back to This Is Serious

A Letter of Evaluation to the Saints

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Many faithful believers within the Restoration churches may be thinking that something is awry, but what is it? The struggles of belief are witnessed by the name changes since the church was restored in 1830. Now they are called by many names, The Community of Christ, The Independent Branches of the Restoration, the Remnant Church, and many others. This letter is mainly for those who have come from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Church members are once again at a crossroads in their decision making. It is a good time to assess the original purpose of the Restored gospel, brought to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni, and its current purpose in the contemporary scenes of the 21st century. Each member must evaluate whether the church is maintaining its original purpose and evaluate one’s individual relationship to the gospel.

Some Saints remember the truths of the gospel proclaimed in the early church and have witnessed a shift in the church’s teachings. Perhaps you have not kept track of the many shifts in doctrine over the past 30 or so years.

This letter is a summary of some of the original teachings and the shifts that have been taught in the last three decades. Remembering that God is an unchanging God, one eternal round, one must verify any new idea against the truths in the scriptures.

The gospel does not need to be modernized. It is the same as when it was presented to Adam, to Enoch, to Moses, to Lehi, to Samuel the Lamanite, to Simon Peter, and to Joseph Smith. God’s gospel is beyond time and needs no contemporary adjustments to meet the precepts of today.

We will present a general topic taken from the original Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, followed by a brief statement of the original teaching. Then we will identify the shift made within the practices of the Community of Christ. Finally we will present the scripture passages which we believe uphold the original concept. The scripture passages that we have chosen are just a few of many. The scriptures as a whole wonderfully witness of the truth of each other.

A belief, or at least openness, to the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants is required in order to benefit from the premise of this letter. These books are on-line at http://www.centerplace.org/library/
 

Topic Original teaching Shift by the CofC  Scriptures
       
Homosexuality Homosexual behavior is an abomination in the sight of God. Homosexuality is an inherited condition and a legitimate lifestyle. Leviticus 18:22
Romans 1:22-27
Timothy 1:10
Jacob Chapter 2
Christ as our only Savior  Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation. The Community of Christ does not wish to offend other world religions by claiming that Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation. Matthew 10:29
Acts 4:12
II Nephi 11:39
Mosiah 8:89-91
Priesthood Men are called as Aaron was, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The Community of Christ has 1)called women to the priesthood 2)ordained practicing homosexuals. Genesis 6:59-63
John 3:1-8
1 Corinthians 14:33-38
Hebrews 5:4
Sacrament Prayers The originals have been given to us word for word in the scriptures. Makes a change in the nature of God by deleting the word, “Father”. Also denying the validity of the words given in the scriptures. Moroni 4:3-4, 5:1-3
The Concept of Zion Zion will be a city established in Jackson County made up of righteous people. Zion is a condition, not a physical location. Genesis 9:21-25Doctrine and Covenants 98:9
The Holy Scriptures Accepted scriptures are the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants The church recommends the NIV Bible, doubts the historicity of the Book of Mormon and questions the revelations given in the Doctrine and Covenants. Genesis Chapters 6 and 7,
I Nephi: 3:157-175
Ether 5:23-28
The Law of Tithing Saints should tithe one tenth of one’s increase. Saints should tithe one tenth of one’s income. Genesis 14:36-39, Doctrine and Covenants 106:1a-1b
Worship Format Worship should be led by the Holy Spirit Worship is guided by a format decided at headquarters. Moroni 6:9
The Principles of the Gospel We believe in faith, repentance, baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment. Emphasis is given to the Six Disciplines
1)Spirituality 2)Learning 3)Justice 4)Reconciliation 5)Sharing 6)Community
Hebrews 6:1-2, Doctrine and Covenants 49:2d-2h
The Lord’s Supper It is a commemoration by those who have been baptized into Christ’s church It is open communion, served to anyone who wishes to participate. III Nephi 8:60-65
Joseph Smith, Prophet, and the Restoration of the True Church We believe that Christ’s true church was restored to the earth by the visitation and instruction of angels. The Community of Christ has denied that there is one true church.  They are teaching that all world religions are equal. Doctrine and Covenants 1:5e

Discussion of Topics

Homosexuality

Original: Homosexual behavior is an abomination in the sight of God. Sex is for one man and one woman inside of marriage.

Shift: Homosexuality is an inherited condition and a legitimate lifestyle.

Scripture: Romans Chapter 1:22-27 (Also Leviticus 18:22, Timothy 1:10 and Jacob Chapter 2)

Romans Chapter 1
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts; to dishonor their own bodies between themselves;
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature;
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Christ as our Only Savior

Original: We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a sacrifice in order that we may repent and be saved from a spiritual death. We believe the words of Acts 4:12 which says, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Shift: The Community of Christ does not wish to offend other world religions by claiming that Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation. They are incorporating practices from other world religions into their worship. At the World Conference of 2002 a study was presented called H-8 Interfaith Relations Committee Report.

2002 World Conference Bulletin pp. 75-78. In the report the committee said,

“In the New Testament several texts in the Gospel of John and Paul’s letters contain material that, if interpreted outside the contextual argument of the literary structure of the text, could be construed to be prejudicial toward the Jewish people. Also, the modern-day church must deal with the sermon text of Peter reported by Like in the Acts of the Apostles that claims that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)”

"The most troublesome text for the Christian community regarding other religious traditions is to be found in Acts 4:12. This text makes exclusive claims to salvation through Jesus Christ and him alone. This text has tended to foster prejudice toward not only Jews but all other religious claims as well because of its exclusivity. This text is best understood within the context of the sermon preached by Peter in the company of John and others. It should not be universalized and become a framework for either missional or theological purposes."

Scriptures: Matthew 10:29, Acts 4:12, (Also II Nephi 11:39, Mosiah 8:89-91)

Acts Chapter 4
12 Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Matthew Chapter 10
29 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Priesthood

Original: Men are called as Aaron was, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Shift: The Community of Christ has ordained women to priesthood offices. Practicing homosexuals have also been ordained.

Scriptures: John Chapter 3:1-8, Genesis 6:59-63 (Also 1 Corinthians 14:33-38 and
Hebrews 5:4)

John Chapter 3
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one who is born of the Spirit.

Genesis Chapter 6
59 And I have given unto you another law and commandment; wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God.
60 For no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name; and the name of his Only Begotten is the son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
61 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying, that by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death; and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so become of dust a living soul;
62 Even so ye must be born again, into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten;} that ye may be sanctified from all sin; and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come; even immortal glory.
63 For, by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified; and by the blood ye are sanctified.
-----------------------

We are born into this world and become a living soul. This birth into the physical world you receive from your mother.

When we are baptized we are born the second time. This time we are born spiritually. We had to be born into the flesh to be a part of this world. Now we must be born spiritually in order to enter the Kingdom of God. That is where the saying comes from "born again". This is what we receive from a male priesthood.

Do you see the absolute similarity of being born in the flesh and being born in the spirit? Our physical birth is accompanied by water and blood in the womb. These nourish us until we are born. Then the breath of life is given to us. Just as God breathed into Adam, breathing His spirit into Adam to bring him to life, so does God breathe His very breath into us to give us life.

When we are baptized, we go into the water. This symbolizes not only being cleaned, but it also symbolizes birth. It is Jesus' blood that washes us clean, the blood that He shed on the cross. It is the Holy Ghost conferred upon us by the elders that breathes the spirit and intelligence of God into our minds. This is our spiritual birth, being born again.

It is the women's role to preside over the first birth into the flesh. It is the male priesthood's role to preside over the spiritual birth, born again. Eve was told that Adam would be the head of the family. God has set a pattern and it is not our place to destroy it.
This is the same kind of pattern as Christ as the bridegroom and the church as the bride.

Sacrament Prayers

Original: The sacrament prayers for the bread and the wine have been given to us word for word in the scriptures.

Shift: The most recent revisions make a change in the nature of God by deleting the word, “Father”. Changing the words also denies the validity of the words given in the scriptures.

Scripture: Moroni Chapters 4 and 5

3 And they did knelt down with the church and prayed to the Father in the name of Christ, saying,
4 O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

1 The manner of administering the wine.
2 Behold, they took the cup, and said,
3 O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God, the eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

The Concept of Zion

Original: Zion will be a city established in Jackson County made up of righteous people.

Shift: Zion is a condition, not a physical location.

Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 98:9d-9g (Also Genesis Chapter 9:21-25)

Doctrine and Covenants
[Sec 98:9d] Therefore, a commandment I give unto all the churches, that they shall continue to gather together unto the places which I have appointed;
[Sec 98:9e] nevertheless, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, let not your gathering be in haste, nor by flight; but let all things be prepared before you;
[Sec 98:9f] and in order that all things be prepared before you, observe the commandments which I have given concerning these things, which saith, or teacheth, to purchase all the lands by money, which can be purchased for money, in the region round about the land which I have appointed to be the land of Zion, for the beginning of the gathering of my Saints;
[Sec 98:9g] all the land which can be purchased in Jackson County, and the counties round about, and leave the residue in mine hand.

The Holy Scriptures

Original: Accepted scriptures are the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants.

Shift: The Community of Christ recommends the NIV Bible, doubts the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and questions the revelations given in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Scriptures: Ether 5:23-28, I Nephi 3:157-175 (Also Genesis Chapters 6 and 7)

Ether Chapter 5
23 And I said unto him, Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing;
24 For thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; and thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands.
25 Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the Brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote, were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
26 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we can not write them; wherefore, when we write, we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
27 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying, Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; and if men come unto me, I will shew unto them their weakness.
28 I give unto men weakness, that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak thing become strong unto them.

1 Nephi Chapter 3
157 And I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.
158 And the angel said unto me, Knowest thou the meaning of the book?
159 And I said unto him, I know not.
160 And he said, Behold, it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew; and I, Nephi, beheld it;
161 And he said unto me, The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord which he hath made unto the house of Israel;
162 And it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets;
163 And it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord which he hath made unto the house of Israel;
164 Wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
165 And the angel of the Lord said unto me, Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the plainness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God:
166 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God:
167 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the foundation of a great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches;
168 For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious;
169 And also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away;
170 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men:
171 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God;
172 And after these plain and precious things were taken away, it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles:
173 And after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen, with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity;
174 Thou seest because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God;
175 Because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them;

Law of Tithing

Original: Saints should tithe one tenth of one’s increase.

Shift: Saints should tithe one tenth of one’s income.

Scriptures: Genesis 14:36-39, Doctrine and Covenants 106:1a-1b

Genesis Chapter 14
36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 106
1a Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church of Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the laying the foundation of Zion, and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the presidency of my church;
1b and this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people; and after that, those who have thus been tithed, shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

Worship Format

Original: Worship should be led by the Holy Spirit

Shift: Worship is guided by a format decided at headquarters and printed in the Herald.

Scripture: Moroni 6:9

9 And their meetings were conducted by the church, after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach or exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

The Principles of the Gospel

Original: We believe that the principles of the gospel are faith, repentance, baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment.

Shift: Emphasis is being given to “The six disciplines”. Here they are: 1. Spirituality
2. Learning 3. Justice 4. Reconciliation 5. Sharing 6. Community (http://www.cofchrist.org/goals/)

Scriptures: Hebrews 6:1-2, Doctrine and Covenants Section 49:2d-2h

Hebrews Chapter 6
1 Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 49 (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.
------------------------------

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 Lord’s Supper

Original: It is a commemoration of the covenant made at the time of baptism. It is in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and is closed communion, meant for those who have been baptized into Christ’s church. It is a promise to remember Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments.

Shift: It is open communion, served to anyone who wishes to participate.

Scriptures: III Nephi 8:60-65

III Nephi Chapter 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;
64 Nevertheless ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister;
65 For ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them, and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.

Joseph Smith, Prophet, and Restoration of the True Church

Original: We believe that young Joseph had a vision of God and Jesus. We believe that Christ’s true church was restored to the earth by the visitation of angels, instructing Joseph Smith.

Shift: The Community of Christ has denied that there is one true church. They are teaching that all world religions are equal.

Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 1:5e

[Sec 1:5e] and also those to whom these commandments were given might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I the Lord am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually;
-----------------------------------------------------

We pray that you will search the scriptures, those listed and many others, to determine the truths of the gospel. If you have questions we would be glad to discuss the issues or provide resources for your study.

Time is short. Our decisions have eternal implications.

Doctrine and Covenants
[Sec 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;
[Sec 2:1b] neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left;
[Sec 2:1c] neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; therefore his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round.
[Sec 2:2a] Remember, remember, that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;
[Sec 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.
[Sec 2:3a] Behold, you have been intrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments;
[Sec 2:3b] and remember, also, the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them; and, behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men:
[Sec 2:3c] for, behold, you should not have feared man more than God, although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words, yet you should have been faithful and he would have extended his arm, and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.

We submit these thoughts to you with deep prayer, not in the spirit of contention. Don’t take our word for this information. Go to God in prayer and fasting, and study His word.

Sincerely,

Jan Esquivel
Lois Anderson


Copyright © 2005 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: March 16, 2005 To make this article print frien

 

To make this article print friendly      

Back to This is Serious    

Back to Scripture Storyteller Links 

Back to Scripture Storyteller home