- 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.
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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