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Apostasy and Restoration

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims that they are a restoration of Christ’s original Church and not just another denomination of Christianity. All other so-called “Christian Churches” are said to be in apostasy. On page 14 of a 1983 booklet titled, Apostasy And Restoration, the corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states, “As Latter-day Saints, we testify that shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles, there came seventeen hundred years of apostasy and darkness. Then in 1820, the resurrected Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet to all the world. Through him came the restoration of the priesthood, the gospel, and the true church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The booklet goes on to say, “We invite all men to test our claims, to know the truth for themselves.” (Ibid., p.14) We will accept this invitation by investigating some of the claims made in this booklet by the LDS Church and then compare those claims to what God says in scripture. There are four underlined portions in the following that we would like to discuss.

Under the heading, “The Great Apostasy- The Dark Ages” this booklet states, “Some may have known that the Messiah’s church, like the Messiah himself, would meet a violent death.” and “Following the death of the apostles, revelation ceased. The authority of God was no longer among men. Christianity sickened and died.” (Ibid. Pgs. 7,9)

This booklet also states, “Though the Messiah himself set up his true church on earth, yet Satan was able to set in motion- even during the lifetime of Jesus Christ and his apostles- those very countervailing forces that eventually led to the complete apostasy of the true church and the eventual creation of an apostate religion that has been responsible for the extermination of the Messiah’s true followers and the persecution of his chosen people, the Jews .The realization that the Lord’s true Church was not only vulnerable, but destructible, comes as a shock to many people. But if wicked men were able to put to death the Messiah himself, is it so strange that they should also have the power to destroy his church?” (Ibid. p.11)

According to the above, The Church of Jesus Christ met a violent death, sickened and died, fell into complete apostasy and was destroyed. This supposedly happened shortly after the death of the original twelve apostles. This is a very important point for Mormonism. In order for their claim of being the restoration of Christ’s Church to be valid, there needed to be a falling away of the original one. Did the first century Church really fall into complete apostasy? What did Jesus have to say about the subject?

Matthew 16:18- And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the Gates of Hades shall not overpower it. There is one major thing that we wish to point out in this verse. The Greek word for “overpower” is katischuo. It means, “against, and to prevail. To be strong against someone, prevail against or over. Used in a hostile sense, meaning to overcome, vanquish (Matt. 16:18);” (AMG Complete WordStudy Bible and Reference CD) The Greek word for “not” is ou. It means, “Not, no, expressing direct and full negation, independently and absolutely, and hence, objectively.” (Ibid.)

The first thing that needs to be realized about the above LDS quote, is that wicked men were allowed to put Jesus to death. Jesus was not overcome or triumphed over. He willingly laid down his life. In contrast to His willingness to die, He said that His church would not be prevailed over. It is a terrible jump in logic to think that because Jesus laid down His life, that He would allow His church to be overpowered also. Especially in the light of the fact that He specifically says that the Church will not be overpowered.

This is a clear promise made by Christ Himself. His church, once established, will not meet a violent death, sicken and die, fall into complete apostasy or be destroyed. We have one of two choices. Either Jesus was wrong, or the Mormon church is wrong. Jesus also stated, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) If Jesus is wrong, then He can not be trusted and must be viewed as either incompetent or as a liar. If the Mormon church is wrong, then there was no need for a restoration and their claims to be the only true church are false.

Another verse, which refutes the idea of a total apostasy, is Jude 3. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Notice that this verse says that the faith was delivered, “once for all.” If it was delivered “once for all,” then there is no need to deliver it again. Obviously Jude, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not believe in a coming total apostasy.

Lastly, we would also like to appeal to the Book of Mormon, for the sake of our Mormon readers. The book of 4th Nephi describes a time when the “true faith” continued to thrive. An official LDS church manual states, “As the original twelve Nephite disciples chosen by the Savior passed away, new disciples were chosen to take their place. This practice evidently continued as long as the Nephites were righteous enough to have a church organization amongst them. The three Nephite disciples who were promised by the Savior that they should live on the earth until his second coming apparently continued to work with the people for several hundred years.” (Book Of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1979 p.450)

We have an unavoidable contradiction. In one official LDS church booklet, the church claims that the apostasy occurred “shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles,” while another official publication says that the work continued for “several hundred years.” In the light of what the Bible has clearly stated regarding the endurance of Christ’s church, it is obvious that both LDS quotes are wrong.

http://evidenceministries.org/mormons.php?viewarticle=46

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BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY = An everlasting Gospel which has endured for “all generations”—never to disappear from the earth. Paul warned about those who would preach another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Jesus prophesied that the “gates of hell” wouldn’t prevail against His church, and in so doing, He ruled out complete apostasy (Matthew 16:18). Thus, the Gospel would never have to be restored (Jude 3). Ephesians 3:21 states: “to Him be the glory in the church…to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”1. How can an apostate church give glory to God throughout “all generations”?

GALATIANS 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.…but 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.”2.

2 CORINTHIANS 11:3-4: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

JUDE 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all time] delivered unto the saints.” 3.

HEBREWS 12:28: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

MATTHEW 16:18: “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

EPHESIANS 3:21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. A-men”

1 TIMOTHY 3:15: “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

http://www.4witness.org/mormon/lds_exp.php#restoration

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CORRUPTION OF THE BIBLE IS AN LDS SMOKESCREEN

The LDS maintains that the Bible has been corrupted and is, therefore, unreliable. Their unsubstantiated claim is that some parts have been incorrectly translated, and that sections that had originally contained Mormon doctrines have been removed. However, they have never been able to come up with any proof to back up their allegations. The first part of this article is devoted to the evidence that supports the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. And the last section deals with the various LDS theories on the subject.

THE BIBLE’S RELIABILITY

If we have any doubts about the Bible’s truth or accuracy, we’ll read it with a jaundiced eye, and will always be wondering about the trustworthiness of some verse or the other. This will leave us open to being easily led astray by false teachers, false prophets and the like, whom the Bible warns us appear to be messengers of light:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV)

When it comes to deception Satan is a master of the art, and we are no match for him. So God has provided us with spiritual armour for our protection (Ephesians 6:12-17). And part of that armour is the Word of God (verse 17). When we use the Bible as our standard of truth, it serves as a spiritual sword, capable of decimating spiritual deception and error.

When Paul preached the New Covenant gospel of Christ to the Jews at Berea, they checked in their Bibles daily to see whether the things he was telling them were true (Acts 17:10-12). And sure enough, the prophecies about the coming Messiah lined up with what Paul had been telling them about Christ and his atonement for the sins of mankind. So many of them trusted in Christ for salvation.

If we follow the example of the Bereans by conscientiously checking up on whether or not the spiritual teachings we receive line up with the Bible, we will not be led into error. But in order to have the will to do this, we need to have faith in the Bible’s reliability, bearing in mind that faith isn’t a blind, mindless belief, an emotion, or a warm feeling in our bosom, as Mormons have been taught to believe it is. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to have faith in our feelings. Feelings are notoriously unreliable. Having faith doesn’t mean that we have to be gullible or throw our brains out of the window.

The following facts reveal the Bible to be a reliable standard of authority and truth, in which we can safely trust:

THE BIBLE IS HISTORICALLY TRUE

In the early 1800’s, the University of Paris printed an academic paper denouncing the Bible. They mentioned more than eighty historical facts that they claimed were untrue. However, within the next 100 years archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the biblical record concerning every one of those so-called errors.

We have literally thousands of ancient, independent documents that support the trustworthiness of the biblical record. And archaeologists have confirmed the existence of biblical cities, nations, and individuals. They’ve also unearthed countless coins, artifacts, and evidence of civilizations and wars recorded in the Bible. Yet they’ve never found anything that has contradicted or disproved the Bible’s accuracy.

Compare this with the dismal record of absolutely no proof at all ever having been found concerning the LDS’s foremost scripture, the Book of Mormon, which they maintain is more accurate than the Bible. The evidence in favour of the Bible is overwhelming, and there is no evidence at all in favour of the Book of Mormon or of Mormon doctrine. Yet the LDS continues to throw stones both at the Bible and at biblical Christianity.

ACCURACY OF OUR COPIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

Strict regulations were enforced in the copying of Old Testament scriptures. An authentic specimen had to be used, and copyists weren’t allowed to deviate from it in any way. Nothing was permitted to be written down from memory, not even a dot. If any mistakes were made, the faulty copies were either burned or buried, as was every document that showed any sign of wear. Many other precautions were also taken, some even more elaborate than these, such as the counting of every letter on each page. So it’s unlikely that errors would have crept into the copying of the Old Testament.

It doesn’t make sense to imagine for one moment that people who were so fanatically fastidious about the accuracy of their scriptures, and so in awe of them, would adulterate them or hack out great big portions of them; or allow others to do so. Those Jewish folk guarded their scriptures jealously and reverentially. Don’t forget that the primitive church was completely Jewish, and a large number of the early church consisted of converted Jews, all of whom had this very same reverence for scripture.

In 1947 an Arab shepherd boy discovered a vast quantity of ancient manuscripts in some caves, which became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They pre-dated anything we’d previously possessed, and included portions of every Old Testament book except Esther. Many of the scrolls were in fragments, but those they have pieced together agree with our modern Bibles.

The LDS Church maintains that parts of the book of Isaiah (the sections that don’t agree with their ideas), have been incorrectly translated. But we can now prove to them that this is not so, and that it is the LDS doctrines that are incorrect, not the Bible. Amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls was a complete copy of the book of Isaiah, written in an early form of the square letter. This dates it as far back as the second century before Christ, which makes it the same rendering of Isaiah that was read and quoted by the Lord Jesus. He accepted and proclaimed it as the true Word of God. And this very ancient copy of Isaiah agrees with our modern English translations of today. So the LDS will need another excuse to explain why their teachings don’t agree with the book of Isaiah.

Furthermore, Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, the LDS’s own Brigham Young University’s Professor of Old Testament History, Literature, and Languages, wrote the following in his publication, “Progress in Archaeology”:

“After reading the [Dead Sea] Scrolls very carefully, I came to the conclusion that there is not a line in them that suggests that their writers knew the gospel as understood by Latter-day Saints.” (page 52)

ACCURACY OF OUR COPIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

As we’ve learned more about ancient biblical languages we have been able to translate them more precisely. But this hasn’t changed the actual meaning of the content in any way.

We possess more than 3,000 New Testament manuscripts dating from the fourth century. A few of these have minor variations. However, as most of them do agree, it’s an easy matter to sort out which are the reliable texts.

Some copies of John’s writings dating from 200 AD have come to light. They agree with our Bibles. We also have the writings of the apostolic fathers and the church fathers. (The apostolic fathers were the disciples of the apostles, and the church fathers were the disciples of the apostolic fathers.) Their combined writings contain the entire New Testament, except sixteen verses, which are only the introductions to the epistles. And their versions of the New Testament scriptures agree with our modern translations. So we can rest assured that our modern New Testament is in line with the original writings.

In their book “Eyewitness to Jesus,” German and British scholars Drs. Carsten Theide and Matthew D’Ancona refer to a fragment from the Gospel of Matthew, that scientific evidence revealed was written before AD 70, possibly as early as AD 30. This means that this gospel was written and circulated during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses to the events recorded. So they would have been able to vouch for its accuracy.

Because of the overwhelming evidence available, it is unlikely that errors could have crept into our versions of either the Old or New Testaments.

THE BIBLE IS OUR STANDARD OF TRUTH

The Bible is the standard of truth provided by God to enable us to test all spiritual teachings. But once we start relying on it, Satan knows that he will have lost the battle for our souls. So he puts a great deal of effort into trying to discredit it. And he’s very subtle. Remember what he said to Eve in the garden of Eden? He insinuated that perhaps God didn’t quite mean what he’d said so she shouldn’t take it too seriously. And she believed Satan, instead of taking God at His Word. As a result both Adam and Eve lost their righteous natures, their immortality and their fellowship with their Creator.

Satan is carrying on that same campaign of disinformation today, except this time it’s against God’s written word, the Bible.

CONTRADICTORY LDS STANCE ON THE BIBLE

When it comes to the Bible, the LDS church speaks with a forked tongue. On the one hand they maintain that it is their standard scripture, “the first” among their written guides in faith and doctrine. But on the other hand, they insist that it has been so badly corrupted that it cannot be relied upon.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts the Holy Bible as the foremost of her standard works, first among the books which have been proclaimed as her written guides in faith and doctrine” (LDS Apostle James Talmage, Articles of Faith, page 236).

“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known informally by the nickname Mormons) believe the Bible. Indeed, so literally and completely do their beliefs and practices conform to the teachings of the Bible that it is not uncommon to hear informed persons say: ‘If all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons.’ Bible doctrine is Mormon doctrine, and Mormon doctrine is Bible doctrine. They are one and the same” (LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, “What The Mormons Think of Christ,” page 2).

But saying doesn’t make it so. The second quote is both false and deliberately misleading. The LDS leadership is well aware of the fact that their doctrines are not biblical. Moreover, they admit that the Jesus Christ that they follow is not the Christ of the Bible either (see the relevant article). And eternal progression, the foundational doctrine on which the LDS stands or falls, is anti-biblical to the point of being blasphemous, as are their doctrines on deity and the atonement.

Contrary to apostle McConkie’s false claims mentioned above, the Bible vigorously opposes LDS doctrines, and in order to justify this very obvious discrepancy the LDS church teaches their members that the Bible has been corrupted to the extent that it is not reliable. They are instructed to use their own scriptures and revelations as the standard against which to measure the accuracy of the Bible.

“The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” (Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3, quoting a letter from the First Presidency [Presidents Benson, Hinckley and Monson] dated May 22, 1992, to all of the Church)

There are a great many LDS teachings on the unreliability of the Bible. Here are just a few:

“Many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 1, page 245)

“Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 327).

“… who in his right mind could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?” (LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” Page 47.)

In light of the above, one can only assume that their earlier, dishonest statements about their teachings conforming completely to those of the Bible, were nothing more than a deliberate smoke screen designed to conceal the fact that Mormonism is an unbiblical religion and that their doctrines are exclusive to the LDS church alone.

The Book of Mormon goes one step further in the LDS tirade against the Bible. It declares that only a fool would believe that the Bible is an adequate spiritual guide. (This crude statement gives the Book of Mormon a reason for its existence.)

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. ……..Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.” (2 Nephi 29:6, 10)

“….. for behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13:26-27)

Mormon literature provides many more statements along the same lines, but the above sufficiently proves the point that on the one hand the LDS claims that the Bible is their foremost scripture, that they honour and respect its authority, and that their doctrine so utterly conforms to biblical teaching that if all men believed the Bible, all would be Mormons. On the other hand they maintain that the Bible has been corrupted to such an extent that it can’t be trusted, that only fools would consider it to be an adequate spiritual guide, and that Mormons should use their own LDS revelations and teachings to gauge whether or not what the Bible says is correct.

The above two irreconcilable LDS stances are what some would term, “running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.” In other words, they enable the LDS to put forward whichever opposing point of view suits them best at any given time.

Let’s tackle some of the LDS’s accusations regarding their allegations about the Bible being corrupted and unreliable:

DIFFERENCES IN MANUSCRIPTS

There are minor variations in some of the available manuscripts. However, because of the vast number that are now in our possession (many thousands), it is an easy matter to sort out those that do not agree. Concerning those that do vary, scholars have come to the following conclusions.

“A careful study of the variants of the various earliest manuscripts reveals that none of them affects a single doctrine of Scripture. The system of spiritual truth contained in the standard Hebrew text of the Old Testament is not in the slightest altered or compromised by any of the variant readings found in the Hebrew manuscripts ….. It is very evident that the vast majority of them are so inconsequential as to leave the meaning of each clause doctrinally unaffected” (Gleason Archer, “A Survey of the Old Testament,” page 25).

“Only about one-eighth of all the variants had any weight, as most of them are merely mechanical matters such as spelling or style. Of the whole, then, only about one-sixtieth rise above ‘trivialities,’ or can in any sense be called substantial ‘variations’. Mathematically this would compute to a Text that is 98.33 percent pure.” (Norman Geisler and William Nix, “A General Introduction to the Bible,” page 365).

And Professor Richard L. Anderson, of the LDS’s own Brigham Young University, had this to say:
“For a book to undergo progressive uncovering of its manuscript history and come out with so little debatable in its text is a great tribute to its essential authenticity. First, no new manuscript discovery has produced serious differences in the essential story. This survey has disclosed the leading textual controversies, and together they would be well within one percent of the text. Stated differently, all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of all the verses in the New Testament.”

“LOST” BOOKS

The LDS maintains that manuscripts are missing out of the canon. But there is a valid reason why not all available documents were included. Some failed to meet the strict criteria deemed necessary to qualify for inclusion.

ALLEGED CORRUPTION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

In attempting to explain why there is no mention of LDS doctrines in the Bible, LDS Apostle James E. Talmage suggested that some time during the fourth century Mormon doctrines and teachings must have been removed from the Bible.

However, besides having been recorded in the Bible, the apostles’ teachings were also quoted in numerous sermons, letters and documents. And by the time the fourth century came around these writings, as well as the biblical record, had been copied a great many times and widely circulated. So if Mormonism had been taught by the apostles there would have had to have been a record of it somewhere. But nobody, anywhere, has ever found so much as a trace of anything even remotely resembling Mormon doctrine prior to the establishment of the LDS church by Joseph Smith.

Critics of Mormonism are of the opinion that Joseph Smith used the excuse that the Bible had been corrupted as a dishonest ploy to justify the fact that the doctrines he taught were radically unbiblical.

LDS historian Hugh Nibley felt that the reason Mormon teachings weren’t mentioned in the Bible was because the original New Testament had been sabotaged before any copies had been made. But scientific evidence to the contrary discounts his theory. As already mentioned, a fragment of the gospel of Matthew was scientifically dated before AD 70 and possibly as early as in the AD 30’s. This means that it was written during the lifetime of the very people who had been witnesses to the events it mentions. And they would have objected it it hadn’t recorded the true facts correctly.

Other complete documents available are dated between about AD 70-807. At this stage in the history of the church, Christ’s original apostles would have been teaching and training those who were earmarked for leadership. And there was an extremely strict criteria laid down in the New Testament for selecting leadership. They would had to have been godly, mature, spirit filled Christians of the highest moral and spiritual calibre, whose doctrine was sound, who knew the scriptures and were capable of correcting error, and whose faith had already been tested and proved.

Furthermore, it would have been necessary for the entire Christian church, including the leadership, from every single area in the world where there had been Christians, all to have become apostate simultaneously. And at the same time as apostatising they would all have had to, once again simultaneously, reject their previous doctrines and adopt an entirely different belief system that opposed and did away with the very tenets the church had sacrificed, suffered and died for.

This idea is too far fetched to even warrant consideration.

Over all these long years that they’ve been in existence, the LDS has never ever been able to produce any evidence whatsoever, biblical, historical or archeological, that so much as suggests that either a complete apostasy of the early church or a corruption of the Bible ever took place, as they maintain they did. They have the same amount of evidence here as they have for their Book of Mormon being true, precisely nil. In fact they have never ever been able to produce any evidence that backs up any of their claims concerning their church being legitimate or that backs up their false accusations that biblical Christianity of today is not legitimate.

Surely, if either of these two claims had any substance, something would have been found by this time, to back them up.

The fact that Mormonism is an evolving religion should not be glossed over. LDS beliefs of today bear no resemblance whatsoever to their earlier beliefs. Twelve years after the establishment of the LDS church Joseph Smith introduced his new teachings on eternal progression, which brought about a complete change in their entire doctrinal system. Since then they have believed in an exclusive and unbiblical God, Christ, gospel and so on. (See the lead given at the end of this page to the article, “The Mormon Gods, Past and Present.”)

In other words, although they started off worshipping the biblical trinitarian, eternal, unchangeable, spirit God, twelve years later they changed over to the worship of a God of flesh and bone, who had once been an ordinary man.

In light of this, and their many other radical changes in doctrine, we can’t help wondering why the LDS should maintain that because the Bible doesn’t contain any of their current teachings it must have been corrupted. Do they expect the Bible to change its teachings every time they do so?

The main ingredient of truth is its consistency. It never, ever changes. So, unlike as is the case in Mormonism, the teachings of the Bible have never changed, and the Christian church of today (which the LDS accuses of being apostate) still uses exactly the same doctrines that Christ’s Apostles in the primitive church taught, adhered to and died to defend, as recorded in the Bible.

On the other hand, the LDS church has continued this pattern of changing their doctrines whenever they have deemed it convenient.

The Almighty God who created the universe, and who upholds it by His power, gave us the Bible as our standard of truth, both for our spiritual guidance and for our protection against spiritual deception. And He’s perfectly capable of safeguarding that same Bible from contamination or error. However, the LDS infers that He wasn’t able to do this, although, conversely, they insist that He is able to keep them from error.

But worshipping different Gods at different times, or for that matter, changing their other doctrines, clearly reveals that they must either have been in error prior to the changes in their doctrines or else that their present doctrines are incorrect. It would be impossible for both to be right.

If God allowed Joseph Smith, His chosen prophet, to teach doctrinal error on something as important as deity, and to lead them in the worship of the supposedly wrong God for over 12 years, why should we for one moment imagine that He doesn’t allow the LDS leadership to teach error today? And how do Mormons know that it wasn’t the second God, a glorified man, whom Joseph Smith taught them to worship, that was the wrong deity? How do they know whether or not they are guilty of the sin of idolatry?

The first link given below will take you to an article that discusses the three different Gods that have been worshipped by the LDS, each for a lengthy period of time. Quotes from LDS literature, providing irrefutable evidence that can be checked, are given. The second link leads to an article on the reliability of the Bible:

The Mormon Gods, Past and Present

The Bible and its Reliability as a Spiritual Weapon

Copyright 2007, Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/corup.html

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THE APOSTASY IS A MORMON FALLACY

Records reveal that Joseph Smith joined the Methodist church in June, 1828, eight years after the date that he later claimed he’d received a vision from God instructing him not to join any of the churches (mentioning the Methodist church by name), as they were all corrupt and their teachings were an abomination in His sight,

After he had joined the Methodist church, the Minister was informed about Smith’s bad reputation, as well as his involvement in the occult. (He had earned his living by promising to divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure, which never ever materialized.) He discussed this with Joseph, explaining that these activities were against everything that the church stood for. However, he was told that he could remain in membership provided that he repented and convinced the church board that he would change his ways. But if he was not prepared to do this, he would be required to formally resign from the Methodist church. Rather than give up the unethical type of lifestyle to which he was so strongly drawn, Joseph chose to resign.

Within two years he had started up his own church (the LDS), claiming that the Christian church had become apostate shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles, and that God had appointed him, as His latter-day prophet, to restore the true church.

Contrary to Joseph Smith’s claims, there has always been a remnant of faithful believers.

Ever since the inception of the Christian church they have been subjected to ongoing persecution, as well as attacks by false prophets, false teachers and the like. But history records a long line of Christian martyrs who have embraced sacrifice, suffering, torture and death rather than compromise their biblical beliefs. And it is a fact that Christians are still being persecuted and martyred today in various places in the world, for the same reason.

The Bible itself clearly disproves the LDS’s completely unsubstantiated claim that the early Christian church went into total apostasy shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles. Firstly, it teaches that the great apostasy will occur right at the very end times, shortly before the second coming of Christ, and will herald the appearance of the anti-Christ, who will display himself as God in the Jewish temple. That time hasn’t arrived yet, as the Jews still have to rebuild their temple.

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; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, KJV)

Secondly, Christ made the following promises concerning His body of followers (i.e. His church):

… upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18, KJV).

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20, KJV)

….. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20, KJV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29, KJV)

….. I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (John 15:16, KJV) (Italics by author)

….. I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. ….. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world … (Revelation 3:8, 10, KJV)

Thirdly, one of the themes that runs steadfastly throughout the Bible is that God has always kept a remnant of faithful believers. The following are some of the scriptures that bear this out:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18, KJV)

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.(Isaiah 1:9, KJV).

And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:16, KJV).

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. (Romans 9:27, KJV)

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Romans 11:5, KJV)

Fourthly, shortly before his martyrdom, the apostle Peter warned the church against false prophets and false teachers, but then he went on to assure them that God always providentially protects those who are His own, against temptation and apostasy:

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. (2 Peter 2:1, KJV)

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations ….. (2 Peter 2:9, KJV)

In his book “The Trail of Blood,” Dr. J. M. Carroll traces the martyrs of the church of Jesus Christ from its inception right up to the present times.

Then too, history also records that there always has been a faithful remnant who refused to compromise. Many of them paid for this privilege with their own blood.

The LDS church cites many of the practices of Catholicism as proof that the church of Jesus Christ had gone into total apostasy. However, they are wrongly tarring everyone with the same brush. Roman Catholicism does not represent Christendom. What about the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church that history so clearly records were cruelly persecuted by the Roman Catholic church? What about Catholicism’s infamous, cruel and bloody inquisitions? History reveals that faithful Christians have been persecuted, tortured and killed for refusing to compromise the gospel throughout the ages, right up to this present moment in time. Remember all the burnings at the stakes in England, of Christians who refused to recant their biblical beliefs and who remained faithful even in the face of torture and death by burning?

Fox’s Book of Martyrs, still in print, should be a graphic eye-opener to members of the LDS church regarding the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church. Mormons are encouraged to read this book, if they can bear to do so.

There has always been a faithful remnant of the church of Jesus Christ. And don’t be confused by numbers. The Lord Jesus said:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14, KJV)

Copyright 2007, by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

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Question: “What is the Restoration movement?”

Answer: The Restoration Movement, part of the broader movement called “restorationism,” began in the early 19th Century when a conglomeration of members from different Christian groups and denominations decided they had gotten away from the basics of Christianity. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others abandoned their formal denominations with hopes of establishing a church based solely on the Christianity taught in the New Testament. With their belief in Jesus as the only model and the Bible as the only sacred book, they endeavored to re-establish Christ’s church as it had been during Jesus’ time. Because the different organized denominations had constructed rules and practices that did not come explicitly from the Bible, those with new ideas felt the divisions must be dissolved. Their goal was for everyone to abandon their dividing religions and become united as one church under God’s rule alone.

Among the most influential leaders of this movement were Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone. Although the fundamental views remained, in 1906 this group split. The followers of Campbell and Stone divided into two sects, called the Church of Christ (Non-Instrumental) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Over time many additional schisms have formed from these core groups as well. Currently there are three major and several minor groups who trace their roots back to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement: the Christian Churches/Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches, Churches of Christ in Australia, Associated Churches of Christ (New Zealand), United Reformed Church (UK), and others.

Among the key principles of the Restoration Movement are:

~Recognition of the New Testament pattern of the church. Overall, the people of this movement try to pattern their practices and rituals as closely as possible to those of the New Testament. Of particular importance to them is the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, although there is nothing in Scripture to indicate this was a weekly function. In fact, Acts 2:46 indicates it might have been a daily ritual: “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (emphasis added). In addition, Acts 2:44-45 states of the New Testament church that they also “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This is not a practice of the New Testament church that those in the Restoration Movement have felt led to adopt.

~Names, creeds, and ecclesiastical traditions divide believers from one another; therefore these things are renounced, doing away with creeds and human authority. While the desire for there to be nothing dividing believers is a noble one, there is no evidence that attending a Baptist or Presbyterian church divides its members from those of other churches any more than attending a Disciples of Christ church divides its members from those of other church within the Restoration Movement. The spirit of unity or disunity is a heart issue, not a matter of church affiliation. Although a key principle of the Restoration Movement is concern for Christian unity, the history of the movement is itself riddled with numerous splits, re-splits and schisms.

~Names of human origin divide, therefore they name only the name of Christ. They decry the use of denominational names, claiming to be “Christians only,” believing this approach to be the only true scriptural one. The adherents to the Restoration Movement are careful to have no other name but Christ in their church titles, believing this to be the true to the New Testament. They deny, for instance, that the name “Presbyterians” has any biblical validity, even though the name is derived from the Greek word for elder, presbytos. Thus, the name reflects its method of governance, completely in accordance with New Testament church structure. Using the name of Christ in a church title may or may not be an indication of a church’s doctrinal stand. As with any group or organization claiming to represent Christ and His church, what they believe, and how it lines up with the Bible, is of paramount importance.

When examining the Restoration Movement, of particular concern is their doctrine of salvation. According to a Christian Restoration Association publication, “What You Must Do to Become a Christian” involves four things: You must believe, repent of sin, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins. One must admit his or her sinfulness and need for forgiveness, then repent and accept Jesus as Lord of his or her life. One must then be baptized by full body immersion for the remission of sins. At this point, it is believed that one begins a new life, and is reborn. This directly contradicts the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, without the added condition of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is not a requirement for salvation, but is rather evidence of it. The new believer is baptized in obedience to God’s command to do so, not as a prerequisite for salvation.

Equally disturbing is the Restoration Movement belief that in order to remain a Christian, one must do four things, again according to the Christian Reformation Association: Pray, study the Bible, worship and remain faithful. If these are requirements to maintain salvation, it stands to reason according to this line of thinking, that anyone who does not continue in these four disciplines is in danger of losing his/her salvation. The Bible, however, is clear that the true believer cannot lose his/her salvation because we are saved by God (Romans 8:30), sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14),and kept by God until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Just as once we are born, we cannot be made unborn, we have been made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we cannot be made old again by any means.

On the positive side, the Restoration Movement has maintained belief in the deity of Christ, unlike the rest of those in the restorationist movement. Great care must be taken, however, to avoid the exclusivist mindset which says “we alone have the right way.” Such thinking leads to pride, the ultimate cause of disunity in the church, the very thing those in the Movement seek to rectify.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Restoration-movement.html 

 

Question: “What is Restorationism?”

Answer: Restorationism refers to a group of unaffiliated 19th century movements from within Christianity based upon the premise that the true faith and practice of the church had been lost due to apostasy and that the church needed to be restored to its New Testament model. Restorationist organizations include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists, as well as the adherents to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, which consists today in three main groups: Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

While all these groups teach widely divergent theologies, they have in common the notion that true Christianity had died out many years ago and it needed to be restored to its original New Testament form. Some of these groups believe they alone are the embodiment of true Christianity, some going so far as to teach that all other groups, including mainline Protestant denominations, are not really Christians at all, having lost their way over the centuries to complete apostasy. They are convinced that the drift from Christian principles is so extreme as to render the church irredeemable and therefore it must be completely rebuilt. Denying that past historical patterns have any validity at all, they are free to embrace what they understand to be pure biblical truth as revealed to the Apostles.

Certainly there have been abuses and misuses of the Word of God down through the years by churches claiming to speak for Christ. One has only to look at the Roman Catholic doctrines of purgatory, prayer to Mary, and the veneration of saints—all of which are completely unscriptural—to agree that in some cases at least, church tradition has superseded the Bible as authority. However, in the spirit of throwing the baby out with the bath water, some of the restorationists have also jettisoned such biblical doctrines as the Trinity, hell, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Of course parts of the church have apostatized, but there has always been a remnant of the faithful preserved by God for His purposes.

At least two disastrous consequences can be expected to result from a zealous embrace of restorationist philosophy. First, it easily leads to a spirit exclusivism and arrogance, not to mention error. The natural outcome of believing one’s own group has the corner on the truth is the despising of all others who claim the name of Christ, seeing them as apostates, or worse, tools of the devil. No spirit of Christian unity can survive such a mindset. One has only to look at the diverse beliefs that exist among the restorationists themselves, and the resulting animosity that accompanies them, to see the inevitable result of adopting such a belief system. Exclusivism leads to pride, a sin especially abhorred by God (Proverbs 16:5; James 4:6). In addition, exclusivism can provoke delusions of grandeur in its leaders, making possible all manner of erroneous interpretations, not to mention rewriting, of Scripture designed to fit it to the paradigm of the group, without regard for clear and concise biblical scholarship and exegesis.

The second, and far more destructive, result of restorationist philosophy is that it denies God’s ability, or willingness, to preserve the faith “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), rejects His sovereignty over His people, and disavows His plan to bring to pass His will without fail, despite attempts by Satan and his minions to derail it. God did not send His Son to die on the cross for the sins of His people only to allow those same people to lapse into apostasy and languish there for 1800 years. Such a notion is not only absurd, but it defines God as a ruthless and capricious entity, not the loving and merciful Father God we know Him to be. Those who believe God abandoned mankind for centuries because of their unbelief and sin need only to read Romans 3, which makes it clear that even though men are unfaithful, this does not nullify God’s faithfulness. The Holy Spirit is, and always has been, active in the world “convict[ing] the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment” (John 16:8), drawing God’s people from every race, tribe, nation and language to the Savior. In every era, the redeemed of God have responded to His Spirit because that is God’s plan, and it will continue unabated to the day of Christ’s return. Until then, we have the assurance of Jesus Himself that He will be with us “always, even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

http://www.gotquestions.org/restorationism.html 

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