Monday, November 3, 2008

Study of the LDS Church - 2.6 The Apostasy

**Make sure you've read this post first!

What is an apostasy? Well, although it was previously unknown to me, it is a very common phrase by members of the LDS church. You see, that’s why their faith exists. Let’s explore further:

We saw yesterday that Joseph Smith experienced several miraculous visions. During the first one, the official account of the Mormon church states:

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith – History 1: 18-19)

Some time after the original apostles were ordained, they went their separate ways to spread the message of Jesus. However, the church fell away after the apostles were martyred for their beliefs. The church was corrupted and the real gospel of Jesus Christ was lost due to men’s efforts to adjust the teachings to those they wanted to. There was a total apostasy of the true Christian church. It even happened in America, as when Jesus appeared after his resurrection, he appointed 12 apostles in America to do his work. However, another great apostasy happened and soon there was no trace of Christianity left in the Americas.

So what was lost? The proper organization of the church, which includes offices and their duties, as well as a continuous revelation of God’s word through his appointed persons (prophet of God). The gospel itself had also been lost because many truths had been removed from the original Bible by priests with evil motives.

Where is an apostasy evident? Why do LDS members believe it? Well, Acts 3:20-21 indicates to Mormons that there was to be an apostasy and a “restoration” to follow. Acts 20:29-31 is believed to be a prophecy from Paul indicating that false teachers would not spare a single sheep. Also, does Galatians 1:6-8 speak that another gospel would arise and be preached? 2 Thessalonians 2:3 predicted a falling away. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 indicates that there will be doctrines of devils and lies in hypocrisy. And how can one ignore the scripture in Revelation 14:6 that speaks of another (Moroni) coming into the picture to share the gospel with the lost of the earth? There’s a lot of scripture here that the LDS church teaches that supports their claim that an apostasy happened.

So let’s first start by examining all of this scripture above. With careful study of these verses, we can quickly give a rebuttal for each instance shown above.

Acts 3:20-21: And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Some Biblical scholars hold that since Peter is speaking to the “men of Israel” (see verse 12) that it was a prophecy of the restoration of the nation of Israel (1948 when that happened, correct?). Others feel that it is a restoration in general…like when everything will be restored at judgment. Regardless of the argument, if you read the scripture itself, it is a far stretch to say that all members of the Christian faith would fall away and a total apostasy of the church would occur. This is one of the many times the LDS church reads into this verse what they want rather than trying to understand what the verse itself says.
Acts 20:29-31: For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Go back to verse 17 and notice that Paul is actually speaking to the church at Ephesus…about a local event and not a worldwide catastrophe. If you read the letters from Timothy and the letter to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2, you can see that this did in fact take place for that church. John states that they lost their first love. In Paul’s later address to the Ephesians, you can see him say, “Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” (Ephesians 3:21) Would he have said this if the world were going to experience an total apostasy?
Galatians 1:6-8: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. You know, it’s funny that I previously used this verse to indicate that the Mormon church would arise and bring a gospel that is not the gospel of Christ and they feel that it is evidence that the are correct. However, let’s introduce the LDS church to a little Biblical history here. The Galatian church had bought into another gospel—one of legalism, which adds works to faith. They were trying to “Judaize” Gentile believers into performing some rites of the Old Covenant. Interesting that this it was a works-based gospel that Paul was warning about….
2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; If you look at verse 1 (Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him), you see that by referencing the second coming of the Messiah, Paul here is referring to an end-time apostasy. Using the Greek text that Paul used, it becomes clear that this will be a result of a deliberate act by a “son of perdition” in a defined moment in history. In fact, it will be the work of the Antichrist. It culminates in the second coming of Christ, not in the formation of the LDS church.
1 Timothy 4:1-2: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Okay…we see an apostasy in this verse, but not the one the LDS church speaks of. Notice some will depart…not all. This clearly indicates that a COMPLETE apostasy was not being referred to here.
Revelation 14:6: And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, The indicates that an angel other than those mentioned in Rev 8:2 and 10:1. There is no evidence that this is Moroni. If so, who are the others? If you continue reading into verse 7 (Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.), you can easily see that the message is that judgement has come, not a restoration of the church.

So we’ve covered all of that “scary” scripture that the LDS members are likely to use to justify the need of a new church and a restored gospel.

To further negate the need for a “restoration” of the gospel, you can see Biblical scripture that indicates there would NEVER be a complete apostasy:

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. – 1 Peter 1:25
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. – Psalm 119:160
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever – Isaiah 40:8
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
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…Hebrews 12:28
… and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:20
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. – Ephesians 3:21

So who are we to think that we could destroy something that God had ordained would endure forever—that not even the gates of hell could prevail against it? We will later examine the proof that the Bible is accurate and complete, but even without that evidence during this portion of the study, we must believe that the Bible is true because God indicated that He would not let it fall away.

In addition to these truths, let’s look at one more indication that the church could not have fallen away based on LDS teachings. In there is indication in Doctrine & Covenants 7:1-8 that the LDS churches that John, the Beloved, who is believed by Christian faith to be the only apostle not martyred, but only exiled to Patmos, did not die, but lives even today. Also, you see in 3 Nephi 28:1-8 three Nephites who were granted an eternal existence, much like that of John’s per their teaching. The question stands then, why did the church fall into a complete apostasy if these four individuals are still around preaching the gospel?

You can see that although many people are intimidated by LDS members’ seemingly vast knowledge of scripture, they are really only familiar with the passages that they are taught to focus on and on their meaning as defined by the LDS church. It is not nearly as difficult for a Christian to debunk them if you go over with them the context of the scripture and remember to actually read what the scripture says rather than decided what it means.

And if you are still unfamiliar, understand that they speak to people daily and have learned how to quickly answer your arguments many times. If you just keep pressing on, you are likely to find one that they have not heard and stump them as well.

For the questions, feel free to review the above scriptures and their contexts as described above. Here are a few additional ones:

1. If John and the 3 Nephites did not die, as indicated in D&C and the 3rd book of Nephi, where are they now? Why did a total apostasy happen if they are still proclaiming the gospel? Why aren’t they members of the LDS church? Why isn’t John the Prophet (since he was Jesus’ best friend and all)?
2. Didn’t Joseph Smith claim that he was told that all churches were an abomination in God’s sight? If so, why is the LDS church trying to make itself more “mainstream” by participating in events of Christian organization, indicating that they, too, are a Christian faith? Wouldn’t the church want to distinguish itself rather than conform and be categorized with the apostates?
3. Didn’t Jesus say that the church would not even be destroyed by the gates of hell? Isn’t it a little egotistical then to think that man could destroy it?
4. Didn’t Jesus say He would be with his followers until the end of time? Would this be possible if the entire church fell away? Was Jesus mistaken?
5. Isn’t it interesting that in Galatians 1:6-9, which is used to indicate that an apostasy would occur, that Paul indicates that anyone preaching a gospel of a works-based faith (as the Galatians were doing) should be accursed? How does this justify the LDS church preaching a works-based faith?
6. Would you please show me in the Bible (even the Inspired Version where Joseph Smith “restored” lost scripture) where the first churches had offices such as “First Presidency”, “Ward President,” etc? How then can the LDS church claim it is restoring the original church when there is no presence of this organization?

Study of the LDS Church - 3.1 The Doctrine of God

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