Mormon (LDS): My-Forum Defense of the Gospel, p. 5

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>>>History of the Church, p. xl, the Introduction states-“Nothing less than a complete apostasy of the Christian religion would warrant the establishment the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.”  Total apostasy? Doctrine and Covenants 7:1-3 and also 3 Nephi 28:1-12 says differently

The two scriptures given above refer to the Apostle John and three Nephite disciples who were given power over death. The implication in that statement is that the church could not have been destroyed if John were still living (the three Nephites were not Apostles and did not serve as the foundation of the church).

We do not say that the Savior’s church was destroyed, for Christ is the chief cornerstone of the church. We say the Savior’s church was withdrawn from the people, due to their wickedness. We believe that a complete apostasy of the people did occur, due to the deaths of the 11 Apostles, who with John had been set as the foundation of the Church, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), due to the wickedness of the leaders and upper class, those who controlled the power structure of their society, due to the usurping of power by the Bishops, who were local not general or world leaders, due to the changing of the doctrines and ordinances of the church.

We believe that because of the apostasy of the people, as I described above, Jesus withdrew his church from the people. After the Savior’s church was gone, the Bishops and various leaders who were left fought among themselves to obtain power over the remaining church structure. The Bishop of Rome eventually exerted his power over the other Bishops. Councils were called to define doctrine and to settle arguments. Finally, through the political power of Constantine, the Christian church became a state church with absolute power over the religious beliefs and lives of the people. As Paul had prophesied, the flock was not spared.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)

>>> I do believe the Bible to be the word of God, and that Jesus was telling the truth when he said “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18)

Let’s look in detail at that scripture from Matthew 16. Jesus asked his disciples, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13) The disciples answered that some people said Jesus was John the Baptist, while others said he was Elijah, and others said he was one of the prophets. Jesus then asked the disciples whom they thought he was. Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16) Jesus then said

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)

Jesus was reinforcing in the minds of the disciples the principle of revelation: they had testimonies of Christ because those testimonies were revealed to them, not because of their own studies or from the influences of other people. Then Jesus went on to say that his church would be built upon this principle of revelation.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16;18)

The context of that statement is the principle of revelation. Revelation is the rock that is so strong that not even Satan and all of his powers would be able to destroy the church.

Some people say that Peter was the rock upon which the church would be built. They say this, because Jesus changed Peter’s name to Cephas, a stone (John 1:42). I don’t believe that Peter was the rock, because Peter was human and committed sins. I don’t believe that Peter could have prevented Satan from destroying the church. The context in chapter 16 was the principle of revelation from God, and I believe that that context indicates that revelation was the rock. Only God, himself, could stop Satan, and God uses revelation as his way of directing his church. In addition, Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said the church would be built upon a foundation of apostles and prophets (not just Peter) with Jesus as the corner stone

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Jesus was, of course, not referring to the apostles and prophets as individuals who commit sin but to them as a group, holding the Priesthood of God and receiving revelation from God; that is, to their office within the structure of the church. There is nothing in the scriptures to indicate that the office of the Pope would supercede the apostles as the foundation of the church.

>>>Jesus prophesied that the church would never die, and evil one could not destroy it.

Nobody is saying that the Savior’s church died. I believe that Christ withdrew his church because of the wickedness of the leaders, because they killed the 11 apostles who could die, because they changed the teachings and ordinances, because Bishops, who were local leaders, fought for control of the Christian church, the Bishop of Rome finally gaining control over the other Bishops. It was the people who died spiritually, not the Savior’s church. As I explained in my previous post, the Savior’s church was built upon the rock of revelation, and the leaders and privileged or upper society rejected that revelation and apostatized from the truth.

>>> If the Nephites and John were left here then God simply abandoned us for no real reason.

I’ve just explained the good reasons why God removed his church from the earth. God didn’t abandon the people. The people, primarily the leaders since the power structure at that time didn’t include peasants, abandoned God through their wickedness

>>>In 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 Paul says the wise masterbuilder builds on the foundation of Christ himself. Jesus Christ was the cornerstone of the church, so Gods sovereign protection would never leave it.

Nobody is saying that God left the church. I believe that when the apostasy of the leaders and privileged society occurred, Christ removed his church from the people. Christ was still with his church, but the church was no longer with the people.

>>>The apostles passed on their authority though the ages. 2 Timothy 2:2…. you must hand on to the trustworthy men who will be able to teach others.

That verse says nothing about the apostles passing on their authority through the ages. Paul was instructing Timothy to pass on the teachings that Paul taught to trustworthy men who would be able to teach others. Authority and teachings are very different things. But what happens when there are no more trustworthy men to receive the teachings because the leaders and upper class, who are those who would receive the teachings, have become wicked?

>>>1 Timothy 5:22 Never lay hands hastily on anyone.

As I read that verse, I think Paul is telling Timothy to not lay hands on unworthy men. So, when there are no more worthy men left, the ordinations stop. As I explained above, I’m talking about wicked men who were in positions of leadership. I’m sure there were humble, worthy men among the peasants, but they were excluded from the power structure of the church. This power structure was so strong, that when the Reformation first began, the reformers were killed. We believe the Reformation broke the power structure of the Catholic church such that God could call new apostles & prophets and restore his church and Priesthood to the earth.

>>>Acts 14:23

That verse says that Elders were ordained in every church (city). There is nothing there to imply that such ordinations continued after the leaders became wicked. That is a good scripture, though, to show that Elders were part of Christ’s church.

>>>Acts 1:20 may another take his office.

That verse, and preceding verses, refer to Judas who betrayed Christ. “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.” Matthias was called to be an Apostle to replace Judas. Matthias’ calling shows the Apostles tried to keep the number of Apostles at 12, as Jesus had called. In addition Barnabas was referred to as an Apostle in Acts 14:14, and James the Lord’s brother in Galatians 1:19. However, due to the wickedness of the leaders, the time came when there were no Apostles left save John, and he was taken from general ministry among the people. The people were in full apostasy….

>>>Also when I read Ephesians 2:20 it said that Jesus was the capstone of the church so how is that it could fall away if Jesus was holding it together?

As I’ve explained a couple of times, the church didn’t fall away. The leaders and the privileged society fell away, and the church was removed from the people. It was an apostasy of the people, not an apostasy of the church.

>>>Why would God leave us orphans like Jesus said wouldn’t happen in John 14: 18. Why would God withdraw his keys in such a way. Isn’t it blasphemy to believe he would do such a thing?

In John 14:18, Jesus said he wouldn’t leave the people comfortless and he would come to them. However, that promise doesn’t apply to wicked people. God doesn’t leave the people as orphans. The people withdraw themselves from God through their wickedness. The blasphemy would be to think that wicked people would receive the same blessings from God as righteous people.

>>> To believe there was an apostasy is basically saying that God failed us. We failed God in the beginning, but God has never failed us.

No, to believe there was an apostasy is to believe that the people became so wicked that God withdrew his Priesthood and church from among them. God isn’t responsible for the wickedness of the people. God hasn’t failed us because people have become wicked. It was an apostasy of the people, not of the church.

>>>You mean to say, “…the Priesthood power of God being taken from the people with the exception of John the Beloved and the three Nephites, all of whom have apparently remained on the earth with, I’m assuming, their full Priesthood Powers but for some reason unable to convince any of the apostates that they should repent and reform the true church until J.S. arrives.”

I’ve never heard the three Nephites or John explain what they’ve been doing the past 2000 years. I have no idea if they were trying “to convince any of the apostates that they should repent and reform the true church”. Nor do you.

>>>It seems clear from the Book of Mormon in 3 N 28:6-40 that the 3 Nephites have been among man including the Gentiles and Jews since the time of the great apostasy. Even though they have not explained this to you, the prophecy regarding what they would have been doing is written in 3rd Nephi. My point is that there was not a “complete” apostasy in the sense that the Priesthood power of God was taken from the people. It was always here if you believe in the account of the 3 Nephites.

>>>It is also interesting that Joseph Smith apparently never was privileged to visit with the 3 Nephites. He did say he was visited by John along with Peter and James when he claimed to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

You’re right that the three Nephites, and also John, remained with the Priesthood. When we speak of a complete apostasy in the sense that the Priesthood was taken from the people, we’re referring to the Christian churches that remained during the centuries after the time of Christ, the Priesthood was taken from them.The three Nephites and John ceased to serve in the churches.

Concerning Joseph Smith, I don’t know if he ever claimed to have been visited by the three Nephites.

>>> Because Jesus Christ is forever the corner stone and alone the Head of the church in His Name. And He (Jesus Christ) forever holds the Melchizedek priesthood without interruption and without and without successor.

You’re right about Jesus Christ being the corner stone and being the head of the church, holding the Melchizedek Priesthood without interruption and without successor. The question is what happened to the authority given to the Apostles when Christ laid his hands on them.

For those interested in this topic, I’ve written extensively about the apostasy in my online book. Keep in mind that that book contains my own thoughts and is not authorized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

>>>Hebrews 1:1-4 “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets in theses last days, he spoke to us through a son whom he made heir of things and through whom he created the universe. Notice he says in times past. In times that have past away he spoke to us through the prophets. But now it is thorough his Son.

Paul is saying that in times past, the Old Testament, God spoke through his prophets who prophesied of Christ. Now Christ has come, and God speaks through his son. How does God speak through his son? Through the apostles and prophets that he ordained as the foundation of his church (Ephesians. 2:20). After Christ ascended, he left his church in the hands of his apostles and prophets, and the rest of the New Testament is the writings of those men. The pattern of the New Testament is that Christ speaks to us through his prophets!

>>>1 Timothy 3:15 it says that the church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

And from Ephesians 2:20, the apostles and prophets are the foundation of that church.

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