Does the Old Testament prophesy the Great Apostasy or is the idea Ad Hoc philosophy?
Debate Rounds (5)
To me this seemed like a great topic so I asked, "Can you demonstrate that the Old Testament indeed prophesies this?" I received no answer save that I should talk to a missionary about it.
I couldn"t help myself and asked, "At least you can show me where the Great Apostasy is unfolding in the New Testament?" For this I received the same answer.
In frustration I asked, "Well, what historical evidence is there for the Great Apostasy?" I got a different answer here and it was, "The Restoration of the Church by Joseph Smith."
In short, there was a Restoration. Therefore, there had to be a Great Apostasy.
This by definition is Ad Hoc. To save the desired end, Mormonism, I believe that good people, for the sake of their prophet"s name, had to go out hunting for evidence and try to shoehorn the great apostasy theory into the Old, and New Testament to make the only historical proof, the existence of Mormon, seem more credible.
This debate is intended to be a series to give a Mormon representative an opportunity to make a case for the Great Apostasy. Here it is limited to in the Old Testament prophesy claim. This leave me in the very choice position of testing the claims and see if any of them hold water.
I acknowledge I have the easy side of the debate and admire anyone who can bring forward a case. That said, it will not be enough to simply fire scattered bible verses but demonstrate how they relate to the subject.
The person you spoke with is someone who learned just enough to not know what they were talking about, or were afraid they didn't know enough, and referred you to the missionaries. Or it may have just been a ploy to get you in touch with the missionaries.
I would ask that you define "The Great Apostasy", or allow me to define it.
I will present my arguments using the Bible, (not the Book of Mormon, or other LDS cannon), sources written by Latter-day Saints, and non-Mormons, as well as anything I might find on the internet.
The Great Apostasy, as explained by my neighbor, is the great falling away of the church as a whole that happened as a result of evil influences that removed the plain and precious truths of the Gospel Principles and this Great Apostasy was complete at the death of the last apostle where the authority, or keys, of the priesthood could not be transmitted and were taken from the Earth back to heaven. The world then was in this darkness until Joseph Smith, appointed by Jesus, restored the church to earth.
Again, it was said that the Old Testament prophesied this event, it begins to unfold in the New Testament, and history demonstrates it. This debate is restricted to the Old Testament prophesy claim. All materials are welcome as they pertain to the claim. I applaud your source restrictions but would ask that the New Testament remain on the side unless it directly correlates to the Old Testament prophesy.
Due to the 2000 character limit, I will present only biblical passages in this round, and dispute hermeneutics later. If space permits, I will also present historical support in later rounds. The character limit prevents me from elaborating on the following passages. They are presented as prophecies/evidence of the apostasy that occurred after Christ established His Church.
Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. --Isaiah 9:17
Pro cites v.17 which is the second in a trio of judgements focused on Israel. The first occurs in v.8-12, Isaiah reveals an attack from the Syrians and the Philistines as a result of Israel's pride and persistence in rebelling against God even though they had already been crushed by previous judgment. The Second v.13-17, Isaiah reveals the destruction of leaders and false prophets and also to the widows and orphans because they do not turn back to him. Last, (v.18-21) Isaiah reveals a famine and civil war with the southern kingdom of Judah. I believe v.17 fails for a few reason.
1)Isaiah prophesied against the Northern Kingdom not the South.
After the death of Solomon, God"s people were divided into two Kingdoms. Israel in the north and Judah to the south. God renders three judgements on Israel alone and not the entire people God. The civil war with southern kingdom of Judah is part of the third punishment and not a condemnation of Judah. This isn't prophesy about great apostasy in the time of Isaiah, how can this represent a great apostasy in the future?
As mentioned in the previous round, the Great Apostasy was so bad that the authority of the priesthood was taken away. V.17 only indicated the hypocrites and evildoers who are specified in v.15 as the ancient and honorable and false prophets. There is no indication that the Levitical priesthood would be removed or that it would need to be restored. This does not fit the LDS Model presented.
3)The Christ prophesy.
V.6-7 Isaiah prophesied that a new king is going to come and upon his rule his government will have no end and it will last even forever. If anything, v.6-7 says there will be no great apostasy after Christ comes because, as it says at the end of v.7, "The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
I will concede that Isaiah 9 may be focused on the Israel of Isaiah's day. The limit didn't allow me to elaborate. It is presented as a tentative passage, because even the most ardent scholars are not always able to separate Isaiah's present day warnings from his future prophecies, and verse 21 can certainly be applied to both.
I am unaware of any OT prophecies about the priesthood. The loss of priesthood is found in the NT, from which I have been restricted.
"By the zeal of the Lord", Christ cannot be dethroned, but that doesn't mean He won't allow evil to remove His Church from the Earth for a while so that His judgements can be just. Jeremiah 23:5
That God will abandon His people when they forsake Him or fail to obey Him can be seen numerous times in the OT, and can be summoned up in Isaiah 63:10.
History gives us an example of severe forsaking and disobedience in this summary:
It is well known that betrayal and persecution of the early Christian church was devastating to the followers. Christian leaders were condemned and killed until none were left. At least there is no reliable record of succession after Peter. Hundreds of years later, pagan leaders eased or ended persecution of Christian followers, but not without contaminating the doctrine. Religious leadership turned to political battle for position. Interpretation was shot back and forth, as if out of cannons of war. Bloodshed ruled the church for hundreds of years, the most powerful sides forcing their version of doctrine on the weaker sides. Power came first, position came second, and truth came last. 
It is not unreasonable to believe that God would not allow evil or darkness to run over the Earth, else the Flood would not have been necessary. At least to those who believe it was global.
When Jesus Became God by Richard E. Rubenstein
While I appreciate the concession does the Pro side also concede the list of prophetic passages offered in round 2?
Is 9:21 Rather than Isaiah condemning Judah, it is more reasonable to assert that the civil war is an effect of the famine in Israel and likely not getting food from their enemies the Syrians and Philistines. What choice would Israel but to unite against Judah for survival?
With regards to Is 63:10, this is not in reference to the Great Apostasy definition provided in round 2. The debate is not geared to proving whether or not some of God"s chosen people can forsake Him and apostatize but that an apostasy so cataclysmic occurs that the priesthood is taken from the earth and all of his people are in error. If we read a few chapters ahead we can see that there are those who did not forsake God. 65:8 says He does not discard all his servants but (v.11-12) those that forsake God are put to the sword. If he keeps good servants, they must not be apostate.
The Rubenstein does not address Isaiah, O.T. prophesy ,or any prophesy but only Post N.T. events at best, I won"t address it. If Rubenstein does not connect his own accusation to O.T. Prophesy, on what grounds should this be given as evidence of prophesy fulfillment?
I agree, it is not unreasonable to believe that God would allow evil. I disagree that he would allow his people to apostatize utterly and completely without first providing a remedy. Deut. 31:16 " 32:47 Demonstrates that God foreknows the disobedience of his people and, as a remedy, has Moses write and recite a song that is driven into the memory of future generations. Moses concludes, "For this is no trivial matter for you, but rather your very life; by this word you will enjoy a long life on the land you are crossing the Jordan possess."
The passages that are not in direct reference to the Great Apostasy, are in support of it. As is Rubenstein's book, which goes into great detail about how the church became utterly corrupted. I have other reliable sources as well, but the character limit restricts me from using them.
OT passages, in and of themselves, are insufficient to prove anything about anything. There is not a passage in the Bible, however obvious in meaning, or prosaically worded, that cannot be manipulated to mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. Referential support is required to substantiate hermeneutical applications.
While I appreciate the opportunity to have this debate, I cannot allow my opponent to "bind my hands" by allowing only OT passages, and then only being able to support them by stating that they "must be prophecies", because I say so, and the Bible says so. Such circular logic fails miserably.
I initially stated that I would be employing outside sources, and received no objection. Only a restriction to avoid the NT, where it was not directly related to passages in the OT.
As I admitted, Isaiah 9 may provide a somewhat questionable support of the Great Apostasy, but the other passages I provided are more certain.
Since it was the first comment to address, I attempted to give clarity to Is 9:21 as I believed it was a reassertion.
I reject the Rubenstein quote not to tie your hands but because the quote does not demonstrate that this happened because of O.T. prophesy. I believe the Rubenstein quote addressed similarities in God's ordinary activity at best but does not address prophesy in the O.T. in correlation to Is 63:10 or any other. As I have the space I can add a point of disagreement with Rubenstein about Peter"s succession. Irenaeus of Lyon records in his work, "Against Heresies" (Book 3, Ch. 3),
The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy.
Linus is a plausible candidate as he knew Paul and since Paul was in Rome it is likely he spoke of him there and he would be received by Church there. To the Credit of Irenaeus, he studied under Bishop Polycarp who was the disciple of the Apostle John.[Four Witnesses by Rod Bennett]
Last, if the other passages were more convincing, it would have been nice to demonstrate how they work rather then speculating on Rubenstein. As this is the last round, I have no choice but to conclude as you have said, "There is not a passage in the Bible, however obvious in meaning, or prosaically worded, that cannot be manipulated to mean whatever the reader wants it to mean." It is more reasonable to assert the LDS Great Apostasy Theory is Ad Hoc.
I am very grateful to Kyle for accepting my very first online debate and not complaining once at my bumbling! While I have learned a lot and have more resources to study, the debate for me is unsettled.
In addition, Mormons are not the only religion that believes in a Great Apostasy. In fact, the only religion that rejects any form of apostasy is the Catholic church. Having been raised by a Catholic Step-father, and my brother being Catholic, I do not state that disrespectfully, just as a matter of fact.
Limited space prevented me from elaborating on the passages I presented, and only presenting one or two would have shown weak support for a Great Apostasy. With all due respect, a 2000 character limit was too restrictive, as can be seen.
The history dealing with Linus and the episcopate is mingled with legend, and completely obscured. Texts for the early history of the Church are horribly contradictory, and absolutely unreliable. Even if they were reliable, a succession of leaders does not preclude complete religious corruption and loss of authority, which is clearly seen in histories widely accepted by many scholars. 
I believe I have shown in the limited space allotted me, that a Great Apostasy was in fact prophesied, did occur, and that the Mormon's belief is not subject to Ad Hoc philosophy, whether that belief is true or not. Nor can it be applied to any other religion, such as the Protestant Reformation Movement. I feel that I have shown that my argument has a sound base.
 James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church, which quotes:
Mourret, Histoire generale de l'Eglise
Shotwell and Loomis, See of Peter
And many others that space does not permit me to include.
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