latter-day saints, apostasy, church doctrine


Our first purpose will be to show that Joseph Smith's sense of an apostasy from the true Christian faith was ratified in the first vision; furthermore, that this understanding changed and developed during the early years of his prophetic training. Our second objective will be to examine how the doctrine of the apostasy was understood and taught by both leaders and missionaries within the first four years of the organization of the Church of Christ in 1830. Although this is a subjective rather than a quantitative study, we have concluded, after an extensive review of many of the contemporary sources, that early church views of the apostasy were very pronounced and multifaceted. In particular we note their teaching of the universality of the apostasy, of so great a corruption and contamination of the Christian church as to beg the imminent return of Christ, that more attention was given to the fallen state of Christianity than merely the loss of priesthood, and, finally, that the apostasy extended to a scattering of an ancient covenant people as much as it was a retreat from theological truth.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship




Religious Education


Church History and Doctrine