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Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

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The Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the RLDS or Restored Mormon Church) is a Christian primitivist church founded in the early twenty-first century. The Church considers itself the restoration of both the early church founded by Jesus and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded by Joseph Smith. It is nontrinitarian and dispensationalist in nature, and considers itself to be Fundamentalist — that is, it rejects modernism in favor of tradition and continuity.

The church believes strongly in continuing revelation and accordingly has an open canon, which includes the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It was founded primarily to restore Mormonism as it was practiced in the nineteenth century, and espouses early doctrines such as plural marriage, long discarded by the mainstream LDS Church.

History

The Church considers itself to have begun with Jesus Christ and his Twelve Apostles in the first century, and thus counts the early gospels and Jewish canon as sacred scripture. Restored Mormons believe that after the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Church entered a state of apostasy during which divine leadership and the authority to perform ordinances such as baptism was lost. This authority would not be restored until the time of Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century.

In 1820 Joseph Smith had his First Vision, in which God spoke to him and commanded him to restore the Christian Church. Smith's discovery of the Book of Mormon several years later and the continuing revelations he received throughout his life are considered proof of his prophetic status.

After Smith was assassinated in 1844 for his practice of polygamy, the Mormon Church experienced a power vacuum during which competing factions vied for control. Restored Mormons believe that it was at this point the LDS Church entered its own Great Apostasy. This is based on a message Joseph Smith received from Heavenly Father in 1831: "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine." (D&C 38:27)

Although the Church did not remain united and therefore lost God's total approval, there were righteous men among all the sects during this time. For instance, Restored Mormons often honor both Brigham Young and his opponent James Strang: Young because he endorsed the practice of using Seer Stones to translate ancient documents, and Strang because he was the only one of Smith's successors to do so. The RLDS considers the use of Seer Stones essential to its faith, and all Prophet-Presidents of the Church must prove their skills as Translator.

The main Brighamite faction of Mormons outlawed polygamy in 1890. Restored Mormons believe that this was politically motivated, not divinely inspired, and that by placing mainstream acceptance over obedience to God the LDS Church became "Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots." (Rev. 17:5) The RLDS continue to practice plural marriage.

Leadership

The Church is headed by President A. D. Worthington, who is believed to be a modern-day Prophet and God's representative and mouthpiece on Earth. Directly below the Prophet-President is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, consisting of P. Michael Adams III, T. D. Gedenk, C. E. K. Porter, Michael T. Pritt, N. K. Stewart, and B. N. Webb. At present, six seats on the Quorum are purposefully left unoccupied.

Theology

Restored Mormons believe in a Godhead which consists of three unique personages: God the Father (Heavenly Father or Elohim), the Primary Being; Jesus Christ (Jehovah or Son Ahman), the first of God's creations and the symbolic "son" of Elohim; and the Holy Ghost, "the spirit-essence which works in the hearts of all men." These three entities are often referred to as though they were one deity on account of their singularity in purpose; however, the Church is not Trinitarian.

The Church places great importance on the family as the basic unit of society and the eternal nature of marriages, which are often polygamous. For instance, the Virgin Birth is rejected in favor a typical sexual relationship between Joseph and Mary of Nazareth; God is regarded as the literal father of innumerable human souls; and Jesus Christ is believed to have had at least three wives and one child while on earth.

Above all, the Church stresses the Golden Rule: to do unto others as you would have done unto you. Apostle N. K. Stewart stated on October 21, 2012, "'Peace on earth and goodwill towards men' is the greatest principle by which any man might abide, and [...] any gospel which does not support that principle is no gospel at all."

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