A 'Goodly Heritage' in a Time of Transformation : History and Identity in the Community of Christ
Journal of Mormon History
Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon History Association
McMurray discusses the plight of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Community of Christ) in that they are always identified with the Utah-based Church or overlooked altogether, causing somewhat of an 'identity crisis' among members. He states his personal beliefs that Joseph Smith was a prophet, brilliant and visionary, a religious genius, but at the same time, deeply flawed and as the inheritor of that same office, wonders what history reveals about the prophetic role and how he can understand it now by studying Joseph over 150 years ago. He discusses what it means to support a 'prophetic leadership' and details decisions made simultaneously by President W. Wallace Smith to allow the ordination of women and to build the Independence Temple, announcements that both divided and united the RLDS congregation. Other policies and doctrines, such as polygamy, ordination of women, and the lineal succession of the prophet, were formulated as they expanded worldwide. McMurray explains how these changes affected the unity and development of his church. He discovered that though his and the Utah-based Church shared a common past, the two churches used them differently. He explains that his church's new view of its past liberated members from some of the strictures of the old gospel, helping the Church to become a global community centered on Christ and that new revelations may replace the stifling biblical fundamentalism. McMurray insists that if we can resist the temptation toward stifling literalism, the notion that God continues to be known in new ways is a stunningly powerful principle of hope.