jhp33 wrote:Let's assume a few things for a moment.
First, let's assume that the church's claim that the Bible has had many "plain and precious" things removed from it, and one of those things was more information about the organization of the church.
Let's also assume that the BoM does indeed hold "the fullness of the gospel" and that one of its purposes is to help fill in those gaps that the bible lacks due to the plain and precious things being taken out.
So, that would lead us to 3 Nephi to understand how Christ wants his church organized. How did he do it? What can we learn from how he organized the church when he visited the Nephites? Some things stand out to me:
First, he organized the sacrament, but quite differently than we practice it today.
3 Nephi mentions MULTIPLE times that those who partook of the sacrament did so "until they were filled." It's quite apparent to me that this isn't just some shallow spiritual euphemism. They literally ate bread and drank wine until their stomachs were full. Quite the juxtaposition to the small scraps of bread and shots of tap water we do today.
The sacrament in early Christianity was a meal and at one point Paul had to caution about people showing up just to eat. It was some time before it morphed into the symbolic meal we see now. Churches like RC, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, etc. refer to that part of the service as the liturgy of the table.
Second, Christ explicitly instructed his called disciples to partake first until they were full, THEN give to the multitude. Again, not how we do it today. Other ways our sacrament differs: he commanded them to sit "on the earth." We sit in pews. Also, Christ ordained ONE to bless and administer the sacrament to the disciples, to then distribute to the multitude. We use multiple priests.
Interesting that Christ closes out his sacramental instructions with the explicit charge that doing "more or less" than this is not of him and doing so is expressley forbidden. Yet, in our modern church we have taken it upon ourselves to change the ordinance, with no clear understanding as to why.
Churches are always changing to adapt to the situation. Acts and a good share of the epistles reflect that. Wanting things to be the same can give you a sense of legitimacy of what you're doing but just because something was doesn't mean it has to be now especially if it doesn't work. An Anglican priest said once that God doesn't expect you to check your brain at the door.
The only other information we have from Christ on the specific organization of his church is his calling of the 12 disciples in 3 Nephi 11 and 12.
Of note: he did not call 12 disciples plus an over-arching First Presidency. The first time we learn anything about a First Presidency being used is through Joseph Smith in D&C 81. It seems that the 12 disciples Christ called in the Americas were supposed to be a presiding council, with no one person being above another.
He also outlined the requirements for baptism: repentance and desire. That's it!
There's more, but I think you get my point, that it's very curious to me that how Christ chose to organize his church among the Nephites is so very different than
we observe it today, yet he explicitly instructed them that doing "more or less" than his instructions would put them on shaky ground and was not of him.
On this last point you're just going to have to decide if you take the BoM as gospel or if it's just a good story making some good points.