Tag: apostles

3 Nephi 18: 3-4

“And when the Disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the Disciples and commanded that they should eat.  And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.”
It is interesting these 12 are consistently referred to as “disciples” and not as “Apostles.” There isn’t a single “Apostle” in the Book of Mormon record. Only “disciples.” There are 12 of them, and they are treated exactly as were the Apostles in Jerusalem. This was a distinction David Whitmer believed to be significant. He disliked the claim to restore Apostles.
Well, the disciples are described as “twelve” or “the twelve” in the first references. Then they are called “disciples.” In the printing we have the “D” capitalized. This is an attempt by typesetting to distinguish and make more important these “big-D” disciples from other run-of-the-mill “small-d” disciples. But printers should not trick your mind into accepting the distinction. The Lord leveled these twelve. He made them merely disciples, which is a term applied with equal meaning to any of those who were present on that day.
The twelve are taught, then asked to teach. The twelve overhear the Lord break and then bless the bread. The record at this point does not include the words Christ used to bless the bread. Moroni corrects that by adding it in at a later time in the account. Here is what Christ taught when He blessed the bread: The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it— And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying: O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” (Moroni 4: 1-3.)
Notice in the narrative the Lord “commanded that they should eat.” This is an interesting phrasing. It is more than an invitation. It is more than an offering. It is a commandment. Why? What is it about partaking of His sacrament, eating in remembrance of the body of Christ, that must be done? Why is it a commandment?
Notice, also, the disciples ate until they were “filled?” Does this mean their stomachs were sated? Does it mean their souls were affected? Does it mean both? How were they “filled” by partaking of the bread?
Did they need to be “filled” themselves before they would be permitted to minister to others? Was that why the Lord required them to first partake then be filled before they were commanded to minister to the others?
When they ministered to the multitude, what was it they “gave” to the multitude? Was it the bread alone? Was it also something that had “filled” them? What was going on in this ceremony?
Why would people who had seen, touched, knelt at the feet of the risen Lord, need to partake of the bread as a “witness” and “remembrance” of Him? How can this add to what they had already received? Why is the sacrament sacred enough to be celebrated by the Lord with people who are in His very presence?
Does this change in any respect how you view the sacrament? If so, how?

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.

Charge to Twelve

This is really a “comment” in response to a question belonging to the earlier post on Elder Packer’s Testimony.  However, it was too long to put in there as a reply comment, so will be put up here as a blog entry.  It is an interruption.  Sorry.  There is a fellow asking for it, and I delayed for so long that I feel I owe him a response.  I am really writing this to him.

Taken from Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power.  (A good book by Quinn.  He’s written some bad ones, but this is not one of them.  I think he was stinging from criticism and in this book proved he was still a good historian.)

“In 1835 Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey emphasized to the newly organized Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that their calling was charismatic, evangelical and also institutional.  Of the three, the charismatic definition of the apostleship was the earliest, going back to 1829.  Cowdrey told the new apostles: ‘It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God.’  Then he continued: ‘That is more than the testimony of an angel … Never cease striving until you have seen God, face to face.’  Cowdrey acknowledged that most of the new apostles had depended on visions of others for their faith and suggested that some might even be skeptical of visions.  Thus it was not necessary to see Jesus to be chosen as an apostle.  However, once ordained each man had a lifelong obligation to seek this charismatic experience: a vision of deity.  Some apostles from 1835 onward reported having had such visions before their ordination.  Apostles in the nineteenth century referred publicly to their visionary witness.

“… some LDS apostles, including Orson Pratt and Heber J. Grant, felt inadequate because they had not had such encounters.

“In the twentieth century, charismatic apostleship changed in several ways.  First, the ‘charge’ at ordination no longer obligated apostles to seek visions.  Second, the Presidency and apostles began down-playing the importance of these experiences.  Third, apostles began speaking of a non-visionary ‘special witness of Christ’ by the Holy Ghost in terms which allowed listeners to conclude that the apostles referred to an actual appearance of deity.  Fourth, apostles were reluctant to discuss their visionary experiences publicly.  Fifth, evidence indicates that a decreasing number of apostles experienced visions before or after ordination.
“The change in the apostolic ‘charge’ apparently began with the appointment of Reed Smoot as an apostle in 1900.  General church authorities had long regarded him as ‘reliable in business, but [he] has little or no faith.’  President Lorenzo Snow blessed him to receive ‘the light of the Holy Ghost’ so that he could bear testimony of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith.  That was an extraordinary departure from the apostolic charge as given since 1835.
“…Twentieth-century apostles began applying this ‘as if’ approach to their spoken testimonies.  Usually this involved wording their ‘special witness’ of Christ in a way that encouraged listeners to assume the leader has had a more dramatic encounter with the divine than actually claimed.”
The full discussion ranges from pages 1 through 6 and would require too much typing to do it here.  But the above, taken only from pages 1-2, gives you some more particulars than my brief reference before.  The whole discussion is documented with references from the Church’s archives where the writer reviewed the transcripts of the actual ordinations, etc.  They are all set out in the footnotes, which are omitted from the quote I have excerpted above.