Skip to content

Did the Great Apostasy Occur Earlier Than Mormonism Estimates?

October 19, 2008

The LDS church teaches that there was a total apostasy after the death of the apostles. The Bible never prophesied a “total” apostasy. Rather, Jesus promised to always be with His followers “to the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20) and He promised the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18). Apostasy was predicted for “the latter days” (T Tim 4:1, II Timothy 3:1), but never a “total” apostasy.

I find a lot of evidence that we are in such a time right now when apostasy is everywhere – we can see this with the many “health & wealth” prosperity preachers on TV and with the increase of a variety of heretical sects and religions everywhere – many which started forming in the 1800s.

However, a belief in The Great Apostasy after the death of the apostles appears necessary for the LDS church since the teachings unique to Mormonism cannot be found in the NT or other historical documents from the 1st century.

Since none of the apostles or NT leaders were ever ordained into the Aaronic and Melchizidek priesthoods, it appears the apostasy might have been even earlier than Mormonism proposes.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2008 12:17 am

    Very good point. Based on the mormon standards of the lack of the priesthood being the mark of apostasy, then really the church was already apostate when Jesus was ministering on earth and the early days of the church in Acts, because there is no sign that any of the apostles held anything even vaguely equivalent to the mormon notion of the priesthood.

  2. October 20, 2008 12:42 pm

    Mark 3:14


    John 15:16



  3. October 20, 2008 11:20 pm

    Hey Eric, I may be missing something here but none of those verses mentions the priesthood. Nor do any of the verses anywhere in the New Testament in the context of an individual holding a priesthood that resembles in any way the mormon priesthood.

  4. October 21, 2008 4:51 pm


    What part of ‘ordained’ is confusing? What in the world were they ordained to? To preach and have power to heal, etc.

    This is right in line with the Mormon priesthood. It is actually quite straight forward. Perhaps lacking some details, but that is what restoration is for.

  5. October 21, 2008 6:09 pm

    So, Eric, in the LDS view, are the Aaronic and Melchizidek priesthoods merely symbolic titles or do Mormons actually believe their priesthoods resemble the Biblical OT “Aaronic” (Levitical) priesthood and the Biblical Melchizidek priesthood? If LDS do believe this, what are the Scriptures they use to support this?

    The Bible appears to disqualify Mormons from the “Aaronic” priesthood since they are not descendants of Aaron (Numbers 3:6-12) and Jesus Christ is the only one who qualifies for the Melchizidek priesthood according to Hebrews 7. Also, the “Aaronic” priesthood ended when the priesthood was changed (Heb. 7:11,12) to the Melchizidek priesthood which means Jesus Christ is our high priest and all believers in Christ are a spiritual priesthood of believers with direct access into the holiest by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:19, I Peter 2:5-9).

  6. October 21, 2008 9:22 pm

    Mormons are usually pretty literal, so yeah, Mormons would say this is the real deal.

    The real scriptures they use to support this come from Modern day revelation. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood is D&C 13

    So, many of the duties of current Aaronic priesthood holders will differ from OT times, as will strict decendency practices.

    I think most Mormons would say that some of your interpretations of these scriptures is to absolute. And that a continuation of priesthood authority is necessary for the ordinances to continue.

  7. October 21, 2008 9:24 pm

    So to clarify, Mormons do not base their priesthood on some interpretive claim from the Bible, but on modern day revelation. Which answers many questions Mormon.

  8. October 22, 2008 2:52 am


    “What part of ‘ordained’ is confusing? What in the world were they ordained to? To preach and have power to heal, etc.”

    What is still missing here is any reference to a priesthood of any sort in connection with their ordination. You read the word “ordain” or “authority” and arbitrarily add “priesthood” to it even though that is not warranted at all by the text. You will search in vain for any reference to any person other than Christ holding a legitimate priesthood in the NT, because the human priesthood has become obsolete and is replaced by the perfect and eternal High Priesthood of Christ. Nowhere do we see in the qualifications of an elder or a deacon a need to hold any sort of priesthood. The qualifications are very specific, they just don’t include a mormon priesthood.

    “The real scriptures they use to support this come from Modern day revelation. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood is D&C 13

    So, many of the duties of current Aaronic priesthood holders will differ from OT times, as will strict decendency practices.”

    So even though you claim that John the Baptist, who had a father who was a Levite and served in the temple, restored said priesthood to Joe and Ollie, and you call the lower priesthood the “Aaronic priesthood” , it isn’t really a restoration at all but a completely new priesthood? The Joseph Smith History, verse 69, says that what was restored was the priesthood of Aaron, but the mormon Aaronic priesthood is nothing like the Biblical priesthood held by Aaron. So why call it the Priesthood of Aaron when it was apparently never held by Aaron and is completely different from the priesthood he held? Not to mention the fact that only two people are ever mentioned as holding the priesthood of Melchizidek, i.e. Melchizidek himself and Christ. Not Paul. Not James. Not John. Not Peter. Just Christ and it is sufficient to me that He is my High Priest.

  9. David permalink
    December 7, 2008 12:27 am

    What of Christ’s declaration to Peter: “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    What were those keys? What was that power to seal? Some important power was clearly given to Peter that had binding influence beyond this world. Tey were the keys of the Priesthood.

    “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” Heb 7:11

    “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins….

    And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Heb 5:1,4

    These just scratch the surface. There is clear evidence for both the Aaronic and Melchizidek Priesthoods before and after Christ. No other church has a good explanation for these things.

    An “order” is a “group or body of persons of the same profession, occupation, or pursuits: the clerical order.” I assure you that Melchizidek and Christ were not the only ones to hold the Melchizidek Priesthood. This Priesthood is based on Christ- He is the Great High Priest. That does not mean there are no others.

    Arthur, you said “the human priesthood has become obsolete.” This is a sure hand waving.

    The Aaronic priesthood under the law of Moses dealt with the administration of sacrifices and temple worship. All of those activities pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ. After Christ’s sacrifice was made, the activities of that Priesthood changed indeed- now it is involved in administering the tokens that represent His body and blood, which were offered for us. The priests of old pointed forward to that sacrifice, those after His sacrifice point back to that sacrifice- perfectly consistent and sensible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: