It seems to me that Mormons teach a falling away of the Church, which is different than a falling away from the Church (apostasy of vs. apostasy from) . If the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, there can be no falling away of the whole Church. Matt. 16:18 Jesus promises to be with the Church until the end of time. Matt. 28:19-20 The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son to prevent such a thing. See John 15:26 and 16:13-14. Some people will fall away from, but not all people ever all fell away. No apostasizing of the whole Church means there is no need for a restoration of what always has been. Jesus' mission of establishing his followers was not a failure necessitating a mere man to later restore it. Why could Joseph Smith (substitute Charles Taze Russell) do what Mormons (JW's) claim Jesus could not do? How could men undo everything Jesus had done and then one man, Joseph Smith (or Russell) , redo everything that Jesus couldn't? The Church never completely apostasized nor will it ever. See Eph. 1:22-23 If the Church completely vanished at any period of time than Jesus was a failure. God should have sent Joseph Smith (Russell) instead.
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Thanks for your comments and observations.
I do not disagree with your reasoning that there was an apostasy "from the Church" but not an apostasy "of the Church". That is a very important distinction. However, this is exactly the argument of the Catholic Church, and why they teach Apostolic Succession. If the whole Church apostasized, then the Gates of Hell would have prevailed against it, which would make Jesus' words a false prophesy.
But when it comes to the Mormon Church, they do, in fact, teach that there was a falling away of the Church and from the Church, and that is why they say there had to be a restoration in the latter days. Hence Joseph Smith, the instrument thru which the Restoration came.
Mormonism teaches that the Priesthood Authority was removed from the earth because of the Great Apostasy, ostensibly to protect it from corruption by man. It was effectively safeguarded until the latter days, when it was restored. The idea that the Priesthood Authority and the Fulness of the Gospel was restored is proof to the Mormon mind that the Gates of Hell did not prevail against Christ's Church. Unbroken continuity is not necessarily a mandatory requirement. I do not agree with this Mormon viewpoint. Years ago, the continuity question was what almost convinced me to join the Catholic Church. It was all the corruption and bloodshed in Catholic history that turned me against the notion that they had to be the ones Christ had appointed. It was Pagan Roman Emperor Constantine, who was an unbaptized sun worshipper until practically his deathbed that he became a baptized Christian. The whole story about Christianity becoming the state religion convinced me that this Catholic Church was begun by a political authority of man, rather than a Divine Authority by God.
I hope that clarifies my remarks for you.
Kenneson - just some observations about LDS and the apostasy:
The apostatsy or falling away has relation to the Priesthood line. The Priesthood is in LDS parlance the authority to act in Jesus' name and perform all the ordinances of salvation (baptism, sacrament etc..) The authority is given in a specific manner and must be given by someone who already possesses it:
(New Testament | Hebrews 5:1 - 4)
FOR every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron
(Old Testament | Exodus 29:4 - 7)
4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.
5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:
6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.
7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
(Old Testament | Exodus 30:30)
30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.
(Old Testament | Amos 3:7)
7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
So people cannot just assume authority...see below for one example
(New Testament | Acts 19:13 - 16)
13 ¶ Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
so either the Catholic church still has the authority or it lost it when Rome took it over.
Your comment "Unbroken continuity is not necessarily a mandatory requirement. I do not agree with this Mormon viewpoint."
So, what is your take on that?
We know elsewhere that there were exorcists besides Jesus. "Moreover, if I expel the demons by means of Be-elzebub, by means of whom do YOUR sons expel them? This is why they will be judges of YOU." See Matt. 12:26
We also know of exorcists who invoked Jesus' name outside his followers' circle. See Mark 9:38-40 You will have to admit, however, that Jesus' followers' circle did not assume authority. They had it. See Luke 9:1-2 What Mormons say is that not only was the authority removed ("ostensibly to protect it from the corruption of men," as Rod put it), but so was the circle (the Church). How can that be? Matt. 28:18-20 Jesus Christ is the foundation cornerstone of the Church. See Eph. 2:19-22 To lose the Body of Christ would mean loss of its Head. See Eph. 3:11-16 Moreover, if it was possible for the authority as well as the Body (Church) to be removed once, what assurance do you have that it cannot happen again?
Matt. 7:21-23 states: "Not everyone saying to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kindgom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name. ' And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness." Admiting this does not mean that the Church lost her gifts, including prophecy, powerful works, etc. See 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-31. Of course, we know that all these gifts were necessary to build up the church in love. 1 Cor. 13 and 14:1
The point of Acts 19 as I see it is an attempt to distance the gospel from magic. The fact of the matter is that the name of Jesus will not work automatically for just any wielder. But it sure worked for Paul. See verses 11-12. Apparently some have the authority and others don't. But there never was a time when no one had the authority.
RE those exorcists I was just using them as an example that as you further pointed out its not enough to just speak the lingo - ie you must actually be called by God and then anointed by someone who holds the Priesthood.
I'm not suggesting that there haven't been christians in an unbroken chain nor does the LDS church claim that the Priesthood authority was removed in a physical act by God (no popes struck down by lightning), rather that when someone who doesn't have the right to the priesthood (such as a Roman political leader who lives a non christian life) claims the priesthood and then having done atrocious things while holding this priesthood supposes to be able to pass it on..the priesthood ceases.
I always found it interesting the relationship between the church and the apostle John while he was on Patmos - its almost as if he has no control / direction over the church and yet he is an apostle...
I don't want to dig on the popes but some of them (not all of course) where not what I would consider godly men (of course nobody is asking me to judge) and yet they were the head of the church - representing Jesus - I'm fairly certain that they did not have the priesthood. This means IMHO that the line of authority was broken - once broken I can't see any way to restore it RE the previous scriptures I listed.
This is somehow reminiscent of Montanism and especially Donatism (Google tips here).
I just spent the last two hours on this thread writing comments to all three of you. Then I went back to Page 1 of this thread to refer to something, came back to Page 2, and everything I had typed just vanished. Very frustrating. Anybody know how to find it or get it back?
Holy smokes, Rod, what a story. Some very interesting details, and some great observations.
...Seems like a lot of trouble came out of studying doctrines on the sly!
You are right. A lot of trouble did result from me studying on the sly. But a lot of trouble would have resulted in any event.
I openly knocked on doors with fellow JW's and we had many discussions with different householders. In the process, questions and seeds of doubt were already planted in my mind.
I had the choice to study in the open, in front of my wife and her parents, but that would only have produced heated argument and debate at a time when I needed to resolve the doubts I already had. I did not need the hassle in the middle of spiritual crisis, for my faith was then very fragile. I needed to go thru this alone and on the side, so I could at least think without all that conflict.
I really believe that one way or the other, I would have joined the Mormon Church of the Catholic Church because they had the better case for Authority than the JW's ever did.
Hey Rod, Sorry if that one comment sounded critical! We all have private thoughts, don't we? And we don't have to announce all that we are thinking or wishing to investigate. Sometimes, many times, private investigation is the most prudent course.
The challenge really comes when you end up on another page by yourself... and discover that your relationship was only built on sharing the other page (as you wrote yourself, about "conditional" love).
Anyway, I enjoyed your story!! (Plus, it was so long, it kept me out of a lot of mischief!! ) Looking forward to future installments.