Why do Mormons claim an "apostasy" happened?

I have been visited by both groups, I have been given a copy of the BOM and told to “pray about it” and they “know it is true”. I feel like Mormonism is kind of ridiculous, where do all of their claims come from? They have all of these claims but no logical proof to back it up.

I would say they make these claims because, according to Joseph Smith, he was visited by God the Father and Jesus while he was praying to figure out which sect of Christianity to join. He was supposedly told that all the Christian creeds were an abomination.

You are right; there is no logical proof to back this up. The fundamental teachings of Christianity have remained the same since the time of Jesus, and I would encourage you to share this with them when they visit you. Ask them to study the early church fathers and what they believed about the Eucharist, among other things.

Because when looking at Church history they have to explain the absence of a positive Mormon theology and thus an apostasy happened sometime after the apostles if not immediately after. It is not a consequence of studying history and coming to the conclusion that Christianity, genuine Christianity, was abandoned. Instead it is a consequence of theological necessity.

If there was no “apostasy”, then there would not have been anything for Joseph Smith to “restore”. The “great apostasy” is necessary otherwise there is no need for the LDS church at all.

The truth claims of the LDS church stem from Joseph Smith. I do not find Joseph Smith to be trustworthy at all, so there is no need to be level his truth claims.

Here is the link to apostasy in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: eom.byu.edu/index.php/Apostasy

I hope this helps.

I would also point out that first and foremost the LDS church and everyone of it’s missionaries must tear down the beliefs of others. The fundamental point of those missionaries who call on you is to make you question and undermine the faith you have. They will pretend that they attack no one on the grounds that “we don’t have an anti this or that religion script” while failing to acknowledge that they have a script that condemns every other Christian religion as an abomination. The LDS religion absolutely and utterly depends on other Christians being wrong, if they are not wrong then there is no reason for the LDS church to exist.

Because they believe the teachings of a man who claimed to have a vision from God. It was necessary to claim that no expression of Christianity was right to get people to follow him. Joseph smith was not the first to do this and he will not be the last. I do not see how anyone not born into that religion could take it seriously. Their apologetics are weak, as you can see in the link on the previous post. They are no more special than any other restoration movement like the J.W.s or the S.D.A.'s. They do seem nicer than SDA’s though :smiley: Well, that is not true… they are special in that they wrote a second holy book “The book of Mormon” and just want you to take their word for it that it is inspired work. A Gospel different that the one always taught… with nothing written by the apostles that shows the early church believed anything like how they do. I don’t know… How did paganism creep into the Church when the Christians were being persecuted by Pagan Rome for the first 300 years? The Pagans were appalled by Christian rituals and customs. Like keeping relics of dead Christians and eating and drinking the blood of Christ.

They have no history to back up their claims other than their unique interpretations of scripture (No different than the other thousands of protestant denominations each interpreting scripture different) and a appeal to take their word for it.

As others have said, it can be summed up in two words:

Of necessity.

Of course it’s not just them. All the dozens (hundreds?) of groups that have been founded over the centuries who claim that they are the “true”, “restored” church claim the same thing, for the same reason, as stated above. I just ran into another one today that I had not heard of: the “World Wide Church Of God”. Nice name. Unfortunately for them, that position was already filled 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ, and there is only one Body of Christ, who is the one Bride of Christ, who He will wed on the Last Day. Apparently they have roots in the Seventh-Day Adventists.

[19] So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
[20] built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
[21] in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
[22] in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

  • Eph 2

For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

  • 1 Cor 3:11

The foundation has already been laid by Christ, with He Himself as the cornerstone, and has been built up for 2,000 years by the Holy Spirit. No one can “uproot” this divine structure. Christ is the “wise builder” who “built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” He said so: “And I say to you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” One can only build another structure next to it and then * claim* that the new structure is the “true” building, but, as said before, Christ’s building’s foundation has already been poured and the building itself is nearing completion. As it says in Psalm 46, “the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle. God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved.” Its “mortar”, if you will, is Love, the Holy Spirit, who is God, who is Love. The foundation was poured and solidified 2,000 years ago, and then Paul and all the Saints (and saints) built upon it and were built into it. In my mind I imagine Christ as the supervisor, directing all the goings-on involved in construction, with the Holy Spirit “effecting” the individual bricks (i.e. us) being sanctified, molded into proper form, and inserted into the structure according to the Divine plan (which would be the “blueprints”), with the Father looking on from above, blessing all the work that is being done. :slight_smile:

It’s a divine project, *therefore *it can be said that God sees everything that he is making, and it is very good.

God bless

The idea that the Catholic Church became apostate is not unique to Mormonism, it is a standard Protestant claim. Such a bold claim is required to justify their schism from Christ’s Church. There is no unity on the date of the alleged schism.

What do you mean you have been visited by BOTH groups?
The Mormons and who else?

I meant to originally say Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Oh, ok. Thanks for clarifying. I just wasn’t sure who the second group was supposed to be. I guess the Jehovah Witnesses also believe in
the apostasy.

Indeed, it is a theological necessity rather than a rational review of the body of historical evidence and documents.

For example, the Didache is a document that was probably written and in circulation during the Apostolic age, when atleast some of the Apostles were still alive. In it, we find references to the Eucharist, Confession/Penance/Reconciliation, appointment of clergy (bishops and deacons), etc. – so the historically astute question would be, “if the Didache was still around when atleast some of the Apostles were still alive and it has teachings that are found today in mainstream Christianity such as Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and not in the CoJCoLDS, why didn’t those Apostles rebuke those that were following the Didache and ask them to ignore it as some heretical/heterodox document that was floating around?” :shrug:

I think this is a possible argument against the purported Apostasy the Mormons claim happened.

I’d just like to say, unlike what others have mentioned, Mormon missionaries are not mean. They are usually eager young people doing what they believe to be God’s work. I live in a very “urban” city and for years I’ve seen these young people come from different parts of the country, usually around Utah, and go into crime ridden neighborhoods with little to no fear. Over the years I’ve spoken to many of them, even attended their services.

Without arguing, they will usually have good conversations with you even if you speak about Catholicism. I’ve definitely challenged them to learn more from their Bible (they use a King James) several times.

The thing is they love their faith, just as you love yours.

About the apostasy thing, when JS prayed to God about what denomination to join, he prayed about what “Protestant Denomination” to join. So Catholicism and Orthodoxy was thrown out even before the “revelations”

Actually neither the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor Joseph Smith had anything to do with the invention of the Great Apostasy teaching. The origins of this has to do with a phenomenon unique to the United States of America.

While Protestants have historically taught that the Roman Catholic Church had apostatized in one form or another from the Gospel as preached by Christ and taught by his Apostles, the belief in what is known as “the Great Apostasy” (as understood by LDS members) has its origins in the Second Great Awakening. It’s a period in American history which began in 1795 when great and emotional religious revivals swept through the states, especially New England.

This revivalist movement gave birth to unique American takes on religion, one of which became known as Futurism and the other as Dispensationalism. These teachings claimed that we were living in the “last days” described in Biblical prophecies and, among other things, announced that having unique knowledge that could interpret these Scriptural texts was a sign that God was using those who claimed to have this special insight.

Several groups emerged each with leaders who claimed to be these chosen interpreters or modern-day prophets. As part of this claim that God had chosen them came a denunciation of the Great Religions of the past, especially the Roman Catholic Church. The fact that these new “chosen ones” had insight and the Catholic Church did not was, as they claimed, a sign that the Catholic Church did not have God’s approval. If it or even any of the other Protestant faiths had, they too would have these new prophets who could interpret the latter-day prophecies.

Groups which emerged from this stew were the Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Latter-day Saints, and late but no less popular Herbert Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God. These groups have a shared earmark:

  1. A leader or prophet chosen by God to re-establish his Church for the Last Days
  2. A claim of insight on behalf of the leader/prophet that no others possess
  3. A call for members to be active in proselytizing the new message
  4. A belief that authoritative revelation is now limited to written sacred texts and those leaders who can interpret them
  5. A claim that we are living in the last days of Bible prophecy
  6. Teaching that a Great Apostasy occurred
  7. Claiming a special connection to Israel (i.e., claiming that members are somehow literal Jews or the spiritual replacement of the Jewish nation)
  8. Teaching that only their religious organization is the True one and that all others are wrong

So the reason “why” they believe in the Great Apostasy has less to do with actual history as it has to do with this American revival and interest in Futurism and Dispensationalism. All these groups seem to have been influenced by the popularity of these teachings. Many non-churched Americans at this time believed in the new American theology, and so these novelty teachings became the “canon” of the “True Church” to many.

Again though the main groups to emerge were the LDS, the SDA, and the JWs (interestingly they each now use letters to describe themselves, but some do the same with Catholicism as RCC), there is a warning they all received in the 1990s.

Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God (which also had “call letters,” WCG) self-destructed when its leader died and Christ did not return (the return was supposed to happen before Armstrong passed away). Many of the teachings of Armstrong were similar to the other three groups, but when this event occurred with no fulfillment of prophecy all the Futurist and Dispensationalist teachings of Armstrong were discarded and the WCG dissolved. Another mainstream Protestant movement arose in its place, much smaller with fewer members but that embraces traditional Christian theology.

Though none of the groups said anything publicly, the LDS, SDA, and now even the JWS have been “coming clean” about their pasts and started to revise or even do away with some teachings which they have been criticized about the most. The LDS has even published a more critical view of its own history and has been the most honest and forthcoming of the three on its official site. While these have reportedly caused some long-standing members to leave the LDS, it has on the other hand caused a more relaxed view of the importance of the “Great Apostasy” teaching and its application.

Today LDS members concentrate on the Restoration over the “Great Apostasy.” They are careful not to include the Roman Catholic Church by either name or inference when discussing it, and current LDS theology teaches that the Great Apostasy cannot be applied to the Roman Catholic Church or its members as a whole. This also includes the LDS belief that the current Roman Catholic Church and its current membership should not be described as an apostate church. Dialogue between Mormons and Catholics have recently improved as well.

Thank you for all the information.

As far as the LDS, wouldn’t this mean a complete and utter repudiation of JS and their fundamental beliefs of who they have always claimed to be? I don’t believe they have done that or have any intention of doing that. They believe God Himself (or an angel…whatever) appeared to JS, told him all other religions were wrong, and that he would establish the “true church” of God. Does this not necessitate a belief that the Catholic Church in particular, who claims and has always claimed that we are the Church founded by Jesus Christ went “apostate”? You can’t -]“restore”/-] claim to be the “true church” unless the old one went totally off the rails, and you can’t have two “true churches” existing at the same time, no? If you want to genuinely “restore” the Church, you become Catholic and advocate for fixing what you think is wrong within her, as the great saints and laity did in the Counter-Reformation.

It sounds like they just want to de-emphasize this (fundamental, IMO) teaching in order to appear more friendly and welcoming to outsiders.

Sorta like how they now advertise themselves as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (i.e., with less emphasis on Joseph Smith)

These questions would be for the LDS church to decide.

What I do understand (and any LDS member can correct me if I am wrong) is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes that it is always growing in knowledge and understanding of the truth of the Gospel. It admits there have been mistakes, such as with how it handled issues of race in the past. But their understanding is that the mistakes have been with certain interpretations of the truths they cherish, not in the truths themselves.

There is no less emphasis on Joseph Smith or the fundamental teaching on Restoration, however. The Great Apostasy still occurred, and Catholics were involved. But Mormons do realize that their understanding is never all-encompassing, and that final judgment lies with our Heavenly Father and not how any particular Mormon doctrine is understood at any given time.

As I mentioned before, some Mormons find this new view unacceptable and have since left their church because of it and other such admissions. But for the most part Mormons believe that seeing things in more practical terms is far more realistic than mere credulity. Their own experience with the Catholic Church today is a favorable one, and you are unlikely ever to find a Mormon who would openly condemn the Church with the language some have done generations ago in the LDS church.

Thanks. That’s good to hear.

I do want to point out, it was not just some members of the past that have done this.
In an older version of their temple endowment, there was a line of Lucifer’s that was very anti-Catholic. I remember it vividly. It was in the pre-1990 version.

Lucifer made the comment about “I will take the treasure of the earth,
and with gold and silver I will buy up armies and navies, Popes and
, and reign with blood and horror on the earth!”

An anti-Catholic sentiment was part of LDS culture at one point.

Was priesthood authority taken from the earth?

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