History of the Church of Jesus Christ
When I left the Mormon Church God awoke in me a need to know about the Church of Jesus Christ – the real church of Christianity. I began wondering what really happened to the body of Christ after Jesus died.
I read every theologian and ancient historian I could get my hands on. Edersheim to Kitto, Bunyan to Luther and of course all the writings of Josephus. I also spent two solid years studying the missionary travels of Paul.
My thirst for knowledge about its history seemed insatiable; likewise, the amount of books that have been written about it is inexhaustible. Sadly, LDS church members are taught to refrain from reading such literature and even from going inside a Christian bookstore. When I was LDS I didn’t even know Christian bookstores were in existence – true story.
The Mormon behavior towards non-faith promoting literature reminds me of the “Book Burnings of 1938” in Germany. Thousands of non-German, spirit promoting books were thrown into a pile near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and set ablaze. The demonstrations actually took place all throughout Germany and most of Austria. You can find memorials for this in Frankfurt, Munich and Strassbourg as well.
They burned books from Einstein, Helen Keller, Luther, Hemingway, the Bible, Torah, and on the list goes; in Berlin alone more than 25,000 books were burned. If the book wasn’t printed or authorized through the German establishment it wasn’t allowed to be read by anyone in the land.
The similarities between the actions of these two establishments are remarkable. While Smith didn’t order the murder of 6 million people, the behavioral patterns of these two power hungry people are worthy of note.
I also think it would be beneficial for us to post some of the truth regarding the history of the Christian church. The following information comes from our radio program “Way of the Cross” that we recorded a few years ago. On the program we talked about the two sections of Mormon scripture we found in Doctrine and Covenants, and compared those to the passage found in 3rd Nephi.
Then we discussed the first 300 years of Christianity, the number of people that were martyred, what percentage of the known world were practicing Christianity, number of converts and countries the gospel message was had been taken into.
We pulled statistical info from sources listed here:
Doctrine and Covenants
John Kitto’s, An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Bible.
The Search for the Twelve Apostles by William Steuart McBirnie, PhD
Jesus’ Six Apostles
D&C 7:1-8; “And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you. And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee… And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desired of me that he might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightest speedily come unto me in my kingdom….And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James; and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come. Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires…”
There are a couple of different ways you can interpret this passage of Mormon scripture. You could look at it and believe that none of the three apostles mentioned here died. You could also look at it and think that John was the only one that didn’t die. If the latter is true then where are the other two apostles now – weren’t they supposed to be ministering to John?
To summarize, they’ve claimed at least one of the apostles, John, never died. Of course just the opposite is true. We have historical as well as biblical accounts which serve as proof that John and the other two apostles did in fact die. Let’s take a look at what happened to all three of the apostles mentioned in the passage we find in the Doctrine and Covenants.
James was the first apostle to be martyred circa 44 AD. James, the brother of John was present at the transfiguration and then journeyed to Judea, Samaria and Spain to spread the gospel. Herod ordered James’ death at which time the guard was converted by his testimony of Jesus. Thus, the guard was beheaded as well. (1)
John died peacefully on Patmos circa 100 AD after being arrested while living inEphesus. While his brother James was the first apostle to die, John would be the last.
Jesus referred to John and James as the Sons of Thunder. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and traveled with Jesus on His first tour through Galilee. He was present at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11) and owned a home inJerusalemwhere it is believed the interview with Nicodemus took place.
He was the one the Bible refers to as “the one whom Jesus loved”; he was present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37) and at the transfiguration (Matt. 17). At the crucifixion, Jesus placed Mary into John’s care.
He moved to Ephesus before the destruction of Jerusalem and was subsequently arrested and exiled to the isle of Patmos, off the coast of Turkey. (2)
Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and was given the promise of authority in the new church. (Matt. 16:15-17). Although he had a moment of betraying Jesus during the arrest and crucifixion, Peter was the first to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead (1 Cor. 15:5).
He survived nine months in the Mamertine prison cell. This cell is said to be the pits of hell, no other torture chamber has ever been made like Mamertine. He was manacled in an upright position to a wall while never being able to lie down to rest. During this time he glorified God and brought numerous converts into the fold of Christianity. Jesus alluded to the way in which Peter would die in John 21:18. From all that, history tells us he was crucified in Rome upside down believing he wasn’t worthy enough to die in the same manner as the Lord, circa 67 AD. (3)
Now the reason I took a side road in explaining the problems with this passage when compared to history and the Bible was to serve three purposes.
1. D&C 7 is a false prophecy.
2. The church was indeed operating very well after Jesus’ death, therefore proving there was no need for a “restoration”.
3. I am praying that by studying the true, historical facts it may dispel the darkness of the lies in Mormonism as well as inspire members of the LDS Church to find out more information for themselves.
And then there are the obvious questions…
If John never died, where is he today and why the need for a restoration?
What purpose does it serve the Church to have this as “scripture”?
How does this cause growth in the faith of the members today?
Also see 3 Nephi 28:1-40 for similar story. The entire chapter is filled with speculations as to where the three Nephite disciples lived and how their bodies were sustained for the past 2,000 years.
With Love in Christ;
1 – John Kitto’s, An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Bible.
2 – William Steuart McBirnie, PhD; The Search for the Twelve Apostles
3 – Ibid
All information below is quoted from Christian History Institute
AD 100 (TWO GENERATIONS AFTER CHRIST)
|Percent Christian: 0.6%|
|Breakdown: 70% nonwhite, 30% white|
|Evangelization: 28% of world|
|Scriptures: 6 languages|
|Total martyrs since AD 33: 25,000 (1.2% of all Christians ever; rate 370 per year)|
Source: David Barrett.
Christianity begins to emerge from its Jewish womb. A key transition takes place at the time of Jewish Revolt against Roman authority. In 70 AD Christians do not take part in the revolt and relocate toPellainJordan.
• The Jews at Jamnia in 90 AD confirm the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. The same books are recognized as authoritative by Christians.
• Persecutions test the church. Jewish historian Josephus seems to express surprise that they are still in existence in his Antiquities in latter part of first century.
• Key persecutions include Nero at Rome who blames Christians for a devastating fire that ravages the city in 64 AD He uses Christians as human torches to illumine his gardens.
The Lord has not returned as soon as expected, so organization is needed to continue the ministry, resist persecution, oppose heretical teachings, and spread the word. Thus the office and role of the bishop becomes stronger.
• While persecution continues intermittently from without, heresies pose major dangers from within and must be answered. Heresies include:
GNOSTICISM — A kind of New Age movement that claimed special knowledge.
MARCIONISM — An attempt to reduce the Scriptures–both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures — to a few select books [Marcion was ex-communicated from the body of Christ for his heretical teachings even though his father was a bishop*]
MONTANISM — A charismatic movement that got carried away with new revelations, prophecies, and judgmental attitudes toward other Christians.
• Apologists, or explainers of the faith, emerge to combat heresy and answer the church’s opponents. Key apologists include Irenaeus and Justin Martyr.
• The churches are not legal and have no public forum or church buildings. Local persecution can break out at any time. A profound public witness emerges as Christians are put to death because they will not deny the faith at any cost. Examples: Martyrdom of 84-year-old bishop Polycarp (AD 155) and a whole group mercilessly tortured atLyonsin AD 177.
• The strongest centers of the Church are Asia Minor andNorth Africa.Romeis also a center of prestige.
• The church continues its amazing spread reaching all classes, particularly the lower. Callistus–a former slave–actually becomes bishop ofRomeand makes claims for special importance of the Roman bishop.
*Addition in brackets not included from Christian History Institute website.
AD 200 (SIX GENERATIONS AFTER CHRIST)
|Percent Christian: 3.5%|
|Breakdown: 68% nonwhite, 32% white|
|Evangelization: 32% of world|
|Scriptures: 7 languages|
|Total martyrs since AD 33: 80,000 (0.5% of all Christians ever; rate 48 per year)|
Source: David Barrett.
At beginning of century, Edessa (Urfa in modern Turkey) becomes first Christian state.
• Emperor Septimus Severus (202-211) persecutes; forbids conversion to Christianity. Then a generation of peace for the church. Amazing growth and spread of faith continues and church buildings begin to be built.
•North Africaa key Christian center.Egyptalone has a million Christians by the end of 3rd century.CarthageandAlexandrialeading centers of Christian theological development with such figures as Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria.
• AD 248 the 1,000th anniversary ofRomebut all is not celebration as threats to the empire increase from neighboring populations on borders.
• The first empire-wide persecution instituted under Decius in AD 250. Everyone must offer pagan sacrifice and show certificate of proof.
• Church has to deal with the difficult problem of how to handle the “lapsed”–those who relented during the persecution and now want back into the church.
• Church problems not only political. Intellectual attacks must also be answered. Porphyry writes Against the Christians attacking apostles, church leaders, Gospels and Old Testament. Origen around 245 answers attack of Celsus written 70 years earlier and apparently still a threat to the church.
• The role of the bishop continues to grow in strength.
• Before 300 Anthony goes into desert as a hermit, an important early step in development of monasticism–which will be a kind of protest movement against worldly Christianity and an alternative approach to spiritual commitment.
AD 300 (NINE GENERATIONS AFTER CHRIST)
|Percent Christian: 10.4%|
|Breakdown: 66.4% nonwhite, 33.6% white|
|Evangelization: 35% of world|
|Scriptures: 10 languages|
|Total martyrs since AD 33: 410,000 (0.5% of all Christians ever; recent rate 1,540 per year)|
Source: David Barrett.