Supposed similarities between the early church and LDS?

My Mormon friend says that his church is similar to the early Christian church, but when I mention the writings of the early church fathers that clearly demonstrate this is not true, he simply says that the church had fallen into apostasy by the time of these writings. I really feel that I need biblical evidence to dispute his claims. Any help?

I asked Mormons who came to my house recently to provide historical evidence for the Great Apostasy After several visits and numerous agreements to bring such proof with them the next time they came over, they never did.

Have your friend explain the Didache, which are the writings of the apostles around AD 70. The practices of the early apostles, including a Trinitarian form of baptism, are quite similar to what we see in the Catholic Church today. If the Church had truly fallen into apostasy by the time of the writings of the Church Fathers (as your friend said), then the true Church (according to your friend) must have been gone by AD 70. However, my understanding is that LDS believe the Great Apostasy occurred somewhere near AD 200.

Hi, The evidence is all on him. After all his Church founders wrote things in books that are not true and was written to control people that follow them. There is no evidence of any so called golden plates with writings exist or native Americans followed biblical teachings.
The twelve apostles and Saul/Paul were not heretics.

The Mormons also have a superficial Trinitarian formula for baptism, however have defective theology regarding the Trinity that makes there baptism invalid.

The Mormons do not believe the twelve were heretics. They specifically seek to emulate them, with the current leaders claiming to be the restored successors of the original twelve.

They also use Christian scripture, and thus certainly don’t consider Peter, John, Paul, etc, heretics.

1 John 4:1-3
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
4 Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God:
3 And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.

Ask the Mormons just what Joseph Smith did to test the spirit that spoke to him.


The problem with “biblical evidence” is that, as we see all too often, it can be twisted to fit whatever the person wishes it to fit. I’ve even heard, though I haven’t had this happen, that some Mormons will simply dismiss biblical evidence as a “mistranslation” where it might conflict with their BOM texts.

As others have said - the burden must be on him.
He bases his belief on the idea of a “great apostasy”.
He wishes to discount the ECF’s as being members of an apostate Church.
So I suggest that you use the earliest Fathers you can.
Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch. If he discounts these as apostate - then he is moving the apostasy into the Apostolic era - which is contradictory to their belief that the apostasy occurred AFTER the last apostle died…

Biblically we have Christ’s promise to build His Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail. Likewise there is the promise to send the comforter (which came on Pentecost) and that He wold be with us to the end of the age.

We have a long, unbroken and consistent history of the faith - of saints and sinners - of sound teaching and many evidences of the presence of the spirit in the Church all through history…
So - I would suggest challenging him to prove the great apostasy…when and how…and then you can deconstruct his “proofs” one at a time.

Good luck.


To get a better understanding of an LDS scholarly view in the Apostacy of the early Church please read the Hugh Nibley essay The Passing of the Primitive Church: Forty Variations on an Unpopular Theme found here:

I hope this help…

Mormons are really all over the map when it comes to when the supposed “Great Apostacy” happened. They will tell you that it happened after the last apostle died (but forget that they believe that John was “translated” and is still living on the earth today), around 200 AD or even as late as the Council of Nicea. It is on them to show when the apostacy supposedly happened, but they cannot. I grew up in Mormonism, attended early morning seminary (scripture study classes before regular classes in high school) and attended BYU. I was taught all of the above things about the timing of the apostacy. I was also taught (in a BYU religion class) that it was ultimately gnosticism that took over the early Church and took it into apostacy (ignoring what really happened).

You can quote the Bible all day long, but it probably won’t help at all. Mormons believe that not only were there mistranslations but that “evil and consipiring men” purposefully took out the “plain and precious truths” of the Bible. The “plain and precious” truths that were removed were “restored” by Joseph Smith (Heavenly Father has a physical body and was once mortal, baptism for the dead, polygamy, becoming a god with the ability to have spirit children to populate a new planet). So if there is any conflict between the Bible and Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith will win. One OT verse that Mormons like to use to support the idea of an apostacy is Amos 8:11-12, but they take it completely out of context to support their claim. A very good understanding of those verses in context of the entire chapter was recently posted on another Mormon-related thread here:

Mormon general authorities will quote the Bible and ECF out of context to their advantage. I never understood why they would quote the ECF because they were all supposedly apostates. I agree that looking to Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna is good because they were taught directly by the apostles. Didache is also good. Under the Mormon idea of the great apostasy, these men either ignorantly or purposefully fell into apostasy and took the Church down with them. Did the apostles not know what they were doing when they selected bishops? So they knew what they were doing when they were teaching the Gospel but poorly chose **all **their successors? I have a hard time believing that.

When it comes down to it, Mormons will reduce everything to their testimony and how if you read the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and pray about it, the Holy Ghost will tell you it is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. And if you don’t receive the witness of the Holy Ghost, then you weren’t sincere. Now that I am on the other side, I now understand and greatly sympathize. Good luck.

Perhaps you will be interested in this thread:

Mormonism: Restoration of Ancient Christian Church?

Yes, there are many LDS apologists that write books and articles attempting to support the claim that the LDS Church is a restoration of the original Church established by Jesus Christ, and that they restore lost and/or corrupted doctrines and practices.

The problem, in my view, is that there simply is no evidence of an ancient Church of Jesus Christ of Former-day Saints. When reading the Bible, as well as the writings of the earliest Christians, you will not find a single, cohesive Church with many of the uniquely LDS beliefs. This is actually the problem that I found with LDS apologetic works on the matter, like Barry Bickmore’s Restoring the Ancient Church. What it ends up becoming is a hodge podge of sources, from diverse groups (Gnostics, Egyptians, orthodox, etc), sometimes out of context. Further, some of the beliefs and practices that are claimed to be restored were never lost in the first place, such as deification/theosis, temples, apostolic authority, prophets, etc.

But what it comes down to is whether there was a total apostasy of the Church Christ established (and even then, just because there was an apostasy does not automatically lead to one concluding that the LDS Church is the restoration, if one was needed anyway). I have found that none of the verses cited in support of a total apostasy actually support it. Instead, they frequently refer to partial apostasies (which Catholics and other Christians readily accept), are talking about something else (like with the Amos verses), or things are being read into the verse, eisegesis (like with the “not sparing the flock” verse). Instead, we find Biblical support for the continuity of the Kingdom of God, once He established it, that Christ is the head of His body and guides His Church, that the Spirit guides us into all Truth, and that all this can happen despite our failures as humans, as sinners, which a merciful and just God is well aware of.

I’m not sure how you would provide evidence to show that an event didn’t occur. As mentioned earlier, the burden of proof is on those who claim an apostasy occurred. The significant problem the LDS have, though, is that they like to quote Bible verses as evidence. How reliable can the Bible be as evidence when the book was put together by a church that would have been apostate, and therefore an unreliable source? :shrug:

The more I study the Bible, the more I realize LDS are some of the worst at taking scripture out of context. It saddens me to look back and see how naive I was.

What are these “partial apostasies” that Catholics and other Christians accept? Are there practices and/or doctrine of the past that are now considered to have been incorrect? Thanks.

If he cannot demonstrate his claim and make it reliable there is no reason to give credence to his assertion. The early church was not mormon and mormons will more than likely read their own bias into these writings. We all do this of course but a mormon explanation of the early church, biblical and patristic is severely lacking when attacked.

Good point, I’ve never actually thought of that :hmmm: :smiley:

By “partial apostasies” I mean people apostatizing from the Church, not a total apostasy of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God.

“The Gates of hell shall NOT prevail.” -Matt.16

God Bless!:thumbsup:


It's been almost 40 years since I took the missionary discussions but I'll put in my two cents anyway.  The argument above leads into a look at what they called "earmarks" of the early church.  They then point out that the EC had apostles and prophets and present churches don't.  The problem with this claim is that they redefine the role of apostles and prophets.  Apostle means someone who is sent out.  Paul defined himself as an apostle because he traveled into areas where the gospel hadn't been preached.  There apostles go to the air conditioned office everyday.  Prophets had many functions in the OT.  Non oif these functions are performed by their present day prophet.

I tend to agree with you. If they claim that the early Church had apostles and prophets, and no church has them now (except there’s, so the thinking goes, ignoring other churches, including some within the Mormon umbrella that make the same claim as them), then they need to point out how the their modern day apostles and prophets function just like the ancient ones.

From the Catholic perspective, this of course is a non-issue. Although Catholics do not refer to their leaders as “Apostles” per se (though one of the titles of the Pope, regarded as successor of the Apostle Peter, is “Prince of the Apostles”), we do regard the Bishops as being successors of the Apostles, holding the same “apostolic authority” that they did. Further, Catholicism accepts the reality of visions, Heavenly visitations, etc to people, who can be regarded as prophets and prophetesses, though none of these revelations would ever supplant God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ (and of course the inspiration and guidance that comes from God to us individually, as well as the Spirit guiding the Church always). The Heavens were never closed for Catholics.

And yes, the first thing that caused me to become disillusioned in the LDS faith was whether or not the current prophets, seers, and revelators functioned like the Biblical ones, or even like Joseph Smith.

Is the Prophet a Prophet?-Two Interesting Articles

In a nutshell, the need for “revelation” or “prophecy” (as claimed by LDS) became a moot point after Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, was revealed as such, and all prophecies regarding His coming were fulfilled by Him. The LDS fail to understand the purpose of revelation in the Old Testament. They erroneously believe that it has to continue in the same way in the modern age, which is completely unnecessary since the purpose of revelation was already fulfilled.

Thank you for clarifying. Googling “catholic partial apostasies” doesn’t yield anything meaningful along those lines (with the exception of your very comment.)

That would be because “partial apostasies” isn’t a technical term (I don’t believe I claimed it was).

However, it is readily apparent that Catholic theology maintains that though there may be apostasies from the Church (the Catechism gives the technical Catholic understandings of apostasy, schism, and heresy), the Church itself, as the very Body of Christ, with Him at its head, guided by the Holy Spirit, can never apostatize, and that there had been an unbroken succession of apostolic authority since Christ established His Kingdom.

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