- Our Purpose
- About the RLDS/Community of Christ Church
- Are YOU Questioning?
Who are we?
- What's New Here?
What are we doing here? And why?
Refiner's Fire Ministries is an evangelical Christian ministry to current and former members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) – now known as the Community of Christ (CofC) – and to its more recent Restoration / Restored / Remnant Branch movements. The RLDS/CofC church is the second largest branch of Mormonism.
For 125 years (1860 to 1984) this group was known simply as the RLDS, or Reorganized church. However, a liberal v. fundamental split in the church commenced in 1984 resulting in a variety of splinter organizations with names containing words such as “Remnant,” Restored” or “Restoration.” In addition, the surviving RLDS church changed its own name to “Community of Christ” (CofC) in 2001. This has resulted in much confusion to those outside the movement (and to many within as well!). All the material provided by our ministry is applicable to each of these groups. And as such, we have retained the traditional RLDS designation throughout.
All forms of Mormonism are a distortion of Biblical truth, the person of Jesus Christ and of His gospel. And this “different” gospel of Mormonism is “no gospel at all,” just as the Apostle Paul warned the Galatian church (Gal. 1:7).
We minister in love to Latter Day Saints still caught up in this deception started by Joseph Smith. They have unwittingly placed their hope in a false prophet and his false scriptures, which portray a false system of religion and salvation.
And we minister in love to our Lord Jesus Christ by helping Him reclaim His lost sheep. Jesus said, “No man can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Our ministry is to those whom the Father is drawing. Those who love the Truth will recognize and respond to the Truth. Many Latter Day Saints, however, avoid the Truth we offer because they are afraid of it. But the Lord draws many to our ministry to help set them free from their bondage to Joseph Smith. He has been doing that through this ministry for a number of years now, and we have every expectation that He will continue to do so.
We thank God for His tender mercies. Will you hear His voice today?
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS),
now known as the "Community of Christ" church —
and it's breakaway "Restoration/Restored/Remnant Branch" movements.
The Mormon church, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is only one of more than a hundred different church organizations which sprang from the work of Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in 1830. The largest of these other churches is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) headquartered in Independence, Missouri.
Why a Reorganization? When Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was killed in 1844, an immediate leadership power struggle followed. Brigham Young, leader of the Council of Twelve Apostles, eventually gathered enough support to become the new Prophet/President. Under his leadership, a significant portion of the church migrated from Illinois to Utah in 1846-47.
But not everyone chose to follow Brigham Young to Utah. Some members chose to follow other leaders, or simply stay behind, scattered throughout the mid-west. Most of these members rejected Brigham Young's claim to leadership, as well as a variety of strange doctrines which Joseph Smith introduced during his later years in Nauvoo, Illinois. Some also believed that Joseph Smith had designated his own son, Joseph Smith, III, to be his lawful successor as President of the church. Sixteen years later, Joseph Smith III accepted the invitation of a group of congregations which claimed to be a "reorganization" of his father's original church, and became their president in 1860. His mother joined this Reorganization with him. This is how the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) was formed. The RLDS church rejected polygamy as unacceptable along with a number of other doctrines and practices such as baptism for the dead, eternal progression to godhood and secret temple ceremonies.
Here are some factors which set the RLDS church apart from Utah Mormonism.
They continuously had a direct descendant of Joseph Smith as their president – until 1996. (Mormons select their presidents from the Council of Twelve Apostles.)
Joseph Smith's widow, Emma Bidamon, joined with them. (Most of his later polygamous wives went west to Utah with Brigham Young.)
They own and publish Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible, which they call the Inspired Version. (Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible.)
They were awarded the "Kirtland Temple" (Joseph Smith's first temple, built in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836) when a court declared them the legal continuation of Joseph Smith's original church. Recently they completed building their second temple in Independence, Missouri. Both RLDS temples are open to the public. (Mormons have built numerous temples around the world, all closed to the public.)
They are headquartered in Joseph Smith's city of "Zion" — Independence, Missouri. (Mormons are headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
During recent decades, however, RLDS leadership have moved away from some of Joseph Smith's Latter Day Saint doctrine and identity, while at the same time endeavored to gain acceptance by mainstream Christianity. Beginning in 1984, many fundamentalists broke away from the RLDS church over this doctrinal "liberalism" and have since incorporated a variety of independent churches. Many of these groups use either the word "Restored," "Restoration" or "Remnant" in their name and consider themselves to be the "true" RLDS church, i.e., Joseph Smith's original church.
Unshackled by this fundamentalist movement, the surviving RLDS church has become increasingly "liberal." Whereas Joseph Smith claimed for his church the ultimate truth, and exclusive authority from God, today's RLDS leadership promotes religious pluralism"and "dialogue" with the world's religions. As their current Prophet/President confesses, "We have much to give. We have much to learn." (W. Grant McMurray, "A Prophetic People," Saints Herald, June 1996, p. 9.)
Pluralism teaches that God authored and works through all of the world's religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and that salvation can be found in them all. This view nullifies the fact that God has made Jesus Christ the exclusive means of reconciling mankind with Himself. It also nullifies Christ's "Great Commission" to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19-20). Pluralism also encourages a high level of tolerance, mutual respect and acceptance of all of the world's religions. It is in this sense that today's RLDS church continues to identify with the religious heritage left them by Joseph Smith. They claim it as their own unique contribution to the religious fabric of the world, by which they so desperately want to be accepted.
In keeping with this liberal direction, the RLDS church changed its public name to "Community of Christ" effective April 6, 2001. Regardless of this new liberal direction, the RLDS church continues to use Joseph Smith's elaborate — and un-Christian — priesthood structure, and most of its members still believe that the "scriptures" he created are equal or superior to the Bible.
Christian ministry to RLDS church members, and to their fundamentalist "Restoration" brothers, is the principal focus of Refiner's Fire Ministries.
Are you a Latter Day Saint?
Are you questioning things?
You are not alone.
This page is meant only for RLDS or Restoration Branch church members who have some nagging questions about their church. Right now, I would encourage you to thank God for your questions, as hard as that may be to do. These questions could very well be the Holy Spirit beginning to awaken you to His truth. Hang onto those questions, and work with them. If you love God, it is because He loved you first, and is desiring to draw you close to Himself. And He is being persistent with you. But it's up to you to respond to these leadings.
You need to know that every single person involved in this ministry has been where you are now. And we know what it's like. Every one of us has also pursued our questions, because we wanted to know the truth about God, and be in right relationship with Him. And in the process, each of us has been released from the errors of Joseph Smith. I know that may be hard for you to hear right now. But it's the truth.
I was an RLDS priesthood member for fifteen years. During that time I was a Pastor on two occasions as well as a Counselor to the San Francisco Bay Stake Bishop. During that entire time I never came across a Christian who was either willing or able to show me where I was wrong. Not one. But you cannot say that anymore. After all, you have come to this website and you are reading this page. There is an abundance of material on this site to explain to you--in detail--exactly what is un-Biblical about your church. Take a look at one of our books. Chances are that at least one of them will address some questions you have been having. Chances are they will also bring up some questions that haven't yet occurred to you.
During the course of your research you will undoubtedly discover some things that concern you. You will probably also come across some things that scare you. Why will they scare you? Because you'll realize you have given your life over to a church which is seriously misrepresenting God. This will be particularly scary if you are a priesthood member. I know it was for me. I thought I had been so right. But in reality, I had been so wrong.
Take heart, the Lord has not brought you this far just to condemn and destroy you. His purpose for your life is to bring you into a right relationship with Himself. But for that to happen, you must respond to the work He has started in you. Even though this will be painful, He will not let you experience more pain than you are able to bear, He will absorb the rest of it Himself. His purpose is not to destroy you.
There is a good chance that during this time you will experience a considerable amount of confusion and anxiety. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable part of the process. But it doesn't last forever. And we are here to help you though it. If you need more material, we have that. If you need to talk things through, we are here for you. If you need prayer, we will pray with you and for you. Most importantly, if you want to know Jesus, we can show you the way to Him. It's not at all complicated.
There is a way out of your dilemma. But the only way out of it is by going through it. We may not know you by name, but we are praying for you. And we are praying that God will set you free, just as He has set us free. It wasn't all that long ago we were sitting side by side in the same church. If you would like us to come along side you, please let us know. We are here to help.
May God bless you with His wonderful freedom and grace!
Paul Trask joined the RLDS church shortly after marrying Leslie in 1970. He ultimately embraced this church, and became an ardent supporter for 19 years. Paul held RLDS priesthood for 15 years, pastored RLDS churches in San Francisco and Independence, Missouri and was a Counselor to the San Francisco Bay Stake Bishop. In the late 1980s the Lord began to reveal to the Trasks the errors of Joseph Smith and the RLDS church. This process culminated with Paul’s resignation as pastor and the family’s departure from the RLDS church in early 1989. In 1988 Paul had been pastor of Restoration Branch, at that time the largest of the independent congregations in Independence.
In 1990 Paul enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and in 1993 graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree. In 1997 Paul published his first book, Part Way to Utah: the Forgotten Mormons. In early 2001 he created this website. And in 2006 he published his second book, The Long Way Home: Moving from a Pseudo-Christian Cult into Genuine Christianity.
Paul also holds a BBA from the University of Michigan, and is a CPA and Financial Consultant. Paul, and wife Leslie, currently live just outside Independence, Missouri, where Paul continues to write and speak widely about the Latter Day Saint movement.
Leslie Trask was a 6th generation Latter Day Saint on both sides of her family; an early ancestor died in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri at the Haun’s Mill Massacre. While she was growing up her father was a pastor, High Priest, and later an Evangelist/Patriarch. For many years he was Counselor to the President of the Detroit International Stake of the RLDS church. Her mother taught and spoke widely in women's ministies.
As she and Paul became serious, she insisted she would never leave her church. Little did she know that they would ultimately both leave the church — and operate this ministry! Leslie continues to support Paul in his writing and speaking ministry, and she corresponds and counsels with those who are struggling with their involvment in Latter Day Saintism. You can read Leslie’s full testimony here.
What's New on Our Website?
If you haven't visited out site for awhile, you may be wondering what has been added recently. For your convenience we've listed on this page our most recent additions.
August 1, 2014
New Article — "Bedrock of a Faith is Jolted"
The following article was front page news in the Los Angeles Times while we were living there in 2006. It caused quite a stir.
There is an option to download a pdf copy at the end of the article.
DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture.
The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
Los Angeles Times
Front Page News Article
February 16, 2006 ⏐ William Lobdell ⏐ Times Staff Writer
From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.
”We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people,” said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. “It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God.”A VOTE FOR OPENNESS: Salt Lake City attorney
Jose A. Loayza, shown at Temple Square, says
the Church of Latter-day Saints should embrace
the controversy: “They should openly address it.”
(Steve C. Wilson/For The Times)
A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.
“I've gone through stages,” he said. “Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness.”
For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.
For those outside the faith, the depth of the church's dilemma can be explained this way: Imagine if DNA evidence revealed that the Pilgrims didn't sail from Europe to escape religious persecution but rather were part of a migration from Iceland — and that U.S. history books were wrong.
Critics want the church to admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders have shown no inclination to do so. Indeed, they have dismissed as heresy any suggestion that Native American genetics undermine the Mormon creed.
Yet at the same time, the church has subtly promoted a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon intended to reconcile the DNA findings with the scriptures. This analysis is radically at odds with long-standing Mormon teachings.
Some longtime observers believe that ultimately, the vast majority of Mormons will disregard the genetic research as an unworthy distraction from their faith.
“This may look like the crushing blow to Mormonism from the outside,” said Jan Shipps, a professor emeritus of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who has studied the church for 40 years. “But religion ultimately does not rest on scientific evidence, but on mystical experiences. There are different ways of looking at truth.”
According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an angel named Moroni led Joseph Smith in 1827 to a divine set of golden plates buried in a hillside near his New York home.
God provided the 22-year-old Smith with a pair of glasses and seer stones that allowed him to translate the “Reformed Egyptian” writings on the golden plates into the “Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
Mormons believe these scriptures restored the church to God's original vision and left the rest of Christianity in a state of apostasy.
The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions.
The God-fearing Nephites were “pure” (the word was officially changed from “white” in 1981) and “delightsome.” The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the “curse of blackness,” turning their skin dark.
According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors “the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.
Over the years, church prophets — believed by Mormons to receive revelations from God — and missionaries have used the supposed ancestral link between the ancient Hebrews and Native Americans and later Polynesians as a prime conversion tool in Central and South America and the South Pacific.
“As I look into your faces, I think of Father Lehi [patriarch of the Lamanites], whose sons and daughters you are,” church president and prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said in 1997 during a Mormon conference in Lima, Peru. “I think he must be shedding tears today, tears of love and gratitude. “This is but the beginning of the work in Peru.”
In recent decades, Mormonism has flourished in those regions, which now have nearly 4 million members — about a third of Mormon membership worldwide, according to church figures.
“That was the big sell,” said Damon Kali, an attorney who practices law in Sunnyvale, Calif., and is descended from Pacific Islanders. “And quite frankly, that was the big sell for me. I was a Lamanite. I was told the day of the Lamanite will come.”
A few months into his two-year mission in Peru, Kali stopped trying to convert the locals. Scientific articles about ancient migration patterns had made him doubt that he or anyone else was a Lamanite.
“Once you do research and start getting other viewpoints, you're toast,” said Kali, who said he was excommunicated in 1996 over issues unrelated to the Lamanite issue. “I could not do missionary work anymore.”
Critics of the Book of Mormon have long cited anachronisms in its narrative to argue that it is not the work of God. For instance, the Mormon scriptures contain references to a seven-day week, domesticated horses, cows and sheep, silk, chariots and steel. None had been introduced in the Americas at the time of Christ.
In the 1990s, DNA studies gave Mormon detractors further ammunition and new allies such as Simon G. Southerton, a molecular biologist and former bishop in the church.DISSENT: Molecular biologist and Mormon
Simon G. Southerton concluded that his
faith needed to be reevaluated.
Southerton, a senior research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, said genetic research allowed him to test his religious views against his scientific training.
Genetic testing of Jews throughout the world had already shown that they shared common strains of DNA from the Middle East. Southerton examined studies of DNA lineages among Polynesians and indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America. One mapped maternal DNA lines from 7,300 Native Americans from 175 tribes.
Southerton found no trace of Middle Eastern DNA in the genetic strands of today's American Indians and Pacific Islanders.
In “Losing a Lost Tribe,” published in 2004, he concluded that Mormonism — his faith for 30 years — needed to be reevaluated in the face of these facts, even though it would shake the foundations of the faith.
The problem is that Mormon leaders cannot acknowledge any factual errors in the Book of Mormon because the prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed it the “most correct of any book on Earth,” Southerton said in an interview.
“They can't admit that it's not historical,” Southerton said. “They would feel that there would be a loss of members and loss in confidence in Joseph Smith as a prophet.”
Officially, the Mormon Church says that nothing in the Mormon scriptures is incompatible with DNA evidence, and that the genetic studies are being twisted to attack the church.
“We would hope that church members would not simply buy into the latest DNA arguments being promulgated by those who oppose the church for some reason or other,” said Michael Otterson, a Salt Lake City-based spokesman for the Mormon church.
“The truth is, the Book of Mormon will never be proved or disproved by science,” he said.
Unofficially, church leaders have tacitly approved an alternative interpretation of the Book of Mormon by church apologists — a term used for scholars who defend the faith.
The apologists say Southerton and others are relying on a traditional reading of the Book of Mormon — that the Hebrews were the first and sole inhabitants of the New World and eventually populated the North and South American continents.
The latest scholarship, they argue, shows that the text should be interpreted differently. They say the events described in the Book of Mormon were confined to a small section of Central America, and that the Hebrew tribe was small enough that its DNA was swallowed up by the existing Native Americans.
“It would be a virtual certainly that their DNA would be swamped,” said Daniel Peterson, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, part of the worldwide Mormon educational system, and editor of a magazine devoted to Mormon apologetics. “And if that is the case, you couldn't tell who was a Lamanite descendant.”
Southerton said the new interpretation was counter to both a plain reading of the text and the words of Mormon leaders.
“The apologists feel that they are almost above the prophets,” Southerton said. “They have completely reinvented the narrative in a way that would be completely alien to members of the church and most of the prophets.”
The church has not formally endorsed the apologists' views, but the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — http://www.lds.org — cites their work and provides links to it.
“They haven't made any explicit public declarations,” said Armand L. Mauss, a church member and retired Washington State University professor who recently published a book on Mormon race and lineage. “But operationally, that is the current church's position.”
The DNA debate is largely limited to church leaders, academics and a relatively small circle of church critics. Most Mormons, taught that obedience is a key value, take the Book of Mormon as God's unerring word.
“It's not that Mormons are not curious,” Mauss said. “They just don't see the need to reconsider what has already been decided.”
Critics contend that Mormon leaders are quick to stifle dissent. In 2002, church officials began an excommunication proceeding against Thomas W. Murphy, an anthropology professor at Edmonds Community College in Washington state.
He was deemed a heretic for saying the Mormon scriptures should be considered inspired fiction in light of the DNA evidence.
After the controversy attracted national media coverage, with Murphy's supporters calling him the Galileo of Mormonism, church leaders halted the trial.
Loayza, the Salt Lake City attorney, said the church should embrace the controversy.
“They should openly address it,” he said. “Often, the tack they adopt is to just ignore or refrain from any opinion. We should have the courage of our convictions. This [Lamanite issue] is potentially destructive to the faith.”
Otterson, the church spokesman, said Mormon leaders would remain neutral. “Whether Book of Mormon geography is extensive or limited or how much today's Native Americans reflect the genetic makeup of the Book of Mormon peoples has absolutely no bearing on its central message as a testament of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Mauss said the DNA studies haven't shaken his faith. “There's not very much in life — not only in religion or any field of inquiry — where you can feel you have all the answers,” he said.
“I'm willing to live in ambiguity. I don't get that bothered by things I can't resolve in a week.”
For others, living with ambiguity has been more difficult. Phil Ormsby, a Polynesian who lives in Brisbane, Australia, grew up believing he was a Hebrew.
“I visualized myself among the fighting Lamanites and lived out the fantasies of the [Book of Mormon] as I read it,” Ormsby said. “It gave me great mana [prestige] to know that these were my true ancestors.”
The DNA studies have altered his feelings completely.
“Some days I am angry, and some days I feel pity,” he said. “I feel pity for my people who have become obsessed with something that is nothing but a hoax.” ❧
To see the actual LA Times article click here (last accessed July 10, 2014).
July 4, 2014
Thank you!— New Camcorder for the Ministry
Many thanks to our faitful supporters! Your gifts have allowed us to buy a camcorder for use in the ministry. As soon as we figure out how to work it, we'll post some videos to the website here. We plan to start with some video testimonies. Stay tuned!
July 3, 2014
New Letter — from a grateful inmate
Not many people know that we have a ministry to inmates in various prisons across the country. We correspond & frequently provide books & other literature free of charge. Below are encouraging excerpts from one inmate letter we received recently. Names, addresses & phone numbers have been removed.
Dear Mr. Trask,
Greetings, my brother in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Rock and Redeemer. Peace be with you and may our Triune God bless you richly………
I hope and pray all is well with you. You and your ministry are constantly in my prayers. I am doing very will and about to be released from this prison and into society. I am maxing out my sentence on 11-9-13. Thank you for all your love and support for me and my Mormon/RLDS friends. Your ministry as well as others have equipped me to share the True Gospel to those who are in the snares of the teachings of Joseph Smith. Thank you especially for the package I received from you last night. You must have put a lot of time and effort in finding and providing me with the books and other materials that you sent to me. It was by the grace of God that I received the books because of the new policy set by the PA DOC, which states that inmates are not allowed to receive used books. The package would not have gotten to me if it weren’t for the person who searched the package for any contraband, who I found out is a Christian and also ex RLDS. She included a note with the package that said that she is risking her job by letting me have the books, but God spoke to her heart and told her to let me have the books for they are going to be used for His Glory. So getting the books was indeed a miracle. Praise the Lord!
Another thing that God is doing is leading Mormons/RLDS inmates to my cell block, which is a unit for inmates who have a lot of “Hole”, time due to misconducts. The program on my cell block is to help get people with at least 2 years Hole time earn their way back into the general population. The Mormon/RLDS brothers are acting up and receiving many misconduct reports because there is no Mormon/RLDS services in PA DOC available to them. So a lot of them attempt to start riots and then they are put in the “Hole” with years of disciplinary time, thus and are placed on my cell block, (SSNU). There are now about 12 Mormon/RLDS inmates on my cell block at this time. The materials you and other ministries have sent me have helped immensely in sharing Christ and His true Gospel with them. God has definitely worked every thing out for His good and His purpose. God has given me the gift of teaching them the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise God! I have lots of material to work with. God has called me to be a missionary to bring people out of the cults of Joseph Smith. On thing I have noticed is that the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants of the LDS is much different of those of RLDS. Why such a big difference? I just recently started reading “RLDS Church Is It Christian?” Great book!!! Your books “Part Way to Utah” and “The Long Way Home” were very helpful. One inmate that I have brought out of the RLDS church is presently reading “The Long Way Home”. He isn’t a Christian yet, but he is studying your book………
I love Jesus with my whole being without reserve and my greatest desire is to be a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing to God. I want everything I do and say to never cease to glorify God, my Savior.
I thank God for your ministry – you are changing many lives. Keep up the good work, Brother Paul!!! I love you, my Brother in the Lord Jesus Christ!!! AMEN!!!
I am being released on November 9th of this year. I will be keeping in touch. God bless you!!!
Jesus in me loves you!!!
In Christ’s Love,
October 29, 2013
New Testimony — Carrie Crawford Blackman
Carrie was baptized into the RLDS church at 8 years old as a 4th generation Latter Day Saint. She married outside the RLDS church, and began attending a non-RLDS church with her husband. When they volunteered for service, however, the pastor hesitated because of Carrie’s staunchly held Latter Day Saint beliefs. While initially upset, Carrie and her husband began serious research into RLDS beliefs. The result was one she could not have foreseen.
I was raised in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) Church (4th generation on my Father’s side), and always considered myself a Christian. I learned to pray to my Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name, and was baptized into what I thought was the one true and accurate church at the age of 8 years old. While not Biblical, the RLDS faith teaches that 8 years old is the age of accountability—the youngest age at which one could understand the scriptures and be held accountable for his/her sins. I never fully understood why the crucifixion was necessary, but learned the 6 principles of the gospel to attain eternal reward: 1) Faith in God, 2) Repentance from sin, 3) Baptism by emersion, 4) Laying on of Hands to receive the Holy Spirit, 5) Resurrection from the Dead, and 6) Eternal Life. According to the Book of Mormon, I was saved “after all I could do (2 Nephi, 11:44),” and learned from the Doctrine & Covenants that salvation was a covenant: “When you do what I say I am bound, when you do not what I say you have no promise (D&C 81:3b).” Such statements placed a heavy responsibility still on my own shoulders. It was not until my faith was challenged that I came to a true understanding of how Biblical salvation actually occurs.
About 6 months after our oldest son was born, my husband and I decided to find a church closer to home that taught the Bible in a way we both felt was true to Christ’s teachings. While I agreed to visit and even join a non-RLDS church on paper, I still held to what I felt was true in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Inspired Version of the Bible. I refused to take communion at the churches we visited even after joining Fellowship of Grace Church, because I saw 1) the covenant I made with Christ different than those around me and 2) those serving the communion as not having true authority from God.
After attending Fellowship of Grace for a couple years, my husband and I felt led to volunteer to serve in a leadership role. But my Pastor was hesitant, since my RLDS faith conflicted with the church’s core beliefs. I first felt under attack and started researching to defend my faith. My husband began researching with me, since he had never fully accepted the RLDS teachings and wanted to be supportive in my journey toward truth and Biblical salvation. When discovering Utah Mormon doctrine, I immediately separated myself, since I never considered myself a “Mormon.” It was only when I came across websites and research written by former RLDS members that I started to listen and do my own exploration: www.help4rlds.com and www.lifeline2rlds.org.
As I first mentioned, I always considered myself a “Christian,” and tried to follow Biblical principles, and turned to Christ for help, guidance, and peace. While I know that many times my prayers were answered, it was not until I discovered how the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Inspired Version of the Bible included false teachings that my relationship with Christ began to grow and deepen like never before. The false teachings of Joseph Smith distort the road to salvation—which is the most dangerous aspect of his false teaching. Yet, the true Biblical view of salvation is found in Romans 10:9–10, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Paul makes it clear that salvation has nothing at all to do with what I can DO—even baptism is an act of obedience, not an essential element of salvation. If I could do anything to earn or even lose salvation, Christ died in vain.
Once I came to an understanding of true Biblical salvation, and learned, as evidenced through the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the Bible had not been corrupted over the ages and did not need restoring, I could seek a version of the Bible to study. I went to a local bookstore and compared several versions, and settled on the NASB study bible. Knowing it was a word-for-word translation calmed my fears about why there were so many versions. As I studied, I learned that what I once thought was agreement between the three books of RLDS scripture was actually no more than sloppy plagiarism! By “restoring” offices and laws rooted in the Old Testament, Joseph Smith brought his people back to the days of the Pharisees—again, discounting everything fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
I also learned the Book of Mormon was not translated with the Urim and Thummim, but actually by a Seer Stone. Even more amazing was to learn that this truth had been recorded by Joseph’s wife Emma to her son (Joseph Smith III) and can be found today in RLDS Church History, volume 3, pages 356–357. Even Joseph Smith’s founding testimony in the grove was recorded several different ways, and have confused many of his followers regarding the doctrine of the trinity.
Many RLDS and LDS claim the Book of Mormon to be a second testament of Jesus Christ, yet, the Jesus of the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi, 4) revealed Himself in a manner uncharacteristic of the Biblical Jesus. There Jesus destroyed entire civilizations for their wickedness before giving them any opportunity to learn of His saving grace.
After praying for forgiveness and accepting the gift of salvation which I could never earn, I felt free and complete. I was now able to serve and love in oneness with my husband, and teach our children with consistency and truth. When I chose to be re-baptized (as an act of obedience and symbol of new life), I came up from the water with a peace like nothing I have ever experienced. I knew God had led me to this place and time, and would forever change my family tree toward Him.
October 28, 2013
New Article — "The Paradigm Shift Dilemma"
I discovered this article in the Liberty Crier, to which I am a subscriber (http://libertycrier.com). Its thrust is political & economic. But the principles discussed are universal. Nelson Hultberg puts his finger squarely on a cluster of human dynamics which are all intertwined — egotism, integrity, honesty and the ability to change one’s mind about important matters. This kind of change is popularly referred to as a Paradigm Shift, as Mr. Hultberg will explain.
Indeed, I have observed this cluster of dynamics in play in virtually every facet of human endeavor. But I have been particularly attentive to it in spiritual matters. And that’s the reason I am providing a copy of this article. All too often, people cease being “seekers of truth,” but rather “seekers of support for their previous convictions.” We occasionally make fun of this dynamic with the familiar line, “I’ve already made my mind up – don’t confuse me with the facts!”
At a certain point in life many people seem to develop mental and spiritual “rigor mortise” as it were. They lose the ability to think clearly and accurately about significant issues – even in the face of important new information. They instead spend their energy defending or justifying their thoughts or actions of an earlier day and time.
Now that you’ve read this short introduction, perhaps you, too, will be attentive to this inclination in yourself and others.
I hope you find this article informative and thought provoking. Perhaps it will even lead to a Paradigm Shift!
October 2, 2013
Errata Available for Paul Trask's book Part Way to Utah
The 2nd Edition of Part Way to Utah: the Forgotten Mormons (2005) was edited with different software from that of the 1st Edition (1997). During this process, some very important formatting was lost in the columnar presentations on three pages: 90, 94 and 100.
In each of these presentations, the use of strikeout and italics are used to facilitate comparisons between original documents and subsequent variants. Strikeout is used to indicate words omitted in subsequent versions and italics is used to indicate words which were added.
Significant italicization was lost on each of the three pages identified above. This is a very important part of the presentation. Accordingly, these pages have been corrected, and are included in the Errata below.
If you have a 2nd Edition, we encourage you to print out this pdf file and stick it in your copy to facilitate your review of these pages.
September 10, 2013
New article — "Is the Book Of Mormon Inspired by God? Was Joseph Smith a Prophet of God?"
A friend of mine forwarded the following article for me to look at and consider posting. It is quite good, and so I'm making it available here.
It is written to Utah Mormons (with related references), but the author's approach is applicable to all Latter Day Saints. He makes observations and asks questions which beg an answer.
The article is written by John R. Gentry, and comes from the website BibleStudyGuide.org. The article can be directly accessed at Is the Book Of Mormon Inspired by God? Was Joseph Smith a Prophet of God?
I requested and was granted permission to make this article available here in pdf format.
August 5, 2013
A new letter from Judy Meikle:
I have had questions many years ago and followed my son to a Baptist Church.
At first I was angry because I felt like I was lied to all my life.
I have learned so much since accepting salvation.
A friend shared this web site.
Thanks for helping.
May 27, 2013
A new book is available from our ministry! We've added Reasons for Disbelief, by Peter Elliott of Western Australia.
Peter Elliott grew up in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and spent most of his early twenties travelling the world (living off tinned fish and yoghurt), gold prospecting, and escaping from government jobs. Since then he has earned a bachelors degree in English Literature from the West Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) and a Bachelor of Divinity and a Masters in Theology both from Murdoch University. Most recently Peter has submitted a doctoral thesis entitled Edward Irving: Romantic theology in crisis at Murdoch University. Peter lectures in Church History in several colleges and lives near Fremantle, Western Australia with his wife Deborah and their two sons, Joel and Jason.
It takes courage and honesty to critically examine the faith you were brought up with—without rejecting God altogether. Reasons for Disbelief chronicles just such an examination. Peter Elliott’s family had been members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS – now called Community of Christ) for five generations. In his early twenties, however, Peter began honestly exploring his family’s faith for himself. This book is the result of that investigation. Originally self-published in 1980, it documents both how the traditional RLDS beliefs were historically untenable, and also how the later RLDS leadership tried to distance itself from these beliefs without openly denying them. This expanded edition contains a new preface and postscript, and includes previously unpublished correspondence with RLDS church leadership.
This is a great book, and covers so many of the problems with Latter Day Saintism. A special feature of this book is that it contains personal correspondence with top RLDS leaders wherein they disclose a secret strategy — a "long range, systematic" plan to alter the membership's understanding of the church's founding history!
Find this on our Books & DVDs page for $7.00 plus $1.65 shipping.
April 9, 2013
Our new, completely redesigned website debuted on Thursday, March 28, and the response has been fantastic. Our traffic has been far stronger than normal as people explore our new format and the information we are providing.
If you’re new to our ministry, Welcome! Please feel free to share any comments or questions with us using our Contact page. May the Lord bless your time here, and steer you to useful information which will bring you into closer relationship with Himself.
Our many thanks to Craig Shatswell, who had been our webmaster for the past 5 years, and had helped redesign the site in 2008. And thanks also to Rob Tapley who provided guidance for our most recent redesign, and continues to offer technical assistance.
March 12, 2013
We're in the midst of a complete redesgin of this website. It will have a fresh new look, and have some new content as well. And it will provide the structure for expanded content in the future. Stay tuned!
January 7, 2013
New Class! Paul Trask will be teaching a 12 week class on Latter Day Saintism beginning 9:00 am, Sunday, March 3, 2013 at New Life Church in Oak Grove, Missouri. The church is located at 801 SW 1st St., Oak Grove, MO 64075.
Here is a map to help you find the church
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