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.

8 thoughts on “Presiding Authority

  1. Some people are specifically told to follow Peter, James, and John, but where did John go? What does he do? We know from history that James prays a lot, and that Peter does something at the pearly gates, but John disappears….interesting.

  2. Awesome post! The answer was easy, however because you gave us the reasoning. Just for fun, I’m dying for something more challenging to chew on for a few days.

  3. I’ve puzzled about these verses in the D & C…. I have some thoughts and a gut feeling about them….

    D & C 43

    4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that anone else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

    5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the bteachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

    6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.

    7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.

    Denver (or anybody here) what do you make of these verses, especially verse 4 above?

    Then these verses from Section 85 are always in the back of my mind:

    6 Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest, saying:

    7 And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in aorder the house of God, and to arrange by blot the cinheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;

    8 While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to asteady the bark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning.

    Interesting how the Prophet Joseph say in v6 “it maketh my bones to quake”….. what was he seeing?

  4. lc – I think Denver’s post is deeper than you might think. See my comment above. LDS temple goers tend to take symbols literally and literals symbolically just because they heard someone’s opinion that has gained mainstream acceptance on the grapevine. An open mind is a hard won prize. There is a key here that has been put in place since Joseph’s Smith’s day. Need we remember the provisions made for the lost 116 pages through other writings centuries ago? Should we be surprised at all by the Lord’s foresight? Do you think He is scrambling for a backup plan when his people come under condemnation? There are people for whom the kingdom will not be taken away from in our midst, but how few are they?

  5. Great post! Along these lines, notice these scriptures:

    D&C 49:8 “Wherefore, I will that all men shall repent, for all are under sin, except those which I have reserved unto myself, holy men that ye know not of.” This can’t be referring to John the Beloved nor the three Nephites nor Enoch and his people, because we know of them. So, the Lord has “holy men” whom we know not of that He as “reserved”.

    Next, we know from the scriptures that He has always given the righteous a chance to be led out before a people were destroyed. The entire Book of Mormon is an example of this — three examples of this, actually: Lehi’s group, the Mulekites, and the Jaredites. We seem to automatically assume that just because the Nephites were destroyed, that no one was led away first. Moroni 7: 1-4 shows that this is not true. Mormon says in those verses that he was permitted to speak to a group who, if I understand correctly, had all received the Second Comforter — as they had “entered into the rest of the Lord” in this life. This seems to suggest that he was talking to people who had already been led away before the destruction of the Nephites.

    Now read D&C 86: 8-11
    8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
    9 For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
    10 Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.
    11 Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.

    So, we have people living on the earth who have never lost the priesthood, and who will be a light to the Gentiles, and ultimately a savior to Israel. If they already have the priesthood from God Himself, and it has been passed down to them through the lineage of their fathers, who can say what authority they have?

    What if they, or one, or some of them are sent forth to call us to repentance?

  6. There’s a lengthy discussion about this in Beloved Enos. The Lord is not powerless, nor incapable of providing salvation to people today, no matter what goes on among us. I’m putting up a new post probably tomorrow on related questions.

    Line upon line.

    Precept upon precept.

    Helps if you’ve studied what I’ve already put into books. There’s a systematic reconstruction of what Joseph restored in them. (Kisi I’m saying that to people who haven’t read what I’ve written and not to you.)

  7. Denver, if I’m not mistaken (I often am) you’ve mentioned Abinadi before and his uniqueness. We don’t know anything about his roots. Also, there is Samuel the Lamanite. He wasn’t one of the Church leaders at the time. I think this will be repeated. The Lord’s course is one eternal round. I expect prophets to come about that we have had no previous knowledge of. This may be hard for some of us to handle. Also, I personally believe the 2 prophets in Jerusalem that are killed won’t be of our 12 apostles, but that is just my opinion. I have nothing to back that up with. Joseph said something to the effect that he would have revealed much more to the saints if it wasn’t for their incorrect traditions. I feel that much of receiving what the Lord has to teach deals with destroying our paradigms and being open to whatever is being taught, regardless of our preconceived notions.

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