Vol.XIX No.XI Pg.4
January 1983

Restoration Concepts

Robert F. Turner

The plea in religious circles to "restore" is an old one. The "restoration movement" of the Campbell and Stone era was not new. Others, correctly or otherwise, have felt a need to "restore," and concepts of restoration can be found in history as well as among us today.

Joseph Smith sought a "restoration of the gospel." Based upon the false premise that the original gospel had been corrupted, (1 Nephi 13:32), he thought it was restored when he gave the Book of Mormon to men.

Mormons also want to "restore the church" and thus they vainly seek to restore the priesthood, prophets, and apostolic office.

These concepts of restoration are obviously based upon erroneous ideas and lead away from, rather than to, the truth.

And there are also some among "us" today who would "restore." But when appeals are made to Campbell, Stone, the Declaration and Address, the "restoration brotherhood," and our "restoration heritage," one wonders if all some want to restore is the "Restoration Movement." Others talk in a careless way of "restoring the New Testament church" and "the proper name."

But these concepts of restoration, if not carefully clarified, are as dangerous as the others. A restoration movement with Alexander Campbell at the center of it is no better than one with Joseph Smith as the focal point: one makes Campbellites, the other Mormons, and neither produces Christians. Those that seek a restoration of "the church" without an accurate concept of "church" have done us no favor either. And, "restorations" that are merely outward are of no benefit: simply changing the name we wear or the sign on the building does nothing to change the heart.

And yet, true restoration is needed and can be had. It all depends. For one thing, the proper concept of restoration itself needs to be restored. We need to ask ourselves, " What needs to be restored and how do we go about it?" Ezra knew: "Ezra set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances," (7:10). Restoring a proper regard in the hearts of men for God's will is the "what" and teaching is the "how."

Then, restoration must begin with "us." Appeals to others to forsake traditions and creeds and to "do it the first century way" will fall on deaf ears if we are unwilling to do the same thing, (Rom. 2:1, 21).

"Restore New Testament Christianity" — what a noble sentiment! Yet... if we better appreciated what is involved in this, I wonder if it would really be so attractive.

Brethren, it just might mean that some drastic changes would have to take place in our thinking and practices if we did some true restoration. But, after all, isn't that what restoration is all about?

David Smitherman