Restorationism – What is it?
Restorationism was a movement that began in the 19th century with the attempt to restore Christianity to its original focus and practices. A wide variety of groups arose during this time period, ranging from those associated with the Restoration Movement (various Christian Churches, Churches of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ) to Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Mormon Church/Church of the Latter-day Saints and it offshoots.
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As a result, any study of Restorationism involves a wide area of analysis and historical study. While some churches involved in the Restoration Movement have largely retained the beliefs of historic, orthodox Christianity, other movements are better classified as other religions that are no longer close enough to historic Christian or biblical teachings to be considered Christianity.
Two dangerous practices have often been observed among movements that emerged during this time. First, there is the danger of forming a new belief system that changes the essential teachings of biblical Christianity. For example, the Mormon Church belief system rejects the Trinity, a historic teaching of orthodox Christianity. Jehovah's Witnesses teach Jesus was a created being, contrary to John 1:1, Colossians 1:16, and other biblical passages. In both of these movements, additional "Scriptures" have also been developed, such as the Book of Mormon (Mormon Church) and the much-changed New World Translation of the Bible used by Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jude 1:3 also notes the importance of keeping the faith as given by Christ: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Though Jude desired to write about salvation, false teaching within the church caused him to address the important issue of standing firm for the faith as originally given. The Scriptures serve as the guide for accomplishing this task, offering God's revealed wisdom for those who desire to follow Him.
The second danger is that of exclusivism. Many of the traditions that developed during this period of Restorationism rejected all denominations and Christian groups, accepting only their own system as correct. Often this same exclusivism included devotion to a charismatic founder or leader who was formative in developing the key teachings and practices of the movement. In contrast, Scripture calls Jesus the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22). The Bible also speaks of the importance of unity in the faith and beliefs of Christianity (Ephesians 4:1-6).
What is the goal of the Restoration Movement?
Neo-orthodoxy – What is it?
What is the key to recognizing false teachers?
Why is sound doctrine so crucial?
Why does Christian doctrine cause so much division?
Truth about False Beliefs