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Saturday
Mar262011

Apostasy

"I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet."
— Joseph Smith (History of the Church 6:408)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be the only true Christian church. This comes from Joseph Smith's First Vision where he was allegedly informed that all churches were corrupt. For this to be true, it requires that sometime after Jesus Christ founded his church it went into complete apostasy.
B.H. Roberts Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

B.H. Roberts - Mormon apostle and church historian
History of the Church, vol. 1, p.XLII
James E. Talmage If the alleged apostasy of the primitive church was not a reality, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the divine institution its name proclaims.

James E. Talmage - Mormon apostle
The Great Apostasy, preface

Since Mormonism claims to be restored Christianity, it assumes that it is identical today to the church Jesus Christ founded. Mormons also assume, by necessity, that where mainstream Christian doctrine and biblical scripture differ, it is the result of corruption.
B.H. Roberts But if men through apostasy had corrupted the Christian religion and lost divine authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, it was of the utmost importance that a new dispensation of the true Christian religion should be given to the world.

B.H. Roberts - Mormon apostle and LDS church historian
History of the Church, vol. 1, p.XLII


Condemning Christianity

Mormon prophets have voiced their disdain for the rest of Christianity.
John Taylor Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.

John Taylor - Mormon prophet
Journal of Discourses 6:25
Brigham Young The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.

Brigham Young - Mormon prophet
Journal of Discourses 8:171
Brigham Young With regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.

Brigham Young - Mormon prophet
Journal of Discourses 8:199
John Taylor What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall and what they shall not believe in. Why, so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.

John Taylor - Mormon prophet
Journal of Discourses 13:225


Condemning the Catholic Church

The Book of Mormon speaks of an "abominable church" that is the "whore of all the earth" founded by the devil. This church allegedly removed "plain and precious" truths from the Bible.
1 Nephi 13:5,6,8,32,34; 13:26,28; 14:3,9,15,17; 22:13,14; 2 Nephi 6:12; 28:18

General authorities have identified the abominable church as the Catholic church.
Bruce R. McConkie It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization.

Bruce R. McConkie - Mormon apostle
Mormon Doctrine, p.130 1958
Orson Pratt Who founded the Roman Catholic Church? The Devil, through the medium of Apostates.

Orson Pratt - Mormon apostle
The Seer, p.205

The Mormon church has backed away from these statements. After authorizing Orson Pratt to publish The Seer in 1853, it later condemned unidentified portions of it 12 years later. The church also forced Bruce R. McConkie to republish a softer toned Mormon Doctrine.

However the question remains: if not the Catholic church, what is the abominable church that allegedly removed truths from the Bible?


Distrust of the Bible

While the King James Version is part of the LDS canon of scripture, Mormons generally regard it as less authoritative than other Mormon scripture. Whenever the Bible is silent or contradicts modern LDS doctrine, Mormons consider it a result of corruption during the alleged apostasy.
  • The Book of Mormon says that an abominable Church (presumably the Catholic church) removed plain and precious truths from the Bible.
    Book of Mormon Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. v.28

    ... because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. v.32
    — 1 Nephi 13:28,32
  • This second rate treatment is evidenced in the eighth Article of Faith:
    Joseph Smith We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
  • The biblical texts were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. That there are minor errors in English translations is a given. The burden is on the Mormon church to prove where any error has resulted in corrupted doctrine.
  • That Joseph performed his own translation of the Bible, called the Inspired Version, complicates the Mormon claim that the Bible has not been translated correctly.
    Bruce R. McConkie The Joseph Smith Translation, or Inspired Version, is a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth.

    Bruce R. McConkie - Mormon apostle
    Ensign, June, 1999


The Book of Mormon spared the apostasy

The Book of Mormon should have been spared corruption from any apostasy as it was allegedly buried for 1,406 years. Therefore we should expect it to contain pure Christian doctrine. However the Book of Mormon mostly echoes the teachings in the Bible.

The Book of Mormon is silent on the peculiar doctrines that separate Mormonism from Christianity, including:
  • Aaronic priesthood
  • Baptisms for the dead
  • Celestial marriage
  • Church organization
  • Exaltation
  • Polytheism
  • Three heavens

An Apostle and Three Disciples
LDS scripture contradicts the notion that Christianity suffered a complete apostasy.
  • In the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 28 says that three disciples would not die so they could preach the gospel until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  • Doctrine and Covenants, Section 7 says that the Apostle John would not die so he could preach the gospel until the second coming of Jesus Christ.


Conclusion

Jesus Christ made several promises that give us assurance that an apostasy never took place.
Jesus Christ "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."
— Matthew 16:18

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
— Matthew 28:19-20

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever."
— John 14:16


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