The Apostasy Foretold

©1997 Barry Bickmore. All Rights Reserved.

Reference Info - glossary of ancient Christian writers and documents, guide to abbreviations, bibliography.

When faced with the LDS belief in an apostasy, many people have asked, "If God is omnipotent, how could He let His Church fail and fade away?" We'll address this question directly later on, but for now it should be enough to say that not only did God let it happen - He even predicted it through His prophets and apostles.

Paul spoke of this apostasy ("falling away") when he told the elders at Ephesus that "wolves" would soon enter the flock: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."1 Indeed, Paul had no illusions about the survival of the Church when he wrote to Timothy that the saints would turn away from sound doctrine:

    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.2

Notice how Paul entreated Timothy to do his duty as an evangelist, but indicated that those in his charge would forsake the faith. In the same letter Paul intimated that "all they which are in Asia be turned away from me"3 - and Asia Minor was exactly where most of the Christian converts lived.4

Peter also warned the saints that there would soon be many false teachers among them:

    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.5

This was not to be a partial, but a total apostasy. Amos prophesied that there would be a famine of hearing the word of God:

    Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.6

If one wanders from sea to sea searching for the word of the Lord and can't find it, it's a good bet it isn't to be had anywhere.

    Similarly, John saw in vision that a beast, representing an agent of Satan, was allowed to "make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."7


1 Acts 29-30.

2 2 Timothy 4:3-5.

3 2 Timothy 1:15.

4 Davies, J.G., The Early Christian Church, p. 86.

5 2 Peter 2:1-2.

6 Amos 8:11-12.

7 Revelation 13:7.