The Church in the Americas and the Great Apostasy

I found this on the LDS website:

According to this definition, the Great Apostasy resulted in the removal of the authority of the priesthood from the Earth, the loss of a living prophet to lead the body of believers, and thus the loss of the Church on Earth. Hence, the need for a restoration under the prophethood of Joseph Smith.

This article on the LDS website states that the Great Apostasy occurred around the end of the 1st century AD, when the last apostle passed away.

My question is, what does this mean for the church that the LDS scriptures teach that Jesus founded in the Americas and which lasted for a much longer time? How could the Great Apostasy have occurred if there was a prophet on the Earth and a church with the authority of the priesthood?

This Wikipedia article provides a timeline for the Book of Mormon events:

Assuming the dates are correct, the Church in the Book of Mormon lands experienced a good deal of unity and peace until the very end of the second century and then only very gradually fell into apostasy. There was a prophet, priesthood, presumably a church, on Earth until the 400s AD.

How can the LDS understanding of the Great Apostasy and its first century date fit with the LDS belief in the historicity of the Book of Mormon?

The simple answer? It can’t. It’s just another in a very long list of inconsistencies in Mormonism. Mormonism is based on the contradiction of Christianity at all cost, per Joseph Smith.

To believe that the so-called “apostasy” occurred is to call Christ a liar. Christ said he would be with His Church until the end of time (Mt 28:20 KJV) and that the powers of death would never overcome it (Mt 16:18-19).

Along comes Joseph Smith, whose occupation was “glass looker,” according to the NY court where he was convicted of fraud in 1826 for claiming he could find buried treasure on people’s property by looking through a magic peepstone in his hat – for a fee, of course – and sells this ‘great apostasy’ yarn to his gullible followers.

Jim Dandy

And the JWs also believe in the apostasy. Jesus wouldn’t establish a church and have it “disappear” for years; He’s smarter than that.

Yes but I am interested in how Mormons would reconcile this teaching of their church that the apostasy occurred in the 1st century AD, resulted in the loss of the priesthood authority, yet Christ, according to their Book of Mormon, founded a church in the Americas that persisted until the 400s. Has no Mormon taken note of this?

Not to be outdone, you will find on some Protestant websites a history that goes something like this,

The Apostles
The Fathers
The Medieval Church

The claim is that the Church was different in the time of the Apostles, The Fathers, Augustine and The Medieval times and then everything went wrong so that Protestants had to retrieve the Church of the Fathers and Augustine.

Christ Is the Way,

The answers about your question are found in the first two paragraphs of the article you cited:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has proclaimed to the world consistently since its beginning that there was an apostasy of the church founded by Jesus during his Palestinian ministry and led by his Apostles following his ascension. 1 This is a fundamental belief of the Latter-day Saints. If there had not been an apostasy, there would have been no need for a restoration.

Latter-day Saint theology asserts that the church of the Savior and his Apostles in the Old World came to an end within a century after its formation. 2 The doctrines which its inspired leaders taught were corrupted and changed by others not of similar inspiration, the authority to act in God’s name was taken from the earth, and none of the Christian systems that existed after those developments, though they did some good things, enjoyed divine endorsement as the Lord’s own church."

The article is talking specifically about the “Old World” (meaning not the New World), and about the church that was “led by His Apostles following His ascension”, meaning the apostles who are listed in the New Testament. So it isn’t talking about what was happening in the New World at that time, at all.

I recall a Lutheran stating that the only explanation for the teachings of the early Church fathers that support Catholic beliefs on faith and works, the papacy, etc, is that the ECFs clearly taught error. :rolleyes:

I have noted, though, what I think is an implicit assumption of apostasy among many Protestants. Regardless of whether I am right about that, I think it is clear that the Reformation set the stage for Joseph Smith’s restoration.

As I read it, it seems to teach that the apostasy that occurred in the Old World led to “the authority to act in God’s name” being “taken from the earth,” as the words in bold indicate. That is not a limited apostasy. In every discussion I’ve had with Mormons, including missionaries, they have always told me the “great apostasy” occurred by the end of the 1st century AD. Might you provide a link or citation from an LDS authority that states that the great apostasy occurred much later, as indicated by the Book of Mormon?

Surely you recognize that there was no global communication circa 100 AD.

As we mormons see it, the church Jesus founded in the Americas was a different dispensation than the one founded in Jerusalem. A separate leader of the church, etc. They might as well have been living in different time periods, because there was no practical way that the brethren in Zarahemla could have communicated with those in Jerusalem and Rome.

Hope that clears up your question about LDS teachings.

Another point I’d like to make is that the LDS attitude towards the Catholic church has changed tremendously since the 1993 clarification in your catechism that unbaptized children aren’t necessarily hellbound. In fact, that very year, the LDS church began to announce in our General conference that a portion of our tithing proceeds were being donated to Catholic Charities. Our churches have worked together in other respects since 1993 as well, most notably, in our common defense of the marriage institution.

While there are still ignorant LDS anti-Catholics, and ignorant Catholic anti-mormons, I believe and hope that most of us co-exist in tolerance and mutual respect.

The Catholic Church never taught that unbaptized infants were hell bound.

Yes, that’s why I said “1993 clarification in your catechism” rather than the “change in your doctrine.”

Lots of mormons, and some Catholics, believed that the Catholic Church’s position was that unbaptized infants were hellbound. Your 1993 clarification corrected the record.

Okay. Wouldn’t it have been possible for God to instruct the brethren in one of these areas to build a ship and cross the ocean? Didn’t He do that with Lehi and his family? Could angels not also have functioned as messengers between the communities?

It does help me understand how a Mormon would approach the issue. I did not know that Mormonism believed that there was once two legitimate yet separate churches co-existing on the Earth. Did Joseph Smith restore only one of them or did he restore both as a single entity?

I have nothing against Mormons and I applaud your church’s stand on social issues like family, marriage, etc. It seems to me that there is a great potential for mutual cooperation on matters such as these, given the general trends toward secularism in the USA. Whatever our theological differences, we’re all equally threatened by radical secularists.

The Catholic Church has never taught the unbaptized go to hell; many Catholics naturally backed off from the over-defining of terms such as limbo which was never a defined doctrine.

The early Church was the same Church as the one today. It was not formally defined as the Catholic Church, a Greek word meaning universal, until later.

The Mormon Church will use Protestant bibles such as the King James, but still rejects Catholic Bibles. The Mormon Church still considers our faith as corrupt, although its scholars are now recently drawing on Catholic teachings to validate themselves as the misused and out of context Catholic Catechism 460, and ignore all the teaching of the Incarnation leading up to 460. The early church fathers describing the life of grace in Christ and our life entering into God, is being used by Mormons to some how prove there is little difference between the two religions, but uphold their teachings on the plurality of gods.

Furthermore, there is a great disconnect not understanding the Vatican and many Catholics’ sense of impropriety in gaining access to our deceased Catholics, including our priests and religious, as providing them the chance to Mormonism in death.

The teachings and background of Mormonism is very different, its practices, and manner of proselytizing and initiation is very contrary to the Catholic Church.

I love your signature line!

Possible, yes. I think the way He did it made more sense, because coordinating a world-wide church was tough enough just within the Roman Empire, as evidenced by the epistles, don’t you think. Not to mention that separate dispensations seems more consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Israel that “I have other sheep who are not of this fold.”

Indeed, Jesus said something similar in the Americas, according to the book of Mormon. So there was at least one other dispensation that we still don’t know about. Have you ever read ?the Illustrated Man :slight_smile:

It does help me understand how a Mormon would approach the issue. I did not know that Mormonism believed that there was once two legitimate yet separate churches co-existing on the Earth. Did Joseph Smith restore only one of them or did he restore both as a single entity?

Joseph Smith represents yet another separate “Dispensation.” The LDS term would be that Joseph Smith, Nephi, and St. Peter all were the first prophets (and chief apostles) of three separate Christian apostolic dispensations. “Dispensation” means that a divine or miraculous act was necessary in each case to set up the priesthood. Peter was anointed personal by Christ, so was Nephi; Joseph Smith was anointed by the resurrected Peter, acting in the stead of Christ.

I can’t figure out how to post a new thread, or maybe I can’t because I’m a newby (and that’s a good rule that makes sense).

I have a related question which might merit its own thread, so if you or someone else want to start one to discuss it, I’d much appreciate:

I don’t understand why Roman Catholics would recognize the Baptism of Protestants, and even of other Catholic sects that don’t recognize the Pope’s authority.

*]Baptism is a holy sacrament, is it not?

*]Did not our Lord and Savior give the Apostle Peter the keys to bind in heaven as well as Earth?

*]How could anyone baptize, perform a covenant that’s binding in heaven, without the authority given to Peter?

*]How could anyone hold the authority given to Peter, while rejecting the only successor that God recognizes for Peter on the Earth?

I ask out of sincere interest; I am not asking a rhetorical question, and have no desire to sew doubt in anyone’s mind. God bless, and thank you.

I am sure that there will be answers in greater detail. I see this as recognizing the commandment of Christ, the papacy/magesterium preserving and applying the teaching.

Hello Cowboy Pete!
I think your question is a good one, but it’s not a fully answered question.
The Catholic Church generally accepts baptism from other Christian denominations, but I don’t think it’s an absolute rule. I’ve heard of the occasional case where an Evangelical is rebaptized because the original baptism was considered invalid for being professed as purely symbolic. Probably an extreme case. The Orthodox Church poses this dilemma all the time, but if I’m correct, it generally leaves the decision to rebaptize Protestants to the priest and bishop in question.

At any rate, I think the best answer on why the Catholic Church generally accepts Protestant baptism is because it recognizes that we believe in the same God. With all due respect, “mainstream” Christian denominations do not consider the Mormon conception of God as the same as ours, and therefore, we believe that you have a different Jesus than we do. With this in mind, your baptism cannot be valid, because people are being baptized in the name of a different God (or gods, - technically the Trinity is a triad? Please correct me.).

Thank you.

I’d still appreciate if someone could create a new thread for this question, as it’s not really pertinent to the LDS concept of “The Great Apostasy” which has greatly changed since the 1950s as historians have discovered more facts about the early church Fathers.

technically the Trinity is a triad? Please correct me.)

What’s a triad? We believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three persons, but that they comprise one God, because they are one in mind. See John chapter 17.

shrug. The Jews would say that you do not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What would you say to them?

But none of that is material to my question of authority.

Do Catholics use the sacramental phrase “having been commissioned of Jesus Christ”?

If so, then how can the issue focus purely on your perceived compatibility of beliefs, rather than on authority from God?

If the Pope holds Peter’s Keys to bind in heaven, then how can anyone perform a valid holy sacrament while denying the Pope’s authority?

Christ is the Way,

Here is a link to a New Era article, which would mean it was written for youth and young adults:

Here also, from the same query I did to find articles, is a fairly detailed article about several prominent writers soon after New Testament times:

The Great Apostasy fantasy predates Joseph Smith and is used by other religions invented in the 19th century. The Great Apostasy was linked to Constantine in the 4th century. It seems to me that the Book of Mormon was written to show a similar date. Recently, as Christian writings of the 2nd and 3rd century show how Catholic Christianity has been from the beginning, Mormons have had to move the date closer to the time of Christ. They now claim the Great Apostasy was in the 1st century but they are stuck with a Book that tells a story about a much later date.

As other Catholic have told you; The Catholic Church has NEVER taught that unbaptized children are hellbound. In the 1970’s, my Mormon friends told me that the Mormon Church gave lots of money to Catholic charities to help fight poverty overseas.

Welcome to CAF.

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