Community of Christ

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The Community of Christ is the second-largest of the heretical factions arising from the Latter Day Saint movement started by Joseph Smith, Jr.. in 1830. Headquartered in Independence, Missouri, this church counts approximately 250,000 adherents worldwide.

The Community of Christ and Polygamy

While the mainline Utah Mormon or LDS church (which holds the allegience of most of the world's Mormons) is quite well known for its unholy practice of polygyny, the Community of Christ always rejected that doctrine. Originally insisting that Joseph Smith never taught this principle, the mainline Community of Christ leadership in recent years has come to recognize that Smith was indeed behind its introduction. This did not change their fundamental opposition to polygamy, however.

Distinctive Doctrines

Whereas the Utah Mormons hold to the "Eternal Progression" doctrine that says that God the Father was once a man, and that man can become a "god," the Community of Christ has always rejected this principle. However, this does not mean that they have traditionally held the Orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Traditionally, Community of Christ doctrine has affirmed that God is indeed eternal, and the only God in existence; however, they have tended to emphasize the complete separateness of the three Persons (while never going so far as to refer to Them as three separate "gods," as the Utah Mormons do).

The Community of Christ emphatically rejects the "Book of Abraham" (with its concept of multiple "gods"), together with all temple rituals (Baptism for the Dead, the "Endowment" and Eternal Marriage). Its temple in Independence is open to the public (unlike Utah Mormon temples), and dedicated to the fostering of world peace and "healing of the spirit." Though its organizational structure is similar to Utah Mormonism, it held until very recently to the concept that its prophet-president should be a direct lineal descendant of Joseph Smith. Unlike the LDS church, the Community of Christ ordains women to all of its "priesthood" offices.

The Community of Christ accepts Joseph Smith's "Inspired Version" of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, together with its own edition of the Doctrine & Covenants--but not the Pearl of Great Price. Substantial controversy emerged in the 1960's and 70's as prominent leaders of the Community of Christ were accused of not truly believing in the Book of Mormon and in general seeking to liberalize their faith. This ultimately led to a split in their organization in 1984, with its decision to ordain women. The mainline Community of Christ church has emerged in the early twenty-first century as a highly liberal version of Joseph Smith's religion.