“Every elder, priest, teacher or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts…of God unto him.”

My text for this post is the part of D&C 20: 60 that says,

Every elder, priest, teacher or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him;

First callings, then ordination, then gifts

We are taught by our leaders that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” This means that the gifts come with, or belong to, the calling. In other words, that once a man is called to an office and ordained, the Lord gives him the gifts necessary to fulfill the duties of that office as long as he magnifies his calling. I have also heard people testify that once released from their callings, these gifts leave them and they are once again just every day members.

In all honesty, I can see how such an interpretation can fit the scripture. All that is required is to read the scripture as if it said, “Every [priesthood office] is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God [which will come] unto him [through this ordination].”

First gifts, then callings, then ordination

Another way of reading the scripture is as if it said, “Every [priesthood office] is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God [which have already come] unto him.” In this view, God (and man) sees that the priesthood candidate already has all the necessary gifts for one or more offices of the priesthood, so He calls the man to one of those offices and has him ordained.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to take this latter interpretation as my guide and see what picture it paints. I’m not doing this just as a useless exercise, but one based upon historical fact and precedent. For example, if we look at the life of Joseph Smith, we find that his life followed the gifts-callings-ordination order precisely.

Joseph was a prophet, seer and revelator before he was ordained to any priesthood office In fact, he was using a seer stone before he was even called by the Lord to be a seer. So, his gifts came to him first, then he received a calling from the Lord and finally he was ordained to the offices of the priesthood. This same pattern can be found elsewhere in the scriptures.

One gift, church; many gifts, priesthood

And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church. For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. (D&C 46: 10-11)

The Lord has said that “every man is given a [singular] gift.” But He doesn’t expect us to stop at just one. In fact, He has commanded the church to “seek ye earnestly the best gifts [plural]” (D&C 46: 8.) And He has even opened up the possibility of getting every gift.

And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. (D&C 46: 28-30)

All of the offices of the priesthood require multiple gifts. It takes a lot more faith to obtain many gifts than to obtain just one, therefore the priesthood is designed to be a body of men who have exercised exceedingly great faith. They are “called…on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling” (Alma 13: 3). The “good works” of these men is the use of their multiple gifts of the Spirit, for “if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God” (Moro. 10: 25).

After having obtained several gifts, the Lord calls these men into His priesthood and has them ordained to one of its offices, according to the gifts they have, so that they can more widely use them “for salvation” (D&C 84: 73) and “for the benefit of those who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited” (D&C 46: 9), and “in order that every member may be profited thereby” (D&C 46: 29).

A man is ordained in this manner—exceedingly great faith and repentance, good works (working by the power and gifts of God), called by God to an office of the priesthood according to the various gifts he has, and then ordination to the office he’s been called to—”that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to [the] Son for redemption” (Alma 13: 2). This manner of ordination also virtually guarantees that “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” because no one would be ordained who did not have access to a variety of the gifts of the Spirit and thus to the powers of heaven.

New Testament and D&C 4 qualifications

Before going into an enumeration of the gifts that pertain to each office, let me back up a bit because the New Testament has requirements for priesthood office that precede the gifts.

1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter 1 give some qualifications for the offices of elder, bishop and deacon. The description is of a righteous, God-fearing, charitable man who has a good reputation in the church and in the community and a well-behaved family. Of particular note is that the elders, bishops and deacons all had to be married men with children.

We typically think of the office of a deacon as the “entry level” position, therefore, the New Testament requirements for a deacon can be extrapolated to all other offices of the priesthood.

D&C section 4 also has a list of qualification for those called to the priesthood, namely that the man should possess faith, hope, charity and love with an eye single to the glory of God.

The list of best gifts

#1.   Personal knowledge of Christ, having seen Him in person.

#2.   Belief in Christ without having seen Him.

#3.   Differences of administration.

#4.   Diversities of operations.

#5.   Word of wisdom.

#6.   Word of knowledge.

#7.   Faith to be healed.

#8.   Faith to heal.

#9.   Working of miracles.

#10. Prophesying.

#11. Discerning of spirits.

#12. Speaking in tongues.

#13. Interpretation of tongues.

#14. Discerning of gifts.

Qualifications of the office of a deacon

1)  Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)  Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)  Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)  Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)  Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)  Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)  Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 ) Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

The duties of a deacon are listed in D&C 20: 59; 84: 111.

He must have gift #2 because he must be a believer in Christ in order for him to “invite all to come unto Christ.” (It is not necessary that he has seen Christ personally.) He must have gifts #5 and #6 because it is his duty to teach all to be wise and to have knowledge (see D&C 46: 17-18.) He must have gifts #7 and #8 because as a believer in Christ, certain signs will follow him, which include surviving poisonous snake bites and deadly drinks, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and causing the tongue of the dumb to speak (see D&C 84: 65-72.)

Teachers are to be assisted in all their duties by deacons, if occasion requires. Deacons can only assist teachers in their duties if they possess the gifts required for the fulfillment of those duties. So, the above list of gifts is the minimum for a deacon.

For example, if a teacher needs assistance in a duty that requires gift #11 and there are two deacons available, one that possesses gift #11 and one that does not, only the one with the required gift can assist.

This creates the need for a deacon to apply himself and seek out the additional gift required to assist teachers in all their duties (gift #11.)

Qualifications of the office of a teacher

1)  Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)  Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)  Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)  Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)  Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)  Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)  Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 ) Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)  Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

The duties of a teacher are listed in D&C 20: 53-57, 59; 84: 111.

He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.)

He must have gift #11 because it is his duty to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (D&C 20: 54). This requires that he be able to discern between lying, evil spirits and contrite spirits.

Qualifications of the office of a priest

1)   Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)   Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)   Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)   Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)   Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)   Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)   Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 )  Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)   Must have best gift #9 (working of miracles)

10) Must have best gift #10 (prophesying)

11) Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

12) Must have best gift #12 (speaking in tongues)

13) Must have best gift #13 (interpretation of tongues)

14) Must have the Nephite gift of beholding angels and ministering spirits (Moro. 10: 14)

The duties of a priest are listed in D&C 20: 46-52.

He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.)

Miracles He must have gift #9 in order to perform miracles. Now some may say that a priest does not need to possess this gift to fulfill the duties of his office. But a priest is the first priesthood office that actually performs ordinances of the gospel. Neither a deacon nor a teacher can do that (see D&C 20: 58). A priest, then, represents Jesus Christ Himself when he ordains other priests, teachers and deacons; or when he baptizes; or when he breaks bread, blesses the sacrament and passes it out. And he is to follow the example of the Savior in administering it. Sometimes the Lord used bread and wine that was already available, but other times He miraculously provided these things (see 3 Ne. 20: 3-7.) In the New Testament, He turned water into wine and performed the miracles of the loaves of bread and fishes. The sacrament being a meal, it is not a stretch to see how these miracles can apply to it. Jesus also said that His followers would do the works He did, and greater works also. (See John 14: 12.) So, it seems to me that priests (and all other offices that perform ordinances) need to possess the gift of the working of miracles in order to properly represent the Lord, who is a God of miracles. In this way, the miraculous powers of godliness may be manifest in the ordinances of the priesthood (see D&C 84: 20-21.) Additionally, the priesthood (office of priest) of Aaron “holds the keys of the ministering of angels,” according to John the Baptist (as recorded in D&C 13.) The beholding of angels is linked to, or goes hand in hand with, the gift of miracles (per Moro. 7: 29-37.)

A priest also must have gift #10 because it is his duty to preach the gospel, which is supposed to be preached according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation (see Alma 43: 2), necessitating the gift to prophesy. He must have gift #11 for the same reasons as a teacher and also because it is his duty to baptize only those who have a contrite spirit (see Moro. 6: 2 and D&C 20: 37), therefore he needs the discerning of spirits.

Unlike deacons and teachers, who are standing ministers, meaning that they do not and are not supposed to travel, priests (and all other offices of the priesthood except deacons and teachers) are to travel and preach the gospel, as the Holy Ghost directs them. This means that they may find themselves among people who speak an unknown language. For this reason alone, every priest must have gifts #12 and #13. But even if preaching among a people of a known language, these gifts are needed as a sign to unbelievers (see 1 Cor. 14: 22.)

Like deacons, priests are also given a command to assist, “if occasion requires.” However, unlike deacons, who are to assist teachers in the duties of the teachers, a priest is to assist an elder in the duties of the priest. For this reason, it is not necessary that a priest obtain any more gifts of the Spirit to assist an elder.

Qualifications of the office of an elder

1)   Must be a married man with children (per New Testament)

2)   Must pass other New Testament qualifications

3)   Must pass D&C 4 qualifications

4)   Must have best gift #2 (belief in Christ without having seen Him)

5)   Must have best gift #5 (word of wisdom)

6)   Must have best gift #6 (word of knowledge)

7)   Must have best gift #7 (faith to be healed)

8 )  Must have best gift #8 (faith to heal)

9)   Must have best gift #9 (working of miracles)

10) Must have best gift #10 (prophesying)

11) Must have best gift #11 (discerning of spirits)

12) Must have best gift #12 (speaking in tongues)

13) Must have best gift #13 (interpretation of tongues)

14) Must have best gift #14 (discerning of gifts)

The duties of an elder are listed in D&C 20: 38-45. He must have gifts #2, #5, #6, #7 and #8 for the same reasons as a deacon (see above.) He must have gifts #9, #10, #11, #12 and #13 for the same reasons as a priest (see above.)

An elder must also have gift #14 because “unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God” (D&C 46: 27).

Qualifications of the office of a seventy

A seventy is an elder (see D&C 124: 138-139), therefore, all the qualifications of an elder also apply to a seventy. The seventy are a group of constantly traveling elders, and are under the direction of the twelve apostles, whereas the normal group of elders are standing ministers that may travel (see D&C 124: 137) as they desire and as the Spirit dictates to them.

During the time of Moses, seventy elders of Israel saw the Lord (see Ex. 24: 9-11.) During the time of Christ, seventy men who were with the Lord in His ministry (in other words, they saw the Lord) were sent out by Him and performed the same work of miracles as the twelve (see Luke 10: 1-20.) So, following the same pattern, a seventy can be required to have gift #1, so as to be an eyewitness.

Qualifications of the office of an apostle

An apostle is an elder (see D&C 20: 38), therefore, all the qualifications of an elder also apply to an apostle. Like the seventy, the apostles are a group of constantly traveling elders.

Also like the seventy, apostles must have gift #1 so that they are eyewitnesses of Christ. (Seventies and apostles are called to be special/especial witnesses of Christ. The only thing that makes their witness “special” or “especial” is that they have personally seen Christ.)

Qualifications of the office of a high priest

High priests have “authority to officiate in all the lesser offices,” therefore a high priest must possess “all the gifts of God which he bestows” (D&C 107: 92) upon the church (all 14 best gifts.) Additionally, the way he receives his calling is different. Whereas all other offices of the priesthood may receive a calling via either angelic ministration or the voice of God to prophets (see Moro. 7: 22-23), a high priest must receive his calling “by [God’s] own voice out of the heavens” (D&C 84: 42).

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 Genesis 14: 29)

Qualifications of the office of a bishop

Bishops typically are high priests who are ordained as bishops, so all the same qualifications of a high priest apply to a bishop. They must possess every gift.

Ordained patriarchs (evangelical ministers) and gifts #3 and #4

Obviously, based upon what a patriarch does, he would need to have the gift to prophesy (gift #10), the gift of the word of wisdom (gift #5) and the gift of the word of knowledge (gift #6). Beyond those three gifts, I leave it to the reader to figure out the rest of the qualifications of a patriarch and also whether the 3rd and 4th gifts fit into any of the duties of the non-high priest offices. (A high priest and bishop who is an ordained high priest must have every gift, therefore, they must have gifts #3 and #4.)

What’s the point?

Obviously, the priesthood isn’t currently ordained this way. It could be, but I doubt that the present church will ever require such qualifications. Finding anyone with even one gift is hard enough, let alone many gifts. It is much easier to call unmarried men and boys according to their age and some standard of “worthiness” than according to the gifts of the Spirit that they possess. Otherwise, we’d have hardly any priesthood holders.

Nevertheless, tribes can ordain as they see fit, regardless of how the church is currently doing it. There may be some gospel-based tribes out there that will require that all candidates possess the necessary gifts prior to being called and ordained to their tribal priesthood. If and when that day comes, “the rights of the priesthood [will again] be inseparably connected with the powers of heaven.”

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  1. This seems to go along quite nicely with the Priesthood offices in a tribal setting post.

    I like the idea of not being limited by current Church practice in the operation of our individual tribes — but instead in looking at the scriptures from a fresh perspective and do according to their direction — with no preconceived “unwritten” order in things.

  2. A friend of mine and I were discussing the principles in this post and an interesting thing came out of it. We were talking about how deacons and teachers have a duty to “watch over the church” and that these two offices are standing-only ministers, so they stay put where they are. A married man with children is a steward, meaning that he is a man who has a stewardship (his wife and kids.) His duty is to “watch over his family” (wife and kids.) If, per the New Testament qualifications, he demonstrates that he is a good steward over his concerns, then he is eligible to have his stewardship expanded by entrance into the priesthood, receiving now the duty to “watch over the church” in his area (as a deacon or teacher.) What this means, essentially, is that now he gets to take care of more wives and children, even wives and children that pertain to other men (stewards.) We both laughed at the now obvious polygamous connection.

  3. In the Qualifications of the office of a deacon section, you have:

    unstopping the ears of the dumb,

    when I believe you meant “ears of the deaf“.

  4. Yep. Thanks. I’ll correct that.

  5. […] I highly recommend reading the post by LDSAnarchist: “Every elder, priest, teacher or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts…of God unto him… […]

  6. This is great stuff. I’ve ben reading this blog for a few months now and I’m amazed by the new thoughts and ideas I have received.

    One thought came to me while reading this post. You have deacons, teachers and priest all having gift #8 (the gift to heal) It seems from D&C 42:43-44 that if a person doesn’t have faith to be healed that they are to call on the elders. It makes no mention of calling on the deacons, teachers or priest.

  7. It may be a D&C 20: 50-51 type of thing. Both elders and priests have authority to administer the sacrament, but when both are present, only the elder is supposed to perform the ordinance. In the same manner, anyone can possess the gift of faith to heal and can be called upon to heal, whether member, deacon, teacher or priest, but when there are elders present, they are to perform the healing. It may be that the Lord has it set up this way so that healing becomes a sign to all that there is power in the Melchizedek priesthood, in other words, as a test of the elders’ priesthood power. Obviously, if there are elders present, and they are not able to heal the afflicted person, there is nothing to stop other people from being called to pray for and lay hands on them. So, although anyone may have and use these gifts, the Lord seems to have given the elders the privilege of being the first response healers, perhaps as a trial of their faith.

  8. So, although anyone may have and use these gifts, the Lord seems to have given the elders the privilege of being the first response healers, perhaps as a trial of their faith.

    I take D&C 42: 43-44 to mean that given a situation where:
    (a) The sick does not possess the gift of faith to be healed
    (b) No member possesses the gift of faith to heal

    then — the elders are the first you call upon to give a blessing [not of healing] but that “if they die it be unto the Lord“.

    I find the elder-anointings to be completely separate from a healing administered by a person with the gift of faith to heal.

  9. Yeah, there is no mention of the elders actually being commanded to heal anyone in D&C 42: 44. But the Lord commanded the twelve apostles to heal (see Luke 9: 1-2) and also the seventy (see Luke 10: 9), both groups of which are elders. Then there is D&C 24: 13-14, which is a commandment to (apparently both) Oliver and Joseph to heal those who desire it. Joseph and Oliver at that time were the first and second elders of the church and ordained apostles (see D&C 20: 2-3.) The charge recorded in D&C 24: 13-19 is very similar to the one given to the 12 and 70 during the time of Christ.

    Now, I suppose one could simply say that the twelve and seventy elders are under a special charge (required) to heal those who desire it of them, while the standing elders are under no such charge. Thus, one could say that the only duty the standing elders have is to pray for and lay hands on the sick who call upon them, but not to heal them. I suppose that’s a valid interpretation, because there is no direct commandment to the standing elders to heal.

    However, there is a commandment in D&C 24: 19 that “all those whom thou hast ordained…shall do even according to this pattern.” If we interpret the phrase “all those whom thou hast ordained” literally, then every man who was ordained by Oliver or Joseph, regardless of their priesthood office, must follow this pattern of healing those who desire it of them, which opens up the possibility that D&C 42: 44 is a priesthood power test, or a trial of the called upon elders’ faith.

  10. I believ woman can have all these gifts too, but not an office inthe Priesthood…am I correct? I already identify with some of the gifts listed and need to develop them more.

  11. I believ woman can have all these gifts too, but not an office inthe Priesthood…am I correct?

    The temple ritual establishes what’s called the “fulness of the priesthood” on earth– an order of priesthood that is synonymous with kinship and salvation. There are no deacons, priests, or elders in heaven — only kings/priests and queen/priestesses and it becomes really quite easy to determine whether or not someone holds this priesthood or not.

    However, when most LDS say “Priesthood” — they mean the administrative arm of the Salt Lake oligarchical patriarchy — the power to pass bread, to sit in high seats, and to control budgets — and it definetly seems obvious that women don’t hold that “Priesthood”. And whether or not they should is a separate question from what you’re asking.

    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.

    A picture in which 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.

    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.

    Now — when these ordinances are done for the church, 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, without the authorization of the keys of consent — 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 —

    The CHI Oral Law 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.

    Also, this 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 a person 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.

    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 still recognized as valid by the Lord.

  12. Eva — that first response to you was kinda long — but now I’ve thought of something else that pertains to woman and the priesthood. I’ve commented on the issue elsewhere — but haven’t ever really posted my views here — and now you’ve given me the opportunity to do so, by asking your question.

    I know that as a man, I’m not really “allowed” to comment on feminist issues — but in my experience with Mormon feminists online, I know that there’s a woman’s-issues concern about [for example] Eve’s very existence being explained only with reference to Adam. In other words, in Genesis, the First Woman is not an independent subject with needs of her own — but rather something given to the First Man in response to his needs. Also, the issue that in the Bible [in general] women are never depicted as interesting in and of themselves, but rather as some object in a story whose behavior merely signifies Jehovah’s favor or some political success for a man.

    However, most of this comes down to what people have created with their own myths. For example, I’ve heard many people say how they “love Mormons as individuals,” but “don’t like Mormonism”. Etc.

    That’s common — people saying I like Mormons [or Christians or Muslims], but don’t like Mormonism [or Christianity or Islam]. However, someone can’t like me while disliking Mormonism – because I am Mormonism — as it is lived out or as it is taken literally by me — and the same would be true about any other individual person and their particular myths of choice.

    It’s never the myths [or stories] that are the problem – but how the stories and images have been taken literally by this or that person.

    So — back to the Eve example — it’s not that we don’t like the Eve narrative, it’s that we don’t like the Eve narrative as lived out by the people who have interpreted it that way.

    What we can do is go back to our myths/stories and see [for example] that women were the first commissioned witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that it was the male disciples who failed to believe their testimony until later.

    And I know that LDS feminists are bothered that women don’t “hold the priesthood” in the church. However, using the scriptural signs of a justified priesthood holder – I doubt that any man “holds the priesthood” either.

    Really, what they mean by “holding the priesthood” is acting in administrative matters like passing bread, sitting in a high seat during meetings, controlling budgets, etc. – but none of those things are evidence that a believer in Christ “holds the priesthood”. Now, should LDS women hold that “priesthood” – I think that they should, I think the Relief Society should be seen as a quorum of priestess with jurisdiction over their own – however I also think that women shouldn’t imagine that holding that priesthood should give them anything more than the appearance of authority and dominion [which is what the current leaders “hold”].

    This whole dynamic is also behind why I think “feminists” have such a bad stereotype. I see “feminism” as trying to replace the androcratic oligarchy that we have — with a gynocratic oligarchy – a simple switching of the hats of who’s in charge – but not real reform. I see them as still trying to play the Man’s-Game – and like I wrote above — and in the battle of Female vs. Male, will always let the Male dominate — meaning we’ll still have a king on the throne [it’s just a Female King].

    So long as we are keeping these various hierarchical systems in church and state [the “Priesthood” for example] – we will have male-dominance. When we should be like Capt. Moroni:

    I seek not for power, but to pull it down

    Matriarchy and patriarchy will always be mortal enemies because of that -archy at the end. Until we have something like egalitarian tribal an-archy that’s based on the gospel of Jesus Christ – we won’t have an Edenic balance that would be characterized as “Zion”.

  13. So —

    The problem with tacking down whether or not women hold any office in the priesthood is that the scriptures only relate offices that appear to pertain to men. In D&C 20, we have the duties of priests — but women are not ordained priests, they are ordained priestesses, and there’s no scriptural explanation of the duties of priestesses.

    So, for example, I would trust my wife to baptize me — however, I have no evidence that the duties of her office of priestess include the authority to baptize. Taking a look at D&C 20:

    Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent—

    The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

    So far — we are completely gender-inclusive in the language — “the person” who has authority to baptize, “the person” who has presented “himself or herself” for baptism, calling “him or her” by name, etc.


    Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

    Now, when the scriptures refer to a group of both genders — they will follow the standard grammar rules of Romance languages and use masculine — “him” or “man” or “men” — to refer to the group. Such that we do not interpret God’s work and glory as being to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of males only — but as including both genders.

    So, the scriptures may refer to all priesthood holders as “he” or “him” — but this just may be an example of a gender inclusive “he” [we can’t say for sure].

    This aspect of the Romance languages makes the issue of female priesthood duties ambiguous. Because there is no scriptural passage explicitly stating that women either should or should not be conferred with the rights of the priesthood. So, while I admit that no-evidence is not a “no” — there is also no positive direction on what is appropriate either.

    However, the above quoted scripture from D&C 20 uses a mix of gender inclusive terms for the baptized [all those, person, himself or herself, you, him or her] — but it uses a masculine term for the baptizer [“Then shall he immerse him or her…”].

    Since this passage uses both gender inclusive and gender exclusive language — I cannot infer based on the ambiguity of the language that the “person” who “is called of God and has authority…to baptize” can be a female.

    To know what they were would require the presiding high priest of the church going to the Lord to seek revelation on the matter — but I don’t foresee that happening.

    So, though while I believe that women do receive the rights of the priesthood at the time of their initiatory and receiving of the key-words of the priesthood — this reference in D&C 20 leads me to believe that priestesses do not have the keys to baptize.

    And since this duty belongs to the offices of priest and elder — I would say that women cannot perform the functions of priests or elders — or in other words, women holding the priesthood are neither priests nor elders — but they are something we have no scriptural description of, i.e. priestesses and ?elderesses?

  14. I was looking for possible references to duties pertaining to the office of priestess — and I remembered this from John 12:

    Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
    Then said Jesus, […] against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

    It also adds, in Mark 14:

    She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

    Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

    This ordinance of a “second anointing” appears to be a duty of a priestess in which she prepares her priest-husband for his burial by washing and anointing him.

  15. Hi all! I’m not sure if anyone is even following this particular post’s comments anymore but I just wanted to point something out that might be helpful. Reference was made in this post to performing callings and ordinations according to this pattern in pockets of believers (“tribes”) and though I’m not sure what the specific reference is alluding to, I did want to try to briefly encapsulate the method of calling and ordination that takes place (and has for the last 150 years) in the local portion of the Church that I work within.

    Here’s how it goes: The presiding Melchizedek Priesthood Holder of a branch takes time regularly to think over the congregation and bring to the Lord the names of people that he believes might be qualifying for priesthood. If, and ONLY if, at this point he receives a distinct and unmistakable experience with the Lord about this call, he then brings his experience before the elders. The elders as a whole are then given opportunity, before the call is told to the individual, to pray and have confirmation. If they do not receive equivalent or confirming experiences, then the call stops and the presider goes back to the drawing boards or waits a while and seeks the Lord again. If they do have confirmation then the call is told to the individual. The individual has the responsibility then to go and seek the Lord and receive their own confirmation since this affects them very personally if the call is actually true or not. This is only if they haven’t already received an experience, which in reality they usually have before that day comes. This part insures that the recipient is someone who is used to going before the Lord and receiving answers in conversation with Him. If the individual then accepts the calling, it is presented before the congregation and they are given time to seek the Lord, the end of the time allotted being marked by a testimony service where all of the individuals, and especially the candidate, have free voice to voice their experiences. If it is determined to the satisfaction of the congregation that the candidate has been approved by God, then the congregation announces this formally by the closing vote in the positive. If not, then the same vote results in a negative and the person is not ordained. This last result almost NEVER takes place because the call would not have made it that far without significant witness among the elders who also have free voice in the congregational set up. After all this, the candidate is ordained by the laying on of hands of two or more of the other priesthood (according to his office). I have seen this process take anywhere from two weeks to one day, depending on the responsiveness of the people to God and apparently God’s rush to have the one ordained. A calling like this is for life and expectation for “upward” movement in the offices is greatly looked down upon. As such, a person is ordained straight to an office (e.g. Priest) if they qualify for its particular duties. Grown married men as deacons are a regular sight. Each offices has there own responsibilities. The only restrictions on further callings and ordinations is obviously that they must come in the same manner as the first and can only be to a “higher” office than the first since those include the gifts given to the others it presides over.

    Reasons why we do it this way:
    1. God knows best whether a person possesses, or has potential for possessing, the above gifts.
    2. Only God then has the right to choose who should represent Him
    3. He does this by calling them “as was Aaron” or in other words, through someone who already represents Him and more specifically has the presiding responsibility of “discerning the spirits” to determine qualification. (i.e. Moses in Aaron’s case, Bishops/presiding elders in a branch)
    4. Humans are fallible
    – No single person’s word is taken as Word of God
    – A confluence of many testimonies is more weighty than few
    – “Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses…”
    5. A person’s call is to serve the people and so must have the vote of the people that they accept him as representing God to them.
    6. Every person has the right to receive for themselves confirmation of God’s will for their contribution to the work.

    The end result is a qualified, confident, and trusted corpus of priesthood that can truly be servants to the people. Qualified because they have to have met the criteria in order to meet God’s approval. Confident because they have assurance that it is really God who called them and will provide their every need in the office. And trusted because the people have also had witness and had a say in the matter.

    -Jonah Bates (Independence, Missouri) RLDS

  16. Jonah, that sounds like the way it ought to be done all over the Lord’s vineyard. There would certainly not be the “brethren worship” that seems to be rampant in our part of the vineyard if we did it that way.

  17. LDSA, seems like you misunderstand the meaning of the verse you used in this post, viz:

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
    (John 14:12)

    You assume that the “greater works” are to be done here in mortality, however Lectures on Faith say it talks about eternity:

    [Lec 7:12c] He does not say that they should do these works in time; but they should
    do greater works because he went to the Father

    [Lec 7:12e] These sayings taken in connection, make it very plain that the greater
    works, which those that believed on his name were to do, were to be done in eternity,
    where he was going and where they should behold his glory

  18. jackdale76, this is where the Lectures on Faith paint a false picture. It says, “He does not say that they should do these works in time” and that is true, but He also does not say that they should not do these works in time, nor does He say that they shall do these works in eternity. The Lectures on Faith, this 7th lecture, combines the Lord’s prayer found in other scriptures with this particular verse and extracts a doctrine of greater works being done in eternity. That is certainly a correct view. Greater works will, of course, be done in eternity. The works of God, as God, done in eternity, are surely greater than those He does in time. When we enter into our exaltation, therefore, as gods, we will surely do greater works that what we do here. But, again, the 7th Lecture paints a false picture that the verse in question doesn’t apply to time. It doesn’t categorically state that it doesn’t apply to time, but you, having read that lecture, have come away with the impression that this lecture is discounting the possibility of greater works being done in time. So, the lectures are deficient, in this respect.

    The truth of the matter is that the greater works that the Savior spoke of applied both to time and eternity. For some these greater works would be done in eternity, while for others these greater works would be done in both time and eternity. The Josephite restorer is a prime example of this, as well as the 144,000 and others of like caliber, who exercise exceedingly great faith in this life and humble themselves completely before the Lord. Such individuals will do greater works in this life, as well as in eternity.


    And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them. (1 Ne. 13:16)

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