Here is the protocol for conferring either of the two priesthoods:
1. Call the baptized, worthy male by name.
2. State the priesthood authority.
3. Confer the priesthood.
4. Ordain to an office.
5. Close in the name of Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist, though, who should have known better, did everything wrong. Here are his errors:
Conferred priesthood on unbaptized men
Neither Joseph Smith nor Oliver Cowdery were baptized when they had the priesthood conferred on them.
Try getting your bishop to give you permission to confer the Aaronic priesthood on any unbaptized man. See if he’ll authorize it. He’ll probably say something like, “Sure, I’ll authorize it, just as soon as he’s baptized.” The principle is well established: first comes baptism, then comes priesthood. If you attempt to reverse the order, every bishop, stake president and GA will INVALIDATE the conferral.
Did not call the men by name
Both Joseph and Oliver agree that the angel merely began his conferral by stating, “Upon you my fellow servants.”
Try conferring the Aaronic priesthood upon someone and start the ordinance by saying, “Upon you my fellow servant,” without stating the person’s name and see if the bishop or other presiding elder doesn’t stop you short and tell you to do it again, as the first time was INVALIDATED by your lack of specifying who you were talking to.
Conferred priesthood upon two men at once
This appears to be the only instance of one man conferring the priesthood upon two men simultaneously. The conferral of priesthood ordinance is a uniquely personal experience. One ordinance per person, not one ordinance per two people.
The next time two young men are ready to receive the Aaronic priesthood, try conferring them both simultaneously and see how quickly the bishop stops you. If it doesn’t become instantly plain that you performed an INVALID ordinance, it will as the years go by and you are never allowed to perform another ordinance of record.
Did not state the priesthood authority
In the words of Joseph, the angel said,
“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.” (See JS—H 1: 68-74)
Normally, an Aaronic priesthood holder would say something like, “…by the authority of the Aaronic priesthood which I hold” or something to that effect. According to Joseph, though, the angel didn’t state that he held this priesthood, at all. He only stated which priesthood he was conferring.
Try conferring the Aaronic priesthood without stating your authority and see if it flies. Chances are, those around you are going to tell you to perform the ordinance again because it is INVALID unless you state the authority.
Did not state what priesthood was given
If we take the words of Oliver, the angel said,
“Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!” (See JS—H Footnote)
Normally, when conferring the Aaronic priesthood, an Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood holder would state which priesthood is being conferred, Aaronic or Melchizedek, but notice that according to Oliver, the angel only stated “this Priesthood and this authority” without specifying which priesthood was being conferred.
Try conferring the Aaronic (or Melchizedek) priesthood without actually stating which priesthood you are conferring and see if you are not told to perform the ordinance again because the first attempt was INVALID.
Did not ordain to an office of the priesthood
Now, technically, you don’t have to ordain to an office of the priesthood, but it is the protocol to do so when the priesthood is conferred.
Did not close in the name of Jesus Christ
Instead, he opened in the name of Messiah. Christ is from Greek meaning “Anointed One” and Messiah is from Hebrew meaning “Anointed One,” so, since they mean the same thing, he essentially used the name of Christ, but he did not use Jesus’ first name.
Try opening prayers and ordinances with “in the name of Messiah” (and without any other closing use of the name of Jesus Christ) and see if you are not accused of performing the ordinance INVALIDLY.
Even More Unorthodox Stuff
Conferred Priesthood of Aaron upon non-descendants of Aaron
These were two Gentile men who were not descendants of Aaron. One of the peculiar things about the Aaronic priesthood is that is was only intended for Aaron’s literal descendants. The Priesthood of Aaron was not for the Levites, nor for the other tribes of Israel, only for Aaron and his sons.
Additionally, Joseph had a bodily blemish from the operation he had when an 11-year old child, which also disqualified him.
Conferred Levitical Priesthood upon non-descendants of Levi
Again, we have two Gentile men receiving Levitical priesthood, or priesthood that pertains exclusively to the tribe of Levi. Aaron and Levitical priesthood is the same, except that Aaron and sons held the offices of priest and high priest while the non-Aaronite Levites held lesser offices of that priesthood (like teachers and deacons.)
The terms Aaronic and Levitical are sometimes used synonymously (D&C 107: 1, 6, 10), although there are some specific differences in the offices existing within the Levitical Priesthood. For example, the lesser priesthood was conferred only upon men of the tribe of Levi. However, within the tribe, only Aaron and his sons could hold the office of priest. And, still further, from the firstborn of Aaron’s sons (after Aaron) was selected the high priest (or president of the priests). Thus Aaron and his sons after him had greater offices in the Levitical Priesthood than did the other Levites. (BD: Aaronic Priesthood)
A high priest of the Melchizedek priesthood can officiate in all the offices of the lesser priesthood, but neither Joseph nor Oliver were high priests of the Melchizedek priesthood when they received the Priesthood of Aaron from the angel and baptized each other (a power associated with the office of a priest of the Aaronic priesthood.)
The angel’s instructions: baptize each other
Joseph said that the angel “gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.”
This means that an unbaptized man baptized a man into the church of Christ. Today, were this to happen, the authorities of the church would INVALIDATE the baptism and would insist that the man be re-baptized by some baptized man who held at least the Aaronic priesthood. By today’s standards, then, Oliver’s baptism was INVALID.
Continuing this logic, if Oliver’s baptism was invalid, then he was still unbaptized when he baptized Joseph, which, by applying the same standards of today, would make Joseph’s baptism INVALID.
As all baptism in the church is traced to the authority obtained by Joseph and Oliver from this angel, this would mean that all church baptisms are INVALID because protocols were breached from the very beginning, starting the church off on the wrong foot from the get-go.
The correct (modern) procedure is to baptize first, then confer priesthood. Had the angel baptized one or both of the men first, then conferred the priesthood upon the one or both of them that was baptized, or instructed the one baptized and conferred to baptize and confer the other, the protocols would have remained intact.
The angel’s instructions: ordain each other
Said Joseph, “Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.”
They were instructed to ordain each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. Not to an office of the Aaronic Priesthood, but to the Aaronic Priesthood.
Another curious thing is that Joseph stated that the angel “ordained us” before they baptized each other and then commanded them to ordain each other after they baptized each other. This would make a double ordination.
INVALID any way you look at it
By modern LDS standards, the Aaronic priesthood ordinations of the non-Aaronic, non-Levite, physically blemished Gentiles, Joseph and Oliver, and their subsequent baptisms and ordinations (of each other), as well as those of all the other people who received baptism and authority to baptize from their hands, on down through the generations of the church, are all invalid.
So, was John the Baptist on dope when he was sent by Peter, James and John to confer priesthood authority on Joseph and Oliver? Certainly the above list of evidences would be typical actions of one who abused substances. Such “turning of things upside down” may bring into question whether John was even sent by Peter, James and John, as was his claim! Perhaps he was just acting alone and doing his own thing?
Even more evidence of drug use
Joseph, an eyewitness, stated, “a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light.” And Oliver, another eyewitness, stated, “the angel of God came down.” So, we know for a fact that John was high during this event.
An alternate interpretation
May I offer another interpretation that could possibly explain all the strange behavior listed above? Consider the following scripture, which speaks of John:
For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power. (D&C 84: 28)
Now, think for a moment. Who goes around trying to overthrow governments? That’s right. John the Baptist was obviously an anarchist!