by Rev. Clete Hux –
“United we stand, divided we fall” has always been an encouraging reminder that there is strength in unity. However, there is also strength found in diversity.
This is especially so when comparing some of the differences in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Reorganized Latter-Day Saints churches.
When one looks at the more than 60 divisions and splits in the Mormon Church in the 160 years of its existence, it is hard to understand how it can keep growing, but both the LDS and the RLDS are growing very well.
As a matter of fact, too well with the differences they have. Gordon H. Fraser in his book , Sects of the Latter-Day Saints, Says the RLDS rejects the designation Mormon, and at present, uses the terms: The Saints Church, RLDS, or simply The Saints. Sometimes they are divisively called Josephite Mormons or Reorganites. The term, Reformed Mormons, is also thrown in from time to time. This is incorrect since there has been no reformation in the overall body, although many divisions.
The RLDS have two liberal Arts colleges: Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa and Park College in Independence, Missouri. Their publishing house is Herald Publishing House, Independence, Missouri.
The RLDS Church traces its origin to the organizational meeting of Joseph Smith and five associates on April 6, 1830 in Fayette, New York. The continuity was interrupted with the assassination of Joseph Smith the Prophet on June 27, 1844. After that many would try to claim leadership of the main church which resulted in many splinter groups. Brigham Young took the main group west to Salt Lake City while Sidney Rigdon from Kirkland, Ohio and others were responsible for completing the organization of the RLDS in the early 1860’s. Prior to Rigdon’s involvement with the Mormon Church he had an Independent (Campbellite) church located in Kirkland, Ohio (Fraser, Sects of the Later-Day Saints, p. 11). He was visited by Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt of the Mormon Church and within a matter of days had converted his whole congregation and saw them baptized into the Mormon Church.
Some of the doctrinal differences in the RLDS and LDS can be summarized in the headings below:
The RLDS rejects the doctrine and practice. They would like to purge the character of their prophet, Smith, whose doctrine of polygamy really led to his arrest and assignation. The RLDS denies that Smith taught polygamy.
The LDS believe strongly in the doctrine but claims not to be practicing in the present day.
The RLDS rejects the doctrine that Adam is the God of the present world. The LDS currently rejects the terminology but holds to the basic doctrine.
Gordon Fraser says, “The Adam-God doctrine is a part of the whole package of pre-incarnate spirits, spirit-angel-men-god family, spirits becoming men, and men becoming gods. All of these ideas can be traced back to the old mystery religions of paganism.”
Brigham Young taught that “Adam was God and the only God with whom we have to do.” The RLDS denies this, but their elevated loyalty to their prophet Joseph Smith accepting of teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants smacks the loyalty they should have to the true God.
Baptism for the Dead
The RLDS at present does not perform baptisms for the dead, but the LDS does. It is hard for the RLDS to ignore the subject since it is the theme of two sections of its Doctrine and Covenants, Sections 109 and 110. Both sections are given as directives over the signature of Joseph Smith, who, of course, was totally in error when he prescribed the ordinance because it has no biblical warrant.
Both LDS and RLDS believe in the principle of continuing revelation since they believe that the Book of Mormon and Doctrines and Covenants are of divine inspiration.
The RLDS as a Christian Church
According to Fraser, the RLDS should be classified as a cult for the reason that they deny all the Christian doctrines. Gordon Fraser says, “The Reorganized Church makes an affirmation of the Christian belief regarding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but have some reservations in accepting the doctrine of the Trinity as held by orthodox Christianity.”
As regards the doctrine of man, the RLDS are humanists. Man is naturally good but has a tendency toward evil. Man is capable of redeeming himself by following good. Of course this is not a biblical doctrine (Romans 3).
The above tenets are just a few that place the RLDS into the false religious camp, especially since there is so much loyalty to their prophet, Joseph Smith, and Smith was a false prophet.