Andrew Skinner, dean of BYU Religious Education, spoke at the 34th annual Sydney B. Sperry Symposium at Brigham Young University in October. As reported in Church News (17 December 2005, page 10), Dr. Skinner indicated that, “When Joseph Smith walked out of the Sacred Grove, at least 14 things were clarified or reestablished that had been lost or unknown during the previous 1,700 years” (quote from the article, not a direct quote from Dr. Skinner). The list provided by Church News is as follows:
- God the Father and Jesus Christ are alive and reside in Heaven.
- Their relationship is a familial one—Father to Son.
- They are separate and distinct personages, not one spiritual essence.
- They possess a glory beyond description.
- They look, act, and speak like human beings.
- Humans are created in the image of the Father and the Son.
- The Father and the Son hear and answer prayers.
- The Father and the Son know individuals by name.
- There is an opponent to righteousness; he is real.
- That adversary to righteousness tries to thwart prayer.
- Revelation was a continuing reality 1,700 years after the so-called era of primitive Christianity.
- The Father testifies of His Son, and the Son of God deals directly with humankind.
- There had been an apostasy from Christ’s Church.
- None of the churches on the earth in Joseph’s day possessed the fulness of Christ’s gospel.
It’s notable that 8 out of the 14 items on Dr. Skinner’s list (those in red) were actually well known long before Joseph Smith came on the scene.