Category: Holy Order

New Paper-Update November 21st

I gave a talk on Reformation Sunday about the priesthood. A paper based on the talk is now available as a download. The document is titled The Holy Order and can be accessed either on the Downloads page or through this link:
The Holy Order

The paper has been updated to correct some typos and add some missing words. Also a new footnote 58 has been added to clarify that the example used involved Moses. The example illustrated ancient Israel’s tribal identity issues involving Moses, and was “patriarchal.” In most Native American cultures today clan identity is reckoned from the wife’s clan, and is “matriarchal.”

1, 2 or 3 Priesthoods?

There was a talk given by Joseph Smith on August 27, 1843 where he describes three kinds of priesthood. Here is a quote from the account we have: (See TPJS, pp. 322-323)

Respecting the Melchizedek Priesthood, the sectarians never professed to have it; consequently they never could save any one, and would all be damned together. There was an Episcopal priest who said he had the priesthood of Aaron, but had not the priesthood of Melchizedek: and I bear testimony that I never have found the man who claimed the Priesthood of Melchizedek. The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of ‘endless lives;’ for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken.

The law was given under Aaron for the purpose of pouring out judgments and destructions.

There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.

First, The king of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels, desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.

The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.

What was the power of Melchizedek? ‘Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.

Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.

Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.

How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the father to the children, and the children to the fathers.

The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.

‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

The Second Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

The Third is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.

I’ve explained at length how I understand these three divisions of priesthood in the talk in Orem titled “Priesthood” (which, in addition to my blog, is available as an audio on YouTube) and then supplemented the material in the chapter on Priesthood in Preserving the Restoration. I continue to receive emails asking for clarification. 

In the beginning there was one priesthood with one name. The original was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” (D&C 107:3.) Adam prophesied that this single, original form of priesthood will return at the end of the world. (Moses 6:7.)

The original form was renamed after Enoch in his day. (D&C 76:57.)

Then later, it was renamed again after Melchizedek. (D&C 107:4.) The renaming did not change the priesthood, but merely used a different title to “avoid the too frequent repetition of his [the Son of God’s] name.” (Id.)

The original, unified, singular priesthood was held by the first Patriarchs. From Adam through Melchizedek, the single form of priesthood was held by “priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.” (D&C 76:57.) The full extent of that authority and the rights it conferred were important enough that the Pharaoh claimed it, and through it the right to govern the earth. (Abr. 1:26-27.) The original Pharaoh was a “righteous man” (Abr. 1:26) but it was not his right to govern as a holder of this original priestly authority. In the beginning of the world, while men rebelled against the authority, the righteous allowed themselves to be guided by it, and through it they repented and found favor with God.

The authority was passed down through Abraham. Although the chosen line through Isaac lost it, it was preserved through Abraham and Keturah’s son, Midian. (Gen. 25: 1-2.) The man Reuel (given an “El” naming by his parents-Exo. 2:16-18) descended from Midian. He received a new name from God. (“Jethro”-Exo. 3:1.) The new name from God indicates God accepted him as His son. Moses received his ordination through Jethro. (D&C 84:6.)

Now Jethro was a righteous man, but it was through Moses that God established the rule of the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. Therefore, it was through Moses that Egypt’s rule over Israel was overthrown, and the people liberated to follow God.

However, the Israelites were unwilling to abide this priesthood. It required too much of them and they hardened their hearts. They could not enter into God’s presence as a people. (D&C 84:22-25.)

In the days of Moses it was divided, and a lesser form of priesthood was carved out from the higher form. (D&C 84:25-27.) That lesser form was called “Aaronic” and authorized to act only in administering outward ordinances. (D&C 107:14.)

Joseph explained that in the LDS Church there were two priesthoods. (D&C 107:1.) But Joseph also described three priesthoods in the talk given August 27, 1843. In an attempt to clarify, I have associated the three kinds of priesthood with the following names and qualifications: Aaronic: Priests who associate with angels and have fellowship with them. Melchizedek: Priests who associate with the Son of God and have fellowship with Him. Patriarchal: Priests who have been in the presence of Father Ahman and have been accepted by Him. I admit this is not the way the names are used in the scriptures. I have renamed them in this manner as my attempt to harmonize understanding with the talk given by Joseph and to distinguish from LDS claims.

There are important points to consider. There was originally a single form of priesthood. It was the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. That priesthood is prophesied to return at the end of the world. God the Father decides who will stand at the head of the Family, with authorization to govern as a father (or patriarch) following the pattern given to Adam in the beginning. As Joseph explained it, “Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.” This will be required of us, just as it was before.

If we have any authority at all, we have some portion or degree of the original. Rather than limiting ourselves to some other form, ordain to the Holy Order and leave it to God to determine how much He decides to confer upon a man.

It is clear Jethro was approved of God. It is clear his parents worshipped the true God, and named him “Reu-El” to honor the God of Abraham. It is also clear that God did not honor Reuel with the responsibility of freeing Israel from Egypt and giving direction to them. It was in Moses that God reclaimed the original authority over His chosen people.

There will be a root of Jesse to whom the right will belong. (D&C 113:5-6.) This was never Joseph nor Hyrum. It could never be done by a “pure blooded Ephraimite” and therefore their bloodlines did not qualify to finish the House of God. Their lives were foundational for what will come next. What they accomplished is shown in the Nauvoo Temple as a metaphor. It was constructed to the second floor, and unfinished in design and construction at their passing. Although others tried to design and build what was left, it burned, and was then destroyed by a whirlwind. Only pictures and a few stones remain of the original. The House of God will return and the original authority of the Holy Order will likewise be here on earth before the return of the Son of God.

The Holy Order will submit to the Son of God, and freely acknowledge that it is His right to rule. He will be the King of kings, and the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) because no man with this Holy Order will compare themselves to Him.

Limiting what is said about these matters of priesthood hopefully prevents deceivers and pretenders from improving their false claims. It will not be entrusted to a fool, nor given to the proud and haughty. It will be held by the meek and lowly. True authority must persuade and invite using kindness and pure knowledge as their scepter, offering their lives as a sacrifice and not offering themselves as an idol to be honored.

It Will Be Again

As it was once, it will be  again. Adam was born again and received the Record of Heaven, or in other words the Holy Ghost. (Moses 6: 66.) Adam was born of the Spirit and quickened in the inner man. (Moses 6: 65.) Through this he was after the Order of the Father. (Moses 6: 67.) This same Order will return again at the end of the world. (Moses 6: 7.) The end of the world is the destruction of the wicked (JS-M 1: 4) to happen at the Lord’s return. (Matt. 13: 38-40.)

This same Order is connected with surviving the day of His return. “There are, in the church, two priesthoods.” (D&C 107: 1.) “There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to [in the Epistle to the Hebrews]” (TPJS, p. 322-23; DHC 5: 554-55.)

God, who presides over this process, created Adam in His likeness and image. The image of God’s body consists of both the male and female, and they together are called Adam. (Moses 6: 9.) Through it, the man and woman called Adam begat a son named Seth. (Moses 6: 10.) From this we can see the procreative power, which produces offspring, is possible only through the man and woman called Adam, because together they possess this godlike attribute. Apart they are not in God’s image. Their seed continues, which is what God does. (D&C 132: 19-20.) The return of this Order, that was from the beginning, requires the man and woman who have had God’s Spirit poured on them, and have been quickened. It is promised to return again before the end of the world.

We do not inherit these things by imposing our views on God, but by allowing ourselves to become converted to His views. His are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth. (Isa. 55: 9.) We must receive counsel from Him, not give it. (D&C 22: 4.) God alone makes us a son of God. (Moses 6: 68.) Enoch was also a son of God. (Moses 6: 27.)

Noah, whose days are like the Coming of the Son, was ordained to this same Order by God. (Moses 8: 19.) Noah called upon men to repent, but men did not listen to him. (Moses 8: 20.) Moses told them to repent and follow Jesus Christ, receive the Spirit and be taught by heaven which will reveal all things; but the people did not listen. (Moses 8: 24.)

When they refused to repent, God destroyed all flesh because of their corruption and violence. (Moses 8: 28-30.) “But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man.” (JS-M 1: 41.) The good news is that this Order will return. There will be the opportunity to repent. God intends to make sons again. This promise should make us all search the matter and freely repent of our sins, using the Spirit as our guide to find God’s will. Then we should have the courage to conform to it. This is good news, as long as we are willing to heed it.

Fullness of Priesthood

I received the following in an email:

“As I’m re-reading The Second Comforter I’m trying to clarify in my mind the issue of power in the priesthood and ordination under God’s hand. Our first trip to the veil is when we have our Calling & Election made sure. Nephi’s example (son of Helaman) indicates that at that time we are given power in the priesthood – sealing power. This is included in the fullness of the priesthood. But you have also made the clear arguments that (1) we do not see the Lord at this time – that is part of receiving the Second Comforter; (2) the fullness of the priesthood and its inherent powers are only received of God, under His hand. I’m sure it’s possible to be ordained under the hand of the Lord without seeing Him, but nowhere do I find an indication that this is what happens at one’s C&E – only that you hear a voice from heaven covenanting and promising. Are you able to share anything that could clarify this for me? I’m happy to read it on your blog if you wish.”
This is a topic I’ve never attempted to straighten out. It is marred by many errors in traditional understanding, and almost impossible to recover because of the vocabulary we use now. We have become accustomed to speaking about priesthood using terms we think we understand. Therefore, when the topic arises the first problem is that we speak about something not well developed, using terms we think we understand, but employing incorrect meanings.
The result is that I’ve used the term but haven’t bothered defining it. The closest I’ve come to providing anything is the Tenth Parable in Ten Parables. I’ve also used the concluding chapters of :Beloved Enos to give an overview, without changing the terms we are all accustomed to using.
In the “big picture” there are three levels of priesthood discussed by Joseph Smith. He uses the terms “Aaronic” (which includes Levitical) for one, Melchizedek for another, and Patriarchal for the third. In the D&C there is a revelation stating the church has two priesthoods. (D&C 107: 1.) Since the church claims to possess these two because of Section 107, and since Joseph used the term “Patriarchal Priesthood” to identify a third, I have used this category to explain what is set out in Beloved Enos; then used it further to develop the topics in Passing the Heavenly Gift.
Forget the nomenclature for a moment (because it is not as important as the underlying reality), and no matter what term you use, recognize there are three levels of priesthood. There are three members of the Godhead. There is a different member of the Godhead associated with three levels of salvation, three levels of Divine ministration, and correspondingly three levels of priesthood. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Telestial order, or the world where we presently live. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Terrestrial order, or this world in its Paradisaical state during the Millennium. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Celestial order, or the final redeemed state which men hope to inherit in the Father’s Kingdom. Read Section 76 and you will see these set out as conditions of glory. Then take the conditions and associate a priesthood with each. If you do that, you have a better grasp of the idea of “fullness of the priesthood.”
There are many problems with how we discuss this topic. I have made no attempt to challenge our current vocabulary, or the definitions we use with it. I’ve just accepted it and tried to set out the things I know to be true using the limited and accepted definitions we currently employ.
The Patriarchal Priesthood is not defined in scripture. We think the office of Patriarch in the church is what is meant by that. Or, alternatively, we teach that when you are sealed in the temple you acquire the Patriarchal Priesthood because you become a father within your family and that is kind of the meaning. Joseph made a remark which referred to finishing the Nauvoo Temple, and then going into the Temple and receiving the Patriarchal Priesthood. I’ve found it useful to refer to this most poorly understood form of priesthood to name and define it the third level of priesthood. I can make a persuasive argument to do so. I think it offers a rather elegant solution to our current vocabulary problems. But I won’t do that in this post.
The most important point is that there is priesthood which exists, but is not contained within or conferred by the church. It comes from one source – the Father. To receive that, read the Tenth Parable and you will have a description of how it unfolds. The Son is necessarily involved. He is the gatekeeper, who alone decides if the person is going to qualify. Then the Son takes it as His work, or His ministry, to bring a person before the Father. However, the ministry of the Son can take many years, and is designed to cure what is wrong, fix all that is broken, remove all that is impure, in the candidate. Only when the Son can vouch for the individual is he brought before the Father. It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood.
I’ve left these topics alone because there is something much more important than having me write about them. The first step along the path is to make it through the veil. Not the veil in a Temple, or in a rite offered by men to one another. We must be brought through the veil back into the Lord’s presence. That is the step which stops most of our progress. By and large we don’t believe it possible. We make no attempt because we think it is not available, or we should not be trying to become more than our leaders, or we are not qualified, or some other false teaching which hedges up our progress. I’ve focused on that topic alone. If I can bring a person to have faith to approach the Lord, the Lord will tell them all things they need to do thereafter. He will work with them to bring them into possession of all they need for Eternal Lives. That is His ministry. Mine is but to point to Him.
I can testify the Lord continues to have a ministry. I can also testify it includes bringing you to a point of understanding that enables you to repent of your generation’s sins and come before the Father. It is happening today, just as anciently.
Joseph Smith’s ministry offered mankind an opportunity to have the ancient order restored. Not just a New Testament church. In the beginning there was one, unified priesthood. There were not three. There was one. It was called the Holy Order. Later it got several additive descriptors, including the Holy Order after the Son of God; or Holy Order after the Order of Enoch; or Holy Order after the Order of Melchizedek. We think we have that in the church today. We think that is what we give to Elders when we first ordain them. But Joseph Smith could not confer that on another person. It requires God. Through Joseph we were offered an opportunity to receive it, but we were more interested in having a church than the original Holy Order.
It was always necessary to restore the Holy Order– the original fullness. That must be here before the Second Coming. As soon, however, as the matter is fully set out, men will immediately begin to imitate and pretend to things because of pride, ignorance or vanity. In fact, the more readily it is explained in detail, the more often there will be those who falsely claim to have power they were never given by God. So I have confined what I’ve written to the first leg of the journey, and testified to the possible return to the presence of the Son. That is a precaution, and is designed to keep the message focused on saving souls. For the rest, I leave it to the Lord’s ministry to inform the disciple of what then must occur.
I believe at some point there will be a more public declaration of the fullness of the priesthood. But at the present, I think the greatest problem lies in connecting men back to angels, then to the Lord. When they have reached that point, the Lord will take them further.
Sealing power is part of higher priesthood, but men suppose God’s word alone is enough. No power comes from heaven without faith. There is always an apprenticeship. There is always further sacrifice required of the student. No one comes to the point in an instant, but increases by degrees in their trust with our God. You will find that in every prophet’s life.
Show me a man who has entered into the Father’s presence and I will testify that he has a fullness. But show me any man, no matter what position or keys he claims to possess, who has not entered into the Father’s presence, and I will testify he has not yet received a fullness. No matter what keys he has, he cannot possess the fullness. For that, the Father has a role He is required to fulfill. Hence the saying by Joseph that no man has seen the Father but He has born record of the Son. The question to ponder is what it means for the Father to bear record of the Son. Therein lies a great key.

Cite your minds forward

A few days ago I directed you to Alma 13.  I suggested that it be read without preconceptions and you let the words just acquire whatever meaning they appear to have in the chapter itself.  Some of you have begun that process and have raised questions.  I thought I might revisit the chapter to open up a few ideas for those who haven’t begun the exercise.

Here’s the first verse:
And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.”
Why “cite your minds forward?” Especially since it was talking in the past tense?  Why is this idiom in the verse?  How would Joseph Smith know about this kind of word usage?  (Perhaps this is an indication the text is translated from another language rather than being composed in English.)
Why “the Lord God ordained priests?” Were they ordained by God indeed? Was there another man involved in conferring that authority? Did it necessarily come from God alone? What priesthood is it that is referred to?
What is “after his holy order?” Is this Aaronic? Is this Melchizedek? Or is this something different?  There are three orders of priesthood, the third being “Patriarchal” as explained in Beloved Enos.  Which one is this verse referring to of the three?
What form of priesthood is “after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son?”  Are all three? Or is there one that is distinguished by being uniquely after the order of His Son?
What “things” are these people to “teach.. unto the people?”  Is there something associated with what is contained in the chapter that alone is the province of those possessing the “holy order” to teach?  If so, why is that? 
What is going on here?  Is this deeper doctrine than we normally encounter?  If so, why has it eluded our attention?  If our preconceptions have blinded us to this material, then why would we want to ever read scripture through the blinding lens of the notions we have inherited?  Is this part of the wicked “traditions of our fathers” that the Book of Mormon warn us against?
Oh ye Gentiles….. 
Now I’m missing the weekly Book of Mormon class I taught for so many years. There I could go ahead and discuss all the answers.  My home was too small for the crowds and I wasn’t going to export it to a less sacred place where the Spirit would not permit me to teach.  Well, the questions are better than merely giving answers, as I have said before.  If you can learn to ask good questions, then you can go to the Lord and get the answers.  Who knows where that dialogue will lead you.