Questions Regarding the CHI #1

This is the first in a series of posts.

I have decided how I will proceed with bringing to light some of the hidden things of the Church Handbook of Instructions.

I know of no prohibition regarding sharing this information. The Lord is very open. The only things of God that are hidden are hidden by our unbelief. As Nephi said, “For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.” (2 Nephi 26:23)

And how strange when you think of it why should we not know every single word of a book which is used to judge us as members of the church? A government who wants people to obey the law publishes and openly teaches that law.

There are many people with more access to background information and who are more knowledgeable than I. So I believe it is best to just get the information out for discussion. Then the knowledge and ideas of all can be brought to bear on the questions raised.

Since it is such a large book and it covers so many topics I will just put out some parts as I encounter them rather than them all in one post.

I will say as a preface since it deals with LDS church doctrine and in places draws from the scriptures there are many good things said in this handbook. In fact so far the vast majority is either administrative policies which are neutral in their spiritual application and the rest are just good true principles.

But, there are some things that raise questions. And that is all I will be bringing out for discussion. So here we go.

Section 1 covers the duties of the stake president. 1.1.3 Under the subheading of priesthood says in part:
Members of the stake presidency preside over the Melchizedek Priesthood in the stake. …
The stake president is the stake high priests quorum president. He and his councilors comprise the presidency of the stake high priests quorum. The stake presidency also oversees elders quorums.

In section 1.1.6, Callings and Releases subparagraph 4 says:
Elders quorum presidents. The stake president calls and sets apart elders quorum presidents because he is the person who is authorized to bestow the priesthood keys associated with their callings.

Section 2 is the duties of the bishop. 2.1.3 Has the Sub heading of Priesthood and says:
The bishop and his counselors direct the work of the elders quorum president and the high priest group leader in watching over quorum and group members and their families, building strength in the quorum and group, and ensuring that the work of the priesthood is accomplished. The bishop also directs the elders quorum president and high priests group leader in overseeing home teaching.
The bishop’s Aaronic Priesthood responsibilities are outlined in 2.2.

Why? I see nothing in the scriptures (D&C 20 or 107) which would account for this. The stake president has the keys of the higher priesthood and its blessings but the president of the Aaronic priesthood quorums is the one who directs the work of the Melchizedek priesthood quorums.

It is surely a fact that the bishop has charge of the temporal affairs of the ward and doing what he should for the welfare of the ward members in temporal things. This is a fulltime job. So when he is in charge of directing the two higher priesthood quorums then might we not end up with the work of the higher priesthood being skewed to temporal matters and a lack of focus on spiritual matters?

Even if the bishop is able to pursue both aspects of the work as an EQP or HPGL you are left to ask, “Now, who is my boss? The man who empowered me has left me in the charge of another.”

There was an article written about a branch in the early church where it was questioned who was in charge overall the bishop or the Elders quorum president. The scriptures say elders are to conduct the meetings. Surely the meetings on Sunday are the spiritual (at least should be) aspect of our church experience. So shouldn’t the higher priesthood quorum leader be in charge and ease the burden of the president of the Aaronic priesthood?

I think our Babylonian culture needs to see a straight line authority, one guy at the top, give us a king model. But it doesn’t appear even from what is in the CHI that the Lord intended that. Even in the US constitution which the Lord says He established provided for a division of power and a system of checks and balances.

But as in the culture so in the church. The US president acts like a king and the bishop too.


  1. You raise some excellent questions. I’d like to see us get away from the top-down way we’ve all gotten used to. Church government, like the U.S. government, was meant to be spread out so very little authority would be invested in one man or branch.

    If I recall correctly, in the early church Elders, Teachers, and priests were pretty much seen as having equal authority.

  2. There was an article written about a branch in the early church where it was questioned who was in charge overall the bishop or the Elders quorum president.

    Is this the article in question?

  3. I would imagine that most of the confusion comes in regarding the bishop’s duties within a ward b/c he is a high priest holding the Melchizedek priesthood — in places where a literal descendent of Aaron is not sought after.

    This might be behind why the CHI basically gives him double-duty.

  4. LDSA well yes that is where I saw the article. The article I referred to is what you made available in that post Discord in the City of Brotherly Love: The Story of Early Mormonism in Philadelphia. I read that whole thing and your post too. So thanks for both of those.

    And Justin yes it does give him double duty. And one of those duties by right of priesthood keys should be the duty of the stake president, namely to direct the work of the quorums and groups of the Melchizedek priesthood in the stake. Yes I know stake presidents can and do interview the quorum and group leaders but having been both in various locations I would not call it really directing the work as much as an occasional monitoring.

  5. I think it would be interesting to find a descendant of Aaron. Then take him to the Presiding Bishopric and say, “Here you go!” The scriptures say it is their right to hold the office of Bishop. I wonder what the reaction of the Church would be.

    There has to be someway to find someone descended from Aaron.

  6. The Church would not accept him as such because I would imagine it would take an act of revelation to declare lineage like that — akin to declaring lineage in the tribes of Israel. Since no Church(TM)-ordained priesthood holder would declare such a thing, they would claim that any declaration of such a thing “came outside of the proper Priesthood channels.”

  7. I thought it was just someone from the tribe of Levi, not necessarily Aaron.

    Great post on who should preside, by the way. Top notch info.

  8. You might be refering to the Sons of Levi offering sacrifices.

    D&C 13:1
    D&C 124:39 – This one seems to indicate we should have memorial sacrifices.
    D&C 128:24

    That is different that the descendants of Aaron having the right to the office of Bishop.

    I understand Joseph Smith talked about offering animal sacrifices. I know there is a chapter in the Book of the Law of the Lord about it.

  9. Concerning Joseph and animal sacrifice:

  10. “Even in the US constitution which the Lord says He established provided for a division of power and a system of checks and balances. ”

    Actually, according to the article below, the Lord only had a hand in The Bill of Rights, not setting up the whole minutiae of the US Constitution/government:

  11. Okay Daitoryu I accept that the entire US constitution is not to be taken as inspired of God. But “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” He does claim.
    So the post would have been better written if I had cited the form of government given by God through Moses and then Mosiah which both were a system of judges. Both government systems had lower and higher judges. From the Book of Mormon we understand that a number of the lower judges could hold court on a higher judge. So the priniciple of check and balances was there in a government established by a prophet (two real good ones). What about division of powers? Well again I probably shouldn’t have cited the US constitution as a model. But who needs a model? The Lord’s words themselves in assigning the duties of the Bishop and Elders has establish a division of jurisdiction. One is temporal affairs and the other is the spiritual. Temporal is the outward ordinances and the taking charge of meetings would be spiritual. Does that make sense? Or am I missing something?
    I mean if you are in a priesthood executive meeting where the Bishop is conducting but he has not been given the double duty of doing the stake presidents job of “directing the work” of the elders quorum presidents and the high priest group leader then those men would remain under the direction of the stake president and be attending the meeting as his representative. I am sure it would change the dynamic. Those Mel priesthood leaders would have to be more active in doing their callings rather than just simply following orders from the bishop. this would infuse more power into the work. And it would allow the bishop to concentrate on his God assigned duties rather than being burdened with the work of the higher priesthood also.

  12. This is from Book 2 — but I thought it might be interesting. Section 17.1 is titled Where Uniformity Is Required.

    To know which adaptations might be appropriate, leaders must first understand the doctrines, ordinances, and practices that are established by the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets and apostles. These are to be uniform throughout the Church.

    Stake presidents, bishops, and other local leaders have a sacred obligation to maintain the uniformity and purity of the Church in all of the categories outlined below. This need for uniformity is based on the scriptural principle of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”

    The places where circumstantial deviation are not allowed are listed as:
    Scriptures [the authorized Bible translation and the latest authorized edition of the other three books. No other works are to be promoted or used in the Church as scripture.]
    Commandments and Standards [the commandments of the Lord and the worthiness standards of the Church as given in the scriptures and in official communications from the First Presidency to be used in recommend interviews should not be altered from the temple recommend book.]
    Purity of Doctrine [If a person teaches false or speculative doctrine, leaders should correct it promptly — usually in private, but major or repeated errors may require public correction. If leaders are unsure what doctrines or teachings are correct on a given subject, then they should ask their immediate presiding authority.]
    Sacrament Meetings and the Sunday Meeting Schedule [Holding sacrament meetings is a scriptural mandate — and instructions for sacrament meetings are provided in Book 2, 18.2.2. The Sunday meeting schedule is set forth on page 153. The 1st Presidency and the 12 have established this schedule. Local leaders are not to alter it.
    Conferences [Two stake conferences per year, and one ward conference presided over by stake presidency.]
    Temple Work [All things temple-related are under the direct authority of the President of the Church. Leaders make sure that temple phraseology and the sacred ordinances and covenants of the temple are not discussed in specific terms in Church meetings.]
    Disciplinary Councils [Instructions for disciplinary councils are found in Book 1. Leaders should not deviate from these instructions, including the requirements for submitting reports.]
    Records and Reports [Keeping Church records is a scriptural mandate — and instructions are outlined in Book 1, chapter 13. The First Presidency may amend these from time to time.
    Ordinances [Instructions for performing priesthood ordinances are found in chapter 20 of Book 2. These instructions can’t be altered. The minimum ages for receiving ordinances such as baptism and ordination to Aaronic Priesthood offices can’t be altered for any reason.]
    Curriculum [Classes held during the Sunday meeting schedule must use Church-approved materials. These materials include Church-produced manuals, magazines, and supplementary teaching resources. New manuals and courses should not be developed at the local level.]

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