One of the unique things about Mormonism that distinguishes us from protestants is the concept of needing priesthood authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.
A huge emphasis is put on the importance of priesthood authority and how the saving ordinances of the gospel must be performed by one who has been properly ordained by the living God. Furthermore, LDS teachings often emphasis that once God ordains someone to the priesthood, all other priesthood ordinations must come through that person or someone that person has ordained. In other words once the priesthood is restored in a dispensation through a mortal man or men, all other ordinations must be able to trace their ordinations back to the originating man or men that were originally ordained.
I believe there is a priesthood authority that is required to administer the ordinances of the Gospel and I believe the scriptures make this abundantly clear.
There are, however, some teachings that I consider to be heresies about priesthood exclusivity that have entered into the Church.
Only One Person on the Earth at a Time?
One of them, in my opinion, originates from passages in section 132 verses 5-7
“And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”
The above mentioned passages would have us believe that there is only one person on the earth at a time that has the priesthood keys through which others may be ordained to be able to administer the saving ordinances… in fact those passages can even be interpreted to be saying that only one particular designated person can actually seal another person up to eternal life, etc.
I have already briefly addressed this issue before, including the false definition of “New and Everlasting Covenant” that is introduced in section 132, however today I want to go into more detail about the false notion of priesthood is always controlled by an exclusive franchise by the first person or group to be ordained, or that there is always just one person holding these keys, etc. (see analysis of Section 132)
I have pointed out previously that God called and endorsed two separate ministries at the same time during the ministry of Joseph Smith.
God was working a work through the ministry of Sidney Rigdon, the Lords Spokesman in Kirtland which involved baptising people ( see D&C 35:4) while at the same time he was working a work through the ministry of Joseph Smith, the Lords Seer, in New York.
Sidney had been inspired of God to do a work independent of the calling and ministry that Joseph was currently involved in. It appears that particular work was able to be done via the lineal patriarchal priesthood that Sidney had inherited.
Again, Sidney and his ministry had been called independently of Joseph and his ministry stewardship.
I have also pointed out previously how God had Joseph and Hyrum jointly hold the keys for a brief time in Nauvoo..
These are difficult concepts for many of us Mormons to wrap our minds around because we have been so indoctrinated to think that God ALWAYS only works through one main person… and all others that are called of God must be called and ordained through that particular person… we have been led to believe that God will never call and ordain two separate people and associated ministries, independently, at the same time.
Of course anyone familiar with the Old Testament realizes that it was not uncommon for God to be working through multiple prophets at a time, independently.
I would suggest the apostle Paul provides us with another great example of how God sometimes works independently in calling prophets and apostles.
The apostle Paul was never a member of the “quorum” of the 12 apostles the Peter, James and John were members of.
Paul was never ordained to be an apostle by Peter James and John.
In fact, he was never ordained by a human being. He was ordained directly by God, even though the Church of Christ had been established and was on the earth at the time, and priesthood keys were held by Peter, James and John.
Here are Paul’s own words as contained in his epistle to the Galations,
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead)”
Paul never even met Peter and James until after his conversion on the road to Damascus and his subsequent first mission to the gentiles.
It was not until after the apostle Paul went on a three year mission to the Gentiles that the Lord commanded him to travel to Jerusalem and finally meet Peter and James for the first time!
It was not Peter that received the revelation for the meeting to take place, it was Paul.
When Paul arrived in Jerusalem he didn’t humbly submit himself to Peter and ask for his marching orders. He considered himself equal with the other apostles.. on one occasion he chastised Peter in front of others for hypocrisy,
“I said unto Peter before them all, if thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest the the Gentiles to live as the Jews?”
Peter, James and John and their brethren of the twelve apostles were currently ministering to the Jews (circumcised) at the time that Paul had been called by God to minister to the Gentiles (uncircumcised).
If the First Elders were Apostles, Why Were the Twelve Called?
Understanding that Paul’s calling to the apostleship differed both in the focus of his ministry and in the procedure in which he was called and ordained to be an apostle, gives greater significances to what the Lord said to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer,
“And now, Oliver Cowdery, I speak unto you, and also unto David Whitmer, by the way of commandment; for, behold, I command all men everywhere to repent, and I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called.
I would submit that the three witnesses and the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon were called primarily to labor initially to the Gentiles during the second watch. It is interesting to see how many of them fell away from the church after the Kirtland apostasy and the sending of the preparatory gospel to the nations of the earth.
Oliver and David were commanded to call and ordain twelve OTHER apostles who would not go forth on a foreign mission to the scattered Jews and remnants of Israel until AFTER the gentiles in America had rejected the fulness of the gospel.
Are we seeing a type here?
This is a typological clue to understanding the difference between the apostleship calling and ministry that David and Oliver and others of the first elders had, compared to the apostleship that Marsh, Patten, Young, Kimball and other members of the “quorum” of the twelve had.
Interesting how the 1st watch “quorum” of the twelve were called to preach to the “Jews” first, then Paul was ordained, and eventually the twelve were also called to go to the scattered gentiles.
Conversely, the 2nd watch apostles to the Gentiles were first called to take the gospel to the gentiles, then the “quorum” of the twelve were also called to take the gospel to the Gentiles first and then to the Jews and other remnants of Israel scattered among foreign nations.
Notice what Joseph said in an1835 sermon where he expains the difference between the newly called “traveling” quorum of apostles and those already called such as David and Oliver,
“After which the following quotation was prepared by President Smith (viz.:) What importance is there attached to the calling of these Twelve Apostles different from the other callings or offices of the Church? After some discussion of Elders [David W.] Patten, [Brigham] Young, Wm. Smith & [Wm. E.] McLellin, President Smith gave the following discussion. They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of Traveling High Council, who are to preside over all the churches of the Saints among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established, and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews. They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority and virtue of their apostleship.”
This new quorum of the twelve was to first preach among the gentiles UNTIL the Lord shall call them to go to the Jews!
Joseph was simply reiterating what the Lord has said several times in modern revelation,
“The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews.”
I have previously postulated in other posts that when the Lord said the Lord needed to do something NEW for the salvation of the church that it was the sending of the twelve apostles to the foreign nations with the gospel of Abraham, as a result of the keys that were given in the Kirtland Temple. I have further postulated that this is the event mentioned in the allegory that keeps the things alive until the third watch. I have suggested that this event constituted sending the preparatory gospel to the Jews. The above statement from Joseph and associated scriptures actually verifies that the twelve were to be taking the gospel to the Jews after they had taken it to the Gentiles!
“the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
It is important to understand that both the 1st and the 2nd watch had two categories of apostles and that each category had a different calling to minister to a different branch of Israel initially.
This provides another testimony that the gentiles very quickly rejected the fulness of the gospel BEFORE the gospel was taken to the Jews and other remnants of scattered Israel… just as the 1st watch Jews very quickly rejected the gospel followed by the gospel going to the scattered gentiles.
It is incredibly important to understand just how completely and quickly the rejection of the gospel by the gentiles took place… I feel that if you don’t understand this, you will remain conflicted in your mind about the truth pertaining to many historical events and many doctrinal and priesthood related issues.
There was only One Falling Away.. and it was In Kirtland
Those who believe there was a falling away during the Kirtland years and also another one after the Saints arrived in Utah are quite conflicted in their minds because on the one hand they acknowledge that the gospel appears to have been preached and rejected by the gentiles during or before 1834 (with and extension and grace period of redeeming Zion by September 11 1836), yet they continue to assume that the keys of the priesthood had remained in the church and they continue to consider the teachings in the journal of discourses as a credible source of gospel study.
They assume that those who had rejected the fulness of the gospel and eventually went to Utah still spoke with authority and credibility… and that their polygamous lifestyles were an indication of their righteousness instead of a sign of their darkened minds and state of apostasy.
They seem to think that after the Saints rejected the fulness of the Gospel as contained in section 42, in Kirtland, somehow God mystically continued to shower the Saints with even greater knowledge, ordinances and spiritual endowments.
Two Types of LDS Fundamentalists
Please understand that there are two types of LDS fundamentalists.
The most common type of fundamentalists are those who assume that the main 2nd watch apostasy took place AFTER the death of Brigham Young. These folks believe that polygamy and the replacement of spiritual endowments with ritualistic masonic endowments are celestial principles that are congruent with the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The second (and authentic) type of LDS fundamentalists are those who realize that the apostasy was completed by September 11th 1836. These folks realize that the fulness of the Gospel and all necessary ordinances thereof were on the earth by the time that the special conference at the Morley Farm was completed in 1831.. all other strange doctrines and practices that entered into the church after the Kirtland apostasy are highly suspect, particularly when they are not congruent with the holy word of God.
If you believe the falling away took place in Kirtland yet you continue to believe that the keys of the kingdom went with the Saints to Utah and that polygamy is a celestial principle, then you will be conflicted in your mind until you finally come to the truth.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Let me just point out in case I have failed to do so in previous posts, that the new doctrines, definitions, practices, rituals and ordinances that crept into the church AFTER September 11 1836 came as a direct result of the rejecting of the fulness of the gospel.
THEY WERE INTRODUCED INTO THE CHURCH BECAUSE THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL HAD BEEN REJECTED!
These new doctrines, practices, rituals and ordinances that were prevalent among the Saints by the time they fled Kirtland, and shortly after, in Nauvoo, are what the Lord was referring to in section 124,
“And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.
Clearly, the church was in apostasy before the arrived in Nauvoo, as had been declared in section 112. The strange follies and abominations that entered into the church after they fled Kirtland were the fulfillment of Gods warning back in 1829 that if the Saints hardened their hearts, he would turn them over to Satan.
There is a reason why many beliefs and practices that were not allowed to creep into the church in Kirtland later became embraced after the Saints left Kirtland. Here are a few of the beliefs and practices that crept in,
- During the first six years that the fulness of the Gospel was being offered to the Gentiles, the church did not participate in the creation of banks and currency because a consecrated society does not need paper money and the inherent class distinction that accompanies it. The Saints had been commanded to be equal and that one man should not excel above another.
- During the first six years that the fulness of the Gospel was being offered to the Gentiles, the church did not create or participate in secret combinations such as the Danites and masonry (with secret hand shakes, secret blood oaths and swearing by the throat) because a sanctified people do not participate in the key components of the endowment that Satan and Cain introduced into this world.
- During the first six years that the fulness of the Gospel was being offered to the Gentiles, the church did not tolerate the practice plural marriage because the law of the Gospel as contained in section 42 (and reiterated as a second and third witness in section 49 and the article on Marriage) forbids it.
Those that insist on knowing the truth and our current state as a church must come to grips with when the falling away (from the fulness of the gospel) took place, how total and complete it was and how serious the consequences were that followed. Yes, it is true that the preparatory gospel of carnal commandments as administered in the Gospel of Abraham was sent to the Jews by the twelve after the Kirtland apostasy, but that is a lesser, gospel.
This is why the simple but eternally profound act of believing in Jesus Christ takes on even more significance during our current time of darkness.
If in fact the fulness of the gospel is not on the earth and we are waiting for God’s servants to return with priesthood authority to administer the ordinances, the most important single thing we can emphasize at this particular time is to BELIEVE IN CHRIST, followed by the desire to partake of his love and then show forth the love of God to our fellow men. We are informed by modern revelation that we can still be led by and filled with the Spirit of Christ which is always available to mankind even during times when the fulness of the gospel is not on the earth.
Seventeen Points to the True Church
Years ago while serving a mission in the Bible Belt I was armed by the church with an audio tape called “the 17 Points of the True Church”.
It was a recording of a fireside talk by Floyd Weston, a convert to the church.
According to his presentation,
“Near the outset of World War II, five college friends determined to search for the Lord’s true church. One of the group compiled a list of seventeen characteristics and key doctrines of the church Christ established. He suggested that Christ’s church today should include them all and that they should try to find such a church. The five friends began talking to priests and ministers, comparing the structure and doctrines of various churches with the list. None matched more than half of the requirements.
The five friends parted, and it was years before they met again. Individually, they had found and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, finding it to be the only church on the earth that encompassed all seventeen evidences.” (This inspiring story, told with power and conviction, was calculated to add strength and resiliency to the testimony of the missionaries that were using it as a teaching tool.A list of the seventeen evidences is included with the and also below.)”
17 Points of the True Church of Christ
- Christ organized the Church (Eph 4:11-14)
- The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23)
- The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:19-20)
- The true church must have the same organization as Christ’s Church (Eph 4:11-14)
- The true church must claim divine authority (Heb 5:4-10)
- The true church must have no paid ministry (1 Cor 9:16-18; Acts 20:33-34; John 10:11-13)
- The true church must baptize by immersion (Matt 3:13-16)
- The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17)
- The true church must practice divine healing (Mark 3:14-15)
- The true church must teach that God and Jesus are separate and distinct individuals (John 17:11; 20:17)
- The true church must teach that God and Jesus have bodies of flesh and bone (Luke 23:36-39; Acts 1:9-11; Heb 1:1-3)
- The officers must be called by God (Heb 4:4; Ex 28:1; 40:13-16)
- The true church must claim revelation from God (Amos 3:7)
- The true church must be a missionary church (Matt 28:19-20)
- The true church must be a restored church (Acts 3:19-20)
- The true church must practice baptism for the dead (1 Cor 15:16&29)
- “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt 7:20)
Unfortunately, years later someone began researching people and events mentioned in the story on the tape… it appears that his story had been fabricated.
Apparently brother Weston suffered from the “Paul Dunn” syndrome of feeling that it is ok to tell a fictional story as if it is true as long as the intentions are good and the end result of gaining converts is a good cause.
The truth of the matter is that the presentation in the tape was a very compelling one to many people and it did in fact have a powerful influence on certain types of people.
It is unfortunate that the story line was fabricated because it has no doubt caused some people to question the doctrinal claims presented.
But frankly, even the doctrinal claims need to be critically analyzed.
Although I think there is some value in evaluating what a persons doctrinal research claims are, regarding the outline contained in the scriptures for identifying what God’s true church looks like and believes, it is still very subjective and it focuses on belief and practices of the true church rather than on the actual POWER and FRUITS that the church should have.
The fact that the story line was a fabrication is not the main point I want to make, the main point I want to make is that the mentality of Mormons and those who convert to Mormonism is often a very intellectual, philosophical, logical mentality… rather than one of actually requiring the true church they are seeking to have the exact same power and fruits that are so vividly depicted in the Bible and Book of Mormon.
After reviewing the seventeen scriptural points contained in the presentation, (35 years after my mission) it occurs to me that most of the points are referring to doctrines and practices and organizational structure. Things that any group could imitate.
What is wrong with simply requiring the exact same power and fruits that the original church had?
As a case in point, I think of Peter being asked for a temporal handout by a crippled person. His response was as follows,
“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
How is that for identifying a sign of the true church? What was it that Peter had as a true member of the true Church?
“And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God..”
How is that for a vivid example of the power and fruits that are supposed to be found in the true church?
How is it that modern apostles get a way with giving “blessings of comfort and inspiration” to someone who is dying from disease or physical affliction instead of simply healing them?
Is it really that important that a person have a feeling of peace as they are dying? Is that the power and fruit of the gospel documented in the holy and infallible word of God?
Why don’t modern apostles boldly heal the crippled and raise the dead?
It occurs to me that along with noticing the scriptural profile of how the church should be organized and what their ordinances should be and what they should believe, the most important things we should be looking for are the fruits and powers that are ALWAYS associated with the true and living church.
Seven Points of the True Church
Interestingly, Christ actually gave such a list of how we can recognize the true church.
His list was a little shorter than brother Westons.
It contained 7 points instead of 17.
It focused on fruits and power.
He gives this list three times in the scriptures.
First He gave it to the New Testament Saints so that they could easily identify who the true believers of Christ’s church were. (Mark 16)
Secondly, He gave it to the Nephites so that they could identify who the true believers in Christ really were. (3rd Nephi)
Finally, He gave it to the Saints in modern revelation so that we who are waiting for the messengers to return in the 3rd watch will know how to identify the true believers in Christ. (Section 84)
In all three passages referenced above in the Bible, Book of Mormon and D&C he begins by commanding his servants to take and preach the gospel into all the world. (probably a veiled reference to the fact that all three groups of apostles will be returning in the 3rd watch to literally fulfill the commandment to take the gospel into ALL THE WORLD)
Here are the points contained in his list that identifies how to identify the true followers of Christ that constitute the true and living church,
- They believe
- They are baptized
- They cast out devils
- They speak with new tongues
- They take up serpents with out getting hurt
- They drink any deadly thing without getting hurt
- They lay hands on the sick and they recover
In giving us the points by which we might identify the true and living church, Christ was focusing not just on the primary belief in Christ and the primary ordinance of the gospel, but also on the associated POWER and FRUITS that always accompany the fulness of the Gospel.
Notice that 5 of the 7 points had to do with POWER over devils, poison and, sickness.
(please note that the command to swear by ones neck in an endowment ritual and the need to take lots of wives are missing from the above list.. was that an oversight?)
In matt 7 and the Book of Mormon the Lord reminds us that even those who show forth powerful signs may be wolves in sheeps clothing.
Shortly after warning about the false prophets that would arise in the last days the following warning and clarification is given-
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Belief in Christ
Having reviewed the fact that we live during dark times and don’t have the fulness of priesthood, ordinances and gospel, AND that God can work independently of any of his church organizations any time he wants to, regardless of whether they are in apostasy or not, I want to encourage you to view a ten part video series of a mans testimony that claims to have had a miraculous conversion.
He had been an atheist his entire life with virtually no exposure to the scriptures. he had been living an extremely ungodly lifestyle when an event changed his life forever.
Unlike many “life after death” or “near death” testimonies, this man documents everything he learned and experienced from the scriptures.
At first it may be disconcerting to you that God did not tell him to run to the Mormon Church to get baptized.. and for that matter it may be disconcerting that he was not told about the upcoming marvelous work and many other mysteries, however I challenge you to watch with an open mind.. then discern if you think his experience was authentic… or whether he was deceived, or whether he is a deceiver, then, if you feel it was authentic, ponder just how important belief in Jesus Christ really is. That has always been the central theme of the gospel from which all else springs forth.
It is the essence of the gospel of salvation. Everything else grows out of it.
If this person really did experience what he claims he did, and if he really has met the Savior, the only important thing for him right now is accepting the grace and love of Jesus Christ and then sharing that love and testimony with others… and he will accept the servants and the fulness of the gospel in the due time of the Lord when the kingdom begins to roll forth for the last time…
You need to listen to all ten parts of his testimony to get the full impact of what he experienced in his attempt to avoid death, along with and the forgiveness of others and the ineffable love of God that he finally experienced during his journey of being spiritually born again..
I am not saying his experience was or was not authentic.. I am throwing his story out for people to consider..
For now, the elect of God who are on earth during this time of hidden darkness need to get back to the basics of belief in God and his holy word.
Once the 3rd watch begins, and the servants of the Lord return to the vineyard, additional records will come forth to try the faith of those professing to be disciples of Christ.
The true doctrines of Biblical Christianity that were taught at the beginning of the LDS restoration and then rejected, will be taught again.
And the seven signs that accompany those who accept the fulness of the gospel, as mentioned in all three cannons of scripture, will once again return to the true church.