A central point of the doctrines of the Latter Day Saints Church (Mormons) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among other groups, is that the church that Christ founded and passed on to the Apostles became corrupted through the subsequent works of man. This corruption was so widespread and ran so deep that a “restoration” was required to restore a real church of God to the world.
Both groups allege that at the time of the founding of their particular organizations, there were no churches on earth that were authentic churches of Jesus — everyone else had fallen away and it was the actions of their founders that “restored” Jesus’ church on this earth. Simply put, the church had become a bunch of heretics and God needed to intervene to restore a real church of God to the planet.
Putting aside the evidentiary argument to the contrary, the question I was pondering today is whether proponents of this doctrine think about what it means in light of Matthew 16:17-18:
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
So we have God speaking to Peter about the church that He is establishing through the Apostles. God says very clearly that He is building His, Jesus’, church. Jesus is the one that is the builder, not man. Jesus continues and makes the very clear statement that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church He is building. It is a clear statement of truth by the Savior of the World who by His nature is incapable of lying. Simple enough, Satan will never beat the church, right?
Fast forward a couple of thousand years to the time just before Joseph Smith graced the world or the Watchtower Society sprung up in Brooklyn. The claim of the “restorers” is that there are no correct churches on the entire land — all have gone off the rails and entered the realm of the heretics. What does that mean? Well, clearly that the enemy of the church has been successful and Satan and the gates of Hell have prevailed against the church! Jesus has failed at the job of building His church. Egads — it feels terrible even writing it!
If no church was true at the time of the supposed restoration of the church of Jesus than Jesus did not do His job as builder very well. If no church is true at the time of the restoration then Satan defeated the church for a time. Again – egads!
How can this make sense if Jesus said He is the builder and the church will not be overcome? Simple question which I would submit leads to a simple answer. It doesn’t.
3 thoughts on “Question for the LDS/JW Community: Did the Gates of Hell Prevail against God’s Church?”
The “Book of Abraham” fiasco is a clear-cut refutation of Joseph Smith. There’s simply no manuevering around it.
even LDS has backed off much of joe smith’s teachings, most have no idea of key beliefs of their own church.
real revival may come to them, the internet has left no doctrine unexamined when it comes to LDS. true believers become blindly faithful, or keepers of the awful secret. the shameful part, many LDS have an enviable work ethic, morals and good character. it is easier to see the excessively sinful, aware of their failings, come to the knowledge of their lostness, then those who are very moral.
nice site you have here, thanks
Thanks for the comment Keith! It is a powerful combination of forces that are working against them. They are pressured greatly socially to be “good” people — shiny happy non-coffee drinking paragons of supposed virtue, told not to question, told the prophets are capable of being wrong (doctrine is squishy — it is hard to argue against doctrine that changes) and told that the Bible is corrupt and only through the church there is truth and salvation. They HAVE TO stay with the church or else all is lost!
It is like a great big dysfunctional family — as you say everybody is keeping a shameful secret, some are just embedded deeper in it.