- 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 their departure from the church in 1989. Not long after, Paul enrolled in seminary and in 1993 graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California 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 Universit of Michigan, and is a CPA and Financial Consultant. Paul, and wife Leslie, live just outside Independence, Missouri, where Paul continues to write and speak widely about the RLDS church.
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.
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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