What are the doctrinal variations of the different branches of the Mormon religions? What seperates them from each other?
the primary varieties would be “Utah” (LDS church), “schismatic” (bickertonite, strangite, etc.), “reformed” (Community of Christ) and “polygamist” (FLDS and numerous small sects)
The Utah folks are the largest and best known. their core beliefs are easily found on the internet.
the schismatics generally believed that Joseph Smith was a true prophet but a “fallen” one and had to be replaced by their leader. they are very few in number and tend to have “pre-nauvoo” mormon doctrine.
the CofC was started by Joseph Smith’s wife and son and their associates. they renounced polygamy and even claim Joseph Smith didn’t practice it. they broke with Brigham young and tend be very liberal and moving towards mainstream protestant practices.
The polygamists are firm believers in Brigham Young’s teachings and feel that the LDS leadership “sold out” to the US Government when they stopped polygamy. they feel that invalidated their authority and the leadership had to be replaced with their own folks (usually in some secret ordination by “faithful” apostles) they attempt to live the doctrines of the pre-manifesto Utah Mormons.
What was Mormon theology like before they settled in Nauvoo?
somewhat like a charismatic protestant church. they believed that Joseph smith was a prophet but they really got into “revelation” for everyone and what they believed were manifestations of the holy spirit. they believed in the BoM but also accepted the Bible.