10

Note I am asking this question as someone who has not actually read the Book of Mormon.

I guess my real question is, could I affirm the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon as a Catholic? But to explain the question title: One of the core convictions of the Catholic Church is that it is the one true church and the gates of hell will never prevail against it, which completely rules out the idea of a "Great Apostasy".

However one of the core tenets of Mormonism is that the church rapidly apostatised and become corrupt, and that the Mormon Church is a "restoration" of the pure, early church. This is obviously incompatible with the Catholic doctrine.

What I am wondering is, does assuming the historical accuracy of the BoM necessitate a belief in such a "Great Apostasy"? Is there anything written in there which compels such a belief? Or is this just something which is foisted upon the Mormon faithful by the church leadership?

If not, there would be a slim ecumenical possibility that one day the Catholic Church could recognise the BoM as historical, which would be an interesting development.

  • 1
    The idea of widespread apostasy (a falling away) is not contrary to the beliefs of mainstream denominations. See Luke 18:8 "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Jesus) – Mick Dec 2 '17 at 16:33
  • 1
    Mick is right, the Church has never condemned the idea of a Great Apostasy. In fact many priests, like Fr. Corapi and Fr. Malachi Martin think we're in it right now or closing in on it. The gates of hell not prevailing is more complicated than that. Because there will be a rapture, the Bride will be caught up to meet Christ in the heavens. – Destynation Y Dec 3 '17 at 1:21
  • 1
    @DestynationY Lots of apostasy and 'The Great Apostasy' are not the same thing. The idea of the Great Apostasy is that Christianity entirely died out from AD 40ish until the time of Joseph Smith. That is, there were exactly 0 bonafide priests, bishops, saints, lay people etc. in the church through the milenium and a half, and so there was no Church on earth during that time. Part of that has to do with apostolic succession needing to be broken to justify some of the claims, but other parts of it have to do with the Body of the Church needing to not have been the Body of Christ. – the dark wanderer Dec 3 '17 at 8:52
  • Oh, really? I guess I was thinking of the more Protestant and traditional understanding of the Great Apostasy. Not even Protestants take it that far. Then again this is a Mormon question I should have figured, sorry for that. In that case no the Great Apostasy as according to Mormonism is not compatible with Catholicism. Definetly not. – Destynation Y Dec 4 '17 at 22:19
14

First, you should be aware that not all of Mormon doctrine, or even of the things that are generally considered "the stuff that makes Mormons unique among Christianity," is contained in the Book of Mormon. A lot of it is found in the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations and historical context from the early days of the modern-day church.

Having said that, the answer is yes. 2 Nephi chapter 28 describes the latter days, before the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the the church, as a time of universal apostasy, when "the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord," and states "Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted."

Likewise, Mormon chapter 8 speaks of the same time period as a time of corrupted and apostate churches.

Also, even if such prophecies were not contained in the Book of Mormon, it seems that acceptance of the book implicitly requires acceptance of the concept of the Great Apostasy:

  • To accept the Book of Mormon necessarily requires accepting its origin: that it is an ancient record that was found and miraculously translated--by a farm boy with very little formal education--through the power of God.
  • To accept this requires accepting that Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet, given the power to translate the record, and shown where it was located.
  • To accept this requires accepting his story of what happened, including the part where, when Joseph prayed to God to know which of the many churches of his day was the correct one that he should join,

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Therefore, accepting the Book of Mormon necessarily implies accepting the Great Apostasy.

5

Adding to the previous answer, there are biblical references to the Great Apostasy (according to LDS beliefs) that would suggest it is not completely ruled out by Catholic Doctrine (according to the Bible). See Preach My Gospel - The Restoration.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy