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Fether

Mormon Enigma

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I read this book a year or so ago and I actually enjoyed it, thought it was a welcome approach to everything when compared to the typical literature we get from the church. 
 

But it wasn’t till recently that it wasn’t at Deseret book and I haven’t actually met many people that are familiar with it.

What is the Consensus of this book? Was it written with Ill intentions? Was it just written in a time when talking about those topics was taboo?

Edited by Fether

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Never heard of it. Mind summarizing what it's about?

21 hours ago, Fether said:

thought it was a welcome approach to everything when compared to the typical literature we get from the church. 

Without reading it, I am nearly sure that I'd disagree with that statement. Nothing in my experience has ever lived up to official church literature.

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The one about Emma Smith?  I think LDS scholarly types are ok with it's scholarly work.  I can't find a FARMS review on it, but they certainly quoted it in other reviews.  20 years ago when there were a ton more antimormons than there are now, the critics seemed to like it because it had all sorts of painful dirt on the relationship between Emma and Joseph, and the book keeps Emma in the spotlight.  And Emma's story after Joseph's martyrdom is a difficult thing for LDS folks to grapple with.

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41 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

And Emma's story after Joseph's martyrdom is a difficult thing for LDS folks to grapple with.

I think it's more "unknown" than difficult to grapple with. Most active LDS (most, not all) don't know anything about the RLDS that Smith III started. I was talking to someone about the "supreme directional control" controversy that Fredrick Smith created and this guy (someone who claimed to "love history") gave me a blank stare. He had no idea that the RLDS church even existed! 

 

Edited by MormonGator

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1 hour ago, Moonbeast32 said:

Never heard of it. Mind summarizing what it's about?

23 hours ago, Fether said:

It is a book focusing on Emma’s personal history, a topic only lightly touched on by official church publications (though it is reasonably so, she didn’t keep a journal so most we (think we) know comes from 2nd/3rd/4th hand accounts).

Edited by Fether

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1 hour ago, NeuroTypical said:

And Emma's story after Joseph's martyrdom is a difficult thing for LDS folks to grapple with.

I love this article from her great-great granddaughter:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1992/08/my-great-great-grandmother-emma-hale-smith?lang=eng

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48 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

I think it's more "unknown" than difficult to grapple with. Most active LDS (most, not all) don't know anything about the RLDS that Smith III started. I was talking to someone about the "supreme directional control" controversy that Fredrick Smith created and this guy (someone who claimed to "love history") gave me a blank stare. He had no idea that the RLDS church even existed! 

 

There was a lot going on in history at the time of Joseph's murder - not just within the Church but the world in general.  This was not a good time to be living for anyone but what may have been lost to those of our current modern society - women suffered proportionally more - especially if they were single and even more if they were widowed.   The culture of this era left women virtually unprotected - legally and morally.  Women had to have both a husband and family to protect them.  Emma was forced to choose between her husband (Joseph) and her family.  After her marriage to Joseph she no longer had a family to protect her and then she no longer had a husband.  The only possibility of Emma in the Church was Brigham Young - but there were disagreements between Brigham and Emma as to who was the rightful heir to lead the church.

I can recall and I also experienced the time when there was a great deal of animosity between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have some theories but was most surprised last year to spend several hours with heads of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There has been a lot or reconciliation and our discussion was more like meeting forgotten or lost family members that any kind of bitter rivals.  

I am of the mind that if we could look into the spirit world that we would find Emma and her children stalwart, important and respected Saints doing much to bring salvation the the children of G-d.

 

The Traveler

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12 minutes ago, Traveler said:

There has been a lot or reconciliation and our discussion was more like meeting forgotten or lost family members that any kind of bitter rivals.  

Really, really well said. 

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@Traveler-I think a lot of the current strife between the two camps comes from how the RLDS views the Book of Mormon. 

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8 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

@Traveler-I think a lot of the current strife between the two camps comes from how the RLDS views the Book of Mormon. 

The strife between LDS and RLDS has always been about 2 things - Authority and Property Ownership.

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14 minutes ago, Fether said:

My first and only interaction with a member of the RLDS went like this:

 

RLDS Guy: are you elders??

Elder Fether: We are!

RLDS Guy: My wife is too!

Funny.  My one and only interaction with one was when I was a missionary, a man tried to pass himself off as "I'm a Mormon too."

But we covered a very large area with multiple wards and ward buildings.  And he had no idea where our churches were or where the ward boundaries were.  Yet he had a decent knowledge of doctrine and history.  But both my companion and I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something off about the guy.  Later on, we discovered that the place he said he went to church was an RLDS building.

Mystery solved.  Except... I still don't know what on earth was motivating the guy to try to deceive us like that.  It seemed to serve no purpose other than to make us think he was weird.

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32 minutes ago, Fether said:

My first and only interaction with a member of the RLDS went like this:

 

RLDS Guy: are you elders??

Elder Fether: We are!

RLDS Guy: My wife is too!

I had tons of interactions with RLDS folks.  The Christmas lights on the triangle across from the Whitney Store was one of my favorite spots breaking the dreariness of dead winter, especially after successfully navigating the hairy Sperry and Kirtland-Chardon Road in one piece.  I still don't understand why rational people would voluntarily choose to live there.  Interestingly, this was before I even knew what a "Mormon" is other than those 2 white boys in white shirts walking while carrying small purses that you can't gossip in Bisaya around because they'll understand you.

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1 hour ago, MormonGator said:

@Traveler-I think a lot of the current strife between the two camps comes from how the RLDS views the Book of Mormon. 

 

1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

The strife between LDS and RLDS has always been about 2 things - Authority and Property Ownership.

The point I was trying to make is that last summer when I met with prominent leaders and members of RLDS' is that I did not experience any strife - even though I expected some and have experienced some in the past.  When I mentioned that I had experienced unfriendly relationships in the past - they expressed apology and sorrow.  I also apologized.  I found them very open and friendly - they even handed me precious historical artifacts and allowed me to inspect them.

As a side note, we did discuss the Book of Mormon and two of the individual that I was talking with boar strong witness that they had received divine revelation of it's truthfulness.  There was a strong spiritual presents and I too expressed details of my own initial witness of the Book of Mormon - in more detail than I have ever expressed in official meeting of Latter-day Saints.  My outlook has been changed.  Often I have felt strong opposition from devout members of other religions.  Sometimes I think that I was more accepted by atheists and agnostics.  More and more I am convinced that there is a spiritual movement of (for lack of a better term) tolerance  among peoples of faith.  Sometimes I wonder if it is easier to have friendly discussion of important religious things with many non-members that some of my own faith.

 

The Traveler

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

I had tons of interactions with RLDS folks.  The Christmas lights on the triangle across from the Whitney Store was one of my favorite spots breaking the dreariness of dead winter, especially after successfully navigating the hairy Sperry and Kirtland-Chardon Road in one piece.  I still don't understand why rational people would voluntarily choose to live there.  Interestingly, this was before I even knew what a "Mormon" is other than those 2 white boys in white shirts walking while carrying small purses that you can't gossip in Bisaya around because they'll understand you.

And so, who were the RLDS folks in this story?

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I haven't read the book, but I served in the Independence MI mission so I ran into Community of Christ (old RLDS) folks all the time. In addition, there are a bunch of smaller break off churches as well including the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church of Christ Temple lot, and the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At least when I served in the area (2005 to 2007) there wasn't any animosity between them and us. In fact, I liked running into the members of those various churches because they were super nice. You also had to be quick on your delivery, because once you start your opening spiel about a prophet of God being called in our day, you were apt to get the answer "oh I know. We are reading Ether 12 (or whatever chapter in the Book of Mormon you choose) right now". I did a lot more talking about and testifying of Brigham Young than your standard missionary lol.

Edited by Midwest LDS

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1 hour ago, beefche said:

There is no RLDS church. They are named the Community of Christ and have been for 20 years or so. 

True, but for over 100 years they were known as the RLDS. No one knows about them, but those who do still call them that. I think W Grant McMurray changed the name in order to distance them from the Book of Mormon.  😞

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Community of Christ? I've only ever met two. A couple in BC Canada. Nice people, but unyielding.

I wonder if it's not going to take something totally unconventional to bring them back into the fold. I don't know if typical missionary strategies are going to work.

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14 hours ago, MormonGator said:

I think W Grant McMurray changed the name in order to distance them from the Book of Mormon.  😞

They changed it primarily to distance themselves from our church because a lot of outsiders didn't know the difference between the two churches and would get them confused (especially in Missouri).

Two of the issues they wanted to distance themselves from were polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks, which the RLDS and the Community of Christ never supported.

They also wanted to emphasize Christ name and wanted more acceptance/association with other Christian churches.

Anyway, I knew a few of them while living in Missouri, but haven't known or talked to any of them outside Missouri.  I am not aware of meeting anyone in that church since I left Missouri.

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46 minutes ago, Scott said:

They changed it primarily to distance themselves from our church because a lot of outsiders didn't know the difference between the two churches and would get them confused (especially in Missouri).

Two of the issues they wanted to distance themselves from were polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks, which the RLDS and the Community of Christ never supported.

They also wanted to emphasize Christ name and wanted more acceptance/association with other Christian churches.

Anyway, I knew a few of them while living in Missouri, but haven't known or talked to any of them outside Missouri.  I am not aware of meeting anyone in that church since I left Missouri.

An interesting thing is that though they have the numbers on their rolls, a great many of them left the CoC in recent years due to conflicts of beliefs regarding women and the priesthood as well as other items that have popped up.  I think they officially say they have over 250K on their rolls, but probably only around 35K actually will say they are on the rolls today...as a great majority left and started up their own church (I can't recall the name off the top of my head right now, but I hear it actually has about 100K of the former CoC members). 

I suppose they would make a counter argument that we say we have 16 million members, but those who actively engage and say they are members of our church probably number half of that (8 million or less?).

Still, the numbers are probably on our side right now in regards to that.

I don't think they have any animosity towards us today, nor us them.  I think we'd like to have the property where the temple was to be built, but without the Lord's intervention and several miracles to our benefit, I do not see us obtaining it any time soon.  Same with other denominations that own land for that Temple there. 

As for being Mormon, they fall under the Mormon umbrella (as do we, even though we no longer claim the nickname...it was never solely ours to begin with) as all the groups that are splinters or offshoots of the Church Joseph Smith started in 1830.  Today, they are probably more "Mormon" than we are as they (as far as I know) will not reject the term Mormon outright (though being called Christian fits them just fine) while many of our members will try to correct others...including those who are not part of our church...to use the full name of the Church instead.  It does make a good differentiation I suppose in trying to differ our offshoot from the rest of the "Mormons" who also are offshoots of the 1830 church.

It is a similar idea that the RLDS did when they became the CoC.  On the otherhand, the CoC is a MASSIVE warning on what NOT TO DO if our church wants to retain it's members and membership.

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31 minutes ago, JohnsonJones said:

An interesting thing is that though they have the numbers on their rolls, a great many of them left the CoC in recent years due to conflicts of beliefs regarding women and the priesthood as well as other items that have popped up.  I think they officially say they have over 250K on their rolls, but probably only around 35K actually will say they are on the rolls today...as a great majority left and started up their own church (I can't recall the name off the top of my head right now, but I hear it actually has about 100K of the former CoC members). 

You're probably talking about the Remnant Church.  So yes, they broke off citing major doctrinal changes like female priests as a sign of apostasy but I think the official break happened when the last descendant of Joseph Smith that became an RLDS prophet, Wallace Smith, appointed Murray, a non-descendant of Joseph Smith, a prophet.  The Remnant Church maintained a prophet that was a descendant of Joseph Smith which was the main reason Joseph Smith III broke off from Brigham Young in the first place so this was the final sign that Wallace Smith fell into apostasy.

Edited by anatess2

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

They already got that after declaring themselves Trinitarian.

And after joinging the National Council of Churches.

As far as declaring themselves Trinitarian; this is interesting since in the First Vision that we know, Joseph saw two personages; both the Father and the Son standing side by side.

In the version of the First Vision that the Community of Christ uses, this didn't happen:

http://www.communityofchrist.net/History/More_History/Joseph_s_Story/joseph_s_story.html

This is the version our Church uses:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/first-vision?lang=eng

This is the most important ommission in what the Community of Christ uses concerning the First Vision:

"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
 

To be fair to the CoC though, Joseph himself gave different accounts of the First Vision, depending on the audience. 

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15 minutes ago, Scott said:

To be fair to the CoC though, Joseph himself gave different accounts of the First Vision, depending on the audience. 

That never bothered me. Human memory is a little strange, and if Joesph recited the First Vision word for word every time he was asked about it, they'd still accuse him of making it up. Out of all the criticism thrown at him, this one, in my view, is the most unfair. 

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