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In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Restoration was a period in its early history during which a number of events occurred that were understood to be 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 believe that heavenly (either resurrected or translated) beings appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and others and bestowed various Priesthood authorities to them. A partial list of the restored authorities is given in the table below.

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 Melchezidek 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

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), 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" because of the divine authority restored through Joseph Smith. By implication, no restoration would be necessary if a legitimately established church already existed. Thus, Mormons believe there was a Great Apostasy followed by important historical events such as the Reformation and the establishment of the United States Constitution that preceded the Restoration. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, prayed in total faith about which church to join. In a vision in 1820 near Palmyra, New York, two personages instructed him not to join any churches, for "all their creeds were an abomination." For Support Mormons cite and concerning prophecy of the Great Apostasy, and many passages of Isaiah that speak of apostasy and restoration among the House of Israel. (See Ref.)

Joseph Smith described another vision in 1823, when he was praying fervently and described 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 Moroni in successive years, Joseph 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 of 1829 about the need for baptism, he and Oliver Cowdery were visited angelically by John the Baptist so that they could receive proper authority and be baptized.

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 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 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 Documentary History of the Church.

In regard 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!

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.

Among other scriptures, Mormons cite as evidence that a restoration was contemplated. The King James Version reads: "...the heaven must receive Jesus Christ until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."

Critical viewpoints

Critics argue that refers either to the restoration of Israel or the restoration with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, not the restoration of the body of the church. Church members respond by asking, 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?. Furthermore, Mormons do not rely exclusively on scriptural evidence, but see these as supporting the revelations given to Joseph Smith.

Some critics believe that there was no break in Apostolic Succession, referring to , 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. Church members 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.

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. Critics argue further that Mormons do not properly interpret The Bible by using exegesis. They cite the Mormons' interpretation of as an example of eisegesis. Critics say it refers to an end-time apostasy in the future, not to an event some 1800 years before the Mormon church, and that the text states the event is scheduled after the "man of lawless [the antichrist] is revealed."

Some have pointed out that no clear succession of leadership was officially outlined or doctrinally established with clarity by Joseph Smith, which resulted in a crisis of succession immediately following his death.[34734] This may have been due to the restoration having been originally considered as an event intended to last Smith's lifetime, hence the "Latter-days" theme and Smith's prophecies of the coming end of times. But students of Joseph Smith's writings are familiar with declarations he made about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would grow to become a large organization with members throughout the earth, though missionary work began modestly during his lifetime. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1969)


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.

See also

External links

Official websites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Additional Websites

  • - an online listing for aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Mormon Answers - frequently asked questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • LDS Today - news related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • FAIR - the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research

Opposing Views

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