Section 10: The Basis for Restoration

The Basis for Restoration

It was the spiritual chaos around him that caused Joseph Smith to spurn the warring sects of his day.

No, it was a direct command from the Lord:

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join… I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong…1

Other reverent men before, during, and since his time have sought to return to the true faith. What is the pattern for true Christianity?

Yes, Joseph Smith was one of many who "sought to return to the true faith." So was the founder of the Bible study group that later became the Jehovah's Witnesses. But, which one followed the "pattern for true Christianity?"

Well, the pattern throughout the Old and New Testaments is that the Lord appeared to and called prophets when He needed to restore truth to the world. He also sent the prophets to call others.

Hebrews 5:1,4:

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins… And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

So, after God appeared to Moses, he sent Moses to Aaron. At no time did a person take it upon himself to represent God or His word. God, Himself, got things started every time by revealing truth and bestowing authority upon a representative. At no time did it start as an informal study group that later claimed to have the full truth.

Is it not Christ who set "an example, that ye should follow his steps?" (1 Peter 2:21, KJ)

Yes, Mormons believe so. This was about what Mormons believe, right?

The life of Jesus Christ stands in stark contrast with LDS theology.

This is one of those out-of-place opinions that keep popping up in our allegedly "fact-based" article. Luckily, the author attempts to qualify this statement with evidences, so we will address those now.

While Jesus was no ascetic, his simple life was devoid of any ambition to amass wealth, glory, or political power.

Here, we need to begin separating members of the Church from the Church itself. Do some Mormons seek for wealth, glory, and power? Sadly, yes. There are a few Mormons in Congress who, I feel, might fall into this category. Are there Jehovah's Witnesses who do the same? Yep. Michael Jackson and his family were Jehovah's Witnesses, and few people have had more wealth and glory than them. If we look at the teachings of the LDS Church, however, we will see that this is not institutional (and, of course, I know this is not institutional among Jehovah's Witnesses, either).

As for "political power," I seem to recall several Old Testament prophets who ruled and reigned over others, so God can't think it's that bad. Do we seek for power? Of course not. I realize that Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in involving themselves in civic affairs at all, but Mormons believe it is their duty as stewards, and as the "salt of the earth," to try to influence society for good, and to be a voice of reason among governments, just as Joseph advised Pharaoh and served as a government official under him.

“Governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and … he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society” (D&C 134:1). …

Latter-day Saints are encouraged to be informed and participate in civic and political activities, “to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities and make them wholesome places in which to live and rear families” in accordance with the laws of their respective governments. Where possible, this includes a special obligation to seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see D&C 98:10). Likewise, “Church members are encouraged to consider serving in elected or appointed public offices in local and national government” and to “support measures that strengthen the moral fabric of society, particularly those designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”2

The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said:

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall receive riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good–to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted3.

Well, we're on the same page there, so that's good. Jesus: 1, Mormons: 1. No contrast, yet! Let's keep looking.

He was persecuted because he was "not of the world." (John 17:16, KJ)

A common saying among Latter-day Saints is to "Be in the world, but not of the world." Those who live that motto are likewise persecuted because they stand out as strange for not participating in the activities of the world. Jesus: 2, Mormons: 2. Still on par!

The foremost aim of Christ's ministry was to glorify his Father, Jehovah, and to sanctify His name.

Here we have a difference of opinion and interpretation of scripture, so we won't award any points on this issue. Since we are discussing Mormon teachings, we need to point out that Mormons believe Jesus Christ was Jehovah; Jehovah is simply the name Jesus was known by before He was born. In most ancient cultures, and some modern ones, people were given new names when they entered important new phases of their life. This is no different. For an in-depth scriptural discussion showing that Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same, using both the King James and New World Translations of the Bible, please read this page4.

Mormons also have modern scripture that specifies what the purpose of Jesus's ministry was:

Moses 1:39

For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

This is supported by the New Testament, with its focus on Jesus's death and resurrection (which brings immortality to all men), and his suffering for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane (which makes it so that we can repent and return to God's presence, a condition which is known as eternal life). This is also supported by the Old Testament, with its focus on preparing the people for the coming of Jehovah as Jesus the Savior to do these things.

The same is true of Jesus' true disciples. They view their own salvation as of secondary importance.

I find this statement puzzling and difficult to address, so I won't award any points here, either. I'm not quite sure whether the accusation here is that Mormons put their own salvation too high on the list, or that we don't focus enough on glorifying God. Here is what I have to say:

The first great commandment, we are told, is:

Matt. 22:37:

[L]ove the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Elsewhere, Christ informs us that if we love God, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). We are told in many passages that we will be saved if we are obedient to the commandments:

Heb. 10:36:

[A]fter ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

Eccl. 12:13:

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Deut. 8:20:

As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.

So, it would seem that the two, salvation and glorifying God, are inseparable! If we are disobedient, we give no glory to God and receive damnation; on the other hand, when we are obedient, God is glorified and our salvation is secured! The prophet Jacob, in The Book of Mormon, said:

And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever5.

No "stark contrast" here, either. Jesus: 3, Mormons: 3. It's still a tie!

Jesus taught the Word of God, freely quoted from it, and lived it. Brigham Young said of the Bible: "We take this book for our guide, for our rule of action; we take it as the foundation of our faith. It points the way to salvation." (Journal of Discourses, Volume XIII, page 236) So he urged: "Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test." (Discourses of Brigham Young)

In order to make it easier for those who care to compare, almost half of the current edition of the Book of Mormon is footnotes and cross-references to related scriptures in the Bible and other Latter-day scriptures. In order to make a true comparison, however, you must first make sure that you know what Mormons actually believe, and how they have been taught to interpret their texts.

Not only the Mormon faith but all religions claiming to be Christian must submit to this test, for Jesus said: "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."- John 4:23, KJ.

For further information see The Bible- God's Word or Man's?, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

Notes

  1. Joseph Smith–History 1:18-19
  2. Citizenship, lds.org. (https://www.lds.org/topics/citizenship?lang=eng)
  3. Jacob 2:18-19
  4. See jesus-is-jehovah.php on this website.
  5. Jacob 2:21