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Steve Shields own Divergent Path (Part 2)

Steve Shields describes his conversion from the LDS Church to RLDS Church, and we discuss RLDS Church hierarchy.

Steve Shields was raised in the LDS Church and attended BYU.  So why is he now a member of the Community of Christ?

Steve:  I was really interested in church history and I started reading these books and pamphlets that were not approved by the general authorities and my mother warned me that if I kept reading that kind of stuff, I would lose my testimony and leave the church. She wasn’t happy that she was right. I don’t see it as losing my testimony. Did I leave one organization for another? Yes, but I think my faith in Christ is stronger than it has ever been. I’m not saying that I didn’t have faith before. By going this different route, I began to focus more on what I think matters most.

Steve:  And history then, didn’t become the main focus of my faith, but became a main interest. That sort of–Oh, do I dare use the word tangent? Tangential to my faith.

GT:  We like that word.

Steve:  Yeah. It was a big deal to make that move. By the time I had been on my mission and, and done that, I had some pretty out of the box ideas about God.

Steve discusses his reasons for changing his religion, and we discuss the RLDS/Community of Christ hierarchy.  What are the similarities and differences with the LDS Church?

GT:  I know John Hamer was recently called to be a Seventy.

Steve: He’s a Seventy, right.

GT: He would be more like an Area Authority?

Steve:  He’s like an area authority. Yeah, that would be. Yeah. Our Seventies are more like Area Authorities. Now, there may be some official expenses that they’re provided for travel and things like that. And I don’t know. Every jurisdiction, every mission center of the church and mission centers for us are like areas for the LDS organization.

GT:  I’ve heard that they’ve been compared to a stake.

Steve:  Well, but stakes are different from LDS, have always been different from LDS stakes. It’s not been uncommon for us to have 30 or 40 congregations in a stake.

Steve:  And the stake presidents were full-time world church appointees. So, stake looks and feels like it might be the same in both, but it really wasn’t because of the size. So, I really think the mission centers replaced stakes, as we tried to reduce the number of levels, so we used to have the general officers and then the fields. Each apostle had a certain geographical area. Then we had stakes and regions and districts. And so, we tried to compress all of those stakes and regions and districts are now all mission centers and we reconfigured that.

Check out our conversation…

You may also want to check out our previous conversations with John Hamer and Community of Christ apostle Lach MacKay!

120:  Start of RLDS Church & Mormon Schisms Tour (MacKay & Hamer)

119:  Surprising Word of Wisdom Insights from an Apostle (MacKay & Hamer)

118:  Mormon Followers of the Prophet James Strang (MacKay & Hamer)

117: Alice Cooper’s Roots in Lively Mormon Schisms (MacKay & Hamer)

116: Different Succession Claims:  Other Mormon Groups (MacKay & Hamer)

115:  Strange Kirtland Temple Ownership Problems (MacKay & Hamer)

114:  Comparing LDS & RLDS Temple Worship (MacKay & Hamer)

113: A Seventy & Apostle discuss myths & Kirtland Temple (MacKay & Hamer)

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My Cousin Vinny – Alice Cooper’s Mormon Roots (Part 10)

Alice Cooper was raised in the Bickertonite Church, and his grandfather was the president!  Alice Cooper’s song, “No More Mr. Nice Guy might have a reference to his Bickertonite upbringing!  What else can Daniel tell us about Alice Cooper?  Did Mr. Smithie really punch him in the nose?

Daniel:  We go to a friend, a family friend, between the both of us and we have dinner together and we’re talking and my wife just out of the blue says, “Okay, let me ask you this, are you that Mr. Smithy in the Alice Cooper song that punches him in the nose?”

And then Ike Smith’s wife just burst out laughing and says either her or Bonnie, she says “That’s where it comes from!” See, they didn’t, as far as we know, they didn’t know. Apparently people had been telling them that reference and they didn’t really fully realize where it was coming from. So my wife is, I guess maybe it was the first bold one to flat out say, Hey, are you the guy that punched him in the nose? So go Laura! That was awesome of her. And he said, he goes, “Oh.” He goes, “Oh my goodness. Oh Vinny.” And he basically, or something like that, just very friendly and laughing. And he says, “Just for the record, I did not punch Vinny in the nose.”

So yeah. And I guess we have a friend that’s a part of the Latter-day Saint movement. I had met him one time at a John Whitmer Historical conference. I forget his name. Really Nice Guy. Anyways, he knows Ike Smith as well. And his wife Bonnie. Anyways, he went to an Alice Cooper–I don’t know if it was a meet and greet or a concert or something like that and they took a picture with Alice Cooper and he told him saying, “Hey, I know Ike Smith.”

And Alice said to him, “Tell Ike, Vinny said hi.” So, there’s a history between them and it’s very possible. It’s very possible that sarcastically, you’d have to ask Vincent Furnier himself.

Here’s the video of the song if you’re interested!

We’ll also talk about Bickertonite leadership.  Did they follow Brigham Young’s pattern where the senior apostle becomes leader?  Is an apostle greater than a prophet?

Daniel:  Bickerton is a prophet who are ordains apostles. So it shows, at least through history, and if you would to tie that in scripturally, Bickerton kind of acts in a way. I don’t want to say he was Jesus, but he started a movement and restored the movement. Obviously if you’re a Bickertonite, you have to believe that he had the power to do that and to ordain apostles. So, it’s little interesting mental gymnastics that we play.

GT: I just wonder if that’s because the Cadman narrative is what won out, right?

Daniel: Yeah, exactly.

GT: So he would probably try to push prophets below apostles because he was an apostle and he wanted to be at the top of the church.

Daniel: Oh for sure.

GT: And so it sounded like…

Daniel: And he could even been considered a prophet necessarily, but he still was an apostle and the president first. Yeah.

GT: So, the president of the quorum of the Twelve–so you guys will follow the Brigham Young Movement in that the president of the Quorum of Twelve becomes the president of the church.

Daniel: Exactly, Yep.

Check out our conversation!  Here are our other conversations with Daniel!


Alice Cooper's grandfather was President of the Bickertonite Church!
Alice Cooper’s grandfather was President of the Bickertonite Church!

204: Writing History Without Getting in Trouble (Stone)

203: Reuniting the Bickerton Break (Stone)

202: Ousting a Prophet (Stone)

201: False Prophecies Are Possible! (Stone)

200: Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Stone)

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)

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Writing History Without Getting in Trouble (Part 9)

Dr. Daniel Stone is the first person to write about William Bickerton, the first prophet of the Bickertonite Church.  Some LDS Scholars got in trouble for writing true, but unflattering history.  I’ll ask Dr. Daniel Stone how he navigated those tricky waters in his church.

Daniel:  I wrote a proposal to the church and to the church historian and to the Twelve asking that I can write an objective history and I specifically said that. I was approved to do that under the umbrella of the church because I don’t think most of the people in the church actually knew….

I was able to get access to all these documents, which I think as far as I know no one has ever done before. So, it was really fun. I wrote the first five chapters of the book. I gave it to the church historian and the Twelve. They never gave me a clear answer as to yes or no. I will say I can kind of understand because as apostles or as leaders of the church, you as leadership of the church, none of them are historians, right? I am. The object of all has apostles in any one person of the Mormon movement is to promote faith, right? And history can sometimes be like that, so there might be some things. The big issue is the Cadman-Bickerton feud. They flat out said, I actually heard from a couple of them saying that’s the big issue that they were afraid of is the Cadman-Bickerton feud.

But what ended up happening was, is I just asked the general historian, I said, “Can I go independent with this?” He said yes.

GT: Because originally you were going to have it published by the church.

Daniel: Potentially. Yes. That was, that was what I had understood the agreement to be. And what ended up happening was there was some kind of miscommunication. I had a talk with some of the apostles and we basically came to the idea of this is a miscommunication. We never had you sign anything. So it’s not like we can say don’t publish it. And the Bickertonites to their credit are very democratic in a lot of senses. Even though some of the leadership does not support, I’m assuming, what I’m doing, my membership was never in danger. They might not necessarily agree with some of what I’m saying. And they flat out said, some of them had said, “We don’t agree with some of your interpretations. We think you’re speculative.”

My argument nicely is, “You have never read the documentation. I have.” I’m not trying to be like, oh look at me, I know, but I’m just like, no, read the documents for yourself because nobody has ever really done this. And then we can have a discussion, but just to flat out say it’s speculative. I’m like, well all history has that. My argument is, I have all footnotes. People can look at it, people can check my sources. No book is perfect, but I tried really hard.

It really is a great book and I encourage you to buy it!  Check out the rest of our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Daniel!

I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.
I asked Dr. Daniel Stone if he had any trouble with Church leaders in writing his Bickerton biography.

203: Reuniting the Bickerton Break (Stone)

202: Ousting a Prophet (Stone)

201: False Prophecies Are Possible! (Stone)

200: Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Stone)

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)