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JLHPROF

The Great Apostasy - So what changed?

104 posts in this topic

I've been reading and studying on the many changes made to the ordinances of the gospel since they were first restored (a VERY long list).
Now, leaving aside whether they are correct and authorized or not, my mind went to the Great Apostasy.

Given what we know of the gospel from the restoration, WHAT apostasy occurred?  What was changed?  What happened that caused priesthood authority to be lost?
We state this often in our manuals and lessons:
https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-22-the-apostasy?lang=eng

Is the only difference between what happened after the Apostles to the early Church and what has happened to the Church today that we believe the changes we have made were authorized and that their changes weren't? 

What actual actions taken by the early Church caused the Great Apostasy?
Because the ones described in the manual link sound awfully familiar...
 

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Just now, JLHPROF said:

I've been reading and studying on the many changes made to the ordinances of the gospel since they were first restored (a VERY long list).
Now, leaving aside whether they are correct and authorized or not, my mind went to the Great Apostasy.

Given what we know of the gospel from the restoration, WHAT apostasy occurred?  What was changed?  What happened that caused priesthood authority to be lost?
We state this often in our manuals and lessons:
https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-22-the-apostasy?lang=eng

Is the only difference between what happened after the Apostles to the early Church and what has happened to the Church today that we believe the changes we have made were authorized and that their changes weren't? 

What actual actions taken by the early Church caused the Great Apostasy?
Because the ones described in the manual link sound awfully familiar...
 

Read DC 1:15-19 and I think God is talking generally

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3 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I've been reading and studying on the many changes made to the ordinances of the gospel since they were first restored (a VERY long list).
Now, leaving aside whether they are correct and authorized or not, my mind went to the Great Apostasy.

Given what we know of the gospel from the restoration, WHAT apostasy occurred?  What was changed?  What happened that caused priesthood authority to be lost?
We state this often in our manuals and lessons:
https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-22-the-apostasy?lang=eng

Is the only difference between what happened after the Apostles to the early Church and what has happened to the Church today that we believe the changes we have made were authorized and that their changes weren't? 

What actual actions taken by the early Church caused the Great Apostasy?
Because the ones described in the manual link sound awfully familiar...
 

The authority to perform the ordinances was lost.

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4 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I've been reading and studying on the many changes made to the ordinances of the gospel since they were first restored (a VERY long list).
Now, leaving aside whether they are correct and authorized or not, my mind went to the Great Apostasy.

Given what we know of the gospel from the restoration, WHAT apostasy occurred?  What was changed?  What happened that caused priesthood authority to be lost?
We state this often in our manuals and lessons:
https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-22-the-apostasy?lang=eng

Is the only difference between what happened after the Apostles to the early Church and what has happened to the Church today that we believe the changes we have made were authorized and that their changes weren't? 

What actual actions taken by the early Church caused the Great Apostasy?
Because the ones described in the manual link sound awfully familiar...
 

The only difference seems to be the opinion that some changes were authorized and some were not. The problem with our traditional teachings about apostasy is that they don't take into account that ordinances are always symbolic, and sometimes symbols cease to communicate their intended meaning over decades and centuries, as culture evolves. So if you want to "restore" the meaning you may need to actually change the ordinance. 

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12 minutes ago, Duncan said:

Read DC 1:15-19 and I think God is talking generally

15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

(Don't like it when people refer you to scripture as a response but don't quote it so conversation can continue)

Yes, this scripture refers directly to the Great Apostasy.  Not denying the existence of the thing.

  • "they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;"

Which means what?  That is what I am getting at on this thread.  That is the topic I'd like to discuss.
We quote this scripture as evidence of the Great Apostasy but we NEVER seem to say exactly HOW the ordinances were strayed from or HOW the covenant was broken.

Goodness knows we have enough scholars of early Christianity on this board.  What changes were made and how soon after the apostles deaths did they change?
And what is the difference between their changes and our changes?

Edited by JLHPROF
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3 minutes ago, ERayR said:

The authority to perform the ordinances was lost.

HOW?

(Sorry for yelling, but we say this and never explain how it happened, or even what caused it.  It's a sunday school answer.)

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9 minutes ago, Gray said:

The only difference seems to be the opinion that some changes were authorized and some were not.

I think this may be the only answer I will get in the end.  Just doesn't seem like enough.
"They did it...bad."  "We do it...good."  Not much to go on.

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People like to say that is was because of the Apostles dying off that did it; which is partly true. But it wasn't just a matter of losing priesthood keys and authority of the Apostles; there were also Seventies still there and others who also had priesthood in the churches that were set up then (Acts 14: 22-23). 
The Apostasy and loss of priesthood authority was also a result of the effects of the false doctrines and unrighteous acts that began to infiltrate the church (Matt 24:5, Acts 20:29-31, 1 Tim 4:1-3). Because of rebellion against the authority and doctrine of the apostles, the early church came to an end less than a century after its formation. Even though there were still Seventies and other priesthood holders after the death of the Apostles, their unrighteous activities and preaching of false doctrines and practices resulted in their priesthood authority to become null and void. 

"That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man." (D&C 121: 37) 
 

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7 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I think this may be the only answer I will get in the end.  Just doesn't seem like enough.
"They did it...bad."  "We do it...good."  Not much to go on.

A bit more than that.  We believe we have apostles in place to receive revelation and that they lost theirs (and their remaining priesthood holders did not gather to reestablish the needed church leadership).  As far as we know, as long as apostles were in place running the early Church, apostasy was kept in check, though it may have occurred in areas without contact with the apostles.

Edited by Calm
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1 minute ago, JLHPROF said:

I think this may be the only answer I will get in the end.  Just doesn't seem like enough.
"They did it...bad."  "We do it...good."  Not much to go on.

I think a better answer is, we were a little naive to think that changes to ordinances were automatically evidence of apostasy. Religion evolves or it dies. Now that we're a more mature organization, maybe we can understand that and view other Christian traditions with more charity. 

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3 minutes ago, JAHS said:

The Apostasy and loss of priesthood authority was also a result of the effects of the false doctrines and unrighteous acts that began to infiltrate the church (Matt 24:5, Acts 20:29-31, 1 Tim 4:1-3). Because of rebellion against the authority and doctrine of the apostles, the early church came to an end less than a century after its formation. Even though there were still Seventies and other priesthood holders after the death of the Apostles, their unrighteous activities and preaching of false doctrines and practices resulted in their priesthood authority to become null and void. 

Ok, we're getting closer.
So what were these false doctrines, unrighteous activities and practices?

The scriptures you give like D&C 1 show the existence of the Apostasy.  But not a single Church source I can find wants to name what these changes were or how they came to be.  Indulgences?  Transubstantiation?  Baptism by Sprinkling/Pouring? 
All came into being after the time we consider the authority to have left, they were the results of the loss of authority, not the changes that removed authority.

I want to know what happened in the congregations say, 25 years after the last apostle died.  How was the covenant broken?  What caused revelation to cease?  What were the first ordinances to be altered and was revelation claimed to authorize those alterations?

We claim revelation today to change ordinances.  I am sure they did then too.  I am curious about the process that led to apostasy.

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6 minutes ago, JAHS said:

People like to say that is was because of the Apostles dying off that did it; which is partly true. But it wasn't just a matter of losing priesthood keys and authority of the Apostles; there were also Seventies still there and others who also had priesthood in the churches that were set up then (Acts 14: 22-23). 

 

The loss of priesthood keys was entirely the problem. Seventies do not hold priesthood keys.  Bishops hold priesthood keys but do not have the authority to ordain other bishops  Without priesthood keys the church today would have no authority to perform ordinances or to pass priesthood keys on to others. 

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6 minutes ago, Calm said:

A bit more than that.  We believe we have apostles in place to receive revelation and that they lost theirs (and their remaining priesthood holders did not gather to reestablish the needed church leadership).  As far as we know, as long as apostles were in place running the early Church, apostasy was kept in check, though it may have occurred in areas without contact with the apostles.

So you are saying it is the loss of the Apostolic authority that led to the changes being made?
When the last apostle died and didn't ordain anyone else to the apostleship, then revelation ceased and changes crept in?

I can see that.

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1 minute ago, ksfisher said:

The loss of priesthood keys was entirely the problem. Seventies do not hold priesthood keys.  Bishops hold priesthood keys but do not have the authority to ordain other bishops  Without priesthood keys the church today would have no authority to perform ordinances or to pass priesthood keys on to others. 

I read this and it's like hearing someone say the apostasy happened because the apostles didn't have access to Google Chrome - they were using Internet Explorer instead. P-p-p-presentism!

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Just now, JLHPROF said:



I want to know what happened in the congregations say, 25 years after the last apostle died.  How was the covenant broken?  What caused revelation to cease?  What were the first ordinances to be altered and was revelation claimed to authorize those alterations?

 

In your hypothetical congregation, by what authority were these ordinances being administered?  If they had a bishop it would have been by the authority and priesthood keys of that bishop.  But what would happen when that bishop died?  Who would have to authority to ordain a new bishop?

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1 minute ago, ksfisher said:

The loss of priesthood keys was entirely the problem. Seventies do not hold priesthood keys.  Bishops hold priesthood keys but do not have the authority to ordain other bishops  Without priesthood keys the church today would have no authority to perform ordinances or to pass priesthood keys on to others.

Seventies in the days of Joseph and Brigham were considered to be Apostles.  D&C says the quorum of the 70s are equal in authority (ie priesthood) to the quorum of the 12.  The Presidency of the Seventy DO hold sealing keys.
As long as a righteous seventy was on the earth the apostasy couldn't be complete.

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8 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

So you are saying it is the loss of the Apostolic authority that led to the changes being made?
When the last apostle died and didn't ordain anyone else to the apostleship, then revelation ceased and changes crept in?

I can see that.

Not all revelation, but the revelation needed to keep the Church on track.

PS:  I thought quorums of various levels could get together to reestablish higher quorums if those members were for some reason all lost.  Is this not so?

Edited by Calm
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14 minutes ago, Gray said:

I read this and it's like hearing someone say the apostasy happened because the apostles didn't have access to Google Chrome - they were using Internet Explorer instead. P-p-p-presentism!

I'm not sure how priesthood keys are comparable to an internet browser?  Don't we believe that the Savior gave to priesthood keys necessary to administer the church and continue His work to the apostles?  In particular Peter.  And if those keys and the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ that is derived from those keys is not present on the earth, then by whose authority were ordinances being performed?

Edited by ksfisher
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8 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Seventies in the days of Joseph and Brigham were considered to be Apostles.  D&C says the quorum of the 70s are equal in authority (ie priesthood) to the quorum of the 12.  The Presidency of the Seventy DO hold sealing keys.
As long as a righteous seventy was on the earth the apostasy couldn't be complete.

CFR that the Presidency of the Seventy hold sealing keys.  And if they do hold sealing keys is that the only key necessary to administer the work of the church?  Do the sealing keys allow the ordination of bishops?

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16 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Ok, we're getting closer.
So what were these false doctrines, unrighteous activities and practices?

The scriptures you give like D&C 1 show the existence of the Apostasy.  But not a single Church source I can find wants to name what these changes were or how they came to be.  Indulgences?  Transubstantiation?  Baptism by Sprinkling/Pouring? 
All came into being after the time we consider the authority to have left, they were the results of the loss of authority, not the changes that removed authority.

I want to know what happened in the congregations say, 25 years after the last apostle died.  How was the covenant broken?  What caused revelation to cease?  What were the first ordinances to be altered and was revelation claimed to authorize those alterations?

We claim revelation today to change ordinances.  I am sure they did then too.  I am curious about the process that led to apostasy.

It's a great question. The great apostasy is central to the church's claims of a restoration, yet, like you say, there really isn't any information about it beyond the claim of apostasy.

Did the ancient apostles simply stop ordaining new apostles and other priesthood holders at some point? I often hear it said that "all the apostles died off" as if they were too stupid or incapable to ordain new apostles. Was the apostasy due to administrative failings and lack of organization? All we really know is that there was an apostasy...because there was an apostasy.

 

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42 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I've been reading and studying on the many changes made to the ordinances of the gospel since they were first restored (a VERY long list).
Now, leaving aside whether they are correct and authorized or not, my mind went to the Great Apostasy.

Given what we know of the gospel from the restoration, WHAT apostasy occurred?  What was changed?  What happened that caused priesthood authority to be lost?
We state this often in our manuals and lessons:
https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-22-the-apostasy?lang=eng

Is the only difference between what happened after the Apostles to the early Church and what has happened to the Church today that we believe the changes we have made were authorized and that their changes weren't? 

What actual actions taken by the early Church caused the Great Apostasy?
Because the ones described in the manual link sound awfully familiar...
 

Much of the apostasy narrative we use in the church today was developed by James Talmage.  A really great book on this topic that is must reading if you want to understand the development of the Apostasy narrative in the early Mormon church as well as the influences from Protestant Christianity and the changes in this narrative over the past 200 years and the elements that are historically accurate as well as those elements that unfairly mischaracterize the past, such as the idea label of the "dark ages" and how unfairly and inaccurately that portrays 1500 years of history.  

https://www.amazon.com/Standing-Apart-Historical-Consciousness-Apostasy/dp/0199348146/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487282584&sr=1-1&keywords=standing+apart

If you want a primer on this book, Mormon Matters did a nice podcast with a few of the editors.  

http://www.mormonmatters.org/2014/10/01/251-252-mormonisms-apostasy-narrative/

 

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5 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

CFR that the Presidency of the Seventy hold sealing keys.  And if they do hold sealing keys is that the only key necessary to administer the work of the church?  Do the sealing keys allow the ordination of bishops?

I don't know why they wouldn't but I certainly don't think it's a given that they do. Temple sealers hold those keys, so why not 70's who administrate on behalf of the 12?

It's a little bit of an aside regarding keys, but the transfer of keys is pretty interesting. I had learned, and always believed that keys were transmitted via the laying on of hands, and in most cases today that is still the way it is done. That is why a bishop must set apart an Aaronic priesthood president, or the SP must set apart an EQ Pres. One key holder places hands to confer keys on another.

However, when our stake was split and the new stake was organized a few years ago by a member of the 70 I asked him about his keys to set apart a new Stake President. He said as a 70 he didn't have those keys but since he was acting under the direction of the Q12 he could perform the ordinance. His answer stunned me. I asked him if he received some kind of "temporary keys" by the laying on of hands from the Q12 prior to coming to organize our stake. He said "no."

He explained that he received his assignment to come and organize the stake via letter and that letter authorized him to call, set apart, and bestow keys on the stake president. I'd never heard of anything like this before. He claimed that a letter gave him authority to transfer keys to a new SP even though he did not possess the keys himself. I believe he referred to it as "vicarious keys".

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3 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I don't know why they wouldn't but I certainly don't think it's a given that they do. Temple sealers hold those keys, so why not 70's who administrate on behalf of the 12?

 

Temple sealers have the authority to perform sealing ordinances, however they do not hold the keys of the sealing ordinance.  That key is held by the the president of the church and the quorum of the twelve.  It's that same as in the example you have about the 70 acting under the direction of the quorum of the twelve.  He himself did not hold the keys, but he could ordain a stake president if authorized to by an apostle.  Same with temple sealers.  They are authorized to perform ordinances by and act under the direction of the president of the church.

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36 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I'm not sure how priesthood keys are comparable to an internet browser?  Don't we believe that the Savior gave to priesthood keys necessary to administer the church and continue His work to the apostles?  In particular Peter.  And if those keys and the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ that is derived from those keys is not present on the earth, then by whose authority were ordinances being performed?

Okay, I don't want to go overboard in what I'm saying. From the standpoint of theology, that's fine. But from the standpoint of history? Is there any historical evidence for these concepts in first century Christianity, let alone within the life of the historical Jesus? That's why I brought up web browsers. We're projecting our modern innovations back onto the first century. That's why it's weird to me to base theology and doctrine on history. History is an academic discipline, we can't access that through theology. 

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38 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

CFR that the Presidency of the Seventy hold sealing keys.  And if they do hold sealing keys is that the only key necessary to administer the work of the church?  Do the sealing keys allow the ordination of bishops?

The Seventy hold the sealing power but the keys (authority to preside) remain with President Monson and the First Presidency.
If the First Presidency were to be killed/apostatize then the keys would rest with the 12.
If the 12 and the FP were to be killed/apostatize then the keys would rest with the seventy.  Right now they exercise them under the authority of President Monson.
Basically, they have the authority (office) but not the right to preside (keys).
 

  • D&C 107:22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.
    23 The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
    24 And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.
    25 The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.
    26 And they form a quorum, equal in authority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles just named.

 

  • The question arises, How can they be equal in authority? Speaking to this question, President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught:
    “I want here to correct an impression that has grown up to some extent among the people, and that is, that the Twelve Apostles possess equal authority with the First Presidency in the Church. This is correct when there is no other Presidency but the Twelve Apostles; but so long as there are three presiding Elders who possess the presiding authority in the Church, the authority of the Twelve Apostles is not equal to theirs. If it were so, there would be two equal authorities and two equal quorums in the Priesthood, running parallel, and that could not be, because there must be a head” (Elders’ Journal, Nov. 1, 1906, 43).
    Likewise, the Seventy, who serve under the direction of the Twelve, would become equal in authority only in the event that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve were somehow destroyed.  - Gordon B. Hinckley
     
  • Members of the First and Second Quorums of Seventy receive the sealing power which authorizes them to seal husbands to wives, and children to their parents, in any of the church's temples. Members of the other quorums of seventy do not receive this as part of their calling. (Wikipedia and other websites)
     
  • January 1964: Members of the First Council of the Seventy were given the sealing power. 
    - https://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/09/the-saga-of-revelation-the-unfolding-role-of-the-seventy?lang=eng
     
  • Shortly after I was sustained in General Conference to be a General Authority, I was to be ordained a Seventy by President Thomas S. Monson. You can probably relate to this simple farm boy’s feelings of inadequacy and awe as my wife and I walked into the beautifully paneled board room in the Church Administration Building to meet with the First Presidency. President Monson was very kind. He spent a few minutes sharing personal experiences and counseling with us. Then, before he laid his hands on my head to ordain me a Seventy and confer the sealing power, he looked at me and said, “Elder Jones, you are an uncommon, common man.”
    http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2008_06_10_jones.htm
     
  • Zera Pulsipher -   In some manner, he exceeded the bounds of his authority in exercising the Sealing Power, and was subsequently released from the Presidency of the Seventy. He was then called before the First Presidency of the Church April 12, 1862. It was there voted, that he be rebaptized, reconfirmed and ordained to the office of a High Priest. 
     

It must have taken one heck of a major loss of revelation and sin for ALL the Apostles and ALL the 70 in the days of Christ to stop ordaining successors and allow the Apostasy to complete.

 

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