Talk:Great Apostasy

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Dates? Events?[edit]

How would you establish a date for the Great Apostasy? Can you name the year or the decade that the last clergyman died, or any other specific event? Even if it was a gradual process, there should be some event or narrow time frame you can point to and say, because of historical evidence that such and such was said, or such and such was done, the Great Apostasy was definitely complete by this time. This is the case for the other items on the chart. Wesley 17:05 10 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I hope you sincerely find it helpful. I fear coming off as a proselytizer, windbag, whatever, which is not my intent. The "Church" has not ever issued an official proclamation that the apostasy definitely occured by time x. I think some early Church leaders in sermons and such indicate that the apostasy in terms of leadership of the early church could have been complete as early as the death of the last of the original apostles in the 1st century. (By original, the successor apostles whose legitimate appointment is mentioned in Acts should also be included.) So in terms of the list of successors (to which you kindly linked) for Mark, Peter and Andrew, Mormons would probably say, that there were no successors to them (or other apostles either). The theory would go that: 1) neither one of those individuals would have authority alone to appoint/ordain a successor, only the apostles as a quorum could do so; and 2) the supposed successors at most could only be appointed/ordained in a lower capacity such as a bishop (which in Mormon priesthood is closer to the bottom of the ladder in priesthood hierarchy) and a bishop only has authority to lead a local congregation, not authority to appoint successor bishops, let alone higher up apostles or carry on the leadership of the church at large. For Mormons, the only relevant priesthood quorum that would matter in terms of whether an apostasy occured at the leadership level is the quorum of the apostles. Either once the majority of the quorum died (or apostasized individually), OR the last of the apostles died, the apostasy could be said to be complete. (You tell me who was the last apostle to die, I don't So, even if there were still a lot of bishops left, once the apostles were out of the picture, there would be no quorum or individual left to appoint successors with authority to lead the entire church (or even to appoint bishops with authority to lead local congregations). Once all the legitimately ordained bishops were out of the picture, there would not even be any legitimate local leadership. For Mormons this could easily have occured in the 1st century, although Mormonism would probably anticipate that it would take more time for grievous corruptions of the doctrines and practices to set in. So, while JWs would start the apostasy around the Nicene Creed, Mormons would say that was a culmination of what had already happened with the death of the apostles. I'm not able to get to your question about how Mormonism considers historical evidence in this regard, because I've tied up for the rest of the night. I'll try to get to it tomorrow — B
It's rather convenient that there are no dates as establishing a continuity of belief before and after such a date would pretty much torpedo the whole fallacy of a great apostasy. But setting an early date, when surviving records are scarce, brings up another problem. By what authority was the biblical canon established? Why is the Didache not in the Bible? Why were the deuterocanonical books included? An apostate Church would have no such teaching authority. Without authority there is no canon and therefore the Bible is useless.
TMLutas 20:21, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
It would be difficult to establish a definitive date, as there is no true authoritative organization here. The "Church" is far from an organized buerocracy, with Catholocism and Protestantism unlikely to agree on such a thing, and no real way to determine universal acceptance among Protestants, as they have no figurehead equivalent to the Catholic Pope.

-- 00:33, 8 November 2007 (UTC)::

Mkmcconn stated: "It is part of Mormon propaganda that Protestants have a doctrine of a "great apostasy"."

Mkmcconn, it's false to say that Mormon's propogandize that Protestants have a doctrine of "great apostasy". The Church does not endorse that position, it doesn't encourage its members to accept that position, and individual Mormons don't claim that. But maybe the JWs endorse the position. Looking back at the history of the article, it was Clutch, a JW, who amended the article early on to state that "The Great Apostasy is a belief held by most non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christian denominations". Now whether that is a true statement of belief and whether that belief is also doctrine of respective Protestants is not clear. What I mean is, the Pre-Restorationist Protestants seem to have a belief and/or doctrine of apostasy, but it does also appear to be quite different than the Restorationists view of an apostasy-at-large. B

Rmhermen asked "Which denominations use this actual term?[:the Great Apostasy]"

Mormon leaders started to use that phrase beginning around 1850s. I don't think the earliest Mormon leaders, like Joseph Smith, ever used that phrase. Before 1850s they used various phrases to resort to an apostasy-at-large, but the "Great Apostasy" phrase started to become normative among Mormons sometime after 1850s. The concept would generally be normative among resorationist churches since there is no point in having a restoration if there has been no apostasy. Among restorationists, I think the phrase is normative among JWs and probably Church of Christ and Seventh Day Adventists, but I doubt it is normative among the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Similarly there is no point in having a reformation if there was not apostasy to a certain degree, but not so far as to make it necessary to have a restoration rather than merely a reformation. B

Wesley said and asked: "The continuity in [the] teaching and liturgy [of the popes and patriarchs] is also historically demonstrable through examination of representative writings, and seeing which books and letters were being circulated in different areas. How does Mormonism interpret such historical evidence?"

Yes, historical evidence is irreplaceable to Mormonism, but I don't think most Mormons take an interest in whether their is historical continuity (of teaching and liturgy) or not among the popes/patriarchs unless the more pertinent issue is clearly and affirmatively demonstrated of whether their is continuity between the apostle and his supposed-successor-pope/patriarch. Another factor is that in Mormonism, bishops do not have authority to pronounce or otherwise develop doctrine and liturgy--it is out of their jurisdiction to do so; their job is to keep local congregations in line with the doctrine and liturgy set out by their superiors, the apostles. So, even if there were evidence of a particular doctrine or liturgy from a supposed successor (who was not an original apostle or who did not appear to have original-apostle-like authority), it would have to be shown either that the authority to propound it had been given to the successor, or that the successor was reiterating it from someone who (like an apostle) did have authority to propound it. As it stands, the historical evidence does not clearly show that. If you have a particular historical document or documents in mind that you'd like me to look at and offer a Mormon view on the document(s), please print the text, link me to the site, send it to me by email or whatever, and I'll take a look. B
Thank you, your responses are enlightening. According to tradition, St. John was the last of the twelve original apostles to die and the only one (I think) who was not martyred; he died an old man very early in the second century. Two of his disciples were Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, was a disciple of Polycarp. You can find some introductory notes about them plus English translations of their writings at Tradition also lists Timothy and Titus as bishops, to whom Paul addressed his pastoral epistles, and the Lazarus whom Christ raised from the dead (see John 11). It sounds like Mormonism calls apostle what Eastern Orthodoxy calls bishop, as far as level of authority goes; in Eastern Orthodoxy, apostle is a role like missionary or evangelist, but it isn't an ordained rank of the clergy as it appears to be in Mormonism. Ignatius of Antioch writes extensively about the authority of a bishop. It requires either two or three bishops to ordain a new bishop (I can never remember which), and patriarchs must have the consensus of all the bishops they serve. If the Mormon view of this early period is correct, then the original apostles simply failed to ordain or appoint any successors, perhaps finding none worthy of it? (Incidentally, I am hoping that some of this discussion will be worth editing for inclusion in the article.) Wesley 16:39 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Wesley, that's a great link. Thanks. There's a lifetime of reading there. I would like to read Ignatius' writings on the authority of a bishop, but couldn't quickly find any writings on that topic using a search at that site. If you can help, I'd appreciate it. Because Mormonism doesn't really provide a detailed theory regarding the supposed lack-of-apostolic-succession, I am left to wonder too why, under the Mormon view, the apostles did not appoint successors: were they under commandment not to? did they think they were not supposed to? did it not occur to them? did they think it was pointless? did they not have opportunities to gather together as a body to appoint successors? were there none worthy/qualified? B
Surely,this is a question that only Mormons can answer, which cannot possibly be answered from history - since history according to the Mormons is a very different thing than history for the rest of us. According to history as the rest of us understand it, it is meaningless to talk about Apostles appointing successor Apostles. They appointed bishops, to watch over the churches; and when disagreements arose,they prayerfully discussed what should be done in councils. This was the form of government established by the Apostles, according to the book of Acts. Mkmcconn 20:46 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Yes, Mkmcconn, only Mormons could answer this question left open in its theology, but they would be open to excluding possibities that historical evidence persuasively shows should be excluded. There are a number of unanswered questions in Mormon theology as are there in other theologies. BTW, I like your new opening on this article. B
Thank you. Now that we're friends, would you mind signing your posts?  :-) It can be done by adding ~~~ (three tildes) to the end. If you type four tildes together (~~~) it will datestamp your signature. You'll still be anonymous, if that's what you prefer, but your comments will be attributed to you (though nameless) instead of to nobody, and it will improve the readability of these discussions. Mkmcconn 00:29 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Pressuring me to come out in the open, huh. Ok. B

To answer your question, one place that Ignatius speaks of the roles of bishops, presbyters (priests) and deacons is in his Epistle to the Ephesians, particularly chapters IV, V, VI, and XX. You also see many references to the Eucharist there. It's at the same site at This is one of the letters Ignatius wrote after his arrest, while being transported to Rome to be executed. In chapter XI, he also mentions that the Christians in Ephesus "have always been of the same mind with the apostles through the power of Jesus Christ." Note that although he mentions the apostles in this letter, it is the bishops, presbyters and deacons to whom he asks them to be subject. To find more references, you may need to open each epistle and use your browser's "find" command to find occurrences of "bishop" on that page; at least that's what seems to work best for me on that site. Happy reading! Wesley 22:04 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I want to come back to the issue of what the Mormon view of historical evidence is in regard to the continuation of the early Christian church. While there may be some Mormon scholars out there who have touched on various historical records around and continuing shortly after the time of the Bible, there is no official LDS church comments on these records...or rather, there is not a line by line most maybe just a few comments about the records in general. But under the view of confirmation holism in the philosophy of science, this gap presents no problem. Presuming the validity of confirmation holism, there would be little problem of reconciling the historical evidence to fit Mormonism should intelligent Mormons put their minds to it. What theories they would develop around each record, I cannot say, but under the view on confirmatin holism, it should be possible. B 23:20 17 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I don't think the theory of confirmation holism was intended to apply to historical records; it's more related to metaphysics. You seem to be using it as a license to pretend that one series of events happened when the available records from that time indicate something quite different, and to claim that both "interpretations" of history are equally valid. Wesley 06:05, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
The theory of confirmation holism has broad implications for many disciplines including historical records. Another way of stating the underlying premise of confirmation holism is that there is never sufficient evidence to conclusively determine the validity of a theory. This premise extends beyond mere ontological theories. I do not claim both interpretations of history are valid, in the sense of true, but that they are credible. The point is that the available records only provide a partial picture of history...and even massive amounts of records would only amount to a small piece of a big historical puzzle. If it were possible to see the entire picture, maybe we could be certain of how to understand all the different pieces of the puzzle. At this point, the available records paint a particular point of view, but how that point of view fits in with the big picture is not yet determined. Another way of putting it is that the available records do not exclude the possibility of alternate, credible (and perhaps true) interpretations of history...not yet any way. Maybe falsificationism plays a roll here too. *B 18:34, Nov 11, 2003 (UTC)
What this sounds like is an argument that, lack of evidence sufficient to prove something beyond reasonable challenge makes all alternatives equally credible, no matter how unreasonable; and that is not the case. Mkmcconn 19:02, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Mkmcconn, using an unqualified standard of "reasonableness" is a poor standard; it is sort of like using a standard of "objectivity" in "an objective point of view" "objective point of view" is a myth. I don't think Quine would characterize the problem as a matter of lack of evidence; I think, Quine means that no matter how much evidence is amassed, no theory is uniquely determined by the evidence. So, what standard to use? In terms of picking between competing scientific theories, Quine would turn to an instrumentalist standard: which theory better predicts future experience. When it comes to history, it is less clear what standard to apply to pick between competing interpretations of history. I refer to falsificationism above as a possible standard for conclusively excluding a suspect interpretation, but I'm not sure it really helps avoid the problem presented by confirmation holism. Here is a Quine quote from his Two Dogmas of Empricismthat helps spell out the implications of his theory:
"As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries -- not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience."
While, you may find it hard to swallow that despite the evidence the Catholic version of history is no more nor less credible than the Mormon version, I think Quine would agree that that is the case...there is not a clear demarcation criteria for competing interpretations of history as there is for scientific theories. *B 00:34, Nov 12, 2003 (UTC)
Being a Scot by ancestry, I'm told that I'm expected to shout "what piffle!" when I'm confronted with something so revolting to common sense, and destructive of any appreciation of the past. This much, at least, is testable and so far as it is provable, it is proven: because, that is my reaction. Mkmcconn 00:43, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I've got some Scot in me too (Paisley), but I'm mostly of English descent (Edgar). "Common sense" is a poor standard too. I prefer the term "good sense", but I'm not sure either term is very meaningful although people regularly use the term, "common sense". What one person appreciates as the past, another considers devotion to a fiction; what one finds destructive of the past, another sees as the exposing of a fiction. I'm not sure what you mean by "This much"..."This much" = what? I would suggest that the presumption that any empirical proposition can ever be (conclusively) proven is a false. For discussions sake, are you unconvinced by Quine's onotological relativity, or my reading and application of his theory?...or maybe you just can't quite put your finger on it yet. *B 01:23, Nov 12, 2003 (UTC)
I'm bothered by the suggestion that knowledge of the past is not knowledge; and if any knowledge existed, it can be immediately destroyed by any intentional lie. "This much" is how Scots are supposed to react to attacks on common sense. Quine's view applied to history, as I've so far understood it, makes me feel irritable and sick. Mkmcconn 01:40, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Some might consider that irritability and sickness as a symptom or precondition to Socratic aporia. *B 03:03, Nov 12, 2003 (UTC)
If I understand your meaning, it's an apt metaphor. Yes, this line of argument leaves me no path, no opening, nothing to say - because it makes all discussion with someone who adopts this view seem to be meaningless. It is successful (if that is your aim) in finding the perfect way to shut up a believer in the meaningfulness of history, and the perfect argument for a solipsistic carelessness about the truth concerning what has happened, even in living memory. It is a good argument for bad belief. Mkmcconn 05:58, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure by what you mean by knowledge. The only sense of knowledge that has much meaning to me (besides know-how) is the philosophical definition of it; i.e., knowledge = justified, true belief. Many (maybe most) philosophers think that there is missing element in the philosophical definition of knowledge because of the Gettier problem; i.e., knowledge = a justified, true belief + [some yet unexplicated element]. But personally I think the Gettier problem is flawed and that knowledge is merely true belief and that the element of justification only measures the strength of knowledge on a spectrum from strong knowledge on one end to weak knowledge at the other end. To analytic philosophers, "knowledge" is not some abstract ontological entity...there is not a scientific or historical "body of knowledge"...knowledge is a property attributable to individuals. A lie does not destroy knowledge. If A believes Z and Z is true, then A knows Z regardless of whether B believes (not Z). If B believes (not Z) and (not Z) is false, by definition B never knows Z. I think Quine's theory only affects the justification element of knowledge. That is, I think Quine's theory implies that strong knowledge is unattainable because the evidence never gives rise to conclusive justification nor conclusive proof. Confirmation holism does not imply that knowledge of the past is not knowledge; what the theory implies is that it is not possible to determine with certainty what is knowledge. Philosophers since Socrates have asked the epistemological question how does a person know that he knows? So far Quine has formulated the most sophisticated answer as to why a person can't know with conclusively certainty that he knows. This is not to say that a person cannot know anything (as I state above if A believes Z and Z is true, then A knows Z), but proving that A knows Z, that is, conclusively proving that Z is true is an elusive hope. *B 02:42, Nov 12, 2003 (UTC)

I'm reminded of a conversation Gregory of Nyssa reports having in a dream with his then departed older sister Macrina. In the dialogue, Gregory questions the resurrection of the dead and raises a number of practical objections to it, such as whether old men will be resurrected in their old decrepit bodies, and infants in their infant bodies, and many similar problems. In response, Macrina smiled gently and said it was like listening to a group of men who had heard of sunshine but never seen it, sit around arguing about what sunshine was like, speculating and debating throughout the night. When dawn came and they saw the sun shine forth, they together said "Oh! Of course!"

More to the point of this article, perhaps it would suffice to say that the historical record now available to us fails to support the sort of apostasy the LDS church assumes, but the LDS and its members believe in the Great Apostasy because they believe what Joseph Smith Jr. reports concerning the various visions and revelations he received? Wesley 04:06, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I've offered some responses to Protestant claims under the Catholic/Orthodox heading at the end, but I fear I may be too argumentative/POV, and the format that's evolving may not be the best. I simply felt that some of the "Claims" subheadings earlier deserved some sort of response; it could probably be better done though. Suggestions for improvement are more than welcome. Thanks. Wesley 05:13, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Good interaction, Wesley. Mkmcconn 05:45, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I disagree completely. There is no need for catholic and orthodox counterclaims.

Randy and Wesley (and whoever), would you give some suggestions for better headings than "claim:..."? They strike me as un-encyclopedically worded, long and awkward (although I wrote them). Mkmcconn 06:55, 16 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I'm not sure what else to do with the headings; taking off the "Claim" is good. I personally don't like the "synagogue of Satan" subheading, partly because that's only one small part of the section it labels, partly because it makes me think of things like "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (attributing the work of God to Satan), and I think that's just my own baggage.
I would like to try keep the Protestant claims in the appropriate Protestant section, and the Catholic/Orthodox claims in their section. Unless someone thinks that structure should be revisited; there might be a better organizational scheme. Wesley 17:09, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I have tried to reword the captions, making them slightly briefer, perhaps slightly less provocative, and getting rid of Satan and his synagogue. No doubt further improvements will occur to someone. -- Smerdis of Tlo:n 01:15, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

"Touchstone for radicals"[edit]

It is Wikipedia usage to identify the source of neologisms and other expressions in the opening lines. I have made no change in the wording but have merely shifted one sentence forward to identify the origin of this expression.

"The term 'the Great Apostasy' is a touchstone (or shibboleth) that separates mainstream Christian churches from radicals. One useful definition of 'mainstream Christianity' in practice, is whether terms like 'the Great Apostasy' are considered acceptable or not." This new second paragraph is perfectly NPOV. It takes no stand on the acceptability of this phrase or is accuracy. It merely expresses this clear existing division between mainstream and radical churches akong this particular line. I expect that it will be suppressed, nevertheless. Wetman 18:37, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I am not certain that all churches that have historically taught a "Great Apostasy" --- or at least, have considered Roman Catholicism apostate --- count as "radical churches." Certainly the Presbyterians are a historically Calvinist denomination, and count some of the most vehement hotheads from the period among their founders, but current Presbyterians are not outside the "mainstream churches," at least in contemporary U.S. Protestantism. -- Smerdis of Tlo:n 19:16, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Where does a Presbyterian church document employ the Mormon term "Great Apostasy"? Obviously Presbyterians are within the 'mainstream' in not using this term. The term may in point of fact be used as a touchstone for defining 'mainstream' My statement stands as a point of fact, though it has been suppressed.. Wetman 21:42, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)
It's not even a question. The view expressed in the new paragraph is a point of view, and not a report of facts. Mkmcconn 21:34, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Now, that is an opinion. The term 'Great Apostasy' is not documented in any church outside the Mormons in this arcticle. Or is it? Wetman 21:42, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)
As far as that goes, it's a question of which came first. The idea that the Catholic Church ceased to be a Christian Church, probably sometime in the fourth century, is a very old and recurring theme - older even than protestantism. Among the Protestants, it was typical especially of the Anabaptists, who alone among the main branches of the Reformation consistently taught that Roman baptism is not Christian baptism. This idea has since been very common in every significant Unitarian movement. And, it has at one time or another infected every group convinced of congregationalism - especially the Baptists. This is the doctrine of the Great Apostasy, regardless of terminology: the real question, to get to the heart of this, is which groups deny that there ever was in the history of Christendom, a general falling away, a great apostasy. But to answer your question, yes, this specific terminology is common in the Church of Christ, the Seventh-day Adventists, and many Baptist groups; its not as though this arrangement of words is so very peculiar that it is unlikely to fall from the lips of someone who literally denies that one of the Catholic churches, regardless of their antiquity, is a Christian church - and that is the meaning of the terminology.
But the point is that the evaluation of "fringe" or "mainstream" is not an issue of fact, but of viewpoint. This is an issue that has come up in many, many articles; and it provokes an argument unnecessarily over how meaningful these terms are, or what the reference is for deciding.
Your point is already made in the article, albeit much more subtly, in showing that there are at least two senses in which anyone might speak of a general apostasy of the the Christian Church. The Lutherans, Reformed and Episcopalians may be "mainstream", but they have had, some formally, a doctrine that the Pope is the Antichrist. Some also have locally denied that Catholic or Orthodox baptism is Christian baptism. That is as far as you can go, in saying that the ancient churches at some point stopped being Christian - that there was a very big and general (Great) falling away from the Christian faith (Apostasy). Mkmcconn 22:19, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Wow. I never knew that so many people were Mormon. I did a quick search on "Great Apostasy" on Google and the first two pages only showed one LDS-related link each page. The rest were a splattering of Protestant, Catholic etc. sites. Yes, even Catholic authors. One was had a link to a book ( about the great apostasy, that was from a Protestant author, not the famous Talmage book.

Although the term is used frequently in the Mormon Church, it was not coined by them. James Talmage, the author of the book Great Apostasy, may helped with its more widespread adoption in the early 1900s, but it was certainly not coined by him or the church by any means. All you have to do is read the book to know that. I'll look for other pre-1920 references of the term and provide.

I have spoken with many minister-friends that use the term. Most of them Southern Baptist, Methodist or from one of the many the "non-denominational" evangelical denominations. For sure, its current use is not Mormon in nature. I believe the form of the current first paragraph is very POV, and should be reverted to the prior reading and its prior POV, which has more of the appearance of being factual (no attack meant - just the current reading doesn't seem neutral toward those who believe in a "great apostasy"). -Visorstuff 22:50, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I would support a reversion to the previous paragraph. It seems to me that the the article needs too many rewrites to make it consistent with the new opening. That problem goes away when the direct (and probably not strictly true) identification of Mormonism with this unextraordinary phrase is removed. That strict identification is causing a problem. Mkmcconn 23:16, 18 Nov 2003 (UTC)

A 'reputed' Great Apostasy is a category (often considered inflammatory) which is used by some Christian churches with an evangelical bent to reproach other Christian churches, that are perceived as having become compromised and part of a secular establishment. Compare 'Whore of Babylon.' The term first appeared in [add history of the term here].

How is that for a better first or second paragraph? Can one write an NPOV entry that doesn't identify the authors of what is patently a 'reproach'? This entry as it stands is propaganda. Dispured NPOV needs to be added, as the history pages demonstrate. If religious advocates have a concept of a balanced discussion, they need to show it here. Wetman 23:45, 23 Nov 2003 (UTC)~

This is much worse, very frankly. There are Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses who have contributed to balancing this page. No one is quite happy with it, I suppose; but personally, I think that it has proceeded in a much more cooperative direction than your proposal would allow. For example, what do you mean by "evangelical bent"? Do you think no one would have difficulty accepting "other Christian churches"? Do you read this article and not recognize that only a small minority think that having "become part of the secular establishment" is descriptive of this alleged apostasy? Furthermore, what people consider inflammatory, while being useful in instructions of ettiquette does not seem very informative in an encyclopedia, ordinarily. I do not like the word "category" here. And, as discussed earlier, I strongly doubt that such a natural arrangement of words as "great apostasy" has a history that can be responsibly traced. I advise leaving the opening paragraphs substantially unchanged. That is the least problematic part of this article. Mkmcconn 05:21, 24 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Is this a term which is used mainly in America? I was brought up in the Church of Scotland (presbyterian) and I've never heard of it. It's not part of any religious discussion I had ever heard (anywhere ever) until I looked on-line and saw it today. I don't believe that the Church of England use it. It seems silly to assume that any non-english-speaking church would use a term in english to describe something. That's why I am asking - is this something that is used only the USA? 15:45, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Page too long?[edit]

A number of recent edits have resulted in mass deletions of the text at the bottom of the page. These typically leave a fragment in mid-sentence, which makes me doubt it's intentional vandalism. Perhaps it is time to spin off the ending of the page, the Roman Catholic / Orthodox material, to a page of its own? Smerdis of Tlön 16:23, 12 May 2004 (UTC)

I'm wondering if the more neutral approach would be to create separate pages for each of the views presented (under major headings). This page would be reduced to a brief and general overview, substantially the same as the present introduction, and the major headings would become a list of links to the supporting pages. Mkmcconn \
It is too bad that this browser limitation must be accomodated. It is a shame that "too long to edit" translates into , "too much information to be included in the article". The balance and completeness of the articles is compromised. And, there doesn't appear to be a completely reliable way to work around it. Editors can be encouraged to work by section; but, for edits like the previous one, which re-organized the main headings alphabetically, the editor needed to have access to the whole article. Section-editing would have been too complex a procedure. It really is too bad. Mkmcconn 18:35, 12 May 2004 (UTC)
Far too long and far too blatant in its biased nature. This is pure, unadulterated propaganda written by the more extreme sorts of Protestant who hold these widely ridiculed views. The article gives a WILDLY inflated sense of how popular these militantly ahistorical notions really are. It is the universal consensus of secular (and therefore impartial) scholars that the early Christian church did not change its dogma in any drastic way with the Edict of Milan. The proto-orthodox Church fathers of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Centuries are all kept and revered by all Orthodox and Catholic Christians. Constantine was not a theologian, ecclesiastical writer, or any sort of bishop, and therefore he had no authority to rewrite or fabricate new Church dogma, nor to stricken any established doctrine which he didn't like. The Church's devotion to Mary, its understanding of the eucharist, its liturgical use of ikons, and everything else that SDAs and JWs loathe so ardently was all firmly in place before Constantine's (putative) conversion. Trilobright (talk) 17:57, 5 January 2017 (UTC)


I think this article (particularly the sub-heading "Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy") has an evident bias.

1. Statements such as "Protestants often assume that practices that seem especially strange to them... must have been introduced after the time of Constantine. Documents from the pre-Constantine church often show otherwise." offer only a caricature of the wide spectrum of Protestant belief without documentation and then follow it by the refutation of a straw man. [In fact, many (if not most protestants) don't disparage but rather encourage fasting or holidays, particularly if they remain adiaphorous rather than compulsory. Their justification for the view is based on St. Paul's rejecting false teachers who insist on keeping days to earn God's favor (as in his epistle to the Galatians) but accepting Christians who keep days "holy unto the Lord" (as in his epistle to the Romans). The same things can be said of ascetic practices (fasting, celibacy, etc.): the Bible affirms one form as good and another as evil. Thus, this article is at least overly general because it condenses all forms of fasting (for instance) into the word "fasting" and then asserts Protestants general rejection of fasting as "strange." Compare John Piper's recent books on fasting and sacrificial living (or what we might call "semi-ascetic" living, since it's not quite monkish) for a Protestant's take.]

2. Elsewhere in the article, the Protestants' efforts at missions are said to be waged "largely without the benefit of two millennia of experience that the historic Christian faith has to offer." This article notes elsewhere that the Protestants consider *themselves* to be the "historic Christian faith," and it also mentions that some Protestants, particularly the Lutherans and Calvinists, uphold the saints of the past -- including the Church Fathers -- as righteous but flawed men. The Protestants attempt to imitate them insofar as they imitate Christ, and they weigh the church triumphant's teachings against their own understanding Bible before accepting the teachings. Thus, they would not consider themselves as neglecting the "historic Christian faith," and the judgment against them is unwarranted and biased.

3. "In response to the claim that the church's response to one heresy led to an overcorrection in the opposite direction, **it can only be admitted that this is always a real danger.**" This statement (among others) seems clearly to be written by a Roman Catholic or Orthodox apologist rather than a "neutral observer." The paragraph beginning with "Compounding this risk of overcorrection..." is likewise a defense of Catholicism/Orthodoxy and an attack on Protestantism that is not relevant to the article at hand, at least in the way it is presented here.

4. "Restricting worship to a mental exercise removes the ‘strength’ element of loving God...." As it is written, this paragraph is clearly a defense of Catholicism/Orthodoxy and an implicit attack on Protestantism, who are again caricatured. Many protestants, especially the Lutheran and Calvinists, also believe that creation is good but deny that "[t]he epitome of the action occurs in the Eucharistic sacrifice." This article is not an objective account of the matter.

5. My suggestion is that the text under sub-heading "Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy" should either be removed or re-written in a more neutral point of view. Flex 17:03, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I know very little about this topic. Just a suggestion--we encourage people to be bold in editing. You sound like you have an idea on how to make this article better, so go for it! You'd certainly do better than me. I can't remember if you've created an account yet, so if you want to you can (I'd encourage it--it's useful), but it's not required. Yours, Meelar 20:35, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

P.S. It's generally considered polite to sign your talk page posts, using 4 tildes, like this ~~~~

These are good comments, in my opinion. I hope that you follow through with edits, accordingly. Mkmcconn \
As a word of caution, though: Without a very strong rebuttal from the Catholic and Orthodox view the article is little more than a survey of anti-catholicism as it's found in various groups. The views of opponents of catholicism have been expressed frankly - even with open hostility - and, I will not say that it is always fair. In my opinion the article is rescued by a compelling catholic answer - which I don't expect to be more fair than their opponent. I doubt that it can ever be a great article. But, it has some merit in attempting to be a balanced one. Mkmcconn 21:20, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

As I think I was probably the initial author of the "Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy" section, let me share some of its history. (For the record, I'm an Orthodox Christian, a convert from Protestantism.) This article began by explaining the Mormon idea of the Great Apostasy, how all of Christendom fell away from the original teachings of Jesus Christ, and remained in this state until Joseph Smith, Jr. brought the revelation he received from his visions and so forth and founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think I added a brief "rebuttal" section at that time. Later, others added reasons why the Protestants thought that the Catholics had fallen away from Christ's teachings, generally the well-known justifications for the Protestant Reformation. Many (but not all) of these critiques wind up being applied to the Orthodox as well. So, I tried to extend the "rebuttal" section to answer those claims, generally trying to match the structure of the section to the broad outline of the rest of the article as it existed at the time. It seemed better to put these answers in their own section, so that their POV could be identified, rather than intermix them in the rest of the article.

The very premise of this article is POV to begin with; it was initially proffering a Mormon POV, and was later extended to encompass the broader Protestant POV. It seems to me the only thing that salvages it is having some sort of "rebuttal" section, weak though it may be. There are probably better ways to say it, but there needs to be some explanation of why the Orthodox (and Catholics) think there has never been a "Great Apostasy" as described in the bulk of this article. I may try to answer your specific objections another time, but wanted to make sure you were aware of some background first. Wesley 21:16, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

Ok, I've read through the article for the first time in many months; with that in mind let me try to address the numbered objections. 1. Granted, the Catholic/Orthodox section presents a very broad view of Protestantism that may seem like a caricature, especially if you're particularly familiary with one slice of Protestantism. That's impossible to avoid in anything approaching this amount of space, considering there are over 30,000 denominations. Would the section really be improved by, perhaps, separately addressing the various groups of Protestants that are mentioned earlier in the article, i.e. the Mormons, Anabaptists, Anglicans, etc.? I did try to revise what it says about the general Protestant attitude towards fasting however; I hope you find that a small improvement.

2. The Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura leaves them effectively without the help of the Church Fathers. They may read the Church Fathers, but they reserve the right to reject the view of any one of them or all of them if it disagrees with their personal interpretation of the scripture. Not all Protestants take sola scriptura quite to this extreme, but your description certainly appears to. The Pope himself reads the Church Fathers as well, but reserves final judgment to himself; each Protestant does the same, or else ignores the Fathers entirely since only the Bible is needed.

3. Certainly it's a defense; much of the material elsewhere in this same article is an attack. Any specific suggestions on how to improve the presentation?

4. Again, sure it lumps all Protestants together when in fact they're a very diverse bunch. Would it improve things to address different groupings separately?

I'd like the section to stay; I don't necessarily think it needs to grow to be half the size of the entire article. I'm not sure how to address your concerns without doing that, though I'm open to suggestions. Wesley 04:51, 30 May 2004 (UTC)


FIrst of all, I like the article. Secondly, I think that putting Jehovah's Witnesses under "Adventisits" is not fully correct. Yes, Russell had some significant influence from adventist teachings. Jehovah's Witnesses are not adventists though as neither group associates itself with the other, nor did Russell ever open an adventist church. In fact, never in the history of the group have they idetified themselves with the adventist church and vice versa. Also Russell himself credited many past religious teachers and groups with influencing his undersatnding of the m

Ok, so what's the best way to fix it? Should the Adventists section be split into two separate top-level headings, maybe "Jehovah's Witnesses" and "Seventh-Day Adventists"? Wesley 16:52, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Dispute of newly added material[edit]

There are two paragraphs of material recently added to the Jehovah's Witness section that I dispute. They are these:

Here is an example of the apostasy: Witnesses believe that the only celebration that Christians are commanded to observe is the Lord’s Evening Meal (which is described in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Because of the idolatrous practices associated with Roman festivals, early Christians did not share in them. For this reason third-century pagans reproached Christians, saying: "You do not visit exhibitions; you have no concern in public displays; you reject the public banquets, and abhor the sacred contests." Pagans, on the other hand, bragged: "We worship the gods with cheerfulness, with feasts, songs and games."
By the middle of the fourth century, the grumbling subsided. How so? As more and more counterfeit Christians crept into the fold, apostate ideas multiplied. The Christians became more and more accepted, and before long, the Christians had as many annual festivals as the pagans themselves.

The first paragraph appears to give specific quotes, but omits the source of these quotes. The source should be available since it was quoted from, and should be referenced here both to show that the quotes aren't fabricated, and to allow the reader to further research this area.

The second paragraph appears to be POV speculation, or possibly personal research. Who asserts that "counterfeit Christians crept into the fold,", or that "Christians had as many annual festivals as the pagans themselves?" Is there any quantitative evidence at all for the latter claim? Did the pagans have even half as many fasting days as the Christians did to go with their festivals? By contrast, many of John Chrysostom's sermons in the latter part of the fourth century decried excessive secular celebrations, theater, and other carrying on, to such an extent that he was exiled by the Emperor for criticizing the royal court. He also happened to be an outspoken proponent of the Trinity and opponent of Arianism.

Without some substantiation or revision, both paragraphs stand a good chance being deleted. But I thought it most polite to bring up the subject here first. Wesley 03:02, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Answer to the Dispute Concerning the Added Paragraphs[edit]

I agree. The sources should be given. They are from a dialogue entitled Octavius by Minucius Felix as found in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; 1956, edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. IV, Ch. XII.

"Counterfeit Christians crept into the fold" is a sentence used in discussing the beliefs of Jehovahs' Witnesses. They believe that the congregation can be likened to a fold. (John 10:16) They also believe that this is a historical fact. It is up to other people to dispute it, and to do it elsewhere, in a place discussing their personal beliefs contra Jehovah's Witnesses. True, even Jehovah's Witnesses agree that this apostasy did not happen all at once and that through history, people have held to ideas and interpretations close or sometimes very close to their beliefs while still holding on to some beliefs denounced by the Witnesses.

--Porthos 20:59, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thank you. That's a reference worth adding. In case anyone else is interested, I found a copy of Octavius online at: [1]. It appears to be a second or third century document, depending on whether Octavius borrowed from Tertullian or Tertullian borrowed from Octavius. (As an aside, I find it ironic that the same Ch. XII also mentions the Christians' adoration of the cross, something I thought Jehovah's Witnesses believed only came much later?)
As for the second paragraph, thanks for clarifying that it describes the speculations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Wesley 05:08, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

In Reply to Wesley Concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and the Great Apostasy and the Cross[edit]

In fact, sir, you're wrong. These speculations are mine entirely. They are not even speculations. They are fact. This is in fact what Jehovah's Witnesses believe, which is what we are explaining here and also perhaps why, isn't it?
  • As for the source: The quote is from early 3rd century.
  • (As for the cross, in ch. XXIX, you will find the following sentence: "Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for." On the writings of Minucius Felix concerning the cross, it is valuable to read The Non-Christian Cross by John Denham Parsons, 1896, chapter II, "The Evidence of Minucius Felix." It is also available as a part of the Gutenberg project here. As for when Jehovah's Witnesses when claim the cross became a symbol of the church, it was when Constantine made the church his religion - granted that it did not become State Religion of the Roman Empire until the end of the reign of Theodosius I. (The Watchtower 8/15 1987, page 21; 7/1 1993, page 9.) In that article they explain that the crucifix as an object of worship was something that developed over time, an evolution.)--Porthos 20:56, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
If these are your personal speculations, then they would have to be removed according to the no original research policy. But if this what Jehovah's Witnesses believe in general, then the article should attribute it to them, or to the Watchtower or whatever published material makes the assertions. Regarding the cross, of course he denied worshipping the cross. Christians today still deny that we worship the cross; in fact we forbid its worship, in keeping with the Seventh Ecumenical Council as well as the commandments against idolatry. Second century writings do refer to the cross as a symbol of Christianity, or of Christ's victory, of our salvation, or in similar ways. I think that I Clement has some good examples of this usage, among others. Wesley 03:43, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)
It's a play on words, if you didn't get that. I am very familiar with the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, and what I've writte is based on research that is factual. The cross wasn't a very good symbol of Christianity. It was borrowed from earlier religions Jehovah's Witnesses believe were detestable to God. The shape of the "stauros" used to execute Christ was probably not cross-like, and hence the use of the cross as a symbol of so called Christian worship came from somewhere else. Also, there is no need for any such symbol. And, would you like people to remember the death of your son or the meaning of his life, if he were to be executed, by having a replica of the weapon of execution hanging around their necks? Doesn't it sound a bit gross to you? Besides, Jesus gave clear commands on just how his life and death ought to be remembered. Also, concerning this kind of veneration or devotion even a Catholic Encyclopedia says: "The early Christians, influenced by the Old Testament prohibition of graven images, were reluctant to depict even the instrument of the Lord’s Passion." (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Volume IV, p. 486)
Besides, the Babylonian God Tammuz apparently had the cross as a symbol, and it seems the use of this symbol was a "great abomination" and a very detestable thing to God. (Ezekiel 8:13, 14) It was phallic in its nature. (Ezekiel 8:17)
(Besides, are you talking about Clement of Rome or of Alexandria?)
--Porthos 14:42, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I was referring to the book "First Clement," attributed to Clement of Rome. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) Paul called the message of the cross "foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) We can both quote verses back and forth all day without convincing each other, as far as that goes. But again, I have no objection to including JW's beliefs provided they are cited as such. Wesley 01:21, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"and take up his cross, and follow Me." - What it means here to suffer in the similar way as Jesus did. Few words before it reads "let him deny himself" which should mean a dedication like Christ did to do the work of his father (John 6:38). In the next line Jesus said "and take up his cross" where he didn't say "take up MY cross", it means the individuals suffering for the work Christ has entrusted on each on of us (Mark 13:10-13). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:41, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

Boy I'm not even going to touch this page.

    • Boy I'm not even going to touch this page. --Tlarson 09:46, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)


I've changed the order of discussion here. It seems to me that it makes more sense to discuss this in a historical framework, and thus to start out with the original reformation churches (Lutheran and Calvinist, Anabaptist, Anglican), and then go on to discuss the modern churches (Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, LDS). Lutheran and Calvinist should come first, as this was the first theory of great apostasy, and the one which we discuss in greatest length. It should certainly come before the discussion of the Anglicans, since the latter presumes that one is already familiar with Lutheran and Calvinist ideas of the Great Apostasy. I've no opinion on whether Anabaptists or Anglicans should come first (although Anabaptists were chronologically first, so I left them in front), and no real sense of what a good order for the later churches would be. I think it's fine to keep the Catholic and Orthodox discussions last, since they do not believe in a great apostasy, so the discussion there is of a different kind from the discussions of the churches that do or did believe in a great apostasy. john k 16:18, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Roman Catholocism and Orthodox Christianity[edit]

I felt it was necessary to expound on the reasons why I edited. The original reads as:

"They also affirm that their ecclesiastical structure and liturgical practices have their essential roots in the teachings of the first apostles, rather than being the result of radical changes introduced by the imperial government or new converts in the fourth century. Many elements of modern orthodox teachings can be traced back to the first and second centuries in the writings of those known as the "Ante-Nicene_Fathers". In these writings there is found information about the sacraments, organizational structure, and general Christian lifestyle."

They don't "affirm" anything, because they legitimately cannot. However, they can "claim" "their ecclesiastical structure... liturgical..." was similar to that of the first congregation. Just reading that first sentence over and over again further drives my belief that the entire paragraph needs to be re-written or deleted entirely as it's hopelessly innacurate and misleading.

"..ecclesiastical structure and liturgical practices have their essential roots in the teachings of the first apostles.."

Not even close. The apostles practiced communion annually (on Nisan 14), not weekly (and not on the 3rd sunday of the month in the case of Easter). They didn't know what "Stations of the Cross" were. They didn't take the communion with a mandatory right over left hand. They didn't make the sign of a cross on their chests before sitting in a pew. They can "claim", they cannot "affirm."

"rather than being the result of radical changes introduced by the imperial government or new converts in the fourth century."

That's entirely untrue as an "affirmation". As a "claim", it is false. A bit of history: Constantine defeated Maxentius in 312 at Milvian Bridge where he allegedly saw the "In hoc signo vinces", as a result he deliberately allied himself with Christianity (though he still worshipped the Roman sun god). In 313 he declared tolerance of all religions (around the same time Eusebius became the Bishop of Caesarea Palaestina). In 325 Constantine called the first Ecumenical Council with the PRIMARY INTENTION OF ESTABLISHING AN ORTHODOX Christian faith. And yes, the changes were quite "radical." For the first time ever, the various doctrines and creeds that were invented, or established as orthodox, were now not only Orthodox, but the church had a new aura of authority due in very large part to Constantine and the highly influential Eusebius. Congregations that differed in beliefs were no longer passively disregarded, or written against by the various Ante-Nicene "Fathers" (Arians/Gnostics), they were no longer even considered to be Christian. This new "Orthodoxy" along with Constantines encouragement of Christian political and military involvement was radically new to Christianity and was A COMPLETE REVERSAL of former Christian life, liturgical practice, and doctrinal beliefs.

Many elements of modern orthodox teachings can be traced back to the first and second centuries in the writings of those known as the "Ante-Nicene_Fathers". In these writings there is found information about the sacraments, organizational structure, and general Christian lifestyle.

I changed "Many elements" to just: "Elements...". The only element that I can think of that has been consistent pre/post Nicea is the use of the bible, but doctinally and liturgically they're near polar opposites. It's true you'll find information on general Christian lifestyle and teachings in the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers but to infer that those teachings and lifestyles corrospond to those of "Orthodoxy" is 100% dishonest, ignorant, fiction.

  • Christians were not slow to shun or excommunicate wayward members of their congregations, as they are reluctant or even won't do today.
  • Christians refused military service at all costs. Christians that came to the truth while in military service would forsake the military, often at pain of imprisonment or even martyrdom. Same with political office. The view of military service was softened by the highly outspoken Stoic, pantheist, Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius who encouraged military service of Christians. However, Christians still spoke out against the practice they became less likely to excommunicate members of their congregations for it, though the majority remained "conciencious objectors" until Constantine. Ironically at present time, "Orthodoxy" views abstination from military service, and political involvement as blashpheme or as being "willfully neglectful of our God given duties".
  • Christians baptised only those who were of age enough to be aware of what being baptised actually meant. Not only this but they even refused baptism for Gladiator champions if they did not publically renounce their former way of life.
  • They didn't burn incense to an image of a cross, or to the Christ's mother (well, the Gnostics did in the case of Mary, those same Gnostics who were, ironically, condemned as heretics at the First Nicene Council).
  • They didn't prey with beads (the Rosery).
  • They didn't say the same prayer repeatedly.
  • Their leadership was a group of men (post Jesus), not one man.
  • The Trinity doctrine was spoken of in some form or another since Tertullian laid out a semi-coherent explanation along with his invention of the word trinitas in 200 a.d. The formula was debated, and talked about for over a century before Constantine and Eusebius affirmed its enshrinment as a centrel tenet of Orthodox faith at the First Council of Nicea (325 a.d.).

The above list is just differences in lifestyle with the notable exception of the point regarding the Trinity doctrine. Doctrine as a whole was developed post Jesus so to what degree they believed something, and why, is really beyond what I'm going after, I just cited the Trinity as the embodiment of doctrinal change on the whole from pre to post Nicea. No honest historian would try to argue against the fact that Constantine with Eusebius' influence, turned the Christian world up-side-down. Duffer 01:16, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Here are some elements that were consistent pre and post Nicaea:
  • church structure that was both hierarchical (bishops, priests and deacons leading) and conciliar (i.e. not one supreme pontiff).
  • Practice regarding military service varied. Some soldiers that became Christians remained soldiers until they were asked to offer incense to the emperor or to some Roman god, and were kicked out or martyred at that point. Same with civil service, where the issue was that serving in office required worshiping the emperor, which Christians refused to do both pre and post Nicaea. After Constantine worship of the emperor was no longer required.
  • Infant baptism was practiced pre Nicaea. Naturally, adults were required to profess the faith properly and repent before being baptized.
  • Incense was initially avoided because of its association with the Roman emperor, plus it did not lend itself well to secrecy. When these were no longer factors, Christians resumed the Jewish, biblical practice of using incense during their prayers.
  • Regarding praying with beads, the earliest form I know of was the knotted prayer rope St. Pachomius tought his disciples to use in fourth century Egypt. Whether it was before or after Nicaea I don't know, but it was a monastic practice, not something imperial, to help them pray.
  • They certainly did repeat certain prayers, following the liturgical patterns from Jewish synagogue worship, including heavy reliance on the Psalms. They also said some prayers antiphonally. Their manner of reading the scriptures in public was also borrowed from the synagogues.
  • Not sure, but I strongly doubt they only practiced communion once per year, given its importance. Sure you're not thinking of Pascha?
  • They believed the Eucharist was the body and blood of Jesus (giving rise to rumours among the Romans that they were cannibals), and that it conveyed real grace. Ignatius called it the "medicine of immortality."
  • Instructions regarding fasting, almsgiving, and manner of baptism are found in the Didache, and are still followed.
  • Finally, Constantine and Eusebius did not ensure the enshrinement of the Trinity doctrine. Constantine himself chose to be baptized by an Arian when he finally received baptism; he was more interested in the church remaining unified than in promoting a particular doctrine. The doctrine was confirmed by the over 300 bishops assembled at Nicaea, then debated for the next several decades as some emperors opposed it, one emperor tried to get rid of Christianity altogether, before it was finally reaffirmed and stayed reaffirmed after the second ecumenical council in 381. Wesley 17:42, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

NPOV and this article[edit]

It seems to me that this article is getting sidetracked by a lot of denominational apologetics. In the first place, the whole section on Catholicism and Orthodoxy seems to be there not so much to explain the views of Catholics and Orthodox as to advocate their views. This should be avoided. On the other hand, Duffer's comments suggest apologetics in the opposite direction - an attempt to prove that there was a great apostasy. To be fair, Duffer's actual edits have not been terribly POV. But it seems to me that we might perhaps do more to explain what about the traditions of the early church fathers Catholics and Orthodox point to, and what their various opponents point to. It is rather clear - to me, at least, as an agnostic Jew - that no single denomination can claim a monopoly on the inheritance of the early church, and we ought probably to make this clear. john k 01:28, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I would add that Duffer seems to be imputing much more radical changes to the Council of Nicea than I have ever read about. Indeed, Christianity changed a great deal between the time of the first apostles and the era of the Reformation (and Catholicism and Orthodoxy have both changed a great deal since then, as well). But Duffer's claims here seem to suggest that all (or most, at least) of those changes were a result of Nicea, which I have never heard anywhere. Certainly, the rosary (which came into being in its final form in the 13th century and is not, so far as I am aware, used by the Orthodox) cannot be blamed on the Council of Nicea. Nor can the cult of the Virgin Mary. Or the supremacy of the Pope. Or the idea of "orthodoxy" or the fact that the modern Catholic church (and mainline protestants, and so forth) are reluctant to excommunicate people. Or much else. The fact that the Catholic Church in 2005 is very different from the Christianity of the early church fathers is not terribly surprising. But claiming that this has to do in some way with the Council of Nicea, particularly, seems dubious. And claiming that any other Christian group has any better claim to the mantle is even more so. john k 01:38, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

This entire article has always struck me as being little more than denominational apologetics. Most of it tells why Protestants and Restorationists deliberately broke away from whatever denomination they came from previously, while the Roman Catholic / Orthodox section tells why they think such a break is unwarranted. What else can be expected given the article's title? That said, I'm writing here without having looked at the article itself in many months. Wesley 17:47, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

lack of bias, very good![edit]

Just wanted to say I thought the article as it is now provides a very good, unbiased view of both main sides (in modern days, mainly more fundamentalist Protestants with one extreme of belief in support of the Great Apostasy and the other side mainly being the Catholic Church and it's self-defense) as well as moderates (mostly evangelical Protestants who believe the Catholic Chruch is still legitmate but question infalibility and believe it has on certain issues fallen into error). Each section simply explained each main side and its main points, without any bias or sense that one side is more right than the other. [And, for clarification, by bias I mean outside bias. For example, if the Catholic Church is asked its position on this subject, its answer will have a Catholic bias, but it is supposed to, because it is their point of view. The important thing is that the written explination for any denomination's side has no influence from another side.] I was expecting to find some overall bias, having just read many articles about Christianity in general, in which would be edited by Catholics and have a Catholic slant to the whole article and then edited by Protestants and have a Protestant slant, etc. But this article has no overall slant; I only wish other articles involving Christian theology were like this one. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Disagree! The issues raised before still remain. It also contains discussions that seems to be irrelevant, as regards the topic of the article, namely Descent into true apostasy, which seems to be another apologetic rambling without source and story logic that could be understood by anyone else than the adherent of just that apologetic rambling. I'm just thinking about what would make this article look like OK, just now it's simply an incoherent spaghetti. Said: Rursus 18:58, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Overview problem[edit]

The overview has some significant problems. For one it seems to think that all churches desire to return to the state of the 1st Century church (not necessarily the case). Also it assumes that all church splits were as a result of a perceived 'straying' of whatever-church-it-split-from from the early church teachings. Not necessarily the case. Some churches split because of practice, not theology - i.e. the church was viewed as corrupt in practice, not necessarily deficient in theology. Anglicanism made relatively few changes in theology in its split from Catholicism; Methodism was formed from Anglicanism simply because it would not permit the Wesleys the freedom to do what they thought right. The Salvation Army was formed for similar reasons. I'm sure there are others. DJ Clayworth 16:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

By the time of the Elizabethan settlement, the Church of England was closer in doctrine to Calvinism than it was to Catholicism, although in terms of ritual it always stayed somewhere in the middle. The idea of the Church of England as similar to Catholicism arises out of 19th century Tractarianism. john k 02:02, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

I have removed the statement that 'The concept of a great apostacy is essential to the formation of a new denomination'. Simply not the case. Many denominations are formed without any concept of a Great Apostacy. I've mentioned Methodism and the Salvation Army above. I can come up with plenty of others. DJ Clayworth 16:11, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Somehow there also seems to be a huge section discussing Anglicanism, despite the fact that Anglicans pretty much reject the idea of a Great Apostacy. Shouldn't this be mentioned? DJ Clayworth 16:24, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Once upon a time, a long time ago in the history of the church, schism or division was considered a great sin, worse than heresy. The way divisions were justified was by pointing fingers at the other side, saying it was impossible to remain in unity with some tremendous errors of theology or practice. (I agree that practices have been at issue as much as theology throughout all the church's history.) The notion of dividing "casually" while still remaining somehow mystically united with other denominations is I suspect less than 500 years old, and then arose only accidentally when the Reformers realized they weren't just reforming the Catholic Church but splitting from it, and weren't just splitting off into one new denomination but several. There are a lot of nuances to capture here. Wesley 16:55, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with this. Though even Anglicanism (getting up there with the 500 years) couches the statements of why it split not in terms of an irredeemable apostacy but more of a 'why we can't work with them now'. The thing is the Great Apostacy is really about the concept that the 'mainline' church has irrevocably departed from the teachings of Jesus ('mainline' usually meaning 'everyone except us'). I don't believe the term predates the Reformation, and it's certainly not used to describe every split in the church that ever occurred. DJ Clayworth 13:51, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
The article seems to imply that the Great Apostacy is a concept that's been around for a thousand years or so, whereas I'm pretty sure it doesn't pre-date the Reformation. It's possible that it doesn't predate Restarationism, in which case it might be only a couple of hundred years old. Which makes the first half of our overview entirely irrelevant. DJ Clayworth 14:02, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
My understanding of the idea is that it originated with the Reformation, and is now mostly used by Fundamentalist Protestants. john k 02:06, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
The term is used by the kind of people who use "cult" to include any non-trinitarian Christian group, and still aren't quite convinced that the Pope isn't Antichrist (or explicitly think that he is). It's an idea found in great prominence in Jack Chick pamphlets, and such like. john k 02:07, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Gnostic comparison[edit]

Any particular reason we don't mention that Gnostic Christians expressed similar views about the developing Church at the time? We could take a few sentences to describe the main similarities and differences between the Gnostic view and this claim about a Great Apostasy. Dan 05:46, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Modern Catholic Understanding of the 'Great Apostasy[edit]

I suggest that the Catholic understanding of the Church's final trial as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, 675)[2] be added to the Catholic section of this article. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church believes that there will be a final trial preceding Christ's second coming that will offer humanity peace in exchange for apostasy from the truth. This would represent a Catholic understanding of the Great Apostasy. --Dreas 18:35, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

That's a good one. Deserves its own section, however, since the current one is just an apology against accusations from "small christians". The Great Apostasy is one religious concept with various interpretations, but it is also often used as a sect memento used for accusations and isolations. Said: Rursus 19:27, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Request for informal review.[edit]

Much of this article, particularly the second half, is written from a highly sympathetic, and nearly first person, point of view. I ask for objectivity. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC).

I agree. There's definite bias and somewhat unprofessional phrasing throughout the "Reformed Viewpoint" section134.82.97.14 03:49, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

I would go beyond limiting that to the second half or "Reformed Viewpoint" - the whole article is a mess, nicely dividing it into 'viewpoints' has allowed for it to become a religious thought board, drawn on denominational lines, and the article has no overall coherent narrative. I think much of the article should be deleted altogether. Further editors need to consider what Wikipedia is not. Brando130 16:44, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Of course its a mess. Its a messy topic to begin with. "Great Apostasy" is an alternative history/created doctrine to justify the protestant denominations. 14:35, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Anglicanism - a middle way[edit]

This section claims "To oversimplify greatly" - it does more then that. It confuses history, fictionalizes the present, and is just wrong. Starting with the second paragraph there is almost nothing that can be salvaged. I already had cut some nonsense from the section on the second paragraph when I realized the whole thing needed to go:

The reception of the Reformation views of a general falling away from the Christian faith, by the Church of England and other churches of the Anglican and Episcopalian denomination is a historically complex subject. As a state church, the Church of England attempted to unite all the people of England in a single church. However, the English disagreed amongst themselves about the retention of various ceremonies of Roman Catholicism, and about Arminian versus Calvinist theologies.

Political issues shaped English attitudes towards Roman Catholicism. Due to Papal attacks on the legitimacy of the English monarchy, expressed via the Spanish Armada and the "Marian Persecutions " under Mary I of England, many Britons were disposed to see Roman Catholicism as a hostile authoritarian force. The Stuart monarchs, however, wished to cement political alliances--often via marriage--with Continental powers, including Roman Catholic monarchs.

To oversimplify greatly, there arose a "high church" party within the Church of England and a "low church" party allied with Puritanism. The high church party had Anglo-Catholic and Arminian tendencies, and wished to continue at least some of the pageantry of Roman Catholic ritual. The low church party was Calvinist and wished to move the Church of England in the direction of the Reformed churches. The low church party, sometimes called the Evangelical wing, was much more open to the vehement language of the Continental reformers about the Great Apostasy than was the more liturgical, high church party. Officially, churches of the Anglican persuasion teach that Rome has fallen into error. The Thirty-Nine Articles provide that:

  • 19. Of the Church
. . .
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
  • 21. Of the Authority of General Councils
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.
(Article 21 was abrogated in 1801 by the Episcopal Church in the USA because of its reference to "Princes".)
  • 22. Of Purgatory
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
The Anglican churches therefore officially teach that the Roman Catholic Church has on certain issues fallen into error and incorporated some wrong teaching and practices into its worship. The stress any given Anglican will put on these teachings will depend on where that person fits into the continuum of Anglo-Catholicism versus Anglo-Protestantism. Modern efforts of reconciliation have gone a long way toward reversal of former hostilities between Anglican churches, and the Catholic and Orthodox communions.

To jump from "error" to "apostasy" is HUGE. Anglo-Proestantism - that is WP:NEO. I have never heard that expression in either historical or theological contexts. I am working on the Thirty-Nine Articles right now and I know that NO version of the Articles uses the phrase "Great Apostasy" in them. They merit no mention here. I will try to get somebody over here to add something from the Anglican perspective. The whole passage reads like WP:OR. -- SECisek 05:52, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Are there any objections to changing title of "Roman Catholocism and Orthodox Christianity"[edit]

"Reponses of Roman Catholocism and Orthodox Christianity" might be more suitable. Also, does anyone have any thughts as to why the "traditionalist" view is under this heading?LCP 22:16, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

A Question[edit]

The article says:

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches had developed from early on the idea of infallibility of the Church — that the Church may speak entirely without error in particular councils or edicts

It is true that for long the Catholic and Orthodox Churches speak about infallibility and hold that tradition is as inspired as Bible itself. But when exactly was this position really promoted and accepted? Since the 1st Ecumenical Synod? As far as I know, no. I don't think that any "Father of the Church" at that period considered his words or the words of any synod equal to words of the Bible. On the contrary, I think that this idea came centuries later, only after the solid establishment of the religious order of things and after the full development of the mystic theology, that resulted to many supernatural experiences among the monks that would be considered as revelations of the God's word equual to the Bible or even superior. Please make comments if you can shed some light on my query.--Vassilis78 11:33, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, considering that the Bible didn't exist under that singular concept during the time of the First Ecumenical Council, it would be unusual to see someone with that viewpoint. In Orthodoxy, the Bible is the ultimate guidebook- the writings of those who came to know Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Nothing that the Church believes can contradict what the Bible says, and if an individual sees a contradiction, he's misinformed about the issue, and should attempt to understand "why" the confusion exists, and "how" it is reconciled. The Church sees itself as being guided by the Holy Spirit in the Ecumenical Councils, and the only acceptable medium through which the Bible can be understood. Again, the Bible is viewed as the superior source of revelation, but it cannot exist separate from its interpreter; it cannot exist outside of the Body which it was meant to exist within. The Orthodox Church often points out what occurs when one begins to take Holy Scripture and leave interpretation to their own whims, and cast out tradition: schismatics arise, and we arrive at the divided Body that we've come to know today, full of backwater religious movements, and individuals who justify all manner of nonsense by their interpretation.
In summary, Tradition isn't viewed as equal, but it is certainly necessary. God continued to speak through the Holy Fathers, and to shine light to the Orthodox (and Catholics) through their teachings. However, the Bible is the ultimate source of revelation, and all doctrine must be fundamentally based within it, or must not contradict it. Tradition is the lesser of two legs, but holds the Body of the Church up all the same.
Given that you've slightly misunderstood the Orthodox view, I'm not sure how to answer the rest of your question. If you could restate it with the above consideration, I can help. Also, I believe this answer applies to Catholicism as well. Everything must go back to the Bible. It's a Protestant error to assume otherwise, because the doctrines are much more developed.--C.Logan 17:17, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Dear C. Logan,
Misunderstanding the Orthodox view is not a word easy-to-say, because diversity and variety of opinion, even about serious matters of faith, was not a rare phenomenon among the “Fathers of the Church” and—believe me—the case remains the same among modern theologians and clergymen.
First, allow me to disagree with your position that the Bible was formed in the 4th century. Even in the New Testament we find a clear view about the written Word of God. The accurate position is that the 4th century saw the end of a controversy about a minor part of the New Testament which corresponds to the 5% of the entire New Testament text.
Secondly, as regards of the high esteem you expressed for the Bible, I really appreciate your opinion and hope that many Orthodox share your views. But my personal experience in Greece leaded me to different conclusions. Theologians that call the Bible as the “Word of God” are characterized as “protestant-orientated.” The nowadays trendy motto among many theologians that follow the Florovsky-Romanides way of thought, who give emphasis to the theosis, the personal experience of God himself, is that “Bible is not the ‘word of God,’ but the ‘word of the word of God.’” So, it is not strange to read in several writings that since we have the theosis, we don’t really need the Bible, because one thing is to read about God, and other to experience God himself. I made an effort to find some quotations in English, so that I may show you some samples:
Therefore, only some passages were recorded in the New Testament, so that this would act as a distinct verification of the truth that the Holy Bible is only a portion of the whole Truth that was delivered by Christ to the saints, who had in turn lived that Truth in the Holy Spirit. So, whenever we regard the Holy Bible as the only source of divine Revelation, we are in fact mutilating whatever Truth and whatever Revelation God had delivered to His friends (the saints) and has been preserved within the Church.— Rev. Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, fr. Hierotheos Vlachos, The Revelation of God.
The Holy Bible is a guide towards God, but this description of God in the Holy Bible has no actual similarity to God. It speaks of God, it speaks of the truth, but it is not the Truth itself. It is a guide towards the Truth and the Path, which is Christ. Because the words contained in the Holy Bible are merely symbols which contain certain meanings. These meanings are all human and they lead to God, to Christ, and nothing else.
Thus, when one simply reads the Holy Bible, he cannot properly theologize on the basis of the Holy Bible alone. If he does do that, he cannot avoid becoming a heretic, because the proper interpretation of the Holy Bible is accompanied by the experience of enlightenment or theosis. Without enlightenment or theosis, the Holy Bible cannot be interpreted correctly. Just as by simply reading a book on surgery, one cannot become a surgeon unless he takes lessons in Medical School and practices surgery near an experienced professor, thus it is with any other positive science, where one must practice in order to go from practice and experience to the verifying and determination of the theory. In other words, a theory is determined whether it is true, through empirical practice, through empirical knowledge.
In the same way, one who doesn’t approach the Holy Bible through connoisseurs, i.e., through people who have attained the same experience as the Prophets or the Apostles, who are the Fathers of the Church, cannot become certain of the truth of the Holy Bible. The basis, the foundation of this experience, is enlightenment and theosis, in other words, glorification.—Protopresbyter John S. Romanides, Patristic Theology.
To make it plain, acconding to the above well-known Orthodox theologians, Bible is the written record of the theosis as it was experienced by the prophets and others in the old times. However, what is better, to read something about the theosis, or to experience theosis yourself? What is closer to the truth, to read how others saw the truth, or to see it yourself? The answers are quite obvious.
Besides these opinions, let me give you an ample example of what I am saying:
  • Do the modern Orthodox theologians and clergy hold that Bible is infallible? No. BALONEY!!!
  • Do the modern Orthodox theologians and clergy hold that the decrees of the Ecumenical Synods are infallible? Yes. MORE BALONEY!!! For example, Ephesus II and Dordt are treated as Robber Synods, and are ignored as Dirty Politics instead of the Work of God.
I think that this is enough. However, I would appreciate your opinion on my words.
With Christian love,
--Vassilis78 11:18, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
Vassilis, I believe that we're having a minor problem concerning the interpretation of scholars. Perhaps you didn't choose the best quotes to reinforce your viewpoint, or perhaps I wasn't clear enough with mine. I say this because the quotations you have provided essentially reinforce what I was attempting to say (the first reinforces it entirely, as does the second, although the second is an ambiguous sample which can be seen to contradict as well, given the wording). Remember that the emphasis of my post was the the Bible is the originator of revelation, but it only one of two legs. One can not exist without the other and claim to possess "truth", but in this case, nothing given in the Tradition of the Church can contradict the Bible, but can go beyond its beyond what it does say (in contrast, saying that nothing in the Bible can contradict Tradition is either logical mishap, and is heretical, or is merely an inversion of the previous statement, in which case it is used for emphasis alone).
Concerning Biblical "infallibility", there are indeed separate opinions concerning this, but again, it's very difficult to maintain that modern Orthodox theologians deny the Bible's infallibility. Some maintain that the entire text is infallible, while many other maintain that it is only infallible when discussing items concerning morality or theological truths. I've never seen any discernible trend towards a belief in the Bible's general fallibility- again, I've only seen full infallibility, or infallibility concerning theology and morality.
Concerning the canonization of the Bible, I'll have to maintain my position. Recall that the individual books of the New Testament were written with the focus of the term "Holy Scripture" largely concerning the Old Testament, I doubt one can rely on this as a self-reference from a naturalistic viewpoint. Additionally, mind the fact that there was no universality concerning the canon at any point prior to the Synods of the 4th century, and even today there remains to be a disagreement concerning what belongs and what does not amongst the entire Christian community. In earlier times, the liturgy was performed with reading from Papal/Patriarchal or Bishopric encyclicals, and the general reading pool varied wildly amongst many areas. My point was to establish that there was no solid "Bible" to assess a superiority of revelation over until the 4th century. Indeed, many churches and Bishoprics considered certain scriptures to be of Holy value, but this consideration of scripture was not magnified until the final, concrete statements of canonization, where focus could be established to a set number of divine writings on the universal level. Many churches used a similar listing to the final "version", but at the same time many did not, as there had not yet been a final, "official" decree concerning scriptural canonicity. In essence, there is no clear way to maintain that the early centuries espoused a "Scripture over Tradition" viewpoint, or a "Tradition over Scripture" viewpoint, either, as both had been in transient stages of development. Their influence was utterly dependent upon one another, as far as I see it.
In summary, then... although it is difficult to summarize the broad response above... the Church is dependent upon the Scripture and Tradition, though Tradition cannot contradict or supercede scripture, lest it be erroneous. Scripture cannot be properly interpreted without its interpreter, the Orthodox Church. Individual interpretation often leads to error, and results in the continuation of the Protestant movement. There is a strong inter-relation between the two concepts (as we should hope there would be, but Scripture holds prominence in its authority. It cannot be usurped by any Church Father, as weighty as his writings may seem.--C.Logan 18:31, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Dear C. Logan,
Some years ago, I asked a Greek Orthodox theologian why bishops are forbidden to get married since Bible itself says, “The bishop therefore must be… husband of one wife” (ASV). The answer I got was: “The Church made the Bible, so the Church has authority to change a rule when it is needed.” Two years ago, I discussed the same subject with a former Protestant who returned to Orthodoxy. I told him: “Isn’t God who inspired the Bible? Wow can you change something God instituted?” The answer was: “Isn’t Church the Body of Christ? If she is His Body, then when Church decides, God decides.” Similar questions one can make for the use of icons, the holy days, hesychasm, and many other things. Actually the whole matter is closely linked with the matter of canonicity. Is the Church subject to the Bible or the Bible subject to the Church? Who has greater authority? I believe that for some centuries, the “Fathers of the Church” tried to establish their doctrines on a Biblical basis, but that gradually changed.
P.S.: As for the passages I gave, these are only minor portions translated in English and available in the Internet. I have personally read the whole books in Greek, and I believe that my interpretation of them is correct. Both authors are widely respected among the Greek Orthodox people.

Best regards,
--Vassilis78 07:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

"The Church made the Bible, so the Church has authority to change a rule when it is needed."- The answer you got was wrong and misrepresents the Orthodox perspective. The Church can only interpret the Bible, not change it. Besides that, the Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is, as the gospel of John says in it's opening. The Bible is infallible on a theological and moral level, but not on a scientific level.

Aisde from the fact that "Catholocism" mispells "Catholicism", I regard this as Hate Speech directed against Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox. Worse, it is an eggregious attemt to malign Eastern Orthodoxy, poisoning the well in that it imples that Calvinism is ascriptural. I notice that whenever some Eastern Orthodox Criticism appears to ANY Calvinist Doctrine, some self-appointed cop removes it from the Wiki, and gives lame excuses for doing so.

I reccommend the withdrawal of this entire inflamatorily biased article.

This entry seems apologetic and quite slanted in POV.[edit]

I have come across few Wikipedia articles that are as shameless as this one. POV abounds, assertions about God are accepted as proven facts, and apologism without citation is indeed the backbone of the article.

Attempting rework to remove some of the most blatant and obvious POV.

Sukiari (talk) 02:02, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

NPOV - Propaganda[edit]

I rank myself as a casual reader of this article. Jehovah's Witnesses has been my family's religion since the Bible Student days of Charles Taze Russell. When I was a college student, I avoided writing papers concerning strong Witness beliefs. My views of the Witnesses prevented me from neutral academic work. This article is not neutral in tone. Some detachment from the topic might be an improvement. Were this not wikipedia, I would never pay for the content. Sitting in my home or walking down the block, I could receive the same biased info for free.75Janice (talk) 23:56, 3 December 2010 (UTC)75Janice75Janice (talk) 23:56, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Total mess, reads more like an argument...[edit]

This article is virtually unreadable, and full of unsourced information from multiple biased POVs. It seems like this was pretty much abandoned due to the impossibility of regulating it. This needs to have the "reset" button hit, and be locked down from casual editing. Unless an individual has a background in religious history, such as a degree in a history field they should not be editing it based on stuff they found on the internet and heard in church.

Just seems like the vast majority of editing has been done by people with a stake in the argument. Cabazap (talk) 03:56, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

The dangers of theology[edit]

I have been reviewing the "The dangers of theology" for a bit and I am of the opinion that this section needs either a seriously extensive rewrite, or it needs to be removed. There are some very interesting claims with no citations whatsoever, weasel words, the POV is very biased, and just sub-par writing. I am personally for removing the section if there are no improvements made on it. What does everyone else think? W7jkt (talk) 16:17, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

I generally disagree with discarding stuff; it's not great but there is some idea that should be kept there. It's written from the POV of people who believe there was a great apostasy; that definitely needs work. This whole article is in need of more careful research and sourcing. The Great Apostasy by Mormon author James E Talmage is in the public domain (?), so is free to read on google books. it's mentioned in the "further reading" section but never referenced; it should be a good source for explaining, if nothing else, the LDS view of the great apostasy. ...comments? ~BFizz 00:24, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

All sections refimprove[edit]

I've been working on this for a bit, and I've added quite a few citations. As I am a Mormon, most of my additions have been to the LDS section, simply because that is what I know. What I would like to see is an entire article refimprove for every section so that every paragraph has at least one reference. I can't do this by myself, but the thought that came to mind was that everyone who has any kind of knowledge or experience in the various sections to find references for the claims in that section. This would do wonders for this article in making it more inline with WP policies. It is just unacceptable for an article such as this to have so few citations. I will continue to do my best, but again, the other sections are not in my particular scope of knowledge. Regards, W7jkt (talk) 13:58, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in 1517.[edit]

There is a picture of John Calvin in this article with the caption "John Calvin started the Protestant Reformation in 1536 AD". That is not true. The Protestant Reformation was started by Martin Luther in 1517. Someone should change the caption to make it accurate. (talk) 01:15, 13 September 2011 (UTC)Jessica

Or just take out the photo.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Billybobby87 (talkcontribs) 21:07, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

This is a mess that needs fixing.[edit]

There are whole sections that are opinion based with no evidence of reality. No references, nothing affirming what is written. This article needs a lot of stuff taken out of it. Wikipedia states "Encyclopedic content must be verifiable." Lots of this is not and should be removed. --Billybobby87 (talk) 21:16, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

This article has multiple issues.[edit]

This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. It needs additional citations for verification. Tagged since February 2011. Its factual accuracy is disputed. Tagged since March 2010. It may contain original research. Tagged since March 2010. Its neutrality is disputed. Tagged since December 2007.

--Billybobby87 (talk) 21:19, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

This page is a wreck[edit]

Casual reader here, and I've never before felt the urge to comment on a Wikipedia article's backpage before, but this article is a debate, with factual information rare. I'd suggest removing it altogether. Are there not pages/sections for each denomination's theology, where what little factual information is here could be recapped (say, a "Great Apostasy" subheading on the page Beliefs_and_practices_of_The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints or on the Counter-Reformation page)? Those pages generally have a better tone than this internecine squabble. It should be scrapped. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:10, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Your suggestion would be a lot more helpful and likely to be taken seriously if you were to speak in specifics rather than generalities. With your comment, it's unclear what exactly you are concerned about in regards to this article. I would suggest itemizing your concerns, then allowing them to be discussed before you recommend the deletion of a page. Also, since you seem to be new to Wikipedia, it would be a great help if you were to set up a user account. Registered users are far more likely to be taken seriously than users with only an IP address. It would also be a great help if you were to sign your own posts rather than having them autosigned by a bot. Just a few things for you to consider. Thanks. --Jgstokes (talk) 06:22, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I have found it pretty common on wikipedia for people to talk about how horrible an article is and request deletion and it pretty rare for people to actually revise an article. Feel free to rewrite the article to your liking or go visit an actual encyclopedia website. You are wasting your breath if you think this comment will inspire someone to rewrite the article for you, so that task is on you. (talk) 15:38, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I have found it pretty common for people to revise an article. In fact, I just checked and in one sample minute Wikipedia was edited 100 times and 85 of those were article changes. What are the exact issue with this article? Rmhermen (talk) 20:11, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Constantine merging paganism with Christianity[edit]

Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshipers of the old and the new into one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of religions. He would by all lawful and peaceable means melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated Christianity . . . Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism, none is more easy to see through than this making of his Sunday law: The Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their Sun-god . . . [so they should now be combined."--H.G. Heggtveit, "illustreret Kirkehistorie," 1895, p. 202.

Constantine worshipped all the gods especially Apollo the god of the sun. He held the title Pontifex Maximus which was the title of the high priest of paganism.Then we have the following in the first Sunday Law enacted by Emperor Constantine:

"On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost." (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time [A.D. 321].) Source: Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3 (5th ed.; New York: Scribner, 1902), p. 380, note 1.

"Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, 321 A.D."--"Chamber's Encyclopedia," article, "Sabbath."

Here is the first Sunday Law in history, a legal enactment by Constantine 1 (reigned 306-331): "On the Venerable Day of the Sun ["venerabili die Solis"--the sacred day of the Sun] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost--Given the 7th day of March, [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time."--The First Sunday Law of Constantine 1, in "Codex Justinianus," lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Phillip Schaff "History of the Christian Church," Vol. 3, p. 380.

"This [Constantine's Sunday decree of March, 321] is the 'parent' Sunday law making it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American society. When the Church became a part of State under the Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later when the Empire was past, the Church, in the hands of the papacy, enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments."--Walter W. Hyde, "Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire," 1946, p. 261. "Constantine's decree marked the beginning of a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest."-- Vincent J. Kelly, "Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations," 1943, p. 29.

Transition from Pagan to Christian [p. 122] This legislation by Constantine probably bore no relation to Christianity; it appears, on the contrary, that the emperor, in his capacity of Pontifex Maximus, was only adding the day of the Sun, the worship of which was then firmly [p. 123] established in the Roman Empire, to the other ferial days of the sacred calendar… [p. 270] What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labour on Sunday. Source: Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 122, 123, 270. Copyright 1916 by The Macmillan Company, New York. Yes, the title Pontifex Maximus is pagan, derived from the Sun worshipping Roman Empire, and the source of the papal title of Pontiff.

Pagan Festivals and Church Policy The Church made a sacred day of Sunday … largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance. Source: Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, p. 145. Copyright 1928 by G. p. Putnam’s Sons, New York.Simbagraphix (talk) 08:16, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Theological Dangers section remains unencyclopedic, POV.[edit]

Hey, so it's been several years since the "Theological Dangers" section was first tagged as lacking in neutrality and it is still headed by a disputed neutrality banner. The section remains highly POV and unencyclopedic. It is also almost completely unsourced. Unless someone objects in the coming week or so, I'll go ahead and delete the "Theological Dangers" section. I'm giving it a week because I'm reluctant to delete content without discussion. Tigercompanion25 (talk) 22:42, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Well, as no on has objected, I'm going to remove the "Theological Dangers" section, which I still believe to be POV and unencyclopedic. Tigercompanion25 (talk) 04:21, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

There has been a series of edits here and here that added certain content concerning Catholic beliefs and liturgy. There are two problems with these edits: first, they are not citing reliable sources, but rather websites which promote certain views; and second, they are undue weight, making it appear that Protestants in general view Catholics as idol-worshipers etc. In an edit yesterday, I left two of the dodgy refs (and even expanded them from bare urls), on the basis that they were harmless enough on their own, but peppering them throughout the section and the lead, as well as deleting my note that Mary is not worshiped in the Catholic Church, is unacceptable. Scolaire (talk) 12:58, 2 September 2017 (UTC)

Will continue to will add more reliable sourcesSimbagraphix (talk) 01:11, 4 September 2017 (UTC)
I don't know whether you meant "more sources that are reliable" or "sources that are more reliable", but these are neither. The Catholic Encyclopaedia would be a reliable source, except it doesn't say what it is being cited for, and and a self-published 1914 pamphlet certainly aren't reliable. Also, removing "Mary is venerated, not worshipped, in the Catholic Church" in the relevant section, and replacing it with "worship or what is called by the Roman Catholic Church, 'veneration'" in the lead, is blatant POV, and emblematic of the kind of narrow bias that the edits are aimed at introducing. I am alerting the various WikiProjects to the edits and this discussion. Scolaire (talk) 14:49, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

"Great Apostasy" is an LDS buzzword[edit]

"Great Apostasy" is a Mormon buzzword and missionary talking point, as the original version of the article makes fairly obvious [3]. As such, the title is probably not NPOV. The current version may or may not have been made more neutral by accreting other minority viewpoints...but it may also be a kind of synthesis of various Restorationist theologies that developed independently of each other. Geogene (talk) 18:39, 4 September 2017 (UTC)