Pres Nelson seems to use the words Restoration and Revelation interchangeably when it comes to the church. See the two recent quotes below:
“Our message to you tonight is the same as the message we’ve given to others, that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that this is His Church restored in its fullness.” April 22, 2018, Russel Nelson (source)
Then in Oct 2018 six months later we have this from Pres Nelson:
“We’re witnesses to a process of restoration,” said the prophet. “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come. … Wait till next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.” (source)
At first they seem to contradict each other. The first quote explicitly states the church is fully restored, while the second quote implies that it is not fully restored, but just beginning to be restored.
But what if the first quote he was talking about the church and all the ordinances needed for exaltation. That makes sense. Now what if the second quote he was talking about continued revelation (see article of faith # 9). That also makes much more senses than a literal reading of that second quote.
But this is problematic, as it stretches the meaning of restoration beyond comprehension. Every definition I’ve found says that it is returning something to the way it once was. When Mormon’s talk about restoration, they mean returning to Christ’s original church, the gospel that he taught.
There is nothing I see in the recent administrative changes he has made that restores anything that was lost. Maybe he is just calling the recent changes a “restoration” to make them sound more importation that they really are. One could argue that they are not revelation ether, but we’ll leave that for another day
What do you think. Did Pres Nelson misspeak? Is he conflating the two words by accident, or on purpose? Or is he just human, and given to hyperbole, and trying to drum up excitement for coming changes?
I think LDS leaders tend to use terms rather loosely, especially general terms like priesthood, revelation, restoration, and the like — not to mention that such general terms have many different meanings and uses, depending on context. To say the Church is fully restored means “we are apostles and we have God’s full authority (priesthood) to run the Church.” To say the Restoration is an ongoing process means “we are apostles and we have God’s full authority (priesthood) to run the Church and make any changes we want.”
It’s like eating at Taco Bell: there are different items on the menu, but it’s all the same stuff. If an apostle says “The Church is true!” it means “we are apostles and we have God’s full authority (priesthood) to run the Church.” I don’t think parsing words can do much to clarify LDS claims when the leadership uses this approach. An LDS scholar or blogger can lay out more precise definitions in a book, article, or post, and make an argument that, ideally, such words can be used more carefully and particular faith claims can be distinguished. But that more careful or precise approach has no normative standing within LDS discourse and it will have exactly zero effect on how leaders address LDS faith claims.
I think it is good to clarify definitions and further understand the meaning behind what is said and taught for our benefit and learning.
But I feel we can get too tripped up on semantics at times as to accuse others of mis-speaking or even of deceiving, and don’t find that uplifting or spiritual.
Can there be a restoration of things that have never been part of the original church mortal organization? Sure.
Perhaps they are restoring things that help get closer to truth, even if those things never were taught or performed in primitive organizations. Maybe it is the restoration of gospel principles, not the outward expressions of them.
Maybe it is more around restoring the authority so that new revelation can be brought forward, things that never were taught before.
It seems safest to avoid being beholden to only one way of doing things, one interpretation of scriptures, or one set of quotes from prior prophets.
Christ taught in metaphor and parables.
But sometimes I hear at church too much emphasis on certainty and finite rules of how things must be, which don’t always inspire me. It may depend on context and purpose of what is being said.
I find the church to be evolving and growing, not looking back to restore only what we know (or think we know) was part of the primitive church.
I prefer open interpretation, but allow others to believe however they want.
Maybe I am comfortable with paradox, so I admit contradictions can exist, but what is more important is what we do with them, how we behave, how we grow and learn to love. Myths can be more powerful than literal facts.
Heber13, I love your comment “ Myths can be more powerful than literal facts”. Thanks for that thought.
It’s hard for me to believe the church, with 188 years of revelatory experience and now with over 15 million members spread throughout the world, still lacks things “had” in the primitive church that yet need to be “restored.”
The question is: does the term ‘process of restoration’ actually refer to some other former state or knowledge of things once known but lost, outside of the things of the primitive church? I’m reminded of Paul’s declaration: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor 13:12, NRSV). As a member of the primitive church, was Paul also seeking a “restoration” of something?
I agree with Bill that there seems to be a conflation of the terms restoration and revelation, though I think it extends throughout Mormon thought (I would not have reflected on this concept if Bill hadn’t provided his observation in his post above). The Ninth Article of Faith, as Bishop Bill points out, states that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. It seems that among Mormons, this ‘process of restoration’ now more describes the process where “the kingdom of God go[es] forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come.” (D&C 65:6). This would include the restoration of the Earth’s paradisaical glory and eventually its transformation into a celestial world, which would be the restoration of God’s children to the Kingdom of Heaven. Revelation is part of the process that makes these “restorations” happen and the conflation of the term restoration with revelation would make sense in this framing.
Dave C, the common view is that there were things taught by Christ to an inner circle but not taught openly. Not all of those things have been restored. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is often seen as tied to that.
While some conflate restoration and revelation, my interpretation of Pres. Nelson’s comments were related to major new teachings or structural changes and not what’s been done thus far.
Regarding the OT, I think seeing this as a contradiction conflates two issues. First are the key elements of the Church restored in their fulness. To that I think we say yes. Second are all things that have been had at various times in history (say by the Nephites in Bountiful after Christ’s coming) all restored? No they’re not. So there’s a certain equivocation behind the OP. that I think is problematic. Typically this is dealt with rhetorically by saying the fulness of the gospel has been restored but that there are still things being restored.
I love the concept of the process of “continuing restoration” because I believe it gives the church flexibility to have been wrong in the past. We currently teach that God commanded polygamy and then commanded its cessation and that many of the reasons people believed for why polygamy was necessary was human speculation. We currently imply that God commanded that church members of African descent be excluded from the priesthood and the temple and then later commanded that these same people be included – and that many of the reasons people believed for why the priesthood ban was necessary was human speculation.
I hope that “continuing restoration” will allow us to have been wrong about what God wanted in the past. Similar to the talk about “wrong roads” from Elder Holland maybe God allowed us to travel those paths in order to find out for ourselves that they were not the better way and that we could put them behind us once and for all. Perhaps God is gently course correcting his church just as fast as we will allow. I feel that this process of growth and eternal progression is hindered when we feel that institutional racism or women as property has a place in the economy of heaven. We do not need to try to fit those pieces into our theological puzzle nor set them aside for consideration later – we can just discard them as the unhelpful distractions that they are. Surely we have spent enough time trying to defend the indefensible. Let’s move forward and upward.
I agree that using the word “restoration” in this context mangles the meaning and how it was used by earlier church members. Maybe that is what needs to happen in order for the church to move forward. It would not be the first time that we changed the meaning of a word to better fit our evolving theology.
Clark writes “… the common view is that there were things taught by Christ to an inner circle but not taught openly. Not all of those things have been restored. The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is often seen as tied to that.”
It could be that the things taught by Christ to an inner circle are still yet to be revealed. I’ve held the opinion, however, these teachings constitute the teachings and ceremonies now taught in the temple and they have been restored. This view could be wrong since we don’t know for sure what those secret teachings were. It could be that Christ taught the things that are contained in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Considering, though, the sealed portion Book of Mormon appears to contain expansive revelations (Ether 4:7) and the church in the old world didn’t understand about the people of Lehi (3 Nephi 15:20), it would seem unlikely the information they received was quite that expansive.
The sealed portion of the Book of Mormon would fall into the category I described as “knowledge of things once known but lost, outside of the things of the primitive church”. I had not clarified in my earlier comment that I took the term primitive church to be the one that Christ set up during his ministry and shortly after his resurrection. This is based on the Sixth Article of Faith’s explicit identification of the primitive church with apostles. This primitive church could also include the organization Christ established among the descendants of Lehi, as well, during His ministry with them. Though Christ did not establish the office of apostles with them, the old world apostles were acknowledged they would eventually be in authority over the descendants of Lehi through the twelve disciples (1 Nephi 12:9). I’ve taken the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, however, to come from the record of the people we call Jaredites (Ether 4:4-6), whose era mostly preceded the descendants of Lehi and was not part of the church set up by Christ during his earthly ministry.
“Myths can be more powerful than literal facts.”
Concur with Hebert3. A myth tells a story, literal facts generally not. A fact is exemplified by the force of gravity, accellerating an object 9.81 meters per second per second. Usually expressed in Newtons (a force) rather than its effect on an object. Do you feel more charitable toward others knowing this?
A myth is a story and the best are fables and parables; who here does not know the story of the Little Red Hen, the Ant and the Grasshopper, or the Fox and Sour Grapes? These stories cannot be literally true and yet they accurately portray human behaviors in a way easily conveyed, easily remembered, and easily referenced.
In a religious realm, how many do not know “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone?” I wonder how many times Jesus told that story to a group before he found one that wouldn’t cast a stone so it could be written as preferred.
Was there in fact a Good Samaritan that did as described? Maybe; but does it matter? It might to some people. For everyone else it is a model of exemplary human behavior with carefully chosen participants.