[quote=mormon fool]I never was very good at self-discipline.
So here goes my top 10 reasons for believing in the apostasy:
- God said so (as reported by Joseph Smith).
- Hugh Nibley said so in his “40 variations on an unpopular theme”, “The World and the Prophets”, and other works.
- Barry Bickmore said so in his book on “Restoring the Ancient Church”, and debates with Steve Clifford.
- James Talmage said so in his book " The Great Apostasy".
- I interpret the scriptures as containing a history of apostasy/restoration cycles.
- I interpret the Bible as predicting an apostasy: 2 Thes. 2 ish, etc., etc. and ignore the counter proof-texts.
- The fruits of an apostasy are evident in every church besides (insert church title here).
- I am un-impressed with all the counter-arguments (so-far).
- I selectively use quotes of apostolic fathers and company to support my position :).
- My philosophy about God is that He is powerful enough to grant his children free (moral) agency and that they are free* to cafeteria style reject some of His gospel. And at the same time He is merciful enough not to condemn any one who does not have an opportunity to accept His whole gospel.
I will have to get to how, when, and (more of) why it happened later. Some nice questions and observations have been made that I will have to get to later. If I write too much about the apostasy, will I get in trouble with the moderators? I am sure you all can refute me, but I don’t want to be disrespectful. I listed the references in answer above if anyone really wants to see an articulate presentation.
*free to decide what they will do but not free to decide the consequences.
Not sure how to take this post since part of it seems to be a joke. Let me point out a few things though. Your first 4 reasons are based on third-person perspectives some 1800-2000 years after the fact. I would suggest that there is enough contained within the Bible and early church history to keep the discussion focussed there. If there was an apostacy, it should be evident from scripture and early church history. I don’t think God would let us go on for 1800 years in total apostacy and then tell us about it later.
For #5, I think what you’re talking about is called dispensationalism, in which one looks at salvation history as a series of failed attempts of the church to faithfully live out the gospel. Whereas we Catholics look at salvation history as a gradual preparation for the coming of Christ and the establishment and growth of his church. For us, the bible contains many stories that are part of one continuous story.
For #6, I think if you reread all these verses in context, you will never find the prediction of a total apostacy. Of course, we also believe that apostacy occurred from the very beginning, but we have no indication that it forced the removal of authority from the earth. Christ tells us that the wheat and the chaff will exist together until the very end, but no one ever says that the church will disappear from the earth. I challenge you to find one verse that says this.
For #9, if it’s not just a joke, there is no way anyone can make a credible argument from the church fathers that there was a total apostacy. I think you’re referring to the online debate between Barry Bickmore and Thomas Smith. Mr. Bickmore does just what you mentioned–he takes selective quotes from church fathers and uses them to fit his argument. That’s the problem with taking things out of context. If you’re going to use quotes from the church fathers as proof in an argument, you can’t ignore the other 99% of their writing as if it didn’t exist. For goodness sakes, if any of the church fathers believed in a total apostacy, they wouldn’t have continued to fight for the church.
And no, you won’t get in trouble if you write about the apostacy. That’s what this forum is all about.
Here’s an article written back a Cathlolic on this issue. Give it a read and let us know what you think.