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Splinter Groups: Church of Christ Elijah Message

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 18, 2020 2:38 pm

Splinter Groups: Church of Christ Elijah Message

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 18, 2020 2:38 pm

This week we are taking a closer look at the Church of Christ Elijah Message, a splinter group from the “Restoration.” If you would like to find out more about the group, check out our article on this organization by going to https://www.mrm.org/church-of-christ-elijah

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. You can be with us for this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism.

I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. This week we've been looking at a group, what we call a part of the Restoration Movement. This group is called the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, founded by a man by the name of Otto Fedding. But we find it fascinating that many of them hold to very similar views as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in some cases very different views than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But yet some of them, this one included, claims that it alone is the only true church on earth. So that raises the obvious question, how many only true churches on the face of the earth can you have? It would seem that you could only have one, but here are various groups who can trace their roots, they say, back to the founder, Joseph Smith, the same founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And yesterday's show, we were looking at some of the teachings of Norm Lyles, and Norm Lyles was an apostle in this organization.

But as you mentioned earlier in this series, sometimes it's difficult to find out what some of these organizations actually believe, because if they have a website at all, sometimes the information is not all that clear. In order to kind of fill in the gaps regarding this organization, the Church of Christ with the Elijah message, you contacted one of their apostles, a man by the name of Terry Laws, and you had a number of questions that you wanted to ask Mr. Laws. Let's talk about that interview that you had with him. Tell us a little bit of his background and the position that he currently holds in the church. Yeah, he was a very nice man.

We had a one-hour conversation on June 21st, 2020. The apostle Laws lives in Kansas. He joined the church in 1985, became an apostle in 1993, which is a position he still holds today. I didn't say anything that made me sound like I was thinking about joining the church, but apparently that's how he took my email. And so for the entire hour, apparently he thought that I was interested, and so these were questions that were going to help me convert. It wasn't until the very end of the interview that he asked me, why are you asking all these questions? And I said, well, I'm doing some research on your church for an article for our website, and I think he was a little bit surprised because I was not attempting to join this church. Anyway, he did give me information. You said difficult to find out information.

I'm going to say impossible for some of the things. I could not find anywhere on their website, which is a very generic website. They do have a list of 25 points of things they believe, but they don't tell you very much about it. One of the things that I was able to find out when I talked to him is the idea of Joseph Smith.

And I said, how far do you agree with what Joseph Smith believed? Because nothing on the website said that. And he said they believed only until 1836. That's something that I did not know. According to laws, the church did not believe the great apostasy took place until the 7th century AD.

I had never seen anything on the website that explained that. Why the 7th century? He couldn't tell me exactly, but that would include having the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople, the Council of Hippo. Those were all in the 4th century, the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century. I asked him about those councils, and he said they didn't accept those, but they still didn't believe the full complete apostasy took place until the 7th century. He also told me that the priesthood that was given to Joseph Smith was not the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods that the LDS church teaches today. They don't believe, according to laws, that John the Baptist came to him in 1829 to bring the Aaronic priesthood, and they did not believe that the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, came to them to bring the Melchizedek priesthood. Did he give you any explanation as to why they don't believe this? Well, he said that they believe that only Nephi came, which I'm not sure where he gets Nephi from, but he says only Nephi came, none of the apostles ever came, and there was no Aaronic and Melchizedek.

It was just the authority of the priesthood that was given. So they did not accept what Mormonism is teaching, and really goes back before 1836, the time that they say that Joseph Smith was valid, and after 1836 he went into apostasy himself. So they hold to the position that Joseph Smith, the founder of this entire movement, fell into his own kind of apostasy around 1836. Did he explain why 1836? He did not explain that.

He did not know, really. And that really brought to me all kinds of issues, because if you're going to hold Joseph Smith being a valid prophet until 1836, there's a lot of writing that he does before 1836, besides the Book of Mormon. And this church does hold to the record of the Nephites, which is the 1836, they call it the 1836 edition of the Book of Mormon. But they don't hold to the Doctrine and Covenants.

They don't hold to that. That was 1835? I asked them, what about the Book of Commandments, 1833? What about the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible that he said he finished in 1833? And I'm even thinking the Book of Abraham, 1835. All of these were produced before Joseph Smith supposedly went to apostasy. Here's what he said at least a half dozen times.

I wrote this down. I am not a historian, nor am I a trained theologian. So whenever I had a question that was a little bit too difficult, he didn't know the answer to, he just said, well, I'm not this historian or theologian, and I'm not going to be able to give you those answers. The idea of the temple being built, I asked him a lot of questions about that because Otto Fedding, as we talked about in an earlier broadcast, attempted to rebuild the temple in 1929 on the temple lot. And I said, when is this going to take place? And he said, we're not sure, but they do believe that the millennium is going to happen very soon. They do believe that in the late 1980s, the early 1990s, they're not sure of the exact date. He said, we don't believe in a seven-year tribulation period, but they believe sometime between the late 1980s, early 1990s, the pale horse, talked about in the sixth chapter of Revelation, was released.

So we are in the process of the tribulation. And when the millennium takes place, he said, we will get back the temple lot, which Otto Fedding did have a part in helping to build that for a few months before it was scrapped after he got kicked out in 1929. But they certainly believe that they will have a chance to retake the temple lot in Independence, Missouri, and build the temple that Jesus wants. We talked about that in an earlier broadcast, and I don't see the Hendrickites who own the temple lot right now, the Church of Christ temple lot. I don't see them giving up that land.

They've been holding on to it very tenaciously, even went through a court case in order to maintain the ownership of that land. So what we can gather then, as you've mentioned also in a previous broadcast, when Jesus returns, they don't need courts anymore. They don't even need the permission of the temple lot group, because Jesus is going to be in charge, and he's going to direct it as he sees fit. That's the impression that I'm getting here. So if they feel they're going to get that appointed land that Joseph Smith gave, they're not going to need the Hendrickites' permission, because Jesus is now going to be in charge.

That's a great point. I asked laws about the Gospel, and I did not get a good feel for the Gospel, because they used a lot of the words we would use. I asked them if he could summarize the Gospel in a few sentences. He explained people are saved by grace through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and his atoning mercy, as well as through obedience. Jesus took our sin, and we have the opportunity to be redeemed. I said, well, what exactly does that mean?

How much obedience do I have to have? He talked about once saved, always saved. He said that's a false doctrine. He says you just have to earn your eternal life, depending on your obedience, in addition to having faith and getting baptized, and his church is the only church that could do the baptism. And therefore, if you did what you're supposed to do, and he said the obedience is being as good as you can be and trying your hardest, they do believe in a traditional heaven.

They reject the three kingdoms of glory. He said people from other churches who are sincere and who don't know about the church can go to heaven. But he said hell is a possibility for those who are evil. And he said heaven and hell are to be taken literally, not figuratively. Well, that was interesting because I asked him, well, will I go to hell if I believe in Jesus Christ but reject your church and his teachings?

Because now, having done my study and having talked to an apostle, I knew about this church. He says, well, I can't judge you. But he did say hell was a possibility for me, but more of a possibility for someone who rejected completely the teachings of the church. Now, I find this to be fascinating because he said I was a good person, and yet I told him I reject the teachings of this church. And he said, well, it's a possibility. You could go to hell based on your knowledge.

So I'm thinking with all of the different evangelism they do across the world, especially in Africa, they're very big on Africa. They say that they want people to know this truth, and I asked him, well, if telling people all of this information could give them more knowledge that could possibly lead them to hell, wouldn't it be better for them not to have that same information? He didn't have a good answer for me on that.

He had never thought of it that way. But in essence, by telling people what you believe, you're giving them information that makes them more accountable. I almost felt bad that I had done all this research because if this church happens to be true, the more ignorant you are, the more likely you get to go to heaven because you're a good person. One other thing I want to talk about, Bill, and it was the idea he told me of how many miracles are taking place in East Africa. He told me there are 75,000 Africans who are members of their church.

I don't believe that number, but that's what he tells me. During the last five years, he says hundreds of people are having their sight and their hearing restored. They're having demons cast out through exorcism, and he even said people are getting raised from the dead. Well, the idea that these people, because they had great faith in Kenya and Uganda are their two biggest countries, he said because of that, God is pouring out His Spirit on these peoples and miracles are commonplace. I asked him, why are these miracles not discussed on the church's website? Not one is mentioned. I typed the word miracle on the website and only scriptural verses came up.

He explained that those in the United States and England would be too easy to dismiss those miracles because the affluence causes them to be blind. And the claim seems highly suspect to me, Bill, because if these miracles were happening the way that he says they were, it would be logical if you want to have more converts that you would tell people and show us people being raised from the dead, prove all of these miracles, and maybe you have something that will excite the people in the United States. We've been talking about the Church of Christ with the Elijah message, one of many groups that have, well, they wouldn't say they've broken off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, some of the leaders of these groups never even belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they are in fact various groups who claim that their origins can go back to at least the teachings of Joseph Smith Jr. Next week we're going to begin looking at some other of these groups that claim Joseph Smith as their founder. We hope you will join us again as we look at another Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-10 21:49:37 / 2024-03-10 21:55:21 / 6

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