Restoration (Latter Day Saints)

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In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Restoration refers to the return of the Priesthood and the Church of Christ to the earth that started the Church. While in some ways the term may refer to the early history of the religion, in other contexts the term will be used in a way to include down to and past the present. Especially in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Restoration is often used as a term to encompass the religious messages of the Church down to the present.[1]

The restoration is associated with 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.[2] In particular, Latter Day Saints believe that angels appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and others and bestowed various Priesthood authority to them.


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.[3] It was marked with the corruption of Christian doctrine by Greek and other philosophies,[4] with followers dividing into different ideological groups,[5] and the martyrdom of the Apostles[6] which lead to a loss of Priesthood authority to administer the church and its ordinances.[7]

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.[3] 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."[8][9][10] 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.[11] 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.


A 19th century drawing of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Aaronic priesthood from John the Baptist.

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[edit]

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.[12]

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[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mormon messages by L. Tom Perry where he uses the term in this way
  2. ^ Comparative Christianity: A Student's Guide to a Religion, Thomas Arthur Russell, 2010[full citation needed]: "MORMON RESTORATIONISM: Mormon Restorationism is the largest indigenous religious movement found in North America. Among its member churches are the approximately 100 or so groups that trace their roots."
  3. ^ a b Missionary Department of the LDS Church (2004). Preach My Gospel. LDS Church, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 0-402-36617-4. 
  4. ^ Talmage, James E. (1909). The Great Apostasy. The Deseret News. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-87579-843-8. 
  5. ^ Richards, LeGrand (1976). A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Deseret Book Company. p. 24. ISBN 0-87747-161-4. 
  6. ^ Talmage, James E. (1909). The Great Apostasy. The Deseret News. p. 68. ISBN 0-87579-843-8. 
  7. ^ Eyring, Henry B. (May 2008), "The True and Living Church", Ensign (LDS Church): 20–24 
  8. ^ Galatians 1:6-8
  9. ^ 2 Thessalonians 2:3
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Faust, James E. (May 2006), "The Restoration of All Things", Liahona (LDS Church): 61–62, 67–68 
  12. ^ Cook, Quentin L. (November 2003), "Are You a Saint?", Liahona (Intellectual Reserve, Inc): 95–96 

External links[edit]