The great Apostasy is one of the least understood doctrinal phenomena in the world today. The idea of the Lord withdrawing his priesthood and his Church from the earth is not taught in most Christian churches. Rather, the Church is viewed as having perhaps become weakened or corrupted, but that through the consensus of men been righted again in its true path. This belief, however, has led to the establishment of hundreds, if not thousands of different churches, doctrines, and sects.
1 AND Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
In this situation, the Lord is using the destruction of the temple as an analogy of the destruction of the Church. Though the temple was sacked, defiled, and destroyed in 70 AD, it is doubtful that every single stone of the temple was removed. The Western Wall in Jerusalem today, while not necessarily part of Solomon’s original temple, still witnesses that the ancient buildings of Jerusalem have remained at least to some degree intact. However, what the Lord is saying in the above scripture is that the Church will be completely dismantled and withdrawn. This idea is further strengthened by the Lord himself during his encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Here the Savior establishes two important facts. First, the religion that the Samaritan woman and her people were practicing was already in a state of Apostasy. “Ye worship ye know not what.” And, secondly, even though at that point the Church of God was had among the Jews, it would soon be taken away. “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” In other words, the time is coming when the true Church of Jesus Christ will no longer be found on the earth.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
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;
The Bible is clear on this point. Numerous scriptures describe a time when the Church of Jesus Christ will no longer exist on the earth. Prophets will be withdrawn, and the priesthood of God taken away. Yet, for some reason, the world has lost sight of these prophecies. Hence, the concept of the Great Apostasy is a paradigm shift that must occur in the mind of each individual before a discussion of true religion can be undertaken in earnest.