Hi there all, from this session I am going to spend a little time specifically looking at 1 talk from this session and a theme that arises from it.
This talk caught my eye as I have been listening to a lot of talks and debates in evangelical circles lately about supernatural or spiritual gifts, and the issues as to whether they are still in effect today, I believe they are which makes me a “continuationist” and many great Christians who I have nothing but respect for think they are not, and they often use the title “cessationist” as a label for this.
revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
Now, I think when Christians consider in whose name or by what power any miracles, or gifts, or healing’s or works of faith are carried out, they would generally give the same answer, “In the Name of Jesus”, or the power of Christ, or the power of God etc.
Here are a few examples from the Bible to give examples of what I am saying:
Acts 4:29-30And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
James 5:14Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
This also applies to casting out demons:
Acts 16:18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
Even giving commands to Christians in scripture.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
The point I am making is that when we see acts of power or healing being carried out in the New Testament they are made specifically in Jesus name, I think the reason for this is clear, in that it is that Christ Himself is the source of all of the power we rely on as Christians and ultimately the power through which all things were created, and He is the person for whom all things were made, in the heavens and the earth.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
So what is my point in all this? During Hallstrom’s talk he said something that caught my eye:
Similarly, Elder David A. Bednar once asked a young man who had requested a priesthood blessing, “If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?”
It’s a blink and you might miss it thing, but this young man whom it sounds like is dying, asked for a priesthood blessing and in response he is told you may or may not be healed, which means that the young man was asking for a priesthood blessing, in the hope of healing from it. To someone from an evangelical background, this might seem strange, why wouldn’t he just ask for prayer for healing you might ask?
Many scriptures teach that the servants of the Lord “shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).6Miracles happen when the authority of the priesthood is used to bless the sick. I have experienced these miracles. As a boy and as a man I have seen healings as miraculous as any recorded in the scriptures, and so have many of you.
It’s the authority of priesthood that heals, isn’t that interesting as compared to the New Testament:
Acts 3:16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
In Mormonism it is the power of the priesthood in the New Testament it is the power of Jesus name by which we are healed, and this goes much deeper than that.
Now I know that many Mormons reading this will be saying to themselves:
“You don’t get it Bobby they are the same thing, the power of Jesus name is the power of the priesthood!”
Now the answer to whether that is true or not is found in a simple question, and that is,
Is Jesus the all-sufficient creator of everything, with power in His own right to create, save and heal, or is He a being that started out with limited power and authority and had to be exalted to a position to which He did not hold previously and be given that power?
If Jesus is by nature sufficient, powerful and glorious He needs nothing to be given to Him, if He has gained His power and glory from an external source? What is it?
Think of this: the priesthood conferred upon us is the very same power and authority through which God created this and numberless worlds, governs the heavens and the earth, and exalts His obedient children.3
I once had some Mormon missionaries in my living room and I asked them the question, do you think it’s possible that one day you could be as great as Jesus? One of them confidently answered: Yes!
Now I know many Mormons if not most, reading this would not have said that, and I know in the Mormon theological framework we will always be subject to Christ within our own future kingdom should we be exalted, so this missionary I would say even within the Mormon framework is mistaken, however he said yes for a reason, I think Joseph Smith in the now, long out of print work the history of the church helps us find this reason.
“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 keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424).
Jesus Christ obtained this priesthood, He obtained the power to create, He obtained the power to heal, this states by following the commandments and obeying the ordinances of the house of the Lord, which I can only assume but I think I am correct means by going to the temple on whatever world he was on, and going through the endowment and carrying out baptisms for the dead etc, on whatever world He was on as a mortal.
Many Mormons might not phrase it this way today, however the logical implication of how the priesthood works, and how we can hope for our exaltation today extends to this for us and so rightfully it would have to for Jesus as He is not eternal.
In the Mormon framework we are all eternal in that one day if you go far back enough we were all “intelligences” awaiting our spiritual body so we could then await our physical body in order to go through our mortal probation, and hopefully progress to our exaltation as our Heavenly Father did, so when I say Jesus is not eternal in Mormonism, I mean in this sense, in that if you go far back enough we were all in the same place.
The power of God, or any power in Christ’s name is not eternal, the only power that is eternal in Mormonism is the priesthood.
Now in the Bible we never see anything close to this in terms of the priesthood being an external, eternal power through which God created all things, we simply see a God who has power by virtue of who He is.
Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
In the early church I am not aware of them having any concept of this either but I am open to correction on that if anyone wants to let me know.
Even the word Priesthood generally refers to a position someone holds that gives them certain authority to act as a go between, between men and God, which is why in the Old Testament it was the priests that went into the temple offering sacrifices to God on behalf of the people in order to connect the people to God.
This role is no longer necessary as we now have one mediator between God and man who is Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5). That is a big theological area which I appreciate I am really quickly covering, however nowhere in the Old Testament would the term priesthood be connected with the power by which the world was created, this is something completely new brought in by Joseph Smith which cannot be found in the Bible or early Christianity.
This is not a belief that was held straight away in the Mormon church, I believe there in no mention of any of this in the Book of Mormon, and one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, David Whitmer expressed problems with Joseph Smith’s developing ideas of the priesthood in his book An Address to All Believers in Christ.
This is a massive issue which can often get forgotten about when discussing issues such as the nature of God, and salvation which are of course massive, however for Mormons the issue of priesthood authority, priesthood blessings, and priesthood power are fundamental to everything in their faith, not only their power to act and their hope of salvation, but also God’s power to act and create, this is probably the best example there is of a perfectly fine concept such as priesthood, being turned into something false and offering no hope.
The Mormon church bears the name of Christ, and makes mention of His name in so many areas, but strips Him of His power and glory and makes it an external thing which He obtained by obedience, and thus we all can.
Mormons I would ask you please explore this and by all means come back to me with your comments.
It’s that time of the year again where Facebook and all things media and social media go crazy with all things general conference where Mormonism is concerned.
I always think this is a good opportunity for us as a ministry to keep up to date with what is being taught by Mormon general authorities and offer our perspective on this. The talk that caught my eye the most from the Saturday Morning session is “Where are the keys and authority of the Priesthood” given by Elder Gary E Stephenson of the quorum of the 12 apostles.
Needless to say this talk is looking at the whole area of Priesthood authority, Stephenson, opens the talk with a story of him once losing his car keys on a family holiday, and how the car was useless without those keys. As the talk goes on the point is made again and again about how important the “Priesthood keys” are for the Mormon church and its members to function. One of the concluding points which I am going to work back from is this:
I testify that priesthood authority and priesthood keys start the engine, open the gates of heaven, facilitate heavenly power, and pave the covenant pathway back to our loving Heavenly Father.
This talk really labours the absolute significance of the “priesthood keys” here are two other quotes from this talk.
September of last year. There, I felt the power and reality of the heavenly events which took place on that sacred ground. That experience led me to ponder, study, and pray about priesthood authority and priesthood keys, which impressed me with a desire to share with the young men and young women of the Church how priesthood authority and restored keys can bless them.
Sealing keys, restored by the Old Testament prophet Elijah, enable ordinances to take place in holy temples. Ordinances performed in these temples enable individuals and families to return to the presence of our heavenly parents
The concept of priesthood keys and priesthood authority are absolutely essential within Mormonism, particularly when it comes to issues such as how might someone be exalted.
Joseph Smith founder of the Mormon Church 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 keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:424
12th Mormon Prophet 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” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 51).
When I see quotes like this one quote from the apostle Paul keeps going through my head.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Why did Paul say this? Surely this priesthood authority and these priesthood keys are so significant he would want to share this with the people he was writing to. To be fair this point alone does not mean that Paul never taught anything else, in Acts 20:26-27 Paul makes the point that he did not hold back any of the council of God, meaning there will are a number of different areas that he taught, on which we of course see in his other letters.
However no where in the New Testament do we see Paul emphasise that the Priesthood must be held by Christians to be saved or exalted. Paul instead boldly claims.
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
The repeated message of the New Testament is the sufficiency of Jesus, we see in Hebrews 7 that He is forever a high priest, and is therefore following the Old Testament pattern of one high priest existing at a time until death, and so Jesus is the only high priest that we need.
I did a word search on the king James Bible looking for priesthood keys and here is what I found.
I got the same thing looking for Priesthood authority too. The word Priesthood is mentioned 7 times in the New Testament in the King James version of the New Testament (which Mormons use) here they are.
1 Peter 2:5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
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;
Both of which refer to a collective priesthood encompassing all believers.
Hebrews 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
Hebrews 7:11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Hebrews 7:12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Hebrews 7:14 or it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
Hebrews 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
This teaching develops as the verses go on (best understood when reading the chapter in full) and shows that Old Testament Priests have now been done away with, and we now have a permanent high priest that continues forever unlike the old Priests that is Jesus. We see no emphasis on the Melchizadek or Aaronic priesthoods as being something we should seek to gain as Christians.
Our salvation, or exaltation or whatever you want to call it only happens by faith in Jesus, He is our Saviour, He is our Prophet, He is our Priest, He is our King. There is no reference here to the significance of Christians holding onto any priesthood authority, but rather Jesus is the one that continues forever as a high priest. A role that previously was held by individuals one at a time until death.
In the FairMormon Book “Restoring the ancient church” by Barry Robert Bickmore, which was written to show how the Mormon church is a restoration of the early Christian church. There is an interesting quote regarding “Priesthood Authority” in the early Christian church. (brackets and bold added)
“While the extant (still existing) early Christian documents make no mention of the two priesthoods within the Church, it is at least clear that there was a hierarchy of authority at least roughly corresponding to the distinction made by the Lord to Joseph Smith”.p.189
This is a significant admission, that no early church documents make any mention of these Priesthoods that the Mormon church holds so dear, and as I have shown it’s not in the New Testament in relation to individual believers continuing to hold them, therefore where is the restoration here?
Its not a restoration but rather a fabrication. Absolutely there was leadership in the early church as this quote says, but not in the name of the Aaronic or Melchizadek priesthoods, which are now complete in Christ. Interestingly David Whitmer one of the Book of Mormon witnesses saw this idea of priesthood authority as a fabrication too, more on that here.
I think in reality the simplicity of the good news of the gospel of Christ has been lost on Mormons, This emphasis on Priesthood authority and keys is at the expense of simply proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and is causing Mormon after Mormon to remain in a lost state, unless they see past this and trust in Christ alone for their salvation.
The gospel is a message of a Saviour seeking to save the lost, not a message of an exalted man seeking to give people the authority they need to cause their own exaltation.
Thanks for reading, look forward to your comments.
An ongoing series of articles on some common and recurring weak arguments that Christians make against Mormonism.
by Fred W. Anson The Argument:
“There is no priesthood anymore.”
Why It’s Weak:
This argument is weak because it’s untrue. The Bible tells us that anyone who places their trust in Christ and receives His free gift of eternal life by faith through grace is a member of the Royal Priesthood.
1) What’s in a word?
Let’s start at the beginning: What exactly is meant by the biblical word, “priesthood?” Bible commentator, Wayne Jackson explains:
A priest, in effect, is a mediator who stands between God and man. He offers sacrifice to God on behalf of man and administers other worship obligations that people feel unworthy to offer personally. The nearest thing to a definition found in the Scriptures is probably Hebrews 5:1.
“For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
And William Smith explains how and why a priesthood is required:
The idea of a priesthood connects itself in all its forms, pure or corrupted, with the consciousness, more or less distinct of sin. Men feel that they have broken a law . The power above them is holier than they are, and they dare not approach it. They crave for the intervention of some one of whom they can think as likely to be more acceptable than themselves. He must offer up their prayers, thanksgivings, sacrifices. He becomes their representative in “things pertaining unto God.” He may become also (though this does not always follow) the representative of God to man.
In a sense, after the fall, without a priest to mediate between God and man and offer sacrifices there was no forgiveness of sins and thus no reconciliation with God. Thus immediately after the fall of man we see mankind offering sacrifices to God (see Genesis 4:2-6) and assuming a priestly role. Matthew George Easton offers this quick summation and overview of the priesthood in his well known Bible dictionary:
At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham (12:7; 13:4), Isaac (26:25), Jacob (31:54), and Job (Job 1:5).
The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18). Under the Levitical arrangements the office of the priesthood was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the qualifications of priests are given in Lev. 21:16-23. There are ordinances also regarding the priests’ dress (Ex. 28:40-43) and the manner of their consecration to the office (29:1-37).
2) Sorry Mr. Easton, but no!
On that last point Mr. Easton, who was most likely over reacting to Catholic priesthood claims, is both correct and incorrect: The Bible is clear that there is a priesthood however, it’s neither the Melchizedek or the Aaronic priesthood. After all, the Levitical system of sacerdotalism that formed the basis for the Aaronic priesthood was fulfilled by Christ’s atonement, and the Melchizedek priesthood only contains one member, Jesus Christ. Never the less, there are priests in what the Apostle Peter refers to as the “Royal Priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV):
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (bolding added)
And it is this priesthood of kings that the Apostle John refers to in Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:10 (NKJV):
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (bolding added)
You [the Lamb of God] were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. (bolding added)
Thus Martin Luther very correctly asserted that our calling as royal priests is divine and not a matter of human ordination:
As for the unction by a pope or a bishop, tonsure, ordination, consecration, clothes differing from those of laymen–all this may make a hypocrite or an anointed puppet, but never a Christian, or a spiritual man. Thus we are all consecrated as priests by baptism, as St. Peter says: “Ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9); and in the book of Revelation: “and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests.” (Rev. 5:10) (bolding added)
How if they were compelled to admit that we all, so many as have been baptized, are equally priests? We are so in fact, and it is only a ministry which has been entrusted to them, and that with our consent. They would then know that they have no right to exercise command over us, except so far as we voluntarily allow of it. Thus it is said: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1 Pet. 2:9.) Thus all we who are Christians are priests; (bolding added)
Each and every one of you who place their trust in Christ is a Priest, a Minister. When that little girl from our photo gets a little older and begins to understand God’s transformative love and the grace that sustains her, she too will be called into the Priesthood of All Believers, her baptism her ordination, and her first church will be the world around her, depending on her to spread the hope that comes in Christ’s love to the next generation. That is what Priests do. They live faithfully today, and invest in what God is doing for tomorrow.
So is there a priesthood today? The biblical answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” However, it is no longer physical, it’s spiritual, and it’s no long sacerdotal – that is, except for the sacrifice of praise and offering of thanksgiving (see Hebrews 13:15) that we bring. As British Pastor David H.J. Gay notes well:
It is in the new covenant that God through Christ has formed his people into a priesthood for the very purpose of satisfying his demand and desire for true spiritual worship from true spiritual worshippers (John 4: 23-24). In Christ, he has established a body of priests who truly worship him in spirit, and offer true spiritual sacrifices… It is we – believers under the new covenant – it is we who are the true people of God, the true Israel, who truly and spiritually worship God! In short, the newest believer approaches God with greater glory than Aaron himself ever did.
But perhaps, in the end, no one summed up the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers better, succintly, and beautifully than John Newton in his well known hymn:
Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
’Tis his love his people raises,
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, his solemn praises
Each for a thank-offering brings. — John Newton, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”
The Stronger Arguments:
If this article has seemed like a theology lesson to you so far, you would be right. I believe that this weak argument comes out of two things: First, a lack of a fully formed theology of the priesthood of all believers, and; Second, an over reaction to Latter-day Saint priesthood dogma.
First Suggested Strong Argument: This ain’t about authority!
At core of Latter-day Saint priesthood doctrine is the issue of authority – as in Mormon priesthood holders have it and no one else does. On one official church website they explicitly state:
The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. The same priesthood authority that existed in the original Church established by Jesus Christ exists in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. The Church is directed and led through this authority.
All male members of the Church who are prepared receive the priesthood in order to help lead the Church and serve Heavenly Father’s children. A man with the priesthood might serve in some of the following ways:
Leading congregations of the Church
Performing the ordinances of the Church, such as baptism
Blessing those who are sick
God expects those who hold this sacred priesthood authority to follow the example of Jesus Christ and serve with love, gentleness, and kindness.
But such an assertion is only true if that authority comes directly from God himself. On this matter, Wayne Jackson comes right to the point:
The Mormon priesthood dogma has no authority higher than that of Joseph Smith, Jr., who claims to have “restored” the ancient order of priests on May 15, 1829. The error in this is all too obvious to anyone with a more-than-minimum acquaintance with the New Testament.
First of all, the Melchizedek priesthood was to belong to Christ, and to none other, until the end of time. The writer of Hebrews says concerning Jesus that: “. . . he, because he abides for ever, has his priesthood unchangable” (7:24). The key word is “unchangable” (aparabatos), which suggests that the Lord’s priesthood is imperishable. Some suggest that the meaning of the Greek term is simply “permanent, unchangable” (F.W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 97), which, of itself, would eliminate the Mormon idea. But even more to the point is the proposed meaning “non-transferable” (C. Spiqu, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, 1.143-44). That would specifically deny that it could pass to other persons.
Second, the Aaronic priesthood cannot be operative today because it was an integral part of the law of Moses, which law was abolished by Christ (Eph. 2:15), being, in a manner of speaking, nailed to his cross (Col. 2:14). Moreover, the verb rendered “hath taken away” in this latter passage is a perfect tense form, which argues for the permanent abolition of that law. There is no biblical indication that the law was to be, or ever will be, restored. Too, one could not restore the Aaronic priesthood without “of necessity” resurrecting the entire Mosaic law (Heb. 7:12).
In other words there is no authority backing LdS Priesthood claims – biblically, they’re just wrong. Therefore, the entire system rests on Joseph Smith’s say-so that he received a divine mandate that somehow over rode biblical authority when he and Oliver Cowdery received first the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, and then the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John. And Smith’s claims in this regard are problematic.
Second Suggested Strong Argument: Now Mr. Smith about that Priesthood thing…
According to the canonized history of Mormonism Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829 and the Melchizedek Priesthood shortly thereafter on some unknown date:
The Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood, with its authority to baptize, on 15 May 1829. The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored next, bringing to earth all the power and authority necessary to organize and direct the Church of Jesus Christ and to perform additional saving priesthood ordinances. While the Prophet and his associate, Oliver, did not record the date that they received the Melchizedek Priesthood, historical records and the testimony of witnesses indicate that it occurred between the day after the Aaronic Priesthood restoration and 28 May 1829. Both the scriptures and the testimony of contemporaries attest that the brethren on whom the Lord had bestowed the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood—the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery—acted in the authority of those keys as they organized the Church on 6 April 1830.
However, the historical record discredits these claims as this MormonThink.com summary explains:
Researchers who have closely examined the D&C and primary source accounts found that the official narrative of priesthood restoration contains numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Scholars also raise important questions that expose potential weaknesses in Smith and Cowdery’s story of their miraculous ordinations. For example, if Joseph and Oliver had experienced events as remarkable and life-altering as divine visitations by John the Baptist and three of Christ’s apostles, why would they not tell others? These miraculous ordinations were not publicly revealed or documented until five years after they supposedly occurred. Moreover, if the restoration of the priesthood is a fundamental tenet of the LDS Church, why was this revelation excluded from the Book of Commandments when it was originally published in 1833, only revealed in the revised and re-named Doctrine and Covenants in 1835?
The specific problems in the story of the Restoration of the Priesthood:
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery failed to testify to the members nor record anything about the appearances of “John the Baptist” and “Peter, James, and John” in any publications prior to 1834 (five years after the events purportedly took place)—nor did they teach that men ordained to offices in the church were receiving “priesthood authority”.
Nobody in or out of the church knows the exact date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and Oliver Cowdery was inconsistent in describing which heavenly being(s) had come to confer that authority.
Joseph Smith and other early members stated that the first conferral of the Melchizedek priesthood happened in June 1831 in Ohio at a conference of Elders, and that Joseph himself was ordained to the high priesthood by church elder Lyman Wight at that time.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 D&C [Doctrine & Covenants], adding verses about the appearances of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John AS IF those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelations, which they weren’t. The Book of Commandments, which later became the D&C says nothing about these appearances.
Simply put, if Joseph Smith’s Priesthood Restoration didn’t occur as he claimed, then the Mormon Priesthood is a hollow shell of nothing – it’s a sham and a fraud.
Third Suggested Strong Argument: In Judeo-Christianity the authority to act in God’s name has never been derived from the priesthood – any priesthood.Step back to the start of this article and reread the priesthood definitions. In the Bible the Priesthood is an office, a function, and a duty. And any authority that came with the office was limited strictly to performing those very specific functions and duties. Throughout the biblical narrative “the authority to act in God’s name” came directly from God and His call on your life irrespective of your office, status or position in life. Anyone who was called was authorized – it was that simple.
Consider, for example, the man Jesus Christ. It was impossible for Him to have “Priesthood Authority” because he wasn’t a priest. Christ was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi and, therefore, immediately disqualified from the Aaronic priesthood. Further, the book of Hebrews is clear that the resurrected Christ became our High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek through His atonement:
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:
“You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” … Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. — Hebrew 7:11-17; 9:11-15 (NKJV)
So according to Latter-day Saint priesthood doctrine Jesus Christ was acting without authority during His ministry and incarnation since He wasn’t a priesthood holder. Further, we could also talk about Paul who was from tribe of Benjamin (Acts 13:21, Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5) and the 12 disciples (with the possible exception of Matthew who may have been a Levite) and their lack of priesthood authority. Suffice to say, according to Latter-day Saint priesthood dogma none of them had the the authority to act in God’s name, to lead congregations, to perform ordinances such as baptism, to bless those who are sick, etc., etc., etc. Yet in stark contrast to that dogma, the Bible is filled from cover-to-cover with men and women who had the required authority to act in God’s name simply by virtue of the fact that God had called them. For example consider, the prophet Isaiah who, like Christ, was from the tribe of Judah:
I [Isaiah] heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
“Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.” — Isaiah 6:8-10 (NKJV)
Simply put our authority to act in God’s name comes from His call on our lives as the chosen elect of God. Therefore, the so-called “priesthood authority” that He gives came upon us when each and every one of us when we placed our trust in Christ and received His free gift of eternal life by faith through grace. We are the royal and legitimate priests of God through Christ, His atoning work, His call on our lives and nothing else.
Summary and Conclusion:
Sandra Tanner summed up the whole problem of the LdS priesthood claims nicely when she wrote:
LDS teach that Joseph Smith had to have the priesthood before he could establish the Church. But the Bible says nothing about apostles, bishops, deacons, or any other New Testament office holding either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood. Why did Joseph Smith need it if Mormonism is a restoration of the New Testament church? The Bible does not teach that the church or priesthood will be lost or restored.
And Hal Hougey very correctly points us to the true biblical model observing:
In 2 Kings 22 we find Israel in apostasy. One day an apostate priest found the Law of the Lord where it had been lost and forgotten in the temple. It was read to the people and obeyed. Thus, a restoration was brought about. It did not require a visitation by angels to restore authority.
A restoration can be brought about today in the same way by reading and obeying the teachings of Christ and his apostles as taught in the Bible. The Bible is the word of God; when it teaches something we have authority from God to obey it without having to receive authority from angels or men. If you learn you should be honest, do you have to go to some church official for the authority to be honest? Certainly not. Likewise, when the Lord in His word teaches us to be baptized and to baptize others, we have the authority to do so, from the word itself.
And the folks at the Got Questions? website summarize our priesthood as Christians nicely when they say:
In summary, believers are called “kings and priests” and a “royal priesthood” as a reflection of their privileged status as heirs to the kingdom of the Almighty God and of the Lamb. Because of this privileged closeness with God, no other earthly mediator is necessary. Second, believers are called priests because salvation is not merely “fire insurance,” escape from hell. Rather, believers are called by God to serve Him by offering up spiritual sacrifices, i.e., being a people zealous for good works. As priests of the living God, we are all to give praise to the One who has given us the great gift of His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf, and in response, to share this wonderful grace with others.
So the next time a Mormon asks you where you get your authority simply say, “Through my calling into the Royal Priesthood through the atonement of Jesus Christ by faith through grace and nothing more – the Bible tells me so!”
 This statement follows the teaching of John Calvin and others that the Melchizedek figure in Genesis 14:18-20 is a Christophany (an Old Testament physical manifestation of Christ). This follows logically when the text interpreted in light of Hebrews 7:1-3 which says:
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,”without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. (NKJV)
Thus since only one human meets (or has ever met) that criteria it’s fair to conclude that the Genesis 14 Melchizedek is in fact Jesus Christ. This is just one of several valid interpretations. However, it’s clear that at the very least Melchizedek is a type of Christ. As the GotQuestions.org website summarizes well:
Are Melchizedek and Jesus the same person? A case can be made either way. At the very least, Melchizedek is a type of Christ, prefiguring the Lord’s ministry. But it is also possible that Abraham, after his weary battle, met and gave honor to the Lord Jesus Himself.
(Uncredited, “Who was Melchizedek?” GotQuestions.org website)
 A condition that I would be a fool to think I could remedy with this short article. Please see the suggested reading section at the end if you’re interested in developing a more fully formed theology of the priesthood of all believers.
SUGGESTED RESOURCES: I was surprised at the dearth of resources regarding the biblical doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers when I started to research this article. It’s clearly a subject that the modern Christian Church is neglecting. So to save the reader some time and effort, and to preserve the good resources that I found, I offer this bibliography.
Suggested resources on the Priesthood of All Believers: David H.J.Gay, “The Priesthood of All Believers: Slogan or Substance?” This is the most exhaustive treatise on the subject that I found. The author is as ponderous and verbose as a 19th Century preacher but leaves no doubt that his arguments are substantive and fully grounded in scripture. [click here for the Kindle Edition][click here for the FREE audio Edition]
Wikipedia, “Universal Priesthood” This is the one you’ll want if you want the short, cryptic treatment of the subject. A good historical overview but that’s about all.
Got Questions? website, “Is the priesthood of all believers biblical?” Another good, short primer that limits itself to biblical text. If you’re looking for the short, concise biblical case for the Priesthood of all believers this is the article you’re looking for.
Suggested resources on the LdS Priesthood: While there’s a dearth of good resources on Priesthood on the Christian side, there’s a glut on the Mormon side. Here’s are some of the better resources among many that I found in preparing this article that didn’t make it into the main article:
Chapter 17 – Priesthood – ‘for the Salvation of the Human Family’
As we approach the end of the book, we have seen many trends in Snow’s theology such as specific Mormon theology being wrapped around orthodox Christian theology. This can be seen in our discussions on salvation by works and the Trinity. This trend is still prevalent in chapter 17 but this time we shall be exploring a different topic, priesthood, godliness and the theology of generations and godliness. In terms of priesthood and godliness, we shall be exploring the difference that Snow makes between ‘conferring’ godliness and ‘acquiring’ godliness and the importance within Mormonism of priesthood authority. In terms of generations, we shall be exploring the responsibilities of priesthood with regards to generations past, present and future and what the Bible has to say regarding the topic of generation.
On page 212, we find a very interesting couple of sentences:
‘We expect in the resurrection to exercise the powers of the priesthood – we can exercise them only in proportion as we secure its righteousness and perfections; these qualifications can be had only as they are sought and obtained, so that in the morning of the resurrection we will possess those acquisitions only which we secured in this world! Godliness cannot be conferred but must be acquired, a fact of which the religious world seems[s] strangely and lamentably unconscious.’
What makes this section interesting is this difference that Snow makes between ‘conferred’ and ‘acquired’. These terms are very different when we consider the actions of God and behaving in a godly manner. When a person is conferred with something, the implication is that the person being conferred in essence sits and receives whatever is being conferred upon them. There is no agency on the part of the ‘conferee’. The entire agency is with the ‘conferer’ as the one conferring the gift, in this case godliness. ‘Acquired’ has an entirely inference and meaning. Let us look at an example, when I acquire food; it means that I have worked to earn the money to go and buy the food. In essence, to acquire, one must work for it. Another relevant example, using the referenced section as a guide, would be qualifications. When one acquires a qualification, one has worked towards one and spent the money on course fees. There is work and effort to attain and acquire the qualification. The agency is all with the ‘acquirer’ not the one who ‘confers’ what has been ‘acquired’. When we look at this through the eyes of godliness, Snow is arguing that we can acquire godliness through the ‘proper spiritual qualifications’ not that God confers the godliness on us.
There are some New Testament scriptures that may prove helpful in investigating Snow’s argument.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (2 Peter 1:3-6)
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Titus 1:1-2)
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:11)
The idea that links these verses together is the ‘mystery of godliness’ and that this mystery is something that comes from God himself. It is from God that the gifts of godliness come from God himself. If there is any ‘qualification’, these qualifications flow from God. There are no ‘proper spiritual qualifications’ such as priesthood that to be obtained by humanity in their own strength. Faith alone is the only ‘qualification’ (Titus 1:1-2).
The next interesting aspect when we look for unique Mormon theology is the idea of priesthood as a vehicle for the salvation of generations that Snow discusses in this chapter. The particular quotation that we shall be referencing is:
‘Upon you rest high and sacred responsibilities, which relate not only to the salvation of this generation, but of many past generations, and many to come’.
This idea of salvation for past generations is linked to the idea of baptizing the dead, an idea that we can find in Doctrines and Covenants 128 with links to Joseph Smith’s interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29. Mormonism teaches that if a living member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is baptized by proxy on behalf of somebody who is deceased properly in a temple, then that person can be saved despite his or her death. The title of this chapter therefore is incredibly pertinent. In Mormon theology, priesthood does actually bring salvation for the whole human family as that extends into the past and the deceased. This can be linked with an idea that Bruce McConkie terms as the Patriarchal Chain that binds us all faithful humanity to Adam. By fulfilling the responsibilities that Snow states that all those who are members of the priesthood have towards the past generations, this must include baptisms for the dead to bring them salvation.
There are a number of verses from the Bible that raise questions about this doctrine. One particular verse of interest is 1 Timothy 4:18.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Not only does this verse state that works (bodily exercise) do not profit us in terms of salvation, but this verse also speaks of the biblical pattern on generations. We can see that the present is mentioned in this verse. We can also see that the future generations are also mentioned. What is not mentioned in this verse is the past and the past generations. This pattern is seen in other biblical texts. An example of this is the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 when God speaks of punishing to the fourth generation those who indulge in idolatry but blessing of those who worshipped the name of the Lord to the thousandth generation. What is not mentioned is the past and any punishment or blessing for those who have already died. The idea of baptism for the dead and using godliness and godly authority as a way to achieve salvation for the deceased past generations that will not be in the present or the future does not stand side by side with 1 Timothy 4:18 and Exodus 20. It also does not stand with Hebrews 9:27 which states that we shall be judged according to our acceptance of Christ. It also goes against Romans 2:3 which states that we cannot escape the judgment of our God. One could argue that the doctrine of the baptism of the dead is a potential ‘escape’ from the truth of Romans by attempting to change the judgments of God after death.
What can we say in conclusion? We can say that we can see two distinctive Mormon doctrines through the medium of the priesthood. We can see that Snow argues that there are certain qualifications needed for godliness, therefore salvation and these are achieved through holding the priesthood offices. We can also see that it is the responsibility of the priesthood holder to ‘save’ the past generations through the baptism of the dead. What links these two areas together is the act of the human. The human being has to ‘acquire’ the spiritual qualifications for godliness. The human being has to act by baptizing the dead to save those who have already died and met their God. The human actions are emphasized and not the actions of God. This emphasis on the human and not God, something we see repeatedly with Snow, is something that is not in line with the pattern of scripture and where Mormonism and Christianity differ.
One of the key claims the Mormon church has to state why it is the one true Church on the earth, is that they state the Christian church after the Apostles died went into a state of Apostasy. They fell away from truly serving God and most importantly they say they lost Authority to perform Key ordnance’s such as Baptism and preaching the gospel.
Due to this Apostasy from the point of the Apostles dying to the point of Joseph Smith starting the Mormon church there was no true church on the earth.
What I want to do in this article is just look at the Mormon teaching on the Presthood Authority and simply what the bible says on the subject, I will try and represent the Mormon view as best as I can however any LDS members reading this are welcome to correct me on anything I say about your beliefs and I will be happy to make changes.
Quoted below is a section from “Our heritage, A Brief history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”
Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods
When the angel Moroni first met with Joseph Smith on the
Hill Cumorah in September 1823, he gave important instructions
about the restoration of priesthood authority to the earth,
including the following declaration: “When [the gold plates] are
interpreted the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some, and they
shall begin to proclaim this gospel and baptize by water, and after
that they shall have power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying
on of their hands.”10
In the spring of 1829, Joseph participated in the partial fulfillment
of the angel’s words. As he and Oliver Cowdery were
translating the Book of Mormon, they found mention of baptism
for the remission of sins. On 15 May they sought further knowledge
on the subject from the Lord in prayer. While offering up
their petition on the banks of the Susquehanna River, the two
men were visited by a heavenly messenger. He identified himself
as John the Baptist (pictured) of New Testament times. Laying his hands on
the heads of Joseph and Oliver, he 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” (D&C 13:1).
After this ordination, Joseph and Oliver baptized one another
as commanded by John the Baptist and ordained each other to
the Aaronic Priesthood. John told them that “this Aaronic Priesthood
had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the
Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter.”
He also said that “he acted under the direction of Peter, James and
John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which
Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us”
(JS—H 1:70, 72; see also 1:68–72).
The Prophet said of this experience: “Immediately on our
coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we
experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly
Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy
Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many
things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I
had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when,
standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and
many other things connected with the Church, and this generation
of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost,
and rejoiced in the God of our salvation” (JS—H 1:73).
Later, Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph and Oliver
and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. They also
bestowed the keys of God’s kingdom upon them (see D&C
27:12–13; 128:20). The Melchizedek Priesthood is the highest
authority given to men on earth. With this authority, the Prophet
Joseph Smith was able to organize the Church of Jesus Christ in
this dispensation and begin to establish the various priesthood
quorums as they are known in the Church today.
So in the Mormon Church we see two levels of Presthood Authority the Aaronic and the melchizedek Priesthood. Both are offices only held by men in the Church.
The Melchizedek priesthood being the higher of the two relates more to eternal things such as Baptism for the dead as well as having the authority to perform healings and receive revelation for their own family. Fathers will often give a priesthood blessing to their family when an important situation arises.
The important thing to take from this is the Mormon Church teaches this authority is essential to following God in this life and the next and that all other churches do not have this due to the Apostasy.
Both of these Priesthoods do exist in the bible however seem to hold a very different role to what the Mormon Church Teaches.
The Aaronic Priesthood or the Levitical Priesthood was held by Aaron the brother of Moses (Exodus 6:20). The priesthood was used in these times and was for Aaron and His sons.
Exodus 28:1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, evenAaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
There is no indication in the bible that this priesthood was ever meant for gentiles and no indication that this Authority lived on after the sons of Aaron.
The Melchizedek Priesthood comes from a reletively unknown character in the Old testament.
Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
However this priesthood is never seen in the bible as something which is passed on to worthy males, there is only one other person in the bible shown as recieving this priesthood and that person is the Saviour Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 5:5-6 So also Christ glorified not himself to be madean high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Many LDS members may not have realised this but the book of Hebrews clearly teaches why the Priestood of Melchizedek is not available to anyone else ever again.
In the Old Testament times there was always one high priest functioning at a time, who once a year went into Gods presence in the temple, this role was only passed on when that High priest died and then another took over. This is the case with the Melchizedek priesthood today.
Hebrews 7:17-28 Shows this.
17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
20And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
21(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
22By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
23And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
24But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
In v17 we see Jesus has this priesthood, in v23 we see that these priests existed until death thats why we needed more than one in the past, however v24 shows that Jesus holds this priesthood permanently as He is alive, in v27 we see that He has paid the ultimate sacrifice by sacrificing Himself for us, so unlike the old priests He does not need to offer sacrifices daily. and v18 shows we no longer have weak human high priests but we have Jesus who is the perfect high priest forever.
Mormons will still ask so where is your authority to baptize? Well this is an authority all believers have by being in Christ, think of the great commission.
16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus says all authority has been given to me therefore GO!!
Where does our authority come from? It comes from being in Christ, He is our Prophet, He is our Priest, He is our King.
Our forgiveness, leadership, love, and authority does not come from a human man it comes from Christ, the only time Priesthood is talked about for believers in the New Testament is for ALL believers.
1 Peter 2:5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
If you are born again, in love with Christ and have assurance that He alone is your source of salvation then you have all of the spiritual authority that you could ever need.