Mormons as “Restorationist Christians”

AdamF christianity, Mormon, restoration 21 Comments

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the Latter Day Saint movement (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is “Restorationist” (as apposed to Orthodox or Protestant, etc. Is “Restorationist” a comparable category to Protestant? When people ask me if I’m Christian, or what type of Christian I am, is it accurate to say “Restorationist Christian”?  Kind of has nice feel to it.  To be sure, many members would not tolerate being in a religious group with other churches, but we also seem to have a never-ending desire to be called Christian, so maybe this is a good term.

Some other “Restorationists” are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, and Churches of Christ.

Comments

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Comments 21

  1. That’s what I was taught at some point. I don’t remember where or when, but it makes sense to me. In some ways I would say that we are the extreme expression of the “Restoration” movement.

    My Baptist friend would say that he is not really “Protestant”, though…he says the Baptists came out of a “free church” movement.

  2. I think this is correct- although we would of course argue that we are the only church that truly upholds the Restorationist concept. (As far as I know we are the only restorationist church to claim authority through angelic ordination)

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    When I was in Japan a lot of people would ask what type of Christian I was, Catholic or Protestant, for example. If I had thought or known of this term at the time, it would have been helpful, and a good way to introduce the Restoration.

  4. It is not a bad term to use. I never quite understood why the Church tries so hard to be accepted by other churches as “Christian” but yet at the same time considers those other churches to be in apostacy because of the “falling away from the truth.”

    Those other churches do not have a monopoly on the word “christian,” but like to narrowly define it as “their” brand. We are different from them and should be confortable with that difference. Who really cares what they call us?

  5. Jef and all,
    The Mormon Church is truly Christian as per the Bible. We join the Church in exactly the same way the people of the New Testament did, and with the same authority. That is why we can truly call ourselves Christians. We do not want to be associated with the orthodox or protestant Christians, but we do want to maintain friendly relations with them. They need what we have, but we do not need what they have, but we do not think we are better than they, only more blessed, because we do have the truth. We worship the Jesus of the Bible, but not the Jesus of orthodox or protestant christianity. We welcome all to come to us and we will share what we have, while respecting what they hold near and dear. It is they who are at war with us, we are not at war with them. They try to shove what they have, down our throat. We on the other hand simply offer to share what we have with them and allow them to say yes or no. We can both claim to be Christian as far as we are concerned, but they are offended when we claim to also be Christian. And so the one sided war goes on and on…Hugh

  6. I like that lable and it would help to settle things. Anythings which says that we are pre-Nicaea in our beliefs should be fine for all Christians. Our differences go back that far.

    As long as we say that we aren’t the same christianity as evangelicals things should be OK.

  7. I always viewed that we had more in common with the restorationist churches than with Protestant denominations. The whole idea of starting from scratch vs. trying to live with historical precedents that made no sense always appealed to me.

    On an interesting side, note, although there are fewer than 750K members in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 3 have been U.S. Presidents (James Garfield, LBJ, Ronald Reagan). We are definitely not feeling the love and acceptance that some of our restorationist siblings are.

  8. Hugh #5,

    While I don’t really disagree with what you say, I have issues.

    “They need what we have, but we do not need what they have, but we do not think we are better than they, only more blessed, because we do have the truth. We worship the Jesus of the Bible, but not the Jesus of orthodox or protestant christianity.”

    I think to others, this position, as genuine as we may think it is, can appear arrogant and threatening to those of other faiths. I do think it is enough to say, “We see Jesus differently than you do.” but, it can be threatening to say, “and we’re right and you are wrong.” We worship Jesus Christ, that makes us Christians, pure and simple, end of story.

    “It is they who are at war with us, we are not at war with them.”

    They might not think so. We are the ones who send out thousands of missionaries to convert them! This may feel like we are waging war to them. You know, “Onward Christian Soldiers!”

    I think we’d be much better off spending much more of our time working in our communities showing others the kind of people we are by our good works. Insteading of engaging in semantic wars of words about terminology.

  9. From my experience editing on wikipedia most of the LDS movement project is edited by LDS members and historians so I would venture to guess that it was titled by one.

    Hawkgrrrl (#7) Maybe I have a different point of view but isn’t the LDS church today based on precedents laid out by the prophets of the past? So wouldn’t the present day LDS church be “trying to live with historical precedents”. The only difference to me is what the pope says isn’t including in a canonized book of scripture but what the current prophet says is. Maybe I’m misunderstanding this though.

  10. The Pew religious landscape study report (http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf) divides “restorationist” denominations into two groups, “restorationist in the evangelical tradition” and “restorationist in the mainline tradition.” It deals with “Mormon” denominations separately. It didn’t occur to me when I read the report that we should have been included among the “restorationists.” I suspect that’s because even though the term can easily be applied to us, we wouldn’t fit into either other categories – we’re not of either tradition, but have an entirely separate one.

  11. Jeremy, I agree with your statements, although we have a potential disclaimer from some Biblical history through the “as far as it is translated correctly” escape hatch. For example, some churches have more strong adherence to the apocrypha (e.g. Maccabees).

    While I was travelling in Europe last September, and in Rome specifically, the thought that kept coming to me was that (from a Mormon viewpoint) early Christianity was like a discussion among the newly converted (after the deaths of the apostles). We left the room at around 200 AD, and the conversation continued without us for 1600 years or so. Then we rejoined the conversation in about 1820 AD and found some of it incongruous and confusing. So, it’s the 1600 years of religious discussion that Mormonism omits that I was referring to as the “historical precedents.” And that’s, IMO, the key difference between our viewpoint and other churches, even some of the other restorationist movements.

  12. Hawkgrrrl, I totally agree with your viewpoint as far as the restoration goes. According to revelation the woman was hid up in the wilderness for the span of 1260 years. We can agree on that portion, so that covers us from 560 A.D. to 1820 A.D., when the second angel flew in the midst of heaven carrying the everlasting gospel to preach until all nations. What I was making reference to was post 1820. The gospel was restored through Joseph Smith and after the split each subsequent prophet has laid out his prophetic precedents which are now observed within the LDS church. So what I was saying is that compared to what happened between 560 A.D. and 1820 with the authority as you put it “leaving the conversation” and then coming back in is very similar to what happened post-restoration-of-the-authority. Everything that happened during the period after the apostles has formed the basis of most every other religion. In like terms what has happened since the succession is what has the LDS. If JS were to look at the different restoration church’s today, or better yet if Christ were to give his opinion of the restoration church’s today would it be like he has left the conversation and come back, or would we find that he has been part of the conversation all along.

    I guess really I was just making a parallel between the doctrines that came in post-apostles and the dotrines that have come in post-1830

  13. So, here’s what I see as the next logical step (that goes along with Jeremy’s thinking). Our restoration was in 1820 (or 1830 if you prefer), so we’ve been at this for going on 178 or 188 years, similar to the early Christians. In the great apostacy schisms of doctrine crept in and created a lot of confusion (which eventually led to the Nicean council and the creation of the creeds that were presumably referred to in the first vision as being in error). If schisms are a natural byproduct of the ongoing conversation of Christianity, it seems that without ongoing revelation we would get further and further from the restored truth as time goes by. To counter this, we have:
    – a very unified church with strong governance so that official doctrines are handed down and services are more or less the same in each ward and stake
    – the internet with an “official” site that all can read in most any language
    – a strongly governed missionary program (apparently not strongly enough in some cases, but still very buttoned up on what is “officially” trained and taught)
    – ongoing revelation so that new doctrines can emerge and old ones can be redefined or interpreted for our day (check that wording)

    Limiting the conversation also has its downside–what about possible prior misinterpretations of revelations by prior leaders? How do we identify what was culturally normative and assumed vs. what was the original intent/correct doctrine?

  14. I mean, I like the term and all… I’m just afraid when I say I’m a Restorationist Christian, they think I’m a Christian who keeps a ’72 Monte Carlo on blocks in the backyard. Seriously, this subcategorizing is getting silly. It’s like “Mormonism: The Other White Meat.” I think we spend more time categorizing ourselves– and getting categorized by others– than any faith, Christian or otherwise. “No, we’re different… No, we’re just like you… No we’re like you, only not exactly…” Look, we’re us. We happen to use the same Bible as other faiths– that’s where the similarity ends. We have a different Lord (they’re right when they say our Jesus is not the same as theirs), different baptism, different heaven, different path of salvation, different ecclesiastic structure … because ours was manufactured under Christ’s supervision and the others were not. I’m really tired of the “I’m OK, You’re OK” thing.

    Restorationist Christian…sheesh.

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    “I think we spend more time categorizing ourselves– and getting categorized by others– than any faith”

    Why do you think that is? I think we categorize because we need to understand. In this case, ourselves and how we fit in with the rest of the followers of Jesus.

    “I’m really tired of the “I’m OK, You’re OK” thing.”

    That’s OK. lol.

  16. We just want to be like everyone else and accepted. We want to associate with the most popular people around and not be shunned because we’re different.

    Trouble is, we are different. We just need to get comfortable with that.

  17. Hugh #5
    You said:
    “We do not want to be associated with the orthodox or protestant Christians, but we do want to maintain friendly relations with them. They need what we have, but we do not need what they have.”

    WOW! I have so many issues with your comment (both the tone and the content).
    To be brief:
    Others religions have a lot to offer that I want and need. And I do want to be associated with them. They are my sisters and brothers, who I learn much from. My intereactions with them help me love and worship God, the God of all of us, in a more meaningful way (I try to remind myself…I am Mormon, but God isn’t)

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    “we do not need what they have”

    I’m with Russell on this one. In a doctrinal sense, we do not need Authority from them, but I think there is a TON of stuff we need and can learn from other religions & people. I have learned a lot from other Christians as well as from Buddhism that has added greatly to my spiritual life.

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