I’ve found that the word “restoration” is a double-edged sword. The Book of Mormon uses it to mean a sort of “karma,” that what we send out ultimately comes right back to us. In our modern-day vernacular, however, we define it as what Joseph brought back. In other words, he “restored” the opportunity for man to touch heaven and visa-versa. I believe, however, that we can get into trouble using this term, because we are confused about exactly what is being restored. The modern-day Church tells us that it’s the “keys” and authority which are restored to us, but many reject that, saying that Joseph took the power with him to the grave, and we have been lost ever since. These “purists” I’ll call them (not going to say fundamentalists) look at everything that happened until Joseph’s death and seek to “restore” whatever it was that existed in that day (tithing, Word of Wisdom, etc.)
The question which keeps coming back to me is this: Why do we insist on restoring something that history proves did not work? We don’t know how long after the “Book of the Lamb” came out of the “mouth of a Jew” that it became corrupted. It seems, though, that it wasn’t much longer than a single generation. Yet, the Church insists that something called The Apostasy came along and merely put “the true church” on ice for 1700 years or so, and now we are just picking up where they left off. But if it didn’t work for them and was perverted so quickly, why would it work for us? Likewise, if we attempt to restore ourselves to what Joseph had in mind, isn’t it likely that we will fall into the same trap? While I have no doubts that Joseph was trying to tell us something important, how is it that we will come to understand it using the same failed approach? If we think we can know Joseph’s mind based on the tampered records we have, aren’t we going to repeat what happened with the “primitive church”? What’s to stop a recurrence of that history? Are we so much more enlightened and special than those in Christ’s or Joseph’s day?
I would even suggest that we cannot rely completely on the model given us in the Book of Mormon after Jesus’ death. Yes, the people had Zion on earth for three to four generations, but with that light came a higher degree of accountability, and ultimately they failed to the point that their whole culture was obliterated. So are we better than those Nephites, who had the pure record of the Brass Plates as well as (presumably) the extended words of Christ given in Bountiful AND the three who tarried (actual witnesses to the events of Christ’s day)?
If, as you say, “Mankind gets it wrong all the time. The great challenge is to finally get it right,” (which I believe is true), then why do we insist on “restoring” the thing which experience has proven wrong? If you believe the prophecies of the Book of Mormon, the Gentiles will eventually succeed to the point that they will be forever brought out of “captivity.” Sooner or later, they will take this “standard” to the rest of Israel, who will never again be “confounded” because of what the Gentiles teach them. I think that in order for these prophesies to be fulfilled, there needs to be innovation on the part of the Gentiles. I realize that this, too, can be a dangerous path to walk because the tendency is to become proud, puffed up, and to set ourselves up as a light. But I don’t see that it can be done without using our creativity to form a vessel that the Lord can finally fill. Will there be failures with this course of action? Yes, of course. We should expect and even welcome them, because it is by seeing our weaknesses that they become strengths.
Thankfully, we have been given some excellent guidelines to keep us from going off-track. I think the best ones were given by the Savior Himself at the Sermon in Bountiful when He sums up “perfection” as things like blessing those who curse you, walking a mile with those who ask, and looking past the performances of The Law and into our own hearts. We know that the Spirit of Christ is given to every person so that they may know good from evil, and anything that invites and persuades to “believe in Christ” is approved of God. Since we have an outline of what it means to believe Him, it is very helpful. Surely, there is a lot of wiggle room in our efforts to “finally get it right.” I believe we should be more afraid of not trying than of failure, because doing nothing means stagnation while failure gives us experience.
It is with this in mind that I would like to invite you and anyone else to participate in an “experiment” with me. Over the course of the last seven years, I have received a series of visions. In the process of searching to understand the meaning, I have developed a hypothesis of how the Lord manifests His heavenly gift to the world, and specifically how the Spirit has been “poured out” to the Gentiles. For the next 3 months, I will share what I have experienced with anyone who cares to read, at the following url: www.12visions.blogspot.com. I do not expect you or others to believe anything about what I have learned or what I share. In fact, I would like to remain anonymous and let the content speak for itself. On June 1, it will be exactly seven years since I received the initial vision, so that will be the day I post it.
The Book of Mormon tells us that someday the Gentiles and all the world will read a book containing the “words which were sealed…upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ…” I wonder, what is this “power of Christ” which will give people the ability to comprehend something that had previously been “hid from the eyes of the world”? In my opinion, the only way to find out is to experiment until something sticks. While we should not and cannot innovate God’s word, perhaps there are ways of seeing and understanding it that we have not tried. I hope that you are open to exploring the possibilities with me.
I cannot be responsible for what anyone says other than myself, or what others believe. Therefore I do not visit other sites, review other blogs, or read other writers when they are advancing new doctrine. I study history, and read a good deal of historical works. I read all the Joseph Smith Papers volumes as they come out. My wife keeps me informed about things on the Internet, when she believes I should hear about them. But I have little time to keep up with all I must do. Therefore I doubt I will ever see this, or any other website discussing new doctrinal thoughts. I'm focused on a return to the beginnings of Mormonism.