Authority And Abuse

Part 2 of 3:

When men get a little authority almost all will immediately begin to abuse their supposed right to control others. (D&C 121:39.) Assuming there is any right belonging to the priesthood, it can only be exercised by “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge[.]” (Id., v. 41-42.) If authority is abused because it is “the nature and disposition of almost all men” to do so (Id., v. 39) then a solution is to revoke the right to control. Revoke the right to preside. Revoke the right to lead. Once that is done then the only method a man has to function as a minister is by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge. There is no other method or means left for the minister. He is powerless to control, dominate, gratify pride, or obtain vain ambition. He can be ignored–unless his pure knowledge and persuasion attracts the heart and leads people closer to the Lord.

Joseph Smith’s dispensation denounced and destroyed the consolidation of power. He set in order a system that would have precluded any man from insisting he could control others. Two days prior to the revelation in D&C 107, Joseph Smith gave a discourse about fractured authority within the church. The discourse was reported in minutes kept by several different scribes, including one written by William McLellin and copied by Warren Cowdery into Minute Book 1.

If the pattern given by Joseph Smith were followed, there would be no “President of the Quorum of the Twelve.” Instead each member held no greater right than any other. Joseph “stated that it would be the duty of the twelve to appoint the oldest one of their number to preside in their councils, beginning at the oldest and so on until the youngest has presided and then beginning at the oldest again, &c.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 4, p. 301.) In other words, the right to preside rotated from the oldest to the youngest, then back again to the oldest. This rotation of the role to preside made all of them the presiding authority in turn.

The twelve were missionaries, whose administrative authority only existed outside organized stakes. Joseph explained, “the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion or any of its stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing High Council.” (Id.) When the twelve were outside the stakes, and among unorganized areas of the world, they had administrative authority there. However, it required a “quorum” of them (at least 7) to take administrative action. Joseph taught that “where there is not a quorum they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.” (Id., p. 302.) Meaning that any administrative action taken where the twelve did have jurisdiction could only be done if 7 were involved. If less than 7 of the twelve were present, then the administrative authority was in the “voice of the Church” and not in any presiding man or men. In any organized stake, the highest authority was the high council. The seventy were another body of missionaries who assisted the twelve. The members of the seventy were called by the “seven presidents of the first seventy” (Id.) and were independent from the twelve.

Joseph never moved any man from the twelve into the first presidency. Joseph did not call or ordain the twelve, they were chosen and ordained by the three witnesses. The twelve, in turn, did not have authority to call the seventy. Their members were called by the seven presidents belonging to that quorum.

This splintering of authority precluded any single man or small body of men from dominating and dictating to the church. Ultimate authority was vested in “the voice of the Church” who could revoke any man’s position or authority. This is similar to the Constitution which divided authority between co-equal branches of government. This form of government was designed to weaken power of any single branch so as to preclude any single man or group from gaining autocratic control. Freedom (or agency) is protected best by any system that prevents one man or group of men from controlling others. Unfortunately, in both the Federal Government and the various restoration churches, autocratic power has accumulated and the voice of the people has been subverted.

Two days after the March 1835 conference, D&C 107 was presented to the church. Like Joseph’s earlier explanation, authority was splintered among equal bodies with limited jurisdiction. The person with the duty to administer spiritual things, dispense spiritual blessings, have the heavens opened to them, and to enjoy the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ was the president of the high priesthood, who belonged to a presidency. The presidency consisted of him and two counselors. (D&C 107:9-22.) These men were never part of the twelve during Joseph’s lifetime. The twelve were “equal in authority” with the first presidency. (Id., v. 24.) Although the twelve had no rights inside an organized stake, in the mission field they were equal to the first presidency (provided there was a quorum of 7 acting). The seventy were also “equal in authority” with the others. (Id., v. 25-26.) And the stake high councils were likewise “equal in authority” with the foregoing. (Id., v. 37.)

In this organization, the greatest authority was vested in “the voice of the Church.” But administratively, the authority was fragmented between co-equal bodies of a presidency, twelve, seventy (which could be unlimited in numbers) and high councils (which could also be unlimited in number). The discourse by Joseph and the follow-on administrative outline in Section 107 diffused the authority in that dispensation. It was not consolidated or amalgamated into the hands of any single man or men. It contemplated such divergent and potentially opposing bodies that it would be impossible to manage such an arrangement unless the person or persons who tried to control the direction of the body were to use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge.

There was one other office (it no longer exists) which was held by a single man. He held the office of “Priesthood and Patriarch” (D&C 124:91). The twelve eliminated that role in the 1970s and its last occupant died in April 2013.

The diffused authority died with Joseph, and the twelve assumed administrative control over the church. Their oldest member now gets the automatic right to own and control everything. The voice of the church is limited to saying “yes” at conferences. A “no” will not change decisions or the right of the twelve to control the church.

The essential division of authority, and its obvious inefficiencies, are easy to criticize. It clearly did not have an objective of making the church easy to control. The pattern was a behemoth that fractured the organization into such potentially competing parts that there is little surprise it did not last long in practice.

Trading diffused authority for consolidated control made the management of the Mormon religion efficient, effective and powerful. But it came at an astonishingly high price. The religion founded on revelation, angels and communing with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ traded its spiritual core for earthly mammon. The world envies the bargain. Modern Mormon factions are all surprisingly wealthy–even the small fundamentalist groups. There are two great principles this history has proven. First, a body of believers who are equal are not easily governed. If the only tools to employ are persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge, it will require the wisdom of God to keep believers together. As soon as they are allowed “to govern themselves” there will be ill-defined margins and straying believers in need of teaching, preaching, persuading and long-suffering. Second, it is easy to aggregate power, wealth, influence and authority if religion is used to control people. If one claims to speak for God and there is a population who accepts that claim, outrageous abuses can be perpetrated; and power, wealth, influence and authority can be retained.

From these two principles comes a conclusion that almost all men will choose the second principle over the first. (D&C 121:39.) Even if a man who would give his life to follow Christ were to found the organization, as soon as he is taken, the organization will remain behind. It will fall into the hands of other men. Dispensations are founded by Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Peter, and Joseph, but they quickly become the property of Pharaoh, the priests of Baal, Eli, Caiaphus, Annas, Constantine and Brigham Young. The pattern is so inevitable that it seems self-evident it would be foolish to repeat a failed pattern.

If Zion is to have people of one heart and one mind, who live in righteousness with one another (Moses 7:18) then however cumbersome, inefficient, difficult or daunting it may prove, only the first principle can be chosen. If it fails, then there is no residual institution to add another abusive tool for the god of this world to employ in deceiving and chaining men using another inherited false tradition.

The Law of Moses did not produce Zion. The New Testament Primitive Christian church did not produce Zion. Modeling after either of these, as the church established by Joseph Smith did, has likewise not produced Zion. Zion will be produced by a journey begun in equality, pursued by equals, with no man able to command another man’s actions. Persuasion, meekness, unfeigned love and pure knowledge are the only tools necessary for Zion.

Themes from Jacob 5

There are important themes in Zenos’ allegory. Here are five of them:

1. The Lord of the vineyard controls overall history through His involvement and the involvement of His servants. However, they can only accomplish two things:  1) removing the bad, bitter fruit by cutting away branches and burning them. 2) encouraging the good, natural fruit by pruning, grafting, nourishing and laboring. Whether or not the natural fruit reappears is left to the tree itself. Mankind cannot be compelled to be good. As agents of their own, they are free to choose. No amount of ministering will force the natural fruit to appear. The Lord and His servants can only present the opportunity.

2. The tree and its branches are prone to repeatedly producing bitter fruit. Producing natural fruit does not come easily. From the beginning, the tree was prone to loftiness and pride. It required cutting away, scattering and destroying the main top in order to have a chance to cause the natural fruit to reappear. This is  the tendency. As soon as people learn they are “called” they will presume they are “chosen,” even though these are two entirely different things. The Lord of the vineyard has learned by sad experience that it is the nature of almost all men that they begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over one another as soon as they have a little authority as they suppose. This is why He does not distribute, and cannot confer, the priesthood on mankind through generations of hand-me-down lines of authority. As soon as it is abused, it is lost. And when the Lord says “amen to the priesthood of that man” he is powerless to give it to another.

3. The Lord has occasionally come to the vineyard. On one occasion He labored directly within the vineyard, choosing to mingle with the scattered branches and to personally minister among them. This produced a period of production throughout the vineyard. However, it was short-lived. The vineyard lapsed into bitter fruit everywhere. There came a point where the entire vineyard produced nothing but bitter fruit, in every part of the Lord’s possession. When that time came, the Lord determined to labor a “last time” in the vineyard, and to bring a “few servants” to assist. Again this return would involve His personal appearance, but it took the form of periodic appearances with His servants, as in the First Vision and Section 76. When He appears He confers authority. Joseph and Sidney both “received of His fullness” when He ministered to them. (D&C 76: 20.) Indeed, no one can behold His glory and not receive of His fullness. (D&C 84: 22.) To receive His priesthood, He must redeem from the fall (Ether 3: 13) and thereby receive Him. (D&C 84: 35.) This is not an apperance in the heart, but is rather a personal appearance, The idea it is something merely in the heart is an old sectarian notion and is false. (D&C 130: 3.)

4. In the Lord’s last labor in the vineyard, the commencement of the work does not signal the end of His involvement. Once begun, He will continue to labor with the tree to encourage it to produce fruit. He will send servants who will labor with all their might to bring the fruit about. However, it will be the tree’s response and not the Lord’s nor His servants’ work that will bring again the natural fruit. This will take a long time before the roots are able to take hold again. The grafted branches will require pruning and additional work before they respond and return to respect and take nourishment from the natural roots. What was shocking and hard to bear with will need to be accepted in humility and gratitude before the natural fruit can appear once more.

5. When the natural fruit begins to appear, the Lord will begin to trim away the bad to make way for the good to prevail. Therefore, those who fight against the natural fruit will be cut down. Even those who entertain high positions will be struck down if they oppose the return of the Lord’s natural fruit. (See, e.g., D&C 85: 7.) The Lord of the vineyard controls which branches are allowed to survive with His tree, and not the tree itself. The inclination to produce the lofty and high minded remains the tendency of the tree. But those unwanted and unproductive branches will be cut away, burned, and not allowed to interfere with the natural fruit.

Cake: Shadow Stabbing

Cake’s lyrical prose sometimes strikes a chord of truth. I’ve puzzled over why they aren’t recognized for their musical genius by more folks.

“Adjectives on the typewriter
He moves his words like a prizefighter
The frenzied pace of the mind inside the cell…

Outside, outside the world
Out there you don’t hear the echoes and calls
But the steel eye, tight jaw,
Say it all, say it all
But the white paint, plastic saints
Say it all, say it all, say it all…

Say somebody’s got to say it all
Somebody’s got to say it all…”  (Cake: Shadow Stabbing.)

How much wasted time is devoted on the umbilical keyboards of the Internet ranting over things that have no value, giving the mis-impression of accomplishing something important? In the din of opinion, we gather that the truth no longer has an independent existence. It is all opinion. If you should sway it then you’ve done something godlike, because in the polling and measuring what people think really matters.

Outside there is still God. Even if we don’t hear the echoes and calls of the flood engulfing mankind when we turn to Him. There, apart, outside the world, if you should encounter God you will find yourself with a steel eye and tight jaw, and no longer able to look upon the white paint and plastic saints where the world continues to adore and worship.

Somebody’s got to say it all….

Not to please others, but to just speak what desperately needs to be said. Somebody’s got to speak it.

I am a Latter-day Saint. But that is merely a congregation. It dosen’t matter much, really. Within that congregation there are those who want to control what I think. They are waging a losing battle. To win they must persuade, not condemn and intimidate. Show me the errors and I will gladly abandon them. Demand I walk away from truth and I will die first. This is why truth can only ever be spread by gentleness and meekness, by persuasion and kindness. It cannot be dictated. (D&C 121: 41-42.)

When all you have left is a hollow cry that you have authority, you’ve lost the argument. YOU (no matter who “you” are) don’t have any authority. Only heaven has that. (D&C 121: 35-36.) And it isn’t sharing it with the proud, vain, ambitious and controlling. (D&C 121: 37.)

Quoting someone in a position of “authority” who is not in possession of the truth should not persuade anyone, and certainly does not persuade me. Those echoes and calls can’t even be heard once you’ve gone outside the world.

Ignorance can be put on stilts and equipped with a bullhorn, requiring everyone to notice it. But it remains unworthy of the time it takes from you.

It would be better to know God than to please men. I doubt many men who know God ever do please men again. Instead they look with pity at the white paint and plastic saints. It would be good to reach them, but it is only necessary to let God reach you.

3 Nephi 11: 22

3 Nephi 11: 22:

“And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.”

Space was limited and the mechanics of writing was difficult for Mormon. Therefore, in his abridgement of the account, for all others “the Lord called,” and the ceremony was repeated for each. In the process, He “said likewise” unto each of them. Every individual person was acknowledged by the Lord as having conferred upon each of them “power to baptize” by the Lord.

None of those who received this power had any doubt about their authority to act in this ordinance in the Lord’s name. None of them lacked the “power” to baptize others. None of those who were present, and still kneeling during the ceremony, or who overheard the Lord’s words had any doubts about those who held a commission from Christ to baptize them. Finally, none of those present would have any doubts about the need to be baptized by this newly bestowed power.
Although every one of them had been baptized previously, it becomes apparent that once new power to baptize has been given by Christ, that  power ought to be used. It is not given to be neglected. Nor can power endure through neglect. So when given, the power is to be used, and all who were present are candidates for baptism.
Then comes the instruction from Christ as to the manner for performing the ordinance. “On this wise shall ye baptize…” begins the instruction.  If the Lord provides the power and then gives the instruction, can the ordinance be changed? What if someone else says they hold the keys, and we all accept the person does in fact hold the keys, can such a person change the manner of baptism? If there is a potential convert who is infirm, ill or elderly and is unable to be baptized in the prescribed manner, can the ordinance be changed in form to accommodate the need? That is exactly how the ordinance was changed after the New Testament times. A reasonable need, and accommodation for that need, resulted in an exception. Then the exception became the rule, and the original manner was forgotten.

If the Lord’s instruction regarding the manner of baptism in this verse cannot be changed, even by one holding keys and authority to do so, then what about other ordinances? Can other ordinances be changed by one who holds keys if they choose to do them differently? Why not?  What happens when the one in a recognized position to perform ordinances decides to make changes to the ordinances?

Assume for a moment the Lord instructs Nephi on how to perform baptism, but Nephi decides thereafter to make a change to it. How would that reflect on Nephi? How would that reflect on the Lord? How would it reflect on the Lord’s instruction? What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p. 308) If the Lord gave Nephi the “power” to baptize, does that carry with it the “power” to change it as well?

Well, the purpose behind the Lord giving instructions was that “there shall be no disputations among you.” Does the instruction given by the Lord end as soon as we begin to see “disputations among” followers? Can an opinion poll that shows a majority of those who practice the ordinances don’t relate to them anymore and want to see them altered, create a “disputation” that allows the instruction from the Lord to be altered?
As stupid as these questions may seem, there are people who are genuinely confused by them. So I ask them. You must decide if the Lord’s instructions deserve respect and ought to be followed. Apparently men of good faith, honest hearts, and sincere desires can by reason of their status alone, contradict the Lord’s instructions and people won’t even blink. That’s the beauty of the claim that Rome makes to having Peter’s keys and the ability to seal on earth and in heaven. The Catholics can change anything and no one doubts they had the authority to do it. To allow the possibility that God would not support the Pope would be to entertain the unthinkable. So don’t even hold that thought.

3 Nephi 11: 21

“And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.”
Notice the Lord does not touch Nephi. He speaks the words. The Lord’s word is sovereign. If the Lord speaks it, it is so. It is not necessary for the Lord to lay hands on the servant He has just called, only that He speak the words of commission which give the servant “power.”

Notice that it is “power” and not authority. It is the “power” to baptize “this people” which is granted Nephi. Why would “power” be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed “authority” to baptize, but lacked any “power” in his priesthood? Is “authority” anything if it lacks “power?” What is the difference? Can a church spread about the “authority” to do ordinances if that church lacks “power” to do so?

Why are “that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?” (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: “I give unto you power”?

Why is it that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?” What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the “principles of righteousness?”  

Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.

Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.

In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils.  (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize?  Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?

Does the possession of authority in one dispensation (Moses’) continue into another dispensation (Meridian of Time)? When a new dispensation of the Gospel opens, does authority need to be conferred by angels (or the Lord) in the new dispensation? Without a commission from Christ, could Nephi continue his ministry into the new dispensation?  Why not? Did the end of the prior dispensation of carnal commandments require a new delivery of power to those serving into this era of a new covenant?  (Hebrews 8: 13.)
Does the Lord’s reference to “when [He is] again ascended into heaven” reveal anything to Nephi? To us? Does it confirm the Lord’s status, power and right? Does it confirm, also, the Lord will be leaving the Nephites again? Does it reestablish what they saw when He first appeared, that He now belongs to heaven? Do we need to keep that in mind as well?

3 Nephi 16: 12

 
“And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.”
 
Gentiles shall NOT have power over Israel. Gentiles, filled with pride, claiming to hold the power of God, sitting in the Temple of God and acting as if they were God, will lose their grip. (2 Thes. 2: 2-4.) They will be cast down like Lucifer, after claiming they would sit in the congregations of the north, like the Gods. (Isa. 14: 13-15.)
 
These Gentiles will not have “power” over the house of Israel, though they may claim to possess great authority. (D&C 121: 36-37.)  What, then, is the difference between the Gentiles lacking “power,” but holding authority?
 
How will the Lord remember the covenant?

What does it mean to come to “the knowledge” of something, rather than to start believing in something?

 
What does it mean to have the “fulness of [His] Gospel?”
 
What does “knowledge… of the fulness” imply about the degree to which it will be revealed as part of remembering the covenant?
 
Why is the Gentile rejection of the fullness tied to the house of Israel receiving the fullness?
 
Are the basic Gospel Principles the same as the fullness? If not, what is the difference? What do the Gentiles risk when they reject the fullness and focus instead upon the basic principles?
 
How perilous is it for the Gentiles to suppress the mysteries of godliness and retain only the most basic of doctrines as their focus?
 
Unto whom is the Lord to teach doctrine? Who is prepared to hear?  Are they necessarily to be first weaned from milk and prepared to understand meat?  (See Isa. 28: 9-10.)  If that is so, then what do we need to do to wean ourselves off the milk and be prepared to receive weighter matters?
 
When will these things be? How will you know when the spirit begins to withdraw from the Gentiles and blessings begin to be poured out on others of the house of Israel?

Well, let’s keep going…..

Alma 13: 16

Alma 13: 16:

Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

Notice the shifting back to “ordinances” from the discussion of priesthood. What ordinances? What manner?

Why would what happened with Melchizedek and Abraham be something pointing to the Son of God?

Why would such an ordination and ordinance always be something that would prepare people to understand and accept the Son of God?

How was it a “type” of the Son of God’s order?

What is this referring to in plain language? Is it that the ordinances will reveal a pattern that will unmistakably point back to the ministry of Christ? How?

What is there in conferring priesthood and endowing with understanding that points to Christ? Was Christ endowed with knowledge? Power? Authority? From on-high? When? What account do we have of it? Was it at His baptism when the voice of God declared, “thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (which wording was deliberately changed during the Fourth Century Christological debates to read instead: “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”)?  How does this identify both the holder of this holy order of priesthood and confirm Christ’s ministry as the Son of God?

More importantly, why are these things not being taught to us today? This is such basic and important doctrine that Alma is teaching it as introductory material to a potential group of converts.  But as faithful members of the Church we aren’t even familiar with them. What have we been doing with the Gospel we received?

Why was the “manner” something which would let those who learned about it know and identify the Lord?

Do we expect to follow Christ? If so, why aren’t we anxious to learn about this holy order? Can we follow Him unless we do what is necessary to take upon us that same holy order? If so, then how are we to find it today? Who teaches about it?

It is interesting to read this chapter of Alma. It reinforces that the Book of Mormon is still being neglected. We cycle through it every four years. Perhaps we are still neglecting it’s true message? I think this chapter gets lumped in with three others and covered in a 50 minute class every four years. Maybe that is what is meant by  “neglect.” Oooops….

“Power” or “Authority”

In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority.  It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed.  The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
 
In contrast, the Lord’s ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
 
“And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.” (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)

 

It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was “power” and not “authority.”  Consider the difference.  Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has “power” from the Lord.
 
Is there a difference between having the “authority” to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the “power” to baptize as conferred by Christ?  If there is, then what is that difference?
 
Good questions to ponder.  Particularly as you consider President Packer’s timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today’s church in his recent General Conference address, “Power in the Priesthood.” 
 

Keys and assignments

….For the benefit of a worthy inquirer, who has the right to know:
_____________________________________
Keys are related to assignments given. When the church gives someone an assignment, they receive the keys associated with performing the assignment. For example, when an Elder’s Quorum President is called, he receives the keys to preside over the Quorum. With those keys the President has the large assignment (making the Quorum function) and is entitled to the smaller or more detailed assistance from the Lord to serve each quorum member’s needs.
If the President neglects his duties, despite the fact that the authority is conferred upon him, he lacks the power associated with the assignment. His keys become thereby wasted or lost.
Keys, however, are not limited to the church giving an assignment. When the Lord gives an assignment, commission or commandment to a person by His own voice, then the Lord similarly gives to the person the keys to accomplish the assignment, commission or commandment. By acting consistent with the duty devolving upon him, the man receives not only the larger assignment, but also the inspiration to accomplish the smaller or more detailed activities related to the assignment given to him.
An example from Nephi illustrates the point. Nephi was commanded to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 8.) Nephi needed direction and instruction to accomplish the task given to him. Since he possessed the keys to accomplish the work, the direction was forthcoming from the Lord as it was needed and as Nephi inquired to obtain it.  (1 Ne. 17: 9-10.)  In the process of asking and receiving direction as he fulfilled the assignment, Nephi learned other, greater things as well.  (1 Ne. 18: 2-3.)
Nephi saw in the assignment (keys) he had been given a direct relationship between fulfilling the assignment to build a ship and Moses’ commission (keys) to deliver Israel from bondage. He used Moses as an example to his brothers to justify how the Lord could assign someone as untrained as Nephi to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 23-43.)  It was an appropriate example. It illustrates how once the Lord gives an assignment to a man, the Lord entrusts the keys and provides the inspiration to accomplish the assignment.
Similarly, all the prophets who have been sent to warn Israel in any generation have been given the keys from God to accomplish their assignment. Even among people who no longer held such authority, the Lord would directly ordain those He commissioned during the Old Testament times.  (TPJS p. 181.)

When the church builds a temple and calls a temple president the one called to preside over the temple is the only one who can organize and run the temple. He has the keys and should be respected. Anyone who has an assignment or keys conferred upon them, by the church or by the Lord, has an assignment that should be respected.  

Nephi’s brothers and the royal court of King Noah all learned that it simply wasn’t possible to terminate the mission of someone holding keys before they finished their assignment.  (For Nephi, see 1 Ne. 17: 48-55.  For Abinadi see Mosiah 13: 2-5.)  Of course, once the assignment given the man has been completed, they are as vulnerable to destruction at the hands of enemies as anyone else.  (Mosiah 17: 20; D&C 135: 4.)
When someone receives an assignment, and fulfills it with honor, they hold the keys of that assignment to all eternity.  (D&C 128: 21.)  They are expected to come to the great meeting when keys are returned to Adam and then, in turn, to Christ, preliminary to His return as the One whose right it is to preside over all things.  (TPJS p. 157.)
I suppose the best way to be invited to that meeting would be to obtain a key from the Lord, perform in strict conformity to the assignment He gives you, and become thereby entitled to return that key in the great assembly.
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….For the rest, I’m not sure if this post will have any meaning. 

Presiding Authority

When Joseph Smith died, the crisis in succession produced arguments from various contenders who claimed it their right to lead the Church.  Although no one argued that Section 107: 22-24 controlled the decision, ultimately the decision was that the Twelve Apostles held keys to lead the Church.  A few years later the verses in Section 107 just cited became the rationale for why the Twelve would lead.


This decision was further clarified by adoption of the rule that the senior (one who held office longest) Apostle would be the presiding authority and by virtue of that seniority would be the President.  Initially he was President of the Twelve.  Then when Brigham Young reformed the First Presidency after a few years, he became President of the Church.  Then in 1955 he became the living “prophet” as well.

Since the system has now reached a stable, orderly manner of choosing and recognizing whose right it is to preside over the church, what happens if another,  more senior Apostle happens along?  Whose right is it to preside if you are required to choose between direction that comes from the presiding authority of the church or direction that comes from John (who tarries in the flesh), (D&C 7: 1-4.) or Peter, James and John?  (D&C 27: 12)  Everyone presumes the messages from those who preside over the church on the earth and those who “tarry in the flesh” will be congruent, and that there is no conflict between the messages. But query what choice should be made if there is at least some inconsistency?  Upon whom does the seniority rest?  

A simpler question is what choice should be made between the Lord and those who preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I think all would agree that all church authorities are inferior to the Lord.  However, we also presume that there will be no conflict between the two.  What if there is at least some inconsistency?  

It is an interesting question to ponder.  Not that I have anything to add to your reflection on the matter.  Sometimes it is just interesting to consider a question.  Like I’ve said elsewhere, answers are less important than a good question to ponder from time to time.  In the pondering, new and important ideas can occur to you.

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