There are some important ideas to be considered when discussing the establishment of Zion. The first is that a new dispensation of the Gospel is always built on what went before. Earlier dispensations are never ignored. Although Moses ultimately founded a very different “look-and-feel” for Israel, his first book recounted the creation and the role of the first patriarchs in preserving knowledge of God from the time of Adam. So Moses’ dispensation gave deference to, and preserved the memory of the patriarchal dispensation.
Joseph was likewise given a dispensation that is to be built on. The Book of Mormon, other revelations given through Joseph, and the preservation of rudimentary priesthood authority were all necessary for the work. As the last work proceeds forward, there is every reason to be grateful for those who have preserved some of what came through Joseph Smith. We should thank them.
The direction to “organize yourselves” is given seven times in modern revelation. (See, e.g., D&C 44:4; 78:11; 88:74; 88:119; 104:11; 104:58; 109:8.) In considering the restoration, what if believers were unwilling to organize themselves so as to be subordinate to an hierarchy? What if people of good faith concluded that the weaknesses of that system would lead inevitably to abuses and apostasy? Is there no alternative other than to “organize ourselves” into a system of quorums, branches, wards, stakes, regions, areas, and then place all of it wrongly at the disposal of a dominating Catholic-mimicking “priesthood” that claims the right to rule and reign by the right to control inherent in their priesthood offices? It was foretold that system would prove vulnerable to utter failure and complete loss of authority. (See D&C 121:36-37.)
Believers are allowed to “organize themselves” in any manner they choose. The authorities derive their institutional right to preside solely from the consent of the governed. It is through “common consent” any right to government is established in the church. (D&C 26:2; 28:13.) The right to organize stems from “common consent” given by both men and women. This right is so fundamental that it holds greater right than the first presidency, twelve, seventy and high councils. In the absence of these authorities, the saints retain the right to govern themselves by their own voice: “[W]here there is not a quorum [of the Twelve] they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 4, p. 302.) If the twelve have rejected the restraints upon them (“no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood”), then saints, including those who act independent of an hierarchical organization, are free to “organize themselves” by their own voice and do business by the voice of the congregation.
Gifts of the Spirit are NOT coincident with, nor dependent upon, priesthood. Anyone, man or woman, young or old, with or without priesthood can have gifts of the Spirit. (See, e.g., D&C 46:10-26.) Paul’s instruction to the saints at Corinth suggested they all (men, women and children) seek for the best gifts. (1 Cor. 14.) That instruction could not be given to such a varied audience if gifts of the Spirit were limited to holders of priesthood.
The great high priest for whom the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God was renamed (D&C 107:2-3), did not perform miracles through his priesthood. Like every other person, he performed miracles through his faith. His faith to perform miracles preceded his ordination to the priesthood. (See JST-Gen. 14:26.) Because he exhibited great faith, he was subsequently ordained. (See JST-Gen. 14:27.) Before his ordination, he worked miracles. This means, just as D&C 46:10-26 confirms, that gifts of the Spirit are not limited to men who hold the priesthood. Any person of any age or sex can work miracles through faith. The result of this, of course, is that women as well as men can prophesy, heal the sick, speak in tongues, have visions, inspired dreams, and other remarkable works through the Spirit.
President David O. McKay is given credit for the priesthood correlation program. He opposed it. He believed it would lead to the total apostasy of the LDS Church. No one need to be captive of this system. All are free to organize in a way to reflect a determination to serve God, trust the scriptures, receive baptism according to the Doctrine of Christ, and associate with others as equals. It is IMPOSSIBLE for disparate and unequal people, who are subordinate to a controlling hierarchy, to become of “one heart and one mind, with no poor among them.” The essential equality required for Zion cannot occur. This is why Enoch’s city had no hierarchy, and why Melchizedek’s people called him a “prince of peace,” though he was not an actual prince. He had no kingdom. He taught repentance and his people repented. Joseph established equality at the foundation of this dispensation. It was destroyed by the institutions which claim him as their founder. Any new dispensation should avoid repeating the error.
There is faint hope for Zion. But so long as there is any hope at all, it is found in the effort to repent and follow Christ, not only to say but to do.
In the next post I will discuss the fatally toxic flaw inherent in institutionalism that destroys equality. There are other flaws when institutional order is abandoned, and those will likewise be discussed in a third post.