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Apostasy and the Community of Christ

by Lois M. Anderson

"[Sec 1:3c] and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
[Sec 1:3d] for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness,
[Sec 1:3e] but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall." (Doctrine and Covenants)

"1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein; I am the Lord your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18)

Cain was the first person to change the ordinances. When his offering, which was an ordinance dictated by God, was not accepted, he killed his brother Abel. He did it out of anger at God, anger at the correct ordinance, anger at his brother, and a desire for material gain. Cain was cursed and driven out from the company of the righteous. He was joined by others like himself.

"6 And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying, Make an offering unto the Lord. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
7 And Abel, he also brought, of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof; and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering, but unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect.
8 Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well thou shalt be accepted, and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door; and Satan desireth to have thee, and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire; and thou shalt rule over him, for from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies.
10 Thou shalt be called Perdition, for thou wast also before the world, and it shall be said in time to come, that these abominations were had from Cain, for he rejected the greater counsel, which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.
11 And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord.

12 And Adam also, and his wife, mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.
13 And it came to pass, that Cain took one of his brother's daughters to wife, and they loved Satan more than God.
14 And Satan said unto Cain, Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.
15 And Satan swear unto Cain, that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.
16 And Cain said, Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan; and he gloried in his wickedness.
17 And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
18 And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying, I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands." (Genesis, Chapter 5)

The leaders of what was once known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints began changing the priesthood and ordinances. They began the change slowly and with stealth. With the advent of Section 156 they have lashed out in anger at the members of their own church who wished to adhere to the proper ordinances. They seized property and forced their own members out from the structure of the church. They have caused many of the saints to mourn. The parallel to Cain can be seen in their actions.

This paper concerns the apostasy of the Community of Christ, once known as The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

God has offered us the possibility to live with Him in His Kingdom, even though mankind has fallen. Through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, he has made this possible. God has the right to set the rules for entrance into His Kingdom. To take it upon oneself to rewrite those rules is apostasy.

The rules which allow us to enter the Kingdom of God are simple and easy to understand. They are recorded in the scriptures. They are the everlasting covenant and the ordinances, which bring us closer to God.

The Everlasting Covenant

"[Sec 49:2d] wherefore I say unto you, that I have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning, and that which I have promised I have so fulfilled, and the nations of the earth shall bow to it;
[Sec 49:2e] and, if not of themselves, they shall come down, for that which is now exalted of itself, shall be laid low of power;
[Sec 49:2f] wherefore I give unto you a commandment that ye go among this people and say unto them, like unto mine apostle of old, whose name was Peter:
[Sec 49:2g] Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus, who was on the earth, and is to come, the beginning and the end; repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, according to the holy commandment, for the remission of sins;
[Sec 49:2h] and whoso doeth this, shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of the hands of the elders of this church." (Doctrine and Covenants)

A covenant is a sacred agreement between two parties. This is our part, Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus, repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This is God's part, whoso doeth this, shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of the elders of this church."

The first and foremost teaching of the church of Jesus Christ is repentance. Repentance means confessing and changing from a sinful lifestyle. The world currently teaches that sin is simply an acceptable alternative and one will eventually be saved in the Kingdom of God. This is false teaching. The present Community of Christ does not teach repentance, they teach acceptance and tolerance of sin.

RLDS President Grant McMurray addressed a GALA event at Blue Water Reunion Grounds in 1997, he said,

"I want you to know that the gay and lesbian community is a welcomed part of the body of Christ.

The church cannot be expected to resolve every social, theological, biological, and psychological issue that swirls around the controversial cultural debate generated by homosexuality. We will continue to struggle with policies and procedures and we cannot expect agreement among the members of the church. What we CAN expect is that all persons should be treated as children of God, [are] loved without condition by God, and therefore [should be] by each of us. That principle should be at the core of our life together as a church. In that spirit, I pray that God's richest blessings will attend you in your gathering and that you feel the Spirit in much abundance among you. I look forward to our continued association in the cause to which we are all committed.
Warm good wishes,
Grant McMurray" ( http://galaweb.org/galanews/Fall97.html)

There is no mention of repentance in Grant McMurray's address. Homosexuality is just one sin that is now acceptable.

The Ordinances

"Sec 52:4a] And, behold, he that is faithful shall be made ruler over many things.
[Sec 52:4b] And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations;
[Sec 52:4c] wherefore he that prayeth whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances.
[Sec 52:4d] He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek, and edifieth, the same is of God, if he obey mine ordinances." (Doctrine and Covenants)

The ordinances are baptism, the sacrament, and the laying on of hands for receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Baptism and administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church:

"Mormon 4:95 See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God: and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in no wise be cast out."

"III Nephi 8:60 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly, to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it, for whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul;
61 Therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood, ye shall forbid him; nevertheless ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him, and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name,
62 And if it so be that he repenteth, and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood;
63 But if he repent not, he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered;" (Book of Mormon)

At the RLDS World Conference of April 2000 the following proposal was allowed to make it all the way to the floor of the conference. It is plainly against church law and should have been stopped close to its origin. It did not pass the 2000 conference, but it will probably resurface until it has become the new church law.

"4 Accepting Members of Other Denominations---Tuesday Minutes/Wednesday Morning Minutes From Honduras Church:

Whereas, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has as one of its tenets a concern for the Body of Christ, for the purpose of forming a Church without stain, open to give ministry to all people who open their hearts to Jesus Christ and be received as part of the Body of Christ; and

Whereas, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is concerned about the eternal worth of each individual; and

Whereas, Many members of the Body of Christ who are baptized in other denominations have come to us wanting to be members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and

Whereas, At the present time many of them leave when they are notified that to belong to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints they need to be baptized again; and

Whereas, All who receive Christ in their heart are considered to be a member of the church, therefore, be it

Resolved, That we accept as members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints all of those who are baptized in other denominations by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the only prerequisite being that they express that it is their will either by voice or in writing that they be received as such, by way of confirmation by the laying on of hands by authorized ministers of the church; and be it further

Resolved, That the First Presidency shall develop administrative guidelines to implement this action."
(from http://www.rlds.org/WC2000/pl-a.htm#A-4Accepting Members of Other Denominations)

Rather than explain church law to the members, the first presidency offered the following, which leaves the door wide open for such legislation later.

"The Chair made the following statement regarding Item A-4, Accepting Members of Other Denominations, on page 149, and Item A-9, Baptism, on page 152:

For some time the church has engaged, at the encouragement of the First Presidency, in a dialogue on issues pertaining to baptism, membership, and authority. Central to that discussion has been the question of whether baptisms in other Christian denominations can be considered valid for persons who wish to become members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but without further baptism. Interest in this matter has been sufficiently widespread in the church that we have felt that a mature exploration of the issues was important both for our present and future understandings.

The proposed resolutions A-4 ("Accepting Members of Other Denominations" from the Honduras Church) and A-9 ("Baptism" from the New Zealand Church) have been developed in the spirit of that dialogue. The work done by those two national churches is fully in harmony with our intent to encourage an open discussion of these issues so central to our polity. We appreciate the consideration and thought they have given to these questions.

However, it is the responsibility of the First Presidency to ensure that all matters presented for consideration by the World Conference are in harmony with the fundamental law of the church as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants and codified in the Rules of Order. Therefore, the First Presidency are required to rule Items A-4 and A-9 out of order on the following grounds:

The resolutions are in conflict with Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which provides an interpretation of baptism in the context of "a new and everlasting covenant," stating further that "although a man should be baptized an hundred times, it availeth him nothing…." Since this was presented to the church in April 1830 in specific response to a question about the status of those who have been baptized previously, the reference clearly limits acceptance of other baptisms. In harmony with our long-standing provisions for interpretation of basic law, any new understanding of this section of the Doctrine and Covenants would require the initiative of the president of the church and the consent of the body.

The resolutions are in direct conflict with Rule of Order 12 which states, in part, "no field jurisdiction or World Conference can change the basic law of the church, such as the law concerning the mode of baptism." These resolutions have the effect of modifying Rule 12, but without explicitly amending them in accordance with the procedures for amending the Rules of Order, which require sixty days advance notice to the church prior to World Conference.

We continue to encourage the church to engage in a serious exploration of the meaning of baptism and membership for our movement. To that end, we are introducing this subject on Thursday afternoon as the focus of our session with John Paul Lederach, in which we conduct an exercise on consensus building skills. In that session we trust that the various perspectives on this significant matter can be explored in an open and honest environment, thereby contributing to a deep and mature reflection upon a matter of profound sacramental, theological, and missional significance to the church.

The First Presidency"
(from http://www.rlds.org/WC20002000sc0404%20Minutes.htm)

From the above, I believe we can see that this thorny issue, which can prevent the Community of Christ from receiving the praise of the world, will be dealt with to the satisfaction of the leaders in the near future.

The Priesthood... God gives the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of the hands of the elders of this church.

In 1968 the Positions Papers were written and circulated among the top leaders of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were not meant to be circulated beyond their own small group. By this fact we can see that plans were made in stealth for changing the church. The papers were a blueprint for doing away with the priesthood and the ordinances of the church.

THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL
A Study Paper Prepared for the Curriculum Consultation Committee
Prepared by the Department of Religious Education
October, 1967 pp. 37-39

"Reference is often made by Latter Day Saints to the "antiquity of the gospel," although the meaning of this phrase is shrouded in ambiguity. For some it means that New Testament doctrine and order were possessed by select groups from the beginning of time. Historical studies lend no support to such an understanding. To the extent that "gospel" refers to the good news of the love of God, It does possess antiquity inasmuch as it has always been God's character to love his creation and to seek its redemption and to involve himself in the human dilemma in every age. Thus the eternity of God's love could in a sense permit us to speak of the antiquity of the gospel, but when gospel is defined as doctrine, ordinances, priesthood offices, and church polity (as is so often the case among RLDS), then historical support for such an assertion disappears.

Several problems present themselves in discussing salvation. One relates to the attitude that is sometimes held that if a person adheres to certain prescribed principles and regulations this will earn for him celestial salvation in the life to come. This attitude suggests that the gospel is a set of principles (e.g. faith, repentance, baptism, etc.) and that salvation is the reward for obeying them. Such an understanding of the gospel as principles is inadequate. It fosters the notion that faith is fundamentally assent to propositions, rather than trustful obedience to the call of discipleship." (Position Papers)

An integral element of changing the ordinances is to also change the nature of the priesthood. Priesthood is a calling from God, it gives authority to a man to carry out the ordinances. Ordinances which are performed by a man who has authority from God are recorded in heaven. Nowhere in the scriptures does it call for women to be members of the priesthood. Nowhere is there recorded that priesthood will be handed down from mother to daughter, or from father to daughter. Priesthood is handed down from father to son, which means, priesthood is male.

"DC 68:2g but by virtue of the decree concerning their right of the priesthood descending from father to son, they may claim their anointing, if at any time they can prove their lineage, or do ascertain it by revelation from the Lord under the hands of the above-named presidency."

"DC 104:18 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made. This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner": (Doctrine and Covenants)

CHURCH HISTORY
A Study Paper Prepared for the Curriculum Consultation Committee
Prepared by the Department of Religious Education
October 1967 p. 92

"The New Testament itself reflects this diversity in that it does not present us with anything that could be called a consistent picture of organization. A particular case in point would be the question of the offices or officers which are occasionally mentioned in the New Testament. The varying and sketchy accounts which we do have make it very difficult to consider such references as representative of a consolidated end common institutional pattern in the primitive church. Rather these are more a discussion of the various talents and abilities of individual members of the fellowship, some gifted in one ministry and some in another. Here was the early recognition, too, of the diversified nature of ministry and appreciation for the need for such diversification. But in this, situational need more than organizational uniformity was the guiding principle. Even the apostles were a loosely structured group with indication that the number varied. Elders were for the most part just that-they were the elderly "patriarchs" of the community. Deacons and deaconesses are mentioned but we know little of their function." ( Position Papers)

In 1984 the church leaders put in the first visible blow to destroying the priesthood. What they had been planning in 1967 had found fruition in 1984.

"Doctrine and Covenants: Section 156:9c.Therefore, do not wonder that some women of the church are being called to priesthood responsibilities. This is in harmony with my will and where these calls are made known to my servants, they may be processed according to administrative procedures and provisions of the law." (Doctrine and Covenants)

The current Community of Christ does not recognize any denomination as being the Church of Christ. They feel that all churches have equal authority, even though each denomination has its own ideas about ordinances and priesthood.

The Position Papers
THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
A Study Paper Prepared for the Curriculum Consultation Committee
Prepared by the Department of Religious Education
October, 1967 pp.51-54, 57

"Purposes of the Church

It is apparent, therefore, that some conceptions of the organized church's purpose are inadequate. Five are particularly noteworthy:
(5) That the church exists to impart divine grace by "correct" rites or ordinances.

At stake here is whether or not God's grace is exclusively channeled through certain authorities or rites. Obviously, the organized church with its ordinances and sacraments is extremely helpful in nurturing faith and conveying the grace of God. But this truth is sometimes distorted into a legalistic and almost magical conception of a divine gift which requires for its transmission a correct adherence to prescribed forms of sacramental ritual and properly vested authorities. Unfortunately for such a theory, many persons give evidence of having received the grace of God in quite "irregular" ways from persons who make no claim to apostolic succession or other forms of vested authority. This does not mean that the sacraments are of no value, or that properly appointed officers are superfluous. It simply means that such cannot be described as being the sole means of grace.

Thus we affirm that God does call priesthood to his work and commissions them, but their call does not invalidate the call of others. We also affirm that we have received the grace of God through the sacraments, ordinances, and ministrations of the priesthood, but that such channels are not the exclusive channels. We also affirm that through the institution we know we have encountered the Christ and have been called to authentic discipleship, but that such an experience does not invalidate the similar experience of others in differing churches.

we cannot affirm there being the kind of "true" church which makes all others "false" churches. Nor can we affirm today that this is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth with which . . .the Lord (is) well pleased. (D. & C. 1:5) We affirm that no single organized institution (church) an earth is the perfect embodiment of God's will and purpose and therefore qualified to claim itself as the sole source from which his grace proceeds or through which men are joined to him. The only church outside which salvation cannot be said to exist is that universal household of faith which embraces men from many denominations and settings who live their lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ." (Position Papers)

The Community of Christ will not prevail, for it is not Christ's Church.

"[Section 2:1a] The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God, cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught, for God doth not walk in crooked paths;
[Section 2:1b] neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left;
[Section2: 1]c neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; therefore his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round.
[Section 2: 2a] Remember, remember, that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;
[Section 2: 2b] for although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet, if he boast in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him." (Doctrine and Covenants)

The general teaching of the world is that your religion does not matter. You will be saved anyway. According to God's word there is a narrow path which leads to the Kingdom of God. And it is not something that we are allowed to abandon because of changing circumstances. And old age does not excuse one from standing up and defending that church for our children and grandchildren.

"[Sec 3:16a] Behold, this is my doctrine: Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church;
[Sec 3:16b] whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore, he is not of my church.
[Sec 3:17] And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my Rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against him." (Doctrine and Covenants)

In closing, the Community of Christ, has left its rich heritage. It has sacrificed it for a "mess of pottage", the praise of the world. As the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints it once honored a covenant with God, and honored ordinances which brought the people to God. The Community of Christ is in apostasy.

________________________________________________

Lois M. Anderson---I was baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1958 by my father, who was a priest. I was confirmed by an evangelist-patriarch. In 1988 I walked out of my local congregation. I knew that soon it would not even resemble the church into which I was baptized. While others may pine to reconcile with the Community of Christ in order to attempt to regain the warm and comforting feeling we once had in the traditional church, I will stay apart from all congregations who do not resemble the church which Jesus Christ restored. With God's help I will endure to the end and my prayer is that many others will endure also.


Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: March 03, 2002

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