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Most Mormons seem to be under the impression that the Community of Christ agreed to denounce the Book of Mormon as scripture in order to be accepted into the World Council of Churches. It's obvious that this isn't true, because the CofChrist names the Book of Mormon as accepted scripture in their Basic Beliefs.

Did the Community of Christ denounce the Book of Mormon? If not, then why are the LDS under the impression that they did?

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In order to understand the current position of the Community of Christ on the Book of Mormon, it's important to look at the role The Book of Mormon holds in the shared history of the Community of Christ and the LDS Church.

The Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints separated after the death of Joseph Smith. Both churches recognize him as the first latter-day prophet and church president until his death. One of the most important things Joseph Smith did in his lifetime was bringing forth the Book of Mormon as another witness of Jesus Christ. He considered it to be the word of God. In fact, according to Joseph Smith:

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.)

Joseph Smith considered the Book of Mormon to be:

  • The most correct of any book on earth (including the Bible, which is correct only “as far as it is translated correctly,” see Articles of Faith 1:8).
  • The keystone of our religion: It holds us together, and without it we would crumble.
  • The most effective book for teaching the precepts that will get us nearer to God: It contains the profound gospel of Jesus Christ, taught plainly.

Joseph Smith also said:

“Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations and where is our religion? We have none” (History of the Church, 2:52).

“The Book of Mormon is true, just what it purports to be, and for this testimony I expect to give an account in the day of judgment” (Quoted by David Osborn, in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Mar. 15, 1892, p. 173).

According to Parley P. Pratt, an early apostle:

“While visiting with brother Joseph in Philadelphia [December 1839], a very large church was opened for him to preach in, and about three thousand people assembled to hear him. Brother Rigdon spoke first, and dwelt on the Gospel, illustrating his doctrine by the Bible. When he was through, brother Joseph arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost, spoke in great power, bearing testimony of the visions he had seen, the ministering of angels which he had enjoyed; and how he had found the plates of the Book of Mormon, and translated them by the gift and power of God. He commenced by saying: ‘If nobody else had the courage to testify of so glorious a message from Heaven, and of the finding of so glorious a record, he felt to do it in justice to the people, and leave the event with God.’” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 259–261).

Joseph Smith's position on the Book of Mormon was very definitive and bold. However, if you compare those quotes to recent quotes like these from the Community of Christ:

“While the Church affirms the Book of Mormon as scripture, and makes it available for study and use in various languages, we do not attempt to mandate the degree of belief or use” (Spencer M. Veazey, 2007, dismissing a proposal that the Book of Mormon's divinity should be reaffirmed. Andrew M. Shields, “Official Minutes of Business Session, Wednesday March 28, 2007,” in 2007 World Conference Thursday Bulletin, March 29, 2007. Community of Christ, 2007.).

“The proper use of the Book of Mormon as sacred scripture has been under wide discussion in the 1970s and beyond, in part because of long-standing questions about its historicity and in part because of perceived theological inadequacies, including matters of race and ethnicity” (W. Grant McMurray, 2001, “They Shall Blossom as the Rose: Native Americans and the Dream of Zion”).

“With other Christians, we affirm the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants as scripture. We do not use these sacred writings to replace the witness of the Bible or improve upon it, but because they confirm its message that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God” (Community of Christ web site).

It becomes clear that the Community of Christ no longer defends the Book of Mormon as a necessary keystone of their religion, especially in contrast to the position of the LDS Church which shares its roots (see, for example, this recent affirmation by a current LDS apostle).

Therefore, from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while it is true that the Community of Christ has not rejected the Book of Mormon wholesale, the Community of Christ has rejected the Book of Mormon by not standing up for its necessity, power, and divinity.

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The Community of Christ has not denounced the Book of Mormon. According to Wikipedia the Community of Christ views the Book of Mormon as an additional witness of Jesus Christ and publishes two versions of the book through its official publishing arm, Herald House, all of which is inconsistent with a view that the Community might have denounced the book in order to win favour with the World Council of Churches.

However, the Community of Christ is uncertain about the proper use of the Book of Mormon and even its historicity. In 2001, President W. Grant McMurray reflected on increasing questions about the Book of Mormon, while stating that in speaking on behalf of the community he did not speak for each person within our community:

"The proper use of the Book of Mormon as sacred scripture has been under wide discussion in the 1970s and beyond, in part because of long-standing questions about its historicity and in part because of perceived theological inadequacies, including matters of race and ethnicity."

At the 2007 Community of Christ World Conference, President Stephen M. Veazey ruled as out of order a resolution to "reaffirm the Book of Mormon as a divinely inspired record". In so doing he stated:

"While the Church affirms the Book of Mormon as scripture, and makes it available for study and use in various languages, we do not attempt to mandate the degree of belief or use."

So, the Book of Mormon remains part of Community of Christ scripture, although it is said to be a longstanding tradition that belief in the Book of Mormon is not to be used as a test of fellowship or membership in the church. Belief by some members of the mainstream Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) that the Community of Christ has officially denounced the Book of Mormon probably results from a misunderstanding, not only of the comments by McMurray and Veazey, but because many members of the CoC are said to believe the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith himself, and not translated from the writings of ancient Americans.

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Individually, members within the "Community of Christ" have a variety of views, relating to the Book of Mormon. Some maintain that Joseph Smith was indeed a Prophet who came to restore "Truth" which, like the LDS, they claim was lost after a great apostasy within early Christianity. This is especially true among many of the older generations residing in the church. This is also a historical position taken by the Reorganized Latter-Day Saints, now, the Community of Christ. As some members of the Community of Christ have said in recent years, it is an "evolving faith."

This is not unique, considering that there were already key differences between the LDS and RLDS. The CoC does not recognize the Book of Abraham as canon scripture. They do not accept verses in the Doctrine and Covenants which promote polygamy. and generally, they believe in a single God, rather than exaltation to "Godhood" where one can rule over future beings. Officially, they acknowledge the Trinity concerning the nature of God.

In consideration of their historic roots with the Mormon movement, however, many maintain a reverence for Joseph Smith, (though others disagree) and see the Book of Mormon and their canon Doctrine & Covenants as an additional witness which can strengthen one's faith. They also have in their possession the entirety of the "Inspired Version" Joseph Smith Bible, which they also use as a resource. None o f this is imposed, however, as they emphasize the "Community of Christ," rather than specify themselves as a Mormon denomination in the 21st Century.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks for providing a solid answer to this question. If there are any official church webpages you could link to that would provide some further documentation for your answer, that would make it even better. See: What makes a good supported answer? – Lee Woofenden Sep 23 '16 at 4:38
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The LDS church fabricated that the RLDS church , because of financial strain, withdrew the Book of Mormon as their doctrinal book to receive finances for their acknowledgement that 'main stream Christianity, is good and their denouncing the Book of Mormon.

I am recently an exmormon and see that the leaders fear people 'falling'away and for what I believe financial means. The mormon church tells people this to keep them from praying to know which church is true. When I was baptized I was told "If the Book of Mormon is true then the LDS church is true"

8 years later I was asked by God to pray about it and search it out, which of the flds rlds and lds churches was true. Undoubtedly I know know. Ask for yourself.

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    "The mormon church tells people this to keep them from praying to know which church is true. " This is patently false, the first lesson the church teaches investigators is to pray to know the truth of all things; pray always; learn truth through the Holy Ghost. Before you were baptized you would have been asked to read and pray about the Book of Mormon as directed in Moroni 10:3-5: "...I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;" – ShemSeger Mar 11 '16 at 21:11
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    Welcome! We're glad you are here, but this answer would be much stronger if you showed, with sources, that it doesn't merely reflect your opinion. I hope you'll take a minute to review how this site is different from others, and better understand how your answer can be supported. – Nathaniel Mar 11 '16 at 21:18

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