Publisher’s Note: On a trip to Liberty, Missouri some years ago I presented a fireside in the home of our dear friend, Rodger Dean Duncan. He and his wife, Rean, had gathered some of their best friends from the area for the evening – and it was then that I had the good fortune of meeting Scott Petersen. Scott told me after the fireside that he had been working for many years on a project documenting the apostasy for the layman. He said he was exploring all the early Christian writings and was carefully studying all the evidences of the apostasy. I was intrigued and said, “Let’s stay in touch. When you’re finished, why don’t you consider publishing some of your findings on Meridian?” He agreed and today we begin publishing his work. His book has been published and is available through the link we have provided. This is a thorough, user-friendly, easy-to-understand study of the apostasy and is worth your time and careful consideration.
My objective in writing this work is not to compose an exhaustive, thoroughly balanced view of the development of Christianity, including its roots beginning with Adam and Eve. Doing so would require significant language skills in both Greek and Latin, and would create a work so large it would reach beyond the interest and ability of most individuals.
Clearly, my goal is to write to the masses, not just the scholarly few. Thus, I will not attempt to detail all of the existing philosophies that have ever been written on various doctrinal subjects; rather I will explore one seemingly incontrovertible theme of religious history – that of Apostasy from God’s original teachings to Adam after the Fall. Catholic and Protestant scholars have long agreed with this thesis, including the fact that God’s true Church cannot be divided up, its doctrines cannot be discarded because they become unfashionable, and God’s truth will never be achieved through compromise, negotiations, or political pressure. Unfortunately, agreement ends with that realization and solutions to Christian unity seem far away.
My desire is to present a condensed but accurate view of the evolution of Christianity and apostasy from pure, revealed religion, from the days of Adam to the modern world, and to rightly pose the question “where have all the prophets gone?”
“In the beginning,” states the Holy Bible, “God created the heaven and the earth.” Shortly after came plants, animals, and eventually man and woman. These latter were His pride and joy, for they were His children, and He began to teach them how He would like them to live. But mankind rebelled, and thus began the cyclical pattern of revelation and apostasy that would mark and mar God’s dealings with His children throughout recorded history.
At the center of it all is the question of how one receives God’s word. Although the Holy Bible contains God’s revealed religion, His covenant and plan for man’s redemption, and His commandments and instructions to humanity throughout the ages, convincing evidence suggests that other writings were also reliable sources. But living oracles, not writings, were the most valuable source of divine inspiration. For example, the early Christian bishop Papias wrote in approximately A.D. 140:
If ever someone who had accompanied the presbyters should come, I examined carefully the words of the presbyters, [to learn] what Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, John, Matthew, or any other of the disciples of the Lord said and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord, are saying. For I did not suppose the contents of books would profit me so much as the words and living voice. (quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.1, 3-4)
Using the Bible, selected Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, the Dead Seas Scrolls, and the earliest Christian writings, Where Have All the Prophets Gone? is a study of man’s response to prophecy in each dispensation. We witness that the righteous, typified by Abel, ultimately reject God, typified by the followers of Cain. We observe righteous Enoch gathering followers, leaving the wicked to be destroyed by the Flood when they reject Noah’s final warning from God. The righteous seed of Noah eventually succumb to evil, build the Tower of Babel, and are scattered. The venerable line of Abraham through Ephraim is finally severed, because of Apostasy; Israel’s consequent worship of Egypt’s false gods results in its enslavement.
Following Moses, Israel on numerous occasions turned its back on God, rejecting Him and His covenant, and were eventually conquered and scattered. Christ’s fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the reestablishment of His Church on earth, and the apostolic ministry that followed were also rejected in time by succeeding Christian leaders and the membership at large, causing again the repetition of apostasy, as in each preceding dispensation.
The Reformation attempted to correct heretical teachings and end centuries of corruption; however, disunity and lack of authority prevented a full restoration of primitive Christianity. After the Age of Reason and the Great Awakening, the establishment of America and freedom of religion inspired another awakening and doctrinal reformation, including a proliferation of new Christian denominations and nineteenth-century restorationist movements. One such plausible claim of restoration is more fully examined as a possible answer to the promised gathering of Israel and the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
Where Have All the Prophets Gone? documents in-depth just what the early Christians really believed about salvation and other core doctrines and then compares those findings with the teachings given through Old Testament patriarchs and with those purported to be restored through an American religion that claims ancient roots.
Click here to go to Chapter One: The Early Christian Fathers and Non-Biblical Writings