We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is the “Community of Christ” a Christian Church?

Because of an e-mail I received about my articles on Beth Moore, I was looking over the comments posted on the articles and came across one in which the author questioned why, in my response to another commenter, I called the Community of Christ a “cult.” I started wondering how many people think they are a Christian church and do not know they are actually a spin-off Mormon denomination.

In the April 2001 the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially changed their name to Community of Christ. The purpose of the new name was to eliminate confusion with the Utah church, but it also makes them appear as more orthodox in their teachings. Their cars will have the Christian fish logo, their churches will have crosses and their services will use mainline Christian songs and choruses. And they tend to refer to the Bible more than the Book of Mormon. But are they Christian?

I’m going to give a short (somewhat) history of the Community of Christ so you can see where they come from. Quotations in this article will be from Reorganized Latter Day Saint Church: Is It Christian? by Carol Hansen. Much of this history is also available on the church’s web site.

Joseph III was only 11 1/2 when his father, Joseph Smith, Jr., was killed, but he had already been appointed by his father as his successor. Brigham Young told Smith’s wife, Emma, that if it were known that Joseph III was to succeed, then his life would be in danger, so Young eventually took over control of the church through his presidency of the apostles.

During the split of 1844-45 numerous factions spread across the U.S., many of which rejected the polygamy doctrine. When the main body left for Utah in 1846, Emma stayed behind and remarried a “gentile.” She claimed that polygamy was brought in by Brigham Young and that Joseph had nothing to do with it, hence she taught her son Joseph III this lie.

“Beginning in late 1851 some leaders in these independent congregations began receiving spiritual messages indicating that…Joseph III would eventually become leader of the church.” The many groups held a conference in Beloit, WI to organize into a single body, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS). Over the next few years they kept asking Joseph III to lead them, but he always refused. During this time he also received requests from the Utah church to join them, but he refused them because of polygamy.

In 1859 Joseph III began receiving spiritual manifestations telling him to take over the new body, so he went to their conference in April 1860 in Amboy, IL and accepted the presidency. Emma then joined the new organization.

Significantly, Emma and her new husband had the manuscript of Joseph, Jr’s translation of the Bible, which is still published as the Inspired Version. This version is not a translation, rather it is Joseph’s additions and “corrections” as he saw fit.

In 1866 the church headquartered in Plano, IL and then moved in 1881 to Lamoni, IA. Under Joseph III the RLDS established Graceland College in Lamoni.

The RLDS maintained for years that Joseph, Jr. had nothing to do with the polygamy revelation, blaming it instead on Brigham Young and John C. Bennet, but the evidence for Smith’s authorship is overwhelming. Joseph III spent much of his time trying to clear his father’s name of the polygamy revelation. (Only recently has the RLDS come to admit Joseph may have had some input.) The RLDS also disowned much of what happened in the Nauvoo period, including baptism for the dead, eternal progression, celestial marriage and other secret temple ceremonies. They claim that Joseph became a fallen prophet during this period.

As one of their tenets, the RLDS required prophet succession from Joseph III; Joseph III’s son, Frederick Madison Smith, took over the reigns of the presidency in 1915 when his father died. Frederick experimented with peyote, believing that “chemical ecstasy might play a role in reaching… heights of power and insight.” “He believed that the peyote experience first released, then enhanced the human mind toward creative expansion, and he encouraged others to use the drug.” Frederick urged the church to endorse its use and then wrote a book called The Higher Powers of Man, advocating peyote use even in the educational system. His book also expounded the use of hypnotism and occultic practices such as deep meditation and trances. His lead eventually brought the RLDS into many New Age practices that are currently in the church. In fact, in 1995 New Age author M. Scott Peck received the peace award in the RLDS temple in Independence.

Frederick was very dictatorial and not well liked. Tithing decreased and more than a third of the membership left active participation until he was dead. Under his leadership the headquarters was moved to Independence, MO, because that’s where Joseph, Jr said Zion would be.

In 1946 Joseph III’s son Israel became president of the RLDS at the age of 70. He brought the church back together and sent missionaries around the world, but he also laid groundwork to bring liberal teaching into the RLDS. Israel was killed in a car crash in 1958 and his brother W. Wallace Smith became president for 20 years until his retirement in 1978.

Under Wallace’s leadership a “reformation” took place. “Many in the RLDS hierarchy began attending St. Paul’s School of Theology, a Methodist seminary that opened in Kansas City, Missouri in 1959. This accelerated the church’s shift away from Joseph Smith’s restoration theology to a more liberal Protestant one.”

Wallace had some revelations to support his changes, of course. The first revelation “gave him the right to reinterpret previous revelations in order to make them relevant today.” “The second revelation was given in order to promote a ‘social gospel’ more in line with liberal Protestant churches. It reads, ‘You who are my disciples must be found continuing in the forefront of those organizations and movements which are recognizing the worth of persons.’… This revelation has been interpreted by the leadership to promote the social acceptance of questionable behaviors such as homosexuality.”

Wallace’s ambition was to expand RLDS into a global church, and he worked toward that end with missions and changes in the church teachings.

Wallace B. Smith took over his father’s position in 1978. Under him the building of the temple in Independence was started. He continued his father’s lead in removing some of the original restoration beliefs and became more liberal, which caused many factions. In 1984 the continued departure from original teachings led to Smith’s revelation of the acceptance of women into the priesthood. This caused a split in the church, with about 25,000 “Restorationists” breaking off, calling themselves RLDS in name but no longer attached to the mother church. The Restorationists are looking forward to a new prophet to lead them.

Meanwhile, the RLDS in 1996 made their first departure from a direct descendant of Joseph Smith leading the church when they ordained Grant McMurray as president when Wallace retired. McMurray calls himself a Restorationist and claims they have the one true church, however he also continues to promote the liberal drift. Under his leadership women have become apostles, religious pluralism is promoted, and they now have an official organization for homosexuals called “Gays and Lesbian Acceptance” (GALA).

In November of 2004 McMurray stepped down, citing personal and family issues as affecting his ability to function. In 2005 his successor, Stephen M. Veazey, was ordained as their 8th president-prophet.

The RLDS owns the Kirtland Temple in Ohio and much property in Nauvoo, all to the consternation of the LDS. Membership is about 250,000 compared to over 10 million LDS members. They have their own publisher for their books: Herald Publishing House in Independence, MO.

Now that you’ve had a wee bit of history, let’s look at their doctrine. All RLDS/Community of Christ doctrine is based on the assumption that God’s revelation to Joseph Smith, saying that all other churches were wrong, made the original LDS the only true church before the falling away of Joseph Smith. “The only valid church on earth in 1860 was the ‘New Organization,’ a collection of remnant groups from the original church established in 1830.” This is the claim of the current church. They also claim an “open canon” where their latest prophet may add scripture to the Doctrine & Covenants.

The following doctrines of the LDS are also claimed by the RLDS:

a. New Testament church went into apostasy shortly after the apostles died and then disappeared from the earth until 1830 when it was re-established by Joseph Smith.

b. Many “plain and precious parts” were removed from the Bible by the apostate church and were restored by Joseph Smith.

c. The Doctrine & Covenants are God’s continuing revelations (although RLDS has a slightly different version).

d. The authority of the priesthood began with Adam, was lost in the apostasy and was restored by Joseph Smith.

e. Zion, the Kingdom of God, must be established in Independence, MO before Jesus can return.

f. All mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of Joseph Smith’s restored gospel.

g. That heaven consists of three kingdoms, and only worthy LDS go to the highest but all people are saved from Hell.

h. Those who don’t hear Smith’s gospel in this life have a chance after death.

i. All churches existing in 1820 were wrong, with creeds abominable to God, and all their adherents are corrupt.

Other doctrinal issues:

a. They equivocate on the deity of Christ. Although they claim to accept a Trinitarian view, their teachings often become modalistic.

b. The Holy Spirit is “the living presence of both the Father and the Son.” He is their shared “mind” and the power emanating from them.

c. Children have no sin nature and only sin as they mature.

d. Salvation is a progression, beginning with baptism into the church and confirmation by the priesthood.

e. Those who refuse to believe Joseph Smith’s gospel are damned.

f. Complex priesthood system. Only RLDS priests have the authority to preach gospel and administer ordinances.

g. Eight ordinances: Blessing of babies, baptism, laying on of hands, Lord’s supper, marriage, administration for the sick, ordination, and evangelist's blessing.

h. Baptism is necessary for salvation.

So now we are back to the original question: is the Community of Christ a Christian Church? The answer has to be a resounding “NO.” Christians know that Christ and the Holy Spirit are both God, while the CofC does not. The Christian gospel is by faith alone in Christ alone, while the CofC includes works for salvation, and that salvation is progressive. They claim to be the only true church, which puts them securely in the “cult” class of churches.

Interestingly, the often subtle error of this church ends up steering people to the true Christ and true Gospel of salvation to the point they can become true Christians in spite of the church’s teachings. I have a friend at church who is a prime example of this anomaly: once he learned the truth he left the RLDS church but much of his family are still members and non-Christians.

Although the RLDS/Community of Christ is not a Christian church, they appear to be similar in many ways to other liberal churches today. Don’t let that fool you - they are still a cult by definition.


EBenz said...

Fantastic article! Thank you for such a comprehensive overview!

Marie said...

Wow...I've never heard of them. What a lot of info and research you must have put into this.

At first, I thought the entry was going to be about the Community of Jesus, a cult here in MA -- down on Cape Cod. A woman in our church, not knowing the cultic associations, was going to start up a diet and wellness group using a book written by someone involved in it - she and I did some research and nixed the idea.

Anyway, thanks for the education on CofC!

Christian said...

Just a note, from someone who is a member of the Community of Christ, I don't know ANYONE in our church who would agree with your description of our history or our beliefs. I think you'd have a hard time substantiating even half of those claims by stretching the truth. I realize you have a particular purpose in mind when writing articles like that, but for the sake of your readers, you might point out that you are not objective or particularly informed about the community you are writing about. I think that's a fair admission, and would go a long way to doing justice to your own work and your readers.

In closing, however, I am a bagpiper too (which is how I came across your blog) - so keep that up! :-)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Christian,

Well, my sources are the official RLDS web site and several ex RLDS members, as well as RLDS publications. I figure RLDS publications and web site should be legitimate sources, as well as ex-members who have "been there, done that." As an ex LDS member, I am very familiar with the history of the LDS and the split-offs. I submit that my data is factual.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with this information because you haven't learned it? I know for a fact that most Utah Mormons know very little fact about their church. I suspect it's the same with the RLDS.

Mark said...

Thanks for this briefing. I was born, raised and baptized in the RLDS church. My whole family on my mother's side was heavily involved.

Thankfully, A few of my relatives are now understanding where RLDS teaching was wrong.

I do have the five or six volume history of this organization sitting on my bookshelf. I wish I had time... I've also seen the Apostle Paul referred to as an antinomian in an RLDS publication. This points back to their works-based salvation.

Anyway, I agree it is not a Christian church.


Anonymous said...

unbelieveble. i have been a member of the Community of Christ my entire life. About 15% of your assumptions and listings of doctrinal issues are correct - and that is stretching it.
it doesn't bother me that you have received misinformation - i am only concerned for the others who are reading this stuff and being misled - innocently, i'm sure.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Rather than just make such claims, would you care to point out my errors?

There are LDS people who have been LDS their entire lives and are ignorant of much of LDS teachings and history; might I suggest the same is the case with you and the RLDS?

Kevin said...

I'm not the original poster who you challenged to elaborate on their statement. But here are some errors I noticed:

1) "Joseph III was only 12 when his father, Joseph Smith, Jr. was killed"

He was born Nov. 6 1832, his father killed June 27, 1844:
He was 11, not 12. A minor error, but one very easy to double check that wasn't.

2) "In 1860 the church headquartered in Plano, IL and then moved to Lamoni."

Not quite. In 1860, headquarters was in Nauvoo, IL. It moved officially to Plano, IL in 1866 and in 1881 to Lamoni.

3) "In 1984 the continued departure from original teachings led to Smith’s revelation of the acceptance of women into the priesthood."

Look again at the March 1842 organization of the Female Relief Society in the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo. Joseph Smith tells the women there they are to function as a priesthood, including the laying on of hands for healing and blessings. The minutes for the meetings still exist and are accesible with a little searching.

4) "McMurray calls himself a Restorationist and claims they have the one true church"

McMurray was one of the strongest advocates that the RLDS was not the one true church. Read some of his sermons, he could not possibly be more clear in that subject. He stated that the RLDS was a church with a purpose and calling, but just one of many laboring for the cause of Christ.

5) "In December of 2004 Murray stepped down"

Close. It was November 2004.

6) "“The only valid church on earth in 1860 was the ‘New Organization,’ a collection of remnant groups from the original church established in 1830.” This is the claim of the current church."

Yes, the 1860 generation believed that. However, as stated above, this is not 'the claim of the current church.'" The current leader, Veazey, wrote in January:

"However, as a growing number have come to understand, the redemptive action of God in Christ—while uniquely and authoritatively expressed through the church—is not confined solely to the church."

7) "New Testament church went into apostasy shortly after the apostles died and then disappeared from the earth until 1830 when it was re-established by Joseph Smith."

Another belief held by long ago generations, but not a teaching or belief. Joseph Smith seems to have believed that, but again that is not a current teaching.

8) "The authority of the priesthood began with Adam, was lost in the apostasy and was restored by Joseph Smith."

Same as above.

9) "Zion, the Kingdom of God, must be established in Independence, MO before Jesus can return."

These all seem to be teachings from over a century ago that are no longer in any way a part of the CofC. There is no fixed location for Zion be it Independence, or anywhere else. Zion is a descriptory term for the kingdom of God, which is not so much a literal place as it is the improvement of life whereever one may be. It is living in a way that best shows Christ's love to others, and invites them to join the body of Christ. Where Jesus is, there is Zion.

10) "All mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of Joseph Smith’s restored gospel."

We are saved by Christ alone. Joseph Smith was one person trying to follow God's teachings as best he could. He was far from perfect, and screwed up at times. Christ's teachings, as revealed in the scriptures, are the standard by which all should strive to live.

11) "They equivocate on the deity of Christ."

Not at all. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. He is God with us, showing us the way to eternal life.

Part 1 of 2

Kevin said...

Part 2

12) "Salvation is a progression, beginning with baptism into the church and confirmation by the priesthood."

Salvation is a journey with God that lasts the entire life. There is no moment when it ends, nor its beginning. All of our life, the call to follow Christ is there and present. It is a conscious choice that must be made to continue to follow the Lord, and when we stumble and fall, the decision to get back up and return your focus to the Lord. Baptism and confirmation are promises made to God, they are not the end all-be all.

13) "Those who refuse to believe Joseph Smith’s gospel are damned."

I've addressed this one a few times already, but this is completely untrue. Christ's gospel is all the matters. Whatever one feels or believes about Joseph Smith is irrelevant when compared to Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a man, Jesus Christ was a savior. No CofC would argue that.

14) "Only RLDS priests have the authority to preach gospel and administer ordinances"

Another teaching from generations long past, but with no validity today. Read the above quote from Steven M. Veazey.

15)"Six ordinances: Blessing of babies, baptism, laying on of hands, Lord’s supper, marriage, and administration for the sick."

Another easy thing to double check that wasn't. There's 8, not 6.

8 ordinances: Blessing of babies, baptism, laying on of hands, Lord's supper, marriage, administration for the sick, ORDINATION, EVANGELIST'S BLESSING - the other two.

16)"Baptism is necessary for salvation."

Christ alone is salvation. Baptism is simply one way to express publicly one's desire to follow and serve the Lord.

17) "Christians know that Christ and the Holy Spirit are both God, while the CofC does not."

Not sure where you got that idea from, but I strongly disagree with that statement regarding CofC belief.

18)"The Christian gospel is by faith alone in Christ alone, while the CofC includes works for salvation"

It is the belief that a genuine faith in Christ compels one to do 'works.' A true desire to love the Lord should inspire all followers to work for His causes and to spread His word in all ways possible. Faith is most important, and a genuine faith of love should give an unstoppable passion for the cause of Christ.

19) "They claim to be the only true church, which puts them securely in the “cult” class of churches."

Already addressed this but just to reinforce, the Community of Christ does not claim to the only true church. There is voluminous evidence supporting this.

I welcome comments and responses, I hope we can have a civil, intelligent discussion without insults and the like.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hello Kevin, (part 1)
Let me try to respond to your various concerns.

1) I round to the nearest year. For example, I tell people I was 12 when my parents split, but I was 6 weeks shy of my 12th birthday, so I was still 11. How about if I say he was 11 ½?

2) The official RLDS site is scanty on their history. Most of the history information for this article came from two books: “Part Way to Utah,” by Paul T. Trask and “Reorganized Latter Day Saint Church: Is It Christian?’ by Carol Hansen. Emma and her son, Joseph III, remained in Nauvoo, but factions spread all over. From what information I can glean, several of the factions had representatives meet in Beloit in 1852 to organize into a single body, which became the RLDS. At a conference held in Amboy in 1860 Joseph III finally accepted the presidency. I found nothing to say where the church was headquartered prior to this, but the RLDS site says nothing about when they moved where. The books I have say “After the Amboy conference of 1860 the RLDS headquartered itself first at Plano, Illinois and later at Lamoni.” I deducted from that statement that 1860 was the year for Plano; I made no mention of the date of move to Lamoni. I will make that correction.

3) “Functioning as a priesthood” is not the same as accepting a woman as a priest in the church. They may have functioned among other women as a priesthood, but there is no evidence that this was ever meant to be expanded into women being members of the priesthood.

4) At best, McMurray is confusing. Whereas much of what he says is pluralistic, he also seems - to me at least - to be saying only the RLDS is the place where God is working. For example, in “Saints Herald,” June 1996, pp.7-9, McMurray says: “Many have emphasized the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the sole or primary element of significance…. So many people in the religious world today are satisfied with the sense of personal salvation, feeling confident that the only job of the Christian is to get himself or herself right with Jesus - establish that relationship and then celebrate it until [they] move to the next world…. I will respect…all who make that choice for their life…but I also want to declare that it is not enough…. Make no mistake about it. I want nothing to do with a plain vanilla, one-size-fits-all, generic expression of the Christian faith that has no story…that has not sacred places, that has no soul…. I do not claim it because of some intellectual argument that is authoritative, I claim it for just one reason - because it is my story…. We are called to be a prophetic people, witnessing to the world that this small band of believers [RLDS] is ready to stand up and make a difference…. We have unalterable confidence that God is in this work.”

5) I was getting information about McMurray’s tenure from the RLDS site. Apparently I copied down the wrong month. I will correct that.

6) The RLDS claims that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. The RLDS accepts the Book of Mormon as coming from God. Smith claimed that God told him ALL Christian denominations and all their creeds (the same ones here today) were wrong. This makes Smith’s teachings - Smith’s church - the only true church. Veazey’s statement is contradictory to what the prophet Smith claimed. So the dilemma becomes, if Smith is a true prophet of God, should not his teaching take precedence over Veazey’s contrary claims? Unless the RLDS says Smith is not a prophet of God and trashes all his teachings, then you have a problem. RLDS doctrine by Smith says they are the true Church - Veazey says different. Who do we trust?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Kevin (Part 2)
7 & 8) Again, if you claim Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, you cannot then say he was a false teacher. The RLDS claims Smith was a true prophet of God and still maintain that the Book of Mormon is true, as are most of the original Doctrine & Covenants. How can you then say the RLDS doesn’t teach this while they still hold to Smith being a true prophet of God? You can’t just pick and choose what you want to believe from a true prophet of God. I suggest you also review “Fundamentals,” by F. Henry Edwards, pp.175-210 - he agrees that the church went to total apostasy.

9) Again, you are now claiming that Smith was in error. And you are taking Smith’s teachings of a literal Zion now to be figurative. Try reading his teachings in context and then tell me it was meant to be figurative.

10) You are marginalizing the claims of Joseph Smith. He was a prophet of God and claimed his teachings were of God. Smith’s teachings on salvation, therefore, are either to be followed or you need to toss out Smith and his writings. The question becomes then, does the RLDS truly teach salvation by Christ alone? What does that mean in RLDS theology? In Christian theology there is nothing to do except “Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” (Rom. 10:9 NKJV). If you add anything to that, you are wrong! The RLDS doesn’t even accept that man is born with a sin nature: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” (RLDS Epitome of Faith). Baptism is required for salvation: “When we obey God’s will by going down into the water of baptism, God forgives us all the wrong things we have done. This is called remission of sins….we bury out past mistakes.” (“This is Jesus’ Church,” Prebaptismal Manual). This is wrong - baptism does NOT remit sins. God forgives us in Christ even if we never get baptized. “This process of reconciliation [born again - salvation] is made possible by the ministry of baptism and laying on of hands.” (“Exploring the Faith”) (See also D&C 39:2a-b, 16:4e) Wrong again. Reconciliation - being born again - is completed at the moment one places faith in Christ and his work - there is no extra work of baptism and laying on of hands necessary. Former RLDS apostle Reed Holmes stated, “You become a Christian [born again] by participating in the community of the church among those who love you and whom you respond to and love, and whom you become associated with in terms of the demands that being a Christian lays upon you. And that kind of thing is like socialization that takes place in the family.” He is wrong - you become a Christian by faith in Christ - period. And, lastly, the RLDS official site says, “It is he who forgives us in baptism” - adding the requirement for baptism for salvation! What about the JST Rom. 4:16 where Smiths says we are saved by “faith and works?” Or 2 Nephi 11:44 where Smith said “we are saved alter all we can do?” D&C 42:16 Smith says, “he that doeth according to these things [Smith’s teaching] , shall be saved;” and D&C 17:3,et al Smith says, “As many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work; [Smith’s teachings]; and those who receive it in faith and work righteousness shall receive a crown of eternal life, but those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, shall turn to their own condemnation…”

11) Joseph Smith said the same thing as you are saying, yet Smith’s version of Jesus is that Jesus is another god. Go to the RLDS site’s discussion on Christology and try to find an unequivocal statement that Jesus is GOD, and not just divine. http://www.cofchrist.org/OurFaith/christology.asp. Besides, Christ doesn’t “show us the way to eternal life,” He IS the way. Also, in their “Frequently Asked Questions,” they respond to the question about believing in Christ with this: “Yes. Community of Christ believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.” They do not say he is God.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Kevin, (part 3)
12) Salvation IS NOT a journey. You are either saved or you are not.

13) Do you or do you not hold Joseph Smith to be the prophet he claimed to be? If not, then why are you holding the BOM and D&C as Scripture? I you do, then you seem to want to pick and choose what teachings of his you want to follow.

14) You keep saying these teachings are long past, yet the RLDS has Smith’s teachings as doctrine. You can’t have it both ways.

15) Overlooked. My error, will correct. Nevertheless, only baptism and the Lord’s supper are biblical ordinances - not “sacraments.”

16) See number 10. The RLDS does indeed teach that baptism is necessary for salvation, and sins are not forgiven except in baptism.

17) It is difficult to keep up with RLDS beliefs because of their changing definitions. The current lists of beliefs differs from 5 years ago when it said, “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.” While this fails to affirm the personal nature of the Spirit and is somewhat modalistic, the current response says the Spirit is “true God.” As with Jesus, the RLDS equivocates and is not clear as to the orthodox Trinitarian understanding.
18) I stand by my statement that the RLDS/CofC includes works for salvation, as noted above. As with Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists and other legalistic groups, the RLDS adds works to faith for salvation, rather than understanding that works are the demonstration that one has been saved - works FOLLOW salvation.

19) If the RLDS/CofC truly believes they are not the only true church, then why still hold to Smith’s teachings, which includes the charge that all other churches are corrupt? The facts that the RLDS adds other books as “Scripture” in addition to the Bible, and accepts a false prophet as a true prophet of God, in and of themselves place the RLDS in the cult category.

As to your last statement, I never resort to insults in any dialogue. I believe in intelligent, rational discourse.

AmIChristian said...

You probably should have separated the beliefs of the RLDS and LDS and CoC. The RLDS and the CoC are different churches, even though the average CoC member would say otherwise. The CoC teaches radically different things than the original RLDS church did.

Anyway I am RLDS and these are some things that I don't believe:

"Children have no sin nature and only sin as they mature." Sure children sin. I believe they are not accountable for their sins until they are eight years old. I don't think the loving, merciful God we know would send infants and unborn babies to hell simply because they didn't have a chance to accept Christ and repent.

"Those who refuse to believe Joseph Smith’s gospel are damned." Ummm...no.

"...Only worthy LDS (RLDS, Coc or what have you) go to heaven but all people are saved from Hell." No. All have sinned. There's quite a potential to go to hell.

Here are some things I do believe:

You cannot be saved except by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the only one who can save you.

Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins.

Jesus Christ rose again on the third day.

Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I always consider the term "Christian" as "A follower of Christ". So am I a christian?

By the way, I do believe the Book of Mormon is true. There are over 160 passages in the Book of Mormon that speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. There were 22 men named in the Book of Mormon who saw Christ. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned on an average of every 1.7 verses. The New Testament mentions a form of Christ’s name on an average of every 2.1 verses. The name of the Savior appears nearly 25 percent more frequently in the Book of Mormon than in the New Testament.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi AmIChristian,

Welcome to my blog.

You said I should have separated the beliefs of the RLDS, LDS and CoC. Well, I believe I did just that by showing only the doctrines of the LDS which the RLDS officially holds to.

Your claim that the RLDS and the CoC are different flies in the face of the reality. I demonstrated the history of the RLDS and the name change to CoC. This is the official RLDS/CoC view. I don’t think you are in a position to say that the CoC is not the RLDS since the official church disagrees with you. I do agree that teachings in the RLDS have changed over the years, as with just about every denomination, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the church has the right to call themselves what they wish. The one good thing that has changed in the RLDS is that they are closer to the orthodox understanding of the Trinity now, although they aren’t always clear about it.

You say there are things that you don’t believe that the RLDS/CoC in fact teaches. Whether you believe these teachings is not the issue; the issue is whether the church teaches them.

The Bible says we are all born with a sin nature. I agree that the Bible shows that children and infants who are unable yet to determine right from wrong are not accountable for sin. However, 8 years is an arbitrary number and each individual matures at their own rate. Only God knows.

You listed things you believe, and I would submit that any LDS member would say the same things, but their definitions are radically different from Christianity's. Would you care to define all your statements? (you may e-mail me direct)

You say the term “Christian” means “follower of Christ.” Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses claim the title also, but is their Christ the Christ of the Bible? NO. If your Christ isn’t the Christ defined by the Bible, then you are not a Christian in the Biblical sense.

The number of times the name of Christ shows up in the BOM has no bearing on whether it is a true book. I can prove conclusively, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the BOM is a work of fiction and nothing in it is true. If you believe it is true, it is because you are deceived and are not objectively analyzing its content, or the history of its origin.

It is possible for you to be a true Christian in spite of the teachings of the RLDS, as I noted in my article. So can I say you are a true Christian? Not unless I know your understanding of who Christ is and your understanding of the meanings of all your statements. As I said, Mormons all say the same things you just said, yet they are not Christians.

Seth said...

I invite you to visit cofchrist.org for our current teachings.

Your list is quite antiquated and simply incorrect on most of its points.

We don't believe that only members of the Restoration will be saved--in fact, our world conference just moved to accept other Christian baptisms.

You got your views on our conception of the Trinity from the 1830s Lectures on Faith which aren't anywhere near close to our views on God today.

Please visit the website, and then come up with a new post. If you want to say we are non-Christians or a cult, fine--but don't base it on misinformation.

We too believe that the truth shall set you free.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I have been on the official CofC site, which is where I got most of my historical information. However, part of the problem the CofC/RLDS web site, etc, is that not all beliefs are specified. Here’s a problem you can’t get around as long as you call Joseph Smith a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon a true document, as well as the Doctrine and Covenants. Smith’s teachings include all the items under “Doctrines” A.1. If you deny any of these, then you have to deny Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, and then the house of cards falls. You may say this list is “antiquated,” but you hold to Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, the D&C and the BOM; these doctrines are in those teachings. You can not on one side of your mouth claim Smith and all his works (pre-Nauvoo) and then on the other side of your mouth say you don’t teach these doctrines. If I pick up Smith’s teachings and find these doctrines, how can you tell me I am in error? Or do you just pick and choose what part of Smith, D&C and BOM to follow?

Some of the issues about the following doctrine were raised by Kevin in the above comments and I believe the responses to him should satisfy your complaint: Only RLDS members are truly saved, the view of the Trinity (including the quote from the CofC site). I still maintain that the doctrinal positions stated in the article are accurate so long as Smith’s teachings, D&C and BOM are followed by the RLDS/CofC. And as long as the CofC adheres to Smith’s stuff, they will be a cult.

Anonymous said...

18)"The Christian gospel is by faith alone in Christ alone, while the CofC includes works for salvation"

Jame 2:20 KJV

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

I believe this is in your canon of scripture.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hello Anonymous 5/15,

What James is saying is that if you have saving faith you will do works, not that the works save you. You are saved by faith alone. Don't put the cart before the horse. Show me anywhere in these passages (and there are more) where it says works are what saves you - and explain why faith is contrasted with works in Eph 2:8-9!

John 3:16, 36, 5;24; 6:47; 20:31

Romans 1:16; 3:22, 25; 4:4-5; 10:9; 11:6;

Acts 10:43; 16:31

Eph. 2:16

Gal. 3:22

Tit. 3:5

1 Cor. 15:2 vs 1:17

ashli said...

Glenn, THANK YOU for sticking with everyone who posted. It is so great to see all the perspectives dealt with in such a thorough, intelligent way. It really is food for thought. My In-laws belong to the CofC, and we would like to equip our children with strong doctrine so that they will not be influenced by CofC teachings. We love my In-laws but fully reject the CofC. We thank God for continuing dialogue. God is so merciful and patient. May His name ever be praised!

Elizabeth said...

It is evident that RLDS does know the history of their church. I would like to thank Kevin for pointing out the truths of the Community of Christ church. It is safe to say that yes, this church IS Christian and NOT a cult. I have been a member of the Community of Christ RLDS church (Yes, it is all the same thing) for a long time and all of the history that was "pointed out" was everything that I have been taught from the beginning of time. There is nothing being hidden from the members of this church. On a bit of a side note, I'm not too sure why this blog was even created. It is all a matter of Mr. Chatfield's opinion and I feel that as long as a person believes the basics of God and what he did for us, then the details shouldn't matter. It seems that this blog was created more to pick a fight then to "educate" the people.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Elizabeth,

The Community of Christ adheres to lots of non-Christian teachings and doctrine, as noted in the original post. These teachings and beliefs put them outside of the Biblical, historical, orthodox Christian faith and makes them a cult of Christianity.

The blog article was created to demonstrate the false teachings of the RLDS and why they are not a Christian church. It is not just a matter of my opinion, rather it is measuring the teachings of the RLDS against the standard of the Bible. They fail the test in the many ways demonstrated in the article.

When one’s understanding of God and Jesus are skewed, they are believing in a different god and a different Jesus from those identified in Scripture, and therefore are worshiping idols. Paul spoke of the different gospel and the different Jesus in Galatians 1 and 2 Corinthians 11.

I NEVER post article to “pick a fight.” I post them to educate people, whether it be of proper Christian beliefs or exposing false teachings such as those exposed in this article on the RLDS.

Rather than make general statements, may I ask you to demonstrate where my claims against the RLDS are false?

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that each of these men who try to argue with what Glenn has straight forward and from the history of these "Churches" said. They continually make it more and more clear how this church IS a cult. Each paragraph written continues to go back to the fact that they don't teach these things ANYMORE or that THEY just decided to accept some new way of believe thus changing it up again. I have never heard of a christian church or any church that was NOT a cult decide to continually from history to present change their beliefs and teachings and any old thing that they choose. I do also know from personal experience that it IS required to become a priest and go through the classes (which i am not currently aware of WHAT they actually are studying)to teach in the COC. I am closely following every detail and am determined to continue to learn what is happening in this "church". It is extremely important to me to know the truth of how this church functions as it could affect me personally. So Thank you Glenn for the many eye opening details not only from you but those arguing your writing.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Glen. I just stumbled upon this article and I know it is a little old so I'm not sure if you are still "keeping an eye on it", but I was wondering if you might define the term "cult" as you are using it here.

I suspect that when you say "cult" you're describing a sect. I don't exactly agree with you, but that is far less offensive than the common understanding of cult which carries with it strong negative connotations and describes an organization that uses phsychological methods to manipulate and control its members. I don't get the sense that you intend to use the word in this way, but I worry that your reader's may read it that way.

I have to say that as I read the original article I found myself reading a description of a church with which I was unfamiliar. Thankfully, Kevin pointed out and corrected many of what I would call your errors. The church Kevin describes is the church I grew up in.

You continually point out that we CofC members can not pick and choose what to believe. However your original purpose seemed to be to describe what the church teaches, not what you think we should be teaching based upon your understanding of our books.

I also have to mention that you pick and choose which members of the CofC to consider authoritative. You sight "ex-members" as a source for your information, but when current CofC members challenge your statements about THEIR religion you reply that many/most CofC members don't understand their own history or religion. If that were the case, how can you consider your ex-members a valid source of information? I suspect that you validate their statements simply because they are inline with your own view.

I must admit that I have not read the two books that you site as sources, but the titles at least do not strike me as an objective work.

You also seem to read conclusions into things which are not explicitly stated. You take issue with the CofC use of the term Lord when describing Christ and make a big issue with these passages not explicitly stating 'God'. I've never met a CofC member that did not believe Christ was and IS God. On the one hand, you demand an explicit use of the word God but then you read a passage about people saved going out to do God's work and you take this to a conclusion that is not explicitly stated (because it is not our belief) that one can only be saved through works.

Although a number of CofC members have come to your blog and told you that Christ IS God, you refuse to accept it. I'm not sure how much more plain we can make it.

I am a CofC member.

Christ is the Lord our God. Only through Christ can anyone be saved.

Perhaps this will help you understand... You say in your original article that the errors of CofC teachings can sometimes introduce people to the "true Christ". Well...I'm fine with that. If someone comes to my church and they don't like what they hear, if they disagree with the BoM or DaC, but as they leave our church we are somehow able help them come to a relationship with Christ, I'm happy. If you accept Christ then you don't need to attend our church. Go to any Christian church you like, just take Christ with you.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Anonymous 10/15/11,

Please forgive my delay in posting your comment and responding to it - I have been away from home a lot over the past few days.

All the articles on this blog are active, and any comments come immediately to my e-mail inbox for moderation.

Theologically, a cult is a group which claims to be Christian and yet rejects primary historical, orthodox doctrine. This includes groups such as the LDS (and all sects of the LDS, including the RLDS/CoC), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Unification church, Unitarian Universalists, etc. What you described is a sociological cult. Religious cults can also be sociological cults.

The errors Kevin corrected were minor errors of historical dates and one of how many ordinances the RLDS had. There was nothing else in my article which was - or is - erroneous.

As noted with Kevin, whether or not you personally believe these things is irrelevant. I am not addressing beliefs of individual members, rather I am addressing the teachings of the Church.

My point is stating that the church cannot “pick and choose” is that the RLDS still claims that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God (have you looked at my articles about the almost 50 false prophecies from this false prophet?) and that the Book of Mormon is true. If this claim is made by the church, then they have to accept the teachings included in the BOM and prophecies in the D&C, since those are your official publications. You can’t say something is your official publication while at the same time denying the truth of it - that is totally illogical. So if IN those publications Smith said that only through the LDS could one be saved - that all other Christian sects were abominable to God, then that would either have to be an official teaching of the church or else someone is practicing intellectual schizophrenia! The same thing goes for Smith’s teachings in the BOM and the D&C say that one is saved by works; this is official church doctrinal books so if they deny this is correct then you pick and choose which words of Smith are authoritative. So how can you claim these books as your source of doctrine and at the same time claim that you don’t teach the doctrines in them?

The ex-members I chose to cite as “authoritative” was for their descriptions of what was actually taught in the assemblies they attended. Whether or not they understood the history of the RLDS or the overall doctrine taught higher up than their assemblies, is irrelevant to what they actually experienced.

Your claim that the books I cited would not be objective is no different than any other cult member’s claim against the hundreds of books written against their particular flavor of false Christianity. As if one who writes about the wonders of their cult WOULD be objective?

You apparently jump to conclusions with my discussion as to whether the CofC accepts the deity of Christ. Members may or may not accept it; I pointed out the ambiguity in the teachings over the years, as well as what is currently on their site (at least current as of the time I wrote the article).

As long as the RLDS accepts the BOM and D&C as their official doctrinal books, then they have to also adhere to the teachings in them or else they are indeed picking and choosing what teachings of Smiths are real or false. You cannot have it any other way!

DaveG said...

Hello again, Glenn. I'm glad to see you have read my response and responded to it.

I appreciate your clarification on the use of the term "cult". Although you did not explicitly state as much, it sounds as if you, at least, aren't accusing my parents and priesthood of brainwashing me. That is, at least, somewhat reasurring that your message isn't purely hateful. :P

Still, I don't care for your continued use of the term as I feel like your article and responses are more of a rant against my church than anything else.

You strike me as an intelligent person and I am glad that you have found Christ and a church in which you can worship. However, I take offense to your continued efforts to illegitimize my church.

Honestly, what do the BoM and D&C even matter when we boil the issue down to an issue of how one achieves redemption? Can we focus on the true crux of the issue here? If you say that salvation is granted through Christ and I say the same, what is the issue? I don't know your denomination and I don't really need to because I have no interest in criticizing your faith. I simply wish you would show a similar respect for the beliefs of others.

Many Christians takes issue with the BoM simply based of the fact that it re-opens the Christian canon. My personal belief is that God has spoken to us before through our prophets and apostles...so why should he stop a couple thousand years ago? I still pray and speek to God. Sometimes he responds. I hope that you are likewise blessed.

Honestly, Glenn, is it so much to ask that you respect my beliefs as I respect yours? Even if my beliefs differ from yours in some ways they do not dilute your own faith.

I'm always going to be a CofC (unless they change their name again HAHA) but I see in you a strong believer in Christ. I don't care that you are not of my church, if I were given the opportunity I would love to spend a Sunday sharing with and learning from you (that is, if you could spare the exclamation points when calling my church a cult).

(This new Anonymous = Dave)

DaveG said...

Glenn, I still am not understanding your issue with the apparent teachings of the CofC. A few members of the CofC have come here and said that they are not being taught the things you suggest. So, I would use here one of your words. What you THINK is being taught is irrelevent!

Every CofC member that has posted so far has refuted your assertions because they simply do not teach these things in our church. I don't really care how illogical that might seem to you. It isn't logically acceptable that Christ died and was arisen, but you and I both know he was.

If you disagree with my church based on a logical concern, then call me illogical...that's fine. Your argument will be no different than the atheist arguments against your own faith. Just don't call my church illegitimate or a cult.

You say that the CofC claims they are the only church that is correct and that all other churches are wrong...well..you're the only one here making the argument that another person's faith is baseless.

Can you see that what you're saying is offensie? Do you not care?

scuba said...

Far too much discussion here about C of C, RLDS, and LDS. If the foundation is shaky then everything built on it will also be shaky. The Book of Mormon is nothing more than a book and several ex-Mormons and others have pointed out that it impossible for this to be a work of God. All the other stuff about those cults are exactly that. They are not Christian and do not resemble Bible based faith! If i make a statement that I just got back from Mars but had to make a quick stop on the moon to visit some of the people that Joseph Smith said lived there, prove me wrong! People such as C of C, RLDS, LDS have made a ton of stuff up and will believe those lies until their eyes are opened, if ever. I am an ex RLDS, some of my family members made the cross over to the C of C. Not one of them know the joy that is found in a having a personal relationship found only in Jesus Christ.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Not all theological cults use brainwashing techniques - all sociological cults do. And calling a group a cult is not “hateful” - it is merely identification. Whether you care for the term or not is irrelevant to the facts. Walter Martin defined cultism this way:

By cultism we mean the adherence to major doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity, yet which claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.

My exposing of the Community of Christ is not a “rant.” It is no more than describing the history and teachings of the church. I do the same thing with every other false teaching, as do all apologetics ministries.

There is no right to not be offended. If I tell someone who shot someone in cold blood that he is a murderer, any offense he takes is his problem. Same thing with stating that the CofC is a false religious system which follows the teachings of a false prophet.

Remember, this false prophet you follow claimed God told him that all churches were corrupt and yet you find it offensive when a Christian says that Smith’s churches are the corrupt ones?

How one receives redemption is indeed the most important aspect of the Christian faith. However, when you add to the biblical teachings of how redemption is provided, with such things as the need for baptism and works. Also, as demonstrated in previous comments, the RLDS official doctrine is that man is not born with a sin nature, and several other doctrinal problems are exposed above in comments to Kevin (see especially #10).

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

For Dave, continued:
Why should I respect false teachings? Show me from Scripture where Christ or the Apostles respected false teachings. No, they taught that false teachings were NOT to be respected. False teachings about God and the Gospel blaspheme God. No, I cannot respect your beliefs. I can respect you as a person, but I do not have to respect your beliefs any more than I have to respect the beliefs of homosexualists who believe in same-sex fake marriage.

No, Christians don’t take issue with the BOM and D&C because of the closed canon - we take issue with it because it is 100% fraudulent in nature, pretends to be something it is not.

You say you will always be a CoC member: does that mean you have no regard for the Word of God over the word of Joseph Smith? What about the CoC allowing women in pastoral positions contrary to the Word of God? What about the fact that the CoC has their own “Gays and Lesbian Acceptance” organization condoning behavior God calls an abomination? By staying in the CoC you are saying that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God even though I have proven that he was a false prophet, and that the BOM is a work of fiction; you are saying that the liberal version of “Christianity” permitting women leaders and condoning homosexual behavior is the true teachings of God; you are saying that salvation requires baptism and works. If this is what you want to profess, that’s all fine and dandy, but don’t say it comes from God.

Whether some members claim they are not being taught these things is irrelevant. I am reporting the official teachings and doctrines of the RLDS/CofC as found in their publications and on their official web site.

Every ex CofC member posting here, and who I have personally talked to, agrees with what I report here.

What is illogical about your church is the claims that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that the BOM and D&C are doctrinal books, and yet at the same time you try to dismiss his teachings which embarrass you. Either he was a prophet or not! Smith, in the BOM and in his first vision account, said that God told him all churches were corrupt and that is why he had to restore the church. The CofC accept his first vision as fact and the BOM as fact, therefore the CofC agrees that Smith was correct. Either that or throw out Smith’s teachings. You can’t have it both ways.

I never said your faith was baseless - it is indeed based in the BOM, D&C and other teachings of Joseph Smith. What I have stated is that it is a cult, and not a true Christian faith.

Anonymous said...

I have only one thing to say, I am a life long member of the RLDS/Community of Christ and I am a Christian.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous 12/3,

As noted in my article, one can be a Christian in spite of the doctrine of the LDS. However, you at the same time are carrying the baggage of much false teaching. A real Christian won't hold Joseph Smith as a prophet.

Anonymous said...

Well done! This is such a great explanation. I know I am coming upon your site way after this was written.... but as an ex-rlds member (born into it so not my fault).... I couldn't have said it better. Your history was right on.... and I was a member from 1980 until the early 90s. still have friends and family who remain loyal to the church and think I'm the non-christian since I left. I never bought into the extra doctrine and as a child was lead away by God to do my own research via the Bible to find whether there was true validity in the church's claims and history. There was no question for me as i began to study that this was not a christian church but rather a place that was lead by false prophets. It was hard for me to accept even though I was just a child. I find that most of the people I know that still go there seem to be tied to the tradition of it being passed down through their families and the newer members never get the chance to know the dark (in my option) history of the church they attend. The name change really served it s purpose well in that sense. It allows this very old history laden religion to lie dormant and beneath the surface of a christian facade.

Anonymous said...

You've taken bits and pieces of history and put together an amalgamation of 'beliefs' which are quite inaccurate. Not surprising, really... you could just go to the Community of Christ website and get a listing of basic beliefs of the church but it seems you'd like to make up your own.

As to the belief in a "visible" God, rather than a "spirit" God? I'm not sure what you're trying to suggest here... Maybe you're trying to tie in the LDS belief of men becoming God (something the CoC has never accepted)... I don't know, but defining the form of God isn't one of the beliefs of the CoC.

Anonymous said...

The author keeps suggesting that Community of Christ members are somehow "ignorant" of the teachings of the church, like a lot of LDS members are... Firstly, the CoC doesn't have any secret "temple" ceremonies, or teachings. Everything is out in the open, and there are plenty of books if people bother to do the research.

However, the history does not define the current church, no more than the history of the Catholic church and the Inquisition defines its current beliefs and activities.

Anonymous said...

The author seems to think that the Community of Christ puts Joseph Smith on the level of Christ. Not true. May be true for the LDS to some extent but the CoC recognizes that Joseph Smith was a man, and a fallible one at that. The suggestion that someone who has been felt led by God to do something / say something must be also be infallible is just, wrong. There's a reason why our World Church conferences have always voted on doctrinal changes/additions before they become part of the canon.

Anonymous said...

The author suggests that the Community of Christ does not specify all its beliefs on its website. In fact, those are the general beliefs, everything else is left up to the individual. The church does not believe in dictating to the members... the only "creed" of the Community of Christ is "all truth".

Anonymous said...

I personally welcome this dialogue since I do not consider myself a "Christian" but a disciple of Jesus. What is the difference? A Disciple of Jesus focuses on following the commands to love...taught through the teachings and actions of Jesus....theology is totally secondary.

Also compassionate service to one's neighbor...even an enemy comes before trying to convert them.

Are we saved by faith or works??? Who cares!!! We are commanded to love and help to build in the Kingdom of God...not just to save ourselves. I am not a disciple just to get out of some after death hell and into heaven like a kid being good for Christmas presents...no! I am in this for the love of my God. Even if all that happens after death is I close my eyes hearing nothing but "Well done good and faithful servant." I will be content.

Modern day Christianity is often FAR distanced from the humble rabbi who healed the sick, fed teh poor, at with sinners and loved God. Often Christians do not do what Jesus did, or love like Jesus loved....they just sit in the pews content that they believe correctly and let the world pass on by.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I’m going to assume the last five posts are all by you.
The history I put together is very accurate, taken from many reference sources including the official site of the RLDS.

The RLDS doctrines come from their site also, as well as from the writings of Joseph Smith who they claim as a prophet. Unless they have specifically renounced particular teachings of Smith’s (e.g. polygamy, plurality of gods, etc), then it must be assumed they still hold the teachings as true. The RLDS considers the Book of Mormon to be true, as well as their particular collection of Doctrine & Covenants. They also accept Smith’s “translation” of the Bible. Rather than repeat much of what I’ve previously written, I suggest you review my comments to Kevin above, as well as comment to others.

No, I am not trying to the in the LDS belief of eternal progression when I say RLDS believe in a “visible” God. The two issues are not related. Defining the form of God SHOULD BE a belief of any Christian denomination - the Bible describes His form as “spirit.” I do not remember where I acquired the information about the RLDS “visible” God and I didn’t make a note, unfortunately. Until I can find a reference to cite, I will delete that from my list.

Response to comment 2:
I have personal experience talking with members and ex-members of the RLDS who say they were unfamiliar with much of the history and teachings of the church. It is they who have confessed to being “ignorant” - I didn’t make that up. And I never even intimated that the RLDS has the temple ceremonies of the LDS. The trouble is, not too many people are interested in doing the research - as apparently you are also guilty. The history of the Romanist church does indeed define the current church, but you’d have to study Romanism to know that. And the RLDS history does indeed define the RLDS as long as they hold to ANY teachings of Joseph Smith.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Response to third comment:
I never stated or implied that the RLDS puts Smith on the level of Christ. What I do say is that the RLDS considers him a prophet of God, and as such must follow his teachings to be logically consistent with the claim that he is a prophet of God. He either spoke for God or he did not. Since he BOM is still considered Scripture to the RLDS, then they are accepting Smith as a bonafide prophet of God.

Response to fourth comment:
The RLDS does not specify all doctrines on their site because they want to appear to be an orthodox Christian denomination. The creed of the RLDS is not “all truth,” rather it includes false teachings of false prophet Joseph Smith. Whether all members of the RLDS agree or accept all of the RLDS doctrines isn’t the point. The point of the article is what the OFFICIAL teachings of the RLDS are

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Response to fifth/last comment:
You want to make a distinction between “Christian” and “disciple of Jesus,” but that is a false distinction. A Christian IS a disciple of Jesus - that is the definition. You want to separate out theology, but theology is PRIMARY and defines the true Christian faith. The teachings of Jesus include theology/doctrine.

Compassion to one’s enemy MUST include the gospel. You can’t really love anyone if you do not tell them of their need for a savior. We are only commanded to bring more followers into the Christian faith and THAT is how we build the Kingdom of God.

While you are correct that many Christians just sit in the pews and don’t concern themselves with evangelism, those people do not define the Christian faith. That “humble rabbi” preached repentance from sin - not just love.

Leigh Anne said...

Response to fifth/last comment:
You want to make a distinction between “Christian” and “disciple of Jesus,” but that is a false distinction. A Christian IS a disciple of Jesus - that is the definition.

REsponse: Actually, the definition of a disciple of Jesus is one who follows Jesus as Lord and Master...and no one else.

Christianity on the other hand often follows a whole host of man-made creeds, man-made traditions, The "Apostle Paul" quite often is cited far more often by Christians than Jesus himself.

"Christians" have killed in the crusades, as Christian Nazi's they killed people in the prison camps. Martin Luther promoted the burning of convents, John Calvin thought Servetus worthy of death for not believing in the Trinity. NONE of these famous "Christians" could truly be considered disciples of the one who called us to love our enemy.

You want to separate out theology, but theology is PRIMARY and defines the true Christian faith. The teachings of Jesus include theology/doctrine.

Response: Yes, I DO want to separate out theology...because it is NOT primary for a disciple....defining the personage of God in whatever form is not above the call to love. It is only primary to a "Christian" who places theology above love.

Compassion to one’s enemy MUST include the gospel. You can’t really love anyone if you do not tell them of their need for a savior. We are only commanded to bring more followers into the Christian faith and THAT is how we build the Kingdom of God.

Response: I suggest you read your scriptures a bit more thoroughly. If all you ever do is talk ABOUT Jesus instead of living LIKE Jesus it is like promoting basketball without ever playing the game yourself...pretty useless.

While you are correct that many Christians just sit in the pews and don’t concern themselves with evangelism, those people do not define the Christian faith. That “humble rabbi” preached repentance from sin - not just love.

Response The best way to preach repentance is to live repentance. Perfect your own life FIRST!!! and let it be a showcase of love.

Anonymous said...

Glenn E. Chatfield You have lifetime members of the church explaining the beliefs of the church to you, and yet you still want to try to tell _us_ what we supposedly belief and that we're wrong. If you had true intellectual curiosity and objectivity about this subject, you'd listen to people who know more about the subject that you do.

The beliefs that are posted on the CoC website are the "generally accepted" beliefs of the church. Are you required to accept them all exactly as written to be a member? No. Are you required to accept anything _more_ than that to be a member? No! Do I accept the Book of Mormon as a historical document? No. Am I still a member of the Community of Christ? Yes.

You seem to think there's some big conspiracy here... that people are trying hide the history of the church or the beliefs of the church. Again, we have no secrets. There's a wide variety of belief in our church but it always leads back to being followers of Jesus' teachings.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous 5/16/1:32 PM,
I’m assuming you are the same as the previous five anonymous. I’m only posting your second comment because the first one wasn’t germane to the article and was only a “cheering section shout.”

Anonymous 5/16/ 4:11 PM
You may also be the same one, but I am addressing this claim.
I have never in the article or comments told anyone what they believe personally. I have written what the doctrines and teachings of the church are. Whether anyone personally believes or accepts all the teachings is irrelevant to my article. There are many LDS Mormons who do not believe or accept all the LDS doctrines and teachings; there are Catholics who do not believe or accept all the Romanist teachings. None of this affects what the doctrines actually are!

I have a very good friend who was raised in the RLDS and whose family is still a part of it, so I have a good connection, let alone books I have cited in my article as well as the official web site of the RLDS.

If you are not willing to accept all the beliefs of the RLDS, then why defend that church and why remain a member? How can you deny the BOM as coming from God and still claim to be a member of a church whose very foundation is on that book and its author? That is illogical, inconsistent and intellectually schizophrenic.

No where in my article or comments will you find me claiming a conspiracy or that the RLDS has secrets, so that is a straw man attack. The teachings of the RLDS did not come from Christ; they came from Joseph Smith.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Leigh Anne,
The definition of “Christian” must include non-negotiable doctrines. Otherwise everyone can claim the title, which is why we have so many cults.

Your claim that Christianity follows man-made creeds is disingenuous as it doesn’t really explain that those creeds were nothing more than solid clarification of biblical doctrines, and were made to separate out the heretics. Your condemnation of Paul is typical of those who follow a false Christ. Paul got his teachings directly from Christ and all of his teachings agree with Christ.

Your soundbites about the Crusades and Nazis are straight out of the atheist’s playbook. I suggest you do more research before making such foolish statements.

As for Luther and Calvin, they don’t - and never did - define the Christian faith. The Bible defines it.

Separating out theology - solid doctrine- is impossible because if you don’t have the God of the Bible, don’t have the Jesus of the Bible, and don’t have the Gospel of the Bible, then all the love in the world will not keep you from hell. A counterfeit God, counterfeit Christ and counterfeit gospel all add up to counterfeit salvation.

I never suggested one only talk about Jesus rather than also acting on it, so you just raised a straw man. I don’t know any Christian who would accept that. But you need solid doctrine first or you have a counterfeit salvation. If you love your enemy and feed him and clothe him and yet don’t give him the gospel, you just sent him to hell well clothed and well fed.

I did not deny one must live a Christian life in order to be a good witness when preaching repentance, so you again raised a straw man.

Anonymous said...

I'm another Community of Christ member who thinks that we are Christian and are not a cult.

I'm not going to rehash the points that have been made repeatedly, but here are a few points that I haven't noticed.

1. We believe in continuing revelation. That is, we believe that God speaks to people throughout the ages just like in Bible times. We do consider Joseph Smith Jr a prophet, but we give the same status to Joseph Smith III, Fred M Smith, Israel A Smith, W Wallace Smith, Wallace B Smith, Grant McMurray, and Stephen M Veazey. And we believe that all of them are fallible human beings. They speak for God... but they also speak for themselves. Sometimes they make mistakes. It is the responsibility of each of us for ourselves, and of the current prophet and our World Conference for the church as a whole, to judge what was prophetic and what was human in each prophet's work. Practically speaking, this means that if something Steve Veazey or one of the other more recent prophets wrote contradicts something that Joseph Smith Jr said, it's the more recent prophet's writing that is the most definitive description of the church's belief. In other words, you'll do better to look at Doctrine and Covenants sections 150-164 or so to get an understanding of what we believe, than to look at Joseph Smith's writings.

Another point: you said that if it's in our scriptures and hasn't been removed, it must be part of our teaching. I'm just curious: does that apply to the Bible as well? Is it Christian to forbid wearing of clothing made of more than one fiber such as cotton-polyester blend? Is it Christian to keep slaves? Is it Christian go to war and kill enemy armies? Personally, I don't think so. I think that those were some of the human teachings that made it into the Bible because the Biblical prophets were also human. They didn't speak for God all the time. And most Christians know intuitively which Biblical teachings to ignore. We do the same thing; we just have two extra books of scripture to do it with.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous 5/17,
I know the RLDS believes in “continuing revelation,” which is part of what makes them a cult. Anyone can claim they got a revelation from God and no one compares it to Scripture to determine its veracity. All the revelations, from Joseph Smith, Jr to the most recent are all fraudulent, since the contradict the Bible. Then if new “revelations” contradict old ones, the new ones are to be accepted over the old ones - as if God is fickle and just has to keep changing his mind! You can’t say Joseph Smith, Jr was a prophet of God, whose BOM, D&C and POGP all came from God through him, and then turn around and say God was wrong back then and is right now!! This is intellectual schizophrenia and just plain illogical!

Your claims about what the Bible says is straight out of the atheists’ playbook. It seems this is a common denominator from RLDS members commenting here, which demonstrates you lack of biblical literacy. These claims have been answered hundreds of times over the years, and yet you pretend there is good explanation. Just to demonstrate:
The issue of clothing was a law for the nation of Israel only - and no one else. So why do Christians need to consider it?
The slavery mentioned in the Bible was a different institution than what we are familiar with today; however, slavery was never condoned in the N.T.! Accepting that an institution exists does not condone it.
War may or may not be proper for Christians, but one thing we are told to do is to obey the laws of the land, and if the laws of the land say you must serve in the military and go to war, then one must obey. Jesus never condemned the Roman soldiers for being such.

No one claimed that Biblical prophets spoke for God every time they said something. But Joseph Smith, Jr.’s claim was that what he speaks IS of God, and all of his prophecies (all of which failed) were claimed to be from God. Not only that, but in D&C 21 “God” says the church is to "give heed unto all his words and commandments", that these are to be received as if from God's own mouth, and that the words are given to him through the Comforter. By Biblical standards Joseph could make no mistake of prophecy or as a seer because he is supposedly provided with what to say directly from God. So how can modern revelation change anything Joseph “revealed”?!?

Your 2 extra books of “Scripture” have a fraudulent origin, and are total fakes. As long as you accept them and their author as from God, your belief is not Christian.

Anonymous said...

Is the National Council of Churches Christian?

After extensive study, they have admitted Community of Christ to full membership. Having a well-known, well-respected ecumenical Christian body accept CoChrist as a member suggests that they think CofChrist is Christian.

And if anyone thinks that National Council of Churches is not Christian, that says something pretty significant about their definition of Christianity.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The National Council of Churches is a liberal organization. They don't seem to be bothered by doctrine. Truth isn't their strong suit.

Anonymous said...

I have learned and visited of the Sites of the what I calls Saints. Mind as you talk of the Community of Christ. What is a cult and what is not a cult? They are all cults as they split from the original group but within itself there is nothing to refer to as a cult. Any group that came from the main Catholic branch is for the Roman Catholic a CULT. The Community of Christ is a Christ centered church aimed at "Proclaiming Jesus-Christ and promote community of joy,love, hope and peace. Tell me guy, what you we do that does not present Jesus. We do respect the direction the church takes for sake of salvation. We don't care Joseph Smith Jr; he served and God knows what because he is the only one to render judgement over the work of each one of us. Get in mind that God did not write the Bible, instead the Bible a collection of individuals'encounter with god passed through men's approval. The canon is however conventionally based foundamental human analysis; o nobody can claim its ownership. We alter it every day though we don't write it down, but we let people be directed by our commentary during sermons. At times state wrongly without knowing. Even Jesus in his time fixed what he judged fair though it stood away from what Moses affirmed. CofChrist brings an excellent ministry of salvation, so don't mislead people. That is not Good News.
WE ARE A CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND FULL CHRISTIAN CHUCH RESPONDING TO THE MISSION OF JESUS. We have no secracy in our ministry, come to experience the Spirit of truth. To be honest, you should published this or your blog is on bad intent.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous 5/17 5:01 PM
Roman Catholicism was not the original church, but was a corruption of the Christian church - and it still is a corruption of true Christianity. Dividing off of Roman Catholicism is not what makes a sect a cult. As noted in a comment by me dated 10/23/11, cultism has been defined by Walter Martin:
By cultism we mean the adherence to major doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity, yet which claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.

The RLDS fits this description to a “T.” It is not a “Christ centered” church in that the Christ preached by the RLDS is not the Christ of the Bible, nor is the gospel of the RLDS the same one from the Bible. As I noted in the main article, there actually is enough truth hidden among the tares that someone can come to salvation in spite of teh RLDS doctrines. Presenting a “Jesus” who is just about good works and not repentance is not presenting the biblical Jesus. Presenting a “Jesus” based on the teachings of Joseph Smith is not the biblical Jesus. Presenting a “Jesus” from the Book of Mormon is not the biblical Jesus.

You say you don’t care about Joseph Smith, yet your church’s foundation is Joseph Smith and the BOM and D&C, which are fraudulent writings. No God did not write the Bible, but he did “breathe” it (2 Tim. 3:16), and the men who wrote it were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” as they wrote what God wanted them to write (2 Pet. 1:21). Your understanding of the origin of the Canon is lacking - I suggest you actually study the facts surrounding canonization. Anyone who alters it is doing so presumptuously and is condemned by Scripture.

Jesus corrected misinterpretations of Moses’ writings - he didn’t change a word. Again, you don’t understand what Scripture says. Then again, anyone in the RLDS who actually understood what the Bible says would leave the RLDS!

The RLDS is NOT an orthodox Christian faith, and salvation will not be found in it except by accident.


No organisation will stand without Bylaws. I know your interest in the Community of Christ; it is because you have found in A TRUE church of Jesus-Christ. Even Luc did not accept the ministry of PAUL up intill latter. What a prophetic church! Deep message and stong mission in the world. The brothe to Jesus did not accept him and mocked him. Even John doubted of the man he baptized, he sent disciples to inquire. You know the answer? Go and and tell what you have seen and heard. People couldn't believe Mary and Joseph's son be the ONE talked of from ages. I encourage your ministry but the great ministry is to bring people to Christ rather than the Ministry of Vain Discussion.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

My ministry is not one of “Vain Discussion,” rather it is a ministry defending THE faith and exposing false teachers and false belief systems so as to help people leave these systems and to help prevent people from being deceived. Jude 3 tells us to earnestly contend for our faith, and many times in Scripture we are called to expose the “fruitless deeds of darkness.” I am but one of many “watchmen” on the wall. It was a “watchman” on the wall who exposed the LDS to me in 1972, leading me to leave the LDS church and eventually coming to saving faith in the true Jesus Christ.

gretchelby said...

Wow I was raised in the RLDS religion. I hold dear the history of the church and the meaning it has had on my family. RLDS members (my three uncles and an aunt are ministers are Christians). We believe in a holy trinity. We believe in Jesus...we just believe that he came to ancient America...why only come to minister to those in the holy land? We stayed east the Mormons went west. Your blog on this was wasted time. You should go to a sermon. You might learn we aren't much different than you...and our services preach the same thing, except tolerance...we teach tolerance.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The history of the RLDS church is founded on a false prophet and a false book by that false prophet. Your belief that Jesus came to America is base on a lie - the Book of Mormon. Believing something doesn’t make it true. The Bible would have told us if he went to America. The “other sheep” he mentioned were the Gentiles - that is the context of the passage. And everything Smith put in the mouth of Jesus in the BOM was plagiarized directly from the Bible.

I fully understand the history of the RLDS, which is part of this post. The RLDS are not nearly as heretical and aberrational as the LDS. (I am an ex-LDS member)

Whether you personally believe in the true Trinity (rather than the three gods taught by Joseph Smith) is not the subject of my post. My post has to do with the official doctrine of the RLDS, much from their own site and publications.

You state that my blog was wasted time, but you gave no evidence as to your reasoning. You claim you teach tolerance and yet you are very intolerant of my article.

Scripture teaches that we are NOT to be tolerant of false teachings and false prophets, which is why I wrote the article - to expose the false prophet and false teachings of the RLDS. I don’t need to attend a sermon of a false church to be able to understand their teachings - and I have a good friend who has told me much about his life in the RLDS prior to coming to saving faith in the true Jesus of the Bible. That and my thorough research tells me all I need to know.

I am sorry you are deceived into believing the lies of Joseph Smith. Perhaps you should look at my article exposing his false prophecies and some of the many problems with the Book of Mormon, and then consider if that is what you want to trust your eternity to.

Anonymous said...

No one has the right to say that the Community of Christ is not a Christian church. My whole family has been brought up in this church, and I am currently a member. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of this Earth, and I have accepted Christ into my heart. I am a Christian, and I am a member of this wonderful church. You shouldn't post so-called facts unless you know the absolute truth. No matter where you found the information, you should discover this church for yourself before you can say if it is a Christian church or not.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hello Anonymous,

You wrote, ”No one has the right to say that the Community of Christ is not a Christian church.”

Well, you are in error, because every Christian has the right to compare teachings with Scripture and then declare if the teachings aline with Scripture. If the teachings don’t align with Scripture, the it isn’t Christian.

I’m not addressing the beliefs of individuals in this blog article, rather I am address the teachings of the Community of Christ denomination. I examined their history, their acceptance of the false prophet Joseph Smith, and all the other false teaching of the Community of Christ (RLDS).

I have a good friend who came out of the RLDS, but whose family are still members. As with Roman Catholicism, there are those who may become real Christians in spite of the teachings of the church they attend, as I noted in the next-to-last paragraph in my article.

If you would read the comment string, you would also notice that “Mark” is an ex-RLDS who agrees with me. Also, “Kevin” challenges me with a string to which I respond, and you might find that of value, especially since I cite RLDS material. And if you continue in the comment string, you will see more defense of the RLDS and my rebuttals, and these just might possibly answer questions you may have.

I challenge you to demonstrate what I have posted which isn’t factual information

Anonymous said...

The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion. If you just take a look at the CoC website as it currently reads, regarding their faith it is really quite unintelligible. The information presented is also ever changing, constantly revising and updating their believes to fit with the "times". God does not change however. God is the same today as he was in the beginning of the earth. Why then would CoC have to keep changing the word of God (as they claim the Doctrine in Covenents to be) as if the God of today has had a change of mind or is indecisive? Just thoughts to ponder.

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong member of the Rlds/ Community of Christ I must say the author of this blog is correct in his entire account of how non-biblical this movement is. I have been a pastor of two different CofChrist congregations and begun a sincere study of my faith community. I must say the institutional church was founded under a false occult prophet Joseph Smith and it's teachings about salvation are false. I had hopes that when the church finally admitted Smith was a polygamist that the movement would de-canonize the Book of Mormon and the Docterine and Covenants. I soon realized the church needed the "modern revelation" to advance its pluralistic apostate theology. My children have seen the light and have left the church and their father and mother are soon to follow. For those who remain in a dead church I will pray for you to see the light!

Anonymous said...

Although some of this information is true, some is NOT! Community of Christ does not teach the idea of a Three Kingdom Heaven, that is theology of the the Utah church. Also, Community of Christ does not teach that everyone outside of the church is "damned". The church teaches that while we believe our history and story is indeed inspired by God, that other beliefs are not evil and untrue.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


The Community of Christ claims that their Doctrine & Covenants are Scripture and are believed to be true. D&C 76 teaches that there are three kingdoms of heaven.

The RLDS, as with the LDS, subscribes to belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, meaning that if he stated God told him things, these things were true. Smith claimed God said all Christian churches were corrupt and therefore the Church had to be restored. Ergo, those outside of the true church are corrupt and are unsaved. Either you accept him as your prophet or you don’t — you can’t pick and choose what to believe about Smith’s prophecies and teachings received from God.

As for anyone being damned who do not accept Joseph Smith’s teachings (i.e., anyone outside of the RLDS), I suggest you read your D&C 18:2f, 20, 42:16a,b, 76, 83:8-13.

As long as you proclaim that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, that the the Book of Mormon is from God, and that the Doctrines & Covenants are from God, you have to believe and teach what they say.

Try reviewing all the above comments so as to not repeat what has been addressed.

Paul Davison said...

I was an RLDS,even baptized in the faith. I attended a branch in Ridgewood N.J til 1980

Ironically most of the members behavior would put a lot of Christians to shame. I do believe despite the doctrinal error,there were members who's hearts were truly seeking God [God isn't restricted on whom he chooses to bless based on beliefs]I really believe there were some real McCoys as members who's only err was their using the DIC.I'm now with The Vineyard also coined a cult by many

The Church began to dwindle as most members moved to the Midwest. It's now run by a female pastor with only 5 members that once had over 70

There is a camp located in New Hope Pa that is a retreat to all RLDS churches in the northeast. I find it hypocritical that they will rent the campgrounds to Muslims even Buddhists. Ain't that a double standard?.

I concur with you that this is a cult.I witnessed to an obstinate member for 5 years,he now renounced the church he was once pastoring

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


A friend of mine, along with his family, were RLDS. He found enough truth there to lead him to the Lord and out of the cult. His family remains, much to his sorrow, because they do not know the real Jesus.

God "chooses to bless" those who seek him, and unless people are truly seeking a God not of their own making, they won't find the true God.

Renting a religious camp to pagans does seem to be a bit incongruous!

I don't consider the Vineyard to be a cult, it's just aberrant with false signs and wonders teachings.