1. Began in the days of the Apostles:
- John A. Tvedtnes: "In view of the evidence from the ancient texts ... it seems clear that the general apostasy in the early Church was the result of individual apostasy by dissident Christians who not only rejected the Lord's chosen servants, but sometimes set themselves up in their place. With the passing of the apostles and other recognized authorities of the early Church, these rebellious individuals filled the void and brought their own opinions, rather than the Lord's revealed truth, into the Church." (Rejection of Priesthood Leaders as a Cause of the Great Apostasy, Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research)
2. After the departure of the apostles, spiritual gifts ceased to exist in the Church.
- President Joseph Fielding Smith: "This condition also led to the universal belief, which the world holds even now, that the canon of scripture is full and there is to be no more scripture, notwithstanding the Lord has revealed through his servants that revelation is to continue." (Essentials In Church History, p8)
3. In the 4th Century, the Church as it had evolved, became the state religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine.
- Over time the simple principles of the Christian faith were embellished almost beyond recognition with pomp and mystic rites borrowed from pagan worship.
- Doctrines of the gospel were changed:
- The doctrine of the Godhead became one of mystery.
- The ordinance of baptism was changed to sprinkling.
- Infant baptism was instituted.
- Changes in the administration of the Sacrament were instituted.
- Those entering the ministry were forbidden to marry.
God prepared the way for Restoration
"Beginning in the 14th Century, the Lord began to prepare those social, educatinal, religious, economic, and governmental conditions under which he could more easily resotre the gospel for the last time." Bruce R. McConkie Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed (1966), 717.
2 - Reformers There were many great ones; I just learned of William Wilberforce last night (Amazing Grace is the show/video about his contribution - excellent watch!)
3 - Americas with independent peoples
4 - Constitution with religious freedom
Many truths were revealed in the First Vision
"I submit that in the few minutes that Joseh Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussion through all centries of time" President Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, 24 Oct. 1998, 6)
Truths revealed through First Vision:
- God and Jesus live
- They are two separate beings
- God answers prayers
- Revelation has not ceased
- Satan is real
- Satan has power but God's is greater
- No church at that time had fullness
How did God prepare Joseph Smith to be a prophet? How are we using our personal trials and afflictions to become better servants of God?