In Mormonism, the Restoration was a period in its early history during which a number of events occurred that were necessary to restore the early Christian church as demonstrated in the New Testament, and to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In particular, Mormons claim that heavenly (either resurrected or translated) beings appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr and others and bestowed various Priesthood authorities to them. Who bestowed what authority to whom and when is tabled below:
|Administering Angel||Recipient(s) Ordained||Authority Given||When|
|John the Baptist||Joseph Smith & Oliver Cowdery||Aaronic Priesthood: Preach the Gospel, baptize, adminster Levitical duties and ordain others to this Priesthood|
|The Apostles Peter, James and John||Joseph Smith & Oliver Cowdery||Apostle and Melchezidek Priesthood: Propound doctrine and ordinances and organize & lead the church; Confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost, bless, ordain others to this Priesthood|
|Elijah||Joseph Smith||Seal (marry) husband & wife and parents to children for eternity|
|Moses||Joseph Smith||Gather the Twelve Tribes of Israel|
|Elias||Joseph Smith||Dispensation of the Gospel of Abraham|
Incomplete list; others to be listed
According to Mormonism, in essence, all the Priesthood "keys" (or authority) necessary to establish Jesus Christ's church with authority to administer the Gospel and its ordinances were given to Joseph Smith who then organized that church to continue in perpetuity. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest Mormon group, believe that their church is the "only true and living church upon the face of the earth". By implication, no restoration would be necessary if a legitimately established church already existed. Thus, Mormons believe there was a Great Apostasy that preceeded the Restoration.
Coinciding with the restoration of the Priesthood, Mormons believe that Joseph 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. The majority of this history is recorded in one of the Mormon's scriptural cannons, The Doctrine and Covenants. Additional details and background of the Church in Joseph Smith's era is presented in the Church's seven volume set The Documentary History of the Church.
In regards to the restoration of Priesthood authority, Joseph 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!
- 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.
Critics 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 church through Joseph Smith. Mormon apologists respond 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". Of course, Mormons do not rely merely on Acts 3:21 for their doctrine; they rely on the revelations given to Joseph Smith and view Biblical scriptures (or other resources) as supporting evidence of the revelations.
Critics also refer 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 argue that in this scripture, Christ promises that his church is to be permanently established, and therefore, no great apostasy is possible. Mormon apologists 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. In Mormonism, every person is entitled to personal, heavenly revelation to discern for himself whether any precept (from a Mormon or non-Mormon) is true or false.
See also Restorationism
Some, if not all, of the material below is probably more relevant to the Great Apostasy article.
Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, prayed about which church to join. In a vision, two personages instructed him not to join any churches, for "all their creeds were an abomination."
For Support Mormons cite Galatians 1:6-8 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 concerning prophesy of the Great Apostasy.
Critics argue that Galatians and 2 Thessalonians do not refer to a total apostasy of the church. The Bible does not promise a restored church. Mormons do not properly interpret The Bible by using exegesis, or deriving meaning from the content. Critics argue the Mormon's interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is an example of eisogeis, or adding new meaning to a passage. Critics say it refers to an end-time apostasy in the future, not to an event some 1800 years before the Mormon church. The text states the event is scheduled after the "man of lawless [the antichrist] is revealed."
Critics contend Galatians 1:6-8 refers to just a "different gospel" rather than total apostasy. In the context, the Christians at Galatia perverted the true gospel of salvation by grace only. The "different gospel" included works as a requirement.