General Conference April 2014. Priesthood Session, by Bobby Gilpin

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As many people will know this session from the start has quite a spotlight on it. There is a growing movement of women in the LDS church challenging the long held notion that holding the priesthood is for men alone. The Ordain Women  crowd  and supporters turned up to the last priesthood session in October 2013 seeking to have a number of them gain entry to the Priesthood Session but were turned away.  This session had the same thing happen.

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Ordain Women in the standby line wrapped around the tabernacle April 5, 2014.

So far the LDS church is holding strong to the idea that this authority is for men alone, and likewise women were not allowed entry to the Priesthood Session. On one level I actually applaud the LDS church for making this stand. In theological terms I am what many would refer to as a “Complementarian”. I believe the Bible teaches that headship in the family and church Eldership is a role that God has reserved for males. I see this consistently taught throughout scripture. However from listening to this session my support for the LDS church in this only goes so far.

 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

This first talk is very clearly a response to the Ordain Women movement and in many ways seeking to appease them. It starts with talking of the significance of the Priesthood. This from a Biblical perspective is mind blowing stuff. Words like “God” and Christ” are mere afterthoughts here in comparison to the Priesthood. Here is a quote from early on in the talk.

“Priesthood power blesses all of us, Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, priesthood key’s and priesthood authority pertain to women as a well as men.”

President Joseph F smith described the priesthood as the power of God, delegated to man, by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family. Other leaders have taught us that the priesthood is the consummate power on this earth, it is the power by which the earth was created.

The scriptures teach that the same priesthood which was in the beginning shall be in the end of the world also. Thus the priesthood is the power by which we will be resurrected, and proceed to eternal life.”

Even at this early stage in the talk the divide between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity is overwhelming. Lets go to the moment of creation right at the beginning of Genesis.

 

Genesis 1:1-3

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

God spoke and it was. We see in Hebrews 1:3 that Christ upholds the universe “by the word of His power”. LDS readers I know you are with me on this so far but here is my point. We are simply told here that it is His power by which He does things. We see elsewhere why He does these things.

Isaiah 43:7

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

He created us for His glory, finally we see this in 1 Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

This verse echoes my thought that actually all that are in Christ are the priesthood, however more to the point the purpose of our call to Christ and ultimately our existence is to proclaim the praises of Christ, the one through whom and for whom all things are made (Colossians 1:16) and the one who upholds the universe by the word of His power.

So what’s my point here? My point is that Mormonism has robbed this glory from God and given it all to the priesthood. In the Bible God is by nature God, glorious, eternal, all powerful and endless. In Mormonism God was given this eternal priesthood power and authority as a response to His faithfulness as a man working towards His exaltation, rather than that power just being His He had to inherit it by faith and faithfulness.

Joseph Smith founder of Mormonism said:

“If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keep-ing all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424).

Christ only has this in its fulness because He earned it.

12th Mormon President Spencer W Kimball said:

“Men require priesthood for exaltation. No man will ever reach godhood who does not hold the priesthood. You have to be a member of the higher priesthood – an elder, seventy, or high priest – and today is the day to get it and magnify it” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 51).

This is much more blunt than it would ever be put today but is consistent with what Elder Oaks is saying. While many Mormons today may deny it, Mormonism traditionally teaches that God the Father was a man that was exalted to His position of being a God. Last years LDS teaching Manual: Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow says:

Through a continual course of progression our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory and he points us out the same path and, inasmuch as he is clothed with power, authority and glory, he says, “walk ye up and come in possession of the same glory and happiness that I possess.”9

Gods power to create and authority to do all that He does was delegated to Him by His heavenly Father and if we are to believe early Mormon leaders this cycle is eternal. An endless conveyor belt of gods, rather than an eternal God that creates and sustains all simply by the word of His power. In Mormonism Priesthood should be sought with more zeal than God Himself ever should be, and I think this is what we are seeing.

So with all of this in mind we are not simply talking about church leadership or even headship in the home. It is the entire authority of God to do pretty much anything of eternal significance. So it is no wonder the women want this so much. Elder Oaks later in his talk addresses this head on. If you haven’t already it is worth listening to this talk, however I will quote what really stands out to me.

We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their church callings. but what other authority can it be?  When a woman young or old is set apart to preach the gospel as a fulltime missionary she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. 

This to me seems to be a redefining of what Priesthood authority is. Saying to women stop asking for something you already have in a sense.

Moving on.

“Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and focus on their responsibilities.” (11m)

He goes on to say:

 Latter day saints surely recognise that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities. The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to to offices in the priesthood. But as various church leaders have emphasised men are not the priesthood, men hold the priesthood with the sacred duty to use it for the blessing for all of the children of God. The greatest power that God has given to His sons cannot be exercised without the companionship of one of His daughters. Because only to his daughters has God given the power to be a creator of bodies, so that Gods design and the great plan might meet fruition.

Those are the words of President J Reuben Clark. He continued, quote. This is the place of our wives and of our mothers in the eternal plan. They are not bearers of the priesthood they are not charged with carrying out the duties and functions of the priesthood. Nor are they ladened with its responsibility’s. They are builders and organizers under its power and partakers of its blessings. Possessing the compliment of the priesthood powers, and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place, as the priesthood itself.”

So basically Oaks is saying: “Women you don’t want the responsibility that we have to hold, as you are going to be having children in heaven throughout eternity.”  I somehow doubt that this is going to solve the problem. I have heard a number of ex-Mormon women in podcasts say that they always dreaded the idea of this, I wonder if many faithful LDS women that are reading this feel that way too?

As a side note the LDS Church may be saying now that this priesthood policy will not change, however history says that’s far from the end of the issue.

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This is sadly all an example of a religion that totally misses the true God focused, God glorifying gospel, and has turned it into a carnal man focused religion, simply turning what we have in this life into an eternal occupation. We see in Philippians 1:21 the yearning of the Apostle Paul to die and be with Christ, not to be eternally having children in his own eternal family unit. This is the hope of Christianity that all that follow Him, male or female will know and enjoy Him forever.

God has so much more on offer than just more of the same. I hope that people reading this will seek Christ for the eternal glorious all powerful God that He is.

 

Well, my intention was to review more sessions than this one but that really took some time, I may well do some more later but as ever your comments are welcome.

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “General Conference April 2014. Priesthood Session, by Bobby Gilpin”

  1. “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

    11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

    12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat’.acts5 the priesthood is real my friend..the jews could not understand it and neither do you so why fight against zion and the royal seed?

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  2. Bobby,
    1) You stated, “My point is that Mormonism has robbed this glory from God and given it all to the priesthood. In the Bible God is by nature God, glorious, eternal, all powerful and endless. In Mormonism God was given this eternal priesthood power and authority as a response to His faithfulness as a man working towards His exaltation, rather than that power just being His He had to inherit it by faith and faithfulness.”

    My Response: WOW! That is not what was taught during the Priesthood session or in Elder Oaks’ talk. Here’s the text: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng
    Elder Oaks quoted President Joseph F. Smith describing the power of the priesthood as “the “power of God” delegated to man by which man can act in the earth for the salvation of the human family.”
    Elder Oaks also said, “men are not the priesthood, men hold the priesthood with the sacred duty to use it for the blessing for all of the children of God.”

    This power of the Priesthood, which is synonymous with God, was shared with Peter by Christ, “Matthew 16 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
    This is the same power of God (not of men nor a power apart from God) that Elder Oaks spoke about.

    The Priesthood is God sharing a portion of His power with His children in order to bless our lives and prepare us for eternal life. The priesthood power is part of the gift provided us through the grace of Jesus Christ so that we might better “know” Him through the process of doing His works through His priesthood. And how are we expected to treat that gift of His power, Luke 12:48 “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…”

    2) Actively taught Mormon doctrine is NOT that God was once a man. President Hinckley made that clear. I have previously referred to the overall lack of historical consensus on the subject after the 1840’s which has led me to maintain God’s origin in the category of well meaning speculation. What is actively taught Mormon doctrine is that we are children of God and hold within us the potential of Godliness and becoming heirs and joint heirs with Christ just as Christ and His apostles taught.

    3) You stated, “We see in Philippians 1:21 the yearning of the Apostle Paul to die and be with Christ, not to be eternally having children in his own eternal family unit. This is the hope of Christianity that all that follow Him, male or female will know and enjoy Him forever.

    My Response: Psalms 127: 3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

    Matthew 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

    Matthew 19:13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray:and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: “for of such is the kingdom of heaven””.

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    1. Michael

      Firstly I am very dissapointed. I did not know that the text was out for that talk, it took me ages to write those quotes down haha my bad. Anyway on with your points.

      1, You mean nowhere in the talk does Elder oaks clearly say that the Priesthood robs God of His glory and power??? Ok I think thats maybe my take on it, which I massively stand by. Of course I am a non LDS outsider looking in and that is my take on it, Ill expand a little.

      If you went to an Evangelical conference on this scale or even just my church on a sunday, you would hear Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, repeated again and again. In this talk I heard Priesthood, Priesthood, Priesthood. You obviously see the two as one and the same in a sense. I totally do not and its not often I say this, but I think satan is giggling to himself through talks like this that reduce the glory of Jesus, by replacing Him with this so called priesthood in the scale of attention that it is given.

      2, I accept that you do not accept this but I am a million miles from accepting that this is the teaching of your church. As evidenced by the quote from last years manual. I believe that came after the Hinckley interview.

      3, I accept those Bible verses I just think you are using them wrong. Feel free to tell me how you feel they all go together.

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      1. The written text comes out usually a 2-3 days after the talks are given. :-).

        1) It makes perfect sense to me and I think to most others for a talk focusing on the Priesthood to be shared during the “Priesthood” session of conference. You may not be aware, but the speakers are NOT assigned topics. They are directed to pray for divine guidance about the messages that church members worldwide need to hear. As President Monson has described, they “have sought heaven’s help and direction as they have prepared their messages. They have been impressed concerning that which they will share with us.”
        The priesthood is the power that Christ shared with Peter and then Peter with others to continue His work upon the earth after His ascension. Every time the Priesthood power is properly exercised, it is glorifying Christ and carrying forth His work. Elder Oaks concluded his talk with this, “… “most important”, I testify of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose priesthood this is and whose servants we are, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

        2) The manual quoted is a look at the teachings of that particular prophet, which in this case was Lorenzo Snow in the 1800’s. The quote you shared has particular historical value especially in the context of his famous couplet. Like the couplet, the focus of the quote is on our identity, purpose and potential as children of God. As President Hinckley stated, ” I don’t know that we teach it (origin of God). I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.” This demonstrates the well meaning mixed thoughts among Church leaders during different times on the subject (origin of God), much like exists well meaning mixed thoughts among Evangelical leaders on a whole host of Christian doctrines. What Mormon leaders have always been 100% united on is our identity, purpose and potential as children of God.

        3) You had inferred with your quote I shared that it is misguided “to be eternally having children in (our) own eternal family unit.” The scriptures I shared demonstrate that eternal posterity through eternal families are a key component of God’s Glory and is NOT mutually exclusive to being with Christ and following Him eternally, but is fully united with God’s purposes and glory.

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      2. Hey bud

        1) Naturally we have different perspectives here. Obviously my site my perspective etc but I dont buy your response at all. Many religious movements replace Jesus with their pet subject and say that it is only glorifying Him by talking about that other thing lots. The Apostle Paul said “I sought to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified”. I stand with him on that. A number of years of listening to the priesthood sessions has given me a repeat serving of the same thing.

        2) Lets save this for an upcoming blog post I am going to do on this, I think this discussion has masses of milage to it yet, even if it is just for the sake of you and I discussing it.

        3)No I dont buy that those verses are saying that at all. Please feel free to provide me with some solid exegesis rather than you just telling me that they do mean that.

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      3. 3) Here’s some quotes from an Evangelical Church: “The fact that God established the family at the very beginning of creation is an indicator of its importance in God’s plan. God made man, gave him the gift of the woman and then instructed them to procreate and fill the earth with other humans who bore the very image of God (Genesis 1-2). The family provides a beautiful picture of God, the gospel and the church. The relationship between parents and their children is a small but meaningful illustration of the loving relationship that the Father has for the Son. Parent-child relationships teach us by analogy something of the incredible privilege we have in our relationship with God. He is our Heavenly Father who has adopted us and made us His sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5). The church is called the “family of God” (1 Peter 4:17) or “God’s household” (1 Timothy 3:15). Just as our relationships with our siblings are unbreakable, in a similar manner we are bound to one another as fellow believers because of our union with Christ.”

        “God has instituted the family to be the primary means by which children are brought up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Moses instructs the Israelite parents to teach God’s commands to their children, to talk about their faith and to make it a natural and central part of family life. Psalm 78:1-7 memorably provides parents with the purpose for such ministry:” http://www.clovisevfree.org/family-and-church-in-ministry.php

        Maybe you should feature an article about the eternal nature and importance of families from a Mormon? and then you all can comment?:-)

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      4. Hey there Michael

        You certainly dont have to convince me that the Bible teaches the significance of the family. However my argument is that it does not teach the eternality of the family.

        Funnily enough I am scheduled to do a blog post on this very subject this year, watch this space.

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      5. Bobby, I look forward to the blog on eternal families. In speaking with Christians of varying faiths who jave been happily married and are or have raised children, they all just assume they will be together as a family forever. Im renovating a home recently purchased that appears to have been owned by evangelicals and stenciled on the kitchen wall are the words, “Family, the gift that lasts forever”

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    2. Michael
      You know very well that up until at the very least the mid 1990’s the promise of eventual Godhood was one of the USP’s of the LDS for priesthood holding males. in recent times President Kimball taught it, President Benson Taught it and as a missionary I taught it. However President Hinkley openly denying it on live national TV was a source of confusion at best and outrage at worse for many Mormon and non-Mormon alike.
      By all means have the church leaders have another “revelation” as they did in 1978 and change the key doctrines of the church as they have every right to do, nevertheless what they do not have the right to do is lie and try and convince people that what they were taught in the past was never taught, or was misunderstood and that those who still recall being taught it are deluded.

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      1. Henry,
        For clarification, it IS Mormon doctrine (as supported throughout the New Testament and consistently by all LDS prophets) that we, as children of God, have the potential of Godliness (always under the presiding authority of God). (ref: Romans 8:16-17, Matthew 5:48, etc)

        President Hinckley was responding to the following question with regards to the “origin of God”:

        Question: “…about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?”

        Answer: “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it.

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  3. Hello Bobby – a small item. In a Mormon’s mind, priesthood is integral to the power and nature of Christ. It would be analogous for us to criticize a fellow Christian for talking about ‘grace’ rather than Christ. As you know, we believe the Priesthood is after the order of the Son of God. All priesthood blessings are pronounced in the name of Jesus Christ.

    Hope all is well with you.

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    1. Charles if you listen to a good evangelical talk on grace I would still be very surprised if grace is talked about at the expense of Christ to this degree.

      I did a small test to see if I am right in this.

      I counted the word Priesthood used 68 times in this talk and the Word Jesus used 4 times.

      This is very far from the Apostle Pauls desire to only proclaim Christ and Him crucified. The priesthood is another of the idols in the LDS church that functionally replace Christ in their significance. Not in theory or discussion with evangelicals, but functionally this is the case.

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  4. Given that the Priesthood is the power of God given to man to fulfill Christ’s directives – I don’t see how teaching about the Priesthood is at Christ’s expense. These directives include to teach, to heal, and at times perform miracles – all in Christ’s name. I would suppose a talk on baptism would have the word baptism used more than Christ’s name, but that is what the talk would be about.

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    1. Thanks Charles, happy to agree to disagree but its just something that struck me. Its a challenge that I have never had the chance to try, but I have heard that if you count the number of times Joseph Smith is mentioned compared to Jesus on any given testimony sunday, Joseph tends to come out on top, do you think there is some truth to that?

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      1. Not in any ward or stake I’ve ever attended. Christ is always the focus. I’ve never been to a testimony meeting in England, but give it a count and let us know 🙂

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