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Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) differences with LDS

Discussion in 'Restorationists DIR' started by dsaly1969, May 26, 2014.

  1. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    I am a member of the Community of Christ and a former LDS (I was born and raised LDS). Remember the CoC (formerly RLDS) and the LDS only share the first 14 years of history and have had 150 years of separate development and evolution. The CoC has been working hard at becoming a peace and justice oriented church.

    One big difference is that LDS views itself as the "one true church" while CoC tries to be a "true church" (which we view as encompassing Christians of all denominations and perhaps even faithful believers of other religions and people of good morals). This is a major reason why CoC is a much smaller church as most of us see little reason to "sheep-steal" folks from other churches and denominations. In the same way, the LDS focus on having the "Restored Gospel" while the CoC puts more focus on our distinctive vision of "Restoration Christianity" (where guidance by the Spirit is primary rather than sola scriptura as the Protestants and tradition like the Catholics). This "sola Spiritus" emphasis is what has caused the CoC to evolve its understanding and approach over time. (You can see this evolution quite clearly in the CoC edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.)

    The biggest difference is that the CoC is noncreedal and continuing to move in a more theologically inclusive and progressive direction (this explains the decisions made at the recent USA National Conference). So there are a wide variety of views within the membership of CoC on such things as the Book of Mormon (a few view it as literal history, many view it as perhaps not literally true but containing some metaphorical spiritual truths, and some do not use it or believe in it at all - there is a similar range of views on the Bible itself) or the afterlife (the CoC evolved from a literal view of the Three Kingdoms to seeing it more as a metaphor) or Zion (again, evolved from a literal understanding of Zion as a "place" to a current understanding of Zion as a Way of Being when we follow the Law of Love taught by Jesus).

    While CoC does have a temple, it is used just like the temple was in Kirtland for church gatherings, daily world peace prayers, interfaith and peace events. The CoC does not have baptisms for the dead, Endowments, garments, Temple weddings and sealings, etc. as these are part of the late Nauvoo-era esoteric teachings that RLDS explcitly rejected. RLDS was holding to the faith and practice primarily as practiced in the Kirtland era church. The RLDS was led first by Joseph Smith III (the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.) and Emma Smith (JS Jr.'s wife) was a member.

    CoC congregations in the USA are generally much smaller than their LDS counterparts. Many are fewer than 50 members and many less than that because of little missionary work being done to expand US membership. In terms of Sunday services they are generally a kind of a cross between a traditional Protestant service (we use the Revised Common Lectionary) and a LDS Sacrament service. Services are generally led by a pastor who is an Elder (in the CoC the priesthood - both Aaronic and Melchizedec - is open to both adult men and women, although not every adult has a priesthood calling in the CoC - most are just laity - the LDS practice of giving priesthood to all male members evolved after Nauvoo and into Utah as a result of the introduction of Temple ordinances). Sacrament or Lord's Supper is done one Sunday per month (this was the Kirtland era practice) using prayers either exactly the same as you are used to or in a slightly modified, modernized form. Communion is open which means that any baptized Christian of any denomination may partake if they choose. It is typically bread and grape juice (not water). Most scripture readings focus on the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants (which is different from the LDS version as the CoC regularly adds new sections and sometimes removes sections which no longer speak to the current condition of the church). The BoM is seldom read on Sundays. The pastor or guest speaker will give a sermon so it is not all "lay-led" (but CoC pastors and most other priesthood holders are non-paid volunteers). Hymns are sung. Some CoC congregations are experimenting with more contemporary music and informal church service structure involving more small group discussions. Many CoC congregations will have a Sunday School - usually in small study group fashion before or after the service. Coffee and refreshments are often also available (the Word of Wisdom is seen as a word of advice and not as a commandment).

    The hard thing to wrap one's head around (especially when coming from a more authoritarian and dogmatic church like LDS) is that CoC is truly noncreedal and has not emphasized a literal interpretation since the 1960's. This causes not only a great theological diversity among individual members but also in the "flavor" of each individual congregation. Some focus more on the Bible while some (like the ones I am used to) also put much emphasis on the D&C (especially the revelations on and after 1984) and there are a few that still preach from the Book of Mormon. Overall I would say that the CoC is much more a moderate to progressive Bible/D&C focused church nowadays.
     
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  2. Nymphs

    Nymphs Well-Known Member

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    May I asked what caused you to convert?
     
    #2 Nymphs, May 26, 2014
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
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  3. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    Can you elaborate on the metaphorical view held here, please?
     
  4. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    I'll answer both of your questions.

    In terms of conversion and my views about the afterlife, I have developed theological views which can be accepted within the wide array of views within the Community of Christ, but not within the tight doctrinal standards of the LDS Church.

    I am a former LDS Mormon. In my personal spiritual journey from those roots I was able to explore the Vedanta teachings of HInduism, Buddhism, as well as the contemplative spiritual practices within Christianity (such as centering prayer and lectio divina) through my experiences in the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Quaker traditions before finding my home in the Community of Christ. My view of "God" is not a traditional theistic definition. I interpret "God" in a nontheistic way as the "Ground of All Being" similar to Paul Tillich and comparable to the Buddhist doctrines of Dharmakaya or the metaphorical view of Amida Buddha among many modern Jodo Shinshu Buddhists. My own personal theology tends to reflect those contemplative interests. It may speak to you directly but I hope it provides food for thought. (Note this does not reflect the theology of all Community of Christ members.)

    I am a Friend of Jesus. "I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father" (John 15:14).

    1. A Friend of Jesus affirms that the central and sole essential teaching of Jesus is the Law of Love – Love of God and Love of neighbor. The Holy Spirit helps us live out the Way of the Cross - to die to our Old Selves (egos) to be born again as a new creation through Christ. (Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-37, John 13:34).

    2. Having the "correct beliefs" is not necessary for "salvation". We experience and bring heaven into our lives when we follow the Law of Love and can create hellish conditions in our lives when we elevate love of self and love of powers over compassion for others. Therefore, "salvation" is the product of developing a genuine love for other people and for God. We temporarily reject salvation if we choose not to love others like God loves us. Jesus clearly taught that it is our actions which are important and not what one claims to believe. Jesus taught us how to live, not what to believe. He did not exclude people because of their beliefs. (Matthew chaps. 5-7, Luke 6:17-49, Matthew 25:35-40, Luke 10:25-37).

    3. A Friend of Jesus affirms the primacy of the current guidance of the Holy Spirit as the most important spiritual guide to our lives, rather than limiting it to the Bible. The Word of God is Jesus and not the Bible itself. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Bible contains the history of the development of the church and its traditions and developed creeds as well as the cultural context from which they evolved filtered through the bias and opinions of the human authors. Therefore, Friends of Jesus read the Bible as a historical human response to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the past and as a secondary source of guidance. Even in the Bible, Jesus told us to rely on the inspiration of the Spirit rather than books written and compiled by fallible human beings. "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

    4. A Friend of Jesus affirms that every person is loved and continues to be guided by God through the Inward Light or Holy Spirit which we can learn to hear and allow it to guide us both in our daily lives. We can know the guidance is true if it does not conflict with the Law of Love. If we are sincerely open to the Divine Will, we will be guided by a Wisdom that is more compelling than our own more superficial thoughts and feelings. This can mean that we will find ourselves led in directions or receiving understandings that we may not have chosen just from personal preference.

    5. As a Friend of Jesus, I define myself as a seeker. It is readily apparent that there is wisdom in all the world’s living faiths and salvation through the Way of Love is not limited to those in the Christian tradition. All religions have goodness in them and are guided by the same Spirit, even if they have another label for it. Salvation is available for people of all religions and spiritual paths who develop love for others rather than only oneself. (John 10:16)

    6. As God is Love itself and as a Friend of Jesus, I do not believe in the doctrine of eternal damnation as God will continue to seek to ultimately reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20). In His love, I believe that God will continue to love those who die without salvation and seek to bring them to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

    7. There are three steps to become a Friend of Jesus: First, to seriously confront his teaching. We are called to love God and love our neighbor. Second, to decide that Jesus was right-- this love of God and neighbor is the most important thing. Then, third, we have to decide that we will try to live that way -- with Jesus as our focus, our compass. This is what makes one a Friend of Jesus -- the decision to follow him, to make him function as the Christ in our lives. Then we should acknowledge and declare this decision to follow Jesus.
     
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  5. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    In the Community of Christ, it tends to be a "reunion" (aka retreat) and camping focused church. For a small denomination the CoC maintains quite a few campgrounds and have multiple camping events during the year. Many kids and youth have most of their formative experience of the CoC after baptism in those settings as compared to the congregational setting. Many younger people seem to seldom visit the Sunday services outside of special events and youth gatherings until they are older. For this reason attendance on Sundays can be small. On the other hand CoC members tend to treat each other like extended family so there is always interaction outside of Sunday.


    Here is an interesting blog where someone visited a Community of Christ congregation:

    http://52weeks52churches.blogspot.com/2014/03/not-mormonism-of-my-childhood.htm



    Here is the main website for the Community of Christ:

    Community of Christ
     
    #5 dsaly1969, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
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  6. Marco19

    Marco19 Researcher

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    Hello dsaly1969,

    I'd like to know your view, as CoC, to the Adam-God doctrine, and if there are documnets related to Emma's reaction towards this, and in general how do you feel/understand the dispute between Emma & Young.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
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  7. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    The original foundations of the Community of Christ (aka RLDS) stem from the original Kirtland-era teachings of the Latter Day Saints when it was still within the "mainstream" of Christian Restorationist teachings (besides the Book of Mormon and the early Doctrine and Covenants) before the Nauvoo innovations such as Temple ordinances and eternal progression. The "Adam-God" doctrine was taught by Brigham Young as his explanation of the theological innovations of eternal progression.

    The early RLDS comes from the faction that believed by Joseph Smith III was the designated heir to lead the Church so obviously they supported Emma. I don't think that the "Adam-God" doctrine was taught until after the Saints that followed Brigham Young reached Utah.

    Here's a good Wikipedia article on the differences in doctrine and such between the Community of Christ and the LDS:

    Comparison of Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


     
  8. Marco19

    Marco19 Researcher

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    Well I'm aware of that, but mostly I'm interested to understand the CoC POV about the dispute between Emma & Young, and whether CoC considers Young's taught, such as Adam-God, wicked or being a prove that Young was false prophet (as I've heard from other LDS denomination).
     
  9. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    I am confused by your question. The Community of Christ has never accepted Brigham Young as a prophet so they supported Emma in the dispute and certainly did not accept his teachings as the RLDS (CoC) never accepted polygamy, eternal progression, or Adam-God as I indicated above. The CoC (RLDS) are the group that did NOT accept Young's claims in the first place and Emma was a member of the RLDS (now CoC).
     
    #9 dsaly1969, May 29, 2014
    Last edited: May 29, 2014
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  10. hispanicmormon

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    Quick question. baptisms for the dead, Endowments, garments, Temple weddings and sealings, etc. were all introduced by Joseph Smith, right? So why don't the RLDS or CoC believe in these things if they were introduced before Joseph Smith's death?
     
  11. silvermoon383

    silvermoon383 Well-Known Member

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    dsaly can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of CoC (RLDS) views is that they see anything that was introduced during Nauvoo as signs of a fallen prophet or something like that. When he says that they're based on the Kirtland-era church he's not kidding.
     
  12. dsaly1969

    dsaly1969 Member

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    Actually Joseph Smith never PUBLICALLY taught those things, just like he never PUBLICALLY taught polygamy. Emma never agreed to be in a polygamous relationship so Joseph Smith Jr. committed the sin of adultery and that is when he fell from grace.

    It was Brigham Young who later publically taught these doctrines once they got to Utah.
     
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