Was there a Great Apostasy?- A discussion for Mormons and Catholics

Okay, so in a previous thread I started -“A Mormon-Catholic Debate”- the conversation developed into one of apostolic succession. I thought I would outline what I think are lists of what each faith -Catholic and Mormon- must clearly demonstrate in order to win the centuries long debate over authority. This may be an impossible task given the mysteries and nuances of history, but I thought we could have a charitable dialogue nonetheless.

Mormons must establish the following:

  1. A definition of the “Great Apostasy”.
  2. A demonstration that such an apostasy took place.
  3. The earliest (approx. 30-100 AD) Christian Church was more similar to contemporary Mormonism than Catholicism.
  4. Apostolic authority was meant to be passed onto prophets and apostles, and not merely deacons, priests, bishops, etc. as it is in the Catholic tradition.

Catholics must establish the following:

  1. An apostasy as correctly defined by the Mormon faith never happened.
  2. The capital T traditions and capital D doctrines of the Christian Church were present in and have remained constant since their establishment in the first century AD.
  3. Apostolic succession has indeed continued legitimately since the deaths of the original twelve.

Feel free to add any points you think either faith must establish.

What do you mean “As correctly defined by the Mormon Faith?”

From the way you’ve written it, you’re basically looking to a heretic to define heresy. Of course their definition will say they didn’t commit Apostasy, admitting such a thing would destroy the foundation of their erroneous beliefs.

The LDS organization is the one in contention here. The burden is entirely upon them.

just a couple of corrections

The debate you referenced was about apostolic succession, so it seems logical that the conversation of the thread would center around that. It seems to have stopped because Mormons cannot show a historical connection with Christ through his Apostles.

The point being that no one in the LDS organization, for almost 200 years, has been able to demonstrate a time, place, date, or associate a name with this world-shaking occurrence. Applying William of Ockham’s razor to this, it is simply because it never happened.

Consider this: to assert that the Church that Christ founded (and over which the gates of hell would not prevail) has apostatized is to make Jesus a liar. Yet, the LDS deny that Jesus is a sovereign Lord.

Cause and effect in action: Deny Jesus as sovereign, then deny the Church that He founded.

I simply mean that we should avoid straw men. Don’t attack a definition of the “Great Apostasy” that Mormons don’t believe, such as the idea that completely abandoned the world for 1800 years or so. Find out what the official LDS teaching is and critique that.

I simply mean that we should avoid straw men. Don’t attack a definition of the “Great Apostasy” that Mormons don’t believe, such as the idea that completely abandoned the world for 1800 years or so. Find out what the official LDS teaching is and critique that.

I suppose it would have been better to say “An apostasy as officially defined by Mormonism never happened.” I did not mean to imply that they are correct in saying that there was an apostasy.

You may very well be correct, but wouldn’t you agree that even if we can’t pinpoint when exactly something happened doesn’t mean it didn’t? This is especially the case when something comes about gradually rather than changing in an instant. Perhaps a Mormon could argue that it was a gradual development rather than an event.

I have never met a Mormon who can indicate the exact day the supposed “Great Apostasy” took place, but many think it was completed by the time of the First Council of Nicea.

Consider this: to assert that the Church that Christ founded (and over which the gates of hell would not prevail) has apostatized is to make Jesus a liar. Yet, the LDS deny that Jesus is a sovereign Lord.

Consider an analogy. Suppose there is an Athenian and a Spartan in combat. During this combat the Athenian is temporarily pinned down and incapacitated for a short duration, but is ultimately able to become free and defeat his Spartan opponent. Would you say the Spartan prevailed against the Athenian because he temporarily had power? Likewise, while I no longer believe Mormon doctrine I do agree that Christ’s statement that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church can theoretically apply to a church that is temporarily subdued but ultimately emerges victorious.

Here is the problem with both the LDS as well as Islam: their founders did not test the spirits (1 John 4:1). The Holy Spirit always and everywhere leads to humble submission and unity. It is the demon (who can appear as Gabriel, Moroni, etc.) who seeks to divide. That demon uses the easily manipulated human ego to lead souls astray. The anti-Gabriel who appeared to Muhammad convinced him that he alone was to reveal truth to the world. “Moroni” convinced Joseph Smith that he alone was to reveal God’s true nature to the world. When you compare these two religions, and take note of the remarkable similarities in how they were presented, as well as the internal power struggles once their founders died, it becomes clear that they may just have the same source - and it is not the Holy Spirit.

Skipping all the formalities, I have YET to read one ancient primary source by ANY orthodox Christian (bishop,priest,deacon or lay person) discussing this HUGE EVENT against Christ Church.

** Galatians 1:8**
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven (Moroni) , preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.

Although Moroni cannot be from heaven, this one we can easily get from scripture alone.

Also, St Paul as a point of emphasis, repeats his words in verse 9. This is most unusual and clearly restates his warning.

9 As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!

My mother, who is an active LDS woman, told me the apostasy basically started with the death of the last Apostle of the 12 Apostles Christ instituted, including the two replacements. That’s her belief.

For me it boils down to the following quote, partially quoted by po18guy above:
[BIBLEDRB]Matthew 16:18[/BIBLEDRB]
And as po18guy said, if we deny this line then Christ lied, and I just can’t believe that he would.

I emphasized Galatians 1:8 because in it, Paul specifically mentions an angel. Both Muhammad and Joseph Smith claimed that an angel appeared to them. Both “angels” changed the revealed nature of God, and denied our sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, which reflects also on Peter’s prophecy in:

2 Peter 2:1
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny the Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

If you study Mormon history, Joseph Smith neither demonstrates the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22), nor does he meet the one wife requirements of a deacon (I Timothy 3:12).

I posted this earlier and nobody responded to it. I think it applies here again.

Consider an analogy. Suppose there is an Athenian and a Spartan in combat. During this combat the Athenian is temporarily pinned down and incapacitated for a short duration, but is ultimately able to become free and defeat his Spartan opponent. Would you say the Spartan prevailed against the Athenian because he temporarily had power? Likewise, while I no longer believe Mormon doctrine, I do agree that Christ’s statement that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church can theoretically apply to a church that is temporarily subdued but ultimately emerges victorious. I don’t think it makes Christ a liar. He said the gates of Hell would not prevail, not “the gates of Hell will never, even for a second, subdue the Church.”

While the Athenian was pinned down a Cretan claims victory.

Would you say the Spartan prevailed against the Athenian because he temporarily had power?

Or did the Cretan prevail?

And I remember your post, but the LDS church doesn’t believe that the Catholic church was wrestled to the mat, so to speak. The LDS’s actually believe it collapsed, all authority taken away from the church, meaning its worthless, that God gave up on the Catholic church and decided that with the death of the last apostle it was not going to be passed on.

But this is where that quote “. . . I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” comes in. God would not have instituted a church for only one generation. What is the value of that, nothing? So Jesus’ statement has to mean the church would not fail and therefore every reason given for starting the LDS church is based off a false assumption, as far as I’m concerned. Also I would like to quote another scripture that I think goes hand in hand with this discussion is the very next verse in Mathew 16:19 “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Now we know that if the Apostles thought that the bishops should be their replacements then so be it.

These are just my thoughts.

Christ never left his Church. Still have to prove a “great apostasy”.

Where do you get your exegesis of believing Christ could theoretically leave his church and come back?

From Haydock Commentary (Matt 16:18)

The gates of hell, &c. That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself or his agents. For as the Church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, i.e. the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or Church of Christ. **By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time **prevail over the Church of Christ.

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