A central point of the doctrines of the Latter Day Saints Church (Mormons) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among other groups, is that the church that Christ founded and passed on to the Apostles became corrupted through the subsequent works of man. This corruption was so widespread and ran so deep that a “restoration” was required to restore a real church of God to the world.
Both groups allege that at the time of the founding of their particular organizations, there were no churches on earth that were authentic churches of Jesus — everyone else had fallen away and it was the actions of their founders that “restored” Jesus’ church on this earth. Simply put, the church had become a bunch of heretics and God needed to intervene to restore a real church of God to the planet.
Putting aside the evidentiary argument to the contrary, the question I was pondering today is whether proponents of this doctrine think about what it means in light of Matthew 16:17-18:
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
So we have God speaking to Peter about the church that He is establishing through the Apostles. God says very clearly that He is building His, Jesus’, church. Jesus is the one that is the builder, not man. Jesus continues and makes the very clear statement that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church He is building. It is a clear statement of truth by the Savior of the World who by His nature is incapable of lying. Simple enough, Satan will never beat the church, right?
Fast forward a couple of thousand years to the time just before Joseph Smith graced the world or the Watchtower Society sprung up in Brooklyn. The claim of the “restorers” is that there are no correct churches on the entire land — all have gone off the rails and entered the realm of the heretics. What does that mean? Well, clearly that the enemy of the church has been successful and Satan and the gates of Hell have prevailed against the church! Jesus has failed at the job of building His church. Egads — it feels terrible even writing it!
If no church was true at the time of the supposed restoration of the church of Jesus than Jesus did not do His job as builder very well. If no church is true at the time of the restoration then Satan defeated the church for a time. Again – egads!
How can this make sense if Jesus said He is the builder and the church will not be overcome? Simple question which I would submit leads to a simple answer. It doesn’t.