Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, RLDS, RLDS Church, Reorganized Church, Reorganization

Slideshow image

  The Restoration  

     During the many public and private debates residents repeatedly held on the frontier of Western New York about which denomination they should attend in their newly formed communities, a lad named Joseph Smith took the advice contained in the book of James to heart.  It said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).  He sought the Lord in prayer for the express purpose of asking which church he should join.  He beheld the Father and Son in vision and was told to join none of them.
     Three years later, an angel appeared to him and revealed the presence of a record written by ancient Americans whom God had led to Central America.  That record was chronicled on golden plates and contained their history and spiritual experiences.  The angel showed Joseph where the record was buried.  After four years of visits to the site and instruction by the angel, Joseph received the plates and the Interpreters with the divine commission to translate them.  
     During the translation that was accomplished through the gift and power of God, Joseph and his scribe developed several questions.  They took those questions to the Lord and received miraculous instruction that taught them various doctrines.  Many people mocked Joseph, some persecuted him, but others believed his testimony.  Joseph received a revelation directing the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ as it was in the day that Jesus built it on earth and the apostles governed it.  These miraculous events resulted in the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1829 and the restoration of the church of Christ, the goal of the Pilgrims and Puritans, on April 6, 1830.
     The restored church quickly grew.  Missionaries went west preaching the Savior’s gospel along the way until their reached their destination, Indian Territory, where they told the Indians about the Book of Mormon.  Significant converts were made in Kirtland, Ohio and Joseph Smith moved to that community in 1831.  Branches of the church were being formed almost weekly.  Later that year, Joseph received revelation that the church should build a righteous city in Jackson County, Missouri.  Members began moving there and buying land directly from the Federal Government.  Plans were made to build a temple on a consecrated tract west of the Independence Court House.  Unfortunately, the successful mission to the Indians the year before caused friction among the saints and the local residents.  The Indians had requested that only missionaries from the restored church be allowed into their territory.  Idle missionaries from other denominations vented their frustration, which was caused by their inability to cross the border, at church members.  The added fact that church members were generally Northerners who disapproved of slavery and abstained from things like liquor and revelry among a population that was principally from the Southern state of Virginia added to the tension.  In November 1831, a mob of Jackson Countians forcibly drove the saints from their homes on a cold November night and expelled them from the county.
     Although persecutions prevailed in Jackson County, the church at Kirtland prospered.  Church organization was fully revealed and a temple was constructed in which the members there were endowed with marvelous manifestations and spiritual power.  Apostles were commissioned and sent abroad, beginning a very successful mission to the British Isles.  Thousands of converts joined the church.
     The Missouri legislature finally created a special county in Missouri for the saints.  Many new converts moved to the new county seat of Far West.  Once the county was filled, members started settling in nearby counties, threatening the political environment there.  Hostilities erupted when some church members were denied their right to vote in Davies County.  Assaults and retaliation erupted.  In time, the Mormon War broke out.  Joseph Smith, who only recently had settled at Far West, along with some other church leaders were arrested and charged with treason.  Governor Boggs, who had been a part of the mob that drove the saints from Jackson County, issued an executive order declaring that the saints must be expelled from the state or exterminated.
     The expelled church members found a home immediately across the Mississippi River and built the city of Nauvoo, the largest in the state at that time.  Meanwhile, the arrested church leaders were gradually let go by the Missourians, sometimes under the accusation that they escaped.  With the rapid expansion of the city and the limited supervision by Joseph, spurious teachings began to be taught in Nauvoo.  One letter from a resident written in March 1844 described a recent visit by some elders who taught them the doctrine of spiritual wifery.  When they were about to leave, the elders warned, “Breathe not a word of this abroad, for as yet Brother Joseph is not with us.”
     In June 1844, Joseph Smith told William Marks, who was president of the Nauvoo Stake High Council, a body charged in part with judicial proceeding in church matters, to go help put down the doctrine of polygamy.  According to Marks, Joseph said, “I want you to go into the high council, and I will have charges preferred against all who practice this doctrine; and I want you to try them by the laws of the Church, and cut them off, it they will not repent, and cease the practice of this doctrine. . .  I will go into the stand and preach against it with all my might, and in this way, we may rid the Church of this damnable heresy.”  Three days later Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were murdered at the Carthage Jail.
     Joseph’s untimely death left the church, which numbered between 150,000 and 200,000 members, devoid of leadership.  Although Joseph Smith had blessed his eldest son, also named Joseph, on two separate occasions as his successor and at least once publically introduced him as the next prophet of the church, a number of claimants vied for control.  The church divided into over 20 factions.  The majority of the leadership at Nauvoo followed Brigham Young, who three years later took about 20,000 members west to the Great Salt Lake basin where they continued and enlarged the spurious doctrines that began to weave their way into the church at Nauvoo.
    A decade before, God had admonished the church: “There are hypocrites among you, and have deceived some, which has given the adversary power, but, behold, such shall be reclaimed; but the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off” (D&C 50:3a-b).   A little later He added, “There were among you adulterers and adulteresses; some of whom have turned away from you, and others remain with you, that hereafter shall be revealed.  Let such beware and repent speedily, lest judgment shall come upon them as a snare, and their folly shall be made manifest, and their works shall follow them in the eyes of the people” (D&C 63:4b-c).  The failure of adulterers and adulteresses to repent led to the practice of polygamy among the faction under Brigham Young, as well as several other groups, while its infamous practice in the Utah Church made their sin manifest in the eyes of all the people.
     In 1841, the Lord told the church to build the Nauvoo Temple.  If they failed, God warned, “If you do not these things at the end of the appointment, ye shall be rejected as a church with your dead, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 107:11a).  While members completed the Masonic Temple by the spring of 1843, the roof was not yet constructed on the Nauvoo Temple by the time that Joseph rode toward his martyrdom at Carthage.  Even when the leadership evacuated the city as they began their westward trek, Brigham left workers behind to complete the structure.  Shortly thereafter they reported that they had finished it, but no remaining resident of area including church members agreed.  The failure of the church to complete the Nauvoo Temple testifies that the church there was rejected by the Lord, including its dead.  The only faction of the original church to continue to practice the rite of baptism for the dead is the Utah Church, providing additional evidence that it remains the rejected church.
     Only 10% - 13% of the church’s members went west.  Many participated in other factions.  Joseph Smith’s wife and their children went nowhere, but remained in Nauvoo.  In time, the anointed successor, Joseph III, grew to adulthood.  His decision to succeed his father and steady the restored church on the Savior’s gospel is the history of the Reorganization.

Home | Our Beliefs | Our Invitation | Our Scriptures | RLDS vs LDS | Our History | Our Situation | Our Resources | Our Blog |