||Reform Mormonism View
|The LDS tend to take a literal approach to
scripture, religious history, sociology,
and theological concepts. Examples:
Smith possessed gold plates, the Garden
Eden actually existed, the earth is
years old, etc.
||Reform Mormons do not take a literal approach
to scripture, myth, or theological
Our belief is that literalism tends
continued exploration more difficult,
slowing progression. We examine scripture,
myth and theological concepts for knowledge
that can enhance our progression through
life, and understanding of our lives.
|The LDS take the orthodox christian approach
to authority; that it is necessary, instituted
and sanctioned. Authority is transferred
by ordination and specific actions sanctioned
by the granting of "keys" from
||Reform Mormons take a more Gnostic approach to authority; that authority
already rests within the individual, and that authority as it is instituted
in the hierarchies of religious organizations is for the purposes of the
organization, not the purposes of God. In Reform Mormonism, ordination
is used as a ritual to aide in mutual understanding of a role. No one "gives"
you authority from God - you already have it. Reform Mormons tend to be
skeptical of people who claim they have more authority than another.
|The LDS view obedience as the "first law of the gospel." Eternal
and temporal rewards are granted by God based upon obedience to specific
laws upon which the rewards are predicated. Great emphasis is placed on
obeying the laws that church leaders have given.
||Reform Mormonism does not accept the concept that God has instituted or
administers a law/reward system, and views the existing systems as man-made
attempts to guide people into better ways of living (although, in many
cases, the arbitrary nature of the selected laws can create living conditions
much worse than intended or would have naturally resulted.) In most cases
where laws, rules, sin, and absolution are involved in religious teachings,
we often find that the purpose is to create followers and maintain a power
|Morality and Accountability
|The LDS view "morality" as a sexual
code, and have specific laws to which
is required; failure to comply with
results in separation from God and
||Reform Mormons believe in living moral and accountable lives, but do not
subscribe to the idea of "morality" as merely a sexual code.
To Reform Mormons, moral behavior is when an individual acts in harmony
with their moral construct; the building of one's moral construct is one
of the purposes of life, and is different for each individual, based upon
their progression. Reform Mormons also believe in living accountably; that
is, we accept the consequences of our actions. We don't believe in offloading
the consequences of our behaviours on other people.
|The LDS recognize two types of revelation. First is a personal revelation,
given from God, through the Holy Ghost, directly to an individual. This
revelation is specifically limited to the individual's areas of responsibility
as defined within the hierarchies of the Church organization. Second is
revelation from God to the President of the Church, for the purposes of
leading the organization. The second type of revelation occurred during
the days of Joseph Smith as God supposedly appearing to Smith in person.
Current LDS leaders report that modern revelation is a "warm feeling."
||Reform Mormons believe in revelation as the opportunity to commune with
God, and for most Reform Mormons, this is an internal endeavor. It can
occur in a variety of ways. It is highly personal, and is initiated, understood,
and improved throughout one's life by the knowledge one acquires by making
decisions and dealing with the consequences. Revelation is not limited
or restricted based on a hierarchy or concepts such as "worthiness."
The goal of this communion is increased wisdom.
|History and Tradition
|The LDS have a rich, modern history, and have co-opted many ancient religious
traditions. Their traditions include many social routines, myths, and rituals.
The LDS view some rituals as obedience issues (required actions necessary
for "exaltation".) Leadership of the LDS church discourages aggressive
historical or intellectual inquiry, viewing it as "non-faith affirming."
||Reform Mormons share the modern history of Mormonism. Though not as socially
structured as the LDS church, we have our own routines and myths. Our rituals
are designed for personal edification and progression, built upon Mormon
tradition, and are not compulsory or viewed as required insofar as God
or our progression are concerned. We view all historical and intellectual
inquiry as desirable and welcome. We believe faith is enhanced by a full
exploration of truths from all sources. We believe that all facts and theories
are valuable, and deserving of examination.
|Salvation and Exaltation
|The LDS believe that God has instituted a grand design which they refer to as the "Plan of Salvation." The plan is complex and the details of the plan are explored elsewhere on other sites (here is a good example.) The Plan includes the concept of eternal progression,
which is the idea that there is a part of human beings that has always
existed and will continue to exist forever (beyond time.) Most LDS adherence
to laws is based upon the concept that while "salvation" (existence
beyond this life) is granted to everyone, "exaltation" (the opportunity
to become as God is now) is granted only to those who have obeyed a variety
of laws. Ultimately, there are six different places one could wind up in
||Reform Mormons believe in the concepts of eternity (beyond time) and eternal
progression (we have always existed, and we will always exist.) We believe
that there are several purposes for existence on this earth, and that one
of the primary purposes is to gain knowledge; we value the idea of knowledge
acquisition because we believe it enhances our current experience and our
attempts to progress, and that the process of learning is training ground
for further progression after this life. We believe that many people squander
their opportunity to gather knowledge in this life, to their detriment.
We believe that progression is an unstoppable force, but that many things
in life can slow it down, so we try to avoid those things. We don't believe
in convoluted progression systems with multiple heavens, viewing the various
ones that exist as people's attempts to reconcile a variety of scripture
taken too literally.
|The LDS are well known for fostering an environment where traditional families
are prioritized and valued. LDS ritual involves ceremonies designed to
consecrate familiar relationships. Families are defined as a father, mother,
and children - all three elements essential. Families outside of this definition
are not as highly valued. Some social movements (feminism, homosexuality)
are considered to be family-destructive, and the Church views political
action to stop the progress of these movements to be acceptable, and engages
in it routinely, using the contributions of its members in political efforts,
and encouraging its members to be politically active against these movements.
||Reform Mormons consider the family to be the basic building-block of society.
We view non-traditional families with the same importance as traditional
ones, and within our rituals consecrate a wide variety of familiar structures.
We do not view feminism and homosexuality as anathema to families; indeed,
most families already contain these elements, and failure to recognize
this creates hatred and animosity where none need exist. We view political
activity by religious institutions valid insofar as their attempts to remain
viable and legitimate within society are concerned; we do not condone or
support Church-based political activity designed to influence laws outside
of this concern. We view most political activity of the LDS church designed
to influence discrimination against women and homosexuals as extremely
misguided and damaging to families and society.
|The LDS consider their Church to be the "one
true church," and that all other churches
may have elements of truth within them, but
do not posses the complete truth which the
LDS alone posses. For this reason, the LDS
are engaged in aggressive missionary work,
to attract and convert as many people as
possible. Their Plan of Salvation calls for
the ultimate presentation of the Church's
doctrines to everyone, regardless of when
they lived; also for this reason, they conduct
proxy ordinances in their temples for deceased
||Reform Mormons consider truth to be an assessment of things as they are
at a given moment in time. Truth is individually understood, not provided
from a Church, and as such, declaration of another individual's religious
pursuits as invalid, incomplete, or untrue, is ridiculous. Diversity within
religious pursuit offers a variety of individual progression opportunities
(new knowledge) that exist only due to that diversity; conversion of all
individuals to a singular religious view and approach would suggest the
ultimate destruction or elimination of other views, and as such, acts as
a barrier to knowledge acquisition. We value all of the religions of the
world, including the LDS, and seek to explore and learn from the mysteries
and knowledge they each contain, but we do not view any one church as completely
true or more true than another. We do not seek the conversion of everyone
to our point of view. Therefore, we do not conduct proxy ordinances for
the deceased (although we do repeat ritual in the interest of the personal
edification of the living.) We tend to be skeptical of anyone or anything
that claims to have a greater understanding of the truth than anyone else.
|Church Structure and Purpose
|The LDS do not view their theology or philosophy and their church administration
with any distinction; both are viewed as inseparably connected, just as
the Catholic Church. The LDS Church is hyper-organized and "correlated,"
with little toleration for doctrinal variances. Speaking publicly of theology
not sanctioned by Church administration can result in disciplinary action;
the Church performs disfellowshipment and excommunication proceedings (whereby
"all blessings of the Gospel are lost") on a routine basis. Such
action is usually perceived by the disciplined member as being cut-off
from not only the Church, but their tradition, history, potential exaltation,
and connection to God.
||Reform Mormonism views the Church as an entity distinct from one's philosophy
and theology. While the LDS organization is very "top-down,"
similar to a business organizational chart, the Reform Mormon approach
is "bottom-up," with no controlling hierarchy. We believe any
church organization should be organized for the specific purpose of supporting
the individual in their quest for progression enhancement; as such, Reform
Mormonism does not posses the ability (or desire) to conduct disciplinary
actions. One leaves Reform Mormonism when one chooses to leave it; it is
not up to the Church to make this decision. One's connection to God is
influenced by each individual's progression; separation from God is illusory;
control of one's destiny is not in the hands of an organization, and we
encourage everyone to resist mentally handing it over to an organization
of any kind.
|The act of converting to the LDS church involves religious instruction
(known as "the discussions," usually presented by LDS missionaries)
followed by worthiness interviews with ecclesiastical leaders. The interview
ascertains if the individual has cleansed themselves of moral sins, and
determines if the individual has developed a "testimony" of Joseph
Smith and the truthfulness of the LDS church adequate to warrant initiation.
If the result is positive, the individual is administered the ritual of
baptism by immersion, regardless if a baptism in another religion has already
been performed. An initiate is then "confirmed" a member of the
||A Reform Mormon becomes a Reform Mormon by electing to be one, and declaring
the affiliation. There are no formal instructions, interviews, or rituals
for a person to become a Reform Mormon. If you've decided you're a "Reform
Mormon," then you are one.