What happened to Christ’s Church? Did it survive Christ’s death? Or was it lost, and if so, is it present on earth today?
AuthorTad R. Callister, in (#Ad) The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration has delved deeply into the writings of both early Christian writers and Latter-day Saint leaders to present thirteen evidences that Christ’s Church fell into apostasy, including the loss of the apostles, revelation, priesthood, miracles, scriptures, and gifts of the Spirit, and the corruption of the doctrinal teachings and holy ordinances. But beyond just presenting the evidence of a great apostasy and the need for a heavenly restoration, the author explores the equally important questions of why?
10 Quotes from the first chapters
“On one occasion a friend asked me if Mormons believed they were better than other people. I responded that I thought there were many people of other faiths better than I was, including him, but I did believe he would be an even better man if he had the truths I had, and I should be less of a man if they were absent from my life. Hopefully, this book can add to the light and truth which my non-LDS friends already possess in part.” (Intro XIII)
Chapter 1: Thinking the Unthinkable— Could Christ’s Church Have Been Lost?
“Elder Orson F. Whitney, an apostle of the restored Church, once told of a learned Catholic theologian who spoke to him as follows: You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need ofJoseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.” (p. 4)
chapter 5: The True Cause of the Apostasy
The Enemy Within
“External persecution of the early Christians was intense. Such persecution, however, did not cause the demise of Christ’s Church any more than the crucifixion of the Savior ended Christianity. It was not external evil or persecution that destroyed Christ’s Church, but rather internal wickedness—the enemy within. That is what proved its downfall.” (p.24)
“There is no external force, however powerful it may be, that can destroy Christ’s Church. Ultimately, destruction comes only from within.5 Elder James E. Talmage taught this confirming principle: The question as to whether persecution is to be regarded as an element tending to produce apostasy is worthy of present consideration. Opposition is not always destructive; on the contrary it may contribute to growth. . . . Undoubtedly the persistent persecution to which the early Church was subjected caused many of its adherents to renounce the faith they had professed and to return to their former allegiances, whether Judaistic or pagan. Church membership was thus diminished; but such instances of apostasy from the Church may be regarded as individual desertions and of comparatively little importance in its effect upon the Church as a body. The dangers that affrighted some would arouse the determination of others; the ranks deserted by disaffected weaklings would be replenished by zealous converts. Let it be repeated that apostasy from the Church is insignificant as compared with apostasy of the Church as an institution.” (p. 25)
“Hugh Nibley spoke similarly: “The apostasy described in the New Testament is not desertion of the cause, but perversion of it, a process by which ‘the righteous are removed, and none perceives it.’ The Christian masses do not realize what is happening to them; they are ‘bewitched’ by a thing that comes as softly and insidiously as the slinging of a noose.'” Durant made this astute observation with regards to the fall of the Roman Empire: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.”” (p. 25)
“LDS scholar Kent P. Jackson explained that the root meaning of apostasy comes from the original Greek word apostasía and “means ‘rebellion,’ ‘mutiny,’ ‘revolt,’ or ‘revolution,’ and it is used in ancient contexts with reference to uprisings against established authority. The idea of a gentle drifting that comes to mind with the phrase ‘a falling away’ is not one of its meanings.”68 It was indeed rebellion that was taking place within the Church.” (p.43)
“This apostasy was triggered by widespread disobedience and by a proliferation of heresies. Accordingly, the martyrdom of the apostles was not the source of the apostasy; rather, it was a consequence of the apostasy. The seeds of apostasy were planted and springing up during the ministry of the apostles. Thereafter they nurtured into full bloom when no apostles remained to weed them out. No doubt if there had been significant righteousness among the Saints, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would have continued. The apostasy did not happen because the apostles were gone; the apostles were taken because the apostasy was in effect.” (p. 46)
“The death of the apostles did not mean that no institutionalized church continued, but rather that a different church evolved—one without revelation and without priesthood authority. While there existed for a time many competing philosophies and would-be claimants to Christ’s ongoing church, eventually one composite doctrine prevailed among a majority of the people who called themselves Christians” [.47)
Chapter 8: Evidences of the Apostasy
“While there existed isolated goodness on the earth, (during the apostasy) there was not an organized, priesthood-centered church. Some of the evidences of this apostasy, as discussed in succeeding chapters, are as follows:
- First, the apostles were killed and revelation ceased, thus undermining the foundation of Christ’s Church.
- Second, the scriptures are a historical witness that the apostasy was in progress and a prophetic witness that it would be consummated before Christ’s second coming.
- Third, the Bible ended. If the Church had continued, revelation would have continued, and the Bible would have been an ongoing book.
- Fourth, the gifts of the Spirit were lost.
- Fifth, the dark ages became a historical fact, symbolizing that the light of Christ’s gospel had been extinguished. If the Church had been on the earth and the predominant force in western civilization, those years would have been a period of light ages, not dark ages.
- Sixth, many teachings became perverted, some were lost, and new ones were invented.
- Seventh, many gospel ordinances were perverted, some were lost, and new ones were invented.
- Eighth, the simple mode of prayer was changed, which diluted man’s efforts to communicate with God.
- Ninth, the scriptures were removed from the hands of the lay membership and retained solely in the hands of clergy, often in a language the common man could not understand.
- Tenth, the wickedness sanctioned by the ongoing church was so prolonged and so egregious that no spiritually minded person could believe that Christ’s Church, if on the earth, would condone such behavior.
- Eleventh, there was a discernible decline in the moral standards and church discipline of the ongoing church.
- Twelfth, the church no longer bore Christ’s name.
- Thirteenth, the priesthood was lost, and thus no one on the earth was authorized to perform the saving ordinances.” (p. 56-57)
Chapter 9: First Evidence: Loss of the Apostles and Revelation
“The Jews suffered from the same malady as certain modern churches, who believe that revelation is confined to the ages of the past. In essence, those who treat revelation as a thing of the past have capped the well that quenches their spiritual thirst. (p.76)
Tad R. Callister
Tad Richards Callister (born December 17, 1945) was the 21st Sunday School General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 2014 to 2019. He served previously in the church as a general authority from 2008 to 2014, including as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from 2011 to 2014.
- Callister, Tad R. (2000), The Infinite Atonement, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Callister, Tad R. (2006), The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book
- Callister, Tad R. (2015), The Blueprint of Christ’s Church, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book
- Callister, Tad R. (2019), A Case for the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book
- Callister, Tad R. (2021), America’s Choice: A Nation Under God or Without God?, Meadville, PA: Fulton Books