The Priesthood


Background on this post

I wish to thank Jahnihah for his essay on priesthood, which made me realize that I had always just accepted the standard definition of priesthood without actually verifying it with the scriptures.  I was then inspired to search the Standard Works with priesthood as my research topic, which, I’m embarrassed to say, I had never done before.  This post contains the findings of that research.

As a general outline for this topic, I used (loosely) Chapter 13 of the new Melchizedek Priesthood/Relief Society Manual, Gospel Principles.  Click the link to compare versions.

What Is the Priesthood?

The priesthood is a language that only God speaks. It is as eternal as God Himself is.

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years. (D&C 84: 17)

Priesthood rights “are inseparably connected [to] the powers of heaven” (D&C 121: 36), and thus priesthood is all powerful when spoken.  Priesthood possesses the authority (keys) of God, which is recognized by the entire universe as valid in locking (sealing) and unlocking (loosing) all things.

For the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same.  (D&C 68: 17)

Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth.

For behold, by the power of his word [priesthood] man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word [priesthood]. Wherefore, if God being able to speak [priesthood] and the world was, and to speak [priesthood] and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?  (Jacob 4: 9)

I am the same which spake [priesthood], and the world was made, and all things came by me.  (D&C 38: 3)

By the power (agency) and authority (keys) of the priesthood, the universe is kept in perfect order.  Through this God-language, God accomplishes His work and glory, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words [priesthood].  For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  (Moses 1: 38-39)

Priesthood is a combination of the spoken (audible) word and a gesture (silent) language.  There are three other components to priesthood (to be explained later), which, when present, make it validly “spoken.”

Although the priesthood is a language that only God speaks, He may, and often does, allow worthy sons of His to obtain the right to speak it.  Because the priesthood is a language specific to God alone, when men who hold this right speak it with all 5 components, it is as if God himself is the speaker and the very powers of heaven attend to the pronouncement.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1: 38)

And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God. (Moses 1: 25)

And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. (Ex. 4: 16)

And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.  (Ex. 7: 1)

All priesthood is centered in, comes from, and points to Christ.  Christ is known as the Word (the Priesthood), even the Priesthood made flesh.

For in the beginning was the Word, even the Son, who is made flesh, and sent unto us by the will of the Father, And as many as believe on his name shall receive of his fulness. And of his fullness have all we received, even immortality and eternal life, through his grace.  (JST John 1: 16)

Christ is the physical embodiment of the priesthood, therefore, as Christ saves all things, the priesthood likewise has as its purpose the salvation of all things.  When God confers the rights of the priesthood upon men, it enables them to act in Christ’s name for the salvation of the human family.  Through it, they can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and teach the members of God’s kingdom on earth, so that they govern themselves.

Again, Christ is the Priesthood, therefore, to receive the priesthood is synonymous with receiving Christ.

And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;  (D&C 84: 35)

Those who receive the priesthood become like Christ, even priesthood made flesh.

For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—  (D&C 86: 9)

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations; and I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.  (Abr. 2: 9-11; in other words, whoever receives the Priesthood, becoming priesthood made flesh, becomes the seed of Abraham, who was also priesthood made flesh; see also D&C 84: 34)

As Christ is Savior, through the reception of the priesthood, men also become a savior.

Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.  (D&C 86: 11)

Why Do We Need the Priesthood on the Earth?

We must have priesthood authority (keys) to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriage.  If a man does not have the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs (see Matthew 7: 21-23; Articles of Faith 1: 5).  These important ordinances must be performed on the earth by men who have obtained the rights of the priesthood.

Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to direct the work of the church in all parts of the world.  When Christ lived on the earth, He chose His apostles and ordained them so that they could lead His church.  He gave them the power and authority of the priesthood to act in His name.  (See Mark 3: 13-15; John 15: 16.)

Another reason the priesthood is needed on the earth is to teach the plan of salvation so that we can understand the will of the Lord.

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. (Alma 13: 1)

Priesthood is also needed to carry out the purposes of God.  For example, it is the purpose of God that every husband and father in Israel receive the priesthood, thus becoming like Christ.  This benefits the husband/father (as he receives exaltation), as well as his wife and children (as they obtain within their very home a type of Christ, pointing the way to Christ.)

And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (Alma 13: 2)

It also benefits the world in general, for they, like the wives and children, learn how to be saved.

Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord. (Alma 13: 16)

Also, with the husbands/fathers of Israel as priesthood made flesh (Christ types), God can show forth His arm of power, His wonders, in the eyes of all the nations, as priesthood is “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” (D&C 121: 36).

Why Do Only Men Obtain Priesthood?

Although this question is not explicitly answered in the scriptures, one implicit reason is that the priesthood is meant to point mankind to Christ.  By design, then, one who receives the priesthood not only behaves like Christ, but also looks like Christ. All men, when they grow their hair long and allow their beards to grow full and bushy, bear the image of Christ.  The deep voice and manly physique also contribute to the perception that each man is in the similitude of the Son of God.  This similitude, coupled with the reception of the priesthood, works upon the hearts and minds of men, women and children and turns their attention to Christ.

How Do Men Receive the Priesthood?

Obtaining the rights of the priesthood is not the same as receiving the priesthood.  Let’s talk first about how the rights of the priesthood are obtained.

The Lord has prepared an orderly way for the rights of His priesthood to be conferred upon His sons on the earth.  A worthy male obtains the priesthood “by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof” (Articles of Faith 1: 5).  Usually, it is only a worthy male member of the church who can obtain the priesthood, but sometimes the priesthood is conferred upon worthy male non-members.  Only those who have had the rights of the priesthood conferred upon them can ordain others, and they can do so only when authorized by those who hold the keys (authority) for that ordination.

The first part to receiving the priesthood is obtaining the rights to officiate.

High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member.  An elder has a right to officiate in his stead when the high priest is not present.  The high priest and elder are to administer in spiritual things, agreeable to the covenants and commandments of the church; and they have a right to officiate in all these offices of the church when there are no higher authorities present.  (D&C 107: 10-12)

This happens by the laying on of hands and requires only that the man being ordained is righteous (worthy), meaning that he is justified (guiltless) before the Lord, being right according to the law of God, having received a remission of his sins.

Using the rights of the priesthood requires more than justification (righteousness).

That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. (D&C 121: 36)

It also requires purification and sanctification.

Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God (justification), they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish; therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified (sanctification), and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb (purification).  Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost (sanctification), having their garments made white (purification), being pure and spotless before God (purification), could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence (purification); and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure (purification) and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.  (Alma 13: 10-12)

When the rights of the priesthood are exercised by a justified (righteous), purified and sanctified (holy) man, the powers of heaven manifest themselves.  This is according to the promise of God.

For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.  And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. (JST Gen. 14: 30-32)

A man who has obtained the rights of the priesthood through justification may receive the priesthood itself by purifying and sanctifying himself, through the operation of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, because of his exceeding faith, hope and charity.  (See Moroni 7.)  In this manner, the man becomes like Christ (see Moroni 7: 48) and qualifies himself for receiving the priesthood and being “ordained by the Lord God” Himself, “by the calling of His own voice, according to His own will.”

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. (JST Gen. 14: 29)

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.  (Alma 13: 1)

Thus, the last part to receiving the priesthood, the bestowal of priesthood power, is solely performed by the Lord and depends upon whether the priest magnifies his calling through sanctification by the Spirit unto the renewing of his body (priesthood made flesh).

For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.  (D&C 84: 33)

Men who receive the priesthood have it confirmed upon them by the Lord’s own voice out of the heavens.

And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.  (D&C 84: 42)

In this way, the Lord reserves to Himself the final ordination necessary for priesthood reception, just as He alone is the one who baptizes with fire and the Holy Ghost.

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.  (3 Ne. 12: 1)

All men, then, are “on the same standing” (Alma 13: 5).  Those who wish to qualify themselves for reception of the priesthood “on account of their exceeding faith and repentance” (Alma 13: 10) will receive it, while those who “would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds” (Alma 13: 4) will not receive it, though they may have the rights of the priesthood conferred upon them.

We have been told that there are many called to the priesthood, who have obtained the rights to the priesthood, but few among them are chosen to receive it.

Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

•  •  •

Hence many are called, but few are chosen.  (D&C 121: 34, 40)

Men cannot buy and sell the power and authority of the priesthood.  Nor can they take this authority upon themselves.  In the New Testament we read of a man named Simon who lived when Christ’s apostles presided over (served) the church.  Simon became converted and was baptized into the church.  Because he was a skillful magician, the people believed he had the power of God.  But Simon did not have the priesthood, and he knew it.

Simon knew that the apostles and the other priesthood leaders of the church had received the priesthood, for the powers of heaven were manifest among them.

Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. (Acts 8: 13)

He saw them use their priesthood to do the Lord’s work, and he wanted this power for himself.  He offered to buy the priesthood.  (See Acts 8: 9-19.)  But Peter, the chief apostle, said, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8: 20).

Ecclesiastical Abuse: How the Priesthood Is Misused and What to Do About It

The priesthood is to be used to serve our Heavenly Father’s children here on earth, converting the priest into a servant or minister of all.  Priesthood holders should serve in love and kindness, not rule like Gentile kings.

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  (Mark 10: 42)

Any attempt to convert the minister-servant role of priest into the pomp and prestige of a Gentile ruler by undertaking “to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121: 37) results in immediate condemnation by the Lord, even if the ecclesiastical abuse is not known or corrected by the church.  Ecclesiastical abuse in any form or degree brings immediate damnation upon the priesthood officer and, even before the abuser is aware, he is left alone without the Spirit and subject to the spirit of the devil, to persecute the saints within his congregation, who have been placed within his care and ministry.  He then becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing, fighting against God.  (In the view of the abuser, it is the saints who are the wolves and he is doing “God’s work.”)

Those who engage in ecclesiastical abuse will use the high-sounding title of their priesthood office (bishop, stake president, etc.) to engage in power-plays and submission tests to try to force or compel the members of the congregation to submit to their authority and do what they want them to do.  They will gratify their pride and label all those saints who resist such tyranny as apostates and accuse them of the sin of rebellion.  Ecclesiastical abuse takes many forms, but the following are listed in scripture:

1) undertaking to cover our sins

2) undertaking to gratify our pride

3) undertaking to gratify our vain ambition

4) undertaking to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men

The saints of God within any ward or branch of the church, being sanctified (made holy) by the Spirit of God, naturally resist tyranny in all of its forms.  Like captain Moroni, they “seek not for power, but to pull it down” (Alma 60: 36).  They do not follow the precepts of men except when those precepts are given by the Holy Ghost.  This puts them directly at odds with any ecclesiastical abuser who is a priesthood leader that presides over them.  The rank and file (unsanctified) member is accustomed to following the brethren, not the Spirit, and will blindly follow the precepts of men given by an ecclesiastical abuser regardless of whether it is inspired or not.  These rank and file members will put the priesthood tyrant on a pedestal, gratifying his pride and vain ambition, covering his sins, and will, like the tyrant, look upon the saints resisting compulsion as disobedient apostates and trouble-makers.

These conditions are to be expected among the church for as long as it remains unsanctified and under condemnation, for “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion” (D&C 121: 39).

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.  And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—  (D&C 84: 55-57)

This means that almost all men who hold the rights of the priesthood, including those who hold leadership positions and high offices, are by nature predisposed to act like tyrants.  There are but few (see D&C 121: 40) of the vast ensemble that do not engage in ecclesiastical abuse.  It is these few who pattern their lives after Christ, aspiring to be like Him and setting their hearts upon Him.  The rest (“almost all men”), which are the many, set their hearts “upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121: 35).  So the church, by and large, is led by ecclesiastical abusers, even tyrants, with the occasional man of Christ appearing among them, yet all these men have obtained the rights of the priesthood.

Because of the nature and disposition of men to be tyrants and the condition of the unsanctified and condemned (damned) church, the saints of God are to follow the admonition of Alma, which is to “trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments” (Mosiah 23: 14) and the warning of Nephi:

Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.  (2 Ne. 28: 31)

The Lord has left two means of dealing with ecclesiastical abuse: the law of common consent and the church courts.  If there are two or three witnesses to abuse, the procedure described in D&C 42: 78-93 may be used.  If there are no witnesses (or no willing witnesses), or if the church court system becomes entirely corrupt because the priesthood leadership will not allow a court to be convened or otherwise impedes the process (undertaking to cover up the sins of their fellow ecclesiastical abuser), the law of common consent can be used to de-fang tyrants.  If, however, the law of common consent fails due to rubber-stamping by the general membership, saints of God must resort solely to Alma and Nephi’s counsel, leaving the matter in the Lord’s hands.

Priesthood Organization: An Inverted Hierarchy

A hierarchy is defined as “a ruling body of clergy organized into orders or ranks, each subordinate to the one above it.”  It is true that the priesthood is organized into orders and ranks, but instead of rulers, it consists of servants.  The Lord’s “rulers” (Abr. 3: 23) are not rulers in the typical sense.  They are ministers and servants.

He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all. (D&C 50: 26)

In a typical rich household, the servants do not get the chief seats, do not get the first meal, are not the ones put up on a pedestal.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and lay on men’s shoulders, and they are grievous to be borne; but they will not move them with one of their fingers.  And all their works they do to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi, (which is master.) But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your master, which is Christ; and all ye are brethren.  (JST Matt. 23: 1-5)

The priesthood is designed to be an inverted pyramd, or inverted hierarchy, with the greatest servants, meaning the meekest, most charitable servants, at the very bottom.  These are the least of all the kingdom of God, being servants of all.  Thus, the First Presidency is really the Last Presidency, or Bottom Presidency, being below all other presidencies, nevertheless, all priesthood offices and callings are placed by the Lord below, not above, the body of the church (the saints).

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Eph. 2: 20)

Not By Virtue of the Priesthood

By the Lord’s design, “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” (D&C 121: 41), therefore, for instance, when any president or counselor of the First Presidency enters a room full of people or speaks before an audience, he is to be treated as a title-less servant, not as royalty.  His words and actions alone are to be taken into consideration, without considering, at all, his priesthood rank.  If his words and/or actions are persuasive, long-suffering, gentle, meek, kind and given with genuine love and in pure knowledge, we are to allow them to influence us or to have power over us, otherwise, we are to ignore them. This does him a great service, as people who are treated like royalty eventually begin acting as royalty.  This principle applies to every priesthood calling in the church: branch president, bishop, quorum president, high priest group leader, stake president, mission president, area authority, seventy, apostle, First Presidency counselor or prophet.  They are all to be treated as if they had no title or office, whatsoever.

The next priesthood body, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is not below the First Presidency, but above them, in the inverted hierarchy.  Yet, the Twelve are still just servants of the church body and are to be treated as such, just like the First Presidency.  The difference, though, lies in how the Twelve and First Presidency interact with each other, for the First Presidency is to serve the Twelve and not the other way around.

This pattern of the greater serving those who are lesser is to apply to all quorums of the priesthood, for even as “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Mark 10: 45), so are holders of the priesthood not to be ministered unto, but to minister, in their respective jurisdictions.

How Do Men Properly Use the Priesthood?

The word “minister” comes from the Latin minister, which means “servant.”  Our word “servant” comes from the Old French servir, which comes from the Latin servire, which means “to be a slave” or “to be a servant,” which comes from the Latin servus, which means “slave” or “servant.”  The only difference between a slave and a servant is that the servant is engaged in voluntary servitude while the slave is engaged in involuntary servitude.  With this in mind, we can think of a servant as a “voluntary slave.”  To properly use the priesthood, then, one must consider himself a servant, or voluntary slave, of all and act accordingly.  Even when called to preside, the use of the word “president” means, in the vernacular of the Lord, servant (or voluntary slave).

Which ordinance is instituted for the purpose of qualifying those who shall be appointed standing presidents or servants over different stakes scattered abroad;  (D&C 124: 134)

This is why the Lord uses the word “yoke.”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matt. 11: 28-30)

We are yoked (as servants) with priesthood.  We are voluntarily enslaved.

Entering the priesthood with the proper mindset requires that one consider himself as nothing (see Mosiah 4: 11), even less than “the dust of the earth” (see Mosiah 2: 25-26).  This prepares a man to “enter the priesthood” and not merely “get the priesthood.”  Often we speak of the priesthood as something you get, receive, hold, as if it were a thing you could stick in your pocket.  It is true that the priesthood is “the gift of God” (see Acts 8: 20), but it is also true that it is an order that is entered into by ordination.  “Entering the priesthood” is meant to be a life-changing event, for it is through the priesthood that men can become like Christ, even priesthood made flesh. In that vein, entering the priesthood is synonymous with entering a life of selfless service, in which you use the rights of the priesthood, and the powers of heaven that are inseparably connected to them, to bless and minister to all the living creatures around you, and even to those who have died, through the work for the dead.

Priesthood Is the Antidote to “Natural Man Syndrome”

When priesthood functions as it was intended to function, as a corps of humble servants who are unable to maintain any power or influence by virtue of their priesthood office and calling, because all look upon them as title-less servants and listen to their counsel and follow their examples only to the degree that their counsel and examples square up with the scriptures, priesthood becomes an antidote to the natural disposition that men have to exercise unrighteous dominion upon others.  Only when priesthood offices and callings are lifted up in the eyes of the LDS people to the point where they give their leaders special treatment, like royalty, and they heed and “follow the brethren,” their leaders, because they have such high and holy callings, in other words, when the LDS people begin to give more weight to what a General Authority says because he is a General Authority, or more weight to what a stake president or bishop or branch president or any other president says, because of their titular callings, at that point the priesthood ceases to be the antidote and becomes, instead, the poison.  When the honors of men are found within the priesthood ranks and men begin to list the high priesthood offices they’ve held as merit badges and honorable ribbons, or as a job resume, it ceases to function as the true priesthood of God and becomes, instead, but a form of godliness, and not the real thing.

At that point, the powers of heaven will have withdrawn from these men and the work of miracles would have ceased.  No more angels, no more open visions, no more prophecies and revelations, no more miraculous power manifested.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”  (JS-H 1: 19)

False Priesthoods: Royal In Nature

The transformation of the minister-servant status of priesthood into royalty status can be seen by examining how the priesthood operated during the time of Christ and how it has morphed over generations into the Catholic priesthood today.  The pope, cardinals and bishops dress, act and are treated as royalty.  Mormon priesthood appears to be following the same evolution.  Although Mormons don’t, yet, kiss their bishop’s rings (like Catholics do), Mormon priesthood leadership has many of the trappings of royalty, including getting the chief seats, partaking of the sacrament first, having people stand when a GA enters a room, etc.

How Keys are Lost (or Taken Away)

Both Mormon and Catholic priests claim a priesthood line of ordination that leads directly to Peter.  In the case of the Catholics, they claim an unbroken line of ordination to mortal Peter, while the Mormons claim an unbroken line of ordination to the angel Peter.  Each asserts that they have the keys (authority) of the priesthood, while the others do not.  The assertion, then, is that the priesthood of the other church is false because they have no keys.  So, by definition, a false priest, even though proper ordination has occurred, is one that asserts to have keys, but in reality has no keys.

A priest’s keys (authority) is immediately lost or taken away when a priest undertakes “to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men” (D&C 121: 37) by virtue of the priesthood.  When authority is asserted because of an office of the priesthood, the Lord says, “Amen to…the authority (keys) of that man” (D&C 121: 37).

A man who has obtained the rights and keys of the priesthood, who acts in this manner, loses his keys (or has his keys taken away), becoming a false priest. For example, although the Catholic priests trace their priesthood back to Peter, they are false priests, for they assert their authority by virtue of their priesthood ordination and thus have no keys. They may have had the keys at one time, but due to wholesale, unrepentant, generational corruption, they have since lost them entirely, for you can not pass on what you no longer have.

Mormon priesthood keys can also be just as easily lost.  It matters not that one was ordained by someone with real priesthood authority who correctly conferred the rights and keys of the priesthood.  Regardless of how correct was the ordination, if priesthood is used contrary to the order of heaven, both the keys and powers of priesthood are instantly lost.  With repentence, they can be obtained again, but while a man persists in influencing others by virtue of the priesthood, that man has no valid authority and is a fraud, even a false priest.  When that happens, priesthood, in the hands of a false priest, instead of being a great blessing, becomes a curse to the people and church of God.

False priests “teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance” (2 Ne. 28: 4), which makes them “false teachers.”  It is “because of false (priest) teachers” that “churches have become corrupted” (2 Ne. 28: 12).  It is important, then, to be able to discern a false from a true priest/teacher.  In this area, Jesus gave us some counsel:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.  (3 Ne. 14: 15-20)

This advice equally applies to false priests.  Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that “ye shall know them by their improper priesthood ordination.”  How they are ordained is not the most important thing in detecting ravening wolves.  How they use the priesthood shows them as being true or false priests.

The Priesthood and Women

It is through priesthood that men become exalted, for when they receive it, they receive Christ and the Father and all that the Father has.  This is according to the oath and covenant of the priesthood.  The doctrine of exaltation requires the union of man and woman in eternal marriage, but men must also receive the priesthood.  Women, however, obtain their exaltation by their union with their priest-husband.  A priest-husband who has received the priesthood, meaning he has become priesthood made flesh, in similitude of the Son of God, when he “cleaves to his wife,” becomes one flesh with her.  In this way, the wife shares in all of the exalting benefits of the priesthood and enters into her exaltation, just as does the husband.  This is according to the principle of charity.

The prize is the same for both of them: all that the Father has is given to her husband and to her, for she is one flesh with her husband and he is priesthood made flesh. As he has received the priesthood, and she has become one flesh with him, she has also received the priesthood.

This does not mean that she must perform the ordinances of the priesthood.  Each office of the priesthood has duties that vary from another office of the priesthood.  A deacon does not do what an elder does.  In like manner, a woman, wife and mother has duties different than any of the offices of the priesthood.  She is not ordained to these duties like a priest, for her calling begins at her birth.  She is given from the start the natural abilities and gifts needed to bear and nurture the souls of men and has no need for priesthood rights to be conferred upon her to magnify her calling.  She only needs the saving ordinances of the gospel, including the temple rites, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, to magnify her calling.  Nevertheless, the promise of exaltation lies with the priesthood, and for this matter she must enter into eternal marriage with a man who has received the priesthood and become one flesh with him to obtain her exaltation.

The Lord is merciful to all His daughters, as well to all His sons, and will not allow a disobedient husband who refuses to receive the priesthood to stop a wife worthy of exaltation from receiving it.  Nor will He allow a rebellious wife to prohibit her worthy-of-exaltation husband from receiving it.  Each man who justifies, purifies and sanctifies himself before God and obeys His commandments, will enter into his exaltation regardless of what his spouse does.  The same applies to women.

What Priests Really Hold

Although we “confer the priesthood,” in reality we are not conferring priesthood, but are conferring the rights to the priesthood.  The rights to the priesthood are the rights to administer the priesthood, or the rights to officiate in an office of the priesthood, meaning the rights to use the priesthood, or to speak this language of God. (See Abr. 1: 2-3, 27, 31; Abr. 2: 11; D&C 121: 36-37; D&C 107: 10-12.)  This pattern also applies to the ordinance of confirmation, in which it is said, “Receive the Holy Ghost!”  Are we really bestowing the Third Member of the Godhead upon the newly baptized member?  Of course, not.  We are merely giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to have the constant companionship of the Spirit.

The Key-words of the Priesthood

Facsimile #2 of the Book of Abraham has the following explanations of figures #3 and #7:

3. “representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood”

7. “revealing through the heaven the grand Key-words of the Priesthood”

The Key-words of the priesthood are not some secret, magic words that, once known and spoken, grant the man speaking them unlimited access to the heavens and the powers thereof.  They are not secret words known only to the living prophet or Twelve apostles, or to other secret initiates.  No, the Key-words of the priesthood is the priesthood itself.

The priesthood is a language that is specific to, and spoken only by, God Himself.  It is the original tongue, the mother and father tongue, the words that brought everything into existence, including other languages (the languages of men).  The priesthood is the key-words that lock or unlock all things, or seal and unloose all things.  These are the words of power (agency), the words of authority (keys).  It is through the Key-words (the Priesthood) that every other word of God has come forth.  For example, the scriptures found in our Standard Works contain the Word of God revealed through the Key-words (Priesthood) of God.

Joseph added “of the Holy Priesthood” and “of the Priesthood” to his explanation of Key-words, because Key-words is a common term and could refer to many things.  So, he added that to indicate or clarify that he was talking of the Priesthood Key-words.  The term Key-words itself is used to indicate that the Priesthood is a language which holds authority (keys) in the universe.  Joseph says that “all to whom the Priesthood was revealed” have “the Key-words of the Holy Priesthood” revealed (see Fig. 3).  So, if you have had the Priesthood revealed to you, then you have also had the Key-words of the Priesthood revealed to you, for they are one and the same.

What Blessings Come When We Use the Priesthood Properly?

Answer: Faith, the presence of God, knowledge of God and exaltation.

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.  The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.  (D&C 121: 45-46)

The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity; because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. (D&C 107: 30-31)

Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!  (D&C 128: 19)

And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; for he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.  (D&C 84: 35-39)

Notice, also, that while the gift of the Holy Ghost gives us the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, receiving the priesthood actually causes the Holy Ghost to be one’s constant companion.  The meaning of this is that we become one (united) with God, meaning that we enter into the Godhead.  This is according to the Lord’s intercessory prayer.  (See John 17.)

Mormon Gentile Priesthood: A Temporary Measure

The priesthood given by God to the Gentile Mormons today is temporary in nature.  The first priesthood given, the Priesthood of Aaron, is a modified form of the original Priesthood of Aaron.  It has been tailored to fit the conditions (see D&C 46: 15) among the Gentile Mormons and will only remain with them until the Levites begin again to perform the Levitical Priesthood rites.

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.  (D&C 13: 1)

The second priesthood given, which is the Melchizedek Priesthood, will remain with the Gentile Mormons only until the restoration of all things, at which point it will be transferred to the tribes of Israel.

Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.  (D&C 86: 10)

So, at some point in the future, the Melchizedek Priesthood will be restored to the tribes of Israel and the Levitical/Aaronic Priesthood will be restored to the Levites and the priesthoods among the Gentiles will be phased out so that Gentiles will no longer be able to obtain priesthood unless they renounce their Gentile status and become numbered with the house (tribes and Levites) of Israel.

Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel. (3 Ne. 30: 2)

Next Priesthood article: An alternate view of the keys

Previous Priesthood article: Let the Aaronic Priesthood Do Home Teaching and Let the Elders Administer the Sacrament

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

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16 Comments

  1. [...] we attempt to control, in any way, another we are left to “kick against the pricks.”  Why?  Because in so doing we’ve become an enemy to God (verse 38).  We struggle so much to see and witness these miracles because we’re too busy asserting [...]

  2. As I looked over the notes I had written for this post, I realized that I had unintentionally left some items out. So, I have modified the post a little bit by adding what was originally intended to be there. For the benefit of those who already read the article (and don’t want to re-read it to discover what’s different), here are the additions:

    I added one sentence to the sixth paragraph of the Ecclesiastical Abuse section:

    Like captain Moroni, they “seek not for power, but to pull it down” (Alma 60: 36).

    I also added a link to “become numbered” in the second to the last paragraph and a link to “the oath and covenant of the priesthood” in the first paragraph of The Priesthood and Women section.

  3. LDSA,
    This was a very penetrating post for me. Like you, I have come to understand just how fragile the priesthood can and should be. As I thought about your points, a couple of questions developed.

    Can a man who has ‘lost’ his priesthood through unrighteous dominion able to ordain others? I have to think that it is not in keeping with God’s will that I can pass the priesthood on to another if I have not met the qualifications myself.

    Secondly, Alma the elder received his ‘priesthood’ directly from God (Alma 18). Does God have the right to bestow the priesthood to whom He desires? I believe he does, but this does negate that absolute need for priesthood lineage.

    Finally, does the Gentile Church really dispose of the priesthood when the scroll rolls? I go back to the blessing that Israel gave Ephraim – that he would be a multitude of nations – as an indication that we are both Gentiles and of the house of Ephraim. Your thoughts?

    Thanks for the marvelous post.

  4. Spek, thanks for the compliments. This post hasn’t gotten very many hits. I think I titled it wrong. “The Priesthood” is too generic and I think that when people read the title, they think it’s just a rehash of everything they’ve ever heard about the priesthood and that it contains no new information about this topic, so most of the people entering the blog are skipping over it. That, and it’s probably too long a post to engage people’s interest. You are one of a handful of people, I think, that have actually read it. I’m glad to hear that it stimulated your mind.

    Regarding your questions: I’m going to have to come back to them. I’m still in the process of researching priesthood. I’ve actually learned a bit more since posting the above article and am currently writing a follow-up post on the further research I’ve done in the past week or so. I may just end up incorporating your first two questions (and perhaps the third, also) into that future post and answering them there.

    Concerning your third question, “Does the Gentile Church really dispose of the priesthood when the scroll rolls?”, I will act like a Jew and answer your question with more questions. (I have heard that Jews have a tendency to do that.)

    In 3 Nephi 16: 10, Jesus says,

    And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

    Now, my question is this: As the Father has said that He “will bring the fulness of [His] gospel from among” the Gentiles when the Gentiles shall sin against it and reject the fulness of it (contained in the records to come forth), what exactly is “the fulness of my gospel” that the Father is going to remove from the Gentiles? Is it the records? Or is it the ordinances? If someone removes your scriptures, have they taken the fulness of the gospel from you? Or do you still have it even without the scriptures? What about if they take away your priesthood and the validity of the ordinances you have received?

  5. What is the fulness of the gospel? In addition to the D&C stating that the fulness of the gospel is found in the Book of Mormon in D&C 20:9, Joseph Smith – History states in verse 34 that the fulness of the gospel was contained in the sermons delivered by the Savior to the Nephites.

    For me, this helps to narrow it down. I have read these scriptures many times and have come to the conclusion that the fulness of the gospel is the instruction regarding sanctification through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. There are four scriptures where the Lord defines his gospel – two of them speak of sanctification – 3 Nephi 27:19-21 and D&C 76:40-42 and two of them speak of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost – D&C 33:11-12 and D&C 39:6. This is what I believe has/will be removed from the Gentiles. We, through our misdeeds will lose the ability to be cleansed of our sins, unless we repent and return to Him and be numbered with the house of Israel.

    I found it interesting that you brought up the sanctification of the high priests discussed in Alma. I would suggest that the true priesthood is the ability to act/speak in God’s name. If I read Alma 13 correctly, I would suggest he gives this privilege only to those who have been sanctified. Once one has achieved that state then God gives them the right to bind in earth and in heaven and to ‘move mountains’ because he knows they won’t speak that which is contrary to the will of God. They will also be able to demonstrate the works of God as displayed by the disciples in Fourth Nephi.

    I am still working on the questions I posed earlier. I will be interested in your perspective.

  6. Spek, I noticed that your comment above talks about the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, while the scripture I quoted (3 Nephi 16: 10) talks about the fulness of the gospel of the Father. Do you understand these gospels to be one and the same, or different (like, for example, the preparatory gospel and the everlasting gospel are different)?

  7. I’ve been wondering what the ramifications are when an unworthy priesthood holder – or one who has lost his priesthood for any of the reasons listed in your post – goes on and ordains others to the priesthood. If one has lost his priesthood it would seem that he cannot pass it on. Could it be possible, just as Brigham Young (I believe) said there could be thousands of men who think they hold the priesthood, but in actuality don’t and are therefore not actually ordaining men to anything? If this is the case, what about those rare men among us who are humble and worthy and live to emmulate Christ who can and do use the priesthood to heal and bless, etc. They are out there. I have met a few in my lifetime in the church. Given the odds that if all the above are true, and given that I believe the saints from WAY far back quit living up to Zion standards, even these few great priesthood holders were ordained by those who didn’t hold the priesthood to begin with. So, how do they have the power of the priesthood? Is it possible, that we live in a time where the laying on of hands has become a lower law, and that the priesthood comes to men directly from God or only to those who have the correct lineage? I don’t know, I could be ridiculously off, but I can’t figure out where we stand. It seems that there are no more visable fruits the LDS holds the priesthood compared to any other group who have faithful people – so many others seem to be just as successful with answers to prayers, healings, etc. as we do. Anyway, would love your thoughts – this has been on my mind since i originally read this post.

  8. mdesignsfor6: I believe you’re on the right path (not that I’m a good judge of good/bad paths).

    It was John Taylor who prophesied of the impending lack of priesthood holders – that by the time of the 7th president of the church (not surprising, Heber J. Grant), there would be many who thought they held the priesthood, but were not. It was then that priesthood ordinations were changed, a change which was in place for 30+ years…which some suggest effectively nullifies the ordinations that happened during those 30+ years. I believe it was McKay who changed the ordinations back to how it was originally supposed to happen, and as happened pre-Heber J. Grant. But, the church never bothered going back to fix what happened during the time when ordinations were done in a faulty way.

    Whether this matters or not is another story. As you mentioned, perhaps the fruits are missing because of this, or perhaps because of some other reason. In truth, even for those who have had the priesthood properly conferred, even then it’s terribly ephemeral. DC 121 discusses the many ways the priesthood leaves those to whom it’s conferred and LDSA has done an admirable job discussing this.

    Does God hold me accountable for how those who conferred the priesthood to me acted? If they were unworthy at the time of conferring the priesthood to me, would God visit that on my head?

    It is my belief that the gospel is individual – and this presents a potential contradiction for some of the scriptures I read on blessings/cursings which flow through to the 3rd or 4th generation – but I believe that God will recognize me for who I am, or who I may become. If my father proved to be the worst philanderer in the world, I don’t think God would hold that against me. If my father proved to be like Abraham’s father – an idolater – I don’t think God would hold that against me any more than he held it against Abraham. Heck, I may even work in the idolatry store like Abraham for much of my life…but, eventually, at a personal level, I will be confronted win an individual decision about which way I will go. I can either act like Abraham and smash the idols, fearing God more than man, or I can act like I usually do and fear man more than God.

    The JST of Genesis 14 seems applicable to this situation. Anyway, I digress.

  9. The priesthood is the Spirit of Christ, which is not the Light of Christ or the Holy Ghost. Alma 5:44… It is contained within the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Please do not think that you are the one doing any priesthood ordinances. It is the Spirit of Christ within you that performs that ordinance wether it is the sacrament, or blessing the sick. You are the Vessel but the Spirit of Christ being perfect is the power.

    http://www.angelpalmoni.com

  10. A long time ago, LDSA asked:
    “Spek, I noticed that your comment above talks about the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, while the scripture I quoted (3 Nephi 16: 10) talks about the fulness of the gospel of the Father. Do you understand these gospels to be one and the same, or different (like, for example, the preparatory gospel and the everlasting gospel are different)?”

    LDSA, I apologize that I didn’t respond to this. March was a blur and I am just coming to grips with April. I have come to understand that there are typically no simple answers to the questions you ask. I believe this is the case here, although the simple answer is: No, I don’t think they are different.

    Please consider 3 Nephi 27 where Christ defines His gospel. He was sent to do the will of the Father. It this through the gospel as is presented there that we can return to the presence of the Father. This gospel contains repentance, baptism, and sanctification by the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 27:20-21)

    The preparatory gospel described in D&C 84 is defined as the “gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins.” I see these two definitions as the same given that we receive a remission of our sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. At the same time, with respect to the house of Israel, their preparatory gospel replaced the atonement of Christ with the law of sacrifice. Unblemished animals took the place of the Son of God – in preparation for the real thing to come. So… yes, the preparatory gospel and the everlasting gospel are the same, but they are different in execution.

    Paul warns us in Galatians not to stray from the single gospel that has been presented:
    “8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
    9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

    Should we take this to mean there is only one gospel? I believe that is the case, That is where I am at that this point.

  11. Whoever you may be – prophets, Seventies, Stake presidents,bishops, priests, or simple members, of
    the Church – forego for a while your assurance that you in particular are the only true
    disciples of the God Christ, appointed to preach his only true teaching. Remember that before
    being prophets, seventies, bishops, or priests, etc., you are first of all men. According to
    your own teaching, you are beings sent into this world by God to fulfill His will. Remember
    this, and ask yourselves what you are doing. Your whole lives are devoted to preaching,
    maintaining, and spreading among men a teaching which you say was revealed to you by God
    Himself, and is, therefore, the only one that is true and brings redemption.

    In what, then, does this one true and redeeming doctrine that you preach, consist?

    Very well. You have had the one truth capable of saving mankind revealed to you by God
    Himself. It is natural for men to strive towards truth, and they are always glad to accept it, and to
    he guided by it when it is clearly presented to them. And, therefore, to impart this saving truth
    revealed to you by God Himself, it would seem sufficient, plainly and simply, verbally and
    through the press, to communicate it with reasonable persuasion to those capable of receiving it.

    But how have you preached this truth?

    People in the Church feel fully persuaded that they are living Christian lives, having for many generations
    built their lives on foundations irreconcilable with true Christianity, and thus they are unable to
    return to true Christianity.

    But I know that arguments addressed to the intellect do not persuade. Only feeling
    persuades, and therefore, leaving arguments aside, I appeal to you, whoever you may be: prophets,
    seventies,stake presidents, bishops, priests, or what not. I appeal to your feelings and to your consciences.

    You know that what you teach is not true,because you don’t practice it. How then can you teach it to little children and to ignorant
    adults, who look to you for true enlightenment?

    Ask yourself, with your hand on your heart, do you believe what you preach? If you really
    ask yourself that question, not before men but before God, remembering the approaching hour of
    death, you cannot but answer, “No, I do not believe it.” You do not actually believe in the God’s
    inspiration of the whole of those writings which you call sacred.

    Falsehood cannot be useful to anyone. The common men whom you have indoctrinated
    could equally know what you know: that falsehoods are falsehoods. If it were not for you, they
    might free themselves from these falsehoods, and find the truth that Christ has shown. But you
    have hidden these truths by standing between the common men and their God. What you are
    doing, you are doing not to serve man, but only from ambition or covetousness.

    Therefore, however magnificent the palaces in which you live may be, and the churches in
    which you officiate and preach, and the vestments in which you adorn yourselves(White shirt,ties,etc), your
    occupation is not made better by these things. “That which is highly esteemed among men is an
    abomination in the sight of God.”

    But there are among you those also (and their number is continually
    increasing) who, though they see the bankrupt position of the Church creeds in our day, cannot
    make up their minds to examine them critically.

    Whether you are already an ordained priest or a young man only preparing for the priesthood,
    if you belong to that class of men, sincerely and naively believing and oblivious of the obstacles
    to doing so, pause for a while and consider what you are doing or are about to do. You are
    preaching, or are preparing to preach, a teaching that will define the meaning of men’s lives.

    You will define life’s purpose, indicate the features of good and evil, and give direction to all
    these men’s activities.

    Falsehood cannot be useful to anyone. The common men whom you have indoctrinated
    could equally know what you know: that falsehoods are falsehoods. If it were not for you, they
    might free themselves from these falsehoods, and find the truth that Christ has shown. But you
    have hidden these truths by standing between the common men and their God. What you are
    doing, you are doing not to serve man, but only from ambition or covetousness.

    I love the Restauration but some times…..

  12. As I read over the hundreds of comments on BiV’s post at Wheat & Tares on the subject of Quentin Cook’s address from last week’s general conference — I thought about the work done by Daymon Smith on the subject of “Priesthood CorrelationTM“. According to Smith:

    Daymon: …And by the late [19]60’s we’re no longer just talking about an administrative change or organizational change. By 1967 as they’re beginning to implement correlation of stake and ward manuals, they meet together and one of the heads of the church correlation committee, a guy named Paul Royal, starts to tell the story to a group of BYU students. He tells them that McKay held up the new, correlated manual and said “this is the mind and will of the Lord.” But of course if you read McKay’s journals, McKay describes it rather differently.

    There’s a lot of resistance to this at the local level, and a particularly rigorous resistance by the auxiliaries. In particular the Relief Society and the Primary, which at that point were more or less independent entities. The way that one of the Correlation managers described it to me recently was that it was as if you had four different Churches.

    Brad: So this authorization that Lee’s been given to streamline and simplify doctrine and just get things in more efficient working order, these are not the only changes. In addition to Lee and his committee being given the tools and authority to streamline church curricula, to make sure that everything is produced and distributed in an efficient manner, making it all both logistically and conceptually accessible for a wide variety of populations—in addition to all this you have a kind of reigning in and centralization of Church authority. The auxiliaries are moved from a degree of relative autonomy into a position of subordination to Priesthood Correlation, and everything must fall under the same head.

    Daymon: And they’re using “priesthood” increasingly, in these contexts, to refer to this group of guys who form this committee, and this is why the manuals are so important—it’s the manuals that were being produced, sponsored, and edited by the different auxiliaries, but Lee is given a mandate to look them over and review them. And he follows the thread from the manuals to the sources of independence for the different auxiliaries.

    Brad: So the mutual associations, the Relief Society, the Primary, whereas they had previously been putting together their own curricula, writing their own manuals, now they’re going to get stuff that comes from the head, from “the Priesthood,” by which is meant this priesthood committee, but also implicitly has the imprimatur of the Brethren, in that President McKay authorized the creation of the committee in the first place.

    Daymon: And this is where the confusion between priesthood as a power, priesthood as a group of guys, and priesthood as a kind of administrative authority really opens up the corridors for realigning everybody and everything under this priesthood committee.

    In short [Smith addresses the topic fully in his dissertation], at the start of the restoration — “priesthood” was understood as it is described in this post. It was a kind of force, the method used by God to organize and govern the universe. The “order” of the priesthood was just that — a fraternal order of people bound by covenant to be servants.

    WIth correlation, the term “priesthood” is used as an adjective to mean something is placed under the control of “the ChurchTM” in Salt Lake. Nowadays, when people clamor for women to “have the priesthood”, they are really responding to the lack of women in the administrative structure of the ChurchTM — since they have all been raised in the correlated bubble where [priesthood] = [administration].

    The point I’m trying to make here is something I tried to elaborate on at another Wheat & Tares post [on the subject of female priesthood and healing gifts]:
    * The ChurchTM defines “priesthood” as “the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood God created and governs the heavens and the earth. … Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth.” This ChurchTM-defined priesthood is a Gentile pyramid-hierarchy where the “greater” [key-holders] are habitually obeyed by the “lesser” [non-key-holders].

    * However, with the restoration of all things, Joseph Smith was establishing “priesthood” as a tribal order — a new people-group [like the Tribes of Israel anciently]. This priesthood was synonymous with kinship and covenants. Men and women both receive this priesthood — being kings/priests and queen/priestesses — receiving the fullness of the priesthood through the temple covenants.

    As I said in the comments on the post linked to above:

    When we say that priesthood = the administrative arm of the Salt Lake oligarchical patriarchy, then sure women can’t be said to hold that “Priesthood(TM)”.

    But when priesthood is understood as the language of God and the keys of the priesthood are not seen as concentrated at the top of a Gentile power pyramid — then a proper tribal picture comes into focus.

    Therefore, I see a discussion on the lack of the influence of women in the general administrative structure of the ChurchTM to be a completely different discussion than “do women hold [or should they hold] the priesthood?”

  13. Also — I’ve copied over the following two comments from the previously mentioned W&T post that I think represent a good summation of what I was trying to say above:

    The bestowal of priesthood comes with all of the associated keys — albeit in an unactivated state [D&C 107:18–20]. The various keys needed to perform the work of the Lord are then activated by the consent of the members, with the presiding high priest being the only priesthood holder to have all active keys.

    People must have priesthood authority [keys] to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple ceremonies.

    When these ordinances are done for the church, then it is the consent of the church members that authorizes the priesthood holder’s keys as valid for that purpose.

    When these ordinances are done within a tribe, then it is the consent of the family members that authorizes the priesthood holder’s keys as valid for that purpose.

    If someone does not have the priesthood, then even though they may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances performed as valid [according to Matthew 7:21–23 or the 5th A of F].

    If someone does have the priesthood, but has not been authorized by the vote of the church, then the Lord will not recognize ordinances performed as valid for the church.

    However, the tribe is an entity separate from the church —

    [This point is even recognized by the CHI "oral law", which states: "Family home evening is sacred, private family time under the direction of the parents. Priesthood leaders should not give directions as to what families should do during this time."

    As well as by Dallin Oaks: "All priesthood authority in the church functions under the direction of one who holds the appropriate keys. But the authority that presides in the family — whether father or single-parent mother — functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding keys."]

    and therefore, if someone does have priesthood and has been authorized by the consent of the family, then the Lord will recognize ordinances performed as valid for the tribe.

    “What ordinances, exactly, are you supposing are done on the family level?”

    My family [and at least five others that I know of from the LDSA blog] have began partaking of the sacrament as a weekly tribal worship service.

    “The quotes that you put up there are to do with familial stewardship.”

    That is not different than ordinances. When the oral law states that my weekly FHE:

    is sacred, private family time under the direction of [my wife and I]. Priesthood leaders should not give directions as to what [we] should do during this time.

    This means that should we choose to partake of the sacrament according to the pattern given in the scriptures [an ordinance], or pray for healing gifts according to the true order of prayer [an ordinance], etc. — then church priesthood leaders have no say-so in the matter. They do not have a steward-based jurisdiction over the affairs of a tribe.

    So — to sum it up according to the quote by Dallin:

    All priesthood authority in the church functions under the direction of one who holds the appropriate [or authorized] keys [within the church].

    But the authority [or keys] that presides in the family — whether father or single-parent mother — functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding [church] keys.

    Back to [the], “What ordinances, exactly, are you supposing are done on the family level?” question:

    I know of one man who has been baptized and confirmed as a member of his tribe — and I am working with one particular priesthood holder that I know and trust to baptize and confirm me as a member of mine [My wife is already a baptized/confirmed member of our tribe].

    Just about every ordinance performed at church can be performed in a tribe. The same priesthoods are used for all of these ordinances. Thus:

    A child can be blessed and given a tribal name. a boy or girl can be baptized for the remission of sins as part of his or her entrance into the tribe, the gift of the Holy Ghost can be given as a confirmation that he or she is a member of the tribe, males can be ordained to the priesthoods, etc.

    Although the same priesthood is used, these are tribal ordinances, not church ordinances. They are recorded on family records, not church records. Should the individuals desire to join a church — they can do that, too, but they’ll have to receive these ordinances again from the hands of authorized church officers.

    Priesthood found within a tribal setting, authorized by the family members, is recognized as valid by the Lord.

    My point in [a previous comment] was that even if it is granted that women obtain the rights of the priesthood upon receiving the key-words of the priesthood in the temple ceremony [Which BTW, is my opinion on the matter] — they are not authorized church officers:

    They have not received license to activate their priesthood keys [given we can say that they have them] by vote the church to which they belong [D&C 20:63, 65–66]. And thus I wrote, “If someone does have the priesthood, but has not been authorized by the vote of the church, then the Lord will not recognize ordinances performed as valid for the church.

    However, in a tribal setting, the “church” to which they belong [being the organization of the family] may choose to authorize the use of the priesthood keys that the woman holds [if the family so decides that women are given the rights of the priesthood] by their vote.

    Which is why I wrote, “if someone does have priesthood and has been authorized by the consent of the family, then the Lord will recognize ordinances performed as valid for the tribe.

    Though it is my speculation [according to use of the gender pronouns in section 20 verses 72-74] that women cannot perform the functions of priests or elders — which is why I’m talking with another male priesthood holder from the church to baptize/confirm me, and not just having my wife do it.

  14. From the Pope:

    A mystagogical catechesis must also be concerned with presenting the meaning of the signs contained in the rites. This is particularly important in a highly technological age like our own, which risks losing the ability to appreciate signs and symbols. More than simply conveying information, a mystagogical catechesis should be capable of making the faithful more sensitive to the language of signs and gestures which, together with the word, make up the rite.

    According to the post that I got the above quote from:

    The vocabulary of ritual gestures Catholics make during worship is by now, quite clearly, endangered – as has happened with other unwritten languages.

    As there are relatively few explicit rules (and even these are often not followed), little uniformity of practice, and considerable confusion, it seems worthwhile to compile a sort of “dictionary” of ritual gestures, their meaning and grammar, in order to relearn our historic language of ritual worship.

    I got thinking about the subject of a gesture language after commenting on this Times and Seasons post that makes the case for math being the language of God.

    I’m wondering what a “sort of ‘dictionary’ of ritual gestures, their meaning and grammar” might look like. My wife and I have taught our children ASL and it’s been interesting to see how intuitively they will pick up most of the signs and how natural signing comes to young children.

    Most Mormons [following the lead of Western Protestants] are uncomfortable with much ritual — seeing it as a slippery slope to vain repetition. Admittedly we have our temple canon, but the general confusion over [or even dislike of] temple rituals is evidence that those rituals are, at best, a relic of a foregone time when LDS found fulfillment in the gestures and motions.

  15. So:

    Brethren, [...] you have been anointed to become hereafter kings and priests unto the most high God [...]

    Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become queens and priestesses to your husbands.

    Brethren and sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when you will be chosen, called up, and anointed kings and queens, priests and priestesses, whereas you are now anointed only to become such [...]

    If we are not yet priests and priestesses, then does no one have priesthood yet?

    Is everything still preparatory — and no one truly has/has not or is/is not any one thing or another?

  16. The OP says:

    Any attempt to convert the minister-servant role of priest into the pomp and prestige of a Gentile ruler by undertaking “to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121: 37) results in immediate condemnation by the Lord, even if the ecclesiastical abuse is not known or corrected by the church.

    Ecclesiastical abuse in any form or degree brings immediate damnation upon the priesthood officer and, even before the abuser is aware, he is left alone without the Spirit and subject to the spirit of the devil, to persecute the saints within his congregation, who have been placed within his care and ministry.

    Those who engage in ecclesiastical abuse will use the high-sounding title of their priesthood office (bishop, stake president, etc.) to engage in power-plays and submission tests to try to force or compel the members of the congregation to submit to their authority and do what they want them to do. They will gratify their pride and label all those saints who resist such tyranny as apostates and accuse them of the sin of rebellion.

    According to the study, “The Destructive Nature of Power Without Status,” [summery found here] the combination of some authority and little perceived status can be a toxic combination. Individuals in roles that possess power but lack status have a tendency to engage in activities that demean others.

    The research, forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, is “based on the notions that:
    (a) low status is threatening and aversive, and
    (b) power frees people to act on their internal states and feelings.”

    or

    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.


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