Literature on Early Christian Priesthood

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Recently I put together a reference guide for Mormons that are potentially in discussions with other Christians that have some interest in early Christian priesthood structure. In this post, I have confined myself to helpful LDS treatments that are available online. Perhaps in a separate post, I will consider compiling a list of articles and books written from a non-Mormon perspective, that are nevertheless worthy of attention. The most important LDS treatment, High Nibley’s  Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity has not been put online yet. Please feel free to comment on any of this literature or point out additional resources that you find helpful.

Here is a list of stuff I have written on the subject:

National Catholic Reporter on Apostolic Succession (Some coverage of Francis Sullivan’s From Apostles to Bishops.)

Deacons Then and Now (I introduce David Horrell’s theory why stationary bishops took over for traveling apostles).

Bowman on Ordination (Response to an evangelical critic, where I argue that ordination is necessary for apostleship. It is interesting that Sullivan and some other Catholic scholars have made concessions to EV scholars that all early bishops could not necessarily trace a chain of ordinations back to the apostles. Some of Father Sullivan’s positions have been criticized by Father Michael McGuckian.)

The Apostolic Foundation (I survey some scholars regarding the expections for apostles derived from the OT and Qumran texts. More importantly check out Baptist’s R. A. Campell’s arguments that apostles were meant to be continually replaced, well after Matthias and James.)

Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity , The Editors’ Preface and Introduction (Some early attempts to summarize Nibley’s book on my Mormon and Catholic blog).

You will probably also need some familiarity with Ignatius and Clement, a couple of early Bishops. Some good written-by-a-Mormon resources:

Dave Nielsen, “Clement of Rome as Seen Through an Apostolic Paradigm” Studia Antiqua 5:2 (Fall 2007) Nielsen analyzes the letter written by Clement, a bishop of Rome usually dated around 96 AD, Nielsen approvingly cites Nibley’s observation that Clement does not claim apostolic authority. Later he relies on Nibley’s analysis that Rome became the most prominent bishopric by virtue of being the capital city of the Roman empire.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp: Three Bishops between the Apostles and Apostasy,” Ensign, Aug. 1976,  Anderson finds that New Testament bishops “were appointed and supervised by apostles and presided in a defined area.” Analyzing the writings of three early bishops, he concludes “all notably lack the quality [revelation] that enabled the apostles to establish the church.”

Some other notable LDS authored stuff about early Christian priesthood authority.

A. Burt Horsley, Peter and the Popes. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989 accessible through the BYU’s Religious Studies Center website at (last accessed March 3, 2009) Horsley provides biographical data of the lives of Peter and his Catholic successors. He identifies Matthew 16:18’s “rock” as revelation and argues its loss greatly weakens such succession claims. While rejecting this idea and pointing out that the book’s intended audience is exclusively Mormon, one Catholic reviewer described it as “well- ordered and reasonably accurate” while being “a step toward dialogue and mutual understanding.” See Patrick Madrid, “A Mormon Eyes the Papacy,” This Rock Volume 1:3 March 1990

John A. Tvedtnes, Rejection of Priesthood Leaders as a Cause of the Great Apostasy posted on the FAIR website in 2004. Tvedtnes argues “that the loss of the apostles alone was [not] sufficient for the Lord to withdraw his authority from the earth.” In his view, remaining priesthood holders could conceivably be authorized by revelation to reform the presiding quorum. He combs the New Testament and patristic sources for evidence that wide spread rebellion prevented this from happening.

S. Kent Brown, “The Seventy in Scripture” By Study and Also By Faith, vol. 1 of Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990): 25—45.  Brown sifts through the Old Testament and other ancient texts and concludes “it now becomes clear why Jesus chose two sets of disciples, the twelve and the seventy. The twelve bore an obvious relation to the tribes of Israel, the seventy to the gentile nations of the earth as well as to an inner structural entity that existed within the tribal system of preexilic Israel.” Following this study up, John Tvedtnes in “The Lord Appointed Other Seventy Also” looks for hints in early writings for the apostolic mission of Seventy and the names of new members not originally appointed by Jesus, including perhaps, Paul and Barnabus.

C. Wilfred Griggs, “Paul: The Long Road From Damascus” . Griggs demonstrates that Paul’s line of authority is dependent on the Twelve. This counters the notion that Paul’s apostleship derived solely from a visionary experience.

Barry Bickmore, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Ben Lomond, CA : FAIR, 1999). In chapter 5, Bickmore points out the importance of ordination and takes issue with the “priesthood of all believers concept.” He looks into evidence for the persistence of New Testament offices, for example pointing out the Didache’s reference to traveling apostles and prophets. He discusses differences in patristic writings between the Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods, but in contrast to Nibley associates bishops with Melchizedek high priests instead of Aaronic high priests.

Two articles covering the pre-Christian era, they set the stage for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the Old World.

Daniel C. Peterson, “Authority in the Book of Mosiah” in FARMS Review 18/1 (2006)

David LarsenTwo High Priesthoods [parts 1,2,3]  (publication forthcoming)

Finally three articles about moderating expectations when one does not find a carbon copy of the present LDS organization in the early Christian church:

Grant Underwood, “The ‘Same’ Organization the Existed in the Primitive Church” in Go Ye into All the World: the 31st annual Sperry Symposium eds. Ray Huntington, Thomas Wayment, and Jerome Perkins (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 2002)

Kevin Barney writes in A Tale of Two Restorations:

If one is to restore the early Christian church, there are two basic ways to go about the task. One would be to restore it the way Nauvoo Restoration restored Heber C. Kimball’s home: to attempt to recreate it as it was and preserve it in precisely that setting. This is a sort of museum approach to restoration, and this was the path followed by Alexander [Campbell]. The alternative approach would be to restore not only the forms of New Testament worship, but also the means, which entail revelation between God and man. This of course is the path followed by Joseph. If one restores the means as well as the forms, however, a paradox arises, for revelation by its very nature can take the church in new directions responsive to changing conditions. It may be that a church patterned after a first century Hellenistic ekklesia is not what is needed by the Saints in, say, twenty-first century Russia. Some in the early Church of this dispensation were not prepared for this possibility.

Blair Hodges Liken with Care is worth the read:

When the sixth article of faith says “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth,” it does not mean that the Church on earth in Christ’s day exactly paralleled the current organization complete with Young Men/Young Women advisers.

33 thoughts on “Literature on Early Christian Priesthood

  1. Thomas

    Professor Griggs is a magnificent scholar, but I have a small bone to pick with his take on the Jerusalem Council. From his essay:

    “Returning from their missionary journey to Asia Minor, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to seek the advice of the apostles on this weighty controversy. The resulting council in Jerusalem (reported in Acts 15) demonstrates how thoroughly decision-making in the Church was grounded in revelation and order.

    One need only compare this council with the wrangling conventions of the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. to appreciate how necessary inspiration and authority are to Christianity. In the Jerusalem Council, there was an answer. In the later councils there was only compromise. In the earlier council there was unity when a decision had been accepted, but in later councils only strife and division.”

    If you look only at the account of the Council in Acts 15, that’s what it looks like — a nice, collegial resolution. Paul’s own take on the affair, in Galatians 2, is a bit spicier. I can’t see any modern LDS apostle saying (in canonized scripture, no less!) that he “withstood [the Prophet] to the face, for he was to be blamed” or accusing him and other Brethren publicly of “dissimulation” and “walk[ing] not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.”

  2. Keller


    I love your comment and I wish my posts could attract more such erudite views. I have another post on Acts 15/Gal. 2 going on over at M* and you are welcome to expound upon your views there.

    I take a position that is closer to yours than Griggs, but it might be beneficial to discuss some nuances. For example, I barely hint about the different scholarly positions taken on whether Gal. 2 is a different event from Acts 15 or if they are the same and Paul’s account should be given preference because it is much earlier than Luke’s.

    I like Griggs’ presentation on Paul’s authority and I think a missionary being sent out in the Bible belt could benefit from it by being prepared for encounters with alternative approaches to priesthood authority. However, I wish Griggs would have shored up his arguments by citing some non-Mormon scholars, addressed more EV proof-texts, and engaged more counter-arguments. When Robert Bowman critiqued Dr. Griggs he made at least one point that stuck, namely that an early passage of Paul calling himself an apostle in 1 Thes. was not addressed. While I have my wish list, I understand that the additional complexity would likely have been lost on the Professor’s main audience.

    While I was impressed that Bowman engaged the article by Griggs, I was less impressed with him critiquing a primary manual. Now that I have assembled this list, there is no excuse to target such low hanging fruit. One item I didn’t include on the list because I haven’t read it yet is Professor John F. Hall’s “New Testament Witnesses of Christ: Peter, John, James, and Paul.” I hope to find that he covers the issues you and I have brought up a little more thoroughly than Griggs.

  3. Thomas

    Keller, you’re not Roger, are you? If you are, I took a great comparative religion class from you.

    In any event, I’ll go take a look at your m* post.

  4. Keller

    No relation to Roger, but it would be nice to have him blog on this subject. He has a nice FAIR conference paper about the apostasy where he argued that ministers in other Christian faiths have inherited a very limited degree of Priesthood authority. As a Presbyterian minister he felt he had some divinely approved commission to bring people to Christ. It would be interesting to try to develop that idea a bit more for early Christianity. For example section 84 talks about the Mount Sinai downshift (the idea of downgrading from a dominant MP administration and high level gospel to an AP administration and a lesser gospel. Allegorically the Shepherd of Hermas envisions a similar scenario for early Christianity.

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  6. Theodore Brandley

    Roger Keller’s presentation was very good but it seems that his following statements are contrary to a restored principle:

    Roger Keller:

    I have to say to you that I am as sure today that 30 to 35 years ago God called me to be a Presbyterian minister; I know that today just as surely as I did back then and he gave me the authority to do what he called me to do because God does not call people to do things if he doesn’t give them the authority to do what he calls them to do.

    So, what authority did I have? Did it ever occur to you that I had any? What authority did I have? To preach. To preach what? To preach what I knew. And what did I know? I knew Christ. I knew Christ my Savior and God gave me the authority to bring people to him both through the preached and sacramental word and I did that.

    I had authority to bring people to Christ but I didn’t have the authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel which is what we believe can be found only within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Joseph Smith:

    We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. (The Articles of Faith 1:5)

    Joseph Smith states that one must receive authority from God by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority “to preach the Gospel” as well as to administer the ordinances.

    This is confirmed by the Lord:

    Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church. (D&C 42:11)

    Contrary to what Roger said it appears that he did not have “authority” to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I have no doubt that Roger Keller was inspired by the Holy Ghost to enter the ministry, and I have no doubt that he was inspired to teach what he knew, that was true. But did God inspire him to teach things that he knew, that were not true, such as the doctrine of the Trinity?

    Is being inspired by the Holy Ghost to do something the same as receiving authority from God to do it?


  7. Thomas

    Theodore, my understanding is that classical Trinitarianism and the LDS version are not as far apart as either camp would have us believe.

    It’s much easier to reconcile classical Trinitarianism with the Trinitarianism of D&C 20:28 and Mosiah chapters 13 and 15, than it is to reconcile the Trinitarianism of those early LDS scriptures with the King Follett discourse.

    That said, I have to agree with you that it’s hard to square the Fifth Article of Faith with Professor Keller’s ideas. D&C 42:11 perhaps we can distinguish, by taking the angle that it’s directed at the restored Church; its meaning is that there are to be no secret callings or authority in the LDS Church. (Ignore the Council of Fifty.)

  8. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas said:

    D&C 42:11 perhaps we can distinguish, by taking the angle that it’s directed at the restored Church;

    Perhaps, but the Lord separated “preaching His gospel” and “building up His Church” by placing “or” between them.

    Was the Council of Fifty a secret council where the members of the council were not known to the members of the Church? My understanding is that it was a council set up by the Prophet to administer the civic or municipal affairs of Nauvoo, and that this was a standard council of the Church whenever the Saints of God were gathered together such as in cities of Zion. It would be understandable if the Council of Fifty in Nauvoo did not want their enemies to know who they were.

    Incidentally, at the Ancient American archaeological site at Ocmulgee, Georgia, there is a restored, circular, earth lodge council chamber that has a raised podium in the center of the perimeter with three seats, and another forty-seven seats continuing around the perimeter. Coincidence?


  9. onika


    How is the Aaronic priesthood a lesser priesthood? Do you think if they had Melchizedek priesthood they would have had sacrament instead of animal sacrifices? Abraham was a MP and he offered animal sacrifices. How would the law be any different? They had the same ten commandments in the NT as the OT. The only thing different is the ordinances, and that was after/because Christ made atonement. Instead of the first-born of each tribe having the priesthood, it went to the one tribe which proved faithful.

  10. Thomas


    “Incidentally, at the Ancient American archaeological site at Ocmulgee, Georgia, there is a restored, circular, earth lodge council chamber that has a raised podium in the center of the perimeter with three seats, and another forty-seven seats continuing around the perimeter. Coincidence?”

    Coincidence? Quite probably.

    It would be a remarkable coincidence if there were never any remarkable coincidences. At least that’s what people who’ve studied statistics more than I have tell me.

    Like the old “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoon went, “Three is a magic number.” It tends to crop up a lot in religious and political contexts — if for no other reason than that with one chief, there’s no check on his judgment; with two chiefs, you can get a deadlock, and so you need a third to break the tie.

    As for the number fifty, while it’s true that not all cultures use a base-10 numbering system, they tend to be common, for the simple reason that we have ten fingers to count on. Thus, multiples of five and ten should tend to occur in the structure of human institutions.

    Or, the Ocmulgee council chamber could indeed have been a cultural holdover from the Nephite Council of Fifty. Based on no other evidence than the numbers, though, I wouldn’t go too far out on that limb.

  11. Theodore Brandley


    There are two pieces of evidence in the numbers. The total of 50, which you have mentioned may not be that unusual, but also the 3 seats at the head on the raised podium for the leaders of the council. Why three heads? This doubles the probability that the council chamber in Ocmulgee may not be a coincidence.

    However, you are correct in your counsel that without further evidence it would be ill advisable to go out on that limb too far. However, there is further evidence, which is way off topic here, but if you are interested you may go to page 61 of my thesis, A North American Setting For the Book of Mormon, The City of Nephihah,

  12. Thomas


    As I mentioned, my mathematical education was woefully deficient, and I never took statistics. I’ve just read some writing by pop-math guys that suggests that coincidences — even remarkable coincidences — are statistically more likely than we’d intuitively think.

    As for the three heads, I addressed that. If nothing else, you want a triumvirate so (a) a single leader can’t completely run you off the rails, and (b) two leaders won’t deadlock.

    Did the Council of Fifty have a three-person governing committee? I thought I’d read that Joseph was the only member of the First Presidency in the Council.

  13. Theodore Brandley


    I suppose that almost anything could happen by chance. Some folks even believe that the entire universe, including us, all happened by chance. 😉

    In Nauvoo, Joseph was the chairman of the Council of Fifty but all the members of the First Presidency, and most of the members of the Twelve were members of the council.


  14. Steven Danderson

    Theodore quotes Joseph Smith against Roger Keller:

    We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. (The Articles of Faith 1:5)

    [Emphasis mine]

    Note that word “and”. This implies–in my mind, and probably Brother Roger Keller’s, that he was prohibited from doing both, but not the former.

    Indeed, the Saviour’s “Great Commission” lends credence to Brother Roger Keller’s claim:

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matthew 28: 19-20]

    Note that the Apostles were told to have their audience “observe all things whatsoever [the Saviour] commanded [them]”–which, if I’m not mistaken, includes “Go ye….”

    Theodore asks:

    I have no doubt that Roger Keller was inspired by the Holy Ghost to enter the ministry, and I have no doubt that he was inspired to teach what he knew, that was true. But did God inspire him to teach things that he knew, that were not true, such as the doctrine of the Trinity?

    I think Thomas was right that we do teach a version of the Trinity–though we do teach define it differently than the Nicene construct; that is, we insist that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are separate and distinct Persons.

    Even when non-LDS Christians do teach the Nicene Creed, I’m not sure that they don’t have in mind just that separation of Persons stipulated in LDS doctrine….

    And Theodore asks:

    Is being inspired by the Holy Ghost to do something the same as receiving authority from God to do it?

    Not quite. However, I sincerely doubt that the Holy Ghost would inspire somebody to do something he or she was utterly unauthorised to do! 😉

  15. Theodore Brandley

    Steven wrote:

    Note that word “and”. This implies–in my mind, and probably Brother Roger Keller’s, that he was prohibited from doing both, but not the former.

    Steven, by that line of reasoning then Roger Keller could have been justified in ministering in the ordinances of the Gospel as long as he didn’t preach it. 😉

    Note that the Apostles were told to have their audience “observe all things whatsoever [the Saviour] commanded [them]“–which, if I’m not mistaken, includes “Go ye….”

    In context, their “audience” would be those whom they had baptized and therefore would have received authority to teach the Gospel. This is a constant principle of the Gospel.

    Mosiah 23:16-17
    And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church. And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God [Jesus Christ].

    So, how do we resolve this issue? Authority from Jesus Christ are priesthood keys which always and only come through His living prophet. I will grant Roger Keller that he was probably inspired by the Holy Ghost in most of what he did teaching Jesus Christ, and therefore he had certain authority given him by the Holy Ghost. But, he did not have authority from Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel.


  16. Theodore Brandley

    This above administration concept parallels the principle revealed in D&C 76 where the Holy Ghost administers to the Telestial Kingdom, Jesus Christ to the Terrestrial, and the Father to the Celestial.


  17. Theodore Brandley

    Tying this above concept with the main theme of Roger Keller’s presentation about the growth of knowledge and support for Jesus Christ between the death of the apostles and the Restoration, it appears this growth came from the books of the Bible coupled with the administration of the Holy Ghost. “As the Gift of the Holy Ghost,” or the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, was not available during that time then the Holy Ghost would influence those He could when He could. However, there is also the subtle competing spirit of Satan who also influenced those he could, when he could, and there was no one to definitively differentiate between the two by saying, “thus saith the Lord.” The fact that the knowledge of Jesus Christ survived and grew during this period is a testimony to the power of the influence and administration of the Holy Ghost.


  18. Thomas


    “I think Thomas was right that we do teach a version of the Trinity–though we do teach define it differently than the Nicene construct; that is, we insist that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are separate and distinct Persons.”

    So do classical Trinitarians. From the Athanasian Creed (Bute translation):

    “Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One…”

    That is, LDS sources (including the Primary manual, as my wife discovered in preparing a lesson) misrepresent classical Christian teaching — much as Mormons complain other Christians misrepresent Mormon doctrine. Classical Trinitarian teaching does *not* teach (as that lesson — Primary Course 5, Lesson 2 — has it), that “Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost [are] one huge spirit”). Rather, Trinitarianism is the doctrine that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Persons (who are not to be “confounded,” or conflated). A Lutheran commentator explained the meaning of the “neither confounding the Persons” passage as follows:

    Here the two apparently contradictory truths are set down. We are warned against, on the one hand, confounding, that is, obliterating the distinction between, the three persons; and on the other hand, dividing or splitting asunder the one indivisible substance. The conclusion is then drawn that since the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,WHILE THEY ARE DISTINCT PERSONS [emphasis added] persons, possess and are one and the same God, each must have exactly the same glory and majesty as the other two.”

    In other words, D&C 20:28.

  19. Theodore Brandley


    Has the traditional concept of the Trinity changed somewhat over the 20th Century.? Perhaps what we have been teaching about it is a holdover from the 19th Century concepts. If there has been an evolution in the concept perhaps the teachings of Joseph Smith have been indirectly influential in that change?


  20. Thomas


    Many if not most Christian laypersons misunderstand the Trinity. What many Mormons have in mind, when they think of the Trinity, is frequently the version of the Trinity they have heard from their Protestant neighbors, who as often as not misperceive their own doctrine.

    My Protestant mother-in-law, for example, who attends a California megachurch, holds a Modalist or Sabellian understanding of the Trinity (to the extent she thinks about theology at all, i.e., not much). She believes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same Person, who goes around wearing different hats at different times. Now, her pastor (Rick Warren) almost certainly doesn’t think this, but megachurches aren’t exactly known for getting solid theological understanding back to the folks in Row 92.

    The whole point of the development of the Trinitarian doctrine was to refute the various heresies that held that Christ was less than fully divine, or in some critical way inferior to the Father. I suspect that theologians have, at various times, emphasized the unity of the Persons over their distinctiveness, and vice versa, but I’m not aware of any radical shift in the underlying three persons/one God classical understanding since the 19th century.

  21. Theodore Brandley


    You started me thinking about the development and changes of the doctrine of the Trinity so I did a little research on it. As you already pointed out different Christian sects and different people within those sects interpret the doctrine differently, and the doctrine has changed over time. I ran across an interesting article by a Christian blogger, Jason Dulle, who has a masters in Exegetical Theology. In his article, “The Development of the Doctrine of the Trinity,” he recommends further examination of the doctrine with the following words:

    Are we to understand how three Beings are yet one God, or are we to understand how One being can be spoken of in three different ways? Which emphasis are we to have? The answer to this question will determine our understanding of God, and our relationship to that God,…

    This closing sentence of his article states a concept that is similar to a statement of Joseph Smith when he said that certain “things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.” One of them is “a correct idea of His character, perfections, and attributes.” (Lectures on Faith, p.3:2)

  22. Thomas

    Naturally, “a correct idea of [God’s] character, perfections, and attributes” is necessary to the exercise of a saving faith. If I imagined a God who consisted of, say, a certain rock thirty miles east of Truth & Consequences, New Mexico, whose character was marked chiefly by enjoyment of offerings by his followers of tortillas and Chinese-made stuffed animals, it probably wouldn’t do me any good.

    Now, how much detail about God’s character, perfections, and attributes is necessary for faith to be effectively exercised by a “rational and intelligent being”? I submit — apart from some key principles, not all that much.

    To quote Hebrews from memory (i.e., no guarantees of accuracy here), he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. God’s existence, his benevolence, and his willingness to engage with human beings, and bestow on them further light and knowledge as they seek him, are the critical points.

    Apart from that, as long as man’s reason continues fallible, we are probably all going to differ on many of the details. The Lectures on Faith itself got God the Father’s “attributes” wrong, classifying him as a personage of spirit, which is probably why it got dropped from the D&C. Was there something critically amiss about the faith of people who accepted the Lectures on Faith as scripture, notwithstanding their erroneous description of the Father’s attributes? I’d hesitate to say my faith is superior; they have honest-to-goodness handcarting blisters to counter me with.

  23. Theodore Brandley


    Your memory of Hebrews 11:6 is quite accurate, and what Paul stated there may be enough for starters. But if you want to be exalted you need to really know the Father and the Son.

    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

    The Prophet corrected the error about the Father in 1843 (D&C 130:22), well before the hand carts. 😉


  24. Keller

    On Professor Keller and D&C 42:11:

    First good job on finding the passages that offer the most tension to RK’s position. Often my tendency is to give fellow LDS positions a charitable reading–as in trying to find a context in which they are defensible.

    In regards to the priesthood authority when it comes to ordinances and teaching, I think historically there has been a lot more emphasis on having proper authority in regards to performing acceptable rituals. For example, women (who is not ordained to any office) often perform preaching functions in almost every venue that men do (from General Conference to missionary work to help writing teaching manuals and compiling hymn books to …). Of course, they are subject to priesthood oversight and usually set apart to a calling. However, there are classes of ordinances that women are not allowed to perform (or set apart for) even under, say, the Prophet’s oversight. And the boundaries of that class is subject to change, but that is another story.

    The Doctrine and Covenants has other passages that offer a limited degree of support to Roger’s position. D&C 4 calls JS Sr. to do some missionary style preachings and given a list of attributes to seek that qualifies him for the work. Notably the list doesn’t include ordination. He was instrumental in teaching Oliver Cowdery the gospel. Sr.’s call was only formalized by ordination afterwards. Sidney Rigdon did important teaching work that received divine approval before he became a formally initiated member. He was a forerunner. To me Rigdon is the closest parallel to Roger as a Presbyterian minister.

    We have many scriptures that indicate a normal top-down delegation of authority, but authority also has to granted bottom up. In the early days, much depended on the principle of common consent. In the bottom-up sense, Roger had much more authority to curtail the rise of all the false teaching propagated by the Godmakers in the wider Christian (Mormonism included) community than any duly ordained Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. He exhibited D&C 4 qualities in spades.

    So while the question of whether he had any formal priesthood authority that could possibly be recognized by members of Church is a black and white question and should be answered negatively. I think it is OK to recognize he had a degree of divinely approved authority and was a conduit of inspired teaching (in the D&C 50 sense some of his pre-conversion teachings are indeed edifying to me).

  25. Theodore Brandley

    onika, you asked:

    How is the Aaronic priesthood a lesser priesthood? Do you think if they had Melchizedek priesthood they would have had sacrament instead of animal sacrifices?

    The priesthood is the power and authority of God. As far as has been revealed, from Adam on down there was only one priesthood (later named after Melchizedek) until the tribes of Israel rebelled at Mount Sinai. The Lord then took away most of the authority and power from Israel and left the them with a portion of the priesthood, or a lesser amount of priesthood (see D&C 84:25), which was then named after Aaron, who was the presiding authority of that priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is a subset of the Melchizedek. Only the tribe of Levi could then hold the Aaronic Priesthood, and only direct descendents of Aaron could be ordained priests. The prophets, kings, and perhaps some other righteous individuals continued to receive the higher priesthood.

    Animal sacrifice began with Adam, who held the Melchizedek Priesthood. When the Aaronic priesthood was given the Tribe of Levi the authority to offer sacrifice was also included in the office of Priest. Animal sacrifice was symbolic of the future sacrifice of the Son of God. His sacrifice ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood. The sacrament was introduced by Jesus Christ the night before he was crucified to commemorate or remember his sacrifice and as a regular renewing of our covenant to keep his commandments.


  26. onika


    So, it was a lesser priesthood because fewer people received it (tribe of Levi v.s. firstborn of each tribe)?

  27. onika

    Concerning Roger Keller:

    Mark 9:

    38 ¶ And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
    39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
    40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
    41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

  28. Theodore Brandley


    So, it was a lesser priesthood because fewer people received it (tribe of Levi v.s. firstborn of each tribe)?

    No. It was a lesser priesthood because it had less power and authority.

    The greater or Melchizedek priesthood was not restricted to just the firstborn. What references do you have that has brought you to this conclusion?

    Good quote from Mark 9.


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