Priesthood in Mormonism/Part 4

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2006
Mormon Priesthood is one of the LDS doctrines discussed in the official LDS study guide, Gospel Principles. Marvin Cowan discusses the LDS teaching, taking special notice of the Bible texts used to support their view of priesthood.

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Priesthood in Mormonism Contents

Mormon Priesthood is one of the LDS doctrines discussed in the official LDS study guide, Gospel Principles. It says on pages 81-82,

Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to direct the work of the Church in all parts of the world. When Christ lived on the earth He chose His Apostles and ordained them so that they could lead His church. He gave them the power and authority of the priesthood to act in His name. (See Mark 3:13-15; John 15:16.) Another reason the priesthood is needed is so we can understand the will of the Lord and carry out his purposes. God reveals his will to his authorized priesthood representative on the earth, the prophet. The prophet, who is President of the Church, serves as the spokesman for God to all members of the Church and all people on the earth. The Lord has prepared an orderly way for his priesthood to be given to his sons on the earth. A worthy male member of the Church receives the priesthood “by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof” (Articles of Faith 1:5). This is the same way men received the priesthood long ago, even in the days of Moses: “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron’ (Hebrews 5:4). Aaron received the priesthood from Moses, his priesthood leader (see Ex. 28:1). Only those who hold the priesthood can ordain others.”

We will now discuss the above LDS quotation, taking special notice of the Bible texts used to support their view of priesthood. It says men need the priesthood to preside in the LDS Church and then uses Mark 3:13-15 and John 15:16, which are about Christ choosing of His Apostles, to support their claim.

The King James Version, which is the official LDS Bible, says in Mark 3:13-15, “And He (Jesus) goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And He ordained twelve that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.”

Mark 3:13-15 says Jesus “ordained” the twelve to:

  1. “be with Him;
  2. preach; and
  3. have power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils.”

Are LDS men ordained to their priesthood for those reasons? This text does not say:

  1. that men need to be ordained to the priesthood in order to function in the church;
  2. that ordination is necessary for God to recognize or accept what they do;
  3. that Jesus “laid His hands on the Apostles and ordained them.”

John 15:16 was the second proof text in the LDS quotation. It says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

The word “priesthood” is not in this verse or anywhere in the context. The subject is about bearing fruit, not priesthood. But LDS claim when Jesus chose His Apostles He laid his hands on them and ordained them to the priesthood. That is what most Mormons believe the word “ordain” means. But there is no biblical sup­port for that assumption. The word “ordain” simply means to “appoint” and it is translated that way in modern versions of the Bible.

Mormon scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-14 uses the word “or­dained” three times where it does not mean to “lay hands on someone to give them the priesthood.” Verse 10 says, “All wholesome herbs God hath ordained for…the use of man.” Verse 12 says “Flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man.” Verse 14 says, “All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts.” Obviously hands were not laid on the herbs, the flesh and the grain to give them the priesthood! So even LDS scripture shows that the word “ordained” simply means “to appoint.” There are many ways a person could be appointed or ordained. It could be by pointing a finger at them, laying hands on them, or even by having them sit on a certain chair.

The LDS quotation next cited Hebrews 5:4 and said that Aaron was called of God by Moses in Exodus 28:1. But in that verse God told Moses, “And take thou unto thee Aaron, thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.”

Ordination by laying on of hands is not mentioned in either Hebrews 5:4 or in Exodus 28:1 nor anywhere in those contexts. Right after quoting Hebrews 5:4, the LDS quotation says, “Aaron received the priesthood from Moses.” But Hebrews 5:4 doesn’t say that Aaron was called or ordained by Moses. It says he was “called of GOD.”

Aaron was personally called by God in Exodus 4:27 which says, “And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” Mormon scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants 132:59 also has the Lord saying, “Verily, if a man be called of my Father, as was Aaron, by mine own voice, and by the voice of him that sent me…”

This LDS scripture says that Aaron was called by the voice of God the Father and Son, not by being ordained through laying on of hands by those with priesthood authority!

The context of Hebrews 5:4 is about Jesus Christ who is the believer’s only High Priest forever. It is not about ordaining men to priesthood so they have authority to serve in the church. Only idolatrous priests were ordained in the Old Testament (2 Kings 23:5; 2 Chron. 11:15). In the Old Testament Aaron’s descendents inherited the Aaronic Priesthood and were not ordained to their office. Aaron was anointed along with the tabernacle and everything in it in Exodus 40:9-15. But, that anointing did not give Aaron the priesthood unless the tabernacle and everything in it also received the priesthood!

Next time we will discuss the biblical view of priesthood in contrast to what LDS teach about priesthood. Those who want to read more about the subject of this article can do so in my book, Mormon Claims Answered, under the title “Priest­hood.

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