APOSTASY, THE GREAT

The following are sections out of Bill McKeever’s book In their Own Words: A Collection of Mormon Quotations. The full book of 400 pages is available at Mormonism Research Ministry or Amazon.com.

Joseph Smith

“What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a
hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the
devil, by which he deceives the whole world” (Joseph Smith, Teachings
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 270).

2nd President Brigham Young

“Whenever there is a disposition manifested in any of the members
of the Church to question the right of the President of the
whole Church to direct in all things, you see manifested evidences
of apostasy—of a spirit which, if encouraged, will lead to a separation
from the Church and to final destruction; wherever there is
a disposition to operate against any legally appointed officer of
this Kingdom, no matter in what capacity he is called to act, if
persisted in, it will be followed by the same results; they will ‘walk
after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government”
(Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 83.)

“When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that,
and the other, saying, ‘Does this or that look as though the Lord
dictated it?’ you may know that that person has more or less of
the spirit of apostasy” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young,
p. 83).

4th President Wilford Woodruff

“The Lord revealed to Moses and all the prophets of every age
that a Savior would be born to redeem mankind. In the meridian
of time He appeared, and organized His Church. The apostles
whom He chose faithfully labored to spread the work which He
introduced. But it cost a great sacrifice to belong to the Church
of Christ in those days. The persecution of the Saints was so great,
that at length the last man bearing the priesthood disappeared
from the earth, and the Church went into the wilderness” (Wilford
Woodruff, October 5, 1890, [Conference Message], Collected
Discourses 2:124).

7th President Heber J. Grant

“As time passed dissensions occurred in the primitive church.
The laws governing the church established by the Redeemer,
were transgressed, the ordinances were changed, the everlasting
covenant was broken. Men began to teach for doctrine their own
commandments; a form of worship had been established which
was called Christianity, but was without the power of God which
characterized the primitive church. Spiritual darkness covered the
earth and gross darkness the minds of the people” (Heber J. Grant
(reading a Christmas greeting from the First Presidency), Conference
Reports, April 1926, p. 13).

9th President David O. McKay

“Three hundred years passed, and Christianity became the dominant
religion of the most powerful nation in the world, and the
persecuted became the persecutors. Pride and worldliness supplanted
humility and faith. The church became corrupt. Doctrines
of men supplanted the commandments of God; spiritual darkness
enshrouded the nations of the world” (David O. McKay, Conference
Reports, October 1966, General Priesthood Meeting, p. 86).

10th President Joseph Fielding Smith

“Every Latter-day Saint knows that following the death of the apostles,
Paul’s prophecy was fulfilled, for there were many ‘grievous
wolves’ that entered the flock, and men arose ‘speaking perverse
things,’ so that the doctrines were changed and the true Church
of Jesus Christ ceased to be on the earth. For this reason there
had to come a restoration of the Church and a new revelation and
bestowal of divine authority. The Church of Jesus Christ and the
Holy Scriptures are, therefore, not responsible for the changed
doctrines and unscientific teachings of those times, when uninspired
ecclesiastics controlled the thinking of the people” (Joseph
Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny, p. 467).

“Religious denominations relied entirely on the dead letter of the
Bible for their authority. They closed the heavens against themselves,
and their interpretations of scripture without divine guidance
led them into division, subdivision, and multiplication of
churches, each going its own way blindly and in confusion. The
power of the priesthood was lost and the true Church of Jesus
Christ ceased to exist on the earth. There had been no prophet,
no revelation, or divine instruction from the time of the apostles
of old until the Lord again opened the heavens and sent holy messengers
to restore that which had been taken away” (Joseph Fielding
Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:97).

“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
the Lord has admonished us to be ‘ready always to give an answer
to every man, for our faith in the restored gospel.’ This we owe to
the inhabitants of this mortal world. For hundreds of years, following
the universal apostasy, the inhabitants of the earth walked
in spiritual darkness. They became divided and sub-divided. Satan
had obtained such power over their thinking that the fundamental
principles of the gospel ceased to exist among them” (Joseph
Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 5:xi).

“While some sectarian churches have introduced a system of tithing,
and perhaps there have come modifications in some instances
of former long established doctrines, this does not prove that the
Protestant world is coming any nearer to the fundamental principles
of the gospel. Satan is just as cunning today as he ever was,
and he may cause some peoples to modify former teachings, but
you may be assured that he has no intention of having them accept
any of the fundamental teachings of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. You may be sure he never permits one
church or people to have very much of revealed truth. He may
have scattered some teachings in order to maintain his deceptions,
but he is not leading anyone to the restored gospel” (Joseph
Fielding Smith, Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions: A Course of
Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum 1972-73, p. 293).

12th President Spencer W. Kimball

“This is not a continuous church, nor is it one that has been reformed
or redeemed. It has been restored after it was lost. It was
lost – the gospel with its powers and blessings – Sometime after
the Savior’s crucifixion and the loss of his apostles. The laws were
changed, the ordinances were changed, and the everlasting covenant
was broken that the Lord Jesus Christ gave to his people in
those days. There was a long period of centuries when the gospel
was not available to people on this earth, because it had been
changed” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
p. 423).

13th President Ezra Taft Benson

“As the restored Church, we affirm that with the passing of the
apostolic age, the Church drifted into a condition of apostasy, that
succession in the priesthood was broken, and that the Church, as
an earthly organization operating under divine direction and having
authority to officiate in spiritual ordinances, ceased to exist.
This is attested by history. We affirm also that all this was foreseen
and predicted by the apostles when they were living, yea, and by
the Master in his day. The apostasy had started during the days of
the Apostles, and was referred to frequently by them” (Ezra Taft
Benson, Conference Reports, October 1949, p. 26).

“God the Son told Joseph Smith not to join any of the churches.
Joseph was to learn that the Lord’s true church was not on the
earth; that living prophets of God, who were the foundation of
the church, had not walked the earth for centuries; and that with
their deaths, the rock of revelation on which the church was built
ceased; and so there was no new scripture” (Ezra Taft Benson,
“Listen to a Prophet’s Voice,” Ensign (Conference Edition), January
1973, p. 58).

“I testify that a world so wicked that it killed the Son of God soon
began killing the Apostles and prophets and so plunged itself into
a spiritual dark age. (See 2 Thes. 2:2-7.) Scripture ended, apostasy
spread, and the church that Christ established during His earthly
ministry ceased to exist. (See 2 Ne. 27:4-5.)” (Ezra Taft Benson,
“I Testify,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1988, p. 86).

15th President Gordon B. Hinckley
“The Prophet Joseph was told that the other sects were wrong.
These are not my words. Those are the Lord’s words. But they are
hard words for those of other faiths” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational
Thoughts, Ensign, June 2004, p. 3).

“Reformers worked to change the [Christian] church, notably such men as Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Zwingli, and Tyndale. These were men of great courage, some of whom suffered cruel deaths because of their beliefs. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, the reformers organized churches of their own. They did so without priesthood authority. Their one desire was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshiped” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 45).

First Presidency

“Those who follow Christ have ever traveled over stony paths. He
was crucified because he taught doctrines which conflicted with
the selfish ambition of the men who controlled the world at the
time of his coming. Those who believed in him were persecuted,
driven into the dens and caves of the earth, until the Church
ceased to exist. On this continent of ours, to which reference has
so appropriately been made, by preceding speakers, men inspired
by this same selfish spirit sought to, and finally succeeded in, destroying
Christianity” (Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Reports, October
1918, p. 52).

“Here is divine authority. Do any of our friends or neighbors make
such a claim? We know the claim of the Catholic church, and
all we say in response is that ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’
These were the words of our Savior, and that is enough on that
score. But our Protestant friends do not even have that much of a
claim. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.
And because they do not have the authority themselves they think
no one else has” (Charles W. Nibley, Conference Reports, October
1926, p. 24).

“A widespread apostasy from the Church was followed by an apostasy
of the Church. This apostasy, which was repeatedly predicted,
is attested by history, both sacred and profane. This fact is the
justification for the claim of the Latter-day Saints that there has
been a restoration of the gospel. This Church, then, is Christianity
restored, together with the principles and ordinances, the
priesthood and authority, as taught and exercised in the primitive
Church” (Hugh B. Brown, Conference Reports, April 1965, p. 44. Italics
in original).

Apostles

“How, we inquire, can Christianity have been perpetuated, while
its virtues, its legitimate powers, its distinguishing features, its very
life and essence have ceased from among men? Or, of what use is it
if it does exist? Is a compass of use when its needle has lost its magnetic
attraction? Is water of use when it no longer seeks its level,
or quenches thirst? Is fire of use when it loses its heat? Is a sun dial
of use on a dark and cloudy day; or a watch without a mainspring?
Or, are the mere forms and ceremonies of any system of use, when
the divine, or legitimate powers, for which such forms were instituted,
are withdrawn? O man! be no longer deceived by solemn
mockeries of things sacred, or by great and holy names applied
to corrupt and degenerate systems. When the miracles and gifts
of the divine Spirit ceased from among men, Christianity ceased,
the Christian ministry ceased, the Church of Christ ceased. That
ministry which sets aside modern inspiration, revelation, prophecy,
angels, visions, healings, etc., is not ordained of God, but is
anti-christian in spirit. In short, it is that spirit of priestcraft and
kingcraft by which the world, for many ages, has been ruled as with
a rod of iron. The sooner the present generation lose all reverence
and respect for modern ‘Christianity’ with all its powerless forms
and solemn mockeries, the sooner they will be prepared to receive
the kingdom of God. The sooner the treasuries of nations, and the
purses of individuals, are relieved from the support of priestcraft
and superstitions, so much sooner will they be able and willing to
devote their means and influence to print and publish the glad
tidings of the fullness of the Gospel, restored in this age, to assist
in the gathering of the house of Israel, and in the building of the
cities and temples of Zion and Jerusalem” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the
Science of Theology, 1978, pp. 67-68).

“The restored Church affirms that a general apostasy developed
during and after the apostolic period, and that the primitive
Church lost its power, authority, and graces as a divine institution,
and degenerated into an earthly organization only. The significance
and importance of the great apostasy, as a condition precedent
to the re-establishment of the Church in modern times, is
obvious. If the alleged apostasy of the primitive Church was not
a reality, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not
the divine institution its name proclaims” (James E. Talmage, The
Great Apostasy, p. iii).

“After the ascension of Jesus, the Church remained, for some time,
fully organized. Thousands flocked to it, and the members lived in
accordance with the doctrine taught by the Savior. Soon, however,
history repeated itself. In the right of their free agency, those who
had joined the Church often refused to obey the laws and ordinances
of the Gospel, and more often changed them to suit their
own convenience. Such departures from the truth became more
numerous and flagrant as time wore on, until error permeated the
whole Church. At last, about six hundred years after Christ, the
Gospel laws and ordinances had become so completely warped
that it was as if the Church had departed from the earth. The authority
of the Priesthood no longer remained with the Church.
This was the great apostasy. From that time, universal darkness
reigned upon earth for many centuries” (John A. Widtsoe, Priesthood
and Church Government, p. 25).

“We affirm that with the passing of the apostolic period the
Church drifted into a condition of apostasy, whereby succession in
the Holy Priesthood was broken; and that the Church as an earthly
organization operating under Divine direction and having authority
to officiate in spiritual ordinances ceased to exist among men”
(James Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, pp. 109-110).

“Let me explain, when I use the term ‘corrupt’ with reference to
these ministers of the gospel, that I use it in the same sense that I
believe the Lord used it when he made that declaration to Joseph
Smith, the prophet, in answer to the prophet’s prayer. He did not
mean, nor do I mean, that the ministers of religion are personally
unvirtuous or impure. I believe as a class they, perhaps, in personal
purity, stand a little above the average order of men. When
I use the term ‘corrupt’ I mean, as I believe the Lord meant, that
they have turned away from the truth, the purity of the truth, the
beauty of the truth, and have turned to that which is false. A false
doctrine is a corrupt doctrine; a false religion is a corrupt religion;
a false teacher is a corrupt teacher. Any man who teaches a false
doctrine, who believes in and practices and teaches a false religion
is a corrupt professor, because he teaches that which is impure and
not true. That is the trouble with Christianity today. It is not true.
Christianity is, perhaps, no truer or falser than any other religion,
than Mohammedanism, Confucianism, Buddhism or any other
ism or philosophy. In fact, my brethren and sisters, if the falsity
of a religion can be measured in any degree by the amount of
trouble and turmoil and strife and bitterness and hatred that it has
engendered in the hearts of men, if it can be judged by the number
of wars it has carried on and the rivers of blood it has shed,
the amount of misery and sorrow, it has caused, or the extremes of
impurity, found among its adherents, then Christianity, that which
is known as Christianity, is the falsest of all religions in the world”
(Hyrum M. Smith, Conference Reports, October 1916, p. 43).

“After our Lord’s first coming and before his dreadful return,
there is to be a day of absolute, total, and complete apostasy from
the truth. Men are to be left to themselves, wanderers in darkness,
without hope and without God in the world” (Bruce R. McConkie,
The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p. 36).

“In like manner the saints in the early days of the Christian era
soon forsook the faith. Tares were sown in the gospel fields. And
‘the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to
drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to
reign’ — even he took over the kingdom. (D&C 86:3.) The apostasy
was complete and universal” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial
Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p. 425).

“As we gaze in awe at the grand picture, we see the Lord Jesus ascending
from Olivet as angelic witnesses testify that he shall come
again in like manner at that place. From this splendid scene our
eyes turn to the dark and dire and devilish days when Satan has
dominion over his own. We see false churches, false worship, and
false prophets. Iniquity abounds and evil is everywhere. There is
universal apostasy; darkness covers the earth and gross darkness
the minds of the people; it is the evil night that must precede the
dawn of the restoration” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah:
The Second Coming of the Son of Man, p. 563).

“There is to be absolute, total, complete apostasy after John’s day
and before the angelic ministrations commence. The falling away
shall be complete, the apostasy universal. Gross darkness shall be
everywhere. The gospel shall not be found in any nation, among
any kindred; no tongue shall teach its truths, and no people rejoice
in its blessings, for all these shall receive it as a result of the
angelic ministrations” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament
Commentary 3:528).

“How fearful, how solemn are the words of Jesus, spoken that
spring morning in 1820, when he said that all the professors of
religion in the world were corrupt and that ‘all their creeds were
an abomination in his sight’” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness
for the Articles of Faith, pp. 142-143).

“This same course—for Lucifer has no new ideas, but merely applies
what he already knows to new situations—has been followed
in apostate Christendom. When there were no longer apostles and
inspired men to give the Lord’s message and word to living men,
the world turned to interpreters—to scholars, to doctors of divinity,
to theologians, to professors of religion—to set forth what they
thought or imagined the divine word of former days meant. In the
opening of our dispensation the Lord, after saying that the creeds
of Christendom were ‘an abomination in his sight’ (and these
creeds were the interpretations and conclusions of the scribes, as
it were), then said that ‘those professors’ (meaning all who, like
the scribes, had by their interpretations and teachings perverted
the truth and made it of none effect) ‘were all corrupt.’” (Bruce
R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary 1:251).

“This first and chief heresy of a now fallen and decadent Christianity—and
truly it is the father of all heresies—swept through all
of the congregations of true believers in the early centuries of the
Christian era; it pertained then and pertains now to the nature
and kind of being that God is. It was the doctrine, adapted from
Gnosticism, that changed Christianity from the religion in which
men worshipped a personal God, in whose image man is made
(Gen. 1:26-27; James 3:9; Mosiah 7:27; Ether 3:15; D&C 20:18; Moses
6:8-9), into a religion in which men worshipped a spirit essence
called the Trinity. This new God, no longer a personal Father, no
longer a personage of tabernacle (D&C 130:22), became an incomprehensible
three-in-one spirit essence that filled the immensity
of space. The adoption of this false doctrine about God effectively
destroyed true worship among men and ushered in the age
of universal apostasy” (Bruce R. McConkie, Sermons and Writings of
Bruce R. McConkie, pp. 69-70).

“In short, apostasy reigned supreme; it was universal, complete, all
pervading. The religion of the lowly Nazarene was no where to be
found. All sects, parties and denominations had gone astray. Satan
rejoiced and his angels laughed. Such were the social conditions
of the day” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Once or Twice in a Thousand
Years,” Ensign (Reprinted conference address), April 2005, p. 56).

“In contrast, many Christians reject the idea of a tangible, personal
God and a Godhead of three separate beings. They believe
that God is a spirit and that the Godhead is only one God. In our
view, these concepts are evidence of the falling away we call the
Great Apostasy” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign
(Conference Edition), May 1995, p. 84).

“The Church you belong to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, is the restored Church. When you know what restored
means, you will understand why standards of conduct are as they
are. Following the Crucifixion of Christ an apostasy occurred.
Leaders began to ‘teach for doctrines the commandments of
men.’ They lost the keys of authority and closed themselves off
from the channels of revelation. That lost authority could not just
be repossessed. It had to be restored by those who held the keys
of authority anciently. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints is not a remodeled version of another church. It is not an
adjustment or a correction or a protest against any other church.
They have their ‘form of godliness’ and their goodness and value”
(Boyd Packer, “The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected,” Ensign
(Conference Edition), November 2003, p. 24).

“After the Savior’s Resurrection, He commissioned His Apostles
to lead the Church and administer gospel ordinances. Faithful to
this charge, they were persecuted, and some were eventually martyred.
As a result, the Lord’s priesthood authority was no longer
on earth, and the world fell into spiritual darkness. In the centuries
that followed, God’s children had the Light of Christ, could
pray, and could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. But the fulness
of the gospel had been lost. There was no one left on earth
with the power and authority to lead the Church or perform sacred
ordinances such as baptism, conferral of the gift of the Holy
Ghost, and the saving ordinances of the temple. Almost everyone
was denied access to the scriptures, and most people were illiterate”
(Robert D. Hales, “Preparations for the Restoration and the
Second Coming: ‘My Hand Shall Be over Thee,’” Ensign (Conference
Edition), November 2005, p. 89).

“Thus the Church of Jesus Christ was again in existence on the
earth to bless mankind with the doctrines and teaching of the Savior…
the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored
to the earth…you can compare the glorious message with what
you may hear from others, and you can determine which is from
God and which is from man” (L. Tom Perry, “The Message of the
Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2007, p. 88).
“We’re not Catholic and we’re not Protestant, but we are the New
Testament Church that’s been restored because we believe it was
lost after the times of Christ and his apostles and was required to
be restored through a prophet” (M. Russell Ballard, “Elder Ballard
Responds to Evangelical Criticism,” Deseret News, December
6, 2007).

“After the Savior’s Resurrection, He commissioned His Apostles
to lead the Church and administer gospel ordinances. Faithful to
this charge, they were persecuted, and some were eventually martyred.
As a result, the Lord’s priesthood authority was no longer
on earth, and the world fell into spiritual darkness. In the centuries
that followed, God’s children had the Light of Christ, could
pray, and could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. But the fulness
of the gospel had been lost. There was no one left on earth
with the power and authority to lead the Church or perform sacred
ordinances such as baptism, conferral of the gift of the Holy
Ghost, and the saving ordinances of the temple. Almost everyone
was denied access to the scriptures, and most people were illiterate”
(Robert D. Hales, “Preparations for the Restoration and the
Second Coming: ‘My Hand Shall Be over Thee,’” Ensign (Conference
Edition), November 2005, p. 89).

“Among the first principles lost in the Apostasy was an understanding
of God the Father” (Quentin L. Cook, “The Doctrine of
the Father,” Ensign, February 2012, p. 33).

“It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out
the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence
of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely
morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the
establishment of the United States” (L. Tom Perry, “The Tradition
of Light and Testimony,” Ensign, December 2012, p. 30).

Seventies

“Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion
would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints” (B.H. Roberts, History of the Church 1:XL).

“Our position is this: While there was this universal apostasy,
while the Church of Christ as an organization was destroyed, and
replaced by the churches of men, yet just as when the sun goes
down, there still remains light in the sky—so, too, notwithstanding
this apostasy from the Church, there still were left fragments
of truth among the children of men, and some measure of truth
thank God, through his mercy, has always remained with man, not
only with Christians but with all God’s children. He has not left
himself in any of the ages of the world without his witnesses, and
he has sanctified all generations of men with some measure of the
truth; therefore, when we proclaim this apostasy from the Christian
religion and the destruction of the Church of Christ, it does
not follow that we hold that all truth, that all virtue, had departed
from the world, or that God had absolutely withdrawn from his
creation. Not so” (B.H. Roberts, 1992, Defense of The Faith and The
Saints 2:561).

“The Protestant Reformation, which resulted in the establishment
of numerous Christian denominations—approximately two hundred
and fifty of them existing in America today—bears unimpeachable
evidence to the fact that a great apostacy did occur as
the Master and the prophets of old had predicted it would. Martin
Luther, John Calvin, the Wesley brothers, and the other protestors
against the erroneous doctrines which had corrupted Catholicism
did not claim divine restoration of the Holy Priesthood nor of the
principles and ordinances of the gospel” (Milton R. Hunter, Conference
Reports, April 1946, p. 143).

“If the Savior had come back to earth at the beginning of the
fifth century A.D., I doubt whether he would have recognized the
Christian Church as the one that claimed descent from that which
he had established, so far had it gone astray. Christianity had actually
become a composite of Christian beliefs, practices, and doctrines,
Jewish teachings and rituals; Greek, Roman, and Egyptian
pagan philosophies: and pagan religions of various brands. The
Holy Priesthood had been withdrawn from the earth. The power
of godliness was no longer present in the Christian Church. Thus
there was a complete falling away from the gospel which had been
established by the Son of Man. The Church lay in darkness, and
the darkness enveloped the earth. This spiritual darkness continued
for hundreds and hundreds of years” (Milton R. Hunter, Conference
Reports, October 1951, pp. 140-141).

“The knowledge of God and His physical separateness from His
Son and the Holy Ghost was lost after the death of Christ and His
Apostles. Confusion and false doctrines about the Godhead were
fashioned out of the Nicene Creed and Constantinople councils…
I know that heaven-sent revelations have replaced the gross errors
of man-made doctrines concerning the Godhead” (Gary J. Coleman,
“Mom, Are We Christians?” Ensign (Conference Edition),
May 2007, p. 92-93).

Church Manuals

“Explain that after Jesus Christ was crucified, His Apostles presided
over the Church. But soon persecution, divisions, and apostasy
increased. Within a few decades, there was a falling away from the
Church, as the Apostles had prophesied (Acts 20:28-30; 2 Thessalonians
2:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). This falling away is known as the
Great Apostasy” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel
Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 1999, pp. 11-12).

“A primary purpose of the Restoration of the gospel is to bring
God’s children out of apostasy and worldliness and prepare them
for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see D&C 1:12-17)” (Doctrine
and Covenants and Church History Seminary Student Guide, 2001,
p. 44).

“Investigators must be told that a universal apostasy occurred following
the death of Jesus and His Apostles. If there had been no
apostasy, there would have been no need of a Restoration. As a
diamond on black velvet appears more brilliant, so the restoration
stands in striking contrast to the dark background of the Great
Apostasy. As guided by the Spirit, teach investigators about the
Great Apostasy at a level of detail appropriate to their needs and
circumstance. Your purpose is to help them understand the need
for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Preach My Gospel,
2004, p. 36).

“One by one, the Apostles were killed or otherwise taken from the
earth. Because of wickedness and apostasy, the apostolic authority
and priesthood keys were also taken from the earth. The organization
that Jesus Christ had established no longer existed, and confusion
resulted. More and more error crept into Church doctrine,
and soon the dissolution of the Church was complete. The period
of time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called
the Great Apostasy. Soon pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of
those called Christians” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 92).

“After the Savior ascended into heaven, men changed the ordinances
and doctrines that He and His Apostles had established.
Because of apostasy, there was no direct revelation from God. The
true Church was no longer on the earth. Men organized different
churches that claimed to be true but taught conflicting doctrines.
There was much confusion and contention over religion.
The Lord had foreseen these conditions of apostasy, saying there
would be ‘a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst
for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. … They shall …
seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it’ (Amos 8:11–12)”
(Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 95. Ellipses in original).

“The Savior told him not to join any church because the true
Church was not on the earth. He also said that the creeds of present
churches were ‘an abomination in his sight’ (Joseph Smith—
History 1:19; see also verses 7–18, 20)” (Gospel Principles, 2009,
p. 96).

“After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted
the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in
Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this
widespread wickedness, the Lord withdrew the authority of the
priesthood from the earth. During the Great Apostasy, people
were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches
were established, but they did not have priesthood power to
lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus
Christ. Parts of the holy scriptures were corrupted or lost, and
no one had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or
perform other priesthood ordinances. This apostasy lasted until
Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to Joseph Smith
in 1820 and initiated the restoration of the fulness of the gospel
(True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 13).

“The fullness of the gospel has been restored, and the true
Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again. No other organization
can compare to it. It is not the result of a reformation, with
well-meaning men and women doing all in their power to bring
about change. It is a restoration of the Church established by Jesus
Christ. It is the work of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. As
a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you
can receive blessings that were absent from the earth for almost
2,000 years” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 136).
“As you help investigators see the pattern of apostasy and restoration,
they will be prepared to understand the great need for the
latter-day Restoration. They will see the need to accept the restored
gospel, receive the ordinances of salvation by the authority
of the restored priesthood, and follow the way to eternal life. Help
people recognize that the Church is not just another religion, nor
is it an American church. Rather, it is a restoration of the ‘fulness
of [the] gospel’ (D&C 1:23), the same as was revealed and taught
from the beginning” (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p 7).

“Even before the death of the Apostles, many conflicts concerning
doctrine arose. The Roman Empire, which at first had persecuted
the Christians, later adopted Christianity. Important religious
questions were settled by councils. The simple doctrines and ordinances
taught by the Savior were debated and changed to conform
to worldly philosophies (see Isaiah 24:5). They physically changed
the scriptures, removing plain and precious doctrines from them
(1 Nephi 13:26–40). They created creeds, or statements of belief,
based on false and changed doctrine (see Joseph Smith—History
1:19). Because of pride, some aspired to positions of influence
(see 3 John 1:9–10). People accepted these false ideas and gave
honor to false teachers who taught pleasing doctrines rather than
divine truth (see 2 Timothy 4:3–4)” (Preach My Gospel, 2004, p. 36).

“For some time after Jesus ascended to heaven, the Church continued
to teach the truth, and thousands of people from many cities
joined the Church. However, in time some who had joined the
Church refused to obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel and
changed them to suit their own ways of thinking. Many members,
including the Apostles and other priesthood leaders, were persecuted
and killed. As these men were killed and others fell away
from the truth, the Church lost the authority of the priesthood.
Eventually, the priesthood no longer remained in the Church. For
many centuries, the fulness of the gospel was not on the earth.
Those churches which were organized during the Apostasy did
not have the priesthood. As a result, they could not receive direction
from God or perform the ordinances of salvation” (Duties and
Blessings of the Priesthood, Part A, 2000, p. 12).

“After Jesus returned to heaven, His Apostles led the Church.
More people became members of the Church. But some of the
members started to teach and believe false things, instead of the
things Jesus and the Apostles taught. For example, some people
taught that our Father in Heaven does not have a body of flesh
and bones” (Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, p. 97).

“People taught more and more false teachings until no one believed
the true teachings of Jesus. No one had the priesthood, so
no one could do Jesus’ work on the earth or receive instructions
from Jesus for all our Father in Heaven’s children. The time when
no one believed the true teachings of Jesus and no one had His
authority is called the Apostasy. During the Apostasy, people organized
churches that were different from the Church Jesus had
organized. They taught things that Jesus did not teach. They did
not have the priesthood. They performed ceremonies that were
different from the ceremonies performed in Jesus’ Church. They
had no revelation from Jesus. They did not teach all the commandments
of the gospel as Jesus and His Apostles had taught
them. The prophets had said that all this would happen” (Gospel
Fundamentals, 2002, p. 97).

“For many years, people lived without the true gospel and Church
of Jesus Christ. The people organized many churches, based on
their own ideas and some teachings from the Bible. But these
churches did not have our Father in Heaven’s priesthood. They
did not have all the teachings of Jesus. They did not have continual
revelation from Jesus. They did not have all the spiritual gifts”
(Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, p. 99).

“Without revelation or priesthood authority, false doctrines began
to be taught and the true Church of Jesus Christ was lost. God
allowed truth, as well as His priesthood authority, ordinances,
and Church organization to be taken once again from the earth
because of the apostasy of His children. This apostasy eventually
led to the emergence of many churches. False ideas were taught
and knowledge of the true character and nature of the Father, His
Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrine of
repentance became distorted. Baptism and other ordinances and
covenants were changed or forgotten. The gift of the Holy Ghost
was no longer available. This period of time when the true Church
no longer existed on the earth has come to be known as the Great
Apostasy. It lasted until the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph
Smith. Prospective missionaries should have an understanding
of this apostasy and be able to teach it in a simple manner to
their investigators” (Missionary Preparation Student Manual: Religion
130, 2005, p. 66).

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms to the
world that after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the subsequent
death of His Apostles, there was a falling away—an altering or a
rejecting of His revealed word. The long night of apostasy lasted
well over a millennium. During this period, man-made creeds and
practices were substituted for the plan of salvation that Jesus had
taught” (Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual: Religion 430 and 431,
2004, p. 59).

“During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction
from the living prophets. Many churches were established, but
they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true
knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Parts of the holy
scriptures were corrupted or lost, and no one had the authority
to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or perform other priesthood
ordinances” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 13).

“The period of time when the true Church no longer existed on
earth is called the Great Apostasy. Soon pagan beliefs dominated
the thinking of those called Christians. The Roman emperor adopted
this false Christianity as the state religion. The church was
very different from the Church Jesus organized. It taught that God
was a being without substance… It was the Church of Jesus Christ
no longer; it was a church of men” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 92.
Ellipsis mine).

Other Sources

“What can we say of the original Church in the light of history,
after it had existed one hundred years? There was very little left
of it. The apostasy which commenced to show itself in the days of
Paul had spread to such an extent that after the great lights of the
Church had fallen as martyrs, the great majority of the Saints had
turned away from the gospel as originally taught by the Savior”
(Andrew Jensen, Conference Reports, April 1924, pp. 136-137).

“To say that Satan sits in the place of God in Christianity after
the time of the Apostles is not to say that all that is in it is satanic.
Indeed, Latter-day Saints should rejoice—as the heavens
undoubtedly do—at the great works of righteousness and faith,
and the leavening influence on the world, of those whose lives are
touched in any degree by Him whose gospel the Saints enjoy in
its fulness. Still, ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (Rom. 1:16) is
absent from all but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
which the Lord himself has proclaimed to be ‘the only true and
living church upon the face of the whole earth’ (D&C 1:30). Satan’s
goal of hindering many of God’s children from returning to
their Father’s glory is thus realized. How appropriate, therefore, is
Paul’s description of him sitting in the place of God in the church
of the apostasía” (BYU Professor Kent P. Jackson, “Early Signs of
the Apostasy,” Ensign, December 1984, p. 9. Italics in original).

“The apostasy did not happen because the Apostles were gone;
the Apostles were taken because the apostasy had occurred” (BYU
Professor Kent P. Jackson, “Early Signs of the Apostasy,” Ensign,
December 1984, p. 16).

“But as is evident in the earliest Christian writings of the second
century, by the end of the first century the apostles were gone,
and Christianity had lost its doctrinal anchor. These events suggest
that the cumulative effect of false beliefs was more successful
than the apostolic efforts to correct them” (BYU Professor Kent P.
Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration, p. 13).

“History has not left us a full record of the Apostasy, though we
have New Testament prophecies foretelling it and New Testament
examples of its taking place. But when our historical evidence begins
again in the next centuries, we see a different church, teaching
a different gospel. And we know that despite the warnings and
the tears, something both dramatic and tragic has taken place”
(BYU Professor Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration, p. 18).

“The great apostasy and loss of the priesthood 1800 years ago resulted
not only in a loss of authority to perform ordinances in the
Church, but also in a loss of truth pertaining to every phase of
life on the earth. It has affected man’s thinking and reasoning in
political, economic, educational and social fields as well. But the
restoration is just as broad as the apostasy. Even though we have
generally thought only of church organization in the restoration,
the principles of the gospel, as contained in the scriptures, also
apply to all phases and dimensions of human endeavor, including
social, political, educational, and economic areas” (BYU Professor
Robert J. Matthews, “The Pear; of Great Price Encounters the
Modern World – An Appraisal,” The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations
From God, H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate, eds., pp. 30-31).

“First of all, it should be noted that the Latter-day Saints do reject
the authority of traditional Christianity after the death of the
New testament Apostles” (BYU Professor Stephen E. Robinson,
Are Mormons Christians? p. 34).

“In the spring of 1820 Joseph had learned from his First Vision
that the churches of his day were teachings creeds and doctrines
that were wrong” (BYU Associate Professor Clyde J. Williams, “Sacred
translation makes ‘plain the old paths,’” Church News, January
3, 2004, p. 4).

“Nothing can be more erroneous than to suppose that these signs
were merely given to establish the truth of Christianity, and that
when that was once established, they were no longer needed. The
signs are as much included in the system of Christianity, as any
other blessing that can be named. If the signs have ceased, true
Christianity, of which the signs are a component part, has ceased”
(Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt’s Works, p. 77).

“With the death of the apostles, within approximately one hundred
years of the crucifixion of Jesus, the power to act in the name
of God, was lost from the earth. …Latter-day Saints teach that
God’s divine authority was not to be found in the Old World by
the middle of the second century A.D.” (BYU Professor Emeritus
Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints,
pp. 39-40. Ellipsis mine).

“Thus a mist of darkness filled the earth in what we have come to
call a universal apostasy. It engulfed the priesthood, its keys, all the
ordinances of salvation and the ordinances of blessing, and the
offices of the priesthood and its officers. Plain and precious things
were taken from holy writ, and other things were added in their
place. The purity of every doctrine and principle of salvation was
lost. In their stead came an oppressive tyranny over the hearts and
minds of men. Where once there had been love unfeigned, now
there was a blood-stained sword. Where there had been robes of
righteousness, now there were silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined
linen, and precious clothing. Worship was replaced by ritual; the
prayer of faith, by gold and silver. So darkness covered the earth
and gross darkness the minds of the people (see Isaiah 60:2)”
(BYU Professor Emeritus Joseph Fielding McConkie, Answers:
Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, p. 39).

“Occasionally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is
criticized for teaching doctrine not found in the Bible. In reality,
the teachings of the Church reflect reiterations of truths once
had in Christ’s Church that were lost through many centuries of
apostasy and the consequential absence of divine authority and
priesthood keys” (“Latter-day Scripture,” Church News, January 10,
2009, p. 16).

“After the Crucifixion of the Savior and the death of His Apostles,
people changed some of the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel.
Even though many good people believed in Jesus Christ and
tried to understand and teach His gospel, the fullness of truth
was no longer available. The result was varying stages of apostasy
among the surviving Christians. While they had many truths,
none of them had the fullness of Christ’s doctrines, ordinances,
or priesthood” (“The Gospel of Jesus Christ was Restored through
the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Ensign, December 2012, p. 8).

“According to traditional LDS teachings, Old and New Testament
prophets expressly prophesied of the Great Apostasy. However, as
recent LDS scholars affirm, at least some biblical passages typically
cited as prophecies of the apostasy appear to actually be referring
to other times or to less dire situations” (BYU Professor Charles R.
Harrell, “’This is my Doctrine’: The Development of Mormon Theology,”
p. 31).

“On careful examination, none of the New Testament passages
referring to heresies within the church or persecution from without
seems to predict a wholesale departure from the faith; all
seem to assume that there would be faithful saints who remain on
the earth until Christ comes” (BYU Professor Charles R. Harrell,
“’This is my Doctrine’: The Development of Mormon Theology,” p. 34).

“It isn’t clear exactly when the Prophet understood that his mission
would involve restoring an actual church organization. He
appears to have initially viewed himself more as a reformer than
a restorer” (BYU Professor Charles R. Harrell, ‘This is my Doctrine’:
The Development of Mormon Theology, p. 86).