Mormonism and priesthood/Criticisms by traditional Christians

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Criticisms by traditional Christians of the Mormon concept of priesthood

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Question: Do we do not need a mediating priesthood since it has been "fulfilled in Christ?"

The Bible repeatedly speaks of a priesthood authority outside of Jesus both before and after His resurrection

Some sectarian Protestants claim that Christians do not need a mediating priesthood. Is a priesthood not needed since it has been "fulfilled in Christ?"

The Bible repeatedly speaks of a priesthood authority outside of Jesus both before and after His resurrection, with John describing such callings just prior to the second coming.

Early Christian authors insisted too that high priests, prophets, bishops, elders, priests, and deacons with authority persisted among the Christians.

Efforts to deny the need for a formal priesthood seem to arise mostly out of theological necessity, rather than historical or biblical evidence.

This criticism usually comes from Protestant circles and usually involves an argument for some form of "the priesthood of all believers."

The critics' theological need to dispense with priesthood authority—since Protestantism cannot claim authority from either a restoration (which they deny) or a continuation (having broken with Catholicism)—leads them to ignore the clear evidence from the early Church.

As William Hamblin pointed out:

Why, if Christ has removed all need for human priesthood authority, did Christ order the lepers he healed to go to the Jewish priests for purification (Mark 1:44, Luke 17:14)? Apparently Christ believed that his miraculous powers of healing did not negate or supercede the priesthood authority of the Jewish priests. Possibly Protestants could argue that Christ had not yet ascended into heaven and replaced the Jewish High Priest. If so, why does Peter speak of a post ascension "holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5) and "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9) among Christians? Likewise John in Revelation speaks of the saints as "priests to his [Christ's] God and Father" (Revelation 1:6), and "priests to our God" (Revelation 5:10); in the resurrection there "shall be priests of God and of Christ" (Revelation 20:6). What odd statements for an infallible book to make if [the critics'] understanding of priesthood is correct.

Some of the earliest Christians also explicitly disagree with White's claims. The author of the Didache, (one of the earliest post-New Testament Christian documents, late first to early second century), states explicitly that "the prophets ... are your high priests" (13.1). Note the plural here: the prophets (profetais) are the Christians' high priests (archiereis). So, early post-New Testament Christians had prophets (a thing [James] White believes Christians shouldn't have) who were high priests (a thing [James] White believes Christians shouldn't have); and there were apparently simultaneously more than one high priest. [1]

Evidence after the New Testament

Wrote another author:

While there are few New Testament references to priests, other than Jesus Christ and converted Levite priests (Acts 6:7), Protestants should not assume that this office was abolished. The early church had priests along with bishops and deacons. Origen (ca. 240 A.D.) spoke of the church hierarchy in the 2nd century describing the priest's office as being between that of the deacon and bishop (Jean Danielou, "Origen", p.44-45, 49-50; Cel. 5,3,1; De Princ. 3,2,4; Hom. Luc., 35; Hom. Ez. 1,7) and Eusebius (ca. 300 A.D.) clearly distinguished between those holding the priesthood (i.e. bishops, presbyters or elders, priests, deacons, etc.) and the lay members both men and women. (Eusebius, History of the Church, 6:19, 23, 43; 7:30; 10:3, 4) Eugene Seaich observes that "documents from the early Church show that the Aaronic Priesthood did not immediately disappear from Christianity. 1 Clement (ca. 96 A.D.) divides the priesthood into High Priests, Priests and Levites. The latter were also called "Deacons" and according to Justin's First Apology (ca. 150 A.D.) were responsible for passing the bread and wine to those attending service" (Ancient Texts and Mormonism, p. 59). Though the title priest was rarely used in the New Testament, so also were similar priesthood titles such as pastor (Ephesians 4:11), evangelist (Acts 21:8); (2 Timothy 4:5), presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14), and seventy (Luke 10:1),(Luke 10:17). [2]

Question: Was the priesthood held by Jesus priesthood not 'transferable' to members of the Church?

The Bible supports that Latter-day Saints position that the Priesthood is the authority God has given man to perform the ordinances

It is claimed that only Jesus held the priesthood, and that such priesthood was not 'transferable' to members of the Church. However, the claim that priesthood is non-transferrable fails on linguistic, scriptural, scholarly, and logical grounds.

The Bible supports that Latter-day Saints position that the Priesthood is the authority God has given man to perform the ordinances (e.g. baptism, sacrament, sealing, etc.) that Jesus has declared to be necessary, in order that the atonement may have full effect in our lives.

The claim that the priesthood is not transferable is based upon old scholarship

In Bauer's Greek-English lexicon, we read:

Aparabatos, on (see parabaino; belonging to later Greek [Phryn. 313 Lob];not LXX) Hebrews 7:24 usually interpreted 'without a successor'. But this meaning is found nowhere else. Aparabatos rather has the sense of permanent, unchangeable" [followed by citations].[3]

Thus, it is the priesthood which is unchangeable, rather than being non-transferable. Claims that the priesthood is not transferable are not supported by the Biblical text. Rather, the priesthood is a permanent and necessary part of the Church—any Church claiming it is unnecessary does not meet the Biblical model.

The ten-volume Theological Dictionary of the New Testament agrees, in which the word aparabatos is discussed:

This is a rare word found only in later Greek.... Its usual sense is 'unchangeable,' 'immutable.'"
[after giving examples from secular literature: Plutarch, Josephus, Epictetus, etc]
Hebrews 7.24 says of Christ that because He remains to eternity He has an unchangeable and imperishable priesthood. Instead of the passive 'unchangeable' [743] many expositors suggest the active sense 'which cannot be transferred to another;" 'Christ has a priesthood which cannot be transferred to anyone else' [citing Bengel]. This is a natural interpretation and yields a good sense, but it does not really fit the context. We should keep to the rendering 'unchangeable,' the more so as the active sense is not attested elsewhere." (742-3).[4]

The statement 'yields a good sense' suggests that those who choose that translation are probably doing so for theological reasons, not grammatical or linguistic reasons; and the TDNT author is voting against such a choice.

In a review of Walter Martin's book, The Maze of Mormonism, in which Martin bases his argument against the Melchizedek Priesthood on the interpretation of "unchangeable" being "non-transferable, Richard Lloyd Anderson informs us that:

Instead of treating descriptions in the Acts or Pastoral Letters concerning the bestowal of apostolic authority on others, Martin prefers to base his case on a dubious translation of Hebrews 7:24, maintaining that Christ's priesthood is "untransferable." But his vintage 1889 citation from Thayer's lexicon for this use is squarely contradicted by the best authorities in the field. The lexicon of Arndt-Gingrich (in agreement with Moulton-Milligan) gives more than a dozen secular uses of the period to show that the term in question (aparabatos) "rather has the sense permanent, unchangeable." The point of the passage is not that Christ's priesthood cannot be transferred, but that it permanently remains superior, as does he, to all other authority.[5]

So we see that it is incorrect to interpret "unchangeable" as "non-transferable."

Additional evidence

The rather late Christian understanding that Jesus would be the last High Priest of the Melchizedek order (see Hebrew 7:24, marginal reading no. 5 in most King James Version translations) is based on an erroneous interpretation of the Greek word aparabaton which does not mean "intransmissible" but means "unchangeable" when referring to Jesus' priesthood.[6]


God's promises to Abraham are extended to all who come unto Christ: Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who was the priest who blessed Abraham, in whose loins was Levi. The superiority of Christ's Melchizedek Priesthood over the Levitical priesthood and the Law of Moses is developed in chapter 7. Melchizedek was a type of Christ. His priesthood was more enduring than the Levitical priesthood, which was limited to blood lines and was not given with an oath and whose priests did not continue because of death and needed daily renewal (Heb. 7:3,21,23,27). The Melchizedek order of priesthood, however, was directed by Jesus Christ, who, unlike the high priest under the Law of Moses on the annual Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:4), did not need to "offer sacrifice for his own sins, for he knew no sins" (JST Heb. 7:26). His priesthood was aparabatos meaning "permanent, unchangeable, and incomparable" (Heb. 7:24). No other priesthood will succeed it. It will be the permanent power of salvation and eternal lives within Christ's church forever more[7].[8]

Modern Bible translations

More modern versions of the Bible agree with this interpretation.

Hebrews 7
24 (NIV)
but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (emphasis added)
Hebrews 7
24 (NASB)
but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. (emphasis added)
Hebrews 7
24 (RSV)
but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. (emphasis added)

The interpretation of "unchangeable" to mean "non-transferable" does not stand up to scripture, correct doctrine, Biblical scholarship, or Greek terminology.

Why the opposition to priesthood?

It is understandable that creedal Protestant Christians (who make up the vast majority of sectarian anti-Mormons) desperately need the priesthood, as understood by Latter-day Saints, to be non-existent today. The whole idea of authority, direct from God, being necessary for the saving ordinances of mankind, completely undermines and destroys the traditionally accepted doctrine that one is "saved by faith alone." It also completely destroys their own claims to authority, since they are the result of a break-off from the Roman Catholic faith.

If the Catholics did not have the priesthood authority, then the Protestants cannot have taken it with them. Hence, they are anxious to claim a "priesthood of all believers," or claim priesthood isn't needed at all.

If the Catholics did have the authority, then Protestants were wrong to leave in the first place. And, the Church rejected the view that the priesthood was "non-transferrable." Biblical scholarship has now "caught up" to this view, but Joseph Smith had it right in the first place.

Reading Hebrews 7:24

As seen above, most of the argument against the LDS doctrine of priesthood is based upon Hebrews 7:24:

But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.(emphasis added)

Some Christians interpret the word "unchangeable" as meaning non-transferable. Therefore, they say, the Priesthood that Christ held (the Melchizedek Priesthood) could not be transferred to anyone. But, as we have seen, this relies on an out-dated reading of the Greek. Such a view was defensible in the 19th century; it can no longer be sustained.

But, even if we grant this obsolete reading, could this be the correct interpretation? If so, there is a glaring contradiction within this very chapter, for verse twelve says the priesthood has changed:

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.(Hebrews 7:12) (emphasis added)

Either the priesthood is transferable (changeable), from Christ to others, or it is not. Which verse are we to believe? Let's take a closer look at this "unchangeable" priesthood in Hebrews 7:11-24:

  • 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,)

(under the Aaronic priesthood, the people received the law of Moses -- an eye for an eye)

  • what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

(Those that hold the authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, also hold the authority of the lessor, or the Aaronic Priesthood)

  • 12 For the priesthood being changed,

(Here is a glaring contradiction to what the some Christians claim, for it clearly says the priesthood "changed." Let's continue to examine just what changed, and what the term means in context.)

  • there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

(The Law of Moses changed, not the priesthood. In other words, when Christ came, he gave a higher law. For example, the law was no longer an "eye for an eye," it was "turn the other cheek." Along with this higher law, came a higher priesthood, which is what is meant by "changed.")

  • 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

(Moses did not speak about the Melchizedek Priesthood and the higher law, which the Lord had, but he did speak of the Aaronic Priesthood, or the lower law.)

  • 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

(This priest is Jesus Christ)

  • 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,

(The Law of Moses—An Eye for an Eye)

  • but after the power of an endless life.

(The higher law, which Christ brought, which will lead us to eternal life.)

  • 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

(Christ, and the priesthood authority He holds -- the Melchizedek Priesthood -- is eternal -- without end.)

  • 18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

(The Law of Moses was abolished with the institution of the higher Law brought by Christ.)

  • 19 For the law [Mosaic Law] made nothing perfect

(We could not become perfect as our Father in Heaven commanded us to be by obedience to the Mosaic Law, for it does not contain the authority for the saving ordinances of salvation—the "keys" to bind in heaven and on earth, or in today's terminology, temple ordinances)

  • but the bringing in of a better hope did;

(A better hope, or a higher law, which brought the authority for the saving ordinances)

  • by the which we draw nigh unto God.

(It is through this higher law, by partaking of the temple ordinances, that we can "draw nigh" unto God, or become like Him, which is to "be perfect" {as God is perfect} as He commanded us—Matthew 5:48.)

  • 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

(This is in reference to the oath and covenant of the priesthood.)

  • 21 (For those priests

(The priests of the Aaronic, or Levitical, priesthood)

  • were made without an oath;

(The Aaronic, or lessor, priesthood, does not require an oath or covenant.)

  • but this [This = Higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood] with an oath

Ezra Taft Benson discussed this idea:

"When a priesthood holder takes upon himself the Melchizedek Priesthood, he does so by oath and covenant. This is not so with the Aaronic Priesthood. The covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood is that a priesthood holder will magnify his calling in the priesthood, will give diligent heed to the commandments of God, and will live by every word which proceeds "from

the mouth of God" (see D&C 84:33-44). The oath of the Melchizedek Priesthood is an irrevocable promise by God to faithful priesthood holders. "All that my Father hath shall be given unto them" (see D&C 84:38). This oath by Deity, coupled with the covenant by faithful priesthood holders, is referred to as the oath and covenant of the priesthood."[9]

  • by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

(The Melchizedek Priesthood is eternal)

  • 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man (Jesus Christ), because he continueth ever, [Eternal] hath an unchangeable [Eternal] priesthood.

(In context, this verse (24) that some Christians use to try to argue against the priesthood, is saying that since Jesus Christ is eternal, so is the authority He has. It is this same authority that Christ passed on to his Apostles, and they, passed on to others in the Church.)

This explanation should make it plain that the law, or schoolmaster (see Galatians 3:24), to lead the people unto Christ was administered by the Aaronic, or Levitical, Priesthood. However, perfection cannot be obtained through this priesthood alone, as Paul explained. Therefore, it was necessary for the Lord to send another priest after the order of Melchizedek. The priesthood thus being changed, there was "of necessity a change also of the law."[10]

The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, therefore, was introduced by him to take the place of the law of Moses. But, this does not mean that priesthood transfer to mankind has or must cease. In fact, Jesus actions in the Bible, and the conduct of the apostles after His resurrection, show precisely the opposite pattern.

Question: Is there a "Priesthood of All Believers" which eliminates the need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority?

Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood

It is claimed that there is no need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority since the Bible teaches that all believers hold the priesthood. However, Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood. Neither the Bible nor other early Christian writings support the idea that all Christians hold priesthood authority to govern the Church or administer its ordinances. Instead, this doctrine is a novelty necessitated by the protestant break with Rome.

Here, we examine some of the scriptural passages cited in defense of the concept of a priesthood of all believers.[11]

"A royal priesthood"

  • "But ye 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 marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

This was the principal passage cited by Martin Luther in defense of a priesthood of all believers. What Luther failed to note is that Peter was actually referring to an Old Testament passage, in which the Lord told the Israelites through Moses,

  • "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6).

Yet of the Israelites present at the mount of revelation, only the Levites were chosen for priesthood service.

The Gospels and Acts

Based on the belief in the "priesthood of all believers," a Protestant minister often feels that the Bible (or God) has called him to work. But Christ made it clear that this is not the way it works. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-24).

Only a believer would prophecy in the name of Christ or, in his name, cast out devils. Yet the Savior said that he would cast out those he never knew. It is wrong to profess to do something in the name of Christ when one does not have the authority to do so. Note that Christ said that there would be "many" who would claim to have performed good works in his name who would be rejected, so this is not just an occasional person.

That specific authority was required to perform ordinances in the early Church is made clear by the story found in chapter 8 of Acts: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money" (Acts 8:14-20). Simon was not trying to buy the Spirit, but the "power" to "lay hands" on people so they could receive the Holy Ghost. This power is what we call "priesthood." Simon had already been baptized in the name of Christ, but this did not authorize him to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

At the last supper, Christ told his apostles, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you" (John 15:16). This ordination did not take place because they were baptized, but came after they had chosen to follow Christ. In Luke 6:13, we read that "when it was day, he [Jesus] called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." So only twelve of Christ's followers were chosen to be apostles. Mark gives more details concerning this event: "And he 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). From this, it is clear that the apostles received, at that time, "power" that other followers of Christ did not have. He later gave that same power or priesthood to seventy others (Luke 10:1-20).

The account in Acts 19:1-6 is also instructive on the concept of authority to baptize and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost: "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."

These men (twelve in number according to verse 7), said they had been baptized "unto John's baptism," probably meaning by someone claiming authority from the John the Baptist, who had been killed by Herod Antipas long before the time of Paul. But Paul doubted the truth of this statement, knowing that John had told people of Christ who, coming after him, would baptize them with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11; John 1:29-34). So Paul taught them about Jesus, after which "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" and Paul "laid his hands upon them" for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Early Christian history

Christians in the first centuries do not seem to have endorsed the idea of a priesthood of all believers either—instead, this was a later idea developed by Luther to justify his break with Roman Catholicism, which claimed priesthood inheritance from the apostles.

Question: What does the Bible teach about priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observes all the Biblical principles taught about priesthood

There is much more about the priesthood that is contained in the scriptures. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observes all the Biblical principles taught about priesthood, including:

  1. That the Priesthood is the authority for man to act in God's name.
  2. The priesthood is given directly from God, though Jesus Christ.
  3. That Christ was not the only one to have the higher priesthood.
  4. Christ ordained the 12 Apostles with the priesthood.
  5. The Apostles ordained others with the priesthood.
  6. The church is identified as having the priesthood.
  7. The priesthood is necessary to act in God's name.

When Christ was on the earth during His mortal ministry, He set up a specific organization

When Christ was on the earth during His mortal ministry, He set up a specific organization (called the Church).

Does it make sense that if Jesus Christ organized a Church, that the true Church would have the same positions today? What are some of the offices or positions in the church Christ established?

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:13)(emphasis added)
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:(James 5:14)(emphasis added)
11 And he [Jesus Christ] gave some, apostles; (12) and some, prophets; (Ephesians 4:11)

(12 Apostles collectively, and the one leading the church with his counselors -- Peter, James, and John)

and some, evangelists; [i.e., Patriarchs in the modern LDS Church] and some, pastors [i.e., Bishops, Stake Presidents in the modern Church] and teachers;

("Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48)

  • of the saints

(the members of the Church -- interesting that they are called Saints, just as we are called Latter-day Saints today.),

  • for the work of the ministry

(The administration and performing the ordinances of the Church),

  • for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13)

(Even though all Christians claim to believe in Christ, and the Bible, there certainly is no unity of faith or doctrine, therefore these offices are still needed.)

  • and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

(unto a perfect man—NOT some incomprehensible being as the creeds declare.)

  • 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)

(The creeds came by councils of men, not a singular pronouncement of revelation by a prophet of God, as all other scripturally based doctrines are. The creeds directly contradict scripture. The creeds are not declared to be scripture. The creeds have not been declared to have been given by revelation. The creeds came about by political power struggles. Hence, the creeds are a wind of doctrine.),

  • by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14)
  • But speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 4:15)

(Without prophets who are regularly receiving inspired direction from the Lord, the church will be led by men and not by Jesus Christ)

True teachers will have priesthood authority from God

So how can we tell true teachers? First, they will have authority (priesthood) directly from God. Christ was given the priesthood authority from God the Father.

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son

to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:26-27.)

The works that Christ performed were by this priesthood authority:

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (Mark 1:27)

Christ passed on this very same authority to His apostles.

1 THEN he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)(emphasis added)

This authority is necessary in order to preach the gospel.

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14) (emphasis added)
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)(emphasis added)
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2:7)

The apostles ordained others with this authority:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee...(Titus 1:5) (emphasis added)

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.(Acts 14:23)(emphasis added)

This authority was passed directly from God the Father, to Jesus Christ, to the Apostles, to the Elders, and to others. It was a priesthood which any worthy man could have, if called. It was also necessary for the establishment of the Church. Christ left this priesthood authority on he earth when He left, so that the Church could still function.

For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.(Mark 13:34) (emphasis added)

In fact, the church would be known as the true church because of the priesthood, for so the church is described in scripture.

This priesthood authority is sacred and cannot be bought.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he

may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.(Acts 8:18-20)

We cannot choose this priesthood authority for ourselves.

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 whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.(John 15:16)

You have to be called of God to obtain the priesthood authority

As shown above, you can't buy it, you can't take it upon yourself, and you can't choose for yourself to have it. So how can we obtain the priesthood?

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

How was Aaron called? He was called by Moses—as God instructed Moses—in other words, Aaron did not decide to accept this for himself, but was called by Moses, who was instructed by the Lord, who has authority over him.

13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. 14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: 15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. 16 Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. (Exodus 40:13-16)

Priesthood authority must be given by God

Finally, the question must be asked of anyone who claims to preach the gospel and proclaim its doctrines, where do you get your authority to speak and act in the name of God? Many people claim that they receive their authority from the Bible. However, that cannot be, for the Bible has no priesthood authority, it is a book and cannot perform any ordinance, it cannot choose you as it cannot make decisions, nor can it ordain you as it can not perform any actions. Seminaries and Universities have no priesthood authority, for their purpose is to grant educational degrees, whose requirements are developed and designed by men. Priesthood Authority comes only from God.

LET every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.{Romans 13:1)

Question: How do Mormons view miracles in other faiths?

Latter-day Saints believe that God blesses all His children according to their faith and his purposes

Many Christian believers report miraculous healings and the like, which they claim are done by God's power. How can the Church claim to possess the only valid priesthood in light of these miraculous blessings?

Latter-day Saints believe that God blesses all His children according to their faith and his purposes. Priesthood authority, or membership in the proper (or any) Church is not necessary for this to happen.

Members of the Church do not believe that God's power cannot be accessed by other faithful believers in other traditions for the blessing of healing or comfort

Faith in God or Christ can work miracles, and no set of believers has a monopoly on that.

Said Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

We know that the prayer of faith, uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship, can be effective to heal the sick. Many scriptures refer to the power of faith in the healing of an individual. The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7).

A recent nationwide survey found that nearly 8 in 10 Americans “believe that miracles still occur today as [they did] in ancient times.” A third of those surveyed said they had “experienced or witnessed a divine healing.” Many Latter-day Saints have experienced the power of faith in healing the sick. We also hear examples of this among people of faith in other churches. A Texas newspaperman described such a miracle. When a five-year-old girl breathed with difficulty and became feverish, her parents rushed her to the hospital. By the time she arrived there, her kidneys and lungs had shut down, her fever was 107 degrees, and her body was bright red and covered with purple lesions. The doctors said she was dying of toxic shock syndrome, cause unknown. As word spread to family and friends, God-fearing people began praying for her, and a special prayer service was held in their Protestant congregation in Waco, Texas. Miraculously, she suddenly returned from the brink of death and was released from the hospital in a little over a week. Her grandfather wrote, “She is living proof that God does answer prayers and work miracles.”

Truly, as the Book of Mormon teaches, God “manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles . . . among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:13).[12]

Members of the Church understand priesthood authority to be vital, however, for such matters as performing essential ordinances (such as baptism), providing authoritative scripture or revelation via a prophet to the entire Church,[13] and directing and governing the Church of God on the earth.


  1. Dr. William Hamblin, "Tract Made Without Evidence". Hamblin responds to James White's (of Alpha & Omega Ministry) e-tract, "Temples Made Without Hands" (22 September 1999). off-site
  2. Michael Hickenbotham, "Answering Challenging Mormon Questions," Horizon Publishers, 1995. off-site
  3. Reference "aparabatos," in Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker (editors), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , 3rd edition, (Urbana and Chicago, University Of Chicago Press, 2001), 97. ISBN 0226039331.
  4. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (editors), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (translator), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 5: 742-743.
  5. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Book Review of Walter Martin's The Maze of Mormonism," Brigham Young University Studies 6 no. 1 (Autumn 1964), 60.
  6. S. Kent Brown, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Mormon Perspective," Brigham Young University Studies 23 no. 1 (Winter 1983), 56.
  7. Article here cites Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 166,322. off-site
  8. Richard D. Draper, "Hebrews, Epistle to the," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992).
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 223. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  10. LeGrande Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 84. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) PDF link
  11. Part of this wiki article originally derived from John A. Tvedtnes, "Is There a Priesthood of All Believers?" FairMormon link. Due to the nature of a wiki project, it has since diverged from the source material, due to other editors' additions or alterations.
  12. Dallin H. Oaks, "Healing the Sick," Ensign (May 2010), 47–50.
  13. See discussion in Dallin H. Oaks, "Two Lines of Communication," Ensign (November 2010).