There have been several apostasies. Universal flood in Noah’s day, people swept off the earth. The scattering of Israel from Babylon was a second. The Book of Mormon records others. Who? Zoramites, Nephites. But the blessings of continuous revelation were taken from the world during ghe apostasy in the time of the ancient apostles of Christ, lasting from around 100 through 1820 when the boy Joseph walked into the Sacred Grove.

Scholar Hugh Nibley clarified that Jesus and his apostles knew that the early Church would apostatize soon after the apostles were martyred. Jesus himself announced that the world would reject him, his followers, his doctrine, and his Church. Read 2Thess 2:3-4. This states that an apostasy must come before the Second Coming of Christ. 2Tim 3:1,5-7. Also Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. The early apostles set up the church for only a temporary existence.

The English word “apostasy” derives from the Greek apostasia or apostasis (defection, revolt). It is mentioned in a religious context in the Septuagint (Greek translation of Old Testament made by 72 Palestinian Jews in 70 days) and the New Testament. Is 24:10 – A city of confusion.

Romans in the first three centuries after Jesus were more concerned with what they could make of religion than with its truthfulness. Religion should be a function of the state, not involved with personal salvation. They thought many gods played as guardians of the Roman state. The ancient forum at Rome was a mass of pagan temples and shrines, representing deities from many parts of the ancient world. It was governmental policy to seeking divine aid for the political state. Into this world was Christianity introduced. Eventually it led to apostasy in the Church and from the Church.

Overall causes in the 1st century
Christianity was considered an illicit religion. It had no status. Had not grown up with the status of the Roman empire. It didn’t have religious status that the Jews had acquired. It had not placed itself under the direction of the Pontifex Maximus, the minister in charge of the Roman religious bureau. His duty was to regulate the number of pagan religions within the empire and keep friction from interfering with them. Christianity had no protection. The Apostle’s Creed was written in this and the second centuries.

The major causes of persecution: These were charges of aetheism and anarchy. They would not place God alongside the pagan gods. The Christians declared that the pagan gods were demons. Charges of cannibalism. Romans thought the Lord’s Supper meant the Christians were eating the body of dead men.
The Holy Kiss was a suspect idea. In Paul’s epistle he asked that the brethren be greeted with a holy kiss. Rumors started that there was promiscuousness in the church meetings.

Persecutions came because of: 1)violations of the Roman constitution because the churches held some night meetings, punishable by death. 2) Christian church was a third race – Jews who did not assimilate with Roman citizens. 3) Also, scriptures contained the Old Testament and membership included many Jews. Many thought Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism. Romans thought that any religion outside the state protection had no right to exist. They were therefore denied the right of property, construction of buildings and holding services, and offered no redress of grievances.

When the pagan religions became week and Christianity became strong, Romans thought the gods were angry with them. Persecution began and then ran rampant through Rome. Nero ordered these. They were of no fixed duration and limited to the city of Rome. These began with the Emperor Domitian in a.d. 86 and ended with Diocletion’s Degree of Tolerance. After the close of the first century, there was no evidence of apostolic leadership but the church leaders professed to be guided by revelation. Christianity spread rapidly. Missionary work was carried on by traders, craftsmen and sailors.

Variants began appearing in the East, Greek Orthodox, Syrian, Russian, Armenian, Coptic and Abyssinian Catholic. In the west, sects began to form, they eventually became Roman Catholic. There was no recognized headquarters of Christian movement after Jerusalem destroyed. The Centers of Christianity moved to cities like Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth and Rome. The Gospel was taken to Britain and France, to the Sahara in Africa. These numbered about 5% of the empire’s religions. Presiding officers were bishops but they had no jurisdiction to make policy for other churches. There was no canonized distinctly Christian scripture. Gospels were known but no scriptures that received church-wide support at that time.

In the second and third centuries: Christians found themselves in a society of emperor worshippers. They were a lot of loyalty cults, for getting support for the political state. They had a religion of local deities. Sacrifices were offered for the continuation of blessings. Some of the main players:

Marcion – 140 a.d. He believed in baptisms for the dead. He was declared a heretic. The wealthy son of a bishop, Marcion stirred controversy by trying to create the first canonic list of biblical texts. He taught that the god of the Old Testament was not the true God but rather that the true and higher God had been revealed only with Jesus Christ. Marcion was excommunicated from the Roman church c. 144 CE, but he succeeded in establishing churches of his own to rival the Catholic Church for the next two centuries. He created such controversy that, when they excommunicated him, they even gave him back all the money he had donated to the Church. Now that’s serious!

Montanus – claimed to be the embodiment of the Holy Ghost, whom Jesus had promised to send. He strongly criticized the growing corruption in the Church, denouncing the lack of revelation and spiritual gifts as evidence of apostasy. The Montanist sects believed in continuing revelation, but acted without benefit of the keys of authority.

The resulting controversies stirred by these heretics caused the mainstream Church to declare an end to close the canon of scripture and declare that revelation had ceased. In addition to the Marcionites and Montanists, there were other heretical offshoots such as the Gnostics, Ebionites, Simonians, Cleobians, Dositheans, Gortheonians, Masbotheans, Meandrians, Carpocratians, Valentinians, Bsilidians, and Saturnillians, each of which introduced new false teachings into the Church.

Third Century
After a period of intense pagan persecution during the second century which killed off many professing Christians, there came period of relative peace, wealth, and luxury for them. It may well be the increased affluence and acceptance may have weakened Christianity more than the persecutions did. Here are some descriptions from the Christians of this period.
Origen- “Several come to church only on solemn festivals; and then not so much for instruction as diversion. Some go out again as soon as they have heard the lecture, without conferring or asking the pastors questions. Others stay not till the lecture is ended; and others hear not so much as a single word; but entertain themselves in a corner of the church. (Milner, 1836)

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage-
“Each had been bent on improving his own patrimony; and had forgotten what believers had done under the apostles, and what they ought always to do. They were brooding over the arts of amassing wealth; the pastors and the deacons each forgot their duty; works of mercy were neglected, and discipline was at its lowest ebb; luxury and effeminacy prevailed; meretricious arts in dress were cultivated; fraud and deception practiced among brethren. Christians would unite themselves in matrimony with unbelievers; could swear not only without reverence but even without veracity. With haughty asperity they despised their ecclesiastical superiors; the railed against one another with outrageous acrimony, and conducted quarrels with determined malice. Even many bishops, who ought to be guides and patterns to the rest, neglected their stations, gave themselves up to secular pursuits. They deserted their places of residence and their flocks; they traveled through distant provinces in quest of pleasure and gain; gave no assistance to the needy brethren; but were insatiable in their thirst of money. They possessed estates by fraud and multiplied usury. What have we not deserved to suffer for such conduct? Even the divine word hath foretold us what we might expect: ‘If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments, I will visit their offenses with the rod and their sins with scourges.” These things had been denounced and foretold, but in vain. Our sins had brought our affairs to that pass, that because we had despised the Lord’s directions, we were obliged to undergo a correction of our multiplied evils and a trial of our faith by severe remedies” (Milner, 1836).

Eusebius-
“Nor was any malignant demon able to infatuate, no human machinations prevent them so long as the providential hand of God superintended and guarded his people as worthy subjects of his care. But when by reason of excessive liberty, we sunk into negligence and sloth, one envying and reviling another in different ways, and we were almost, as it were, upon the point of taking up arms against each other with words as with darts and spears, prelates inveighing against prelates, and people rising up against people, and hypocrisy and dissimulation had arisen to the greatest height of malignity, then the divine judgment, which usually proceeds with a lenient hand, whilst the multitudes were yet crowding into the church, with gentle and mild visitation began to afflict the episcopacy; the persecution having begun with those brethren in the army. But as if destitute of all sensibility, we were not prompt in measures to appease and propitiate the Deity; some indeed like atheists, regarding our situation as unheeded and unobserved by a Providence, we added one wickedness and misery to another. But some that appeared to be our pastors deserting the law of piety, were inflamed against each other with mutual strifes, only accumulating quarrels and threats, rivalship, hostility and hatred to each other, only anxious to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves (Eusebius, 1833).
In addition to growing worldliness, negligence, and wickedness among the general population of the Church, Mosheim’s “Ecclesiastical History” tells us that the government of the Church also began to change.

“The ancient method of ecclesiastical government seemed in general still to subsist, while, at the same time, by imperceptible steps, it varied from the primitive rule and degenerated toward the form of religious form of a religious monarchy . . . This change in the form of ecclesiastical government was soon followed by a train of vices, which dishonored the character and authority of those to whom the administration of the Church was committed . . . The bishops assumed in many places a princely authority, particularly those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection, and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated to their evangelical function the splendid ensigns of temporal majesty. A throne, surrounded with ministers, exalted above his equals the servant of the meek and humble Jesus; and sumptuous garments dazzled the eyes and the minds of the multitude into an ignorant veneration of their arrogated authority. The example of the bishops was ambitiously imitated by the presbyters, who, neglecting the sacred duties of their station, abandoned themselves to the indolence and delicacy of an effeminate and luxurious life. The deacons, beholding the presbyters deserting thus their functions, boldly usurped their rights and privileges, and the effects of a corrupt ambition were spread through ever rank of the sacred order(John Lawrence Mosheim, 1811)

Copying the pagan temples and rituals, candles and incense began to be used as part of Christian worship. Also introduced during this period was the veneration and worship of martyrs. Virtues and prodigies were attributed to the bones of saints and martyrs. True spiritual gifts, as described in the New Testament, were no longer manifested or expected.

The Apostles’ Creed, drawn up in the first or second century, emphasizes the true Humanity, including the material body of Jesus, since that is the point that the heretics of the time (Gnosticss, Marcionites, later Manicheans) denied. See 1John 4:1-3. The Gnostics held that the physical universe is evil and that God did not make it.

Apostles’ Creed: https://www.ccel.org/creeds/apostles.creed.html

The manner of baptism changed as well as the manner of excommunication. Baptism, a simple rite of immersion administered upon repentance became an elaborate ceremony including milk and honey, ceremonies borrowed from military traditions and rituals marking the liberation of slaves, the lighting of candles and the wearing of white robes and crowns. Infant baptism became common as did sprinkling or the pouring of water on the head instead of immersion.

The simple ordinance of the sacrament became the elaborate mass. Transubstantiation began to be taught as doctrine. Ultimately, the lifting up of “the host” for veneration and worship as God itself became common. Later, only the priest would drink the wine, administering only the bread to the communicants, thus changing or ignoring the commandment to eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus.

Paul had carried the message of personal revelation. Through the atonement of Christ, a plan of salvation had been offered and it was exclusive, not just an added way to gain salvation, but the only way. It provided the foundation for the Roman government’s opposition.

The second great change was in the field of administration. The presiding officer was a bishop only and each had independent jurisdiction. Non-biblical books emerged from leaders of the church who had not known the apostles. Some of these were on the mysteries of Christ’s church, some championed paganism against Christianity. People began putting stock in them.

Docetism and Gnosticism arose. This may or may not have begun with the church. This was untenable to Christianity because it robbed it of its great proof that Jesus is the Messiah. Ideas of priesthood beliefs about mankind’s pre-existence, concepts of universal salvation, and other beliefs were changing. These changes resulted in lack of unity and no divine priesthood. Disorganization ruled. Doctrines that were plain and simple were now complex. Belief in a pre-existence on earth led to identification of humans with fallen spirits. Scripture was coming to be interpreted allegorically or symbolically. The Church groped for inspired leadership but found none.

Gnosticism: Origins are not known. The believed the most important Christian doctrines were reserved for a select few. The orthodox belief was that the fullness of the Gospel was to be preached to the entire human race. They were agreed that the orthodox Christians were wrong in supposing that God had taken human nature or a human body. Some distinguished between Christ, whom they acknowledged to be in some sense divine, and the man Jesus, who was at most an instrument through whom the Christ spoke. The “Others” affirmed that there was never a man Jesus at all, but only the appearance of a man, through which appearance wise teachings were given to the first disciples. Against this, the orthodox Christians affirmed that Jesus was conceived through the action of the Holy Spirit (thus denying the Gnostic position that the Spirit had nothing to do with Jesus until his baptism), that he was born (which meant he had a real physical body) of a virgin (which implied that he had been special from the first moment of his life, not just from baptism on). Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions[2]that teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as knowledge, enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence (as far as possible for hearers, entirely for initiates) and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.[3] However, practices varied among those who were Gnostic.
In Gnosticism, the world of the demiurge is represented by the lower world, which is associated with matter, flesh, time and, more particularly, an imperfect, ephemeral world. The world of God is represented by the upper world and is associated with the soul and perfection. The world of God is eternal and not part of the physical. It is impalpable and timeless.

Copying the pagan temples and rituals, candles and incense began to be used as part of Christian worship. Also introduced during this period was the veneration and worship of martyrs. Virtues and prodigies were attributed to the bones of saints and martyrs. True spiritual gifts, as described in the New Testament, were no longer manifested or expected.

The manner of baptism changed as well as the manner of excommunication. Baptism, a simple rite of immersion administered upon repentance became an elaborate ceremony including milk and honey, ceremonies borrowed from military traditions and rituals marking the liberation of slaves, the lighting of candles and the wearing of white robes and crowns. Infant baptism became common as did sprinkling or the pouring of water on the head instead of immersion.

The simple ordinance of the sacrament became the elaborate mass. Transubstantiation began to be taught as doctrine. Ultimately, the lifting up of “the host” for veneration and worship as God itself became common. Later, only the priest would drink the wine, administering only the bread to the communicants, thus changing or ignoring the commandment to eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus. People were placing themselves under the supervision of bishops. Latin Christianity was replacing that of the earlier Greek cultural period. Christian congregations numbered several thousands. Finally, there was a Latin translation of scriptures. Disunity and disorganization was rampant.

Fourth Century – By then, Christianity had lost much of its concept of worth and the dignity of man. The Pre-existence was perverted into a relationship that identified humans with fallen spirits. Scripture was coming to be interpreted allegorically or symbolically. Churches were groping for inspired leadership to preserve unity.
It appears that without apostles to guide the ancient church, that men of good reputation were submitted to the people for their approval to head congregations. The bishops chosen in this manner relied upon the body of elders as a council of sorts. In the fourth century, the principle of common consent was abandoned and power was consolidated in the bishops. The lay members were excluded from ecclesiastical affairs. The organization of the church began to shift, mirroring the political government’s organization. Bishops of large cities established smaller communities in the suburban areas and surrounding countryside. They ordained bishops that were subordinate to their own authority.

Thus the church began to coincide with the political organizations of the Roman territories, with archbishops overseeing large areas corresponding to Roman civil authority. The links between the civil government and the church began to consolidate. By this point, doctrinal innovations and controversies consumed the Church. Gnosticism, Hellenism, and pagan ritual began to infect the teachings and practices. The Arian Controversy led to such contention the Emperor Constantine called the Nicene Council to resolve the matter: Was Christ man or God? Was he created or eternal? Are God the Father and God the Son separate or simply manifestations of the same being? The Nicene Creed, intended to unite the Church, fractured it. Arius was banished and his writings burned. When readmitted to fellowship, he was murdered in Constantinople, with disciples of Athanasius being the chief suspects.

Eventually, under Constantine the Great(313-337) Christianity received favors and government help an became a tolerated religion. It became favored. Constantine, not a member of church was chief priest of all religions of state and promoted paganism as well as Christianity and supported both. Bishops were given positions of responsibility in government. The churches finally gave financial support. The Edict of Milan was issued in a.d. 313. It gave tax breaks, granted Sunday as a Sabbath rest and worship day, and granted his subjects the right to give money to the church.

But in a.d. 392 the Roman emperor Theodosius proclaimed it the sole religion and ordered all pagan religions abolished. Thereafter, Christianity began to persecute the pagan religions. But pagan culture was strongly embedded. Church leaders solved problems by making interpretations drawn from pagan backgrounds. They thought the Lord’s Supper merely a memorial service. Mysticism entered. Many questions arose and could not be answered by revelation, as it was thought to be unnecessary. Prophetic leadership had disappeared, and revelation. By then Christianity had lost much of its concept of the worth and dignity of man. The truth of the pre-existence was perverted into a relationship that identified humans with fallen spirits. Scriptures were being interpreted allegorically or symbolically. Churches groped for inspired leadership to preserve unity.

a.d. 325 – The Nicene Creed. This was a calling of the Council of Nicea. Called by Emperor Constantine who wanted Christianity to give the empire the benefit of a unified god theory. The church accepted leadership from one who was not a member. Only 318 bishops came, plus 200 churchmen. Constantine presided. He was not a member of any church. They were to determine the relationship between church and state. A compromise doctrine emerged. But the current Creed came from several changes made at future councils. From this time on, churchmen would be withdrawn from purely ecclesiastical functions and put into the service of the state. These beliefs have been officially adopted into most Christian churches.

The basic meaning of the Creed developed from the word “substance”. This means immaterial essence, the force behind nature, an immaterial spirit. The Creed was in answer to the Gnostic idea that Christ had a material body. A creed generally emphasizes the beliefs opposing those errors that the compiles of the creed think most dangerous at the time. The Creed of the Council of Trent, which was drawn up by the Roman Catholics in the 1500s, emphasized those beliefs that Roman Catholics and Protestants were arguing about most furiously at the time. The Creed was emphatic in affirming the Deity of Christ, since it is directed against the Arians, who denied that Christ was fully God.

The Nicene Creed: http://www.ancient-future.net/nicene.html

When the Nicene Creed was drawn up, the chief enemy was Arianism, which denied that Jesus was fully God. Arius was a presbyter (priest-elder) in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early 300s. he was fond of saying: “the Logos is not eternal. God begat him, and before he was begotten, he did not exist.” He taught that the Father, in the beginning, created the Son, and that the Son, in conjunction with the Father, created this world. Arius insisted the Son was inferior to the Father and could not be co-eternal with Him.

The result of this was to make the Son a created being, and hence not God in any meaningful sense. It was also suspiciously like the theories of those Gnostics and pagans who held that God was too perfect to create something like a material world, and so introduced one or more intermediate beings between God and the world: God created A, who created B, who created C, who created Z, who created the world. A bishop, Alexander, said the Son was equal to the Father and created from his substance. The council was called to straighten this our and arrive at a universal theory. Read Matt 24:25.

The Council of Nicea was an important event in history of changing Christianity. At Nicea, Christianity turned to pagan speculation for definition of the nature and attributes of God. Jesus’ advice to keep separated the things of Caesar and God was lost sight of. Christianity was no longer a religion to assist men to live in accord with the gospel ideals and in gaining eternal salvation. It was a department of government within the political state. The essence of gospel principles became based on theological definition which was based on philosophical processes.

Men broke the everlasting covenant. The must pay the penalty. Is 24:4-6. Much evil was done. This heresy promoted an antagonism between body and spirit. The body was regarded as a curse. Like Gnostics. This gave rise to hermit practices where men sought to torture their bodies in self denial. This led to monks, monasteries, reclusiveness, celibacy, corruptions. They believed that to have true and full felicity with God it was necessary to separate the body from the spirit and deny the body. They developed a disregard for truth. It was okay to lie if it promoted the church interests. Lies were acceptable to God, it was thought, if they perpetrated in a cause that man calls good. This lasted until the 15th century.

Fifth Century through the Seventh Century
Rival bishops contended for primacy. Prelates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem sank below the patriarchs of Rome and Constantinople in wealth and dignity. The latter two contended for the title of “universal bishop.” The rise of Islam in Asia Minor diminished the power of the Bishop of Constantinople, permitting the Bishop of Rome to claim the triumphant title of Pontiff. When classical Rome fell, the Church became an alternative political structure and the bishops became the ultimate powers in their realms, commanding armies and ruling over the nobles. Corruption and vice were rampant because no secular authority could effectively check the clergy.
The attempts to live in celibacy gave rise to scandal. It became the custom for priests to live with “sub-introduced women,” who passed as sisters of the priests (Roberts, 1895)

Salvian-
“The very church which should be the body to appease the anger of God, alas! What reigns there but disorders calculated to incense the Most High? It is more common to meet with Christians who are guilty of the greatest abominations than with those who are wholly exempt from crime. So that today it is a sort of sanctity among us to be less vicious than the generality of Christians. We insult the majesty of the Most High at the foot of his altars. Men, the most steeped in crime, enter the holy places without respect for them. True, all men ought to pay their vows to God, but why should they seek his temples to propitiate him, only to go forth to provoke him? Why enter the church to deplore their former sins, and upon going forth–what do I say?–in those very courts they commit fresh sins, their mouths and their hearts contradict one another. Their prayers are criminal meditations rather than vows of expiation. Scarcely is service ended before each returns to his old practices. Some go to their wine, others to their impurities, still others to robbing and brigandage, so that we cannot doubt that these things had been occupying them while they were in the church. Nor is it the lowest of the people who are thus guilty. There is no rank whatever in the church which does not commit all sorts of crimes” (Jackson, 1884).

Eighth through the Eleventh Centuries
Perhaps no other references outside the 8th-11th centuries are necessary to establish that the Church had fallen into complete and total apostasy, bereft of the Spirit of God, without authority, a rejected harlot that had committed fornication with the kings of the earth. Just consider the manner in which the “Vicars of Christ” ascended to the throne of power.

757 A.D. – Upon the death of Pope Paul I, the Duke of Nepi compelled some bishops to consecrate Constantine, one of his brothers, as pope.

768 A.D. – A more “legitimate” group of electors chose Stephen IV and Constantine’s eyes were put out and the Bishop Theodorus’ tongue was amputated. The Bishop was left in a dungeon to die in agony of thirst.

795 A.D. – Nephews of Pope Adrian seized his successor, Pope Leo III in the street, forced him into a nearby church and attempted to put out his eyes and cut out his tongue.

816 A.D. – Stephen V was driven from the city of Rome. Paschal I, his successor, was accused of blinding and murdering two ecclesiastical rivals in the Lateran Palace.

872 A.D. – Pope John VIII secretly allied himself to pay tribute to Muslim invaders and the Bishop of Naples maintained a secret alliance to receive a share of the plunder from them.

891 A.D. – Formosus, a conspirator who had been excommunicated for the murder of John, was elected pope.

896 A.D. – Boniface VI becomes pope despite his being deposed as a deacon for his immoral and lewd conduct. Stephen VII, his successor, had the body of Formosus disinterred, clothed in papal robes, and tried before a council. The indecent scene ended with cutting off three of the deceased’s fingers and the corpse being cast into the Tiber River. Stephen was ultimately deposed and thrown into prison where he was strangled to death.

896-900 A.D. – No less than five popes were consecrated and deposed.

904 A.D. – Leo V was thrown into prison by Christopher, who usurped his place. He was expelled from Rome by Sergius III, who seized the papacy by military force.

905 A.D. – Sergius lived with a celebrated prostitute, Theodora, who exercised extraordinary influence and control of the Pope. Theodora also was romantically involved with John X, leading to his ascending to the papal throne in 915 A.D. He maintained the papacy with Theodora’s help for 14 years. However, the hateful intrigues of her daughter Marozia led to his overthrow. John X was thrown into prison where he was killed, smothered with a pillow.

931 A.D. Marozia engineered her son’s becoming Pope John XI. Another of her sons, jealous of her devotions to the first, had Marozia thrown into prison. The grandson of Marozia then became Pope John XII in 956 A.D.

956 A.D. – John XII was only 19 when he became pope and his reign was so shockingly immoral that the Germanic Emperor Otho I was compelled by the German clergy to intervene. John was tried on the charges of selling ordinations of bishops for bribes, as well as having ordained a ten year-old as bishop. He was charged with incest and multiple adulteries. He was deposed and Leo VIII reigned in his stead.

963 A.D. – Leo VIII, upon gaining power, seized his antagonists, cut off the hand of one, the nose, fingers, and tongues of others. He was killed by a man whose wife he had seduced.

John XIII was strangled in prison. Bonficace VII imprisoned Benedict VII and killed him by starvation. John XIV was secretly put to death in the dungeons of St. Angelo castle. The body of Boniface was dragged by the populace through the streets.

Emperor Otho took the liberty of the Italians from appointing the “successor of Saint Peter.” By his royal authority, he places his own kinsman, Gregory V on the pontifical throne, only to have him flee before the opposition of the Romans.

There was even an “anti-Pope, John XVI. Emperor Otho seized him, put out his eyes, cut off his nose and tongue, and sent him through the streets mounted on an ass facing backwards with a wine-bladder on his head.

1033 A.D. – Benedict IX, a boy of less than 12 years sat on the “apostolic throne.” One of his successors, Victor III said the boy’s life was so foul and shameful that he ruled like “a captain of a banditti.” Unable to bear his adulteries, homicides, and abominations, the people rose up against him. Knowing he was about to lose his position, Benedict put the papacy up for auction! It was purchased by a presbyter named John who became Pope Gregory V in 1045 A.D.

Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
The doctrine of the granting of indulgences and exemptions from temporal penalties became common. This led to the selling of forgiveness for sin for monetary considerations. This practice, among others, contributed to the rise of Protestantism. An agent of the Pope, John Tetzel boasted that he had saved more souls from hell through the selling of indulgences than Saint Peter had by preaching Christianity.

Fourteenth through the Sixteenth Centuries
Three popes at one time! Rivalries between Rome and Avignon in France resulted in a period where there were two popes simultaneously? Which one of them had Peter’s keys? This fiasco continued until 1409 when a general council of the Church was convened at Pisa. The two popes were deposed and a third installed in their stead. However, neither deposed pope would bow to the will of the council. The Church would not be reunited under a single Pope until 1414 (Talmage, 1909).
Rise of the Court of the Inquisition in Spain- Thousands were burned at the stake and tens of thousands tortured.

Through the challenging influence of Protestants, the Roman Church abandoned the practice of indulgences at the Council of Trent. Nevertheless, it had done so for four centuries. The practice placed the Popes in the position of sitting in judgment as God himself, fulfilling the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

The Council of Trent also forbade the reading of the scriptures by non-clergy. It declared, “…the holy scriptures were not composed for the multitude, but only for that of their spiritual teachers.”

The Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther-
A German priest, an Augustinian monk. Martin Luther defied the Roman Church and is excommunicated. John, Elector of Saxony undertook the establishment of an independent church based on Luther’s teachings. By what authority was this done? What authority did Luther have? If the Roman Church had no authority, by what authority could a church be established? In this case, the state assumed the authority that belongs only to God.
He opposed the papal indulgences. He said the whole system of church penances and indulgences was contrary to scripture, reason and right. He wrote 95 theses and nailed them to the door of his church. He was excommunicated. This caused the Protestant uprising. He proclaimed the doctrine of absolute predestination and of justification by faith alone. The effect of this belief resulted in the nullifying of free agency as God-given.

There was a popularization of the Bible and the invention of printing, the discovery of cheaper ways of producing paper so the Bible could be printed for everyone. Protestants developed the idea that salvation was an individual processes which needed neither priestly no saintly mediation to secure supernatural aid for salvation. Each should seek knowledge concerning the will of God. The Lord said all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole. Christianity was broken into many sects. Protestants introduced that people should have right to choose their religion. This led to the formation of many sects: Quakers, Anabaptists, Methodists. The sacrament service was corrupted. When Jesus ate and drank with his disciples, his body was yet unpierced, blood unshed. They ate with him in remembrance of him. The sacrament became perverted in that worshippers were taught that the crucified Jesus was offered up anew as a constantly recurring atonement for sins of current congregants.

Joseph Smith in his first vision in 1820 was told by Jesus that all existing churches had gone astray, both in their teachings and in heir practice, although they had “a form of godliness” (JS-H 1:18-19. Thus it was necessary for a “restoration” of the Gospel to take place. JST Thess 2:1-9… After reformation, Joseph Smith sought knowledge from the only source from which it could come. Men had forsaken the whole gospel system – its laws, ordinances, saving truths.

Ulrich Zwingli-
Led the reformation movement in Switzerland. His trial by the state eventually led to civil war between Catholics and Protestants. In the battle, Zwingli was killed and his body was brutally mutilated.

William Tyndale-
Tyndale was “condemned by virtue of the emperor’s decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, ‘Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.'” His crime? Translating the Bible into English (Foxe).

John Calvin-
Calvin appeared as another leader of the Swiss reformation movement. A doctrinal extremist, he taught the depravity of man and the false doctrine of predestination, denying the truth of man’s agency. In 1553, Calvin was found at Geneva consenting to the burning at the stake of Servetus because he published views Calvin considered heretical.

Henry VIII and the Church of England-
King Henry VIII sought and failed to obtain permission to divorce his wife. He and the English Parliament broke away from the Roman Church and founded the Church of England. Again, we must ask, by what authority was this done. What revelation or dispensation from God enabled an earthly king to establish a church in God’s name?

The Church of England established the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1646, which still serves as the functional creed for modern Protestantism. It includes the following claims:

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men . . . The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture” (Westminister Confession of Faith, n.d.).

The Confession denies the possibility of current and future revelation from God and limits God to only speak through the Bible. It also declares God’s nature to be “a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions” in clear contravention to many scriptures that describe God with a body, parts, and passions.

Seventeenth Century to Present
As we can see, the Roman Church’s claim to the unbroken transmission of the keys of the kingdom from Saint Peter are not supported by history. John was the last surviving apostle who receive his authority from Christ. Only he would have had the authority to ordain any successors. The Roman Church does not and cannot claim authority from John. Even if it were the case that Peter somehow ordained a successor, we can clearly see that the papacy has been the nexus of political intrigue, murder, corruption, and abominations throughout the centuries. Men murdered for it. It was even auctioned and purchased. There is no possible way that the authority of the ancient apostles comes down to the present day through this corrupt lineage. This authority was lost and with it, the keys of Christ’s kingdom on earth. If it were possible that a corrupt tree could produce pure branches, the assertions of Protestantism to have reformed the Church might be valid. However, there was no possible way any reformer, however sincere or influential, could restore the keys of the kingdom that were lost in the apostasy. This would require a new gospel dispensation–a new revelation.
The Church of England’s sermon “Perils of Idolatry” it states:

“Laity and clergy, learned and unlearned all ages and sects and degrees have been drowned in abominable idolatry, most detested by God and damnable to man, for eight hundred years and more” (Sermons or Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches, 1824)

Roger Williams-
Roger Williams, pastor of the oldest Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode Island, refused to continue as pastor on the grounds that, “There is no regularly-constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance: nor can there be, until new apostles are sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming I am seeking.” (Bryant, 1872)

Williams also said, “The apostasy… hath so far corrupted all, that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy until Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.” (Anderson, 1966)

John Wesley-
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism wrote in his sermon, “The More Excellent Way” the following indictment of Christianity:

“The cause of this [decline of spiritual gifts following Constantine] was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) `because there was no more occasion for them,’ because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause was, `the love of many,’ almost of all Christians, so called, was `waxed cold.’ The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other Heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his Church, could hardly `find faith upon earth.’ This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because the Christians were turned Heathens again, and had only a dead form left.” (Russie, 2011)

Alexander Campbell-
The founder of the Church of Christ (Disciples) wrote “The meaning of this institution (the kingdom of heaven) has been buried under the rubbish of human tradition for hundreds of years. It was lost in the dark ages and has never, until recently been disinterred” (Roberts, 1895)

Dr. William Smith-
“In a work prepared by seventy-three noted theologians and Bible students, we read: “…we must not expect to see the Church of Holy Scripture actually existing in its perfection on the earth. It is not to be found, thus perfect, either in the collected fragments of Christendom, or still less in any one of these fragments. . . ” (Smith, 1896)

Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick-
A prominent American Baptist clergyman and author, described the decadent condition of the Christian churches of the first half of the twentieth century in these words:

“A religious reformation is afoot, and at heart it is the endeavor to recover for our modern life the religion of Jesus as against the vast, intricate, largely inadequate and often positively false religion about Jesus. Christianity today has largely left the religion which he preached, taught and lived, and has substituted another kind of religion altogether. If Jesus should come back to now, hear the mythologies built up around hint, see the creedalism, denominationalism, sacramentalism, carried on in his name, he would certainly say, ‘If this is Christianity, I am not a Christian'” (Associated Press, 1925)

Summary
The scriptures clearly predict the falling away of the ancient Christian church. Not only did the world reject the apostles and their authority, but the Church did also. In the centuries that followed, it descended into corruption. Attempts to reform it could not restore the authority that was lost and the teachings that no future revelation could be expected and that any claims to such must be rejected outright prevented this from occurring.

Protestant reformers have been cited, indicating that they understood that a new gospel dispensation must come before the Church could be restored. Reformation was not enough. Man could not, of himself, restore the authority that only comes from God.

The Restoration
Latter-day Saints testify that God himself brought to pass the restoration of the primitive Christian Church again in modern times with all its gifts, powers, keys, and authority. God the Father and the Son appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith in 1820, restoring the true knowledge of God, forever invalidating the creeds of man’s religions.

In 1823, a heavenly messenger named Moroni revealed the location of the plates upon which was engraved a sacred, ancient record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Joseph Smith was given power to translate this record into English and publish it as the Book of Mormon in 1829.

In 1829, John the Baptist appeared and restored the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the keys of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. Later in that same year, the ancient apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained them as apostles of Jesus Christ.

In 1836, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in Kirtland, Ohio and conferred priesthood keys related to the gathering of Israel, the gospel of Abraham, and the power to bind the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.

All the powers and authority possessed by ancient Christians is present once again on the earth today. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the repository of those keys and the Church is governed as it was anciently by living apostles and prophets. I invite you to investigate these claims, bearing witness that they are true. You can learn the truth of them for yourself through the Holy Ghost. It is by the Holy Ghost that I know that they are true, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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