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Splinter Group Community of Christ Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
October 2, 2020 11:50 am

Splinter Group Community of Christ Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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October 2, 2020 11:50 am

We are in the final week at looking at splinter groups of the “Restoration” of Joseph Smith. This is the largest of all groups (after the LDS Church), which was founded by Smith’s son Joseph III. It is based in Independence, MO and looks more like a liberal Protestant church than anything related to Mormonism. … Continue reading Splinter Group Community of Christ Part 1 →

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Mormonism 101 for Teens is a valuable resource for anyone wanting a simplified view of the Mormon religion from a Christian perspective. Mormonism 101 for Teens is available at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore in Salt Lake City or mrm.org. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. What is the community of Christ? Welcome to 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. We've been looking at a number of the what we call splinter groups, organizations within the Restoration Movement. And what I mean by that phrase Restoration Movement is, of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims that it has a restored gospel.

It is a restored church. In other words, they feel that they more closely represent the church that Christ wanted and had to found through their prophet Joseph Smith Jr. There are a number of groups, however, that have broken away and gone in their own direction, but still claiming Joseph Smith to be the primary mover within their organization, even though these organizations are not really connected organizationally. But the community of Christ, and this is the largest of the groups that claim Joseph Smith as their founding prophet, headquartered in Independence, Missouri, it used to be known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that's what we're going to be talking about this week.

It is pretty prominent. They don't have a whole lot of members, you would say, for how long they've been around, but they do claim to have about a quarter of a million. But Eric, you were telling me that trying to find the specific membership number is very difficult. They've gone through periods of losing a lot of members, and did they get all those members back?

Did they make up for those members in foreign countries? It's kind of hard to tell, because even though this is one of the groups that has its own website, and there's a lot of information on their website, some of the information is not as specific as we would like. Bill, this church, as you mentioned, was once called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, RLDS, and in fact, many people may know the term RLDS, but not know the term the community of Christ, but they changed their name a couple of decades ago, and the founder of this church in 1860 was Joseph Smith III. He is the son of Joseph Smith.

And we should mention that a lot of these groups broke away from other groups, mainly for doctrinal problems that they saw. This is one of those groups that I would say kind of fell victim to the fact that Joseph Smith did not have an endgame should he die sooner than expected. And I guarantee you folks, Joseph Smith did not plan on dying at the age of 38 at Carthage Jail in 1844, and what that does is it leaves this big, huge question as to who is going to be Joseph Smith's successor. Now, we know that Sidney Rigdon was very close to Joseph Smith in the early years of this movement, and then Brigham Young comes later on, and Brigham Young ends up taking over the leadership after the death of Joseph Smith.

Sidney Rigdon, as we've mentioned in this series, kind of goes off into the sunset, and you don't hear much of him anymore. But there is controversy as to whether or not Brigham Young should be the rightful heir, or should it have been Joseph Smith III, Joseph Smith's son? And of course this movement, interesting enough, has had leaders for much of its history that were Smiths. They were related to Joseph Smith, and we'll talk about how that changed in the 1990s. But still, this was kind of like their claim to fame, that all their leaders were related to Joseph Smith. While the Church is not really related to the LDS Church as far as its belief system and the way that they do things, they do have a First Presidency. Today, the current leader is not a Smith, but he has been around for a while, President Stephen M. Veazey, and he has two counselors, K. Scott Murphy and a female, Becky L. Savage. And so they do have the First Presidency, just like the LDS Church does, along with 12 apostles. And the reason why Becky L. Savage is a part of that First Presidency is because Wallace Smith was the one who initiated ordaining women within the RLDS, or Community of Christ. It should also be mentioned that it was Wallace B. Smith who did not have a male heir to succeed him, and so this opening up the priesthood to females, I guess you could say, became an act of necessity.

There was no way they were going to have a male related to Joseph Smith because there were none to be found. You mentioned, Bill, that the Church is centered in Independence, Missouri, where its headquarters are. They have a temple there that has a spiral, I call like a conical-shaped look to it, and it's very unique. If you want to go online, you can actually see that, or you go to our website at mrm.org slash coc.

I have a picture of that at the very top. You can see that temple, but you mentioned the numbers. Two hundred and fifty thousand is what they say they have, and that has been consistent over the past decade at least.

They have said this for a while. It seems kind of strange. They don't have exact numbers like the LDS Church will come out every April and say what their exact number is. So if you believe it, two hundred and fifty thousand, they say they have eleven hundred congregations in fifty-nine countries, and sixty percent live in North America, and the rest are from around the world.

But what's an interesting fact? More than half of all the active members speak a primary language other than English. And we have found that in these series that we have done with the splinter groups is that many of them are in other countries outside of North America. Now they do have temples, and one is in Kirtland, Ohio, and the other is in Independence, Missouri, that you just mentioned. The one in Kirtland, Ohio goes back to the 1830s.

It has a lot of historical significance. But they do not have similar rituals as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, in Mormonism, marriages play a prominent role in temples, in their temples, for time and eternity, as well as baptisms for the dead.

This organization does not have baptism for the dead, and they do not believe that men can become gods in the next life and rule their own worlds, as many in the LDS Church believe. We've been to both of those temples, and the one in Kirtland, Ohio is kind of interesting, but it was more of a meeting house, if anything else. And you might say that the one in Independence, Missouri is used very similarly as, let's say, the conference center that is used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is across from the Salt Lake Temple. And when you say that we've been inside of them, you're allowed to go into these temples.

It's not like the LDS temples. And we'll talk about this a little more later in the week, but they do have one other visitor center in Nauvoo. They have several different historical sites there.

You and I have been to the Red Brick Store and a few other places. So if you were to want to learn more at visitor centers, these would be the places you would go. You go to the temple in Kirtland, you go to the temple in Independence, or you could go to the places they have in Nauvoo.

Now, you mentioned Nauvoo. I recall when you and I were in Nauvoo, we were visiting a lot of these buildings, and it's kind of divided up. The community of Christ owns buildings in one area of town. The LDS owns buildings in the other part of town. But there was one thing that we both recognized, and that is when you went to the sites owned by the community of Christ, and you asked questions of the tour guides, they seemed to be much more willing to talk about some of its controversial history, more so than the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I remember being in the Red Brick Store and having a conversation with the tour guide there, and I was amazed at how much information we received from this individual. Not afraid to talk about some of those areas of history that I find most Latter-day Saints, if they even knew about this history, would probably not want to talk about so freely. One of the things we'll be talking about later in the week is doctrine, and they are very liberal in their doctrine.

They emphasize social justice issues, issues involving peace in the world, very much, I would say, like a liberal Protestant denomination. There are two churches in Utah. One is in Salt Lake City, and outside of where this church in Salt Lake City is located, they are flying a rainbow flag, which tells you a lot about what their perception is as far as social issues like sexuality. They do have four scriptures, and that would be the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and it's its own version from 1966, and they also have their own version of the Doctrine and Covenants, and still being added to. In fact, Stephen Veazey, the president of the church today, has added three of his own Doctrine and Covenant sections. As far as the church's motto, the church has a motto that it has at the very top of its website, and it says this, we proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.

And as you look through their website, as you study this religion, you'll see that you will get a very good dose of peace in the world and the hope that we can all just get along together. In fact, we were talking to one minister of this church and very much into social justice issues that he would say, Black Lives Matter, he's 100% behind as far as that organization. I think one other thing that needs to be said to our audience, because we usually are talking about Mormonism, if you're going to talk to somebody from the community of Christ, realize that people who belong to this church normally, not all of them, but most of them are offended if you call them Mormon, and so would Latter-day Saints. But even if you try to say, are you an extension of the LDS church, they don't like to be associated because there is no official relationship between the LDS church and the community of Christ.

Now in the earlier days, the two groups did not have a lot of fondness for one another, but they seem in recent years to have reached out to each other in a friendly gesture. Yeah, and it goes back to what I said earlier, that Smith did not have plans for what would happen after he was to pass away, or any rules for a new successor. That caused a lot of confusion. So you would have the community of Christ would look at themselves as perhaps being the rightful heir to this movement because of the fact that their first president was Joseph Smith III, related to Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Church of Christ, later to be known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And they would say that Brigham Young did not have the authority to be the next leader of the church. Now you have to understand, folks, Emma Smith, the widow of Joseph Smith, did not like Brigham Young at all, and Brigham Young did not like her.

He had some pretty bad things to say about Emma Smith later on in his life. Many Latter-day Saints have left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the last few years because of some of the issues they disagree. Women not being able to hold the priesthood and other issues like that. And we have found out that many former members of the LDS church have moved over here because they felt more comfortable to go to a place where you did not have as much dogmatism being thrown your way, that you had a chance to believe what you wanted to believe. And I think that is a big attraction of this church for those who are leaving the LDS church. Tomorrow we are going to continue looking at the history as well as some of the doctrines that they consider to be important. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at www.mrm.org where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. on issues that will probably come up in a typical conversation. You can find these informative articles at CrashCourseMormonism.com That's CrashCourseMormonism.com
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 00:27:48 / 2024-02-25 00:33:25 / 6

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