Restoration (Latter Day Saints)


Restoration (Latter Day Saints)

In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Restoration was a period in its early history during which a number of events occurred that were understood to be necessary to re-establish the early Christian church found in the New Testament, and to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In particular, Latter Day Saints believe that angels appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and others and bestowed various Priesthood authority to them.

Contents

Apostasy

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Great Apostasy in Christianity began not long after the ascension of Jesus Christ.[1] It was marked with the corruption of Christian doctrine by Greek and other philosophies,[2] with followers dividing into different ideological groups,[3] and the martyrdom of the Apostles[4] which lead to a loss of Priesthood authority to administer the church and its ordinances.[5]

With all Priesthood authorities either martyred, taken from the earth, or teaching impure doctrines, there was a break in Apostolic Succession, and what remained was a mere fragment of the Church established by Jesus Christ.[1] The Christian believers who survived the persecutions took it upon themselves to speak for God, interpret, amend or add to his doctrines and ordinances, and carry out his work without proper authority and divine direction from God. During this time, important doctrines and rites were lost or corrupted. Latter-day Saints specifically reject the early ecumenical councils for what they see as misguided human attempts to decide matters of doctrine without divine assistance, substituting debate and politics for divine revelation.

Latter-day Saints claim that various Old Testament and New Testament scriptures, including teachings of Christ himself, prophesy of this "falling away" or "apostasy."[6][7][8] Thus, Latter-day Saints refer to the "restitution of all things" mentioned in Acts 3:20-21 and claim that a restoration of all the original and primary doctrines and rites of Christianity was necessary.[9] They believe that important historical events such as the Protestant Reformation and the establishment of the United States Constitution, which explicitly allows for freedom of religion in its First Amendment, were necessary antecedents to the Restoration.

Restoration

No restoration would have been necessary if a legitimately established church had existed. Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, originally prayed about which church to join. In a vision in 1820 near Palmyra, New York, two personages (generally believed to be God the Father and Jesus Christ) instructed him not to join any churches, for "all their creeds were an abomination." Smith described another vision in 1823 as being visited in his bedroom by an "angel Moroni" who told him of a record of an ancient people written in an ancient language on golden plates. After repeated visits by this angel in successive years, Smith described receiving and translating this ancient record and publishing the translation as the Book of Mormon. (Joseph Smith History 1) The Book of Mormon provided many teachings about the atonement of Christ that were not as clear in the Bible, as also teachings about the House of Israel and the baptismal covenant. When Joseph prayed in May 1829 about the need for baptism, he and Oliver Cowdery were visited angelically by John the Baptist so that they could receive proper authority to baptize.

Coinciding with the restoration of the Priesthood, Mormons believe that Smith received many revelations, visions and visitations of heavenly messengers to instruct him in order to enable him to fulfill his responsibilities in propounding doctrine and re-establishing ordinances and temple covenants, often in response to specific questions he asked in prayer. The majority of this history is recorded in one of the Mormon's scriptural canons, the Doctrine and Covenants. Additional details and background of the Church in Smith's era is presented in the Church's seven volume set History of the Church.

In regard to the restoration of Priesthood authority, Smith dictated the following passage found in Doctrine and Covenants 128:20-21:

And again, what do we hear?...The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times! And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!

In reflecting upon the responsibilities of teaching the constant revelations he received, he stated:

It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind.

Significance and impact

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Mormon group, all Priesthood keys necessary to administer Jesus Christ's church were given to Joseph Smith, Jr. who then organized that church to continue in perpetuity. Hence, members refer to their church as "The Church of Jesus Christ." The term "latter day saints" refers to the fact that members of Early Christianity were originally called "saints", and the church reestablished by Smith is believed to be Christ's church in the last days prior to the second coming of Jesus.[10]

Members of the LDS Church believe that their church is the "only true and living church upon the face of the earth" because of the divine authority restored through Smith. They claim that the LDS Church is the restoration of Jesus' original church, has the authentic Priesthood authority, and all doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, fulfilling many of the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah and Malachi in the Old Testament and also the prophesies of Peter and Jesus in the New Testament.

Latter-day Saints maintain that other religions have a portion of the truth, mingled with inaccuracies. They also maintain that many other religions advance many good causes and do much good among the people insofar as they are led by the light of Christ, "which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9)

Partial list of restoration events

Administering Angel Recipient(s) Ordained Authority Given When
John the Baptist Joseph Smith & Oliver Cowdery Aaronic Priesthood: Preach the Gospel, baptize, administer Levitical duties and ordain others to this Priesthood 1829
The Apostles Peter, James and John Joseph Smith & Oliver Cowdery Apostle and Melchizedek Priesthood: Propound doctrine and ordinances and organize & lead the church; Confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost, bless, ordain others to this Priesthood 1829
Elijah Joseph Smith Seal (marry) husband & wife and parents to children for eternity 1836
Moses Joseph Smith Gather the Twelve Tribes of Israel 1836
Elias Joseph Smith Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham 1836

Critical viewpoints

Critics[who?] argue that Acts 3:21 refers either to the restoration of Israel or the restoration with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, not the restoration of the body of the church. Church members respond by asking, how could there be a "restitution of all things" if presumably Jesus Christ had so recently bestowed all things and there had been no apostasy?. Furthermore, Mormons do not rely exclusively on scriptural evidence, but see these as supporting the revelations given to Smith.

Some critics[who?] believe that there was no break in Apostolic Succession, referring to Matthew 16:18, of which the King James Version reads: "And I [Jesus] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Critics[who?] argue that in this scripture, Christ promises that his church is to be permanently established, and therefore, no great apostasy is possible. Church members respond that this scripture does not promise that the church will continue without fail, and that the rock upon which Christ will establish his church is revelation. For proceeding Jesus' promise, Jesus asks the Apostles, "whom say ye that I am?" (verse 15) Peter answers, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (verse 16) Jesus replies, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my father which is in heaven." That is, Mormons say, Peter received a heavenly revelation of the truth, and it is by personal revelation that Jesus will bring each individual to know the truth. Mormons also respond saying, John the beloved 'did not taste death' carrying the priesthood authority directly from the time of Jesus to Joseph,[11] similar to Elijah[12] and Enoch.[13] Although it was not necessary for John to have 'not tasted death' to restore the priesthood authority it can be argued that through John Jesus' promise in (Matthew 16:18), as interpreted by critics is still fulfilled.

Critics[who?] argue that Galatians and 2 Thessalonians do not refer to a total apostasy of the church. The Bible does not promise a restored church. Critics argue further that Mormons do not properly interpret The Bible by using exegesis. They cite the Mormons' interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as an example of eisegesis. Critics[who?] say it refers to an end-time apostasy in the future, not to an event some 1800 years before the founding of the Latter Day Saint movement, and that the text states the event is scheduled after the "man of lawless [the antichrist] is revealed."

Some[who?] have pointed out that no clear succession of leadership was officially outlined or doctrinally established with clarity by Smith, which resulted in a crisis of succession immediately following his death.[14] This may have been due to the restoration having been originally considered as an event intended to last Smith's lifetime, hence the "Latter-days" theme and Smith's prophecies of the coming end of times. But students of Smith's writings are familiar with declarations he made about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would grow to become a large organization with members throughout the earth, though missionary work began modestly during his lifetime.[15]

See also

Christus statue temple square salt lake city.jpg Latter-day Saints portal

References

  1. ^ a b Missionary Department of the LDS Church (2004). Preach My Gospel. LDS Church, Inc. pp. 35. ISBN 0402366174. http://lds.org/languages/additionalmanuals/preachgospel/PreachMyGospel___06_03-1_TheRestoration__36617_eng_006.pdf. 
  2. ^ Talmage, James E. (1909). The Great Apostasy. The Deseret News. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0875798438. http://www.archive.org/stream/greatapostasycon00atalm#page/68/mode/2up. 
  3. ^ Richards, LeGrand (1976). A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Deseret Book Company. pp. 24. ISBN 0877471614. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=udFopREPKMgC&lpg=PR2&ots=H49-xX0hBQ&dq=a%20marvelous%20work%20and%20a%20wonder&pg=PA25#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  4. ^ Talmage, James E. (1909). The Great Apostasy. The Deseret News. pp. 68. ISBN 0875798438. http://www.archive.org/stream/greatapostasycon00atalm#page/68/mode/2up. 
  5. ^ Eyring, Henry B. (May 2008), "The True and Living Church", Ensign (LDS Church): 20–24, http://lds.org/ensign/2008/05/the-true-and-living-church?lang=eng 
  6. ^ Galatians 1:6-8
  7. ^ 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  8. ^ Isaiah 2:2,3; 5:13,24,26; 10:20-22; 11:11,12; 24:5; 27:6; 28:11; 29:4,10-14; 35:10; 49:6-26; 51:11, 54; 60:2
  9. ^ Faust, James E. (May 2006), "The Restoration of All Things", Liahona (LDS Church): 61–62, 67–68, http://lds.org/liahona/2006/05/the-restoration-of-all-things?lang=eng&query=restoration+all+things 
  10. ^ Cook, Quentin L. (November 2003), "Are You a Saint?", Liahona (Intellectual Reserve, Inc): 95–96, http://lds.org/liahona/2003/11/are-you-a-saint?lang=eng 
  11. ^ John 21:22
  12. ^ 2 Kings 2:11
  13. ^ Hebrews 11:5
  14. ^ http://www.signaturebooks.com/hier1.htm
  15. ^ Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1969[page needed]

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