Basic Doctrines Part 6 – Priesthood and Priesthood Keys with Jonathan Stapley

December 4, 2019

A foundational claim of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ is that of divine authority and origination. Priesthood, or as it has been commonly defined as “the power and authority of God” is viewed by many outside of the Church of Jesus Christ differently than those who profess membership. For that matter, over the years since the Church was established by Joseph Smith, some have spoken of the doctrine of the Priesthood in different ways.

The variety in which many speak of Priesthood can lead to confusion about what it is, why it is, as well as why the claims of The Church of Jesus Christ are in fact unique and unmatched in any faith in the world. These are bold claims and ones that missionaries must make with care and understanding in order for these principles to be understood properly, and to be taught with the confirming power of the Holy Ghost.

Our interview with author and scholar Jonathan Stapley reviews the history of Priesthood and Priesthood Keys as spoken of in the Restore Church of Jesus Christ since the time of Joseph Smith to the present. This also addresses some of the vexing issues surrounding a misunderstanding of the role of women in the priesthood. Jonathan is the author of The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology. More on Jonathan can be found by visiting his website here.

The following is what is presented on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the doctrine of Priesthood and Priesthood Keys:

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys

The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. The keys of the priesthood are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to govern and direct the kingdom of God on the earth (see Matthew 16:15–19). Through these keys, priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances of salvation. All who serve in the Church are called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys. Thus, they are entitled to the power needed to serve and fulfill the responsibilities of their callings.

Related reference: D&C 121:36, 41–42

Aaronic Priesthood

The Aaronic Priesthood is often called the preparatory priesthood. The offices of the Aaronic Priesthood are deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. In the Church today, worthy male members may receive the Aaronic Priesthood beginning at age 12. (Note: Policy has update this to be beginning in the year they turn 12).

The Aaronic Priesthood “holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism” (D&C 13:1).

Melchizedek Priesthood

The Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher, or greater, priesthood and administers in spiritual things (see D&C 107:8). This greater priesthood was given to Adam and has been on the earth whenever the Lord has revealed His gospel.

It was first called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3). It later became known as the Melchizedek Priesthood, named after a great high priest who lived during the time of the prophet Abraham.

Within the Melchizedek Priesthood are the offices of elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle. The President of the Melchizedek Priesthood is the President of the Church.

Related reference: Ephesians 4:11–14

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