What is “The Great Apostasy” & “Restoration” in Mormonism?

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Mormons hold that when Jesus Christ walked the Earth, he taught the fullness of his doctrine, namely, God’s plan “for the eternal progress of His children” (1). They also believe that subsequent to Christ’s death, church members allegedly deviated away from the teachings of “Jesus Christ and His Apostles” (2).

The Apostles, the 12 men who were Christ’s closest associates during his ministry, were killed, priesthood authority was taken away, and because the church was no longer led by a priesthood authority, messages were lost, and errors and corruption begun to crop up in the teachings. Mormons claim that this led to a number of churches existing with conflicting teachings, and that because of this many men and women searching for the truth were unable to discover it. This had a knock on effect as “each generation inherited a state of apostasy as people were influenced by what previous generations passed on, including changes to Christ’s gospel.” According to the Mormon church,

“gospel truths were lost through being diluted by the principles or philosophies then prevailing in the world where Christianity was preached and through the manipulations of political leaders. We call this loss of the fulness of truth the Apostasy” (3).

Thus, in Mormon theology there is a great emphasis on the Restoration. This is to remake “something as it was; reestablishing it; bringing it back anew” (4). Mormons believe that they have the answer to the problem of the Great Apostasy, and his name was Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism who claimed that an angel sent by God directed him to a set of golden tablets buried in a hill. Smith restored the church that Mormons believed is Christ’s true church living in the last days prior to the second coming of Jesus.

References

1. Oaks, D. The Only True and Living Church. Available.

2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Great Apostasy. Available.

3. Oaks, D. Ibid.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. List of Terms. Available.

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