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Church Promoted a False "Great Apostasy" Narrative according to Maxwell Institute


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The Maxwell Institute has published a new book that some may find of interest.  I have not read the book so am only restating what the linked article  articulates, namely that the church has promoted an overly simplistic, if not completely false, narrative, about early Christians, according to a new book of essays, “Ancient Christians: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints,”

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2023/01/23/what-latter-day-saints-get-wrong/

Edited by Craig Speechly
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Latter-day Saints generally believe that Jesus established a church during his ministry, but after the death of his apostles, that body fell away from its gospel foundation due to what is called “the Great Apostasy.”

Many have come to think that God withdrew from the world at that time and remained distant through the Dark Ages until 1830, when Christ’s church was “restored” to its original form in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That is an overly simplistic, if not completely false, narrative, about early Christians, according to a new book of essays, “Ancient Christians: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints,” from the Maxwell Institute at church-owned Brigham Young University.

I would agree this is kind of a fairy tale idea of first century Christianity. Jesus didn't start a church, his movement was similar to John's - a Jewish eschatological movement, not a new religion. 

The start of a new "church" happened a few generations later. And contrary to what we learned in the MTC, there was no original unified Christian church in the first century - it was highly diverse and segmented into different communities that believed different things, from the beginning. It only became one unified church centuries later, with the advent of established orthodoxy and Catholicism. But that unified church didn't much resemble Jesus' original movement at all. But neither is the LDS church similar to any first century Christian organization - nor is any other existing church. 

Nor should we expect them to be - religion is constantly evolving - all religions evolve or die out. 

 

Edited by Eschaton
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2 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

The Maxwell Institute has published a new book that some may find of interest.  I have not read the book so am only restating what the linked article  articulates, namely that the church has promoted an overly simplistic, if not completely false, narrative, about early Christians, according to a new book of essays, “Ancient Christians: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints,”

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2023/01/23/what-latter-day-saints-get-wrong/

It’s a great book. I use it in personal, family, and Sunday school study during this NT study year. 

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42 minutes ago, blackstrap said:

Then we get prophecy. If only English spelling was consistent .

If it’s spelled “prophesy,” it’s a verb, not a noun. And the pronunciation is different. 
 

Apostasy is derived from the Greek apostasis and the Latin apostasia. All three are spelled with s — scarcely inconsistent. 
 

Prophecy comes from the Old French proficie, both spelled with c. Again, not inconsistent. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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As to the modern church, the researcher urges the faith’s leaders “to pray for additional prophetic revelation,” Laughton writes in her essay’s conclusion, “to validate and increase women’s leadership and participation.”

The ancient church, she says, could provide a compass.

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2023/01/23/what-latter-day-saints-get-wrong/

Sounds like there are undertones of ordain-women coming out of the Maxwell Institute.  Interesting! 
 

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6 hours ago, Craig Speechly said:

The Maxwell Institute has published a new book that some may find of interest.  I have not read the book so am only restating what the linked article  articulates, namely that the church has promoted an overly simplistic, if not completely false, narrative, about early Christians, according to a new book of essays, “Ancient Christians: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints,”

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2023/01/23/what-latter-day-saints-get-wrong/

I am grateful we adhere to D&C 1:24-28 some 190+ years on!

It does seem the "completely false" charge is as over the top as the idea that "God withdrew from the world." 

As to Jospeh Smith not using the term, at least he transmitted part of in D&C 86, where the revelation introduces the concept of an "apostate" sowing mischief anciently and broadly, requiring divine intervention via priesthood revelation and restoration (the last time being in Christ's day) in the last days. Since the term is provided in a parabolic context, it can rightly be put to good semantic use. 

Maybe the authors can address this in their next edition per D&C 1:24-28 :D .

 

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47 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Chad Nielsen at Times and Seasons does not seem to share Peggy Fletcher Stack's assessment of this most recent Maxwell Institute offering.

https://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2022/11/ancient-christians-an-introduction-for-latter-day-saints/

My regard for Peggy Fletcher Stack's opinion is...ebbing at best. I would likewise encourage @Craig Speechly to clarify the title of this topic. It should read "'Church Promoted a False 'Great Apostacy' Narrative According to the Maxwell Institute' According to the Salt Lake Tribune."

I disagree. Peggy’s article is actually very fair and extensively quotes the books authors. The articles’s headline is a bit inflammatory, but headlines usually come from the editor, not the journalist. 

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  • Craig Speechly changed the title to Church Promoted a False "Great Apostasy" Narrative according to Maxwell Institute
1 hour ago, pogi said:

Sounds like there are undertones of ordain-women coming out of the Maxwell Institute.  Interesting! 
 

That’s a bit of a misquote. The conclusion of Laughton’s essay - which is excellent by the way - does not counsel directly to church leaders but invites us all in the abstract. The full quote reads “While we continue to pray for additional prophetic revelation to validate and increase women’s leadership and participation in [the church] we can rejoice today that God has restored these ancient models of women’s leadership and authority once again.”  
 

The essence of that essay is that women in the early church played significant administrative roles and performed ordinances while the church was organized largely in people’s homes, but those roles were removed as the church grew into an institution in the Greek and Roman world since those worlds confined women’s roles to domestic spheres. 

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I am reading Kristian Heal's "Scripture, Sermons, and Practical Exegesis" in this book, and it is just excellent. He is providing clear, helpful descriptions of Christian use of Scripture, sermons, and what we now call "The Liturgy of the Word." He's enabling Latter-day Saints to have conversations with Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and others.

 I'm learning about Latter-day Saints too.

Just a wonderful book so far.

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On 1/23/2023 at 10:13 AM, Eschaton said:

The start of a new "church" happened a few generations later. And contrary to what we learned in the MTC, there was no original unified Christian church in the first century - it was highly diverse and segmented into different communities that believed different things, from the beginning. It only became one unified church centuries later, with the advent of established orthodoxy and Catholicism. But that unified church didn't much resemble Jesus' original movement at all. But neither is the LDS church similar to any first century Christian organization - nor is any other existing church. 

Don't Catholics claim the apostolic line of succession is unbroken, and Peter came to Rome, and all that?

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This looks like a very interesting book.

On 1/23/2023 at 12:51 PM, Buckeye said:

It’s a great book. I use it in personal, family, and Sunday school study during this NT study year. 

How are these topics received in Sunday School? It seems like any possibility of subverting the idea of the Great (complete) Apostasy would also be viewed as an assault on the need for a Restoration and would therefore be met with vigorous opposition.

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1 hour ago, HappyJackWagon said:

This looks like a very interesting book.

How are these topics received in Sunday School? It seems like any possibility of subverting the idea of the Great (complete) Apostasy would also be viewed as an assault on the need for a Restoration and would therefore be met with vigorous opposition.

It is not a refutation of the apostasy. It is just a focus more on the loss of authority (so still an apostasy) and less a cabal of wickedness throughout Christianity systematically purging the true gospel from the primitive church.

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1 hour ago, HappyJackWagon said:

This looks like a very interesting book.

How are these topics received in Sunday School? It seems like any possibility of subverting the idea of the Great (complete) Apostasy would also be viewed as an assault on the need for a Restoration and would therefore be met with vigorous opposition.

So far I’ve just taken my copy with me to SS and recommended it as a general resource. There haven’t been topics yet where I felt to share something from it. Frankly, I don’t expect the apostasy to be discussed much, if at all, in my ward. We’ll see. 

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