Can Something Claim to Be a Restoration, Yet Add Something New?

Did Adam Know About the Gospel?
Mormons believe that their church is acting as a restoration agent in our world, bringing back the fullness of the Christian Gospel and restoring it after the degeneration of the Gospel truth over the ages. In essence, they claim to be returning to a pure and full Gospel Message that was somehow lost over time. They believe that this Gospel was at one time clear and full. It was even presented to (and understood by) Adam himself:

“Since the gospel was first given to Adam, each time it was thereafter lost by apostasy and then revealed to man again has been a restoration of the gospel. Our Lord in his personal ministry, for instance, restored the original gospel, the same plan of salvation which he had revealed to Adam in the beginning.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pg. 634-635)

According to the Mormon Church, the Gospel has always been the same, from the earliest days of creation. Adam understood it in its fullest and most complete form. It was lost over the course of time, but was originally known by the first man on planet Earth:

“Father Adam… received through divine revelations the Gospel of Jesus Christ — the same Gospel with the same principles and ordinances that we have today… Among the first Gospel principles that God revealed to Adam and Eve was that of eternal marriage…” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages, pg. 59-60)

Did Jesus Simply Restore Something That Was Once Known By Adam?
Mormons also believe that Jesus acted as a great restorer as well, returning the Gospel Message in his day to the fullness that was known and understood by Adam. Jesus was not proclaiming anything new according to the Mormon Church, but was simply restoring something that had been lost over the ages:

“When Christ came… he came as the great Restorer, the one who brought back again to earth the fulness of the gospel… Christianity did not begin a mere 2,000 years ago; it existed first in eternity, and then had its beginning on earth with Father Adam.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pg. 637)

Wasn’t God Strong Enough?
But apparently God the Father and Jesus Christ himself did not have the power to keep the Gospel Truth from degenerating once again. Over the years, God’s power as promised through the Holy Spirit was apparently not enough to keep the truth alive. According to the Mormon Church, the faith fell into disrepair and required yet another restoration:

“The most recent restoration took place [about] a hundred [and seventy five] years ago. At that time the Lord established the last and greatest of all the dispensations by revealing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Thus the true Church is now upon the earth with the promise that it shall never again be taken away.” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages, pg. vii)

It’s Important That Nothing Be Added to This “Restored Gospel”
The Bible and Book of Mormon both give some very clear warnings concerning the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both books warn that the restored Gospel is not to be changed or amended in any way:

Galatians 1:6-9
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul is talking to Christians here and warning them not to divert from anything other than what he and the other apostles of his age wrote in the very letter that accompanied this statement! The Gospel, as it existed at the time of this writing, was as it had been given to him from Jesus Christ Himself, and Paul warns these believers NOT to add anything to the message that he was now proclaiming in the letters that he sent to the churches across the region and the known world! Should anyone add a single perversion to this Gospel of Grace (the FREE gift of Salvation) he will be forever damned. Paul was writing to Jewish Christians who were trying to add back the requirements of the Ten Commandments, and he specifically calls them to rely only on the “grace of Christ” for their salvation.

Joseph Smith takes a very similar stance regarding the importance of holding to a pure, full doctrine that was apparently uncontaminated at the time of Nephi in the Book of Mormon:

3 Nephi 11:39-40
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such…”

Joseph Smith says that Jesus declares the Gospel to be full, complete and unadulterated at the time of this writing. That’s why we are warned not to do anything that would pervert or change the doctrine in any way.

Mormons and Christians Must Have Been Careful
According to the introduction in the Book of Mormon, both Mormons and Christians must have been pretty careful over the years, because the Book of Mormon and the Bible appear to have delivered the Gospel in its fullness:

Book of Mormon Introduction
“The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” (1989 version)

By the way, the “fulness of the Gospel” has also been defined by Mormons:

“By fulness of the gospel is meant all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the exaltation in the celestial kingdom…” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, pg. 160)

But Wait a Minute; Haven’t They Added a Bunch of Stuff?
We’ve got a problem, Houston. If Adam first had the full, unadulterated Gospel, then lost it only to have it restored by Jesus, who then somehow lost it again only to have it restored by Joseph Smith, don’t we finally have it completed in the Book of Mormon? Isn’t that why the Mormons have this book to begin with? Doesn’t Jesus tell us in 3 Nephi 11:39-40 that the Gospel is now restored and it should not be added to in any way? Well if all that is true, just as the Mormon scriptures maintain, why has so much been added to the doctrines of Salvation as they are literally and specifically described in the Bible and the Book of Mormon? I thought these two books had the “fullness of the everlasting Gospel”!

There’s A Lot More Than What’s Required in the Book of Mormon
The Mormon Church has added to the “fullness of the Gospel” in an exponential way; far exceeding the requirements for salvation that are found in either the Bible or the Book of Mormon:

“Latter-day Saints are taught that now is the time to fulfill the requirements for exaltation (see Alma 34:32-34). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In order to obtain the exaltation we must accept the gospel and all its covenants; and take upon us the obligations which the Lord has offered… and ‘live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God…’”

“There are specific ordinances we must have received to be exalted:

1. We must be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.
2. We must receive the Holy Ghost.
3. We must receive the temple endowment.
4. We must be married for time and all eternity.

In addition to the required ordinances, there are also many laws we have to obey to qualify for exaltation. We must -

1. Love God and worship him.
2. Have faith in Jesus Christ.
3. Live the law of chastity.
4. Repent of our wrong doings.
5. Pay honest tithes and offerings.
6. Be honest in our dealings with others and with the Lord.
7. Speak the truth always.
8. Obey the Word of Wisdom.
9. Search out our kindred dead and perform the saving ordinances of the gospel for them.
10. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
11. Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible to renew our baptismal covenants. This is done as we partake of the sacrament.
12. Love and strengthen our family members in the ways of the Lord.
13. Have family and individual prayers every day.
14. Honor our parents.
15. Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
16. Study the scriptures.
17. Listen to and obey the words of the prophets of the lord.
18. Develop true charity in our lives.

In other words, each person must endure in faithfulness, keeping all the Lord’s commandments until the end of his life on earth.” (Gospel Principles, pp. 291-292, 1981)

As If That Wasn’t Enough…
In case you were thinking that Mormon Salvation was too easy (as highly unlikely as that may be), Mormons added something remarkable to their list of requirements. Did you catch it in the first list? In order to be saved unto eternal life (exaltation), you’ve got to be married for time and eternity; you have to achieve a ‘celestial’ marriage:

“The crowning Gospel ordinance requisite for Godhood is celestial marriage. The doctrine of celestial marriage as taught and practiced in the Church of Jesus Christ today, means temple marriage… This blessed Gospel doctrine was lost by mankind during the period of the apostasy following the Apostolic Age, and in its place a man-made system of marriage – “until death do ye part” – was established… However, as part of the restoration of the Gospel to the Prophet Joseph Smith, God… re-revealed the true doctrine of the sacredness and eternal nature of the marriage covenant. This revelation is found in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants… Obedience to this law is absolutely necessary in order to obtain the highest exaltation in the Kingdom of God.” (Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel through the Ages, pg. 118-119)

So Let Me Get This Right…
The LDS church states that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the “fulness of the everlasting gospel”. The LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said, “By fulness of the gospel is meant all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the exaltation in the celestial kingdom…”

But, Gospel Principles, (printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), proclaims celestial marriage to also be a requirement for exaltation and according to LDS doctrine, marriage for time and all eternity is the crowning gospel ordinance. The claim here is that this vital gospel doctrine was taught to Adam in the beginning, and it was restored by Jesus Christ and his apostles, and later, “re-restored” by Joseph Smith in the 1800’s. That’s funny, I don’t remember reading anything about it in the Old or New Testament (or even in the Book of Mormon), do you? Where exactly did this doctrine come from and when did it begin?

It Was a NEW Covenant and Doctrine Added After the Fact!
Take a look at Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132. It is reported to be a “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant…” and the summary describes chapters 1 to 6 with this description: “Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant…”

D&C 132:1-6
“VERILY, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph… all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.”

Ok, it’s pretty clear here, right from the mouth of Joseph Smith. The Gospel ordinance of celestial marriage (mentioned in Gospel Principles) is a NEW ordinance and requirement. It’s a new covenant that was introduced in 1843, many years after Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, reportedly God’s complete restoration of the Gospel, containing the Gospel in its ‘fulness’. It clearly violates the commandments of Paul and Jesus in Galatians 1:6-9 and 3 Nephi 11:39-40. And if this covenant is only ‘new’ as it relates to the modern day LDS church, where was this covenant taught by the Lord or His apostles in the Bible or the Book of Mormon?

Why Can’t I Find It?
The Bible and the Book of Mormon are both supposed to contain the fulness of the everlasting gospel, but neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon ever mention eternal marriage or temple marriage. Never does anyone, in the Bible or the Book of Mormon, get married for time and all eternity or get married in a temple. It seems inconceivable that, in all of Biblical history and all of Book of Mormon history, the crowning gospel principle – celestial marriage – would never even be mentioned. How could all the prophets of the Bible and The Book of Mormon be totally silent on the crowning gospel doctrine?

Joseph Broke the Rules
It clearly appears that D&C 132 is a “new” gospel covenant. Yet Paul wrote in Galatians 1:6-9 that no apostle, no angel, and no other man can change the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to that, Jesus reportedly said in 3 Nephi 11:38-40 that “whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil.” Paul said anyone who changes the gospel will be accursed; Jesus said the gates of hell stand open to receive anyone who would dare change His gospel doctrine. Yet that is certainly what has happened here.

Jesus Was Clear on the Topic of Marriage
We need to settle the issue once and forever. Is the “re-restored” gospel of the LDS church really the original gospel as taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles? There is a simple way to find out. Let’s see what Jesus said about the nature of marriage. Is there an eternal marriage that lasts for time and eternity?

Matthew 22:23-29
The same day came to him the Sadducees… and asked him, saying, ‘Master, Moses said, if a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her.’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.’

You read it, and you decide. Mormons have added to their own full Gospel, violating the commandments of their own scripture. Can any faith system be true when it violates and contradicts its own teaching? Think about it…


article |
J. Warner Wallace