I was recently in conversation with a lady who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said they are the "true" church because apostolic authority was lost after the death of Jesus' 12 disciples, and that authority was not regained until Joseph Smith met with Moroni (son of Mormon).

Reading the Introduction from The Book of Mormon, it says (in part):

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection... On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith... Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.

What I can't find are any official LDS statements to support her claim that apostolic authority was lost after the death of Jesus' 12 disciples, and that authority was not regained until Joseph Smith was given it by God.

Before I can respond to this LDS lady I need more information on the LDS view of apostolic authority being granted to Joseph Smith.

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    Some thoughts: Why do you need to “respond” to this woman? Does she do harm in believing in Jesus Christ? Are you offended or bothered that she believes that the LDS consider themselves “true”? Does that somehow lessen your own faith in Christ? What do you think will come by trying to convince her that LDS are wrong? To what other random faction of Christianity do you think her life would be improved by tearing down her belief?
    – Dúthomhas
    Dec 7, 2023 at 4:46
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    @Dúthomhas - Christians are admonished "togive the reasonfor the hope" we have(1 Peter 3:15) and Jude (verse 3) urges us "to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (in the first century). I have been asked how to respond to this lady and that's why I've posted my question on CSE, knowing there are LDS participants who can give the official reasons for their faith. I am not in the least bit offended or bothered by her beliefs, just as I am not offended by the claims of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that they have the only "true" religion.
    – Lesley
    Dec 7, 2023 at 7:47
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    @Dúthomhas. My own faith in Christ Jesus is not lessened by engaging with people who have different views on Christianity. It is not my objective to convince her that LDS is wrong and I would never attempt to tear down her beliefs. But how can I answer her questions if I don't understand what the official position is? All I can ever hope to do is to point people to Christ Jesus and the inspired and inerrant word of God, the Holy Bible. I had LDS neighbours - a lovely family - and we often discussed our differing views. Likewise with a lovely Islamic family. There was nothing contentious.
    – Lesley
    Dec 7, 2023 at 7:52
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    I am glad to hear that. As Christians we should all remember that there is a difference between contending for the faith and contention over doctrines. The first is approved by God, the latter is not. It only sounded to me like someone other than this woman has asked you to respond to her — most LDS (and I suspect most Christians) are happy to elucidate their own position but have no interest in taking effort to defend it against competing understandings. Thank you for being conscientious and kind.
    – Dúthomhas
    Dec 7, 2023 at 17:20
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    @RobbieGoodwin - The first two sentences explain why I posted this question. I did not know if what she said was accurate. As I subsequently discovered from deeperm's answer, it was not Moroni who gave John Smith apostolic authority. The purpose of Christianity Stack Exchange is to get answers to questions. It was my conversation with this very nice LDS lady that inspired my question. By the way, I have a copy of the Book of Mormon.
    – Lesley
    Dec 15, 2023 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


The importance of the priesthood according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints1:

...priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children.


The priesthood includes the authority to administer ordinances of salvation to all human beings who are willing and worthy to accept them. Without the priesthood and the saving ordinances thereof, “the whole earth would be utterly wasted” (see Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3; see also Doctrine and Covenants 84:21–22).

So the significance is that the authority to act with God's power was lost and none of the churches had that authority. With the restoration through Joseph Smith that authority and power is back on the earth.

Moroni did not restore the priesthood authority. Quick summary of the Priesthood leaving the earth, from Gospel Topics: Restoration of the Priesthood

When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He established His Church and gave His Apostles the priesthood, which is the power to act in His name (see Luke 9:1–2). After His Crucifixion and the death of His Apostles, priesthood authority and the fulness of the gospel were taken from the earth because of wickedness and a rejection of the truth (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3).

It continues on who restored the priesthood authority:

In the early 1800s, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ restored the gospel to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. This Restoration included the restoration of priesthood power and authority.

While Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were working on the translation of the Book of Mormon, they read about baptism for the remission of sins. On May 15, 1829, they went to a wooded area near Joseph’s home in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and prayed about what they had learned.

In answer to their prayer, John the Baptist, under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood, saying, “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (Doctrine and Covenants 13:1) ...

Sometime after John the Baptist’s appearance, the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John also appeared to Joseph and Oliver, again under the direction of Jesus Christ, and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants 128:20). “The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:8). With this authority again on the earth, the Church of Jesus Christ could be restored in its fulness.

Where does Moroni fall in all of this? He is more tied to the Book of Mormon, than priesthood restoration (though it was during the translation of the Book of Mormon which led to the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood).

From Guide to the Scriptures, Moroni, Son of Mormon

Moroni sealed up the plates and hid them in the hill Cumorah (Morm. 8:14; Moro. 10:2). In 1823 Moroni was sent as a resurrected being to reveal the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith (D&C 27:5; JS—H 1:30–42, 45). He instructed the young prophet each year from 1823 to 1827 (JS—H 1:54) and finally delivered the plates to him in 1827 (JS—H 1:59).

Emphasis mine

1 Gospel Topics: Priesthood

  • Thank you for the official LDS view on how priesthood authority was conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowderey and also for clarifying how Moroni was not directly involved in this aspect. I did not down-vote your answer, by the way.
    – Lesley
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:49
  • @Lesley you're welcome, I expect 1-2 downvotes every time I answer, it doesn't really bother me
    – depperm
    Dec 6, 2023 at 14:53
  • Just as well! I notice your edit partially answered the point about the significance of the claim that apostolic succession was lost after the death of Jesus' apostles. Is there an LDS link that explains this in more depth? No rush, but it would be useful to see how this claim is supported.
    – Lesley
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:03
  • @Lesley the link to Gospel Topics: Priesthood covers a bunch of it. If that doesn't answer what you're looking for, can you try to clarify what you're looking for and I'll attach relevant sources
    – depperm
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:08
  • Will take a closer look at that link, thank you.
    – Lesley
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:10

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