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Friday, January 20, 2017

What Exactly Did Joseph Smith Restore? (Part 2)

(Part 1)

What do you get when you plant a seed? You get a copy of the same plant that produced the seed--unless you don't. Confused? Suppose you plant a butternut squash plant right next to an acorn squash. Everything will turn out fine until you go to plant your butternut squash seeds next year. You will get fruit that looks like acorn squash in shape, like butternut in color, and tastes like garbage! When seeds are mingled with external genes, they don't produce the same fruits.

The gospel is like a seed. Jesus taught:
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:5-6).

He also said:
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17).
If you live what is purported to be the gospel, and do not receive the same fruits in your life as the ancients did, as recorded in the scriptures, either your version of the gospel is corrupted beyond efficacy, or the gospel is not true. The gospel is true. Therefore, if you live what you believe to be the gospel, and do not receive the same fruits as the ancients, your gospel is not the real gospel.

Once, while preaching the gospel, Joseph Smith said:
If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you, in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God. (Quoted in Hyrum Andrus, “Joseph Smith's Idea of the Gospel”).
If you live what is purported to be the restored gospel, and do not receive the same fruits in your life as the early saints did, either your version of the restored gospel is corrupted beyond efficacy, or the restored gospel is not true. The restored gospel is true. Therefore, if you live what you believe to be the restored gospel, and do not receive the same fruits as the ancients, your restored gospel is not the real restored gospel.

What do you get when you plant a 100 year old seed? Many seeds lose their efficacy in just a few years. Most of the time, you will get nothing. Sometimes, you will get very lucky, and a seed will germinate.

The short shelf life of religious truth is well known. There are countless examples of apostasy in the scriptures. Once God reveals truth from the heavens, it doesn't take long for other men to corrupt it. Why can't people get the fullness of the gospel from reading all of Paul's letters as we have them in the Bible? Paul's letters were written in a different language, in different culture, in a different age than we have today. We do not have all his letters in the Bible. We do not have perfect preservation of the original text of the letters we do have. Paul is not here to answer our questions about what he meant. He is not here to counter our false traditions that inhibit true interpretation of his words. There is a disconnect between Paul and us. Although he connected to heaven, that is not sufficient to connect us to heaven. There is too much time and distortion between us.

Which of the preceding arguments do not apply to the restoration through Joseph Smith? They all do.

What do you get when you plant a 100 year old seed that has been stored in a moldy basement all that time? You will not get a seed that sprouts. You will get a stinky mess. Nearly everything we have on Joseph Smith has come to us through corrupt channels. The fact that early leaders in all splinter groups intentionally made changes to suit their biases is well documented. Their histories are as much fables as not. Their traditions are invented. Their texts are changed, added to, and subtracted from. There are a few exceptions found in those documents published publicly and contemporarily. These include the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Moses. Everything else requires a situational understanding that simply is impossible given what has happened to the history.

The link between us and the gospel restored through Joseph Smith is broken. It has been broken by manipulated history, lost history, and false tradition. The only way to get it back is through revelation. In other words, the only way to recover what Joseph Smith was actually teaching is through a new connection to heaven. If that is required, what is the value of pushing a focus on the so-called restoration of Joseph Smith? Today, there is no such thing. What we call the restoration is either exactly what the LDS church preaches, which is corrupted beyond efficacy, or our attempt at picking at the additions, correcting the modifications, and filling in the gaps lost to neglect. 

If you want to live the teachings of the restoration, you have to go get them from God yourself. You can't get them from books about Joseph Smith. The best you can do is get them by reading the Book of Mormon which--in spite of the laborious efforts by some to show otherwise--is functionally equivalent in content as when first translated. This is a wonderful tool for those who have never been exposed to the LDS church or it's competitors. It's not so great for those who have been, because it takes incredible intellectual humility and honesty to pierce through the thick false traditions that prevent these types from reading the text literally.

If you want to live the teachings of the restoration, you have to go get them from God yourself. The problem with that is that the same false traditions (Christian or otherwise) that keep you from reading the scriptures literally also prevent you from living the kind of life (in prayer and practice) that connects you to God.

Luckily, the Lord is calling people all around the world to dispense these very truths. Not to create new churches (by whatever name they may be known), but to pierce through false tradition. They will deliver the tools required for an individual to break through the veil, make themselves redundant by raising people to see eye to eye, and then retreat back into the obscurity they came from.