1. Jesus Christ established an earthly organization (not just a mystical union of believers) which he called his Church, and which was also referred to as “the faith once delivered to the Saints”.
A. Matt 16:18 “upon this rock I will build my church”.
B. Acts 2:47 “the Lord added to the church daily”
C. Acts 13:1 “there were in the church… prophets and teachers”
D. Acts 15:4 “they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders”
E. Eph. 2:20 “built upon a foundation of apostles and prophets”
F. Eph. 4:11-14 “And he (Jesus) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
2. The Bible says that before the Second Coming of Christ, there would be an apostasy or falling away not only of individuals or groups from the true church of Jesus Christ, but that there would be an apostasy of the Church to the point where it would no longer be recognizable as His organization, and He would no longer recognize its authority to act for Him.
A. Isa. 24:5 “they have changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant…”
B. Amos 8:11 “a famine … of hearing the words of the Lord: … they shall wander from sea to sea … and shall not find it”
C. Acts 20:29 “shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock”
D. 2 Thes. 2:3 ” (the Second Coming) shall not come, except there come a falling away first”
E. 2 Tim. 3:5 “Having the form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
F. Rev. 2:2 “them which say they are apostles, and are not”
3. The Bible also states that before the Second Coming there would be a restoration of the Church that Jesus organized. (see the end of this paper)
4. History shows that the Great Apostasy did indeed take place:
Year (A.D.) Steps of the Apostasy
70 Jerusalem (Headquarters of the New Testament church) is destroyed.
— Other cities such as Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome began emerging as Christian centers.
75 (approx) Death of the last of the original Twelve Apostles.
(John — exiled to isle of Patmos, then disappeared from history after about 95 AD)
— With no more general Church authorities (Apostles and the Seventy) , local authorities (Bishops) assumed leadership, but without jurisdiction to make decisions for the entire Church.
LOSS OF DIVINE AUTHORITY AND REVELATION FROM GOD TO THE CHURCH
— doctrine developed by theologians re: a “deposit of faith” which could no longer be added to, consisting of the writings of the Apostles and earliest Church Fathers.
170 (approx) Irenaeus developed theory that Bishops (at least those ordained directly by the Apostles) could justly claim to be equal in authority with the Apostles. He also theorized that churches with Apostolic foundation had “pre-eminent authority” over other churches.
190 Tertullian (lawyer-turned-theologian) introduced the concept of the Godhead as a “corporation” (Latin personae), and coined the word “trinity”. He also advocated a professional clergy.
— doctrine of baptism for the dead is lost.
— baptism of infants introduced.
215 –doctrine of man’s pre-mortal existence was lost.
“Origin” (Bishop of Alexandria) was the last to teach it.
247 Cyprian (“elected” Bishop of Carthage).
— expanded Irenaeus’s theory to say that all Bishops were successors to the Apostolic authority.
— established doctrine that a council of Bishops could speak for the entire Church.
200 (approx) — use of crucifix & cross as a Christian symbol first began.
— artificial distinction created between laity and the “professional” clergy
— use of ceremonial robes for clergy
311 Edict of Toleration (of Christians) issued by Galerius
313-324 Several Edicts by Constantine established Christianity as the favored State Religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine assumed the role of Pontifex Maximus or “chief priest” over the entire Roman Christian church.
313 “Donatists” elect their own bishops in North Africa, and set up a separate Christian church which lasted until the Moslem conquest in the seventh century.
316 Council of Arles called by Constantine to settle Donatist Schism. Precedent set of the emperor (not Church authority) being called upon to settle Church matters.
318 celibacy for the clergy and monasticism introduced
323 (approx) Arius (a young priest in Alexandria) taught that Jesus was not equally God with the Father, since he was “begotten” at some point in time and therefore was not co-eternal with the Father.
325 Council of Nicea called by Constantine to settle the problem of the Arian “heresy”. After two months of heated debate and deliberation by 218 bishops (mostly representing the Eastern church), a compromise concept called the Nicene Creed was formulated to “define” the Christian Godhead as the “Trinity”.
Note: The council was not presided over by the Bishop of Rome (who was not even present), nor indeed any Bishop, but by the Emperor Constantine. It was he (an unbaptized pagan) whose power most directly influenced the formulation of the Creed and directed the outcome of the Council.
325+ The influence of Greek philosophy which had crept into Christian thinking continued to alter doctrines relating to the nature of God, and man’s relationship to Diety. (This was sometimes called Christian Neo-Platonism)
Some of the apostate doctrines that came out of this thinking were that:
— God was an ethereal, immaterial being who filled all space but who lived outside time and space. (Belief in an anthropomorphic God –prevalent until this time– was lost.)
— Mortal, physical mankind could have no family relationship with such a God.
– – Man is a mere created creature, like the animals.
— confession of sins to priests, and
— penance obligations assigned for sin
— Purgatory doctrine introduced (Augustine)
326+ Rise of “Caesaro-Papism”, or support and dominance of the church by the Roman state.
396 Augustine selected as a bishop. Trained as a lawyer and philosopher, he was known as the “Christian Plato”. He greatly influenced Christian thought and introduced a number of apostate doctrines. Chief among these were:
— salvation by faith alone, without works
— original sin (defined as concupiscence or sexual lust)
— infant baptism
— predestination of salvation (which denies free agency)
(Note: these doctrines were refined later by John Calvin and others.)
440-461 Title of “Pope” first used by Leo, Bishop of Rome (Note: “papa” or “pope” as well as “Vicar of Christ” were used by many bishops in different cities until the 6th century when it began to be reserved for the Bishop of Rome.
450 Leo the Great begins building the Medieval Papacy into a political power.
(NOTE: None of the early Church Fathers who shaped the doctrine of the church were bishops of Rome.
590 Pope Gregory the Great established the Papal Kingdom (Vatican)
— paganism is mixed with Christianity in rituals, holidays, etc.
Example: December 25th, which was fixed as day to celebrate birth of Jesus, is actually the nativity date of the pagan god Mithras.
700 Adoration of statues began (“Iconoclastic Movement”)
— also veneration of relics
850 Documents forged by some church leaders were alleged to be a handbook for church government put forth by “Pope” Sylvester in the 3rd century, supposedly giving support to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over other bishops. Called the “Forged Decretals”, they were acknowledged as forgeries in 1440 by the Roman Catholic church, but by then the Roman Papacy was well established. Thus the claim by some that the Roman Catholic Church was “built on lies and forgeries”.
850-962 112 years in which the Popes were chosen not by the Church, but by the Roman or German kings and emperors.
— doctrine established of a “treasury of merit”, of excess good deeds by apostles and saints, etc. This merit could be dispensed to forgive or “absolve” the sins of other people, who could receive a “dispensation” under authority of the Pope. This led to the doctrine of “indulgences”, wherein people could purchase forgiveness for sin from the church.
1044 Pope Benedict IX (12 years old when elected Pope) was such a farce that he was forced to resign the Papacy.
1054 The “Great Schism” occurs, when the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches of the Christian church excommunicated each other, formalizing a division that had actually been in existence for centuries.
1059 Pope Nicholas II institutes the College of Cardinals in an attempt to regain for the Church the control of the Papacy, and wrest it away from the political leaders of the state.
1198 – 1216 Pope Innocent III acts as dictator, dominating the heads of state in England and Europe. (This was the reverse of “Caesaro-Papism” where the State ruled the Church.)
l2th Century — more apostate false doctrines were introduced:
— intercession of (& praying to) Mary and the saints
— use of Rosary
— use of crucifix
— incense burning
— ceremonial altars
1215 doctrine of Transubstantiation promulgated by Pope Innocent III as official dogma of the church. (it had been debated since the second century)
1265 Thomas Aquinas develops an explanation for the Transubstantiation doctrine.
1378 Conciliarism, and the 2nd Great Schism
3 Popes elected simultaneously in Rome & Pisa, Italy, & Avignon, France.
They excommunicated each other, and confusion reigned for over 70 years (quite a break in the “unbroken succession”?) until 1449 when Pope Nicholas V of Rome outlived his competition.
(Where would the headquarters of the Church be if one of the others had lived longer?)
l5th Century — “simony” introduced (purchase of priestly office with money)
— reading the Bible is forbidden to the laity, at times under penalty of death.
1545 Council of Trent: met to try to reform the Catholic church’s errors.
— Papal infallibility
— Papal decrees added to Bible and tradition as “basis of faith and doctrine”
— Perpetual virginity and assumption of Mary
— Prohibition against eating meat on Fridays
(first imposed, then rescinded in the 1960’s, without any revelation from God
for either doctrinal change)
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION: SOME HITS AND SOME MISSES
1160 Peter Waldo of Lyons translated Bible into common tongue and distributed it. He founded the Waldensians, called the “first Protestants”.
1340 John Wycliff translates Bible into English
John Huss is executed for spreading Wycliff’s work to Bohemia.
1360 Gerhard Groot started Bible studies in the Netherlands
1517 Martin Luther tacked 95 theses on Wittenburg church door, protesting sale of indulgences.
— Luther translated Bible into German.
— tried to reform Catholic church from within, at first.
His false doctrines were:
— “sola fe”, or salvation by faith alone (based on his interpretation of Rom. 1:17)
— he wanted to delete the book of James from the Canon because it disagreed with his
“sola fe” doctrine.
— the “priesthood of believers”, which stated that all believers had priesthood authority, but individuals didn’t have enough to act for God. However when a congregation delegated all their individual “priesthood” to their pastor, he then had enough to perform ordinances, etc.
1521 King Henry VIII of England writes a rebuttal to Luther, thus earning himself the title (from the Pope) of “Defender of the Faith”.
1529 A meeting between Luther and Swiss reformer Zwingli failed to reach unity.
Protestant faiths have diverged from one another ever since.
1534 The same Henry VIII defied Rome: he wanted to divorce his wife but the Pope said no
1535 Henry declared himself head of the English Church, and separated it from Roman Catholicism into the Church of England (Episcopal Church)
1541 John Calvin developed doctrines from his study of the Bible that profoundly influenced the Presbyterian, Congregational and Baptist faiths, among others.
His “five points of Calvinism” (known by the acronym TULIP) are;
1. Total depravity of man. (Man is incapable of good by himself.)
2. Unconditional Election (God chooses or “elects” those who will be saved.)
3. Limited Atonement (Christ died only for the Church, not for everyone.)
4. Irresistible Grace (Those predestined to salvation cannot resist God’s “election”.)
5. Perseverance of the Saints (“Once saved, always saved”. You can’t lose your salvation.)
TIME FOR THE RESTORATION
1820 Joseph Smith prays and asks “Which church to join?”. In a daylight vision he is visited by Jesus Christ who tells him to “join none of them”, that they are all wrong. He is told that if he obeys God, he will be chosen to bring about the Restoration of New Testament Christianity in its pure form in these latter days.
After several years and a number of visits by heavenly messengers, he is ordained to the Apostolic Priesthood by the resurrected Peter, James, and John, and given authority to organize the Church of Jesus Christ…. of Latter-day Saints.
The Bible’s Restoration Prophecies are fulfilled:
A. Acts 3:21 “(the 2nd Coming will not occur until) the times of restitution of all things”
B. Daniel 2:44 “(in the last days) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed”
C. Rev. 14:6 “(in those days) I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel…”
D. Isa. 29:14 “I will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder…”
E. Isa. 2:2 “the Lord’s house shall be established in the tops of the mountains.”
THE “FAITH ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS” IS RESTORED!