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Last Update:  5/2013

Is There One True Church?

Mormons believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth and had to be restored due to a total apostasy.  This total apostasy supposedly took place after the Apostles of Jesus died (authority lost) and sometime after the formation of the “great and abominable church” in which bad scribes had taken away many “plain and precious parts” of the Bible.  Many Mormons believe this to be the Catholic church which was founded in the early 4th century AD.  This is Book of Mormon scripture comes from a prophecy given by the prophet Nephi and is described in chapters 13 and 14 of 1 Nephi.  When the Apostles of Jesus died, there was no more priesthood authority remaining to keep the true church running.  The restoration of this total apostasy and lost authority then took place around 1830 with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  

1 Nephi 13:26 “And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.” (emphasis added)

1 Nephi 13:29 “And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (emphasis added)

1 Nephi 14:3 “And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.” (emphasis added)

1 Nephi 14:10 “And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (emphasis added)

1 Nephi 14:17 “And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.”(emphasis added)As you can plainly see from these verses, Joseph Smith was the first person to attack other Christian churches with these bold statements from the Book of Mormon.  So why can't Christians respond with respect and love to defend this attack without Mormons claiming persecution?

Joseph Smith even famously boasted of his abilities regarding his church.  Notice the separation he makes between his LDS church and Jesus' church.  

"Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet...When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, v.6, p. 408-409).

This seven volume church history set was penned by Joseph Smith himself, subsequently published and printed by the Deseret Book Company and can be found in your local ward library.

Let’s break this up into three sections and examine these claims and see what the Bible has to say with regard to a total apostasy, lost priesthood authority and the true church.  There is an additional section which provides characteristics of churches claiming they are the "only true church."