A much-anticipated book exploring the root causes of the early Christian apostasy is now off the press. Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy is the culmination of several years’ work by BYU scholars who used manuscripts from the first few centuries of Christianity (some not discovered until the last century) to reevaluate the formative research on the apostasy that has already been performed by James E. Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, and B. H. Roberts.
Following them, most Latter-day Saint scholars and leaders previously understood the Christian apostasy through the findings of nineteenthcentury Protestant historians and the claims of eighteenth-century anticlerical writings. Both sources provided a seemingly endless array of evidences of apostasy in Christian history. This reliance on Protestant writers produced in LDS accounts of the apostasy a heavy emphasis on the late-medieval corruption of the Catholic Church, typically described as having occurred during a time of severe spiritual darkness and intellectual backwardness.