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The Great Apostacy


inquiringmind

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When did the early Church lose the keys of the priesthood, and become totally apostate?

Was it right after the Apostles died, in the 5th century, or the tenth century?

It was on November 15, 205 AD. :rolleyes:

Who knows? I would actually guess that the apostasy was well under way well before Constantine "converted" to Christianity. By the time of the Council of Nicea I guess you could say it was a fait accomplis. But the date the last authorized holder of Melchizedek Priesthood keys died would have marked it. Since presumably only Apostles or members of the Seventy could confer keys, and only members of the Quorum of the Twelve could ordain Seventies, you could probably figure it out, based on what were the life expectancies of people of the Eastern Mediterranean around that time. Who was the last recognized Apostle? Besides John the Beloved, who is still around, that is. It seems that the apostles were not able to act as a collegium to call new members by the time of John's stint of imprisonment on Patmos, and he would have been the last living apostle. Tradition holds that Polycarp, who became Bishop of Smyrna, was a direct protegee of John in John's old age, and would certainly would have received the keys of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood from him. Since he could not transmit those keys, upon his death in 155 AD, any Melchizedek Priesthood holders whom Polycarp had ordained were the last authorized holders of the priesthood left in the Old World. If Polycarp had ordained a 20-year-old to the priesthood shortly before his death, and this man had lived to 70 years old (well beyond the average life expectancy), then one could say that the last possible MP holder in the Old World was gone by 205 AD.

The other two men considered "Apostolic Fathers", Clement of Rome (reputedly a protegee of Peter), and Ignatius of Antioch (also a protegee of John), died long before Polycarp.

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When did the early Church lose the keys of the priesthood, and become totally apostate?

Was it right after the Apostles died, in the 5th century, or the tenth century?

Yep! One of those!

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It was on November 15, 205 AD. :rolleyes:

Who knows? I would actually guess that the apostasy was well under way well before Constantine "converted" to Christianity. By the time of the Council of Nicea I guess you could say it was a fait accomplis. But the date the last authorized holder of Melchizedek Priesthood keys died would have marked it. Since presumably only Apostles or members of the Seventy could confer keys, and only members of the Quorum of the Twelve could ordain Seventies, you could probably figure it out, based on what were the life expectancies of people of the Eastern Mediterranean around that time. Who was the last recognized Apostle? Besides John the Beloved, who is still around, that is. It seems that the apostles were not able to act as a collegium to call new members by the time of John's stint of imprisonment on Patmos, and he would have been the last living apostle. Tradition holds that Polycarp, who became Bishop of Smyrna, was a direct protegee of John in John's old age, and would certainly would have received the keys of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood from him. Since he could not transmit those keys, upon his death in 155 AD, any Melchizedek Priesthood holders whom Polycarp had ordained were the last authorized holders of the priesthood left in the Old World. If Polycarp had ordained a 20-year-old to the priesthood shortly before his death, and this man had lived to 70 years old (well beyond the average life expectancy), then one could say that the last possible MP holder in the Old World was gone by 205 AD.

The other two men considered "Apostolic Fathers", Clement of Rome (reputedly a protegee of Peter), and Ignatius of Antioch (also a protegee of John), died long before Polycarp.

Interesting ideas- for me the question becomes when their beliefs became "apostate" more that possible priesthood succession. Certainly one sees Paul's continuing corrections to the churches in his Epistles as evidence that it was underway while Paul himself was still around.

But I am wondering about this statement you made:

Tradition holds that Polycarp, who became Bishop of Smyrna, was a direct protegee of John in John's old age, and would certainly would have received the keys of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood from him. Since he could not transmit those keys, upon his death in 155 AD, any Melchizedek Priesthood holders whom Polycarp had ordained were the last authorized holders of the priesthood left in the Old World.

Just curious why you think that Polycarp "could not transmit those keys"? And further, why would not any MP whom Polycarp ordained not be able to pass on the keys?

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Here are some scriptures I once copied down which could be interpreted as evidence of the beginnings of the apostasy already starting.

2 Tim. 4: 3-4

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Matt. 24: 24

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Acts 20: 29

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Gal. 1: 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

2 Thes. 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;

2 Tim. 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

2 Tim. 3: 5

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Pet. 2: 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Jude 1: 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev. 2: 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars

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Here are some scriptures I once copied down which could be interpreted as evidence of the beginnings of the apostasy already starting.

2 Tim. 4: 3-4

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Matt. 24: 24

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Acts 20: 29

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Gal. 1: 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

2 Thes. 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;

2 Tim. 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

2 Tim. 3: 5

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Pet. 2: 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Jude 1: 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev. 2: 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars

As if "not sparing the flock" isn't clear enough for some.

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As if "not sparing the flock" isn't clear enough for some.

Of those, this is my favorite: Galatians 1:

6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

8But 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.

9As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

10For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

11But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Of course it is ironic that this quote is often used against us, but in context it is clear that we believe that the gospel we teach is indeed the same gospel Paul taught- "not received of man...but by the revelation of Jesus Christ".

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"The" apostasy is the problem. Just because the Epistles contain dire predictions about rebellion, infiltration by enemies and disarray in "the church" does not have to signify a complete dismantling of Christianity. Also, "apostasy" requires a recognized departure from "the faith". And as there were many sects/churches from the getgo (thus inspiring the dire predictions of "falling away first", etc.), it is manifestly inescapable that "YMMV" has always ruled this scenario of sectarian/denominational bickering. There is no way to show which, if any, "God" prefers as his "true church". So "apostasy" remains completely free to interpret; no sect or denomination has a trump over any others....

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There is no way to show which, if any, "God" prefers as his "true church". So "apostasy" remains completely free to interpret; no sect or denomination has a trump over any others....

Interesting.

How do you know this assertion is true? Did God tell you?

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I don't know (or particularly care) when or how a great apostasy occurred. I do believe, though, that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through revelation and angelic ministry to the prophet Joseph and others as a "new and everlasting covenant". D&C 22.

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Was it right after the Apostles died, in the 5th century, or the tenth century?

My personal opinion is that new apostles continued to be ordained so I think it could have lasted as long as midway through the second century in isolated areas. Perhaps even closer to the end of the 2nd. One sees the doctrines changing by the end of the 1st century (such as baptism), and I think the universal apostasy is obvious when one traces the wholesale change (or loss of) doctrines over the first four or five centuries.

The Pastor of Hermas (circa 90-150 A.D.), considered canonical by many Christians of the time, speaks of the Church as a tower with it's members as individual stones nearing completion and that the church to come would be insufficient for salvation.

No LDS doctrine on the actual date as far as I know though. It could just as easily have ended with the disappearance of John the Revelator.

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Interesting ideas- for me the question becomes when their beliefs became "apostate" more that possible priesthood succession. Certainly one sees Paul's continuing corrections to the churches in his Epistles as evidence that it was underway while Paul himself was still around.

But I am wondering about this statement you made:

Just curious why you think that Polycarp "could not transmit those keys"? And further, why would not any MP whom Polycarp ordained not be able to pass on the keys?

The keys are not the priesthood, they are the authority to direct the priesthood. They are held by the president of the Church as one man, and by the First Presidency and the Twelve as quorums. Some of those keys are delegated to those who preside over various bodies in the church as needed. I am an Elder, but I cannot randomly decide to ordain another Elder or to baptize someone without first clearing it with that person's stake president or bishop respectively. A stake president cannot, on hisown, call another stake president. Those keys are above his paygrade. The only keys I know of that might be held by each priesthood holder individually by virtue of their ordination are the keys of the ministering of angels. (D&C 13:1) though I don't think so.

Random insight, while reading this thread, I wonder if the keys of the ministering of angels are not the priviledge to be ministered to by an angel (as that opportunity is open to everyone, only limited by faith), but rather the duty to minister as an angel, ie. to preach the gospel, provide service and bear witness of Christ. Home teaching would be an example of what I mean.

Yours under the angelic oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Just curious why you think that Polycarp "could not transmit those keys"? And further, why would not any MP whom Polycarp ordained not be able to pass on the keys?

I don't know (and I don't know anyone else who does, either) why or even if Polycarp could not pass the keys to one more generation of Priesthood holders.

However, the apostasy (which, by definition is the loss of Priesthood keys far more than failure in doctrine) occurred in easy steps.

Any President of the Aaronic Priesthood has the keys needed to ordain Priests, Teachers, and Deacons. In the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we call these Presidents "Bishops".* He does not have the keys needed to ordain another [bishop]. The one through whom the Lord calls a [bishop] is the President of the High Priesthood. However, because a [bishop] could ordain (or have ordained) a Priest when the young man was, say 10, and he 110, it is possible that the last legitimate Priest was still alive in 210 or later.

* In the ancient Church, I believe they did not hold this title, but that it was used for the office we name "Stake President".

As the (local) President of the High Priesthood, the [stake President] can call and ordain Elders and High Priests. The last High Priest could have been alive in 190 or so.

But neither a [bishop] nor a [stake President] can call his own replacement. The [stake President] cannot call a [bishop], either. To replace a [bishop] or [stake President] requires an Apostle, but not just any Apostle, this man must be a presiding Apostle. Another Apostle can call the specific man to fill either of these offices, but to do so, he, in turn, must have been commissioned to do this by the Presiding Apostle—the one with the keys. (In most cases, within the modern Church, this would be the President of the Church, but this is not mandatory if there is no First Presidency. We do not know that there was a "First Presidency" in the I and II, although Peter was the Presiding Apostle until he died. We are unaware if there was a successor.)

Once the Presiding Apostle died, whoever it may have been, there were no further [bishops] or [stake Presidents] called. There were no more Elders, no more High Priests, no more Priests, no more Deacons.

Once the last [bishop] died, the remaining Priests would be unable to exercise the Priesthood they held. With the death of the last [stake President], any living elders and High Priests would hold the Priesthood, but they would not be able to do anything with it beyond blessing those within their own stewardships ("home teaching" families and their own families). This is because, with the exception of his own stewardship, no one can use the priesthood without authorization from his Quorum President, the one who holds the keys of the Priesthood for that office.

Since the Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of the ministry of the Holy Ghost, and since the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of Angels, without the Priesthood, there can be no doctrinal/church revelation. It was for this reason that the apostasy of doctrine came about. There was no authoritative source by whom and through whom God could correct the errors of doctrine that crept into (or were forced into) the church. There was no one to whom God could reveal new doctrine, either.

Lehi

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The keys are not the priesthood, they are the authority to direct the priesthood. They are held by the president of the Church as one man, and by the First Presidency and the Twelve as quorums. Some of those keys are delegated to those who preside over various bodies in the church as needed. I am an Elder, but I cannot randomly decide to ordain another Elder or to baptize someone without first clearing it with that person's stake president or bishop respectively. A stake president cannot, on hisown, call another stake president. Those keys are above his paygrade. The only keys I know of that might be held by each priesthood holder individually by virtue of their ordination are the keys of the ministering of angels. (D&C 13:1) though I don't think so.

Random insight, while reading this thread, I wonder if the keys of the ministering of angels are not the priviledge to be ministered to by an angel (as that opportunity is open to everyone, only limited by faith), but rather the duty to minister as an angel, ie. to preach the gospel, provide service and bear witness of Christ. Home teaching would be an example of what I mean.

Yours under the angelic oaks,

Nathair /|\

But you didn't answer the question I posed Stargazer.

Stargazer said:

Tradition holds that Polycarp, who became Bishop of Smyrna, was a direct protegee of John in John's old age, and would certainly would have received the keys of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood from him. Since he could not transmit those keys, upon his death in 155 AD, any Melchizedek Priesthood holders whom Polycarp had ordained were the last authorized holders of the priesthood left in the Old World.

The assertion was that Polycarp had the keys, but could not transmit them.

John was an Apostle, and if we are assuming the same use of Priesthood keys we have today, John would have been the "senior apostle" and the last person on earth who held the keys AND the ability to pass them on. John in effect was what we today call "the prophet".

The assertion was that John did in fact pass on the keys to Polycarp- my question was why Stargazer felt that Polycarp could not then pass them on again.

:pardon:

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I don't know (and I don't know anyone else who does, either) why or even if Polycarp could not pass the keys to one more generation of Priesthood holders.

However, the apostasy (which, by definition is the loss of Priesthood keys far more than failure in doctrine) occurred in easy steps.

Any President of the Aaronic Priesthood has the keys needed to ordain Priests, Teachers, and Deacons. In the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we call these Presidents "Bishops".* He does not have the keys needed to ordain another [bishop]. The one through whom the Lord calls a [bishop] is the President of the High Priesthood. However, because a [bishop] could ordain (or have ordained) a Priest when the young man was, say 10, and he 110, it is possible that the last legitimate Priest was still alive in 210 or later.

* In the ancient Church, I believe they did not hold this title, but that it was used for the office we name "Stake President".

As the (local) President of the High Priesthood, the [stake President] can call and ordain Elders and High Priests. The last High Priest could have been alive in 190 or so.

But neither a [bishop] nor a [stake President] can call his own replacement. The [stake President] cannot call a [bishop], either. To replace a [bishop] or [stake President] requires an Apostle, and not just an apostle, this man must be a presiding Apostle. An Apostle can call the specific man to fill either of these offices, but to do so, he, in turn, must have been commissioned to do this by the Presiding Apostle—the one with the keys. (In most cases, within the modern Church, this would be the President of the Church, but this is not mandatory if there is no First Presidency. We do not know that there was a "First Presidency" in the I and II, although Peter was the Presiding Apostle until he died. We are unaware if there was a successor.)

Once the Presiding Apostle died, whoever it may have been, there were no further [bishops] or [stake Presidents] called. There were no more Elders, no more High Priests, no more Priests, no more Deacons.

Once the last [bishop] died, the remaining Priests wold be unable to exercise the Priesthood they held. With the death of the last [stake President], any living elders and High Priests would hold the Priesthood, but they would not be able to do anything with it beyond blessing those within their own stewardships ("home teaching" families and their own families). This is because, with the exception of his own stewardship, no one can use the priesthood without authorization from his Quorum President, the one who holds the keys of the Priesthood for that office.

Since the Melchizedek Priesthood holds the keys of the ministry of the Holy Ghost, and since the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of Angels, without the Priesthood, there can be no doctrinal/church revelation. It was for this reason that the apostasy of doctrine came about. There was no authoritative source by whom and through whom God could correct the errors of doctrine that crept into (or were forced into) the church. There was no one to whom God could reveal new doctrine, either.

Lehi

Thank you. that's what I was trying to say, but you did it far more competently.

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But you didn't answer the question I posed Stargazer.

Stargazer said:

The assertion was that Polycarp had the keys, but could not transmit them.

John was an Apostle, and if we are assuming the same use of Priesthood keys we have today, John would have been the "senior apostle" and the last person on earth who held the keys AND the ability to pass them on. John in effect was what we today call "the prophet".

The assertion was that John did in fact pass on the keys to Polycarp- my question was why Stargazer felt that Polycarp could not then pass them on again.

:pardon:

As Lehi pointed out, the Stake President holds the keys of ordaining one to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but he does not hold the keys of ordaining a Stake President. If I read Stargazer's point correctly, he is only asserting that Polycarp held the keys of a Stake President, not of an Apostle.

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Once the Presiding Apostle died, whoever it may have been, there were no further [bishops] or [stake Presidents] called. There were no more Elders, no more High Priests, no more Priests, no more Deacons.

I am familiar with how the keys work, since I actually hold some.

The question (hypothetically) is how or why Polycarp did not pass on the keys, assuming that John actually passed them on as Stargazer suggested.

Theoretically, if indeed all the keys were passed to Polycarp by John, Polycarp would now be the senior Apostle and have all the necessary keys to completely "restore" the priesthood should it be necessary (and it apparently was).

Suppose, in our church, some great calamity, and all but one apostle survives. He holds all the keys to carry on the church and ordain other apostles. So why didn't Polycarp? (assuming he had the keys- which of course is totally speculative)

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As Lehi pointed out, the Stake President holds the keys of ordaining one to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but he does not hold the keys of ordaining a Stake President. If I read Stargazer's point correctly, he is only asserting that Polycarp held the keys of a Stake President, not of an Apostle.

That's not what he says. :search:

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The question (hypothetically) is how or why Polycarp did not pass on the keys, assuming that John actually passed them on as Stargazer suggested.

The assumption is not evidenced at all, so the bigger question is whether John did pass them along. I have no hesitation in saying that he did not.

Theoretically, if indeed all the keys were passed to Polycarp by John, Polycarp would now be the senior Apostle and have all the necessary keys to completely "restore" the priesthood should it be necessary (and it apparently was).

A single Apostle is not a member of a quorum, and it is the Quorum of the Twelve (with its President) that would act in this manner. An Apostle does not hold keys independently of his fellows. That's why John himself could not continue to act as the Presiding Apostle: there was no one over whom to preside.

Suppose, in our church, some great calamity, and all but one apostle survives. He holds all the keys to carry on the church and ordain other apostles. So why didn't Polycarp? (assuming he had the keys- which of course is totally speculative)

No, I disagree, as I noted above. He would require a direct authorization from God to do as you suggest. I suggest that were this to happen, there would be a specific, recorded revelation about it.

Lehi

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A single Apostle is not a member of a quorum, and it is the Quorum of the Twelve (with its President) that would act in this manner. An Apostle does not hold keys independently of his fellows. That's why John himself could not continue to act as the Presiding Apostle: there was no one over whom to preside.

So you are saying that theoretically the prophet cannot act without the Q of 12 in such a situaiton, and pass on the keys?

That John as the last surviving Apostle, and therefore as senior Apostle, was not the de facto President of the Q of 12 and therefore did not hold the keys to theoretically pass on to Polycarp?

That one surviving member of the Q of 12 does not have the authority to be President?

I'd say we definitely disagree if that is what you are saying- I would like to see some evidence for that

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