Priesthood in Mormonism/Part 5

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2006
Mormons often ask others “Where did you get your authority?” By that they mean authority to preach, baptize, ordain, etc. Latter-day Saints [LDS] don’t believe that God will accept such work unless it is performed by one who has the priesthood.

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Mormons often ask others “Where did you get your authority?” By that they mean authority to preach, baptize, ordain, etc. Latter-day Saints [LDS] don’t believe that God will accept such work unless it is performed by one who has the priesthood.

The sixth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” Mormons believe that men must be ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands of other men who have priesthood authority.

In our last article we discussed the Bible texts LDS use for their view of priest­hood and found that none of the texts really support what LDS teach. But Mormon­ism claims to have biblical priesthood since they have the Aaronic or lesser priest­hood and the higher Melchizedek Priesthood. Those two priesthoods are in the Bible, but they are very different from Mormonism’s.

Aaronic, or Levitical, Priesthood was a very important part of Judaism in the Old Testament because those priests offered sacrifices for the sins of the people (Ex. 29:38-44). But the Aaronic Priesthood of Mormonism offers no sacrifices at all. In the LDS Church, 12-year-old boys are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by the laying on of hands. But Aaronic priests in the Bible were mature men who inherited their priesthood by being born Hebrews in the tribe of Levi and of the family of Aaron (Ex. 29:9; Num. 3:10). No one else could serve as a priest. Other require­ments also had to be met to serve as priests, so not all male descendants of Aaron became priests.

When Mormons go through their temple ceremony the first time, most of them are told they are Israelites who belong to either the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh. Those tribes had no right to the priesthood, so that would disqualify LDS from holding the Aaronic Priesthood. Aaronic Priesthood was a part of Judaism but it was never a part of the New Testament church. Some Aaronic “priests became obedient to the faith” or became Christians in Acts 6:7, but they did not function as priests in the church.

Melchizedek is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament: Once in Genesis 14:18 and once in Psalm 110:4. He is identified as “king of Salem” and “priest of the Most High God” in Genesis14:18-20, where Abraham paid tithes to him. In that text Melchizedek was a picture of Christ who is also called a King and Priest in the New Testament. The Aaronic priests were descendants of Levi who descended from Abraham. Hebrews 7:4-10 says when Levi was not yet born and only geneti­cally a part of Abraham, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and was blessed by him, showing that Melchizedek was greater than the Levitical Priesthood since the lesser person is always blessed by the greater person.

The other Old Testament reference to Melchizedek is in Psalm 110:4 which is a Messianic Psalm. It says, “Thou art a Priest forever after the order [likeness] of Melchizedek.” That verse is quoted in the New Testament in Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17, 21, where it refers to Christ. So, Melchizedek was the only man in the Old Testament who had Melchizedek Priesthood and the Lord Jesus is the only One who had it in the New Testament.

Hebrews 7:23-24 compares the Old Testament Aaronic priests to the higher priesthood of Jesus Christ when it says, “And they truly were many [Aaronic] priests, because they were not suffered [allowed] to continue by reason of death; but this man [Christ], because He continueth ever [lives forever] hath an unchangeable priesthood (an untransferable priesthood that is not passed on to others because of death since Jesus lives forever].

The LDS Church has ordained thousands of men to their Melchizedek Priest­hood, but those men all die and need to be replaced just like the Aaronic Priests in the Old Testament. Hebrews, chapters 5-7, says Christ lives eternally and is the only Melchizedek Priest forever so He didn’t need a successor like Aaronic Priests had. Hebrews 7:27 also says that Christ “needed not daily, as those [Aaronic] high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once when He offered up Himself.” Thus the need for other priests or sacri­fices ended when Christ sacrificed Himself, once for all, on the cross for “our sins.”

LDS priesthood claims contradict the Bible in the following ways:

  1. LDS claim God requires priesthood in order for Him to accept baptism, ordina­tion, etc., but the Bible doesn’t say that.
  2. High priests in Mormonism are part of their Melchizedek Priesthood, but High Priests in the Bible were part of the Aaronic Priesthood.
  3. The LDS Aaronic Priesthood doesn’t offer sacrifices, but that was the main function of the Aaronic priests in the Bible.
  4. Members of the LDS Aaronic Priesthood are not descendants of Aaron, but that was a requirement of Priests in the Old Testament.
  5. The LDS Church has thousands of “High Priests,” but there was only one legal High Priest on earth at a time in the Bible.
  6. LDS have ordained thousands to the Melchizedek Priesthood, but in the New Testament Jesus Christ is the only Melchizedek Priest forever.
  7. Until 1978 black men were excluded from the LDS Priesthood and women still are excluded from it, but 1 Peter 2:5, 9 says that all believers (regardless of race or gender) are part of a holy or royal priesthood that is neither Aaronic nor Melchizedek Priesthood.

Our next article will discuss the highest office in the LDS Priesthood which is that of prophet. Those who want to know more about the difference between LDS Priest­hood and biblical priesthood can read about it in my book, Mormon Claims An­swered.

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