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THE GREAT APOSTASY

The Mormon church claims to be the restored church. This restoration supposedly was necessary because there was a "total" apostasy of the early church soon after the apostles died, and that apostasy left the world without any true church for over 1700 years. This is an important issue, for it is the whole reason given for the existence of the LDS church, as well as the reason it condemns all other churches. You could call it an all-or-none issue. (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 and I Nephi 14:10, and J.S. 2:19)

I will respond directly to the proof texts used by LDS(marked in bold below), but first, I'd say we need to analyze precisely what needed restoring? What was lost through apostasy? Four things, allegedly: lost truth, a channel for progressive revelation, the lost church, and lost authority. Let's deal with them one by one.

Lost truth
I Nephi chapter 13 in the Book of Mormon tells of an abominable church that took away "plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb", even covenants, leaving the world in an awful state of blindness (vs. 13-26).

But the Bible says, "His truth endureth to all generations." (Psalm 100:5). And Christ said in Matthew 5:18 and 24:35 that "one jot or one tittle of the law shall in no wise pass til all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (See also Isa. 40:8 and I Peter 1:23-25.)

What about "lost books" mentioned in the Bible? Whether such lost books were actually scripture just because they were mentioned in scripture is one issue that must be raised. But even if ONE record pertaining to a past covenant period had been lost, that would not be the same as a truth being lost, for God's truths were repeated in His Word many times ("In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established." I Cor. 6:2) If no truth was lost, as the Bible states, then none needed to be restored.

A Channel for Progressive Revelation
The ninth Article of Faith of the Mormon church indicates that God "will reveal many real and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." II Nephi 29:6 also indicates that the Bible is not enough for mankind, calling one a fool who says it is all we need.

But the Bible indicates that Christ gave a complete 'package' of new covenant revelation when he was on the earth.: "But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth...." John 14:26, 16:13 (See also Jude 3, Heb. 1:1-2, II Peter 1:3, II Tim. 3:16-17, Acts 20:27, Rom. 15:20).

Our present "gospel" is the new covenant. (compare I Cor. 15:1-4, Acts 10:43, Heb. 8:10-13, II Cor. 3:6 and Rom. 15:16). A covenant is a contract. Neither God nor man would expect anyone to enter into a contract before all the terms and conditions were spelled out. When Christ spilled His life-blood on the cross He ratified or put into effect the new covenant as an everlasting covenant (Matt. 26:28, Heb. 9:16-20, 13:20) Allow me to compare this covenant to a contract to buy a house. How would you feel, if 10 years after you signed the contract as the buyer, the other party came back and tried to add on some more provisions (requirements) to the contract? By the same token, the new covenant as written in the Bible is a complete (salvation) covenant - we need expect no more. Nevertheless, many of the new concepts in the Mormon "Doctrine and Covenants" are referred to as gospel covenants, and indeed relate to eternal life. But the Biblical new covenant was to be in effect at least until Christ's return. Until then, we need no more revelation regarding our plan of salvation.

The Lost Church
How universal was the apostasy that caused the church to be "taken from the earth"? According to Joseph Smith's first vision story (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:19), ALL the churches were wrong in ALL of their creeds, and ALL their professors were corrupt. Other writings likewise indicate that Mormons believe the great apostasy was total or univeral - no more authorized church on the earth.

The Bible speaks of apostasies, but only of partial apostasies(see I Tim. 4:1, II Tim. 3:1-5). A partial apostasy (some turning from truth) would not mean the church ceased to exist; it would only mean its size diminished. There isn't a single verse in the Bible that speaks (in context) of a total apostasy of the Church at any stage of its existence. All of the proof texts suggested by Mormons deal with either apostasy of Israel (Amos 8:11, Isa. 29) a partial apostasy during the church age, or apostasy during the tribulation period (future). The latter is the case with II Thess. 2:3, where the context speaks of the revealing and destruction of the man of sin(2:8). If I've missed some other verses that don't seem to fit the above categories, please let me know!

The preservation of the church is indicated in many Bible passages. Matthew 16:18 says, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Ephesians 3:21 speaks of the church bringing glory to God throughout all ages - and that includes the 'dark ages'! Its preservation is the responsibility of Christ (Eph. 5:23,29) who is spoken of as the one who nourishes, cherishes and preserves it(King James 'savior'). Ephesians 4:15-16 states that the church will grow and increase, and that is what is pictured in the kingdom parables of Matthew 13:24-33. Luke 1:33 says there would be no end to Christ's kingdom. It seems to me that the notion that Christ deserted the church(his bride), or starved it of truth or authority when it most needed those things, is a great insult to Christ's character as the Almighty God, and as a role model for husbands (Rev. 1:8, 11,18; Eph. 5:22-25).

Lost Authority
Mormons equate the terms priesthood and authority. But the Aaronic and Melchisedek priesthoods which they claim to have restored should have been left 'dead'! Why? Because the Aaronic priesthood was changed under the new covenant (Heb. 7:11-12, 18,22); it was a change from MANY Aaronic priests to ONE Melchisedek priest - Christ (Heb. 7:15, 21-22).

And Christ, as our high priest, does not pass on his job because he never dies(only one person at a time was to be high priest Biblically , because only one man went into the holy of holies to do the day of atonement sacrifice annually - Ex. 30:10, John 18:10,13) That is the meaning of Heb. 7:24. This change makes sense when we realize that the primary job of an old testament priest was to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin(Heb. 5:1). Their offerings all looked forward symbolically to the Savior and Lamb of God who would make a once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:11-15,27).

The only sort of priesthood that pertains to us under the new covenant is mentioned in I Peter 2:5 and 9, and Revelation 1:6. It is for all believers (male and female, even baby Christians according I Peter 2:2) who have been washed in Christ's blood, and is called a "royal priesthood". It indicates our direct access to God, which was also demonstrated by the temple veil being torn in half from the top to the bottom when Christ died. New covenant 'priests' offer spiritual sacrifices, such as praise (Heb. 13:15, I Peter 2:5).

The Bible clearly indicates that Christ's authority was never taken from the earth, for Christ said, "All power (i.e. authority) is given unto me... and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20; see also Matt. 18:20) To have Christ in us is to have the source of all authority in us. Heb. 13:5 promises Christ will never leave or forsake believers.

What about apostolic authority? Mormons say when the apostles died the authority was lost. But the apostles were not the only ones to receive such authority - see Titus 1:5, 2:15. Was it mere coincidence that not a single record is given of an apostle ordaining an apostle to succeed himself?  Instead, in every church elders and bishops were ordained as leaders. Seems like that was that the plan. The apostles were a part of the foundation of the church, but once the church got past the foundation stage, other officers were needed to carry it on to later growth stages. That is why no qualifications are given for the selection of apostles in the Bible. "The twelve" do  have a special place in history (Rev. 21:14) as the first ones called by Christ.  But if the NUMBER/structure is what we have to follow, consider this: There were perhaps 18 apostles in the early church:   Matthias (Acts 1:26 ), Barnabas, Acts 14:14, Andronicus and Junia (a gal?), Rom. 16:7, James (Gal. 1:19), Silvanus and Timothy I Thess 1:1, 2:6. and Paul,  Rom. 11:13.  Should the LDS church have 18?

Interestingly, even the Book of Mormon contradicts the "lost authority" theory. In III Nephi 28 we are told of 3 disciples who were given great authority and who were granted their desire to not die but continue to live and bring men to Christ. If they were still alive when the first vision came along, why would God have condemned the churches they had gotten going over the 18 centuries of time they had to do it? They were given special protection against Satan and had had direct contact with the Savior (so their message should have remained pure and complete). How could there have been either lost truth or lost authority if III Nephi 28 is true?   Also we find Alma in Mosiah 18 baptizing without ANY title or authority.  ??

What has the LDS church restored? According to the Bible - nothing. The image of Christ being unable to keep his church functioning and on track is an insult to Him - a doubt of His promises rather than faith in Him. It is Jesus' word against Joseph's. Who are you going to trust?

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