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If God Is Unchanging, Why Do the LDS Change So Much?

Sam was a Vietnam soldier, a writer of books and articles, an illustrator and a graphic artist. He also plays the piano and writes poetry.

Russell M. Nelson Announces Prolific Changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson

LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson

The 2017-2018 changes in policy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided a bundle of fodder for LDS detractors. Of special note is the tweet from President Russell M. Nelson on Nov. 1, 2018: “We are witnesses to the process of restoration. If you think the Church is fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There’s much more to come. Wait until next year and then next year. Eat your vitamins, get your rest. It’s going to be exciting!”

Opponents of the LDS Church have compared this quote with those of past prophets: Joseph Smith has said, “The Church of Christ has been fully restored.” Thomas S. Monson remarked, “The Restoration is complete.” Joseph Fielding Smith declared, “Only in these last days has the Church been fully restored.”

The opponents conclude that there is a contradiction there. The Church has been compared to a corporation who is looking to re-brand their image to bring in new people. They say these changes are the result of panic among Latter-day Saint authorities, caused by what they claim is "a mass exodus." They also claim that this exodus is the result of extensive information about the Church now available to the public through the internet.

These complaints show a lack of peripheral vision. In terms that Bible scholars would recognize, the opponents aren’t doing what they urge their readers to do: read things in context. If a person were to step back from the issue and take in more than what their biases would demand, they should see that there are two applications to the word “restoration.” There’s the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ, and there’s the restoration of all things. If we look closely at the organization of the Church, we would see that it hasn’t changed since Joseph Smith’s time. So Joseph was right: the Church’s restoration was complete in his day. What has changed is policy.

Changes in policy are necessary to an organization that lives through changing times. Jesus’s church also had experienced changes in policy, such as the expansion of missionary work to the gentiles. All updates or changes in policy to the LDS Church since its inception have been useful in helping its mission to continue smoothly and uninterrupted through persecution, expanding complications and changing paradigms in the membership. Changes in the temple initiatory work came about because of increased sensitivities. The manner of washing and anointing has changed, but the saving ordinances are the same. If the manner of administering had not been changed, then the temple experience for the people of our day would result in nervousness, which would have caused the attendees to not feel God’s presence.

Now, looking at President Nelson’s “updates,” we can plainly see that he isn’t changing the supporting structure of the Church. Therefore, one must conclude – even though President Nelson used the term “Church” – that he really meant “all things.” President Nelson joins the rest of humanity in the sense that none of us are perfect, and we’re bound to make a misnomer sooner or later.

The Bible speaks of a restoration of "all things," using the term "restitution:" Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The phrase "all things" shows that it isn't just the restoration of the Church, but of all things since the beginning of the world that God has ordained. As we look around, we can see that the restoration of the entire house of Israel is not complete. Therefore, we must – as President Nelson indicated – hold on to our hats. Surely, many things will have to be implemented in order to help with that milestone.

© 2018 Samuel E. Richardson


Samuel E. Richardson (author) from Salt Lake City, Utah on October 21, 2019:

Thank you Mark, it's good to have the support and opinions of people I know.

Mark Richardson from Utah on October 17, 2019:


Great article. I have also learned that policies change, but doctrine typically does not.

Samuel E. Richardson (author) from Salt Lake City, Utah on December 03, 2018:

Clark and Rodric, thank you for your input. Clark, the title of this hub is a question that our detractors asked. The question is repeated here in order to attract their attention so they can see my answer.

Clark Cook from Vancouver Area, Canada on December 03, 2018:

The corollary of the enquiry, "If God is unchanging, why does the LDS change so much?" is--God and Church are One. This must be so, or the question itself makes no sense. To a deep Believer in the efficacy of their Church, it doesn't matter. Faith is All. No student of the evolution of Christianity would ever accuse adherents of the LDS. . .or the many other sects of Protestantism, or the Catholic Church, of logic or common sense, anyway. Faith is all. Besides, God is God, but any Church is a Corporation, a business, and they are all run like AT & T, IBM, or Walmart. And you, Sir, know that to be true. How could it be otherwise? Temples are extremely expensive to build and maintain, salaries must be paid, utilities, phones, vehicles, the list goes on and on. Ceremonies and imperatives of practice must change to reflect changes in societal values etc. etc. In a nutshell--the answer to the operative question here is: the question is invalid. It should not have been asked in the first place.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on December 03, 2018:

This is an excellent commentary on the quote of President Nelson. The Church is a living body that has to change with the times. The things that do not change are the doctrines and the saving ordinances. Thanks for this article. My wife and I were discussing this very quote yesterday. We are looking forward to what God has in store for us.