Mitt Romney for Pres: Best / Worst thing for the LDS?

With Mr. Romney running for the office of the President of the United States of America there has been considerable focus on the LDS faith.

Do you think this increased scrutiny will, in the long term, benefit the church?

The sacred undergarments have already been posted on sites discussing his candidacy and there has been much discussion about the church’s historical take on race.

Do you think the attention will drive up baptisms or rather will serve to marginalize the church further from the mainstream?

43 thoughts on “Mitt Romney for Pres: Best / Worst thing for the LDS?”

  1. First question, no. Given the church population is quickly becoming a minority in the United States (compared to the church population as a whole), I don’t see how his becoming president will make any significant difference in conversion and retention rates.

    I honestly think that his successful bid for presidency would not significantly alter the plateau the church has experienced in the last 3 years in convert growth.

  2. Some guy is offering Mitt $100,000 if he can prove his book wrong. He says his book is “Absolute Proof: That the Book of Mormon is a Fake”. I think things like this will become more obvious as Mitt makes his plans more obvious.

  3. As I was reading Andrew Sullivan’s Time Magazine Blog (complete with pictures of the temple garment), I had a kind of epiphany. While my first reaction was discomfort with the photos which I felt made a mockery of something sacred to me, it occured to me that what we’re going through is a kind of “growing pain.”

    The internet and the continued growth of the Church (and the prominence of individual memebers). Will conspire to take away all of our “secrets.” The dictum “sacred not secret” takes on a new kind of meaning for us, i.e. “sacred (but no longer)secret.” The full text of the temple ceremony is available online, pictures of garments (and temple dress) are everywhere for anyone to see.

    There is no way back. If it weren’t Romney in 2008 it would be some one or something else down the road.

    Our skin is going to have to get a bit thicker for one, and we’ll have to teach our children respect the sacredness of the temple in the context of it’s ordinances being common knowledge.

  4. It seems that the general consensus is that his run will do a lot of good for those who want the church’s entire history to be brought front and center. Most active mormons don’t care about their early church history, at least not about anything that they can’t explain or can’t accept. For example, most refuse to accept that the practice of polygamy was not just some fringe activity, but rather the primary basis for the temple ceremony, garments, celestial marriage, etc. Most also don’t realize, or want to know, that Joseph Smith had about 36 wives (some under age), and that the prophets kept practicing it in secret even after the manifesto. If Romney becomes a legitimate candidate (which remains highly debatable–many outside the mormon circle don’t really consider him to be a frontrunner by any stretch), those issues will put a lot of unquestioning mormons on the defensive. Sadly, most of them won’t have any idea what to say, since they really have no clue.

    Just my two cents, from below the border.

  5. I was always taught the Church stays out of Politics and yet one or more of the Apostles worked with Romeny on how to use BYU’s alumni to support Romney.

    I expect there will be those who believe it is a Church calling to work for his election or perhaps a calling from God.

    Why does the Church want to be mainstream anyways?

  6. “most refuse to accept that the practice of polygamy was not just some fringe activity, but rather the primary basis for the temple ceremony”

    That makes no sense. If the primary purpose of the temple ceremony was to facilitate the practice of plural marriage, why base it on Masonic rituals?

  7. “If the primary purpose of the temple ceremony was to facilitate the practice of plural marriage, why base it on Masonic rituals?”

    Why does it matter that the temple ceremony was based on Masonic rituals with regard to whether or not its primary purpose was to facilitate the practise of plural marriage?

    Whatever it was based on, it stands to reason that it could be changed to facilitate any (logistically feasible) purpose desired.

  8. I suppose since I entered the fray, I should respond to the questions posted above:

    Do you think this increased scrutiny will, in the long term, benefit the church?

    No.

    Do you think the attention will drive up baptisms or rather will serve to marginalize the church further from the mainstream?

    I don’t think baptism rates will change by any statistically measurable amount as a direct result of Romney’s running but also I don’t think it will particularly marginalize the church further from the mainstream.

    How’s that for boring answers?

  9. Way to come down precisely in the middle, Jeff.

    :P

    So if it’s not going to help or hinder, why is there so much fuss about it and the LDS’ portrayal in the media on the bloggernacle in general?

  10. I didn’t really know that there was that much fuss, but I imagine it has to do with mainstream America’s (I use that term pretty loosely) impression of the LDS Church as a “non-mainstream faith”(see note 1).

    As for the bloggernacle, or the LDS crowd anyway, I think any fuss that you see is from the fact that there haven’t been a lot of Mormon candidates for President of the US of A. The last one I remember hearing about was Joseph Smith Jr. and well, some folks believe it was his run for Presidency that lead to him getting shot (no puns intended).

    So it’s probably got people fired up that after years of “turtling” (not that the missionary effort has been turtling just the political maneuvering) there is likely a wave a relief that as a Mormon runs for presidency the LDS organization feels normalized and (this just occured to me) perhaps they believe that God really wants a Mormon for President. Since God has had to settle on Dubya, perhaps Mormons feel that God’s Will, will be done slightly more eloquently with an LDS man leading the free world.

    1.(For the life of me I couldn’t think of a good word for “non-mainstream faith”—”cult” came to mind, but I don’t think that’s what most people think of the church—do they?)

  11. Kim Siever said: “If the primary purpose of the temple ceremony was to facilitate the practice of plural marriage, why base it on Masonic rituals?”

    Copy Cat comes to mind.

  12. Jeff Milner said: “Do you think the attention will drive up baptisms or rather will serve to marginalize the church further from the mainstream?”

    Only if he can sing and has a sister name Marie.

  13. You just have to study early church history. As far as I understand it, JS used the masonic signs and tokens, with their accompanying death penalties as a means of making sure those who practiced polygamy with him wouldn’t leak it out to the public. Incidentally, the origin of temple “sealings” came with the Nauvoo temple, not Kirtland. They performed civil marriages in Kirtland. The “sealings” were initially for polygamy arrangements. Hence the new and everlasting covenant ala section 132.

    The garments were all part of the secret code with the polygamy men also, as I understand it. Note that JS reportedly took his off before he went to Carthage. Makes one wonder if that wasn’t the biggest mistake he made, as the bullets could just otherwise have bounced off….

    DISCLAIMER: I’m writing anonymously, and I don’t portend to have all the answers. The answers are in the history books. Anyone care to back me up?

  14. “The answers are in the history books.”

    Only according to certain individuals. “history” doesn’t indicate irrevocable fact in all instances.

    “Makes one wonder if that wasn’t the biggest mistake he made, as the bullets could just otherwise have bounced off…”

    Well now they aren’t made of bullet proof material. If you are going to be sarcastic, it’s a good idea to practice up on the art.

  15. Jeff said:

    ” “Note that JS reportedly took his off before he went to Carthage.”

    Reportedly by who? I’ve never heard this before. ”

    Neither have I. And besides that, it was his (Joseph Smith’s) time to go. He was aware of that before he left for Carthage.

  16. “yankee doodle said: You just have to study early church history. As far as I understand it, JS used the masonic signs and tokens, with their accompanying death penalties as a means of making sure those who practiced polygamy with him wouldn’t leak it out to the public.”

    I disagree with you on this. I believe it has more to do with making the early members believe they were specially chosen to be Gods annointed hence the secret tokens and sayings that were copied from the Masons as opposed to be inspired.

    Does anyone know where the LDS tradition of belief that the Mason’s got the tokens and symbols for Solomon’s Temple came from? I was taught from my youth that the reason the Masons had the same tokens and sayings the LDS do was because the Masons built Solomon’s Temple and learned them there. My parents still believe that story. I guess to do otherwise would make them question their religion.

  17. With regard to my obviously sarcastic statement about the bullets, I certainly understand that the garments aren’t bullet proof. In my opinion, they aren’t ANYTHING proof. If you took a match and lit your knee-length undies on fire, they will burn. For every faith-promoting story I’ve heard about how someone was burned up to their garment lines, but not beneath (ala Orin Hatch and others who have publicly shared those stories), are hundreds of other examples (not shared in testimony meeting) of garment-wearing LDS people who suffered casualties of all kinds with no special help from the garments. And even if they are a shield from fire, what is so unique about fire that makes the garments work for it but not other dangers?

    With regard to the discussion about solomon’s temple, etc., I don’t disagree with George. Here are just a few additional comments. I’ll get back re Joseph and his garments and some other stuff later. One compelling explanation I’ve studied is that freemasonry is an offshoot of the Templars and originated in the 15th century during the construction of Rosslyn in Scotland. Rosslyn is a replica of “Solomon’s Temple,” hence the origin of freemasonry at the construction of said temple. The guilds of the stonemasons were initiated into Templarism through the invention of freemasonry so as to protect the “secrets” of the Templars that were exposed in the physical structure of Rosslyn. That was the origin of the Scottish Rite. The English Rite was invented at a later date for different reasons that had nothing to do with the Templars. The English Rite dominated the early American culture because it was popular in the British military units that were stationed here.
    The English Masons later claimed to combine the English and Scottish Rites into one organization. In their own minds they actually believe this to be a reality.

    Mormonism is in fact a type of freemasonry. It can be argued that the “authors” of Mormonism were trying to play themselves as the discoverers of the missing aspects of Masonry that were part of the Masonic stories. This was just one of many groups who were trying to “improve” the Masonic tradition. At the least, it’s a position taken by the apologists today to explain the connection.

    If you spend any time in New York state you can still see the Masonic Symbols on buildings in all the small communities you drive through. It is difficult for us to understand the enormous power and influence of freemasonry in early America. In fact – you cannot understand America without understanding freemasonry. The two are so closely associated. Likewise – you cannot understand the Mormon phenomena without understanding freemasonry.

  18. Mary, consider the following Willard Richards reference in connection with my sarcastic remark about bullets. Nothing personal, of course. This is just an interesting illustration. Also, consider the following sources for what you will, primarily from Michael Quinn’s text The Mormon Hierachy: Origins of Power, if you’re familiar with Quinn and his background. I’m not advocating anything, just responding to the questions from my earlier post. Here it goes:

    1. “Smith was, in fact, willing to destroy the original manuscript of the 1843 polygamy revelation. Based on ‘Many (some of whom are now living)’ in Utah, Joseph F. Smith wrote that the prophet ‘consented for her [Emma Smith] to burn the paper containing the original copy of the revelation.’ An obscure 1853 publication also reported that the original text of the polygamy revelation ‘by Joseph Smith’s command was burned.'” (Quinn page 147) Quinn references Letter of Joseph F. Smith to William E. McLellin, 6 Jan. 1880, fd21, box 5, Scott G. Kenney Papers, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library.

    “Emma Smith remembered that the prophet did more than consent to the revelation’s destruction. According to her 1847 account, while alone in their Mansion House bedroom, Smith ‘told her that the doctrine and practice of polygamy was going to ruin the church’ and then he burned the revelation. Clayton’s diary shows just before the prophet returned to Emma [that night], he told his secretary to burn the Council of Fifty’s minutes. It makes sense that while he was alone with her the night of 23 June 1844, only hours before surrendering for trial, he directed his attention to destroying the written evidence of polygamy.” (Quinn page 147) For the Emma quote, Quinn references William E. McLellin letter to Joseph Smith III, 10 Jan. 1861 and July 1872, archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the Clayton reference, Quinn refers to Clayton diary 22 June 1844 with an explanation referring to other Clayton journal entries.

    2. “Heber C. Kimball said Smith sent word to the apostles on the east coast to destroy their garments they had received in the endowment since 1842.” (Quinn page 147) Quinn references History of the Church 6:519 which mentions the letter, and Heber C. Kimball’s diary, 21 Dec. 1845, found in the book “Smith, An Intimate Chronicle, page 224″

    3. “Smith removed his own endowment “robe” or garment before he went to Carthage Jail and told those with him to do likewise. His nephew Joseph F. Smith later explained, “When Willard Richards was solicited [by Smith] to do the same, he declined, and it seems little less than marvelous that he was preserved without so much as a bullet piercing his garments.”” (Quinn page 146) Quinn references Heber J. Grant journal sheets, 7 June 1907, LDS Archives.

    One last interesting quote from Brigham Young: “If Joseph Smith, Jun., the Prophet, had followed the Spirit of revelation in him he never would have gone to Carthage and never for one moment did he say that he had one particle of light in him after he started back from Montrose to give himself up in Nauvoo.”
    – A Series of Instructions and Remarks by Brigham Young at a Special Council, Mar. 21, 1858, Brigham Young Papers, Church Archives.

  19. “…Makes one wonder if that wasn’t the biggest mistake he made…”

    I think the biggest mistake he made probably was the printing press incident which set off this whole chain of events; regardless of what underwear he was wearing at the time or thereafter.

    I always found it odd that the accounts of Joseph’s death use words like “lamb to the slaughter” I believe Mr. Smith actually described himself in that way as well.

    I haven’t been to very many slaughters, but I can not recall ever seeing a lamb packing a six-shooter like Joseph did.

    Joseph could always have just ignored Emma’s request to come back to Missouri and stayed in Iowa.

    That’s the ticket. Just blame Emma.

  20. Blame Emma? How about blamming Mitt or that G’s do not hang to your ankles anymore? The real problem is they removed the button in the back of the G’s.

    For some of you, it is a joke.

    Blame Mitt anyways.

  21. SINCE its beginning in 1830, the Mormon Church has denied any continuous historical connection with Christianity.

    Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, claimed that in 1820 God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in the woods near his home in Palmyra, New York. Jesus said that for the preceding 1700 years (give or take a century–Mormons can’t say exactly) the world had been living in the darkness of a total apostasy from the gospel. This was the answer to a question young Smith had been pondering. “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of the sects was right, that I might know which to join. . . . I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong), and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me [Jesus] said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that their professors were all corrupt.”

    Smith convinced his credulous followers, most of them simple rural folk, that he’d been chosen, in what Mormons have come to call the First Vision, to be the first post-apostasy prophet–God’s hand-picked agent charged with restoring the true gospel.

    Over the next several years Smith purported to have received additional revelations from “heavenly personages.” He claimed that after establishing his church in Palestine, the resurrected Jesus appeared in South America to the Nephites (Jews who, Smith said, had migrated to the New World between 600 and 592 B.C.) and organized a parallel church there (3 Nephi 11-28).

    The new prophet seized on Jesus’ words in John 10:16 (“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd”) as proof of the Lord’s impending South American travel plans. The exegesis might impress one unfamiliar with the New Testament, but the usual understanding is that the “other sheep” Jesus referred to were the Gentiles, to whom the gospel also was extended.

    SMITH claimed the Nephite church had the same hierarchy and ordinances as its sister church in Palestine–living prophets, twelve apostles, seventy disciples–but things didn’t go well for either church. Both collapsed under the weight of pagan influences, dissolving into complete apostasy.

    The late Bruce McConkie, a Mormon apostle and, during his life, perhaps Mormonism’s leading theologian, explained things this way: “This universal apostasy began in the days of the ancient apostles themselves; and it was known to and foretold by them. . . . With the loss of the Gospel, the nations of the earth went into a moral eclipse called the Dark Ages. Apostasy was universal. . . . [T]his darkness still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored Gospel.”(Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966 ed.), 43-44. McConkie, ever pugnacious when his religion was at stake, made it clear that the Catholic Church was the wholly corrupt phoenix which rose from the ashes of Christ’s failed Church. “Iniquitous conditions in the various branches of the great and abominable church in the last days are powerfully described in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 28; Mormon 8:28-38; Doctrine and Covenants 10:56). It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church was most abominable above all other churches’ in [his] vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it,’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been part of this satanic organization. He saw that this most abominable of all churches was founded after the day of Christ and his apostles; that it took away from the gospel of the Lamb many covenants and many plain and precious parts; that it had perverted the right ways of the Lord; that it had deleted many teachings from the Bible; that this church was the mother of harlots; and that, finally, the Lord would again restore the gospel of salvation” (ibid., 1958 ed., 314-315). In recent years the Mormon Church has engaged in a strenuous public relations program designed to garner for itself acceptance as a mainstream “Christian” denomination. Anti-Catholic comments such as McConkie’s, although de rigeur among Mormon apologists in the past, are no longer allowed in official Mormon works.)

    Mormons believe the church Jesus established in Palestine, before its disintegration, was identical to the Mormon Church of today, with ceremonies such as baptism for the dead, a polytheistic concept of God (including eternal progression, the notion that God was a man who evolved into a god and that worthy Mormon males can evolve into gods), and other peculiarly Mormon beliefs. The fact that no historical evidence exists to corroborate this position doesn’t put much of a dent in the average Mormon’s mental armor.

    A chief reason is the devotion Mormons have for Joseph Smith. They hold he was God’s mouthpiece. His “revelations” came directly from God. This belief points to Mormonism’s weak point. If you can demonstrate to a Mormon that Smith was wrong about the great apostasy, Mormonism crashes down in a heap. If Smith was wrong about this point, he could not have been a true prophet of God, and Mormonism loses its basis (The Bible has strong words to say about false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:2-6 and 18:20-22.)

    If Smith was right about an apostasy, then Jesus was a pathetic failure when it came to establishing his Church. After all, what are we to think of his promises? If there really was a complete apostasy, how do we explain our Lord’s claim that his Church never would be overcome, “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:19)? What about his promise that he would be with his Church until the end of time (Matt. 28:20)? What about his promise to send the Holy Spirit as a guide who would abide with the Church (John 14:16, 26)? What about the Holy Spirit guiding the Church into all truth (John 16:13)?

    A key difficulty for Mormons is that they can’t say exactly when the apostasy took place, nor can they point to any definitive historical evidence of it. Other than Smith’s claims there is only an interior feeling or testimony on which Mormons can base their beliefs, but such subjective proof proves nothing.

    THERE are only a few choices: (1) Jesus’ words in the passages just cited were misreported; (2) Jesus did in fact say these things but didn’t really mean them–at least not in the way they had been understood by Christians for the first eighteen centuries; (3) Jesus was a liar, or (4) Joseph Smith was wrong and Jesus meant what he said.

    Mormonism’s claim to be the “restored” church hangs upon there having been a complete apostasy. The late James E. Talmadge, prolific Mormon writer and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims the restoration of the Gospel, and re-establishment of the Church as of old, in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. Such restoration and re-establishment, with the modern bestowal of the holy priesthood, would be unnecessary and indeed impossible had the Church of Christ continued among men with unbroken succession of priesthood and power, since the meridian of time [the time of Christ].

    “The restored Church affirms that a general apostasy developed during and after the apostolic period, and that the primitive Church lost its power, authority, and graces as a divine institution, and degenerated into an earthly organization only. The significance and importance of the great apostasy, as a condition precedent to the re-establishment of the Church in modern times, is obvious. If the alleged apostasy of the primitive Church was not a reality, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the divine institution its name proclaims”(James E. Talmadge, The Great Apostasy (Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1968 ed.), iii. For a discussion of apostolic succession see Warren H. Carroll, The Founding of Christendom and The Building of Christendom (Front Royal: Christendom College Press, 1985, 1987).) (emphasis added).

    TALMADGE is correct in evaluating the consequences, of course: if no apostasy, no restoration, and if no restoration, no Mormonism.

    Mormons misconstrue the biblical passages which do refer to a “great apostasy” from the Christian Church. They read into the text a complete apostasy. Scripture mentions an apostasy in Matthew 24:4-12; Mark 13:21-23; Luke 21:7-8; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 2 Timothy 3:1-7, 4:1-4; 2 Peter 2:1-3; and Jude 17-19. Most of these verses say “many” will fall away, and not one mentions a complete apostasy of the Church. Another complication for Mormons is that these verses say the apostasy will take place at the end times, the “latter days” as the King James version renders it. The second and third centuries were not the “latter days.”

    The next time you encounter the apostasy argument, ask the Mormon to read the entire context of whatever verse he’s quoting and show you where the writer mentions a complete apostasy. Usually he’ll claim a complete apostasy was the intent of the writer and that it’s at least implicitly taught in the Bible.

    The best way to refute this charge is to have the Mormon read Jesus’ promises regarding the doctrinal integrity and the temporal perpetuity of his Church: “On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18); “Behold, I will be with you always, even until the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20); “The Father . . . will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (John 14:16); “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and remind you of all I have told you” (John 14:26); “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:13). Go through each text, pointing out that none mentions a complete apostasy.

    LOOK also at the many New Testament verses which speak of the Church as Christ’s own body, such as Romans 12:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 3:4-6; 5:21-32; and Colossians 1:18. Since Christ is the mind and head of his Church (Eph. 4:15-16), animating the body, the members enjoy an organic spiritual union with him (John 15:1-8). It’s inconceivable that he would permit his body to disintegrate under the attacks of Satan. The apostle John reminds us that Jesus is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4)(1 Timothy 3:15 describes the Church as “The household of God . . . the pillar and foundation of truth.” In light of this, we find additional assurance that the house that Jesus built will not be pillaged by Satan. “No one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then, he can plunder his house” (Mark 3:27; cf. Matt. 12:29). Jesus is the “strong man” guarding his household, the Church.)

    Although, tragically, the gates of hell can and do prevail over individual Christians who succumb to mortal sin and cut themselves off from life-giving union with Christ (Rom. 11:22; Gal. 5:4; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 1 John 5:16-17), they can’t prevail against the Church Jesus built on the rock of Peter.(Jesus didn’t command his followers to do things he himself couldn’t do. “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on a rock” (Matt. 7:24- 25). It was no coincidence that Jesus used the words, “on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18; Luke 6:46-49). See also Hebrews 11:10 and 1 Peter 2:6-8.) If they could–if they did–Jesus is made to look foolish for having taught, “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish'” (Luke 15:28-30).

    Consider another of Jesus’ promises: “I will ask the Father and he will send you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans” (John 14:16-18). If Mormons are right about a complete apostasy, Jesus did leave us orphans–for 1700 years!

    One thing Catholics should never do is try to avoid the fact that there have been immoral and heterodox members in the Church. Jesus didn’t promise that the Church wouldn’t be menaced by immorality and heterodoxy. Rather, he promised that the wheat and chaff (good and evil) would be side by side in the Church until the end (Matt. 13:24-43, 47-50).

    IN a recent written exchange,(This Rock(July 1991), 18.) Mormon apologist Robert Starling, attempting to prove the divine origin of the Mormon Church, cited the Rabbi Gamaliel’s prediction regarding the New Testament Church: “[I]f this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39). Starling unwittingly undercut his own claim of a great apostasy. Gamaliel was right. The Church Jesus built could not be destroyed.(For a full-length examination of this issue see the two hour video-taped debate, A Catholic-Mormon Dialogue (Patrick Madrid vs. Gary Coleman, 1989), available from This Rock). This was the first-ever debate between a Catholic apologist and an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints.

    In refuting Mormonism’s theory of a complete apostasy (and in the process Mormonism itself), Catholics should be able to explain how the integrity of the Church was preserved. The answer: apostolic succession, the unbroken continuum of apostolic authority transmitted via the office of bishop. This doctrine is the logical and scriptural alternative to the Mormon concept of an apostasy and restoration.

    JESUS bestowed a unique authority on the twelve apostles. He conferred on them his power to bind and loose in heaven and on Earth (Matt. 18:18). He gave them his authority to forgive sins (John 20:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:18-20). He designated Peter as his vicar, giving him a special authority to govern the Church (Matt. 16:18-19; John 21:15-17). He promised the apostles that when they taught, he spoke through them, and that whoever rejected their teachings rejected Jesus himself (Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16).

    As the Church got off the ground, the apostles transmitted this authority to their successors (Acts 1:15-26). Paul exhorted a newly-ordained bishop, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you by the prophetic words with the imposition of hands [ordination] of the presbyterate” (1 Tim. 4:14).

    Later Paul reminded Timothy that the conferral of apostolic authority was not to be handed on to others without prudent consideration of a candidate’s qualifications: “As for the imposition of hands, do not bestow it inconsiderately” (1 Tim. 5:22).

    Apostolic succession can be seen in early Christian writings outside the New Testament. Around A.D. 80 Clement, a disciple of Peter and his third successor as bishop of Rome, in his letter to the Corinthians, expounded on many doctrines, including auricular confession, monotheism (Mormons claim the early Church believed in a “plurality of gods” and eternal progression), the ordained priesthood, and apostolic succession.

    One of Clement’s most telling lines is this: “Our apostles too were given to understand by our Lord Jesus Christ that the office of bishop would give rise to intrigues. For this reason, equipped as they were with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed the men mentioned before and afterward and laid down a rule once for all to this effect: When these men [bishops] die, other approved men shall succeed to their sacred ministry.”

    In A.D. 110, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch and disciple of the apostle John, while on his way in chains to Rome to be martyred for the faith, composed letters to six major centers of Catholicism along his route (Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna, Rome). Ignatius provides us with valuable insights into the doctrines and practices of the Christian Church at the close of the first century–only one generation removed from the time of Christ. His writings make it clear that the early Church was thoroughly Catholic.

    His letters contain a recurring exhortation to remain in communion with the bishops who are successors to the apostles:

    “Be eager, therefore, to be firmly grounded in the precepts of the Lord and the apostles, in order that whatever you do you may prosper, physically and spiritually in faith and love, in the Son and the Father and in the Spirit . . . together with your most distinguished bishop and that beautifully-woven spiritual crown which is your presbytery and the godly deacons. Be subject to the bishop and to one another” (Letter to the Magnesians 13:1-2).

    Another Church Father, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, explained in A.D. 180, “It is possible, then, for everyone to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors [down] to our own times; men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about.

    “Since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which come down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With this church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree–all the faithful in the whole world–and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition” (Against Heresies, 3, 3:1-2) (For a thorough treatment of early Church writings see William Jurgens’ three-volume Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1970) and Johannes Quasten’s four-volume, Patrology (Westminster, Maryland: Christian Classics, 1986). The best available critique of Mormonism, including the First Vision, is found in Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s Changing World of Mormonism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980).)

    THE Mormon Church simply has no convincing answer to the ocean of biblical and historical evidence of which this is just a drop. All of it contradicts the complete apostasy theory. Yet there’s another problem with the theory: the problem of silence. There’s no evidence of any outcry from first or second century “Mormons” denouncing the introduction of “Catholic heresies.”

    Mormons might respond that, since Catholics gained the upper hand in the struggle for control of the true Church, they simply expunged any trace of the Mormons–a comforting but unviable argument. We have records of many controversies that raged in the early days of the Church (we know in great detail what turmoil the early Church passed through as it fought off various threats to its existence), and there just is no evidence–none at all–that Mormonism existed prior to the 1830’s.

    It’s unreasonable to assume the Catholic Church would allow the survival of copious records chronicling the history, teachings, and proponents of dozens of other heresies, but would entirely destroy only the records of early Mormonism.

    If Mormons want their claim of a complete apostasy to be taken seriously, they must evince biblical and historical evidence supporting it. So far they’ve come up empty-handed. Honest investigators will see the unavoidable truth: The Mormon “great apostasy” doctrine is a myth. There never has been–nor will there ever be–a complete apostasy. Jesus Christ promised that his Church, established on the solid rock of Peter, will remain forever. We have his Word on it.

  22. Kim, I would expand your statement (and alter it a bit):

    People who are intellectually incapable of sustained discourse love to cut and paste.

    It’s almost like if they don’t spit it ALL out right now, they might forget where they were going with the line of reasoning.

  23. As Easter fast approaches, I call upon my powers of thread resurrection and add this comment:

    Top 10 reasons to elect Mitt Romney

    10) The National Cathedral could be renamed the National Tabernacle

    9) NASA could commission a satellite to ‘hie to Kolob’

    8) The Secret Service could be renamed the Sacred Service

    7) All official government prayers could include the phrase ‘that we all can get home safely’

    6) Napoleon Dynamite could get someone other than Pedro elected

    5) The President could not only explain things in Layman’s terms, but also Lemuel’s terms

    4) The President could issue pardons in exchange for 100% home teaching

    3) Not only could he pronounce ‘Nuclear’ but also ‘Mahonri Moriancumer’ and ‘Maher Shalal Hash Baz’.

    2) At his inauguration he would swear on the Bible ‘as far as it is translated correctly’

    1) Finally a first family large enough to fill up the White House

  24. Of the top 10 reasons to elect Mitt, that is.

    Don’t know why my post is in such HUGE print though! Yikes!

  25. I think the first presidency will ask Mitt NOT to make a full bid. WAY too many skeletons in the LDS closet; a United States Presidential run by a Mormon would facilitate the need for top-notch spin doctors working around the clock JUST to stay on top of polygamy and Mountain Meadows. It would be disasterous for the church.

  26. Colleen, if the First Presidency were really planning to violate its long-standing policy and do what you suggest, don’t you think they would have done it by now?

  27. Colleen, if the First Presidency were really planning to violate its long-standing policy and do what you suggest, don’t you think they would have done it by now? >>

    Possibly. At the risk of being thought of as a troll or “anti-mormon” I say as a fact that in the past the church has done extreme things to keep questionable parts of its history buried. I’d hope I were wrong, but seeing Romney suddenly drop out wouldn’t surprise me.

    Peace out… colleen

  28. hey, i have a question. with mitt romney running, i wonder what the degree of political motivation was involved in the pbs program on mormonism.

  29. Since Romney was repeatedly shown in the film, his choice to run seems to have been a factor in the decision to make the film, or the decision to air it, or both.

  30. hey, i have a question. with mitt romney running, i wonder what the degree of political motivation was involved in the pbs program on mormonism.

    I wondered the same thing. That and the release of September Dawn–It’s just the beginning. I plan to sit back and watch the fireworks with interest.

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