10
Feb
09

Priesthood

 

     I was asked to address the priesthood.  That is understandable since the priesthood plays a big role in Mormonism.  As always, it is important to define terms.  The LDS manual, True to the Faith, defines it this way:  “The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God.”  It goes on to state:  “God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of his children.  Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth.”  Mormonism has two priesthoods: the Aaronic and Melchizedek.

     I felt I had to give that little review because, it has been my experience, that many Christians don’t know much about what Mormonism says about the priesthood, and many Mormons are surprised that the priesthood is not a big topic in Christianity.

     The Aaronic or Levitical priesthood was an important component of the Old Testament.  But the New Testament says that priesthood was done away with.  Hebrews 7-10 has an extended argument making that very point.  But those chapters always make the point that it was replaced with a superior priesthood, the Melchizedek priesthood – of which there is only one priest, Jesus.  He is the only priest because he offered himself up as the perfect sacrifice once and for all.  “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

      The New Testament says that the Aaronic priesthood is null and void.  It says that Jesus is the one and only priest in the Melchizedek priesthood.  But it also does talk about Christians being priests (without labeling them as Aaronic or Melchizedek).  I was happy to see 1 Peter 2:9 mentioned in the question.  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  As priests Christians are to show forth God’s praises by talking about his great salvation – by talking about how we are perfected by Jesus’ one sacrifice. 

      We further teach that this applies to all believers, whether they are male or female – seeing that this obviously was addressed to both.  Therefore I was wondering how Mormons interpret this passage seeing that Mormonism restricts the priesthood to males. 

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12 Responses to “Priesthood”


  1. February 11, 2009 at 5:22 am

    It’s not exactly accurate that the Priesthood is restricted to males. In the temple, women administer Priesthood ordinances.

    That’s not really proof that the Priesthood isn’t severely curtailed nonetheless, I know. but I just thought it ought to be thrown out there.

    You wrote:

    “many Mormons are surprised that the priesthood is not a big topic in Christianity.”

    Are you talking about ALL Christianity Mark? Or just Protestant Christianity?

  2. 2 faithoffathers
    February 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Mark,

    A couple points and questions:

    1. Where in the New Testament does it say that Christ “is the one and only priest in the Melchizedek priesthood?” It doesn’t. It quotes Isaiah several times who said of Christ “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” “Thou art a” does not mean “thou art the only.”

    Look up the word “order” in the dictionary: a rank, grade, or class of persons in a community; a group or body of persons of the same profession, occupation, or pursuits: the clerical order.” The Melchizedek Priesthood is named after Melchizedek- he too was a Priest after this “order.”

    While the Bible does not clearly explain everything about this order, I do not think your conclusions are justified by the text itself. Your statement “He is the only priest BECAUSE he offered himself up as the perfect sacrifice once and for all” simply is not supported or make sense. (My emphasis added)

    2. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” You are using this statement to refute the idea that the priesthood was perpetuated in the early church and to support the belief that the priesthood was somehow no longer needed. Again, this conclusion is not justified by the text.

    The children of Israel had failed to live up to the higher law of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and God therefore limited them to the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood. The Melchizekek Priesthood existed before the Law of Moses, and continued after it was fulfilled. Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Noah, Abraham and others performed ordinances such as sacrifices and officiated in the Melchizedek Priesthood. No, the Bible doesn’t contain explicit mention of these prophets acting in this priesthood specifically (other than Melchizedek himself). But then it doesn’t explicitly include the instructions they received to offer sacrifices, etc. Does that mean they were not so instructed? What Priesthood did they act in when they offered sacrifices?

    Thanks

  3. 3 markcares
    February 12, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Seth:
    Would LDS members say that the women who are doing priesthood ordinances in the temple have the priesthood?
    YOu are right – I was talking about Protestant Christianity.

  4. 4 markcares
    February 12, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Faith of Fathers:
    The whole arguement of Hebrews 5-10 revolves around Jesus as the only Melchizedek priest. A careful read of those chapters and their argumentation leads to that conclusion. By the Way, Hebrews is not quoting Isaiah, but David (Psalm 110:4).
    What priewthood does 1 Peter 2:9 refer to? Where does 1 Peter 2:9 limit the priesthood to males?

  5. 5 faithoffathers
    February 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Mark,

    Thanks for the response. Your are right about David being quoted, not Isaiah (although he too quoted this)- good call.

    I do not see the Hebrews 5-10 chapters ever saying that Christ is the only Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Can you show me where I am wrong? Even if Melchizedek was the only other example (which I do not believe), that would mean there were at least two priests after that order. After all, that order of Priesthood bares his name- Melchizedek.

    As far as your other questions, both women and men receive the same blessings from the Priesthood- baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and ordinances of the temple. A man never blesses himself or bestows anything upon himself because he has the Priesthood. But he has responsiblities and duties as a result of possessing the priesthood- but it is always directed outward to others.

    And women in the temple can have certain authority delegated to them to perform certain ordinances, but no, they do not “hold the priesthood.”

    I don’t know that 1 Peter 2:9 has to refer to either Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthoods. These Priesthoods are specific and refer to the authority by which God’s servants are commissioned to carry out the work of preaching the gospel and performing those ordinances outlined by Christ and His prophets. But the word priesthood can be used in a more generic way. I have heard President Hinckley and others use such language to describe the youth of the church, not just the young men. But this is just my opinion.

    fof

  6. 6 ladonnamorrell
    February 13, 2009 at 4:13 am

    welcome home, mark,

    thanks for taking up my topic. i don’t claim to be any big scriptorian, but i, like FOF, can not find anything in Hebrews that says the things you claim.
    here is what i found:

    Chapter 7:12–Priesthood is changed.
    7:19 lesser law not enough, greater law brings hope (JESUS)
    7:21 Oath and covenant with the new order of priesthood.
    7:28 Imperfect men will serve as High Priests (Melchizedek priesthood), but the Savior is perfect.
    8:3 there were many High Priests.

    chap 10-the law of Moses was a pattern to teach the people about sacrifice. (10:4 the blood of bulls and goats does not take away sin)
    10:9-10 Law of Moses is FULFILLED in Christ, Christ’s blood (DOES TAKE AWAY SIN)does save.
    I even went outside of the chapters you cited:
    chap 4:15–all the High Priests left on earth are human and can be tempted.
    James 5:14–elders are called for (presumably priesthood holders) for anointing

    this tells me that the priesthood was in use. it is pretty clear to me. what do you think?

  7. February 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    “Would LDS members say that the women who are doing priesthood ordinances in the temple have the priesthood?”

    Depends on the member. You have to be paying attention to catch the implications.

    Some LDS would probably be quick to assert that female temple workers are only delegated the authority to administer the ordinances.

    I would retort that all Priesthood authority is inherently delegated authority.

  8. 8 markcares
    February 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I ask for your patience in responding. My wife had major surgery this week. Therefore I am only able to visit the blog sparingly.
    I see three topics needing more discussion.
    1) Who is in the Melchizedek priesthood according to the Bible? (By the way, Faith of Fathers please give me the Isaiah quote about the Melchizedek priesthood. Thanks.)
    2) What is the signficance of 1 Peter 2:9 since it is one of the few passages that addresses Christians (2nd person)as priests?
    I am planning on addressing these two points in future posts (Hopefully one yet today.)
    3) The third question I have that I would like to address in this thread concerns the Aaronic priesthood. One of the main points of the book of Hebrews is to show that the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood was obsolete. See Hebrews 7:11. It is not just that a higher priesthood was added – its point is that the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus replaced the Levitical priethood. My question is: do you agree that the book of Hebrews says that the Aaronic priesthood was rendered obsolete? A related question: As the Bible makes clear (i.e.Hebrews 7:14) the priests in the Aaronic priesthood had to come not only from the tribe of Judah but also the house of Aaron. Do the patriachial blessings of all holders of the Aaronic priesthood in the LDS Church identify them as from the tribe of Judah?

  9. 9 ladonnamorrell
    February 15, 2009 at 2:33 am

    hi mark,
    sorry about your wife, hope she is well soon. as i have said before, i am not a scriptorian, but as a reader of the scriptures and lover of the Gospel i would like to respond to your questions.
    1. i believe that the higher priesthood was necessary for the ordinances performed by all the prophets. (whatsoever is bound on earth is bound in heaven, for example, requires the Melchizedek Priesthood) Moses, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, to name a few had the Melchizedek Priesthood. (you probably know this, but the term “Melchizedek Priesthood” is used to keep from using the name of the Lord repeatedly as the true name of this priesthood is “the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God”) For whatever reason, there is not a lot of information about the priesthood in the Bible. Joseph Smith was taught about the priesthood by the original Apostles Peter, James and John as well as others who returned to the earth to restore the “keys” of different aspects of the priesthood; some of which were in regards to the saving ordinances of the Gospel.
    (an interesting side note: all of the priesthood holders who returned to bring keys to Peter, James and John on the mount, did not die a normal death. they were “taken” to heaven without dying. this was because they needed their physical bodies to deliver these keys since it was before the Resurrection of the Savior. We know the Savior was the FIRST fruits of the resurrection so, resurrection was not an option for them. so they had to keep their bodies somehow…thus they were taken to heaven in a chariot, or some other way to preserve their bodies in order to return to the earth for this important assignment as this transfer comes by the “laying on of hands”…and of course hands are needed! we call this “translation”)
    2. The significance of the “Royal Priesthood” comment is this: As the Apostles traveled around and or wrote to the Saints they were encouraging them to keep the commandments, and to conform to the teachings of the Gospel BECAUSE “they were written on their hearts” and NOT because they “had to” as in the Law of Moses. the Law of Moses was only a schoolmaster for unrighteous, stiff-necked, lazy “children” who were not able to live a higher law. The Levitical or Aaronic priesthood was a preparatory priesthood to teach the people with repetition over and over again. Jesus came to fulfill the law, in other words he came to end the law and replace it with another, higher law. The preparatory priesthood did not need to be replaced, nor was it…just the LAW of Moses.(the aaronic priesthood, as held by John the Baptist, has the power to baptize, which is obviously still needed today)
    SO…. the significance of the moniker “Royal Priesthood” was to let the people know that they are sons and daughters of a Righteous King. The priesthood is the power to act in God’s name and is given to His righteous followers in order to bless them with the ordinances necessary to return to live with Him. We have been promised ALL that the Father hath and that includes his “royalty”. Traditionally men bear the priesthood…although women can act under the authority of the priesthood.
    3. i think you have misunderstood what is being said. It is being pointed out that Jesus is obviously from the tribe of Judah and HE holds the priesthood… because the people were schooled to believe through the Law of Moses that all priesthood holders were of the tribe of Levi ONLY. It does NOT say that ONLY Judah (and/or Levi)can hold the priesthood. He was only using that as an example. He could have just as easily chosen one of the other Apostles and pointed out their tribal ancestry. He was trying to make them understand that the priesthood had changed, that the old rules were done away with in regards to the new requirements for priesthood holders. The priesthood had changed,meaning the higher law and higher priesthood were finally here for the masses, and now the priesthood was not limited by tribe.

    [The scriptures do not say that the lesser priesthood was now obsolete….only that the “old” laws do not apply to the “higher” priesthood…and now the NEW, higher priesthood was to take precedence over the lesser one. it is tough to train people in new traditions and customs….the Jews were no different. they were a little stubborn. (P.S. i am not sure how someone could be of the tribe of Judah and the house of Aaron. Aaron was a Levite and they are their own tribe and no, the lineage for EVERY priesthood holder is not Judah….it could be Judah though, but as I explained: with the “new” order of priesthood, it was not necessary to be of any certain tribe)]

  10. 10 faithoffathers
    February 15, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Mark,

    I stand corrected, Isaiah did not quote David as I had thought- my bad.

    I think Laddonnamorell has done a good job of answering some of your questions. But a couple thoughts.

    You say the priests were only associated with offering sacrifices for “thousands of years.” Actually The Law of Moses lasted only about 1300 years before Christ came(Moses to Christ). So what of the period before Moses. There were clearly prophets who had the priesthood before Moses. The Bible record is clear in stating the the Law of Moses was a change from previous times and organization. How was it different? If it was really different, why doesn’t the Bible outline the differences more explicitly? Because it is not made clear, does that mean the priesthood did not exist before Moses? Of course not. What Priesthood did those prophets before Moses hold? Wouldn’t make much sense for them to hold the Aaronic Priesthood. It was the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    And prophets holding the Priesthood preceding Moses, Aaron, and Levi clearly shows that a Priesthood holder did not always have to come from Levi.

    The Prophets before Moses all had the Melchizedek Priesthood. Even if you do not accept that, it is clear there was at least one holder of that order of Priesthood besides Christ- Melchizedek.

    Thanks,

    fof

  11. 11 markcares
    February 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Ladonna:
    Thank you for your comment on my wife. She is doing better but has a number of weeks of physical thearapy ahead of her.
    As I mentioned in my post of 2/15, one of the problems is that there is nut much common ground for discussion. Most of your statements and also Faith of our Fathers is best on statements from or assumptions made from the D&C. For example, I do not believe that the prophets had to have the priesthood. In fact, in the Old Testament, except with rare exceptions, priests were not prophets and prophets were not priests. Neither do I believe that you have to hold the Aaronic priesthood to baptize. Note of these teachings are based on the Bible.
    My 2 points about the Aaronic priesthood are these: 1) From the Bible the Aaronic priesthood was the priesthood of the covenant that became obsolete. When that covenant was rendered obsolete, so was that priesthood. 2) Just from the name itself, Aaronic, and as the Bible lays out specificially, priests in the Aaronic priesthood all came from the house of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. By using the name Aaronic priesthood, the LDS Church is giving Christians the impression that it is a continuation of the Aaronic priesthood of the Bible and not a completely new thing. Why use a well-known name to describe something new? I find it similiar to an Englishman claiming to be from the House of Windsor and saying he is royalty but not being descended from that house. If you met a Englishman who said he was from the House of Windsor, wih no other explanation, wouldn’t you assume he was descended from Windsor?

  12. 12 GERMIT
    February 20, 2009 at 2:51 am

    FoF;

    The Prophets before Moses all had the Melchizedek Priesthood. Even if you do not accept that, it is clear there was at least one holder of that order of Priesthood besides Christ- Melchizedek.

    you are right about the second half of your sentence….but even then Mel. was but a TYPE of the priesthood that Jesus was to embody…just as the lamb only imperfectly represents the LAMB of GOD….or the brass serpent imperfectly represented Christ lifted up

    But why assume that the prophets before Moses had AnY priesthood at all ??


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