***DISCLAIMER***The following is far from an exhaustive post. Instead, it makes a best effort to try and answer the question.
Recently, someone asked me about The Church Of Jesus Christ of Rigdonite. What follows is a brief explanation of that church, including its main leader, Sidney Rigdon. Because this is about an organization, I have placed this post under the “profile” umbrella. While it is not as exhaustive as the typical profile post, it makes an effort to give sufficient information on the subject at hand.
Commonly, those who subscribed to the “Church of Jesus Christ of Rigdonite” were known as Rigdonites (or sometimes “Pennsylvania Latter Day Saints” or “Pennsylvania Mormons”). These are “members of the Latter-Day Saint movement who accept Sidney Rigdon as the successor in the church presidency to the LDS founder, Joseph Smith.” Rigdon, born in 1793 (died in 1876), got baptized in the Mormon Church in November 1830. He was set apart as a counselor to Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) in the First Presidency in March 1833. Shortly after Smith’s death on June 27, 1844, Rigdon was excommunicated in September 1844 after he undertook to establish a rival leadership (said leadership being a Church of Christ that eventually became the Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion in 1863, continuing into the 1880’s).
Doctrinally, Rigdon was off mission. For example, on the 4th of July, 1838, in Far West, Missouri, Rigdon gave a sermon contrary to biblical Christianity. One of his quotes is as follows:
We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. –Remember it then all MEN
One cannot find this type of rhetoric to be consistent with biblical Christianity. First, it warns others not to come on “us.” While it is unknown who this “us” refers to, Rigdon states those who come on them do so “at the expense of their lives.” He proceeds to threaten bloodshed as he specifically goes into more detail in this quote. This is hardly friendly. Biblical Christianity does not endorse violence. In fact, Jesus Christ said Himself that whosoever is angry with his/her brother has already committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-22). Furthermore, Proverbs has much to say about how undesirable violence is (1:10-16; 3:31; 16:29). While more context can help one better understand Rigdon’s quote, it is obvious he is not promoting peace with his type of rhetoric.
Another quote from the same message requires analysis:
The object of our religion, is to make us more intelligent, than we could be without it, not so much, to make us acquainted with what we do see, as with what we do not see. It is designed to evolve the faculties, to enlighten the understanding, and through this medium, purify the heart. It is calculated to make men better, by making them wiser; more useful, by making them more intelligent; not intelligent on some subjects only, but on all subjects, on which intelligence can be obtained: and when science fails, revelation supplies its place, and unfolds the secrets and mysteries of the unseen world, leads the mind into the knowledge of the future existence of men, makes it acquainted with angels, principalities, and powers, in the eternal world; carries it into heaven and heavenly places, makes it acquainted with God, its Redeemer, and its associates in the eternal mansions; so that when science fails, and philosophy vanishes away, revelation, more extensive in its operations begins where they [science and philosophy] ends, and feasts the mind with intelligence, pure and holy, from the presence of God.
The above quote is simply a plethora of vaguery. According to Jacob Van Vleet, the logical fallacy known as “Pseudo-Profundity” is “found when a statement appears to be insightful and profound, but in reality it is unclear and incoherent.” The above quote is full of them. After all, what does it mean to evolve the faculties, enlighten the understanding, and lead the mind into the knowledge of the future existence of men, anyway? While Rigdon’s statements sound profound, they are so vague that they are basically meaningless. To be blunt, they are as meaningful as the Mormons’ plan of salvation (which is no plan at all, given its various heresies, thus making said plan meaningless).
Present-day, the church of Jesus Christ of Rigdonite in itself is basically non-existent. However, that church’s hub of origin (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormonism) is still very much existent to this day. That church continues to lead many astray with its false gospel of works and faith. One would do well to pray for those who have been taken captive by the false gospel of Mormonism, no matter its sect. May we continue to follow 1 Peter 3:15 in always being prepared to give a reason for the hope we have, yet with gentleness and respect.