BumpSetSpike, I think your answer was good. You appear to subscribe to the position that the so-called Great Apostasy was complete and universal, which is also the position that many other Mormons, including (as I understand him) Bruce McConkie. Zerinus seems to move a little to the left of this position, in keeping with modern trends to soften the theory of a complete, universal, thorough apostasy.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going to a Sunday morning lecture series given by a historian in our parish, which is an overview of Church history. Right now, we are moving into the Reformation period. The lecturer made the comment today, after spending 2 hours on the Western Schism, that no organization could have survived such corruption without the oversight of God. During the couple hundred years just prior to the Reformation, there was a series of events that seriously attacked the Church, including the Schism, the 70 years of the papacy being moved to Avignon, the Black Plague, corruption in the papacy. The worst of these corrupt popes was probably Alexander VI, the Borgia, who fathered such luminous sinners as Ceasare and Lucrezia Borgia. In fact, right after Alexander left the scene, here comes the Reformation, which the Church allowed to fester for almost 30 years before convening the council (Trent) that would ultimately reform the Church and bring on the Counter-Reformation.
Naturally, I agree with the lecturer. The Mormons claim that persecution from without, and corruptions from within, contributed to the development of the Great Apostasy. Mormons say that the priesthood was lost, that most Christians RENOUNCED the faith. But, history proves otherwise. If you spend some time studying the history of the Church, as well as the history of Europe, which quite frankly is incomprehensible without an understanding of Church history, it becomes obvious that God has preserved His Church from doom. Not from corruption, and the need for continual reform, but from death. The Church is alive today, and has always been alive, with a valid priesthood and Apostolic succession. After all, how could it have survived without priesthood and succession?
You don’t have to be a scholar to comprehend the foolishness of the Great Apostasy charge. Just use your common sense, combined with a little reading, and it should become clear rather quickly.