The One Restored Church?
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe their church to be the one and only true church. In fact, many Mormons of the LDS faith insist that the many divisions and denominations of Christianity prove that the Bible is not a perfect book and that today's churches of Chistendom are all false. However, while it is true that many of the current divisions within Christianity are unwarranted (and many branches even apostate), the divisions are the fault of man and not the bible.
What may surprise "Mormons" most, though, is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the only group that claims to be genuine followers of Joseph Smith, Jr. or of the Book of Mormon. In fact, by some counts there are more than 200 such groups. The following groups are a sampling of the many known "Mormons," which demonstrates the lack of "clarity" and "unity" that has come with the so-called "restoration" of Joseph Smith, Jr. of 1830:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by far the largest and most broadly recognized "Mormon" group.
- Community of Christ, formerly the RLDS (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), who were referred to as the Josephites, because they believed the succession of church presidency passed from Joseph Smith, Jr. to his son.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Strangites, because they believed the succession of church presidency passed from Joseph Smith, Jr. to James Strang.
- The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerites), which was "reorganized" by Alpheus Cutler in 1853.
- Church of Christ (Temple Lot), also known as the Hendrickites and who own the Temple Lot (in Independence, Missouri), where Joseph Smith, Jr. taught the New Jerusalem would be based.
- The Church of Jesus Christ (The Church), also known as the Bickertonites, because it was reorganized under William Bickerton in 1862. This church claims a succession of presidency through Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith Jr.'s "First Counselor" and close associate.
- The True & Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC), headquartered in Manti, UT.
- The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This church is a counter-mainstreaming reformation church that emerged from within the RLDS tradition.
- The Church of Christ With the Elijah Message.
- The Restored Church of Jesus Christ (Independence, Missouri), which is different from even the reorganized or restoration LDS.
- Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times (A now dissolved group started by Joel F LeBaron).
- The Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Kenner, LA.
- New Covenant Church of God/Guds Nye Pakts Kirke. Although this church no longer admits to ties with Mormonism and rejects it as false, NCCG was formerly the Independent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which was dissolved in 1992.
- The Aaronic Order of EskDale/Murray, Utah.
- Sons Aumen Israel (Fredonia/Canebeds, Arizona). A new age hodgepodge of beliefs that originated as an outbreak of Mormonism.
- United Order Publications / The School of the Prophets (Salem, Utah). Claim to not be a new religion or church, but a group that does not affirm the leadership of LDS church today. Do not discourage membership in LDS church but rejects the leadership as corrupt.
- Several additional extinct or known small groups, as listed on: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dbowie/restore/restoration.html and http://www.nccg.org/NCMM/LDS-Page1.html.
- Numerous and numerous fragmented and unknown fundamentalist groups, some of which secretly advance polygamous teachings and practices.
Just as Smith claimed there was so much confusion in his day of which church to join, today's Mormons are left with the same exact problem. The confusion could be considered greater, however, since the 200+ groups claiming to be the true followers of his "restored" work have appeared in less than only 200 years. Apparently, Joseph Smith, Jr. did not have enough foresight to see only a few years beyond his death, when he arrogantly stated:
For the divisions of the "restoration" movement leave Mormons with less unity than that which is found after 2000 years of Christ's Church throughout the world. Christendom is at least united in truth on fundamental doctrines.
- I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. (History of the Church, 6:19, pp. 408-409)
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