The Pen

Sub-Christian Teachings: Restorationism

Please note: Restorationism is not a heresy that puts one outside of Christianity per se, but it is an exceedingly dangerous sub-Christian teaching.
Restorationism – sometimes known a Primitivism – became a prominent heresy in 19th Century America, although its roots have exposed themselves periodically throughout history. The movement teaches that the modern church (as an institution) has become thoroughly corrupt and does not reflect the historical church of the Apostolic age. Because of this assertion, Restorationism desires to restore what has been lost and return the church to its primitive state.
Adherents of Restorationism include the Landmarkists, Campbellites (the Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ), Christodelphians, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Local churches (aka Living Streams Ministries), the Plymouth Brethren and others.
Restorationism typically includes some of the following traits:

  • Antipathy toward the established, visible church
  • Antipathy toward denominationalism and an insistence that ecclesiastical division is sinful (typically, but not always, claiming to be the “true church”)
  • A belief that the Restorationist church is a perfect reflection of the Apostolic church
  • A denial of the importance of historic theology
  • The affirmation of Solo Scriptura over Sola Scriptura
  • A deconstruction of church history and tradition
  • An assertion that the church-at-large is universally apostate and that their particular sect is the only uncompromised group left

Those engaging in Restorationism deny the continuity and miraculous nature by which Christ has built his church, and denies the church has been built by Christ, rather assuming the true Church of Christ has been lost throughout history and must be refound. Likewise, Restorationists often – if not almost always – present bizarre and unbiblical solutions to the universal apostasy they allege has befallen the church. Like the proto-Restorationist, Roger Williams, Restorationists end up leaving the actual organized church and thus become adversarial to it.
Many Restorationists do not belong to a particular denomination, and the ideology is adopted widely throughout Christianity today.