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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Honor and Order of the Priesthood

“The Honor and Order of the Priesthood”
by President Boyd K. Packer (President of the Twelve Apostles)
The authority and power of the priesthood form the foundation of all that we do in the Church.”
Compared to the Bible by Connie Raddon
Color Key:
Quotes from the LDS Ensign in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.
All my own words are black.

This article is found on pg. 21-25 of the June 2012 issue of the Ensign.

The entire basis of the LDS Church is that it is a “restored” gospel.  They believe Mormonism is the religion that Christ established and was quickly lost from the earth after He died; until it was restored through Joseph Smith.  The priesthood is also believed to have been restored from the time of Jesus.  The problem is this:  The Mormon priesthood has absolutely no resemblance to the Biblical priesthood, and therefore, is NOT a restoration, but an invention.

The first words in this article are “The authority and power of the priesthood form the foundation of all that we do in the Church.”

In the Bible, the purpose of the priesthood was for a high priest to represent the people to God and make sacrifices to atone for their sin.  The high priest was the only one authorized to make sacrifices to God on behalf of the people.  Exodus 28-29 explains that only men in the tribe of Levi can be priests. Priests serve in the temple – setting things up, cleaning, etc.  Only men in the Levi/Kohath/Amram/Aaron line could be high priests.  High priests were the ones who performed the sacrifices.  Those were the only “offices” of the priesthood.

The LDS Church has created more “offices” – such as “deacon”, “teacher”, and “elder”.  These were not a part of the Biblical priesthood.  Also, every worthy male member over the age of 12 can hold the LDS priesthood, regardless of whether or not they are a descendent of Levi. 

Once Christ completed the FINAL sacrifice for sin, there was no more need for a priesthood.  Hebrews 10:12 (referring to Jesus) “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;”

Jesus is our High Priest – and he is the only High Priest. 

An Invitation to Prospective Elders

Mr. Packer speaks to “prospective elders” (those men who are over 18, who for whatever reason have not been given the Melchizidek priesthood yet).  “The office of an elder is a calling of dignity and honor, spiritual authority and of power.”  Remember, there is no such office in the Biblical priesthood.  Everything about the Biblical priesthood pointed to Christ – it held no dignity, honor, authority, or power for the individual who held the priesthood – all the glory was to God - for His mercy and forgiveness.

Packer encourages young men who may have left the church to return so they can hold the priesthood.  “If you will return to the environment where spiritual truths are spoken, there will flood back into your minds the things that you thought were lost…If you make your pilgrimage back among the Saints, soon you will be understanding once again the language of inspiration…Soon you will feel complete and adequate in His church and in His kingdom.  Then you will know how much you are needed here and how powerful your voice of experience can be in redeeming others.”

First of all, Packer claims that returning to an “environment” with “the Saints” is what will help someone understand spiritual truths.  That is just not true.  The only “environment” where one can learn truth is in the pages of the Bible.  God wants us to fellowship with other believers so we can love, serve and encourage one another – not for understanding truth. 

Second, if anyone can feel complete and adequate in God’s kingdom, I don’t believe that they have any idea just how holy God is and how worthless, INcomplete, and INadequate they are without being in Christ.  Think of how Isaiah felt when he had a vision of the Lord.  The first words he said were “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips…” 

Third, Packer says that the prospective elder’s voice of experience can be powerful in redeeming others.  Only Christ can redeem.  If He uses our voice to preach the gospel to someone, all the glory is His.  I think that Packer’s words only serve to puff up the pride of those who take him seriously.

Callings in the Priesthood

The Bible explains that we are given spiritual gifts, and then led directly by the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 12:4-11  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues.”

The Holy Spirit can inspire each one of us to use our particular gift the way God wants us to.  There is no need for a man, a “priesthood leader” to stand between us and the Holy Spirit. 

However, Packer explains how callings (assignments) come through priesthood leaders – not directly from the Holy Spirit.

“A call is more than an invitation or a request.  It is a call from the Lord through His chosen servant…We do not call ourselves to offices in the Church.  Rather we respond to the call of those who preside over us.”

 The Importance of Ordination

Mr. Packer explains how the LDS priesthood is passed on.  “The priesthood is conferred through ordination, not simply through making a covenant or receiving a blessing.  It has been so since the beginning.”

The priesthood was NEVER conferred through ordination.  Remember, the priesthood was received by being born in the tribe of Levi.  There was no laying on of hands, or giving a blessing, or making a covenant. 

The Power of the Priesthood

The “power” of the priesthood was God’s power to forgive sins.  There is no reference in the Bible to the “power of the priesthood”.  Yet Mr. Packer places a burden on LDS men by telling them that they are responsible to be righteous in order for the power of the priesthood to be used. 

“…power in the priesthood comes through faithful and obedient living in honoring covenants.  It is increased by exercising and using the priesthood in righteousness.”

This is what keeps the LDS people under the control of the Church leadership –they must obey their leaders in order to have this power.  This can fill a person with pride in their self-righteousness, or fill them with shame and guilt because of their unworthiness…  let me explain.

Let’s say an LDS Priesthood holder gives a blessing to someone who is sick, and through his priesthood power promises them that they will be healed.  If instead of getting better, they die – whose fault is it?  The priesthood holder – because either he was unworthy, so his priesthood power had no effect, or he was unworthy to be in tune with the Spirit, and promised something he shouldn’t have.  On the other hand, let’s say the sick person got better.  This would be external proof that the priesthood holder was indeed worthy and righteous.  Who gets the glory then?  He does.  Of course God gets credit, too, but not completely because it’s shared with the “worthy” man. 

“The power you receive will depend on what you do with this sacred, unseen gift.  Your authority comes through your ordination; your power comes through obedience and worthiness…

Power in the priesthood comes from doing your duty in ordinary things:  attending meetings, accepting assignments, reading the scriptures, keeping the Word of Wisdom”

True Servants of the Lord

“We do not hear of the priesthood keys being exercised in other Christian churches.  It seems odd that we are described by some as being non-Christian when we are the only ones who have the authority and the organization that He established.”

I don’t know how to make this any more clear.  Mr. Packer, you are described as being non-Christian because your religion has not only created an entirely different “priesthood” than the one God established in the Bible, but it has also denied the finality of Christ’s atonement.

Hebrews 7:27  “Christ does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

Christians understand that the priesthood was inherited by birth as a Levite, and was done away with once Christ came.  They also understand that there is only one high priest alive at a time, and that since Christ is the final High Priest, no one else can be a High Priest (unless they don’t believe Christ is risen from the dead.)  So you either deny that Christ’s atonement was complete, final, and sufficient to justify those who believe, OR you deny that Christ is raised from the dead because you allow others to hold the office of a high priest – (or maybe both?).  Either way, those beliefs are NOT Christian.

The teachings in the June 2012 issue of the Ensign
are NOT Biblical, and therefore,
NOT consistent with Christian beliefs.

Brigham Young issued a challenge on May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46):  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the June 2012 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

Resources used for this article:
The Word of God (The Bible)
The LDS magazine, “The Ensign”
“Where Mormonism Meets Biblical Christianity Face to Face” by Shawn McCraney