From time to time, I have heard Latter-day Saints refer to “the fulness of the gospel”. The context in which I have heard it seems to indicate the church contains the fulness of the gospel.
Take the following words of James E. Faust for example:
We believe the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in our time by the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . . We believe that the fulness of the gospel of Christ has been restored
But what is the gospel, and what is it like in its fulness?
We read in 3 Ne. 27:13-21 Jesus’s version of the gospel:
>This is the gospel which I have given unto you?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùthat I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
>And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù
>And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
>And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
>And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
>And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
>And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
>Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
>Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel;
It seems then that the gospel consists of the atonement, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Arguably, the last three items are part of the atonement. Even so, D&C 39:6 confirms how important of a role those three play in the gospel.
This is my gospel?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùrepentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.
So what does it look like in its fulness? Since the obvious answer might be the doctrine contained in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, maybe a better question would be: what does the gospel look like not in its fulness?
Some antonyms of fulness include: component, element, part, and particular. Perhaps then the gospel not in fulness would be the gospel in separate parts. This is probably the epitome of LDS belief regarding the Great Apostasy, viz other Christians had select parts, components or elements of the gospel, but not all of it. Some may believe in faith in Jesus, for example, but reject baptism by immersion.
I think it is important to point out what the fulness of the gospel is not. It’s not every doctrine, principle and practise of the Church. After all, if the fulness of the gospel constituted everything Latter-day Saints believe, then there would be no point in being governed by continuing revelation. In order for such a definition to constitute a fulness — that everything in the church is all there is — then the heavens must be closed.
And that’s a dangerous stance to take.