The Latter Day Saints characterize their Church as a Restoration of all things that have ever been revealed to man over a period of six thousand years and at least seven dispensations, and new and complete doctrines held back from those previous periods of gospel presence on the earth. With this belief they can assert that whatever records may be found of previous dispensations they may contain the content in fragmentary or complete form of doctrines that are unique to the Church today. Or there is no restoration. Only if you have all the doctrines can you call yourself the True Church.
The ancient records are incomplete, it is evident from what is available that earlier pristine and complete doctrines were had, then lost, and only fragments or shadows of the past glorious teaching remain to be exhibited again..
LIST OF THINGS TO LOOK FOR
Even a partial list might be interesting. So we are looking for evidence FOR ALL the doctrines of the Fall, the role of Adam and Eve, the creation, the cosmological history and present understanding of the delirium of immensity that is out there, the nature of the God Head; Oh God how great thou art! The premortal life or pre-existence; The Father, The Son, The Mother, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit World, birth and childhood in the Spirit World; the Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial, and kingdoms of glory and kingdoms of no glory. The spirit world after death but before resurrection. The geography of the Universe, Kolob. The ascent Ceremony or How to get into heaven, sealings, families and marriages forever, The Law and covenants of God, the priesthood of God, priesthood blessings, authority, revelations, baptisms, for the living and the dead. The role of Jesus Christ. The Atonement and Redemption, justice and mercy. Forgiveness, long suffering and enduring to the end, prophets, seers and revelators. A, any doctrines found in the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine & Covenants, temples, Man, the Son of Man, signs and names. Lucifer. The last days. Sacrifice, being tried, tested and proven and so on and on.. This list is by no means complete or exhaustive. There is much more, especially in the detail. Mormons call ALL of this THE PLAN OF SALVATION. “The PLAN was ordained by the Father so Jesus Christ and all the rest of his spirit offspring could progress to exaltation.” (McConkie p. 575) For our individual goal we should all take into “consideration the plan of Salvation” (HC v-4 p. 8; Madsen p. 298)
PROVING THE RESTORATION
If I examine the recovered ancient sources of theology, cosmology, anthropology, and soteriology, mythology or narrative accounts, however they are compiled and translated, and they contain any thing, however complete or fragmentary but clearly describe, or refer to any of the above, I will have confirmed the restoration. If the Church is not true, and all these things, and more, were the vain imaginations of one man, then I should find little if anything about any of the above and there has been no restoration.
Where to start?
Because of recent discoveries, the content of Gnosticism in the early Chrisitian world seems a good place to start. This discovery of more than 52 texts were made in 1945 and are discussed in my CD on the THE NAG HAMMADI, “These are diverse texts, and range from secret gospels, poems, and quasi-philosophic descriptions of the origin of the universe, to myths, magic, and instructions for mystical practice.” (Pagels p. xvii) They contain “The greatest impact on the alteration of religion, the addition of myths and addition or deletion of doctrines with fanciful explanations taking over of the original Jewish-Christian teachings by the myriad of Gnostic movements.” (Jonas p. 264) And their weird and distorted ideas. But the baggage they possess may have tid-bits of ancient doctrines restored today. Most of the time they probably did not understand what they actually knew.
RELIGION MINGLED WITH THE PHILOSOPHIES OF MEN
Heresies of the first three centuries after the resurrection of Christ are many. “The apparent lack of Christian features does not make the work necessarily non-Christian; the basic mythological and ritual structure …derive from Christianity, and Porphyry’s testimony …suggest the product of Christian Gnostic groups.“ (Logan p. 53) “…are revelations written in Greek by Syrians claiming to be simultaneously disciples of Berossus and Plato, and uniting Chaldean astrology and Platonically-inspired philosophy.” (Logan p. 29) Sound familiar?
In the USA there are more than 2,200 religions formal and tribal, that have been identified. There are 725 ”Christian churches “ most of which have risen after the three way split of the Catholic religion in the eleventh century. There was a proliferation of Christian groups after Christ’s resurrection. Most of these offshoots were in place by AD 220- 250; (Logan p. 53) the years most of the Nag Hammadi tracts had been bound into books. As Gnosis and variations of it spread out and began to dominate the religious world, great changes in religion occurred. The Jews were having their internal travail’s as well, one of the most important are the people of Qumran who were copying their Hebrew scrolls as early as 275 BC. Oddly there are 165 apostate groups from Mormonism, most are very small. In the last days religion would be characterized by being diluted by the philosophies of men. The ancient religions have been degraded to myths.
“A natural starting point is the term “Gnosis.”Its verbal meaning ‘knowledge’ in our context specifies as secret, revealed, and saving knowledge…it is of mysteries, that is not come by in a natural manner, and that its possession decisively alters the conditions of the knower. In addition; it is specified by a particular theoretical content…significantly includes the role of knowledge, itself within the scheme. The “what” of the knowledge contains the explanation of its own origin, communication and promised effect…This broad metaphysical, theologico-cosmological underpinning of the saving power of knowledge.” (Jonas p. 264) “A heresy which taught salvation was to be obtained through knowledge of the secrets of the universe.” (Metford p. 110) What secrets? From whom? How? God the Father’s Knowledge! God the Son! God the Holy Ghost! Angels! As Joseph Smith did! HOW? By revelation and personal communication.
“They used Christian writings selectively and adopted them to their teachings” (Metford p. 110) ”A conception of human history as the growing ingression of knowledge in the generations of man, and this requires revelation as a necessary vehicle for its progress. This need for revelation is inherent in the paralyzed innercosmic condition of the captive spirit, and its occurrence alters that condition.”(Jonas p. 270) “Mankind is not responsible for its plight and for the necessity of divine intervention. There is no fall or original sin of Adam, where he is the first recipient of revelation, he is thus not as transgressor but as victim—directly of archonitic oppression and ultimately of the primordial fall to which the world’s existence and his own are due. Insofar as guilt is involved it is not his but that of the Aeons who cause the disruption of the higher order, and it is not human but divine, arising before and not in the creation…the content of the saving knowledge?…the knowledge who we were, what we have become; where we were, wherein we have been thrown whereto we speed, wherefrom we are redeemed, what is birth and what is rebirth.” (Jonas p. 271, Thed; 82:2) “The Gnostic mood apart from the deadly earnest befitting a doctrine of salvation, has an element of rebellion and protest, rejection of the world, sometimes vituperative violence, a tendency to extremism in fantasy and feeling.” (Jonas p. 272) Thus preserving doctrines from these sources now lost.
Here are some doctrinal quotes on knowledge from Mormon sources.
“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth, Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of GOD. (TPJS p.217).”
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C 130:18) “It is impossible for man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131:6; Brooks p. 257)
A GOSTIC NAME FOR GOD
They have taken the creedal declarations for their God, with often very distorted results, retaining only fragments of what they had had before.
“The typical gnostic myth [about deity] starts with a doctrine of divine transcendence…the transcendence of the supreme deity is stressed to the utmost degree in all gnostic theology. He is transmundane, dwelling in his own realm… nature neither reveals nor even indicates him, he is naturally unknown…strictly unknowable, but some positive attributes and metaphors do apply to him: LIGHT, LIFE, SPIRIT , FATHER, THE GOOD, BUT NOT CREATOR, RULER, JUDGE.” (Jonas p. 270) These attributes are reserved for Christ. “Significantly, in some systems, one of his secret names is ‘MAN’. “(Jonas p. 268)
“Some important points here entailed should be made explicit. One is the identity, or consubstantiality, of man’s innermost self with the supreme and transmundane God, himself often called ‘Man.’” (Jonas p. 270)
The Father himself declared: “ MAN OF Holiness is my name.” (HC v. 1, p.136; Madsen p. 191)
Compare these statements with the doctrinal statements in Moses from the Pearl of Great Price, one of the standard works of the Church
Moses “6:57 ….in the language of Adam, MAN OF HOLINESS is his name, and the name of his ONLY BEGOTTEN IS the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous judge who shall come in the Merdian of time.”
“Moses 7:35 Behold, I am God; MAN OF HOLINESS IS MY NAME; MAN of counsel is my name; and ENDLESS and ETERNAL, IS MY NAME.”
The use of the name MAN goes back to the Dispensation of Adam; the beginning.
The following reflects the correct doctrine of God the Father.
“The father is the one true God. This thing is certain; no one will ever ascend above Him no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, his offspring, have with Him. He is Elohim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our father and our God we worship Him.”0 (Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, p. 85; Peterson p. 83) “GOD the Father is a Holy Man, an exalted, perfected, and glorified Person. Life eternal is gained through a knowledge of the nature and kind of being that he is.” (McConkie p. 467) The Restoration is an on-going activity. “The restoration was not-and is not-fully finished yet. There is much more to come. ” (Maxwell p. 112) “God shall give unto you knowledge….held in reserve for the fulness of“ times…dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed…also, if there be bounds …to the heavens….glories, laws; and set times….shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times…ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was.” (D&C 121:26-32), “Things to be had only in the very last times.” (Maxwell P. 112) These new revelations and visions will not appear in the ancient documents showing how complete the apostasy was, original truth, smothered by myths and distortions. .
BROOKS, Melvin R., LDS Reference Encyclopedia, Book Craft Inc., Salt Oak City, Utah, 1960
GOEHRING, James E, Gnosticism & the Early Christian World, Polebridge Press, Sonoma, Calif., 1990
JONAS, Hans, Philosophical Essays, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1974
LARGEY, Dennis L. Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake city, Utah, 2017
LOGAN, Alastair H.B., Gnostic Truth and Christian Heresy, Hendrickson, Pub., Edinburgh, 1996
MADSEN, Truman, Concordance of the Doctrinal Statements of Joseph Smith, I.E.S. Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1985
MAXWELL, Neal A., But For a Small Moment, Bookcraft. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1987
McCONKIE. Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966
METFORD, J.C.J, Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend, Thames and Hudson, London, 1983
PAGLES, Elaine, The Gnostic Gospels, Random House, New York, 1979
PETERSON, H. Donl, The Pearl of Great Price A History and Commentary, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1987