The Interview: Celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of the Restoration has proven to be one of the few highlights of 2020 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In commemoration, the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles issued a Bicentennial Proclamation that boldly affirmed beliefs in a restored church, restored priesthood authority (including priesthood keys), restored revelation through living prophets, and a restored fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This declaration affirmed church leaders’ consistent message regarding the importance of past revelations and the Latter-day Saint Church’s future path.
President Russell M. Nelson and other apostles have repeatedly reminded members of the church that God’s work of restoration began with Joseph Smith, but it didn’t end with him. We believe in an “ongoing Restoration”—an organic, dynamic process by which God continues to breathe life into both the church and the world not just yesterday but today and tomorrow and always. As Latter-day Saints, we hold it as an article of faith that God has much work yet to do, and many things yet to say, in the gradual unfolding of his kingdom in these modern times.
There are indeed many things that needed restoration: the fulness of the gospel, the priesthood, the church, covenants, ordinances, spiritual gifts, and so forth. We call this whole package “the restoration of all things.” But I would suggest that God isn’t concerned with restoring “things,” no matter how important, so much as he is with using those things to restore what matters most. And what is that? Nephi explained that the restoration of the various branches of Israel—the Jews, the scattered tribes, and the remnant of Lehi—would all be accomplished not just for their own sake but as part of something bigger. What could be more significant than the gathering of Israel? The work of salvation, reconciliation, and healing whereby God will “bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.”
In other words, “the restoration of all things” is designed with one grand aim in mind: to restore God’s people—our Father and Mother’s children, their eternal family—to wholeness.
Those of us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren’t the only ones called to restore God’s family to wholeness—the work is too big, as 0.2% of the world’s population, to do by ourselves. But we are called to do some very special things. We are called to lives of holiness—that through the gift of the Atonement the title “saint” becomes less aspirational and more actual each day. We are called to extend that holiness beyond our personal lives into our communities, thereby working toward the establishment of God’s social ideal, which we call Zion. We are called to proclaim the name and gospel of Jesus to every corner of the world. We are called to seal together the whole human family, alive and dead, in one great web of mutuality.
But if we are to fulfill our mission, we cannot be content with restoring things, no matter how powerfully those things work in our lives and our world. We are called to restore God’s people. We do so in imitation of Jesus, who loves all humanity but whose heart beats in sympathy with the oppressed and marginalized children of God. When he first proclaimed his messiahship, he did so by quoting Isaiah, the great prophet of Israel’s scattering and restoration:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
The poor. The brokenhearted. The captives. The blind. The bruised. These are the people to whom the Messiah’s anointing is specially directed. Any restoration we claim to participate in as disciples of Jesus must therefore be primarily oriented toward those who have suffered on the margins of history and currently suffer on the margins of society. Those who are despised, and rejected, scattered, and deemed “filthy.” Refugees and displaced persons. Immigrants. The poor. The homeless. Racial and sexual minorities. Those who suffer from disabilities or mental illness. Victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. It is toward these precious souls that our particular work of restoration must be focused, as we do our small part in bringing about the “restoration of his people upon the earth.”
This post has been adapted from Patrick Q. Mason, Restoration: God’s Call to the 21st-Century World (Meridian, ID: Faith Matters Publishing, 2020).
This podcast is cross-posted with the permission of LDS Perspectives Podcast.
I continue to be disappointed and annoyed with anything I read from Mason (I am not responding to the interview, which I consider a waste of time, but to the summary). Liberal ideologies don’t mix well with gospel truths.
Yes, Pres. Nelson and others of the FP & 12 have spoken about further Restoration taking place. But there are certain “things” that it can’t be.
It can’t be more priesthood and keys, because we already have all that the Lord wants us to have for now. If this were not so, we would be left wondering what we haven’t yet got. Is there something lacking in our baptism or confirmation or eternal marriage that hasn’t been restored yet? Of course not. Else all previous gospel ordinances and temple work done so far in this dispensation is lacking in some way.
Is there something in the ongoing quest to “perfect the Saints” that we are missing? I think not. I think the atonement of Jesus Christ has repentance and forgiveness and healing “woundedness” and mental illness and emotional problems and Covid as covered as it ever did and ever will.
Is there something in our missionary work/program lacking? We could always do better but we have always taken the gospel to all who would accept it, including the “groups” listed by Mason. Some can’t have it without repentance and changing their course in life, but all who will be obedient and accept the conditions upon which it is offered can have it. So all has been restored there. (Since 1978 Blacks have the priesthood and temple ordinances.)
Is there more to be restored to gather Israel/God’s people? Moses already restored the keys of the gathering of Israel (D&C 110) so what was needed was given; Mason is dead wrong there. And a vast incomprehensible work is going on in the Spirit World so we don’t need to panic about the church’s comparatively small size.
Is the church organization perfect? No, certain things get adjusted from time to time, but the main things are in place. More adjustments will undoubtedly be made, but the basics are in place.
The scriptures do indicate that more spiritual/heavenly knowledge and truths will be restored/revealed/granted. We can look forward to some of that, as the Brethren and the Lord determine how to best restore knowledge without the world/Babylon (and even some in the church) mocking and ridiculing it. Recent refinements in the temple presentation narration seem to do some of that (like completely destroying evolution)
So I will pay attention to what the apostles and prophets teach us, and not what a liberal academic says. Again, liberal philosophies and worldly thinking doesn’t mix with the gospel. I just can’t help but surmise that Pres. Nelson would have a hard time recognizing his statements and thinking in how Mason interprets them.
I am in total agreement with your comments. Mr. Mason desperately forces “Woke” theology into the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through his pedantic narratives and writings.
It is really disappointing that no one challenges him on his insistence of supporting leftist ideology while masquerading it as the teaching of Christ. He is actively trying to rewrite the context of the Gospel to fit his vision of God.
I allowed this comment, but it borders on a personal disparagement of Dr. Mason rather than any substantive interaction. It would be better if you used examples of where he might be rewriting the Gospel rather than providing a different perspective on it.
Thank you for this episode. I loved the question posed: If church membership growth has stabilized across the globe over the last decade or so, and it doesn’t look like church membership will ever grow past 0.5% worldwide, then how should we understand our role as members and missionaries?
15 years ago when I was a missionary in Bolivia it was always disheartening to me that my *numbers* were always so low. While most missionaries spent their time befriending 10 year olds and baptizing them, thus inflating their numbers, I was always searching for a full family to convert, or someone who could be considered a responsible adult, to introduce them to the gospel. Everything revolved around more and more converts, ‘get those numbers up.’ I never understood it.
And even when we did have an ideal baptism, if we want to term it that way, the wards did not have the spiritual resources to nourish them with the good word of God once we (the missionaries) had done our part, and many would leave the church shortly after baptism.
This episode addressed a topic that had been floating around my heart for a while. Maybe our idea of missionary work should be repurposed at least when it comes to to day to day obligations.
This is what I got out of the interview. Many subjects were talked about, I know.