The Community of Christ (RLDS) is a Mormon Church formed in 1860 known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints until it changed its name in 2001.
This Mormon sect uses Mormon founder Joseph Smith's Inspired Version of the Bible, and believes in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Though they believe much the same as the larger group of Mormons headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, there are differences that stem from its establishment and split from the main group of Mormons.
After Smith died in 1844, many Mormons agreed to follow Brigham Young west, eventually to Utah. However Jason Briggs, Zenos Gurley, and William Marks disagreed with the move and with polygamy. They followed Joseph Smith III as the new prophet of the church, as did about 300 others.
All Mormons hold that Jesus Christ is "of God" but not the same as God. They follow founder Smith's translation of the Bible that identifies Jesus in John 1:1 in this manner: "In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God." Most Protestant and Catholic versions and translations of the same passage, including the King James Version, show: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Orthodox Bible scholars identify the beginning verses of the Gospel of John as written to equate Jesus with God in divinity. The Mormons, including the RLDS, do not.
The RLDS differs from the LDS in marriage for eternity, the Adam-God theory, and closed temple services. Recent leaders have taught that RLDS members should consider their own spiritual experiences as important and guiding, and sometimes more important than the church scriptures and texts. Many find the RLDS theology and doctrine difficult to parse due to church leadership's intentional vagueness in an effort to appear similar to orthodox Christian theology. In a few significant ways, such as baptism and salvation, the RLDS clearly differs from biblical teaching.
One RLDS website calls members to "Listen within yourself" for Jesus' call to become a disciple. This differs from Acts 2:37–38 where, after hearing Peter proclaim who Jesus is: "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
And, 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 where Paul writes, "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures."
Salvation comes only through grace, the Bible teaches, not through a series or even a lifetime of good works, as the RLDS teaches. Paul describes such people in Romans 10:2–4: "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Most false religions of the world rely on good works for followers to gain an eternal reward. Religions that claim to follow Jesus yet do not identify Him as divine do not truly know Jesus; they are false. Only Christianity points toward Jesus' divinity and His work of propitiation on the cross as our sole avenue of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8–10).
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