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Matthew 5:17-18 says:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

It seems to me that the LDS tradition includes so much new revelation (ex: God as a created being). How is this necessary if Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law? Is this new revelation fulfilling something?

Additional Note

If it’s unclear what I’m asking, look at it this way:

The law of the Old Testament, especially when it comes to sacrifice, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, in the LDS faith, the new revelation given to Joseph Smith doesn’t seem to fulfill anything. In fact, it seems like a total upheaval of Christian Orthodoxy. What’s the reason behind this difference?

2 Answers 2

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The Law of Moses

Latter-day Saints believe that the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ. In addition to the passages in Hebrews that teach this, it is also expressly stated in 3 Nephi 9:

17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

...

19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit...

(see also 2 Nephi 25:24-25)

This does not mean that all laws were abolished--Jesus indeed gave quite a few commands Himself, as did His apostles--the technical term "the Law" as used in the New Testament is a reference to the Law of Moses.

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Dispensations

Latter-day Saints believe that the scriptures contain many examples of dispensations of the Gospel--God dispenses truth anew through a contemporary, authorized spokesman. This does not invalidate the revelation given in prior dispensations, in fact, each of the major dispensations in the Old Testament (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses) utilized both what God has said in the past and what God was saying today.

Why didn't God just reveal everything all at once, once and for all? I propose at least 3 reasons why He did not do this:

  1. People weren't ready for it (see John 16:12)
  2. People had changed the teachings, ordinances, and covenants God previously revealed (e.g. see Isaiah 24:5)
  3. God gives the guidance people need for the time. He told Noah how to make Noah's ark; He told Moses how to make Moses' ark. He didn't tell Noah how to make the ark of the covenant. Latter-day Saints very much believe that God speaks authoritatively today to address questions--some of which are unique features of our time--so that His will & expectations are clear. A good example of this would be the Family Proclamation, revealed in 1995.

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Apostasy, and Restoration

Latter-day Saints see in the Bible & the Book of Mormon the regular occurrence of apostasy and restoration (see a more thorough discussion here). Apostasy, or rebellion against God, can happen at an individual or general level. In cases of general apostasy, God has at times withdrawn priesthood keys from a group of people until the time is right to restore them.

That it is merciful for God to not give a group of people more light, knowledge, and truth than they are ready for, is very effectively taught in Luke 12:47-48 and in Doctrine & Covenants 82:3.

As has occurred multiple times in the past, Latter-day Saints believe that God revealed anew the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation through an authorized spokesperson (aka a prophet) in modern times, ending a period of general apostasy and beginning a new dispensation. We believe that the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith (e.g. see Doctrine & Covenants 1:17-18)


Appendix

What about other Christians?

We believe there are many good, sincere people among other denominations, and we do not suggest they discard the truth they have. Rather, we suggest that the doctrines taught outside of the restored church of Jesus Christ are incomplete, and some of them are incorrect. I do not say this to offend anyone--I have great respect for many people of other faiths--but to acknowledge what we believe.

What about the unreached?

Latter-day Saints believe that those who did not have an opportunity to learn of the Gospel will have that opportunity in the next life (see Doctrine & Covenants 138). I do not believe anyone will be denied the opportunity (though many may reject said opportunity) to receive every blessing of the Gospel simply because of the circumstances of their birth.

New revelation vs. restoration of what was previously known

Much of what Nicene Christianity sees as "new revelation", Latter-day Saints see as a restoration of things that were once known. A very thorough, scholarly treatment showing that Latter-day Saint teachings on the Nature of God, the Premortal Existence, the Fall, Grace vs. Works, Theosis, Ordinances, Preaching the Gospel to the Dead, Multiple degrees of glory, Marriage, and more, were taught anciently and are evident in the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, is found in The Inevitable Apostasy by Tad R. Callister.

Note, the concept of God as a created being is not a particularly effective description of Latter-day Saint beliefs on Theosis. We believe God is an exalted man; we are of the same "species" as God. We also believe that men are eternal beings. None of us had an absolute beginning, so in that sense none of us were created out of nothing, and there was never a point where we did not exist. We have progressed (e.g. before birth we had a spirit but no physical body), but we never did not exist:

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (Doctrine & Covenants 93:29)


Disclaimer: these thoughts are the product of my own study and do not constitute official statements by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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  • What’s the purpose of the disclaimer? You obviously aren’t a leader in it (or are you)
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 2:12
  • 2
    @LukeHill it's something I started doing on my YouTube channel, it felt presumptuous (to me) to try to speak for Latter-day Saints collectively, and I certainly don't have the authority to speak for the church generally. So in my posts where I say things like "We believe..." I try to remember to throw in a disclaimer. I've served in a variety of local leadership roles, but since we have a lay clergy, those roles are temporary. Commented May 30, 2022 at 2:33
  • 1
    gotcha. I find it worth asking, it seems to me that Jesus is at least compatible with Jewish understandings of atonement and forgiveness. But it seems like LDS is incompatible with both Judaism and Christianity entirely, when taking into account its view of God as a created being.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 2:42
  • @LukeHill yeah Theosis is certainly something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But I don't see that God as a created being necessarily follows from Theosis; I believe God has existed forever, even if He has not been exalted forever, so it would be misleading to refer to Him as a created being. Commented May 30, 2022 at 3:38
  • it seems to me that theosis implies God has lacked the substance that makes him God, which is contrary to the orthodoxy of Gods immutability. But I’m not an LDS scholar so I could be wrong.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 6:36
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Revelation is purely communication from God to His children. If no other doctrine/teaching was 'revealed' (that differs from other Christian denominations), revelation today would be equally important. It allows us, God's children, to know he loves us as much as those people anciently. He hears and answers our prayers (personal revelation). If one examines much of the latter half of the New Testament they'd find countless examples of additional revelation, even though Jesus was no longer on the earth. He still wants to guide us, and revelation is how he does so.

Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints receive revelation that seems to contradict Orthodox Christian beliefs? Because gospel truths had been lost slowly over the years. The LDS faith believe an apostasy, or falling away of gospel principles began soon after Christ left the earth. Much of the New Testament (after the gospels) is the apostles writing epistles attempting to stem the false beliefs from creeping into the church at the time or chastising saints for their bad choices (importance of revelation...man can make bad choices, but God can guide us).

The founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began when Joseph Smith noted, "so great [was] the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong."1 I believe that this confusion and strife can still be seen today in the countless Christian denominations. After praying to know which denomination he, Joseph, should join (JSH 1:18), Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father appeared unto him and answered, "... that [he] must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed [him] said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof."2

Since that time prophets have guided the Church, with many revelations leading to a restoration of the church originally established by Jesus Christ during His mortal lifetime. So while there are a decent amount of revelations that might be 'shocking' to Orthodox Christianity its only because a doctrine, practice, or teaching had disappeared or changed over years to be unrecognizable to the Church that was on the earth when Jesus was in mortality, and it is now restored. Most of the revelations though have scriptural backing. I would also add that twice a year when prophets and apostles address the world that while it can be considered revelation, much of it also isn't new, but expounding a basic gospel principle that can be found in other scripture (like when scriptures say similar things; they reaffirm doctrine).

See also:

1 JSH 1:8

2 JSH 1:19

God as a created being isn't quite how LDS would put it, nor does it reduce Him being God in any fashion. There are other answers on this site that address that topic though

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  • What doctrine did the church fall away from, specifically?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 1:22
  • @LukeHill a few (some aren't necessarily doctrine). The LDS believe the priesthood was lost which includes a church led by prophets and apostles nd the plan of salvation are probably the biggest that come to mind.
    – depperm
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 2:41
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    do you have any citations of the early church that adhere to the Mormon plan of salvation?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 2:43
  • @LukeHill there are multiple bible verses that support it
    – depperm
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 3:24
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    firstly, I’d like to hear those, second, that’s not what I asked. If the church has been corrupted, we should be able to at least look to the earliest of Christians and they shouldn’t be corrupted. If they have, then Christ did terrible job establishing his church.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 6:05

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