church. The church provides for a wide range of priesthood ministries through calling and ordination of both men and women.

Free Agency

All people are free to choose, resulting in real consequences of good and evil to our lives, the lives of others, and our environment. Commitment to Christ, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and participation in the faith community help people make responsible choices that enhance human life and respect creation.

Stewardship

All things were created by God and should be used for God’s purposes. Stewardship is the wise management of gifts and resources to enrich personal, family, congregational, and community life, as well as utilizing natural resources for the good of all creation.

The Kingdom

God's kingdom is present wherever people acknowledge the lordship of God over life, relationships, and creation. The full coming of the kingdom awaits the final victory over evil when divine rule is established and justice, peace, and righteousness prevail.

Zion

The "cause of Zion" expresses our commitment to pursuing God’s kingdom through the establishment of Christ-centered communities in families, congregations, neighborhoods, cities, and throughout the world.

Peace

Because of our commitment to Christ and belief in the worth of all people and the value of community building, we dedicate our lives to the pursuit of peace and justice for all people.

Resurrection

God conserves and renews life as revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a sign of God’s ultimate victory over death. In Christ’s resurrection, we find hope and courage for living. Through resurrection, God transforms individuals, bringing them into the fullness of eternal life.

Judgment

Our eternal destiny is determined by God according to divine wisdom and love and according to our response to God’s call to us. God’s judgment is just and is based on the kind of people we have become in relation to the potential of our lives.

End Time

God is acting in history to reconcile all creation to divine purpose. The meaning and end to which history moves is revealed in Christ. The ultimate victory of righteousness and peace over injustice, evil, and sin is assured because of the unfailing love of God and the conviction that Christ is coming again.

[This is the end of RLDS/Community of Christ Web Site information.]


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (hereafter “LDS”) and Community of Christ (hereafter “CC”) are the two largest groups in the what is termed the “Christian Restorationist Movement.” Those in the Christian Restorationist Movement believe that the true Christian church died out in the early 2nd century CE, and was restored by Joseph Smith’s ordination and subsequent founding of the movement. The largest group in the movement is the LDS at about 10 million members worldwide; the second largest is the CC at about 250,000.

Members of the CC, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), do not refer to themselves as “Mormons” because of the term’s association with the practice of polygamy and because they believe the name was not part of the original LDS church.

The CC rejects several of the LDS beliefs and practices:

• They do not baptize or marry by proxy their ancestors.

• They reject the LDS doctrine of “Eternal Progression,” which teaches that through the appropriate system of works, man can elevate himself to deity: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, so man may become.”

• They criticize Brigham Young’s doctrine of “blood atonement” which holds that, since Yeshua’s sacrifice was only sufficient to cover “original sins,” each person must eventually atone for their own sins. Therefore, a person who commits a capital crime can only be redeemed through the shedding of his or her own blood. Utah therefore offers death by firing squad as an alternative to lethal injection as punishment for capital crimes. Though this doctrine is no longer emphasized by the LDS, it is still a part of official LDS doctrine.

• Women have been ordained in CC since 1984, whereas LDS only ordains men.

• CC has always rejected polygamy.

• The leadership of the CC has been gradually moving in a more liberal and ecumenical direction, gradually coming to look more like liberal “Christianity.”

• They do not use the term “Mormon” to refer to themselves.

• While they view the Bible (when correctly translated and interpreted) to be “scripture” along with the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, they do not recognize The Pearl of Great Price as “scripture.” They also accept as authoritative a number of “revelations” allegedly received by the church’s President/Prophet since the death of Joseph Smith, Jr.

Since the CC does not have a formal creed that its members must accept, the following deviations from the doctrinal statement posted on their website are considered as acceptable:

• Most, but not all, view God as the first element of the Trinity.

• They consider Jesus Christ as the “living expression of God in the flesh.” They acknowledge the historical fact of His crucifixion and resurrection. While most consider Jesus to be the second element of the Trinity, some view Jesus and God as two different persons.

• While most perceive the Holy Spirit as a person and as the third component of the Trinity, some consider the Holy Spirit to be the continuing presence of God in the world (whatever that may mean.)

• Though not spelled out in the “official” doctrinal statement, salvation for the CC comes through both belief and works, and people who do not accept the gospel will be given a second opportunity after their death.

Page last updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2016 11:19 AM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes after May 3, 2015 are identified as "Revisions”)