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A Question of Authority

March 13, 2009

Guest Post

(The following post was written by NChristine.  These are her thoughts after a conversation she had with an LDS member this past week.  If you wish to make comments, please review the new comment policy here first. Thanks!)

Basic to LDS teaching is an issue of authority. To the LDS Church, Jesus conferred authority directly to his twelve apostles, and after their death, authority was lost and thus needed to be restored. This loss of authority is foundational to all other claims of LDS legitimacy.

They [Jesus’ twelve disciples] scattered; they taught, testified, and established the Church. And they died for their beliefs, and with their deaths came the dark centuries of apostasy.

The most precious thing lost in the Apostasy was the authority held by the Twelve—the priesthood keys. For the Church to be His Church, there must be a Quorum of the Twelve who hold the keys and confer them on others.

In time came the First Vision and the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John (Boyd K. Packer, “The Twelve,” Ensign, May 2008, 83–87).

Chain of authority?

When Aaron was about to die (Numbers 20:23-29), the Lord gave advance warning of this event, and Aaron and his eldest living son Eleazar were taken to a mountaintop with Moses. There Aaron’s garments were removed and put on Eleazar, and there in the mountain, Aaron died—but not before his “authority” or position was passed on to his successor.

When it comes to authority in Christ’s church, Mormons question how there can be any claim to legitimacy for Christians in the centuries after the death of the apostles. If Christ is like Aaron, and the twelve disciples were like Eleazar, then who, they might ask, would have been the successors of the apostles? Was it not possible that this chain was broken?

The missing link

It should be noted that statements by both Peter (one of the twelve) and Paul contradict the idea that authority, and especially the ability to know and hold truth, would cease after the apostles’ deaths. (See I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 2:2 and II Peter 1:15-21.)

However, there is a much more basic and serious issue than this. The real problem with this “chain of authority” idea lies further back—not at the “link” between the apostles and any successors, but between Christ and His twelve apostles. Unlike Aaron, who died and passed on his role to his successor, Jesus rose again and lives forever. He never passed on, laid down, or gave up His own authority. Yes, He ascended to heaven and is no longer physically present on earth, but the words He spoke to His disciples just before His ascension are the complete antithesis of a “passing of the baton.” When Jesus was about to ascend into the clouds from the Mount of Olives, He said this to His disciples:

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20)

All power

The Greek word translated “power” in the KJV (“All power is given unto me”) is exousia, often translated “authority” and almost always used in contexts where “authority” rather than sheer, brute force is the clear meaning. (For examples, see Matthew 7:29, 8:9, 9:6, and 21:23.) In this moment before Christ’s departure to heaven, He did the exact opposite of conferring his authority upon others. Rather, he claimed to have all authority in heaven and in earth. This is a far cry from a transfer of authority to the apostles.

I am with you always

Further, Jesus explicitly stated how this authority was to be carried out in His absence: “and lo, I am with you alway.” There was no need to transfer authority, for He would be always with those who believed on Him. This assurance is similar to a promise He had made earlier:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

Importantly, this promise for even “two or three” was made when Jesus was discussing the “church” (18:17). While the LDS church claims that after the death of the apostles there was a complete apostasy (i.e., no one with authority), Jesus prophesied the opposite. In promising that he would be “in the midst of” even “two or three…gathered together in my name,” Jesus described the nature of His church after His ascension—that He would be present with His true followers, no matter how few in numbers.

Even to the end of the world

Of even more pertinence to this issue is the time limit Jesus gave to His promise: “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” The phrase translated “end of the world” (sometimes translated “end of the age”) is used several times throughout the book of Matthew, and each time it clearly refers to the final end of the world, at the time of Christ’s return (see 13:39-43, 13:49, and 24:3). Thus, Jesus promised to personally bear authority over His own people, through His personal (though not bodily) presence, until the very end of the world. This applies as much to the era termed the “apostasy” as it does to today, since both are prior to “the end of the world.”

How do these claims of Christ leave any room for a lost authority that needed to be restored? The LDS church has sought to appeal to a supposed vanished authority of the twelve disciples, but they have not appealed high enough. They have not appealed to the authority that has never been given up—the authority of the risen, ever-living, ever-reigning, ever-present Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

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70 Comments leave one →
  1. MadChemist permalink
    March 14, 2009 3:56 am

    Welcome to Jessica’s (unnamed) sister (who needs some handle).

    There are many unstated assumptions that would use 1 Timothy to imply that “it contradicts the idea of authority”. 1 Tim 4:14, only mentions that Timothy was called by prophecy and with the “laying on of hands.”

    2 Tim 2:2 informs Timothy that those who receive the teachings will be able to teach. However, 2 Tim 2:2 does not state that “hearing authorizes them to teach.” That is an assumption not explictly stated in the text. Mormons would tend to view this scripture as saying, “after they are taught, they will be called and authorized to teach/perform ordinances.” I’m not saying one must have a calling to share one’s witness or testimony, but I am saying that to interpret this verse as saying, “the only requirement to teaching is to have heard” is absurd. Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18) heard, does that mean he was qualified to teach? Of course not. Does Jessica’s sister’s interpretation of 2 Tim 2:2 disqualify him, No. Then her explanation must be incomplete or wrong.

    While 2 Peter 1:15-21 certainly teaches that Peter told those who he wrote to to always remember the gospel he taught, this excerpt certainly doesn’t contradict ideas of authority. In fact, there are numerous hints in the verses quoted at an authoritative voice. “A word of prophecy,” that 2 Peter admonishes his readers to heed, certainly not the closed heavens that Evangelicals worship today. Further, the very Acts 8 very clearly teaches that the ability to “lay hands on someone that they may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter never says, “The spirit doesn’t need the laying on of hands.” Instead, Peter is incensed that anyone thinks they could purchase “the gift of God with money.” Why didn’t Peter take this moment to teach the lesson that Jessica’s sister sees? Why didn’t he say, “You’ve heard my teaching you can already give the gift of the Holy Ghost!!!” Mormons know. Peter knew the mans heart was not right before God, therefore, whether he had heard, or whether he had been able to “lay on hands” because his heart was not right, he was sinning.

    So, until you explain your assumptions a little better, we cannot understand where you are coming from. Simply stating that you are right, and Mormon’s are wrong does not convince anyone. Does anyone else out there see how these scriptures contradict any ideas of authority without making unstated assumptions.

    Finally, I am unware of any Mormon teaching that any ability to know and hold truth would cease after the apostels deaths. Instead, we very clearly teach that the priesthood authority was lost, and authoritative statements and authoritative understandings were lost. The ability for truth was not lost. But there were also official system set up to codify truth. Which is why, Mormon’s do not accept any of the councils that aren’t a part of the Bible. (At this point, it is a good idea to remember that there are councils that are a part of the Bible, e.i., the council at Jerusalem-which Mormons do accept because we accept the authority of the early church leaders). But anything else, Nicea, Chalcedon, Trent, etc., are all un-authoritative. There’s a really good quote out there by John Taylor about people who had the truth even during the so-called “dark ages.” Therefore, Jessica’s sister, I would ask you to stop accusing us of something we don’t say. Academics call this a straw-man argument, accusing us of things we don’t even say. I don’t care if you want to continue to try to proselytize Mormons, but I think you should at least be accurate while you’re trying to do so (and those of us who really understand Stephen Robinson know that was the point to “How Wide the Divide, not as justification for continued misleading posts.).

  2. MadChemist permalink
    March 14, 2009 3:57 am

    I will leave to Tom and Yellow Dart to talk about the inconsistency between Jessica’s sister’s viewpoint and the writings of Paul that literally prophecy an apostasy (a falling away).

  3. NChristine permalink
    March 14, 2009 6:19 pm

    MadChemist,

    This is Jessica’s sister with a “handle.” 🙂 (I wrote the current post.) Thank you for the welcome! Thank you also for your comments and discussions of three scripture passages mentioned briefly in the post. I would love for you to grapple with the central passage of the post (Matthew 28:18-20). Unless Jesus is a liar or unable to fulfill His own promises, then He has been and will be with His true followers from the time of His ascension until “the end of the world.” How could there have been a lost authority if He who has all authority is personally and perpetually present with His own?

    No matter what specific type of authority is being discussed, it would be included in Jesus’ claim to “all” authority “in heaven and in earth.” How do these combined statements (His claim of all authority plus His promise to be personally with His followers “even to the end of the world”) allow for any possibility of lost authority—no matter how that authority is defined? In other words, no matter the type of authority (priesthood or otherwise) or no matter the limit of the authority (“ability for truth” or “authoritative understandings,” as you put it), Jesus has claimed it all for Himself—not just in heaven but also in earth—until the end of the world. How does this leave room for a lost authority…of any type?

  4. March 14, 2009 8:04 pm

    NChristine,

    He is not a liar. He does have all authority – which he delegates to human beings through authorized channels.

    I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but Jesus doesn’t live here right now.

    That’s why it is necessary that his authority be delegated to people who DO live here.

    You guys seem to be imagining some strange universe where God-Jesus is the only thing around, and all humanity is just some sort of weird fashion-accessory for him. No free-will, no righteousness, no goodness, no human existence. Only Jesus.

    That’s not attractive theology guys. It’s an ugly breed of nihilism.

  5. March 14, 2009 9:20 pm

    He does have all authority – which he delegates to human beings through authorized channels.

    Tautology, Seth.

    And I have to say, I like your Mr. Hyde side, so long as it’s directed at someone else. It’s entertaining.

  6. March 15, 2009 1:56 am

    “I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but Jesus doesn’t live here right now.”

    Seth,

    I guess you don’t believe Christ…

    Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

    Matthew 28:20 “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Darrell

  7. Tom permalink
    March 15, 2009 4:19 am

    No time to write much now. I’ve had an incredibly busy week.

    Jack – it’s great to see you posting here, as I know you’ll be respectful in your comments. And it’s always nice to run into an old friend 🙂

    Everyone,

    Christ does have all authority which he delegates to men, contingent upon their faith.

    In short, Mormons do not believe that a promise to be with us is equivalent to an unending investiture of authority to administer His church. Furthermore, this promise was made to the twelve apostles and not to the world generally, so LDS take it to mean He would be with them in their ministries – it does not specifically say it applies to the entire world.

    Christ called and ordained the Twelve Apostles – the New Testament is filled with mention of specific events where Christ gave them authority to administer His church. I’m working on a detailed analysis of the themes of authority and priesthood in the NT.

    As to the 2 or 3 gathered together – we also believe that Christ is with those 2 or 3, but again, that does not constitute investiture of authority. Finally, we do not believe man’s ability to receive truth from God ended with the apostasy, just that the specific authority to administer Christ’s Church was lost with the loss of apostolic authority.

  8. March 15, 2009 4:44 am

    I know Jack. I was actually thinking specifically of this blog (among others) when I made that Jekyll & Hyde comment about myself. Did you see my “theological blob” comment? Not the most polite thing I’ve said about Evangelical belief to be sure.

    Darrell, which just feeds into my earlier observation that the primary divide between Evangelicals and Mormons regarding the Bible is which verses we take literally, and which verses we take symbolically.

  9. March 15, 2009 8:15 am

    Seth ~ I’m sure I could compose a really mean blog post of rude things I have said to Mormons when the right buttons were pushed, and I wouldn’t even have to include stuff from my anti-Mormon days. Plus what I really think of some LDS doctrines and practices. I don’t think I ever will though because I’m sure it would make my LDS regulars hate me permanently.

    Look on the bright side: if you ever truly get tired of us, you can just stop frequenting our blogs and walk away. I’m stuck with Mormonism for the rest of my life, no matter how annoyed I get sometimes.

    Tom ~ I know you from somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me remember where. Was it one of my wards? Medieval Club? A dance class?

    Don’t tell people what I was really like at BYU. I like it when people believe my own hype.

    @the topic: I don’t actually have much to say about this topic because I think everyone who knows me knows that I believe in the Protestant notion of the priesthood of all believers. You can’t convince me of the LDS priesthood system using the Bible, I probably can’t convince you of the Protestant system using the Bible because you think the Bible is incomplete, and never the twain shall meet.

    I am going to say for the 724th time that I think an all-male priesthood system is clearly fail. FAIL, Mormons, FAIL.

  10. Tom permalink
    March 15, 2009 6:07 pm

    Haha! And of course to that we say that God chooses to whom He gives the priesthood. I mean look at the Mosaic dispensation – not only did you have to be male, you also had to have the right genealogy. EPIC FAIL 😉

    Don’t worry, your secrets are safe with me. LOL

  11. germit permalink
    March 16, 2009 2:54 am

    TOM and others:

    Tom wrote
    In short, Mormons do not believe that a promise to be with us is equivalent to an unending investiture of authority to administer HIS church.

    I’d say this is tough to defend. If HE is here, and you seem to be admitting HE is, then what happened to HIS authority? HE gave it to others in a measure greater than HE has HIMSELF ?? Not only is this illogical, you will be hard pressed to show us where this mythical authority transferal happened. And what of Matt. 18 which deals with binding and loosening, but in the context of “two or three gathered together” ??

    Lastly, if you want exegete Matt 18:20 to mean ONLY the apostles, is that how you apply ALL of Matt 18 ?? Is that how you apply ALL of Matt 28 ??

    Excellent post NChristine…..I made the similar arguments over at Markcares this past month in a discussion about the priesthood. If anyone wants to know “where’s my authority” it’s found in JESUS personally, and HIS word the Bible, I think Matt 18:20 is a great verse on the ETERNAL authority of JESUS.

  12. Tom permalink
    March 16, 2009 5:20 pm

    I do understand Matt. 28:18-20 as a statement from Jesus directly to the Twelve apostles – verse 16 indicates they went by appointment to meet Jesus in a mountain. However, the remainder of Matt. 28 cannot be construed as being spoken to the apostles only.

    As far as Matt. 18 is concerned – I will address it in a larger comment about authority, priesthood, and transferal of authority from Jesus to the Twelve. I don’t think it is a “mythical” transferal – there are many statements in the NT about Jesus calling, ordaining, and commissioning the Twelve.

  13. March 16, 2009 8:13 pm

    Tom: just a small heads up, I’d ask that you establish your points by the verses you use. I’m not trying to go pre-emptive on you, but if you think “ordained” means given the prieshood keys, then great, but make a case for it, as opposed to just quoting verses that use the word “ordained” in them, and assuming the rest. I’m sure you will give us something more complete.

    thanks

    PS: do you APPLY Matt 28:20 to more than just the original 12, even if that was the original audience ??

  14. MadChemist permalink
    March 16, 2009 9:59 pm

    NChristine, good to know your handle.
    Jack. Midevil club, Really? {slowly backing away from computer, wondering if he’s in the right kind of company}
    just kidding.
    I’ve been so entertained by Jack’s blog, I haven’t even paid any attention to Jessica lately, sorry. I’ll try and write something contributive this evening.

  15. March 17, 2009 1:39 am

    MadChemist ~ Jack. Midevil club, Really? {slowly backing away from computer, wondering if he’s in the right kind of company}

    What can I say. They threw me one heck of a bachelorette party.

  16. MadChemist permalink
    March 17, 2009 1:57 am

    I can’t add much more than to say I agree with Tom. Germit, the word “ordain” didn’t exist in a theological vacuum, or even in a protestant background. It existed in a Hebrew background. If you want to read about how someone was ordained in the Jewish religion, you need to reread Exodus, Numers 27:23, Deutronomy 34:9, 1 Chron 9:22, John 15:16, Acts 13:3; 14:23; 1 Tim. 4:14; Titus 1:5.
    Now, I’m certainly not going to fault you for interpreting the biblical data differently than I do. And even if I (have to) rely on extrabiblical to make a complete view of the Mormon viewpoint, hopefully my Evagelical friends (Jack, Jessica, and NChristine) can recognize that they also use some non-biblical data to interpret the biblical data: “We have no priesthood therefore we must interpret the data as being a priesthood of all believers, even though that term (that is certain, the concept is arguably) absent.”

  17. March 18, 2009 12:31 am

    Madchemist,

    The presence of the terms ordain and priesthood in the Bible do not equate to the mormon definition. The reason we do not have a priesthood, and no one has a true priesthood, is that there is but one great High Priest, one mediator who is not only the intermediary between God and His people, but also the acceptable sacrifice and God indeed. You can point to the terms and ideas of ordanation in the OT, but you cannot make them fit with the mormon meaning any more than you can make a finite, created idol with the label “Jesus” mean the same thing as the eternal God, the Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ.

  18. March 18, 2009 12:56 am

    What on earth does Jesus being the “one great high priest” have to do with whether others can be ordained to the priesthood or be given authority to act in his name?

    Seriously, this is just dumb Evangelical logic.

    “Jesus has the priesthood. That means no one else ever will.”

    I suppose if you found out Jesus also has asparagus for breakfast, you would conclude that no one else can ever eat asparagus – because “he already does it for us!”

  19. March 18, 2009 1:25 am

    “Jesus has the priesthood. That means no one else ever will.”

    From what I understand there was only allowed to be one High Priest at a time. Nothing in The Bible changed that fact. Therefore, Christ is the only High Priest. As Hebrews says, His Priesthood is everlasting and, we do not need an earthly imperfect High Priest. We have a perfect High Priest in Him. This isn’t as you say “dumb logic”. We are just following what the Bible says. In order to interpret this way Mormons do, Seth, you must have extrabiblical support. Otherwise, to say that you can have multiple 90 year old grumpy men running around claiming to be High Priests but doing nothing but arguing about how the Elders Quorum doesn’t do anything worthwhile is just plain ridiculous.

    Darrell

  20. Exitmusic permalink
    March 18, 2009 4:57 am

    Darrell,
    Please reference your understanding about the only one High Priest at a time thing, and also why that means that other priests are unable to have the priesthood. Are you saying that if there is only one High Priest, that he is the only one that can hold the priesthood?

    Also, those 90 year old men are about as pleasant and jovial as any people I know. And if you think they do nothing but ‘argue about ho the EQ doesn’t do anything worthwhile,’ then once again your hyperbole extends into fallacy.

  21. March 18, 2009 6:15 am

    Do you guys know what the high priest did in the temple (Hebrews 9:1-7)? There was only ever a need for one. Side question: what do LDS high priests do today, anyways? What’s their function?

    I disagree with anyone who says there is no priesthood on the earth anymore anymore. There very much is a priesthood in Protestant Christianity. We just think all believers can be a part of it.

    I’ve actually been musing lately that the priesthood power in evangelical Christian thought isn’t some kind of thing that you just automatically get when you believe. I used to think that, but I think I was wrong. When Christ ascended into heaven (and when the “baton passing” would have been necessary), He told His disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. … [Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4,8) Luke 24:49 records it as, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Hmm, “clothed.” I don’t think that was just pretty imagery, and I think it’s important that in both of Luke’s books, Christ tells them to stay put and not move until they have power. And of course, that power they were to wait for was the gift of the Holy Spirit, which came on them without the laying on of hands.

    What is the gift of the Holy Spirit? Well, it’s the presence of God as your constant companion, among other things. You might even say it represents Christ’s presence in your life—you know, the one whom we all agree has the priesthood. Latter-day Saints believe it existed in Old Testament times (I’m not sure how that works since it clearly wasn’t on the earth when Christ was). We don’t. We think that in OT times, God spoke to men through prophets, then He spoke to men through Christ, and now He speaks to men through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The presence of God can be accessed by all men who have the power of the high priest with them.

    I should clarify that I think receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a separate event from conversion, and Protestants don’t have power or authority without it.

    I don’t expect Mormons to agree with that take on Scripture. I’m just trying to explain why Protestants see things the way we do.

  22. March 18, 2009 1:43 pm

    Jack wrote

    The presence of God can be accessed by all men who have the power of the high priest with them.

    a little wordy, but that would make a fine tattoo ……..

    preach it sistah

    PS: it’s sad that with our personality/preacher driven megachurches, ev’s may have the DOCTRINE of priesthood correct, but not the practice….maybe with the economy being what it is, we’ll see a return to what Jack is talking about; here’s hoping.

  23. March 18, 2009 1:50 pm

    Seth: you are blurring two different categories

    1)ordained to the priesthood

    2)given authority to act in HIS name

    there is PLENTY of #2 in the NT: small problem for my LDS friends, it comes with no mention of #1……..oooops….yes, disciples were “ordained” to go out and preach, heal, minister, spread the gospel……find PRIESTHOOD for me…..oh, wait a sec….it’s back in Hebrews 7…..and yeah, JESUS still has the keys…..why let the two year old drive the truck when you have the NASCAR champ of all eternity?

  24. Exitmusic permalink
    March 18, 2009 3:05 pm

    Nascar and Jesus: now that’s a reference you don’t hear every day. Oh the parallels between Ricky Bobby and Jesus Christ…

  25. March 18, 2009 5:34 pm

    “The presence of God can be accessed by all men who have the power of the high priest with them.”

    Which is essentially what Mormons believe. We’re just more organized about it.

    germit,

    Why should I allow my 4 year old to color in her coloring book? I can do it much better than she can.

  26. March 18, 2009 6:01 pm

    Seth ~ Which is essentially what Mormons believe. We’re just more organized about it.

    Yup. In fact, as I see it, Mormons are 50% of the way to having their own “priesthood of believers.”

  27. March 18, 2009 8:11 pm

    Exit,

    Let me make sure I am making myself clear… I believe in the Priesthood of All Believers just as Jack explained it. Peter makes this very clear (1 Peter 2:9).

    What I am saying is that throughout The Bible the Lord only allowed ONE High Priest at a time and in fact executed judgment when the children of Israel tried to do otherwise. There is NOTHING in The Bible to indicate that this was changed. It is only through your extra-biblical documents that you can come to the conclusion that the Lord ever allows more than one High Prist at a time. This makes PERFECT SENSE as the High Priest in the Old Testament was a foreshadow of Christ. The High Priest was the only one allowed to enter the Holy of Holies to perfom the sacrifices. Now, we have Christ who has entered the True Tabernacle in Heaven and has laid down His life as the final sacrifice.

    The first High Priest was Aaron. Lev 21 explains how the sons of Aaron were called to be Priests but there was only ONE among them who was called to be the High Priest. In Numbers 16 The Lord executed judgement upon the Levites who wanted to ALL be High Priests. The Lord made Aaron’s staff bud to set Him apart as different from the others and through giving him AND ONLY HIM the Breatplate. Aaron (as well as all the other High Priests that followed) served until his death at which time he was replaced with his son (Numbers 20 -21).

    This flows perfectly over to Hebrews where the writer says:

    4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

    7:23 “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. ”

    Hebrews Chapter 8 is a beautiful explanation of how the EARTHLY High Priest served in a tabernacle that was only a foreshadow of Heaven. However, we now have a PERFECT High Priest (notice is does not say High PRIESTS) who serves in the TRUE tabernacle in Heaven. Christ is the ONLY one who could serve in the True Tabernacle. He is the only one who was able to go to Heaven (the True Tabernacle) and come again (see John 3:13 where Christ says this).

    As for my comment about “the grumpy 90 year old High Priests Group” in the LDS Church… it was a joke and was in response to Seth’s comment about Christ eating asparagus. I should have put a 🙂 after it to make it clear. I was a High Priest myself and I am not anywhere near 90 and I am not grumpy!

    However, if you have ever been a young man who sat through the High Priest Group meetings, you know that they can be challenging. I remember sitting through quite a few where the entire meeting was spent discussing how the Elders Quorum was not cleaning up the grove (a field/park/grave site behind the Church that we owned) properly. It was painful… it was like watching the movie Grumpier Old Men. 🙂

    Darrell

  28. March 18, 2009 8:54 pm

    Not half as painful as watching the Elders Quorum President look around hopefully asking “so, who prepared the lesson today? Anyone?…”

  29. March 18, 2009 8:56 pm

    “Yup. In fact, as I see it, Mormons are 50% of the way to having their own “priesthood of believers.””

    I’m not actually going to disagree with that. I sometimes think that half the reason Evangelicals are put-out with us is because we bothered to ceremonialize and formalize things they were already doing. And nothing seems to upset and Evangelical quite the way ceremony does.

  30. March 18, 2009 10:08 pm

    I like ceremony just fine. I’m put-out with you because you won’t allow guitars in your sacrament meetings and you say things like “fetch” and “flip” where proper swear words ought to go.

  31. Exitmusic permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:47 am

    Oh Jack, not all of us are afraid to use the proper word in its proper place. Actually this is the only * site that has censored me when I use potty words. BCC is a haven for foulmouthedness

  32. Exitmusic permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:49 am

    Okay, haven is a little strong. Nothing too strong

  33. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:08 am

    Jack, most of us (Mormons) know what the Jewish high priest did in the Temple. Please, we’ve read Hebrews and Exodus, and we know what a Suzerain vassal treaty is. 🙂 High Priests today, preside. The lead the church in work in bringing souls to Christ via faith, repentance, and making and keeping covenants. We don’t view them as intermediaries, rather “authorized workers”.
    I guess, Jack, the question is really what do you mean by priesthood. When LDS say priesthood, we mean “authorized by God to perform ordinances.” It seems like Jack views priesthood to mean “authorized to teach and testify of Christ and his gospel.” If Jack just didn’t call it priesthood, we could easily agree with the concept, “All of Christ’s disciples are to bear testimony of the divinity of Christ and His gospel.” And yes, all believers can be a part of that testimony.
    I’m glad to learn, Jack, that you no longer believe Evangelical priesthood is immediately transferred once they “convert”. However, Jack, your misunderstanding of the Mormon viewpoint is something that I can correct. For us, we don’t know of New Testament account of “baton passing” but because the lack of a description doesn’t prove it didn’t happen, we interpret the biblical data differently. When Jesus told Peter He would give him the “keys of the kingdom” (Matt 16:19), we trust that Jesus did that, even if it isn’t written in the New Testament. To assume that just because something isn’t written down, it didn’t happen, is simply a sloppy Evangelical logic that I don’t follow.
    Further Jack, at least from the LDS understanding, the power Jesus promised was the Holy Ghost, and by Evangelical logic, because the Bible never says the Holy Ghost (spirit) = the keys of the kingdom, we must assume it can’t be!!! Or by LDS logic, because the Bible doesn’t say the Holy Ghost=keys of the kingdom, therefore, we don’t have to believe it is. No LDS will argue that the reception of the Holy Ghost isn’t power. No LDS would argue, either, that the reception of the Holy Ghost directly follows conferral, but rather it follows conferral. That is, the laying on of hands can occur and it may be some time later before the gift is actually realized. Therefore, it could be possible, that Jesus DID lay His hands on them, and then sent the spirit on the day of Pentacost.

  34. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:20 am

    Germit:
    You have addressed much of the biblical data. Mark 3 very clearly states that Jesus called 12 men, ordained them, and gave them power to preach, heal sickness, and cast of devils. In Luke 10, Jesus appointed 70 others to go two by two and preach the gospel. There wasn’t a vague call, it was an actual commision, an appointment. But, as I mentioned before, and you have completely ignored this, ordain is a biblical word that has a history. Until you address the history I’ve already cited, I’ll have to assume you choose to ignore it because you either:
    Don’t understand it.
    Or can’t explain a different viewpoint.
    And then Jesus promised to give the keys to Peter, or do you really think Jesus is a liar. (That’s always so fun to say. What’s an Evangelical going to say, “No Jesus is a liar, He didn’t give the keys to Peter.” Funny, I know, but I don’t know how else to interpret “Jesus still has the keys.” Yes He still has them, but He’s also given them to His authorized servants, they are not mutually exclusive.)

  35. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 3:45 am

    Darrel:
    Have you ever considered the context behind the letter of 1 Peter. Do you have any evidence that he wrote it to the entire church, male and female, every single lowly member, or was it a letter to church leadership? Or maybe you can tell us exactly Peter had in his head when he wrote this letter. How is it that Evangelicals are able to mind-read present-day Mormons and Peter from 2000 years ago. What priesthood power these Evangelicals have! Peter certainly didn’t say, Everyone who believes has the priesthood!
    Darrel, Mormons do believe that the Old Testament High Priest was ONLY a foreshadow of Christ. But the scholarship of saying, “We have a record of only one high priest at a time and therefore, God has commanded there will only be one high priest at a time is just BAD logic.” While there is nothing to indicate it has changed there is nothing to indicate the original premise is true! We fully understand that Christ entered the true Holy of Holies in heaven and laid down His life as the final sacrifice. That’s not in dispute. What’s in dispute is whether the non-biblical concept of Priesthood of all beleivers, fabricated by Martin Luther after he was excommunicated from the Catholic church, is the best interpretation of all of the biblical data. Let’s not confuse the issues.
    I’m not sure, Darrel, that you’re justified in being so dogmatic about Aaron being the first “high priest.” Sure, he was the first one Moses ordained after instituting the Mosiac law, but there were priests before Aaron. Melchisedek (Genesis 14:18), Jethro, Moses’ Father in Law ( Ex 3:1). Let’s not forget Noah speaking to God, or Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all covenanting with God.
    Nor should you be too dogmatic about your interpretation of Hebrews 7:24. The translation of this verse is hotly disputed amongst scholars. http://bible.cc/hebrews/7-24.htm.

  36. March 19, 2009 4:25 am

    MadChemist ~ “To assume that just because something isn’t written down, it didn’t happen, is simply a sloppy Evangelical logic that I don’t follow.”

    Let me make this simple, MC. A sister in your ward comes to you and says that she has received revelation from God that not only is there a Heavenly Mother, but from now on people must pray to Her in order to be saved. She shares this with the leaders, but they disagree and tell her that her revelation could not have been from God. Which one do you listen to?

  37. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 4:41 am

    I would add that Matt. 18:18 appears to be (at least in part) fulfillment of Jesus’s promise to Peter in Matt. 16:19 (hence leading to slight confusion on my part about how we are to interpret Matt. 18:20, but I think it’s pretty safe for anyone LDS or otherwise to assume v. 18 is spoken only to the apostles).

    Many LDS scholars and apostles have put forward their OPINION that the events recorded in Matt. 17:1-9 are (at least in part) fulfillment of Jesus’s promise to Peter, i.e. Peter, James, and John received authority to lead the Church while in the mountain. I am not aware of an authoritative venue in which that interpretation was ever stated – you LDS correct me if I’m wrong.

  38. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 4:45 am

    Jack,

    Revelation for the Church as a whole must come through authorized channels – not even a bishop or stake president can receive revelation for the entire church. So I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. The reason not to listen to the sister is because for something like that to be binding on the Church it would have to come from the Apostles. It has nothing to do with whether or not it’s written in our canon.

    I guess another reason is that we have direct commandments to the contrary – we pray to the Father in the name of Christ.

  39. March 19, 2009 5:19 am

    Tom,

    That’s exactly my point. The priesthood, the teachings of your prophets and apostles, is your authorized channel. You reject any claims that come from outside of it, especially if they subvert what your leaders teach.

    In Protestant thought, the Bible is our authorized channel; it is our “prophets and apostles.” We reject any claims that can’t be backed up by it. When Mormons come to us telling us that we need their priesthood system to be saved, and we can’t find that priesthood system fully supported in the Bible, we reject it. As far as we’re concerned, you are the sister in the ward, coming to us with things that our prophets and apostles have never taught.

    It isn’t that we think that if something isn’t found in the Bible, it did not happen, like MadChemist says. It’s that we think that if something isn’t found in the Bible, it isn’t necessary for God’s plan for salvation. I’m sure that you would likewise say that if something has not been taught by LDS prophets and apostles, it can’t be essential to God’s plan of salvation.

    BTW, nothing I have posted on this thread has been an argument against the LDS system. I see this as an impasse for our two faiths because we come from different paradigms on what is God’s complete revelation to the world. My goal here isn’t to convince Latter-day Saints that their system is wrong, my goal is only to help you understand better what Protestants believe.

  40. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:45 am

    Now I see! Thanks! 🙂

  41. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:46 pm

    Jack the question isn’t whether or not you must accept our claims.

    The question, is whether or not you can definitively say something didn’t happen when the Bible is explicit about it or not.

    Let’s hypothetically assume Mormons believe there wasn’t a cloud in the sky when Noah preached repentance to the people and starting building his boat. Let’s pretend Joseph received a revelation about this, had it canonized, and Jack was saying, ‘That’s not true, that’s not in the Bible!” Jack then says, “If it was true, it’d be in the Bible.” You see, unless the Bible explictly stated “The sky wasn’t completely sunny” or “the sky had a single cloud”, the Mormon view doesn’t contradict the other viewpoint. It’s a difference of extra-biblical versus anti-biblical. We’re not saying you must believe everything we do in order to be biblical, we’re asking you (the collective Evangelical movement) to be closer and more careful with the text and avoiding reading in 19th, 20th, and now 21st century Evangelicalism into the BC hebrew Bible and pre 150 AD New Testament.

    You’re example just doesn’t relate to the issue at hand. I fully accept that Evangelicals don’t accept Mormon scripture. I’m just asking them to be careful about stating more than the text does.

  42. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:47 pm

    And that should be “isn’t explicit”. Sometimes I think faster than I type, and sometimes I type faster than I think…

  43. MadChemist permalink
    March 19, 2009 5:55 pm

    Besides, Jack, to assume that everything is included is an abiblical assumption.

    You can’t at the same time claim that,
    “Everything Evangelicals believe comes directly from the Bible”
    and
    “The Bible contains everything Evangelicals believe.”

    There are things that Evangelicals believe that do not directly come from the Bible. Specifically, the “belief that the Bible contains everything that has ever happened that is significant for our salvation.” What verse does that specifically come from? There isn’t one. One can proof text out the wazzo, but no verse says that. The context of historical collection is that books were added over time. Regardless of your views of biblical history, textual criticism, and archeology, it is a self-evident fact that the Book was written at different dates, by different authors, in different places. Was it not the word of God because it didn’t have the gospel of John yet? Was it not the word of God because it didn’t have the book of Malachi yet? (This seems to be the Evangelical view). Or was it the word of God when it was first revealed to the prophet, and then other stuff was added? Completeness is simply not a biblical requirement for inspired writings. I, at least, won’t fault God for being as complete as my faulty intellilect feels He should be.

  44. March 19, 2009 6:36 pm

    MC,

    “We have a record of only one high priest at a time and therefore, God has commanded there will only be one high priest at a time is just BAD logic. While there is nothing to indicate it has changed there is nothing to indicate the original premise is true!”

    But we do have God executing judgement when the children of Israel tried to have more than one High Priest… that is VERY MUCH an indication that God only wanted one High Priest at a time.

    Show me ANYWHERE in The Bible where God allowed the Israelites to have more than one High Priest at a time… I challenge you. You will not find it.

    So what do we have…

    1. We have God calling ONE and only ONE High Priest
    2. We have the children of Israel who try to have more than one
    3. Then we have God executing judgement on them.
    4. From then on, we have only one High Priest at a time. Nothing else in The Bible leads us to see otherwise.

    To me, this seems a very logical argument for the fact that God only wants one at a time.

    Now, Mormons come along with extra-biblical writings and try to claim that God has told us that we can have millions of High Priests running around. To me, that violates what God has told us in The Bible.

    If you want to claim that since God does not say word for word in The Bible that “Thou Shalt Only Have One High Priest At A Time” means that He is ok with it today, you are free to do so. IMO, His executing judgement on the Israelites is evidence enough. Afterall, one could just as easily say since God doesn’t say explicity “smoking Crack Cocaine is a sin” that it is ok to do so. Obviously, The Bible says our bodies are temples so we all assume that smoking crack cocaine is a sin… nevertheless, using your logic we might just be wrong.

    Darrell

  45. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 6:53 pm

    Darrell,

    We do know, however, that the priesthood was changed in the gospel dispensation (Heb. 7). We know at least one of those changes – the priesthood was no longer restricted to those descended from Aaron.

    At best, the NT is silent on the “only one High Priest at a time” issue. I’m not saying your logic is faulty, I’m just saying that the NT record does not reaffirm the Mosaic requirement. Might it be possible that this change was part of the change in the priesthood?

  46. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 6:55 pm

    I should phrase my question better – Is it possible that allowing more than one high priest at a time was part of the change in the priesthood?

  47. March 19, 2009 7:19 pm

    Sorry, Tom, I just don’t see it.

    First of all, I believe if this point would have changed The Lord would have indicated it somewhere in The Bible. Second of all, Hebrews points over and over again to THE ONE PERFECT HIGH PRIEST FOREVER Jesus Christ (not yelling just putting in caps for emphasis). Third, Hebrews points back to how the earthly high priests died and had to be replaced. It then contrasts that with Jesus Christ who it says will be a High Priest forever. Why would he draw the contrast between the High Priest in the OT by saying THEY NEEDED TO BE REPLACED DUE TO DEATH and then saying Jesus would be one forever, if Christ was just going to be one among many new high priests… because He was trying to make the point THAT WE NO LONGER NEED EARTHLY HIGH PRIESTS.

    Sorry, I just don’t see how one could reason out from this that God is now allowing millions of men to run around claiming to be high priests.

    Darrell

  48. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 7:30 pm

    Darrell – hilarious example of crack cocaine! (in a good way)

    I’ll let MadChemist clarify more on his statement, but to me the point is that you don’t have license from the Bible itself to tell another branch of Christianity whether or not using crack cocaine is a sin. Certainly any denomination can preach against what they feel to be sin based on their interpretation of the Bible. But, if someone more liberally interprets the Bible, are they wrong? Crack cocaine seems cut and dry to me (but I am sure that we could find an example of someone that feels otherwise). What about more subtle issues? There are a plethora of modern issues on which the Bible is silent.

    This point is one reason LDS assert that apostles are critical. Paul goes so far as to tell us that apostles are there to prevent us being “tossed to and fro…with every wind of doctrine.” Many contemporary issues are hotly contested even within the evangelical community – appeal to the Bible is not always sufficient, otherwise these issues would be “case closed.” We assert simply that having prophets and apostles to speak for the Lord is necessary for us to have a firm foundation on which to stand (Eph. 2:18-19) when it comes to modern issues not addressed by the Bible.

    Certainly, individuals can get answers from the Lord, but without an authoritative voice, there is no way for the broader community of believers to come to a “unity of the faith” on some incredibly important issues!

  49. faithoffathers permalink
    March 19, 2009 7:38 pm

    Darrell,

    The renting of the veil of the temple when Christ died symbolized many things. One of these things is that the boundary which limited access to the Holy of Holies of the temple to one person was destroyed. This was the sacred spot representing all the blessing, gifts, honors, and priesthood which God wished to crown upon man. And after Christ’s atonement, those honors and gifts were available to all who lived their lives accordingly.

    Another thought. The “one priest only” thing was effective under the law of Moses. This does not necessarily reflect the way things were before Moses. We know the Law of Moses was a change from what both preceded and followed it. So the rule you speak of (only one High Priest) applied to a period of 1400 years as far as we know. Basing a person’s knowledge solely on the Bible, this is the furthest he can go with your argument.

    fof

  50. Tom permalink
    March 19, 2009 7:40 pm

    Darrell – to your most recent comment – I understand the Book of Hebrews to be a treatise to the Hebrew Christians on why Christ fulfilled the law of Moses. Thus, the statements you cite could be interpreted as an argument that they no longer need to follow the law of Moses and are not necessarily instructions that there will never be another person to hold the office of high priest. Identifying that the high priest’s office in the Mosaic dispensation was a type/shadow of Christ doesn’t mean that office could not take on a different role in the gospel dispensation.

    It is something I need to read up on more. At present, I’m only trying to say there are alternate valid interpretations.

  51. March 19, 2009 8:24 pm

    “hilarious example of crack cocaine! (in a good way)”

    Here’s an even better one…
    The Bible doesn’t say that “Obama is not the 2nd incarnation of God”… so, maybe we are all wrong in waiting for Christ to come again. Perhaps Obama is really the 2nd incarnation of Christ and the bailout plan is another Testament of Jesus Christ. Afterall, since The Bible doesn’t say it explicitly is not perhaps it could be true.

    Tell you what, I’m going to go pray to see if The Spirit testifies to my heart about it. If I get that burning in the bosom then I will know it’s true. Wait, no… if I don’t get that burning in the bosom then maybe I am just under the influence of the dreaded Anti-Obama literature. I need to stop reading that stuff!! 🙂

    Darrell

  52. March 19, 2009 11:21 pm

    MC,

    In one sentence you say, “But the scholarship of saying, “We have a record of only one high priest at a time and therefore, God has commanded there will only be one high priest at a time is just BAD logic.”

    Aren’t you using the same logic when you assume that the Church should be organised around 12 apostles and 70/72 other ordained men?

    Isn’t it just as logical to see that the 12 apostles called by Christ represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 70/72 represent the seventy elders of Israel that confirmed the covenant in Exodus 24:1?

    I mean just because the New Testament shows us 12 apostles and 70 ordained isn’t it bad logic to assume that this is how the Church is to be governed?

  53. MadChemist permalink
    March 20, 2009 1:08 am

    Except Gundeck,You selectively don’t include some more of the biblical data.

    First of all, the biblical specifically says that there will be prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers until everyone is at a unity of the faith. As Tom points out, the world isn’t there yet (Eph 4:13). The Biblical data, we have interpreted to mean there should still be apostles in a Church that Christ has actually authorized. It isn’t the non-sequitor logic of Germit and Darrel’s argument.

    Second of all, we have a New Testament example of the Twelve keeping the quorum full. Maybe you’ve read all of the books of Acts, and remember the twelve determining who should fill the spot vacated by Judas’ suicide?

  54. March 20, 2009 1:26 am

    MC,

    Instead of just asserting our logic does not follow., could you please demonstrate how. Otherwise you are simply making an emtpy assertion. I have shown how your argument from silence is absurd as it can be used to to make all kinds of crazy claims…

    BTW, your argument about Prophets continuing leaves out some Biblical data as well. Hebrews 1:1-2

    “In the PAST God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, BUT in these LAST DAYS he has spoken to us by his Son…”

    We no longer need ordained prophets to lead us as we now have Christ speaking to each one of us directly. This logic lines up perfectly with the Ephesians passage. The apostles and prophets Ephesians are the ones that the Church is built on – they are contained in the Holy Scripture. No where does The Bible make the claim that they are to continue to be ordained. In fact, the problem LDS run into is the explicit directive in The Bible that the apostles are to be men who personally witnessed the earthly ministry on the Savior. The men you have today did not witness this and thus do not qualify.

    Darrell

  55. germit permalink
    March 20, 2009 2:07 am

    Jack wrote:

    It isn’t that we think that if something isn’t found in the Bible, it did not happen, like MadChemist says. It’s that we think that if something isn’t found in the Bible, it isn’t necessary for God’s plan for salvation. I’m sure that you would likewise say that if something has not been taught by LDS prophets and apostles, it can’t be essential to God’s plan of salvation.

    and the key phrase, I’d say is “necessary for salvation”.. GOD is continually revealing HIMSELF to us, HE is a big talker, but if we need it to be saved, it can be found in the Bible. Extra-biblical material may be helpful and life giving (praise GOD for C.S.Lewis and Max Lucado) but we could know the richest blessings of GOD without them.

  56. March 20, 2009 2:40 am

    MC,

    I’m sorry. I was just pointing out that your logic does not support your own conclusions. As to the relevant Biblical passages there are many.

    First we only have one example of “quorum” being filled (Acts 1:15-26). Isn’t it dangerous to set an entire theology on a single example? Especially when other information does not support the claim.

    Usually sited is Eph 2:18-21, where apostles are described as the foundation. A foundation is, of course, only laid once.

    But much more important is the corpus of the epistles. We see Paul teaching that all members of the Church are to take an active part according to their gifts (1 Cor 12-14) under leadership of course ( 1 Cor 11:19; 16:15–18). In fact Pastoral epistles, set down instructions for an organized, regulated Church ( 1 Tim 3:1–13; 4:14; Tit 1:5–9; 2 Tim 1:13–14). Both the writer of Hebrews and Peter help us understand the early leadership of the Church as well ( 1 Peter 5:1–5; Hebrews 13:7).

    We see the appointment of elders in Acts, twice (Acts 14:23; 15:4) it should be noted that the term “appoint” is “cheirotoneo”, meaning “to elect by show of hands.”

    Charles Hodge helps us in his Systematic Theology by giving the Biblical qualifications of apostleship, ” To qualify them for this office of authoritative witnesses, it was necessary, (1.) That they should have independent and plenary knowledge of the gospel. (2.) That they should have seen Christ after his resurrection. (3.) That they should be inspired, i. e., that they should be individually and severally so guided by the Spirit as to be infallible in all their instructions. (4.) That they should be authenticated as the messengers of Christ, by adherence to the true gospel, by success in preaching.”

  57. Tom permalink
    March 20, 2009 3:40 am

    Several important points regarding apostles have been neglected.

    1) God can show men in a vision the ministry, death, and resurrection of the Savior. We affirm that modern apostles are “special witnesses” for Christ. One early modern apostle, Orson Whitney, actually recorded the vision he was blessed to see of the Lord during His mortal ministry. In summary, a modern apostle can be shown those things even though they were not alive when they happened.

    2) We do not believe apostles are infallible.

    3) Darrell – the statement from Hebrews does not obviate the apostleship. It merely says to those Jewish converts, “You don’t need to abide by the Law and the Prophets – we have the gospel through God’s Son.” And what did God’s Son do? He ordained twelve apostles which were a key part of the gospel dispensation.

    4) A foundation only needs to be laid once UNLESS that foundation is uprooted! If the foundation of a building is destroyed, it must be laid again if that building is to continue to exist. So it is with the apostleship – the apostles were killed at a rate faster than they could be replaced. Thus, the foundation had to be laid again if the Church of Christ was to be on the earth!! Otherwise you must reject Paul’s statement that the apostles are a foundation for the Church. A building cannot stand on a foundation other than the one on which it was built! For the Church of Christ, that foundation is apostles and prophets, Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone.

    5) LDS don’t read the Bible and say, “Oh, we need to have X doctrine because X doctrine was found in the Bible.” No, it is based on revelation – God instructed Joseph Smith what aspects needed to be included! One of those aspects was the apostleship! The only way to know whether Joseph was a true prophet or not is through the witness of the Holy Spirit! If you haven’t asked God about this point, I invite you to do so.

    6) Why can’t the symbolism of the Twelve tribes and the seventy persist? The 12 and the 70 still symbolize the same things today! And we have specific mention that Christ called and commissioned the twelve and seventy. The Bible doesn’t say that they stopped being a part of the Church or that they only had a “one time purpose.” Paul explicitly states that the apostles were given for “the work of the ministry…till we all come in the unity of the faith.”

    7) We fully affirm that all members of the Church should take part according to their gifts. In fact, we say that this points to the need for a lay ministry. I don’t see how the “organized, regulated” Church described by Gundeck precludes that the apostles oversaw the organization and regulation, especially when Paul himself twice affirms the importance of the apostleship.

    8. We still appoint elders (and every other priesthood office) by a show of hands.

    9) I think most LDS would agree with the 4 qualifications of apostles set forth by Hodge – except that the individual men ARE fallible. Acting unitedly as the Twelve Apostles, though, they will not lead the world astray (see the Official Declaration 1 in the DC). We believe that God gives the apostles a vision or manifestation that allows them to truly be “witnesses” of Christ.

    10) In the Book of Acts there are MANY examples of how the twelve apostles administered the affairs of the Church. There is no indication in my reading of the Bible that that changed (or was ever intended to change)!

  58. Tom permalink
    March 20, 2009 4:11 am

    It bears quoting the 6th article of faith penned by Joseph Smith:

    “We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”

    The “and so forth” covers the organized, regulated Church described by gundeck. Elders, seventy, deacons, bishops, etc. We affirm the need for local leadership, and we are encouraged to sustain and follow our local leadership, much as Paul and Peter instructed the early Christians to do.

  59. March 20, 2009 5:07 pm

    Tom,

    Thank you for the explanation of Mormon beliefs concerning the apostles.
    The problem that I have is that your beliefs seem to base your ecclesiology
    on an over realized eschatology and the unproved assumption that there has
    been an “great apostasy”. Rather than looking at the diverse manner that
    the early Church used to maintain doctrinal purity, good order and
    discipline you claim that the Church fell because the apostles were killed
    at a rate faster than they could be replaced. While this is the first time
    I have heard this argument concerning apostolic attrition it does seem to be
    a stretch. How long does it take to replace an apostle?

    I understand that your Church believes in modern doctrinal and canonical
    revelation but much of that revelation is in conflict with what we have in the Bible. Note that I am not saying it is in addition to what has been revealed but that it is opposed to it. An example would be your doctrine of
    adoption as taught by Joseph Smith compared to adoption as revealed by Paul.

    In your reference to Eph 4:11, 13, I hope you see that the sentence does not end at unity, he continues in verse 14, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” If yours was in fact the one true Church one would expect a unity in doctrine with the revelation in the New Testament that is missing. For that matter Paul also tells us that he was the last apostle in 1 Cor 15:8, 9.

    One question that I have never had answered is if Mormons believe in the “same organization that existed in the primitive church” how do you deal with Paul’s qualification for Elders and Deacons?

  60. Exitmusic permalink
    March 20, 2009 10:37 pm

    Gundeck,
    “For that matter Paul also tells us that he was the last apostle in 1 Cor 15:8, 9. ”
    You are asserting a conclusion here that the text does not require. Paul was explaining that chronologically (at that time) he was the last to have been called.

    “8- and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born,”

    Rafer Alston was traded from the Rockets to the Magic. He could say “last of all (as of right now), the Magic picked me…” If we were to say, “Well, it looks like there will be no more trades to the Orlando Magic (ever),” we would be taking a literal interpretation on a statement that has alternative translations.

  61. March 20, 2009 11:56 pm

    “…we would be taking a literal interpretation on a statement that has alternative translations.”

    The Biblical requirement Apostles be witnesses to Christ’s earthly ministry supports the fact that Paul was the last one. The men within the LDS Church who claim to be apostles do not meet this requirement.

    Darrell

  62. March 21, 2009 12:52 am

    Just to place everything in chronological perspective, Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian Church in spring of a.d. 53, 54, or 55, near the end of his three-year ministry in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:5–9; cf. Acts 19:21–22). Christ appeared to James and the others in a.d. 33 (or 30). Christ appeared to Paul in a.d. 33/34, roughly 20 years before he wrote the letter to the Corinthian Church. For Paul to say “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” 20 years after the fact carries a certain literal significance that you are choosing to ignore.

    Continuing to look at the chronology we know that Herod the Great’s grandson, kills James the brother of John (Acts 12:2) in a.d. 41/44. Luke concludes his history of the Church in a.d. 62 with Paul in Rome and under house arrest (Acts 28:16–31). What we do not see in Acts is a replacement for James the brother of John. The Church has roughly 20 years to find this man and include him in the 12 yet Luke does not record it.

  63. germit permalink
    March 21, 2009 1:44 am

    . What we do not see in Acts is a replacement for James the brother of John. The Church has roughly 20 years to find this man and include him in the 12 yet Luke does not record it.

    very nice work GUNDEK, I learn a LOT from your posts, and if I skip over posts, they won’t be yours. thanks again

    GERMIT

  64. Tom permalink
    March 21, 2009 2:26 am

    Gundeck –

    I think it’s a big stretch to posit that Paul was saying “I am the last apostle ever.” I’m reading the KJV, where it says:

    “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me, as of one born out of due time.”

    I see no evidence for anything more than “Of the people who saw Christ after His resurrection, I was the last.” The next verse says he is the “least” of the apostles. The Greek is elachistos which means “least” or “lowest” and is not an ordinal distinction.

    For me (and most LDS I’d wager) the idea of apostasy reflects an honest reading of the New Testament. Christ called apostles, they were commissioned to represent the Lord and exercise His power in casting out deviles, healing, etc., they direct the Church (as in Acts), Paul twice reaffirms their importance, but they were all killed and not replaced and thus a foundational, essential aspect of Christ’s Church was lost.

    The following is my best attempt at understanding the topics at hand. They are not intended to portray an official position of the LDS church. Understand that my belief in the apostasy stems not only from my reading of the New Testament, but also from the witness of the Holy Spirit that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. As such, it would be dishonest of me to go against that witness. It would take revelation from the Holy Spirit to my heart for me to go another way with my faith. I do not feel Him directing me to do that at this time. However, I regularly pray about the principles we are discussing, so if the Spirit wishes to direct me another way, I expect that He will do so.

    About the rate of apostles dying and being called – that’s my scientific/mathematical background coming out – everything is expressed as a rate! LOL. However, I think it is reasonable to view the apostleship in this manner. As MadChemist pointed out, it seems that they intended to keep the quorum full (Acts 1). As for how long it takes to call a new apostle, it was probably much more difficult than we give credit for. We know that the twelve traveled to different areas, preaching and visiting congregations. Without telephone, internet, or airplanes, it was probably very difficult to get them all together to select a new apostle – note that they ALL had a voice in replacing Judas (as all the Apostles unanimously choose new Apostles even today). They didn’t necessarily have advance notice when one of the Twelve was going to be killed, so even planning times to gather and select the new apostles would be challenging. In addition, perhaps the spiritual maturity and faith of church members was such that there were not qualified people to fill all the vacancies. In a sense, the Lord may have been saying, “If you are going to kill the apostles I send, I will withhold them until a time when you will not kill them.”

    I have never thought about the qualification Paul describes for elders, bishops, and deacons. My initial instinct is that the organization is the same in our church (i.e. it has the same priesthood offices and overall organization), but some details of administration are necessarily different. Think about it – the political / cultural / legal considerations in administering the Church were vastly different in the primitive Church than in the modern Church. Administration in any worldwide church must be adapted to the laws of different countries. Hence, we believe in the same “organization” but not necessarily in the same administration of that organizational structure. Policies can change without changing doctrine or organization. This principle can be seen in both the primitive Church and ours. In the Book of Acts, as the Church grew, some situations arose and the church adapted to those situations as directed by the Apostles (specifically Acts 6 and Acts 10). In modern times, as the LDS Church grew, the Twelve Apostles began calling Assistants to the Twelve (don’t know the year offhand). When I was a teenager, to better fit the needs of a worldwide church, the Apostles stopped calling assistants to the Twelve and instead instituted new Quorums of Seventy (in addition to the 2 that had already been established). So I’m comfortable knowing that we HAVE bishops and deacons in our Church just as in the primitive church. The details cannot be viewed as rigid or inflexible given that the Lord desires us to go to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Christ’s Church has to exist within the political and legal structure of the countries in which it is established. So, quite simply, the places where Paul preached about bishops and deacons may have had local laws that stipulated that people holding ecclesiastical office had to be married. I am not saying that was in fact the case, I’m just saying that there could be a very simple (non-doctrinal) reason for those requirements being in place at a certain time and place. Which brings it all full circle – we don’t always have ALL the information we need in interpreting the Bible to try to organize Christ’s church so it must be based on revelation! Especially as new needs and situations arise!

    As for Ephesians 4:14 – we embrace that verse as a major purpose of the apostleship! I addressed this in an earlier comment – as new issues arise in society, how can a broad community of believers be protected from being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine? By revelation to the Church from the Lord, which came through apostles in the primitive church (i.e. Acts 10). With an authoritative voice in place, it was possible for everyone to come to a unity of the faith on such issues as whether or not to continue living the law of Moses and whether Gentiles should be proselytized. Who has that authoritative voice today to address the entire Church and speak the will of the Lord on new societal issues or administrative details of a worldwide Church? We assert that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks for the Lord on such issues.

  65. Tom permalink
    March 21, 2009 2:32 am

    Why can’t the risen Lord appearing to a man in modern times fulfill the requirement for the apostleship? Certainly they would then fit the bill as “witnesses” of the Lord.

  66. March 21, 2009 3:34 am

    Tom,

    I have to say that I appreciate the time and thought that you have taken in your response. When I read the Book of Acts I see that the last time the “Twelve” are shown to act together is in Acts 6:2. This occurred in a.d. 30-33 only a few years (max) after the ascension of Jesus. Nowhere after that chronologically do we ever see a “quorum” of twelve. Despite this you assume that there is a need for 12 men to run Christ’s Church. Even in the Jerusalem Council (a.d. 48 or 49) of Acts 15, arguably the most important Council in Church history that united the Church, we see in Acts 15:6 that the Council was made up of the “apostles and the elders”. No mention of the 12 or 11 because of James’ death.

    There no account of an attempt to fill the “quorum” after the death of James the brother of John at the Jerusalem Council. I am not trying to degrade the importance of the apostles, but if having a “quorum” was so important is it too far fetched to expect that the apostles would have found a replacement in 4-8 years?

    The qualifications for elders in Titus 1:5-16 and for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 are clear and they do not lend themselves to ordaining twelve year olds and teenagers.

    Is it your contention that all of the Mormon apostles have physically seen the risen Lord Jesus Christ?

  67. March 21, 2009 2:59 pm

    Basically, what this whole conversation boils down to is – Evangelicals find a lack of hard evidence in the Bible for modern Mormon structures and practices. And you know what? They are right.

    Likewise, the Mormons find a lack of disproof of Mormon structures. And you know what? They are right.

    Glad we resolved that problem.

    Next topic!

  68. germit permalink
    March 21, 2009 4:44 pm

    Tom: well written posts; sometime today , I’m getting a new cartridge for my cheapie laser printer, and I hope to keep some of your posts in hard copy to use as explanatory tools in how ev’s and LDS deal with revelation and understanding the mind of GOD. You will get ample attribution….almost typed “retribution”….. ooops 🙂

    GERMIT

    nice work, GUNDEK , on the timelines; I thing that’s pretty important.

  69. Tom permalink
    March 24, 2009 4:25 pm

    Thanks, germit. I have tried to be as honest and clear about how we approach things as possible. And it would definitely be best if you cite me – not because I want credit but because of the disclaimer I posted earlier:

    My comments are “my best attempt at understanding the topics at hand. They are not intended to portray an official position of the LDS church.”

    My understanding of the scriptures is always changing as I read and study more. I’m just a lowly Institute teacher – by no means an authoritative voice!

    No time to write more now but there are a few remaining points I haven’t responded to yet – I’ll post again when I have time.

  70. April 8, 2009 11:55 am

    Hi !!!! 🙂
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Tnx!
    Piter.

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