Articles/Essays – Volume 11, No. 1

Common Beginnings, Divergent Beliefs

The followers of the Prophet Joseph Smith shared two dramatic decades. They accepted the Prophet’s visions, participating in the spiritual outpouring of scriptures, sermons and lectures. Under his personal leadership, they experimented with various kinds of social organization. Within two years of his assasination, however, the Church was torn by succession struggles that led to dispersion. Almost a century and a half later, the whereabouts of many of these saints is still unknown. Unfortunately, historical methods may never reveal the number who stayed where they were or who left Nauvoo to establish new branches or to follow new leaders. Their reasons for their choices remain equally shadowed. The largest group followed Brigham Young to the Rocky Mountains. The others divided themselves into small groups under Sidney Rigdon in Pennsylvania, Lyman Wight in Texas, James J. Strang in Wisconsin. Others, like William Smith and Emma Smith made no immediate committment. Finally, in 1860 a “Reorganization” in the Midwest gathered several small groups together under the leadership of the Prophet’s son.[1] 

Although not the only claimants to Joseph’s legacy, those who accepted Brigham Young and those who later followed Joseph Smith III became the principal heirs of the Restoration.[2] It is instructive to examine the two churches today. 

Both churches recognize Joseph Smith, Jr. as the prophetic restorer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; both accept the authenticity of the Book of Mormon; both believe in latter-day revelation, though they disagree as to how it should be recorded; both are led by a First Presidency and a Quorum of Twelve Apostles. They are both engaged in world-wide missionary work. The LDS (Mormons) have become more numerous, but the RLDS have ranged more widely, penetrating even India and Black Africa. Both churches are geographically concentrated, though less so now than in the past. They are both deeply Christian, declaring themselves to be a restoration of Christ’s primitive church. Both groups also resemble Judaism, accepting the patriarchal order, the prophetic tradition, the gathering of Israel and the Zionic community. 

They both depend upon lay leadership, though the RLDS have moved toward maintaining a small full-time ministry. RLDS major administrative positions are held by 200 “professional” ministers called Appointees. The pastors of most local RLDS congregations, however, are laymen. The LDS Church on the other hand, has employed a considerable cadre of professional teachers in its daytime religious instruction program, the Seminaries and Institutes. Both churches ordain their faithful male members to the priesthood, and neither ordains women, though the RLDS First Presidency and their World Conference has begun to discuss the issue.[3]

In both churches the Apostles and First Presidency are “called” from among the priesthood leadership into full-time service. In the LDS church, these General Authorities enter into lifetime service. In the RLDS Church, the new leaders are usually selected from among the Appointees, and with the exception of the President, serve until regular retirement at age 65. (The current RLDS President, W. Wallace Smith, announced at the 1976 RLDS World Conference that he will retire in 1978 at the age of 79, naming his son, Wallace B., as President-designate.) 

Both LDS and RLDS organizations are dedicated to education, especially higher education, even though a strain of anti-intellectualism persists in both organizations. They are both peopled by a mixture of proud fifth generation families that stem from the pioneer period and others who have since hearkened to individual conversion. 

Despite the similarities, attention has generally focused on differences between the two churches. In the past dogmatic writers from each group accused each other of apostasy.[4] Faithful RLDS vociferously rejected polygamy, and they criticized Utah’s political “Kingdom of God.” They even charged the followers of Brigham Young with disloyalty—for abandoning the Midwest when persecution was rife. 

On the other hand, LDS spokesmen have criticized the RLDS for lack of ordinance work for the dead, which they stoutly maintain was begun by Joseph Smith. They also view the RLDS Church as “accommodating” to its environment rather than holding fast to the “peculiar” LDS doctrines. Both groups still clash over the succession question, with the RLDS group adhering to a lineal successor for their prophet, and the LDS accepting an apostolic succession.[5]

Further contrast can be observed in the local church units as well as in the General Conferences. RLDS members belong to near autonomous congregations. This has produced wide diversity among the branches, making it difficult to describe them except to say that most are small—under a hundred members—and diversity is the norm. These Saints have historically been proud of their independence, sometimes differing vigorously with the leadership of their First Presidency. They send delegates to biennial World Conference where open debates, using parliamentary procedures, lead to policy formulation. Opposing views are public and some issues cause deep struggles. 

A contrast in the two churches is especially apparent in attitudes toward dissent and criticism. Realizing that there will be continuous and vocal dissent in their rather democratic congregations, the RLDS have legitimized it through both the World Conference and their monthly magazine, the Saints Herald. By contrast, the unity needed to conquer the desert and to resist the hostility of the Government discouraged dissent among 19th century Mormons in Utah, and self-initiated opposition from the membership is not encouraged in public debate or in church publications. 

Throughout their history, the Mormons in the Great Basin have been tightly welded under centralized leadership. Their semi-annual conferences are forums for General Authorities who admonish adherence to the gospel message and to their leadership. These conferences inculcate faith and advocate obedience. Use of the media—TV, radio and press—has intensified this long-standing function. The LDS First Presidency has also extended its influence over the auxiliary organizations of the Church, which, in their beginning were almost autonomous. Now virtually all programs, from social services to Sunday Schools, are correlated through the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles. The Presiding Bishopric directs temporal matters. Although there is some local latitude under the leadership of those two ecclesiastical Quorums, each ward’s appointments, finances, buildings, curriculum, publishing, training and membership records are all centrally supervised.[6] Ward members increasingly identify with the whole LDS movement in a spirit of enthusiastic expansion. Most look to “the Brethren” with reverence and support. 

The LDS leaders are also more inclined than RLDS leaders to give official direction to such socio-political questions as the Equal Rights Amendment, birth control, abortion, pornography, Sunday closing and civil rights. Official directives have often appeared as front-page statements in the Desert News but are more recently found in Church News editorials and in the Ensign magazine. First Presidency statements in General Conference carry so much weight that they are easily identified as “the Church’s position” on a given subject. The RLDS, however, are reluctant—even unwilling—to take a formal stand on many issues, prefering rather to leave such matters to individual conscience. When a specific recommendation is given, as has recently been the case with birth control and abortion, it is often in less dogmatic terms than those used by LDS leaders. 

By remaining in the Midwest, the RLDS people consciously accommodated to their neighbors instead of confronting them in the Kirtland-Jackson County-Nauvoo tradition. With the passing of time, this co-existence has become increasingly warm. Some RLDS members have attended Protestant seminaries, and some major theologians have offered instruction at RLDS institutions. Some RLDS people are sympathetic to what is called the “Social Gospel,” focusing more on earthly morality than celestial immortality. RLDS leaders no longer dwell on the claim to exclusive truth—even though there is resistance to such a “liberal” swing among the rank and file membership.[7] Because of these developments, the RLDS have moved gradually into the mainstream of American religion in the last two or three decades. A central theological statement published recently under the title, Exploring the Faith,[8] reflects this trend toward the Protestant position. 

By contrast, the LDS Church has essentially isolated itself theologically by maintaining its traditional claim to be the only church on the earth directly sanctioned by God.[9] It refuses to compromise that unpopular assertion. Latter-day Saints have only rare contacts with seminaries and theologians of other faiths. They have ignored such theological scholarship in times past and have specifically resisted involvement in the “Social Gospel.” They have never considered revising the Articles of Faith, finding them as acceptable now as in 1842. More satisfied with answers emerging from their own dogma than those of Protestant theologians, the LDS leaders have been consistently conservative in doctrinal matters. Although this sometimes leads outside observers to cry “fundamentalist,” neither Mormon members nor leaders feel a kinship with so-called fundamentalist Protestant groups. 

A related comparison is the LDS Church’s ability to deal with doctrinal modification and reversal. Under Brigham Young for example, the LDS were initially very much against the medical profession, choosing to support faith healing, herbs and home remedies. The gradual abandonment of this position has recently been symbolized by a church statement supporting responsible medicine and warning against quackery.[10] RLDS attitudes toward card playing and the morality of dancing have been sharply altered within the last decade. Although there are more mechanisms in the RLDS than the LDS for dealing with such alterations, there is a better means for accommodation in the LDS Church because of a strong tendency to “follow the prophet” once he institutes a change. 

A differing emphasis on evangelism is also instructive. In the past three decades the Latter-day Saints have intensified their missionary work, mainly using young self-supporting lay proselyters “called” for two years. The thousands of young people who travel in pairs throughout much of the non-Communist world have been so effective that the Church is now one of America’s dozen large religions[11] and is approaching a million membership abroad. The Church’s growth is also furthered by a high birth rate, but that alone does not explain how it became many times the size of the RLDS Church.[12] Members are found on all continents, with stakes in North and South America, Europe, Oceania and parts of Asia. There is also one stake in South Africa. Expansion is revered in the LDS Church almost as an evidence of the divinity of the message, certainly as a fulfillment of missionary stewardship. 

The RLDS Church is stable, fiscally sound and vibrant, but it does not focus on growth. It supports a proselyting program, but it aims at modest goals, accepting its size as desirable. Missionaries are generally middle-aged, full-time church appointees on long-term assignments. The result is that such RLDS missionaries number in the hundreds instead of the thousands, and the membership rate remains about level. 

Converts to the two churches find similarities in the instructional and social opportunities. The RLDS have “Sunday school” from pre-school through senior adults. There are separate women’s meetings, priesthood meetings and male-oriented groups even though the position of the women’s department is no longer as functional as it once was. On the other hand, the Relief Society, Young Men/Young Women, Primary and Young Adult groups are peculiar to the LDS. Both churches share an interest in youth organizations with the LDS being closely tied to the Boy Scouts. Priesthood meetings are an important part of the educational arm of both churches, with the LDS more involved in Quorum meetings than is the RLDS. Quorum existence and organization does not necessarily imply meeting for the RLDS as it does in the LDS. The RLDS Sacrament is a distinct and single experience with Communion Sunday, by tradition, falling on the first Sunday of every month, and the Sacrament consisting of bread and wine. The LDS participate in the Sacrament—bread and water—every Sunday in two meetings. An active RLDS member would go to Church from 9:30 to 12:00 on a Sunday morning and perhaps once a month on a Sunday afternoon. Evening services on Wednesday, called Prayer and Testimony meetings as against the LDS Fast and Testimony meetings, usually make up the week’s activities. The LDS tend to spend more time in church and at church. Activities are planned for the LDS group during the week and the design of the buildings reflects their use: Library, gymnasium, stage and kitchen supplement the regular worship and instructional facilities. 

A final comparison is between the business aspects of the two churches. The RLDS Church has very limited business dealings. It owns some real estate, has some investments in business and in the stock market and owns its own publishing and office supply firm. Communication between the church and the secular community is quite open; Conference action makes a fairly clean accounting of financial dealings and participation in business enterprises. The LDS, in contrast, have a long tradition of involvement in business, stemming from pioneer necessity. Their investments in sugar production, real estate, the stock market, communications and publishing ventures have always been extensive. Journalists tend to exaggerate Mormon financial holdings, perhaps because church budgets and investments are not publicly disclosed. 

Today a substantial portion of the LDS membership does tithe its income to the full ten percent. Beyond their tithing they donate to welfare, building, local budget and missionary funds. The Church experienced a fiscal crisis in the 1870’s, 80’s and 90’s when the law of tithing was not so effectively promoted. At the same time it was caught in a struggle with the U.S. Government that caused severe financial disruptions. But since the turn of the century that condition has been reversed, resulting in considerable accumulation of resources. All tithes collected in the local wards and branches are sent directly to Church headquarters to be disbursed by the Committee on Expenditures which includes the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric and members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. These tithing funds are devoted to such Church programs as missions, temples, schools and local ward buildings with some monies invested as a reserve. 

In the RLDS Church the law of tithing has been interpreted as ten percent of one’s increase (not income), and the financial yield has been proportionately less. After enduring periods of fiscal insecurity, the Church is now fiscally well established. 

The RLDS financial system uses a dual approach: Local offerings which remain with the congregation are to be raised to sustain building and pastoral needs; these often attract the larger donations. The tithing funds which local members also pay are forwarded to Church headquarters at Independence, Missouri for support of a paid missionary force, partial support of two colleges and general administrative uses. Thus, less money is available for central control, but its allocation is not completely determined by central leaders because it is subject to debate and approval by the delegates at the biennial World Conference. 


Other philosophical distinctions separate the two movements more than some realize.[13] When the Reorganized Latter Day Saints use the term God, they mean a divinity understood as an all-encompassing absolute. God exists as one being, a unifying dimension to man’s universe. The LDS are committed to “metaphysical pluralism” with respect of God—the view that there are many gods and that the Godhead is composed of three separate beings. 

In the RLDS Church monotheism is basically realistic. RLDS realism is “materialistic,” meaning that “things” have substance. The term materialism and the ideas associated with it oppose the term immaterialism. Immaterialism was a popular idea in the early LDS church and is used by the RLDS to mean “nothing” (aught). The monist terminology is used even though the RLDS position encompasses both materialism and immaterialism in such a way that it seems to assert the dualistic idea of persons composed of two distinct substances—mind and body. The confusion is “explained” by suggesting that while these are two separate substances, mind (rather than brain) and body, they are centered in a soul. But the RLDS deny that soul is a third entity or substance, but is instead a single substance seen only as different entities. The dualistic view is preserved and the monistic terminology is maintained. 

LDS materialism sees God as both spatial and temporal; that is to say, He occupies both space and time. He is to be found some place and sometime as are human beings. The progressive God aspects of this are based on two interpretations. One is that the pluralism of the Godhead is found in the Godhead’s being composed of three distinct and real personages and that there exists a series of individual gods. The second interpretation postulates an evolving universe in which God Himself is in process, evolving through relationships with His external world. What seems paradoxical to the rest of the religious thinkers in this view is that God’s own process seems to depend on the morality of human beings: “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39). 

Another distinction can be found in differing attitudes toward the universe. The Reorganized Latter Day Saints follow the more traditional view that God is “necessary” and man “contingent.” The necessary view is called static and the contingent view dynamic. God could not, not have been—God was from the beginning. Man was not necessary; therefore, he did not exist from the beginning. The LDS agree that God was necessary, but they add that man’s existence is also necessary. They cannot conceive of the nonexistence of either God or man. It is impossible for either God or man to come into being, or to cease to be. Things do not come from nothing, nor do they become nothing. Man’s spirit lives before birth, and this spirit unites with the body through the birth process. The real point of distinction between the RLDS and the LDS is not the question of the necessary existence of God, but in the Mormon belief in the necessary existence of each individual human agent. 

Another contrast between the churches lies in the LDS assumption that God has not always been God and that man has the potential to become a god. As there are real options for man’s godlike potential today, so were there real options for God in His own development. He might not have been God as we know Him, but He would have necessarily continued to exist. Nor do God and man have the only necessary existence in Mormon theology. There is also a necessary existence of matter, of natural law and of space and time. Thus the LDS differ from the usual Western religious beliefs, and from the RLDS beliefs, in that they do not assume God to be the source of all reality. 

An additional distinction can be seen in the issue of “nominalism” versus “realism.” Using man as example, nominalism holds that the term “mankind” is only a word used for the total of all men, women and children. The real entities are the men, women and children themselves. Realism holds that mankind represents a real entity (“Let us create man in our own image”), a concept apart from the various men, women and children that are simply examples of the term. The RLDS theology maintains that the priesthood, for example, exists independently of those who hold it. They recognize law as independent of either the lawmaker or the law breaker. In most cases they make the same assumption about God. The RLDS are not totally consistent in this belief, however. They see the Church as a community of the faithful believers in Christ (the elect) rather than assuming that the Church exists independently of its members. 

The LDS, using these same examples, would be far more realistic in their interpretation of the Church as having a divinity separate from its members and yet more nominalistic in their three-in-one conception of the Godhead. For even though the word Godhead sounds like a collective term, it assumes the independent reality of the separate members of the Trinity. Thus while neither Church is consistent in this controversy, a distinction can be drawn from the philosophical connotations of the idea of Church (more realistic for the LDS and more nominalistic for the RLDS) and the Trinity (nominalistic for the LDS and realistic for the RLDS.) 

Both churches appear to be in general agreement on the fundamental question of how persons are to know God. Their difference is one of degree, rather than kind. The RLDS tend to feel such information can come from a rational interpretation of documents.[14] The LDS are inclined to invoke the validity of authority, scripture, personal inspiration and spiritual experience. 

The environment from which God acts sets the stage for another distinction. The LDS position states that God acts in a co-existent environment. In general, the LDS would agree that this does in fact limit God somewhat. For the Mormons then, creation was really the process of organizing existing elements rather than making them. The RLDS are comfortable in the assertion that God created everything from nothing. This conclusion does not result from the nature of an environment, but rather is the outcome of discounting what might normally be considered an environment. According to the RLDS God did not create man from intelligence because they do not consider intelligence either an environment or a co-eternal substance with God. The LDS point of view, that God creates and acts from within an environment, accepts the existence of eternal substances such as intelligence. 

Neither the LDS nor the RLDS have come up with a complete doctrine of man. RLDS theology, however, asserts that man is endowed with freedom and that he is created to know God. To continue the description, “he is hung halfway between heaven and earth, both liking and hating the honor.” Unlike the LDS, who consider man a celestial spirit transplanted to this world through birth, man in the RLDS Church is a creature of nature and of history. With few exceptions, the LDS are the only ones who seriously consider that the creation of man is in the same category as the creation of God. This is not a burden to LDS thinking because man and God occupy time and space. The LDS see a joint character of the environment from which they come: “Intelligence or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.”[15] The RLDS theology accepts the more traditional position that God does not have a material being; He has no time nor space. Thus, since RLDS assume a material being and a space and time orientation to man, they must distinguish between the creation of man and God. 

Important distinctions can be seen by continued comparison between the RLDS and the LDS attitudes toward such beliefs and ideas as: intuitive versus empirical knowledge, authoritative appeals, tests for truth and the distinction between a religious and a metaphysical God. Neither of the churches has taken these distinctions seriously enough to make any in-depth investigation. Unless they become more theological, neither church is going to comprehend very well how both of them could have risen from common beginnings and common scriptures and yet have such persistently divergent beliefs. 


Members of the two churches have usually explained the reasons for the persisting difference with the dogmatic claim that the other church has fallen from the truth—it is no longer in possession of the true priesthood. They have written tracts, given lectures and undertaken missions on that premise. This religious approach offers clear-cut answers.

A more historical or institutional analysis of the two traditions raises an alternative but more tentative view. Some historians suggest that the now apparent polarity was about to emerge in Nauvoo before Joseph’s death.[16] Some of the members of the Church then were critical of Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo ideas as being too experimental, even unsound. These Saints considered the union of politics, economics and religion into a literal Kingdom of God as not only beyond mainstream Christianity, but dangerous. Joseph’s early death brought their attitude to the fore, providing them with several options. 

On one side were Brigham Young and several of the Apostles, who affirmed the literalness of the “Kingdom of God” with temples, geographical gathering, economic cooperation and social distinctiveness. They were determined to build upon Joseph’s millennial innovations. Willing to require total commitment, they moved the Church beyond the existing boundaries of the United States to implement the new society—even at the price of losing many to death or disaffection. Those who hearkened to the Quorum of Apostles under Brigham Young (or likewise those who went with James J. Strang to Beaver Island) were going to create a new “organic” society which they hoped would usher in Christ’s reign. They united the sacred and the secular as they thought Joseph would, interweaving them into a saintly community. 

On the other sides were those who rejected that approach as bizarre and out of harmony with the early Restoration scriptures, including followers of Sidney Rigdon. Others too had qualms about the Prophet Joseph’s last experiments. They thought he had flaunted the American system of separation between church and state and were ready for another alternative—perhaps one less dependent upon “charismatic” leadership. 

Some of the key differences in the two churches emerged from their experiences between 1846 and 1860. Many Saints who eventually joined the RLDS spent those years without a central organization,[17] in a few self-contained congregations, with elected leadership intact. But many Midwest Saints remained unaffiliated with any group or became disillusioned with the claims of Joseph Smith’s successors. Almost all of them consciously rejected the Mormon approach in the Rocky Mountains which they saw as too authoritarian. By 1860 they were firmly rooted in a pattern quite the opposite of the Utah model—without a charismatic leader, without central control, without uniform organization. They concentrated on the early restoration scriptures, personal worship and the close relationships of their small and scattered groups. 

The Rocky Mountain Saints faced an organizational challenge as soon as they crossed the Mississippi. Moving thousands across the Great Plains was achieved through a quasi-military system which lasted at least three decades. The hundreds of communities they founded in the hostile Great Basin required a cooperative scheme based on extensive control. Mere survival was tenuous at first, especially after the Federal Government and national Protestant groups began systematic attacks on their theology and their organization. The Utah Mormons were thus welded into a tight unity not unlike the previous communities at Kirtland, Jackson County, Missouri and Nauvoo, and lasting well into the twentieth century. Since then the surviving hierarchical organization has shifted to evangelical and pastoral matters with similar effectiveness. The emphasis on centralized organization has not only succeeded, but the members warmly accept the present organization as consistent with that of early Nauvoo.

Any historical analysis would have to consider the disparate impact of the American culture on both churches since 1830. Within the RLDS Church many are happy with a slow evolution and increasing similarity to such “mainline” American Protestant groups as the Disciples of Christ, the Methodists, or Baptists. This represents not only an accommodation to respectability but also a continuation of those dissenters in Nauvoo who became central in the Reorganization of I860.[18]

In the early Reorganization the majority was largely sectarian, but the Church has gradually shifted away from heavy emphasis on the uniqueness of their sacraments and authority which recognizes a non-liturgical American Protestantism and the possible existence of several true churches. This ecumenical spirit has helped to disperse the defensiveness which caused hostility not only toward the LDS in Utah but even toward neighboring Baptists and other Protestants. At present, the RLDS Church is acquiring Park College, a four-year Presbyterian institution in Independence, Missouri. As it now appears, this college, in contrast to the Church’s Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, will derive only a small portion of its faculty from among its own membership because the existing faculty with their various Christian commitments is seen as acceptable to the Church’s newer perspective. The RLDS had already absorbed such traditional American religious activities as summer religious renewal camps (reunions), and many endeavors of the Social Gospel—retirement homes, hospitals and aid missions to developing countries. 

In contrast, the LDS Church seems, on the surface, to be uninfluenced by the American democratic environment. Control of the LDS Church is centered in the living prophet’s authority which is largely unchallenged. Although Church leaders have never talked explicitly about infallibility, they continually admonish their members to “follow the Prophet.” LDS stake and ward congregations are similar to the Catholic diocese and parish.[19] The leadership is appointed by the authorities one level above them with emphasis on sacred ordinances and their control by the priesthood. 

It is not only in organization that the LDS differ from traditional American Protestantism. Latter-day Saint theology is actually heretical in the eyes of Protestants. Catholics too consider Mormons heretics, but the LDS have long since adjusted to rejection, and do not hesitate to deny openly the trinitarian theology. They appear uninterested in becoming acceptable to their American religious colleagues. 

All of this separateness, however, does not mean that the LDS are uninfluenced by American culture. Quite the contrary.[20] They have energetically adopted many features of American corporate structure and professionalism. Many, if not a majority, of the LDS General Authorities have had careers in corporate business before their full-time church appointments. Business administration consultants, advertising agents, computer specialists, media managers, cost effective architects, curriculum designers and systems planners are housed in the new skyscraper headquarters in Salt Lake City. This modern puritanism seems to set the tone that accompanies the proselyting missionaries—in their business suits and trim hair cuts—all over the world. In a large sense the young elders are symbolic of the fusion of Mormon and American values: the work ethic, patriotism and cooperation have become indistinguishable from Mormon doctrine. 

So, as the sesquicentennial of Mormonism approaches in 1980, both churches can be considered absorbed into American culture—the RLDS in both theology and organization, and the LDS as a model American establishment. The churches have both responded to major challenges in their history, but the historical paths have been divided in different directions.


Separated by geography, institutions and history as well as by priesthood and doctrine, the members of the two churches are beginning to talk to each other. The long-held dream of union will probably give way to co-existence. And co-existence may encourage communication and respect. But it will not change the basic conviction that the other is in error—that the other’s system is to be resisted. One church will remain congregational, the other hierarchical. Each will claim that its priesthood is genuine. The stand-off will continue. 

Neither of the churches is in decline. Should Joseph Smith’s direct descendants die out, the RLDS will probably turn to the Hyrum Smith line; similarly the LDS Church cannot be dismissed as Madison Avenue promotionalism under an authoritarian leadership. Both groups will have to admit the permanence and the legitimate differences of the other. But mutual acceptance can offer opportunity to see one’s own church in clearer perspective. Perhaps from this vantage point greater understanding and respect can grow. 

[1] Quinn, D. Michael, “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844,” BYU Studies XVI, Winter 1976, 2, 187-233. 

[2] In an address at the 1975 Mormon Historical Association Convention at BYU, Myron Sorenson estimated that about 20 existing groups trace their origin to Joseph Smith and that 100 others, no longer surviving, also made that claim. 

[3] See World Conference Bulletins, Sunday, March 28, 1976 to Saturday, April 3, 1976 RLDS.

[4] Holm, Francis W., Sr., The Mormon Churches (Kansas City, Midwest, 1970). Dyer, Alvin R., The Fallacy (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1964). Smith, Elbert A., The Differences that Persist (Independence, Herald, 1943). Reimann, Paul E., The Reorganized Church and the Civil Courts (Salt Lake City, Paul E. Reimann, 1961). Ralston, Russell F., Succession in Presidency and Authority (Independence, Herald, 1958). Yates, Thomas }., The Origin of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (no publication place, date or publisher). 

[5] Anderson, Mary A. S., editor, Joseph Smith III and the Restoration (Independence, Herald, 1952) pp. 237-271, 319-402, 408, 414-463, 538-557. The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, Herald, 1967) Vol. 3, Chapters 19, 29, 31; Vol. 4, Chapters 5, 10, 12, 29. Smith, Joseph Fielding, Origin of the “Reorganized” Church and the Question of Succession (Independence, Zion’s Printing, 1929) 3rd Ed. Smith, Joseph Fielding, The Reorganized Church vs. Salvation for the Dead (Independence, Zion’s Press, 1905). 

[6] Leone, Mark, “Why the Coalville Tabernacle Had to be Razed: Principles Governing Mormon Architecture,” Dialogue, VIII, 2, 1973, 30-39. This article penetrates well beyond architecture into the nature of the LDS program at the local level. 

[7] Some indication of this can be noted in the correspondence files of Venture Foundation that, for two years, published Courage. A number of these letters are written as comments on the “Liberal” tradition of the journal and of articles within. One occasion at least led to the resignation of a member of the Advisory Board. See, Venture Foundation (R 575.01) Restoration History Manuscript Collection, Frederick Madison Smith Library, Graceland College. 

[8] Cole, Clifford A., Exploring the Faith (A series of Studies in the Faith of the Church prepared by a committee on Basic Beliefs), (Independence, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1970). This is an official statement which is evidently intended as an update of the Epitomy of Faith, an earlier statement with a recognizable tie to the “Wentworth Letter.” Hence it is somewhat like the LDS Articles of Faith. 

[9] Richards, LeGrand, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1950) pp. 1-10. Talmage, James E., The Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1949) pp. 198-204. 

[10] “Which temple ye are,” Church News, February 19, 1977, p. 16. 

[11] Gaustad, Edwin Scott, Historical Atlas of Religion in America (New York, Harper & Row, 1962) pp. 169, 161, 86-87. See also Martin, J. Wistisen, “Projections of Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Brigham Young University Center for Business and Economic Research, 1976). 

[12] Constant, H. Jacquet, Jr., Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches 1975 (Nashville and New York, Abingdon Press, 1975) pp. 49, 83, 122, 129. LDS membership in U.S. and Canada is shown as 2,276,070 and RLDS as 168,313.

[13] McMurrin, Sterling, The Philosophical Foundations of Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 1962). McMurrin, Sterling, The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion (Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 1965). Poulsen, David L., “Comparative Coherency of Mormon ‘Finistic’ and Classical Theism,” unpublished doctoral dissertation (University of Michigan, 1975). Edwards, Paul, “The Metaphysical Foundations and Philosophical Assumptions of R.L.D.S. Theology,” The Restoration in the Midst of Revolution, UB, 1968. 

[14] Howard, Richard, Restoration Scriptures, A Study of Their Textual Development (Independence, Herald, 1969), is an example of a higher criticism view of LDS scripture. See also Edwards, F. Henry, Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants (Independence, Herald, 1948). 

[15] Doctrine and Covenants (LDS 93:29). Doctrine and Covenants (RLDS 90:5a). 

[16] Flanders, Robert, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1965) pp. 242-277. Blair, Alma “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: Modern Mormonism,” The Restoration Movement, ed. F. Mark McKiernan (Lawrence, Kansas, Coronado, 1973).

[17] Davis, Inez Smith, The Story of the Church (Independence, Herald, 1948) pp. 355-414.

[18] We are indebted to Alma Blair for this concept. People like Ebenezer Robinson and William Marks were oriented toward non-ritualistic theology and a salvation within the “revival complex.”

[19] Ahlstrom, Sidney, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1972) See chapters 33, 34, 39 for historical developments, particularly concerning emigrants.

[20] Klaus Hansen emphasizes the accomodation to America in his “Epilogue: The Metamorphosis of the Kingdom of God” pp. 180-190. Hansen, Klaus, Quest for Empire (East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, 1967).