Mormonism makes a bold claim, which is why they also take a lot of heat from other Christian religions. They believe that Jesus Christ established His Church when he was on the earth. That Paul wasn’t kidding when he said that there was “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism” (Eph 4:5). They believe that before Christ was killed, he bestowed the priesthood upon Peter and the apostles. (Matt 16:19) They were ordained and set apart by Christ himself. (John 15:16) That the apostles held a power that could not be purchased with money, (Acts 8) or acquired at a university. They believe that men should not be paid for their ministry in the gospel which is why they spend countless hours on missions and in various church callings without receiving any monetary gain. (1 Cor 9:18)
As time went on in the first century, the apostles and the Christians were hunted and scattered by almost every group in the region. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome and Paul was beheaded after his 5th missionary journey. The other apostles met a similar fate with the exception of John the Beloved. Before the apostles died, all they did was travel and write to the various churches (who were all actually one church with different locations) in order to keep them in line. The New Testament is primarily a collection of those letters in which the apostles are trying to govern the church. With them gone and no one to lead the church, men began interpreting the scriptures for themselves and twisting the doctrine. Over time, the churches began to fall away from the truth because the apostles were not there to lead them. By 325 AD, the nature of God and the doctrine of the Christian faith was being voted on by pagans in Rome as a political maneuver rather than a religious one. Formal creeds, and a Catholic, or “Universal” church was formed as the state religion for the most powerful country in the world.
If you doubt any of it, I have a 45 volume set of Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene writings sitting on my shelf as a reference. (They are not written or edited by Mormon scholars.) The early Christian fathers witnessed the church fall into deep apostasy and they wrote about it. This is the primary reason for all of the great reformers who came on to the scene to “protest” (protestant) what the Catholic church was doing at the time. No one believed that Christ’s church was found upon the earth, and therefore many sought to reform what they already knew. These were righteous dudes who deserve our respect, but as sincere as they were, they did not have the power to restore the church. They tried their best according to the knowledge they possessed. Many longed for the day when Christ would restore His church and call apostles to lead that Church once again. Roger Williams, the founder of the Baptist church in America, said that “there is no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America (1872) by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
This is where Mormons start getting crazy to people. Mormons believe that a prophet as notable as Moses or Elijah was called in 1820 to “restore” Christ’s church in its fullness on this earth. They claim that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in North America. They claim that an ancient record called the Book of Mormon was buried in the earth and that it contains a history of some of the ancient inhabitants of North, South, and Central America. They believe that this nation was established and the revolutionary war was fought so that religious freedom could prevail. They believe that this was and is the only nation on the globe that this restoration could have taken place in because of this new found religious freedom that had never occurred in the history of the world. They believe that the priesthood was restored, and that families can be sealed together after death. They believe that there is a prophet and 12 apostles that walk the earth today. I won’t go on but there is plenty more…
But think about it for a second. If all of this is false, it would rank as one of the greatest deceptions in human history. It would give new meaning to the word hoax. BUT if this restoration did actually happen and it is true, it is the greatest message that could ever be shared second only to the message of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. IF it is true there could be nothing more exciting for the people on this planet to know at this time. It seems like an outrageous claim, but I guarantee that when Noah starting building an ark, his generation thought that was pretty outrageous as well. When a Prophet is on the earth…few ever accept him. Christ made that very clear when He said, “ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would have accepted the prophets” (Matt 23:29-30)
I am a Mormon for reasons other than logic, but if I was to rely on logic alone… here is my logic on the topic.
Catholicism claims that they are the true church and that they perpetuated the priesthood through the generations. Therefore Catholicism claims that all other protestant and Evangelical churches are nothing but apostate off shoots of the Catholic church. So…you must think to yourself, if the Catholic church is right…and they do have the truth and the priesthood authority to lead and administer Christ’s church, then they are technically right about protestant Christianity. Any church that broke off from them or received the Bible through them cannot have the fullness of the gospel. However, if the Catholic church never had the authority and it was lost in the early centuries shortly after the apostles were killed, then none of the reformers could have the complete truth or the authority because…well…where could they have gotten it from?
The only Church on the planet that could have a solid argument would be one that claims a complete restoration through a prophet that has had direct communication with God. Anything short of that would place someone in the pool of thousands of reformers that are dividing to form new Churches on a daily basis.
Mormon’s make a claim equal to the almost unfathomable stories you might hear in the Bible. Prophets, apostles, miracles, additional scripture, temples, and a massive missionary force makes the Mormon church stick out like a sore thumb…and seldom do people like sore thumbs.
Though it sounds a little crazy… is not a message like this worth a few minutes of consideration? I thought it was. -21 March 2014 posted on Greg Trimble blog