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Comments on 2002 Community of Christ Legislation

by Lois M. Anderson

The 2002 World Conference of the Community of Christ is now over. Since that is the case, I must update my original article giving you the results of the legislation which I felt was important. There was much more legislation than this at conference. You can find it in its entirety at the Community of Christ website.

You can find the proposed legislation for the Community of Christ World Conference at http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/default.asp I am showing you the "resolved" part of several pieces of legislation and comparing them to Restoration scriptures. And the end of each section I will now let you know the results of conference action.

For anyone who still puts faith in the scriptures, you will be able to see the stark differences that have been slowly instituted by those who no longer believe in scripture, but who are guided by their own desires.
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"A-5 Rebaptism
From British Columbia District:

Resolved, That the church revise its requirements for entry into the fellowship by declaring that entry into the fellowship of the Christian community shall be by way of baptism at the age of eight or over in a Christian denomination and that membership in Community of Christ shall be conferred by the laying on of hands in Confirmation of membership in the church;
Resolved, That those candidates for membership who have been previously baptized, according to the above criteria, shall be afforded the option of being rebaptized prior to being confirmed as members of Community of Christ."

Sorry, Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants answered this question a long time ago. Seek not to council your God.

SECTION 20
"Revelation given through Joseph Smith, Jr., prophet and seer to the church, April 1830, at Manchester, New York. This instruction came in answer to Joseph Smith's inquiry concerning the status of those who desired to unite with the church and who had already been baptized.
[Sec 20:1a] Behold, I say unto you, that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing, and this is a new and everlasting covenant; even that which was from the beginning.
[Sec 20:1b] Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times, it availeth him nothing; for you can not enter in at the strait gate by the Law of Moses, neither by your dead works;
[Sec 20:1c] for it is because of your dead works, that I have caused this last covenant, and this church to be built up unto me; even as in days of old.
[Sec 20:1d] Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen."

Conference results:

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/4-11Minutes.asp

"Rebaptism

President McMurray read Item A-5, Rebaptism, on page 56. Patti Smith spoke to a point of order. The Chair then ruled the item out of order by reading the following statement:
The members of the First Presidency have participated with many of you over recent years in an ongoing 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 Community of Christ, but without further baptism. We support and encourage that dialogue and its focus on the foundational sacrament of the church, which symbolizes the commitment one makes to Jesus Christ. We are aware that this discussion is particularly active in various cultures where the church is established outside North America.

The proposed resolution A-5 ("Rebaptism") from the British Columbia District has been developed in the spirit of that dialogue. We recognize the motivation behind the resolution-a desire to grow the church as well as to acknowledge the sacramental significance of baptisms that may have occurred in other faith communities.

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. Therefore, the First Presidency is required to rule Item A-5 out of order on the grounds that it is in conflict with Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was presented to the church in April 1830 in specific response to a question about the status of those who have been previously baptized in other faiths. This reference clearly limits acceptance of other baptisms and has been so interpreted ever since. This interpretation of baptism in the context of "a new and everlasting covenant," understood to be expressed distinctly within the Restoration movement, states that "although a man should be baptized an hundred times, it availeth him nothing…". 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.

In the spirit of the call to "each one, reach one" we recognize that there will be various ways in which people may seek to express their commitment to Christ within our fellowship. We will work closely with the Council of Twelve on this matter and will continue to encourage the church to engage in a serious exploration of the meaning of baptism and membership for our movement. In our leadership of the church, we will seek to be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit as to our understanding of baptism in relation to church membership and are prepared to provide additional instruction as we are led. In the meantime, we will enable and actively support a mature and prayerful discussion of this matter throughout the church.

The First Presidency"

Comment: The First Presidency is choosing to for the time being honor church law, namely Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. But we can see that they still wish to keep the door open. God will not rescind Section 20. It is God's law for the Church of Jesus Christ. Period.
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"G-1 Use of Church Name
From the Lansing District:

Resolved, That the various jurisdictions of the church shall be free to publicly and officially use the original name in conjunction with Community of Christ."

Kind of a nice sentiment. But where were you people when previous errors in the gospel were officially mandated? Can't you make up your minds what church you are?

"Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."

Conference results:

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/4-13Minutes.asp

"Use of Church Name

The Chair read Item G-1, Use of Church Name, on page 61-62. A vote was taken on Item G-1, as proposed, which lost."
Comment: They have made it very clear that they do not wish to remember the name "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints".
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"G-2 The Scriptures
From the Mexico National Church:

Resolved That, when speaking of the scriptures as part of our basic beliefs, in whatever form of media, it should be specified in a clear, precise and objective manner that it means the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants."

What can I see wrong with this? Nothing really, except they could be a bit clearer that the Inspired Version of the Bible is our official version of the Bible. It is interesting that this is from Mexico, a home of many Lamanite descendants. This piece of legislation seems to point out that they are more faithful than their reluctant cousins of Ephraim. Take heart, those of you who do not wish to be of the Children of Israel will be cast out with the gentiles.

"II Nephi Chapter 12:66 For out of the books which shall be written, I will judge the world, every man according to his works, according to that which is written.
67 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews, and they shall write it:
68 And I shall also speak unto the Nephites, and they shall write it;
69 And I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it;
70 And I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth, and they shall write it.
71 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews:
72 And the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
73 And it shall come to pass that my people which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one.
74 And I will shew unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham, that I would remember his seed for ever.
75 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you: for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be.
76 For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
77 For behold, I say unto you, That as many of the Gentiles as will repent, are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent, shall be cast off;
78 For the Lord covenanteth with none, save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel."

Conference results:

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/4-11Minutes.asp

"The Scriptures

The Chair read Item G-2, The Scriptures, on page 62.. A vote was then taken on the main motion, which lost."

Comment: This comes as no surprise. This is what the leaders have to say about the Inspired Version of the Bible.

THE NATURE OF SCRIPTURE AND ITS USE IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH

A Study Paper Prepared for the
Curriculum Consultation Committee

Prepared by the Departmentof Religious Education
September, 1967

pages 7-8

"5. The Place of the Inspired Version

It will be necessary to take into account several claims made for the Inspired Version, which it is difficult to substantiate, and which are unwarranted by the available evidence:

  1. That the work is exclusively a restoration of "plain and precious truths" removed from the text by accident or by design. It is clear that many changes are indeed additions to the original text, reflecting 19th century, concerns and theological positions, and elaborating the thought of the original writer. Thus it is not possible to identify, with any degree of certainty, anv particular change as being a restoration, as distinct from an addition. Much of the material is clearly of a proleptical or interpolative character. It may to added here that the extensiveness of the changes, and their particular pattern, raise serious questions regarding the claim to restoration of lost portions of the text. Any sincere effort to estimate the value of the Inspired Version, it would seen, must be upon other grounds than as a literally communicated restoration of a pure original text.
  2. That all the changes were made as a result of prayerful consideration. Indeed the great preponderance of changes has no theological bearing, whatsoever, and are changes in style, constituting an effort (though lacking in consistency) to modernize the text. Thus by far the greater part of the revising must be considered as a routine process having no bearing on questions of meanings.
  3. That the changes introduced into the Inspired Version are inerrant. The nature of the work of the 1867 committee responsible for reducing the various manuscripts left by Joseph Smith to a single text, and the work of the revising committee of 1944, discount such a view. Apart from numerous errors in grammar, spelling and usage, it may also be held upon formidable grounds that a number of passages have been weakened in meaning by the changes introduced.

Therefore the following position is suggested with respect to the Inspired Version:

  1. The Inspired Version is not to be regarded as an accurate textual revision, restoring the"pure" text of the original.
  2. It should be acknowledged as an attempt to respond to certain theological positions by amplifying the thought and content of the scripture at points where the context was considered to be amenable. The preponderance of changes in content supporting positions already extant in the Restoration movement (Genesis 50, Isaiah 29, Genesis 2, the account of Enoch's city, John 1, Romans 7, telestial glory in I Corinthians 15) lend strength to this conclusion.
  3. The changes should be subject to the processes of evaluation and judgment by which we relate to the scriptures in the first place, and should not be accepted on the blanket assumption that every change marks an inerrant improvement.
  4. It should be recognized that the processes of revision were subject to the same factors that reflect the imprint of the human in any other attempt to interpret the divine mind.

It is recommended that the Inspired Version should not be used in curriculum materials as the restoration of the pure, original text."

This is what the leaders have to say about the Book of Mormon in the Presidential Papers. Take particular note of the very harsh language that the authors use in reference to those of us who believe that the Book of Mormon is a true, historical record.

PAPER #3

First Presidency Meetings
January 9, 1979
1:45 p.m.

THE IDENTITY OF THE CHURCH

page 10

"The most demonic thing we could do in response to the witness of Christ in the New Testament would be to judge that witness to be valid only if the details of authorship, historicity and internal conflicts of the record were finally and absolutely resolved.

The same is true of the Book of Mormon. Its intended purpose as an added witness of Jesus Christ will be destroyed for us if we insist that all details of historicity, date of development of its theological and ethical content, and the historical processes by which it came forth are invalid questions that must be closed to further interpretation and information. We do not call persons to have faith in the Book of Mormon but to have faith in Jesus Christ of whom the Book of Mormon bears witness. If we can be secure enough to share the added witness of Jesus Christ contained in the Book of Mormon rather than recounting the details of its history, the book may become a valuable resource to many Christians who are not members of the Restoration church. The sin of our kind has always been to raise secondary questions to the level of primary significance.

Let us not sin against the witness of Jesus Christ that we find in the Book of Mormon by judging its worth on the shallow basis of rational interpretation of historical events. The testimony of the Restoration is not that we have one, two, or three books of scriptures. It is rather that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, validating our deepest struggles and our highest joy as existence in Christ. This is what we mean by the fullness of the gospel."
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"G-3 National Council of Churches
From Greater Los Angeles Stake:


Resolved, That the First Presidency is directed to request formal membership, or covenant relationship, in the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, or its ecumenical successor, in the year 2002; and be it further
Resolved, That a broad-based international world church committee be established by the First Presidency (by September 2002), to serve as a link with the Community of Christ and inter-denominational, interfaith and other carefully selected mission-centered groups."

"G-4 World Council of Churches
From Greater Los Angeles Stake:

Resolved, That the First Presidency is directed to request formal membership in the World Council of Churches in the year 2002; and be it further
Resolved, That a broad-based international world church committee be established by the First Presidency (by September 2002), to serve as a link with the Community of Christ and inter-denominational, interfaith and other carefully selected mission-centered groups."

"G-6 National Council of Churches
From Tri-Stake Mission Center:

Resolved, That the First Presidency is being requested to seek such formal membership, or covenant relationship, in the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, or its ecumenical successor, in the year 2002; and be it further,
Resolved, That a broad-based international world church committee be established by the First Presidency, to serve as a link with the Community of Christ and interdenominational, interfaith and other carefully selected mission-centered groups; and be it further,
Resolved, That if the NCCC-USA requires applicants to adhere only to the Bible as scripture, then the Community of Christ will withdraw their application to that body."

This scripture is appropriate once again. Why do you want to be associated with an organization that will dictate their inaccurate version of the gospel to you?

"Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."

Conference results:

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/4-12Minutes.asp

"National Council of Churches

The Chair read Item G-3, National Council of Churches, on page 62. Scott Sinclair moved to approve Item G-3, and a second was received. Following some discussion, Apostle Gail Mengel moved to amend the item by substituting Item G-10 (page 150) for Item G-3 in its entirety. The Chair ruled that if Item G-10 were to pass, it would dispose of Items G-4 and G-6 as well as G-3. A second was received."

A vote was taken on Item G-10, the substitute, which carried. It is found at http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/G.asp#g10 A vote was taken on the main motion, as amended, which carried.

"G-10 Ecumenical/Interfaith Memberships
(Proposed Substitute for G-3, G-4, and G-6)

"From the Council of Twelve Apostles:
Whereas, The Community of Christ has a long history of involvement in ecumenical and interfaith organizations and activities dating back as far as the participation of Joseph Smith III, W.W. Blair, and other church leaders in the Parliament of World Religions in 1893; and
Whereas, The 1980 World Conference endorsed the participation of the World Church in interdenominational Christian ministries where such participation did not require the World Church to "(1) alter or abandon any of the traditional beliefs and practices of the church, (2) endorse any creeds or theological positions which are inconsistent with any of the traditional beliefs and practices of the church, or (3) commit a disproportionate share of the church's resources of time, money, or personnel" (WCR 1170); and
Whereas, The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America (NCCC-USA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have demonstrated positive leadership in facilitating dialogue between faith movements; and
Whereas, The witness of the Community of Christ will be enhanced by cooperation with other faith movements in the pursuit of peace and justice while allowing the unique message of the Community of Christ to be given wider voice through ecumenical and interfaith ministries; and
Whereas, Through the Path of the Disciple objectives the First Presidency has called the church to "work in cooperative endeavors with other faiths"; and
Whereas, Without a single national church jurisdiction in the United States, there is no appropriate conference other than the World Conference for the church in the United States to consider the question of membership in the NCCC-USA; and
Whereas, The NCCC-USA and the WCC do not require the endorsement of creeds or require the alteration or abandonment of any traditional beliefs and practices of the Community of Christ; and
Whereas, Membership in the NCCC-USA and the WCC would not require the commitment of a disproportionate share of the church's resources of time, money, or personnel; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the World Conference express its support for the Community of Christ entering into membership with the NCCC-USA and the WCC within the next two years; and be it further
Resolved, That the Community of Christ enter into dialogue with the NCCC-USA and the WCC regarding an appropriate relationship between the Community of Christ and these ecumenical/interfaith organizations; and be it further
Resolved, That the World Conference urge national churches in the various nations in which the Community of Christ is formally established to investigate and consider membership in appropriate ecumenical/interfaith organizations in those nations; and be it further
Resolved, That the First Presidency appoint a standing World Church committee on ecumenical and interfaith relations to serve as a link between the Community of Christ and interdenominational, interfaith, and other carefully selected mission-oriented groups."

Comment: The leaders of the church have altered or abandoned the traditional beliefs and practices of the church, and endorsed creeds or theological positions which are inconsistent with any of the traditional beliefs and practices of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have abandoned the basic foundation of the church restored by God in 1830 through Joseph Smith, Jr. the prophet.
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"G-5 Review of Policy on Homosexuality
From Greater Los Angeles Stake:

"Resolved, That the First Presidency is urged to work with appropriate councils or quorums of the Community of Christ to implement a policy on homosexuality that is consistent with the principles of inclusion, wholeness, acceptance and the worth of persons; and be it further
Resolved, That the First Presidency is directed to report to the next World Conference on progress towards a new policy on homosexuality."

"G-7 Homosexuality
From British Columbia District:

"Resolved, That the church set aside the document on homosexuality dated March 1982 and adopt a policy, either written or unwritten, that will permit the full participation of homosexual persons in the life of the church, including, without limitation, the option to join same-sex couples in marriage, where local laws permit, and to ordain homosexual persons who give evidence of living a moral lifestyle under the same criteria applied to heterosexuals and who are living or committed to live in monogamous, long-term relationships."

It was an abomination to God in the Old and New Testaments. It still is. God does not change.

"Romans Chapter 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed through faith on his name; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; who love not the truth, but remain in unrighteousness,
19 After that which may be known of God is manifest to them.
20 For God hath revealed unto them the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, which are clearly seen; things which are not seen being understood by the things that are made, through his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse;
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
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.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God according to some knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful;
32 And some who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Conference results:

Comment: What happened at the Community of Christ 2002 conference concerning the homosexual issue was a slick piece of work. Essentially it was taken out of the hands of the delegates and will be implemented as the First Presidency wishes. In Grant's McMurray's Sunday sermon he spells out exactly how it will be done. I believe that the Community of Christ will see a rush of ordinations of homosexual members and probably the performing of same gender marriages in their churches.

Called to Discipleship: Coming Home in Search of the Path
W. Grant McMurray 2002 World Conference Address April 7, 2002
found at

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/sermons/Grant2002.asp

"I am not in the habit of telling our delegates how they should vote, but I am about to make an exception. I request the delegates to this World Conference to table or refer all pending legislation on homosexuality so that we can avoid actions that will be divisive and shape a process by which a broader understanding and consensus can be built. I will ask the Standing High Council to participate with others in looking anew at this matter, seeking issues on which we can surely agree (God's love of all people, fidelity, the value of family, the sacredness of sexuality as part of creation) and shaping dialogue in areas where we do not agree (the blessing of same-sex relationships, standards for ordination, the interpretation and authority of scripture).

In the meantime, I ask the Community of Christ to be willing to live with us on the boundary for a while. To do this means that we may not have a policy that guides every decision, but we will have to trust the Holy Spirit to accompany us in our choices. It means that some parts of the church may function differently from other parts of the church and there will be distinctions that are occasionally unsettling but representative of the diversity of our body, both in terms of viewpoints and cultures. We recognize that certain national governments have requirements that our local church leaders in those nations will need to respect and interpret in accordance with their own cultural understandings."

"Because of these many differences, our church stands in the midst of much ambiguity and inconsistency. We have a twenty-year-old statement from the Standing High Council that serves as official guidance, but has not been universally adhered to throughout the church. I will be totally honest and acknowledge that I have myself participated in situations where its provisions were not honored. I have been present in conferences where persons I knew to be in long-term, committed homosexual relationships were approved for priesthood in jurisdictions where their lifestyle was known and their ministry was accepted. The conflict within me was between lawgiver and pastor. To enforce the policy would have required me to intervene and prevent the ordination of someone whose call to ministry I could not deny. This I could not do. This I will not do."

Then in the Tuesday business meeting the delegates proceeded to "refer" the matter to the First Presidency. There may have been some delegates who believed that this meant "tabled" to come up again after more study. But I have consulted with others and we believe that "refer" simply means that all action is now taken out of the hands of the church members and that the issue is decided. Grant McMurray has made his position clear.

http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2002/legislation/4-09Minutes.asp

"Review of Policy on Homosexuality

President McMurray stated that the First Presidency felt the interests of the Conference would be advanced by bringing up items related to the issue of homosexuality at this point in the Conference. He read Item G-5, Review of Policy on Homosexuality, on page 63. Glenn Johnson moved approval of Item G-5, and a second was received.
Following brief discussion, Brother Johnson moved to refer Item G-5 to the First Presidency, and a second was received. Ken Bell spoke to a question of privilege. Following discussion, Scott Cramer moved the previous question on the motion to refer. A second was received, a vote was taken, and the previous question carried by the required two-thirds vote. A vote was taken on the motion to refer, which also carried."

"Homosexuality

The Chair then read Item G-7, Homosexuality, on page 67. As the motion was being read, David Alger raised the point that the item was out of order because the First Presidency is the sole interpreter of the law. The Chair rule that the point was not well taken. Lynn Capling moved to approve the item, and a second was received. Sister Capling then moved to refer Item G-7 to the First Presidency, and a second was received.
Following some discussion, Jim Hawley moved the previous question on the motion to refer, and a second was received. A vote was taken, and the previous question carried by the required two-thirds vote. A vote was taken on the motion to refer Item G-7 to the First Presidency, which carried."
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There you have it. Who would have thought 30 years ago that a people who had so much would sink to such depths? In some ways it seems like a long time and in some ways it seems like the blink of an eye. Anyone who is still a part of the Community of Christ, but wishes to be right with God, had best take heed of what is still planned for you.

Respectfully submitted,
Lois


Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: April 21, 2002

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