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 2:5 Ye 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 7:11 If 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 7:12 For 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.