The Apostasy
Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (II Thes.2.3)

Mormonism appeals to this Bible verse to confirm that the Christian Church would "fall away" and thus require restoring. But does the Mormon model fit the scripture? Could this passage be accurately construed to mean the Christian Church would fall into decline and that God would restore it through a man of simple faith, like Joseph Smith?

The answer must be "No, the passage does not mean that."

First, let's look at in context. Here is the full passage:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (II Thes. 2:1-5)

This passage refers to the Second Coming of Christ. It states that before Jesus returns, there will, indeed, be a "falling away." And, it would certainly be possible to look at any period in human history since New Testament times and see that humanity is remarkably sinful. People in Joseph Smith's day certainly could point out that much sinfulness existed in the world.

However, the passage in Thessalonians is not simply speaking about a time when "iniquity shall abound." That certainly will occur in the days preceding the Second Coming. (Matt. 24:12) But the condition described in II Thessalonians is unique. Can we rightly say that in the 1820's anything was happening which could be construed as Satan himself sitting in the Temple of God proclaiming himself to be God?

The Bible says that before Christ returns to the earth, mankind will be at a zenith of wickedness, and at that time God will bring down the curtain of human history and proclaim a final peace on earth. That did not happen with the advent of Mormonism!

Jesus Believed Otherwise

It is true that Jesus Christ established His Church. But He was not worried that believers would destroy it. Of course, the Bible continues to remind us that only a "remnant" ever remains truly faithful in devotion to God. But, if Jesus had the notion that he would establish His Church and that within a few generations or centuries its light would go out, how could he have made the following bold prediction?

. . . .I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16.18)