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Splinter Group: Church of Christ (Hedrickites, Temple Lot)

By Eric Johnson

Church Name Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Most local congregations include “(Temple Lot)” after “Church of Christ” to distinguish it from other “Church of Christ” denominations.
Founder Granville Hedrick (1814-1881)—the church claims that Joseph Smith (1805-1844) is the church’s true founder, but Hedrick is the one who began this church in 1863.
Date of Founding July 1863
Membership 7,300
Main places of faith Located mainly in the United States, with 7 congregations in Missouri, 3 in Michigan, 2 in Minnesota, and 1 in Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Washington. Internationally, the church is represented in Mexico, Honduras, Philippines, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Scripture Bible (1611 King James Version), insofar as it is translated correctly, and the 1990 Independence edition Book of Mormon. The Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Inspired Version of the Bible are all rejected.
Headquarters Independence, MO
Top leaders 12 apostles share the leadership duties
Church periodical Zion’s Advocate (newsletter)
Requirements for salvation Faith in God/Jesus; repentance; baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Church’s Main Focus With true “priesthood authority and spiritual gifts given by Christ” to the members to spread the church’s Gospel, this church the building of a temple that will be built on its property in Independence, MO on the “Temple Lot.”
Website https://www.churchofchrist1830.org/

Founder/Beginning of the Church

This religion holds to a very similar story as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the church website, there was an apostasy, or a falling away, from historic Christianity because

over time ideas and doctrines were introduced into the Church by men instead of relying upon the established doctrine of Jesus Christ. . . . The apostasy was complete in 570 AD when the Lombard invaders destroyed the last vestige of the Roman Empire and allowed the rise of the power of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. The result was the removal by God of the authority of the priesthood and the world entered into a period that is called the “Dark Ages”, spiritually if not physically. Source

Thus, “a complete restoration of these things along with the authority of the priesthood” took place in 1829-1830 when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the priesthood and the Book of Mormon was translated. However, “the tempter used the same lies” in an attempt to “destroy the Church from without and within.” According to the church website, among the problems were the following:

Some members of the Church were confused because they knew the truth of the Gospel; but confused by the new doctrines introduced by ministers they trusted, that were not found in the Bible or Book of Mormon. These doctrines included the consolidation of power into the hands of one man as “Prophet”, the offices of a High Priest and a First Presidency, the practice of baptism for the dead, the belief in a changeable God, celestial marriage, plural marriage, and exaltation. The name of the Church had even been changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Joseph Smith’s church was forced to leave Missouri in the late 1830s and the followers ended up in Nauvoo, IL. After Smith was assassinated, “the Church was cast into disarray.” The church website reports:

When the Church was first organized in 1830, God had directed that there should be 12 Apostles called to have the oversight of the Church, just as in New Testament times. Instead, Joseph Smith had allowed himself to be set up as the head of the Church and as a result, when he was removed there were many who vied for the leadership of the Church. The Church was split into a large number of factions each with someone claiming to be the rightful successor. One group went west with Brigham Young. After their journey they were all re-baptized and their ministers were re-ordained as if into a different church. Others followed different leaders to Pennsylvania or to Michigan or to other places.

However, there were four congregations that “didn’t join any of the different factions but continued to function as local churches and humbly sought the truth and to know God’s will.” When these congregations heard in 1852 that Brigham Young had announced plural marriage in Utah as well as other “incorrect practices,” they made it clear that they wanted to not be tied to Young’s church and “vowed to continue in the original teachings of the Church of Christ.”

From 1857-59, the congregations participated in conferences to organize the church. The church was against polygamy, baptism for the dead, lineal priesthood, and celestial marriage, among “other false doctrines.” The Church of Christ (Temple Lot) was founded in July 1863 by Granville Hedrick. At first, Hedrick took the title “President, Prophet, Seer and Revelator”; however, he later distanced himself from this position. At first, he used the name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” for the organization, but this was later changed to “Church of Christ.” Still, the full name continued to be used until 1900. To distinguish it from other “Church of Christ” denominations, “(Temple Lot)” is often included following the name. Hedrick claimed that an angel appeared to him and so the church returned to Independence in 1867, where several members purchased the Temple Lot place. Leaders claim that it

has been the only church that has made a consistent effort to follow, point by point, the original organization and doctrine which was instituted by Jesus Christ in the ancient New Testament church and restored by God in 1830. The Church of Christ is organized with Jesus Christ as its head and twelve Apostles that have the oversight of the Church on the earth.

This is considered to be “the remnant of that original Church restored by the power, and according to the prophecy of God.” Members generally live in the United States, although there are groups located in other nations, including Africa (see photo to the right).

Doctrines

Joseph Smith, Jr. is considered to be the founder of the Church of Christ. However, he is called a “fallen prophet” who led his church into apostasy because he accepted doctrines that were not divine, including work for the dead, a changeable God, and masonry, elements of which were included in the LDS temple rituals. The church accepts the account given in Book of Mormon witness David Whitmer’s An Address to all Believers in Christ to show that Smith did fail as a prophet.

While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has “13” Articles of Faith, the Church of Christ has 25. There are some similarities, though there are more differences than not. Here are the 25 articles (my comments follow some of the points in italics):

1. We believe in God the Eternal Father, who only is Supreme; Creator of the universe; Ruler and Judge of all; unchangeable and without respect of persons.
(Isaiah 45:15-21; Malachi 3:6; Revelation 20:11-13; Moroni 8:19)

Unlike Mormonism, the Church of Christ’s version of God Father was not once a man who become God. This makes sense that the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) doesn’t believe in this doctrine since Smith did not teach that God was a man in earlier years and his later teachings are rejected.

2. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the manifestation of God in flesh, who lived, suffered, and died for all mankind; whom we own as our only Leader, Witness and Commander.
(John 5:19-24; Hebrews 1:1-14; Alma 9:54-55; 3 Nephi 4:44-49)

3. We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, which searcheth the deep things of God, brings to our minds things which are past, reveals things to come, and is the medium by which we receive the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(John 14:15-18, 26, 15:26, 16:13; Moroni 10:3-7)

4. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression, and that as a consequence of the atonement of Christ “all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all they that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, can not repent; and unto such, baptism availeth nothing.”
(Romans 2:6, 12, 13; Mosiah 1:107; Moroni 8:25-26)

 The 2nd Article of Faith in the LDS version has the first sentence (through “transgression”) but the Church of Chris adds more, as seen here.

5. We believe that through the atonement of Christ all men may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; viz. : Faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ; Repentance and Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; Laying on of Hands for: (a) Ordination; (b) Blessing of Children; (c) Confirmation and the Gift of the Holy Ghost; (d) Healing of the Sick.
(John 3:16-17; Helaman 5:69-72, 6:1-2; 2 Nephi 13:12-17; Moroni 8:29; (a) Acts 13:1-3; Moroni 3:1-3; (b) Mark 10:13-16; 3 Nephi 8:20-27; (c) Acts 8:14-17; Moroni 2:1-3; (d) Mark 16:17-18; James 5:14-16)

The LDS 4th Article of Faith has the same first sentence as this article written by the Church of Christ, with the exception that the LDS Church uses “mankind” for “men.” However, the Church of Christ adds everything after “viz.” Although its avenue for salvation is similar to what is required in Mormonism (including “faith, repentance, baptism, and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”),  few specifics are provided to help understand what it means for a person to have salvation. For instance, how much “obedience” is required? There are no details.

6. We believe in the literal second coming and millennial reign of Jesus Christ; in the resurrection of the Dead, and in Eternal Judgment; that men will be rewarded or punished according to the good or evil they may have done.
(Matthew 16:27; Revelation 20:1-6, 12-15; 22:12; 1 Nephi 7:55-62; 2 Nephi 12:87-99; Alma 19:66-69)

Of course, this will take place in Independence, MO where the Temple Lot is located.

7. We believe in the powers and gifts of the everlasting Gospel; viz. : The word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; the gift of faith; the gift of healing; working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; divers kinds of tongues; interpretation of tongues.
(Acts 2:4-11; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Moroni 10:8-14, 18)

Very similar (yet different) from the LDS 7th Article of Faith.

8. We believe the fruit of the spirit to be love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. (Galatians 5:22-23)

9. We believe that in the Bible is contained the word of God, that the Book of Mormon is an added witness for Christ, and that these contain the “fullness of the gospel.”
(Book of Commandments 44:13) (Ezekiel 37:15-20; 1 Nephi 3:157-166, 191-196;)

This is similar to the LDS 8th Article of Faith. The Church of Christ does not hold to the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price. It also rejects the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible known as the Inspired Version. It teaches that the 1833 Book of Commandments better preserves Smith’s early revelations, but even this is not considered scripture as it was not completed.

10. We believe in the principle of continuous revelation; that the canon of scripture is not full, that God inspires men in every age and among all people, and that He speaks when, where, and through whom He may choose.
(Amos 3:7; Acts 2:17-18; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Nephi 1:82-83)

Personal revelation can come to any member of the church, whether or not the person holds the priesthood. 

11. We believe that where there are six or more regularly baptized members, one of whom is an elder, there the Church exists with full power of church extension when acting in harmony with the law of God.
(Acts 14:23; Outline Hist p. 35; Referendum Bill #1, 1960)

A unique point. This is similar to the Jewish minyan that required at least 10 people over the age of 13 are required for public worship. For the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), six are required.

12. We believe that a man must be called of God by revelation, and ordained by those having authority, to enable him to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.
(Luke 6:12-16; John 3:27; Acts 13:1-4; Romans 10:15; Hebrews 5:4)

Similar to the LDS Church’s 5th Article of Faith, except the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) uses “prophecy” rather than “revelation” and includes “laying on of hands” to “those having authority.”

13. We believe in the same church organization as existed in the time of Christ and His Apostles. The highest office in the church is that of an apostle, of whom there are twelve, who constitute special witnesses for Jesus Christ. They have the missionary supervision and the general watchcare of all of the churches.
(1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Nephi 3:115)

Similar to the 6th LDS Article of Faith, except the Church of Christ specifically leaves “prophet” out since the highest position is apostle. 

14. The primary function of the general church, of which each local church is a component part, is missionary and the building up and extension of the Kingdom of God in all the world.
(Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15-18)

15. We believe that local churches should govern their own affairs, and that general church officials should not dominate or interfere therewith. On invitation such general officers may, with propriety, give counsel and assistance. Local congregations are subject to the Articles of Faith and Practice and must be governed thereby.
(Referendum Bill #2, 1935, par 3-8)

This is a unique teaching of the Church of Christ.

16. We believe the Church of Christ comprehends the true brotherhood of man where each esteems his brother as himself and wherein the divine command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is demonstrated by the prevalence of social equality.
(Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:14; 1 John 4:7-21; Mosiah 1:48-49; 3 Nephi 12:11)

Another unique teaching.

17. We believe that all men are stewards of their worldly possessions and goods and answerable to God both for how they are used and the manner in which they are secured. We believe that all men are also stewards of their time and talents and are accountable to God for how they are used. We are to pay tithes and offerings to the Church as required by God with the promise of His blessings. We define tithes as 1/10th of our increase. Offerings are donations above and beyond tithes. These tithes and offerings are to be used for the building up of the Kingdom of God in all nations, bringing all people to Jesus Christ through Baptism.
(Mark 12:41-44; Malachi 3:8-12; Genesis 28:20-22; Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:4-6; Acts 10:1-4; 3 Nephi 11:11-15; Mosiah 2:37, 42-44; Matthew 28:18-20; Jacob 2:22-24; Alma 10:8; Deuteronomy 14:22)

18. We believe that men should labor for their own support and that of their dependents. Ministers of the gospel are not absolved from this responsibility, but when chosen or appointed by the church to devote their entire time to missionary work, their families are to be provided for out of the general church funds. The admonition of Christ that the ministry should not provide purse or scrip for their journey, but go trusting in God and the people is applicable.
(Matthew 10:9-10; Luke 22:35-36; 1 Corinthians 9:16-18; 1 Pet 5:2-3; Mosiah 9:59-62) 

There are no salaries for Church of Christ (Temple Lot) ministers, just as there is no salary for the LDS bishop.

19. We believe that the temporal affairs of the general church are to be administered by the general bishopric under the direction of the general conferences of the church and under the supervision of the Council of Twelve. The temporal affairs of the local churches shall be administered by local bishops under the supervision and direction of the local congregations.
(Acts 6:2-6; Referendum Bill #3, 1931)

20. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as established by the Lord in the beginning as being a union between one man and one woman. Any other type of relationship such as homosexuality, polygamy, multiplicity of marriages, common-law marriage and cohabiting are not sanctioned by God and are disharmonious with the plan for His creation. In case of a breach of this covenant by adultery (fornication), the innocent one may remarry.
(Mark 10:6-9; Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11; 3 Nephi 5:80)

Just like the LDS Church, no sexual immorality or homosexual practices are allowed.

21. We are opposed to war. Men are not justified in taking up arms against their fellows except as a last resort in defense of their lives and to preserve their liberty.
(Alma 20:47-52)

Those who belong to the Church of Christ are pacifists, which is not a position taken by the LDS Church.

22. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the ten lost tribes.
(Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 16:14-16, 31:10-12; Ezekiel 36:21-28; 3 Nephi 10:1-7)

The same as the LDS 10th Article of Faith. The second part of that particular article is reinterpreted in the next article by the Church of Christ.

23. We believe a temple will be built in this generation, in Independence, Missouri, wherein Christ will reveal himself and endow his servants whom he chooses with power to preach the gospel in all the world to every kindred, tongue and people, that the promises of God to Israel may be fulfilled.
(Micah 4:1-2; Malachi 3:1-4; 3 Nephi 10:4; Ether 6:8) 

Probably the one unique teaching of the church for which it is best known is that the temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Lot. This is a 2-acre lot that is undisputedly the exact lot that Joseph Smith dedicated in 1831. It was purchased by the Church of Christ in 1867. In 1891, the church was sued by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS) for title to the lot. It claimed that Smith’s son, Joseph Smith III—the leader of the RLDS church—was the rightful heir to the property. Although the RLDS church won its case in court, this was reversed on appeal. Finally, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the Church of Christ. Although the RLDS and the Church of Christ have attempted several times to merge, the physical property itself has probably caused the two groups more disagreement and thus the two churches were not able to come together. Later, the RLDS decided to build its own temple across the street in 1994.

In 1929, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a temple that was led by Otto Fetting, but when Fetting—who claimed he was receiving “messages” from the John the Baptist—revealed what he said was the 12th Message that criticized the church’s leaders, he was kicked out of the church and the temple building stopped. (See more on the Church of Christ with the Elijah Message by clicking here.)  The lot was later filled in by 1946.

24. We believe that a New Jerusalem shall be built upon this land “unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph. . . ” “. . . which city shall be built, beginning at the Temple Lot.”
(3 Nephi 9:57-59, 10:1-4; Ether 6:6-8)

What will take place in the temple once it is built? According to the church, it will be a place where Jesus can empower members to preach the Gospel. However, ordinances like those practiced in LDS temples are not part of the church’s plans.

25. We believe that ministry and membership should abstain from the use of tobacco, intoxicating liquors and narcotics, and should not affiliate with any society which administers oaths or covenants in conflict with the law of God, or which interferes with their duties as free men and citizens.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ether 3:86-98)

The Church of Christ does not believe in the Doctrine and Covenants, yet two major tenets of the Word of Wisdom are included here.

Conclusion

The Church of Christ (Temple Lot) focuses much attention on the Second Coming of Jesus and the building of a temple on its lot. By emphasizing teachings that are not most important to the biblical Gospel, they miss the heart of what Jesus intended for people, which is to have a personal relationship with Him. A person may be very moral in a number of ways, but unless there is an understanding of what is required for the forgiveness of sins, true peace will never be understood. This is not a major splinter group, and with only about 7,000 members throughout the world, it is not poised to make a significant push for growth in the upcoming years.


To see articles on other splinter groups of Mormonism, click here.

 

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