Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Great Apostasy

  After Christ's ministry, people began to, once again, spiritually distance themselves from God. Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Unfortunately, people don't always use their agency in the best way. Wicked people went on to persecute and even kill the Savior and many of His Apostles. Therefore, God withdrew His priesthood authority from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrines of the gospel pure and were able to receive revelation for the Church. However, without the Apostles, over time the true doctrines of Christ's church were corrupted. Without the proper authority and revelation, people relied on their own human wisdom and knowledge to interpret scriptures. Unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and false ideas were taught as truth.

   Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth.  In the Old Testament, Amos foretells of this great apostasy to come forth (Amos 8:11-12). It was also foretold that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church would be restored once more upon the earth. (Isaiah 29:13-14, Acts 3:19-21, Revelation 14:6-7)

  This apostasy eventually led to the formation of many churches. After centuries of being lost in spiritual darkness, men and women sought for the truth and protested against current religious practices. They recognized that many of the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel had been changed or lost. They sought for greater spiritual light, and many spoke of the need for a restoration of truth. This period of time is commonly referred to as the "reformation." These inspired individuals did their best to reform teachings and practices that they believed had been changed or corrupted. Their efforts led to the organization of many Protestant churches. This Reformation resulted in an increased emphasis on religious freedom, which opened the way for the final Restoration.

  Another way to help illustrate this apostasy is by using an analogy of Christ's church being compared to a mirror. When Jesus set up the church, the mirror was perfect. All the glass was in place and you could see clearly. However, when Christ and the apostles died, the mirror was shattered into many pieces and was scattered all over. Although all of the pieces of the mirror were there, they were not put together and you couldn't see clearly. People would grab one piece of the mirror and run with it. Other people would start their own churches and ideas with pieces that they picked to their own liking. The whole mirror was shattered and despite the efforts of man, it could not be put back together. That is why a reformation was not enough, but a restoration needed to occur.

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