Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an introductory article to a new Tuesday/Thursday Meridian Series with twelve installments that begin next Tuesday and that explore some of the most remarkable and exciting doctrines of the Restoration. Read the first part of this introduction here.
In the first part of this introduction (read here) the claim was made that the pondering and pursuit of questions relating to deep Gospel principles often leads to profound personal insights and to the deepening of one’s testimony. And it was advocated that we put more of our energy into searching “The Glorious Doctrines of the Restoration” than into dabbling about things like
“The Imperfections of the Prophets”
Here is another way to say that: The best way to know the minds and hearts and authenticity of prophets is to study what they taught. The Savior’s advice “By their fruits shall ye know them” should be applied to the Prophets of this Dispensation. And the most wonderful of their fruits are the eternal doctrines of exaltation that were restored through them.
Many years ago, while presiding in the London South Mission, I asked my little five-year-old daughter four questions that even Gospel scholars might struggle with. She answered them with the simple elegance of a child. I said “Why did Jesus come? And she answered “To teach us to be nice and to show us how it will work when we die.” I asked, “Did He do anything else while He was here?” And she said (keep in mind that she was going to British kindergarten) “Well, yes, he set up a proper Church.” Next I said, “What happened to that proper Church after Jesus and his Apostles were killed?” And she answered “It got a bit muddled.” Last question, “So what did Jesus do?” She said “He came back and put it right.”
Whole books about the Apostacy and the Restoration could be written that would not say it any better. The Lord’s Church, without its Priesthood and keys “got a bit muddled.” And Christ, beginning with His magnificent appearance in the grove, “came back and put it right.”
One definition of Restoration: The sacred, life-and-joy-giving teachings of Christ to His Church “of former days” returned again to His Church “of latter days.”
It behooves all of us who believe in that Restoration to think deeply and specifically about just what it was that was restored, and the purpose of this series of articles (that begins next Tuesday) is to explore in a provocative way what some of the most interesting and paradigm-shifting doctrines those were and are. I use the word provocative in the best definition of its root word “provoke” which means “to stimulate or give rise to an action or emotion.” I am hoping that the 12 questions I will pose about the doctrines of the restoration will stimulate you (and me) to study ever deeper this marvelous and differentiating thing we call Restoration and cause the love of it to well and swell within our hearts.
The first part of this introduction included a list of some of the doctrinal questions that will factor into these articles. I choose to introduce them in the form of questions, because asking the right question is the key to finding the answers that can lift us and change us.
Speaking of questions, I have long thought that one of the reasons the Prophet Joseph was called to begin this dispensation was the gift he had for asking the right question. Most of the doctrine restored in the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed in response to Joseph’s questions. While we sometimes value answers more than questions, deep thinking almost always starts with questions. In today’s world, answers are a dime a dozen, and as close and quick as a google search, but a good, deep, thought-provoking question seems more and more rare and hard to find.
Some of the questions Joseph might have asked didn’t have to be asked, because they were answered by the parts of the Restoration that came through the Book of Mormon. My friend Craig Petersen shared with me a chart he made showing forty of the remarkable doctrines that the Book of Mormon brought back into the world. He called it “Doctrinal Contributions and/or Clarifications of the Book of Mormon”
1. Salvation comes only through Christ Almost every chapter
2. Understanding of the Atonement Throughout
3. Christ is the Creator Mosiah 3:8, 3 Nephi 9:15
4. Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament 3 Nephi 15:5
5. The resurrection is real and complete Alma 40:23
6. Explanation of physical and spiritual death 2 Nephi 9
7. What happens between death and resurrection Alma 40
8. Original sin & infant baptism are false doctrines Moroni 8
9. Insights into mercy and justice Alma 34, Alma 42
10. The meaning of charity Moroni 7
11. The proper spirit of giving Mosiah 4
12. How to develop faith Alma 32
13. Dangers of pride Throughout, see Alma 5:27-31, Moroni 8:27
14. Requirements for living in this promised land Throughout, see Either 2:8-12
15. Scattering and gathering of the Jews 1st & 2nd Nephi, see 1 Nephi 22, 2 Nephi 25
16. Apostasy and restoration 1 Nephi 13, 14; 2 Nephi 27, 28
17. Need for and purpose of opposition 2 Nephi 2
18. Nature of man Mosiah 2:17-25, Mosiah 3:19
19. What it means to be born again (born of God) Alma 5
20. Procrastination and death bed repentance Alma 34, Alma 41
21. First Principles of the gospel 2 Nephi 31
22. Necessity of Christ’s and our baptism 2 Nephi 31
23. Purpose and administration of the Sacrament 3 Nephi 18, Moroni 4, 5
24. Old and New Testaments and are closely linked Throughout
25. Clarifications of the Sermon on the Mount 3 Nephi 12, 13
26. Clarifications of Isaiah Throughout, see 1 Nephi 22, 2 Nephi 25
27. Purpose and current status of the Law of Moses 2 Nephi 11, 3 Nephi 15
28. Dangers of secret combinations Helaman 1-6
29. Miracles require faith Either 12, Mormon 9
30. The resurrected Christ among men 3 Nephi 11-26
31. Grace and works 2 Nephi 25:23
32. God’s word will be given to other peoples 2 Nephi 29
33. Fall of Adam was necessary 2 Nephi 2:25, Alma 12:12-33
34. Salvation for those who die w/o hearing gospel 2 Nephi 9:25-26
35. Government—checks and balances Mosiah 29
36. Agency 2 Nephi 2
37. Nature of judgment 2 Nephi 9:11-16, Alma 5:15-25, Alma 41
38. Where to pray Alma 33
39. Purpose of earth life Alma 42
40. Foreordination Alma 13
Over this coming weekend, ponder a bit what you think might be the most important and essential doctrines that were restored. When we begin this series next week, on Tuesday, we will start essentially with that open-ended question: What is the single most Pivotal Doctrine of the Restoration? This will be the first (and most general) of 12 “purposely provocative” doctrinal questions that I hope will prompt us all to work harder at understanding the extraordinary spiritual insights that we have been given.
We live in “perilous times” and our perspectives and paradigms should be formed not by the
The twelve questions that will be the titles for these articles are as follows. This list does not claim to include all of the most important Doctrine-of-the-Restoration questions that could be asked, but the 12 we have chosen are certainly—given the times and situations we now find ourselves in—among the most provocative:
- What is the most Pivotal Doctrine of the Restoration?
- Is the Restoration about Salvation or Exaltation, and are You a Perfectible Entity?
- How is The Current Pandemic Changing The World, Your World, and the Church World?
- Who Do You Pray To?
- Is Christ the “Means” or the “End?” Other than “Savior,” what Key Roles does Christ play in Mortality and in Eternity? Was Jehovah a Jealous and Vindictive God?
- True or False? (Five Popular Beliefs that we Should Question)
- Is Mortality about a Test or about Joy?
- Is the Gospel Inclusive or Exclusive, and how does the “Perfect Church” Concept Affect our Testimonies and Faith?
- Is Mortality Supposed to be Hard or Easy, and are our Appetites a Blessing or a Curse?
- Do Social Problems Cause Broken Families or is it the Other Way Around?
- Is the Promised Land of America no longer Promised? What is happening to America?
- What is the current significance of our scriptural definition of “Charity”
As these articles appear here in Meridian, you are invited not only to be provoked to pondering, but also to share your thoughts, be they questions, insights, counterpoints or critiques, by tapping the comment button. Perhaps we can turn this into a dialogue or an open forum where we share perspectives and motivate each other to dig deeper.
Richard Eyre is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who served as Mission President in London. He and his wife Linda are frequent Meridian contributors.
MrShortyOctober 18, 2020
I, too, am looking forward to this series, but perhaps with a little more trepidation than others. I think it will boil down to whether the series ends up being a good foray into "the glorious doctrines of the restoration" or more of a deflection to try to distract from "The Imperfections of the Prophets". As I look at my own and others' troubled relationships with the Church, so many of the difficult issues boil down to how to understand the imperfections of prophets and apostles and the revelatory process that is so foundational to our epistemology. A series that is merely an attempt at deflection or distraction from these difficult issues is going to be a lot less useful than a series that will eventually integrate into a solid understanding of how prophets can bring forth truths (like this series wants to cover) and also present some mistakes as if they were truths. I think Ben Spackman encapsulates the concern so well in his Gospel Doctrine post on the book of Philemon. Dealing with the issue of slavery and why the Biblical authors seemed so unwilling to condemn slavery, he writes, "Scripture simply doesn’t reflect the eternal ideal, as we understand. How do we account for this? What model of scripture, revelation, and prophets allows “God’s word,” God’s prophets, and Jesus himself to do or allow something so… inhuman?"
Pat ThomasOctober 15, 2020
Looking forward to this series. I have a child who no longer “believes.” My heart aches. I’m hoping I’ll have better understanding. Thank you