01 RESTORATION: What role did the Reformation play in preparing the world for the Restoration of the Gospel?

Associated Locations:

  • All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg, Germany – Martin Luther posts the “The Ninety-Five Theses”

Associated Dates:

  • October 31, 1517 – Martin Luther posts the “The Ninety-Five Theses”

Prophetic Statements

Lorenzo Snow

We can trace the Providences of the Almighty in raising up certain individuals to establish religious organizations, and we see in these things the workings of the Spirit of God for the general interest of the human family. 1

Joseph F. Smith

Calvin, Luther, Melanchthon, and all the reformers, were inspired in thoughts, words, and actions, to accomplish what they did for the amelioration, liberty and advancement of the human race. They paved the way for the more perfect gospel of truth to come. Their inspiration, as with that of the ancients, came from the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the one true and living God. 2

Joseph Fielding Smith

In preparation for this restoration the Lord raised up noble men, such as Luther, Calvin, Knox and others whom we call reformers, and gave them power to break the shackles which bound the people and denied them the sacred right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. The Almighty gave men their agency, or the power to act for themselves in choosing good or evil, before the foundation of the earth was laid; but the dragon, from the beginning when he was cast out of heaven, has endeavored to deprive men of this great gift of God.

In the days of greatest spiritual darkness, when evil raged, the Lord raised up honorable men, who rebelled against the tyranny of the dragon and his emissaries who held dominion on the earth, and had subdued in abject slavery the consciences of men.

Latter-day Saints pay all honor to these great and fearless reformers, who shattered the fetters which bound the religious world. The Lord was their Protector in this mission, which was fraught with many perils. In that day, however, the time had not come for the restoration of the fulness of the gospel. The work of the reformers was of great importance, but it was a preparatory work, and they shall in no wise lose their well earned reward.
It was not until the close of the first quarter of the nineteenth century that the time fully came for the restoration of light and truth in its primitive fulness. At that time the world had been prepared sufficiently, both by the establishment of political and religious liberty, for the Church of Jesus Christ and the holy priesthood to be again returned safely to the earth. 3

Supporting Statements

George Q. Cannon

We believe that God is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever; that he is a God of revelation, and that the reason he has not revealed himself for centuries is because the people so cruelly persecuted his anointed ones when he sent them into their midst. Their blood has cried for vengeance on the inhabitants of the earth, and he has closed the heavens, as it were, for centuries, our forefathers having been left only with such light as they could obtain without the Priesthood. But has he not bestowed his Holy Spirit upon men? Yes, millions of people have received the Holy Spirit to a certain extent, although not in its fulness.

Luther had it, when he was inspired to war against the iniquities that existed in the Romish Church. He was raised up especially to prepare the way for the manifestation of the work of God in the last days. Calvin and Melancthon had a portion of the Holy Spirit, and so had all the Reformers who followed them; and though they had not the authority to build up the Church of God in its ancient purity, they still had a work to do and they have come in their days and generations and have labored zealously, indefatigably and fearlessly, regardless of death, inspired of God to do the work which they performed in the various lands in which they labored—Germany, France, England, Scotland, and various parts of Europe, and also in our own land—America. John Wesley, also, was raised up and inspired of God to do a work, and he did it. 4

  1. Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, 14:304
  2. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.31
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:175
  4. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 14: 55
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