Cracking the Priesthood Paradox – Part 5

1834 is a transitional year in church history. As the failures of the church to obey the Lord’s commands pile up, the Lord begins to put the pieces in place for what will remain once the fullness is removed.

In February 1834, Joseph Smith convenes the “President’s Standing Council,” effectively the first stake high council. Joseph, Sidney, and Frederick Williams are designated as the presidency.

In April 1834, the Lord declares in D&C 104 that the covenant has been broken and the church is to be cursed.

In May 1834, the name of the church is changed to The Church of Latter Day Saints, missing the name of Christ in stark opposition to 3 Nephi 27.

In June 1834, 15 Elders in Missouri are selected to travel to Kirtland to receive an endowment of power.

In September 1834, a committee calls Joseph, Oliver, Sidney, and Frederick to arrange the items of doctrine of Jesus Christ. This work would become the Doctrine and Covenants, with the Lectures on Faith as the doctrine.

On December 5, the Lord declared condemnation on the leaders of the church.

On December 6, Joseph Smith Sr. is ordained as Church Patriarch. Joseph would later declare the Patriarch to be the highest officer of the church, and D&C 124 would confirm that hierarchy.

Once that change was made, other changes came quickly. In February the Quorums of the Twelve and the Seventy were created. Then the first part of D&C 107 is received which begins to establish the rules of operation for this new church structure. Then during the summer the Doctrine and Covenants is published, for the governance of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

By now the church organization is significantly different than during the fullness. (Click the chart to get a larger version.)

The Twelve and the Seventy are to have no authority inside organized stakes, but they are to travel and administer the church outside the stakes. One thing that surprised me was that the first stake was created just as Zion was faltering. Rather than being an extension of Zion, it seems to have been intended for the exile of Zion, which at the time was promised to be short-lived if the church repented. September 1836 was given as the deadline for redeeming Zion. Once that passed, things deteriorated.

In 1841, the Lord gave Section 124 which listed the church organization. It is basically the same as in 1835, but there is a little bit more information.

The Patriarch is given as the first officer of the church. Interestingly, whereas D&C 107 says the First Presidency is to consist of three High Priests, in 1841 Joseph is identified as the presiding Elder. It appears even Joseph has lost the fullness of the priesthood and has reverted to being an Elder.

Notice the Lord’s description of the High Priest Quorum: “instituted for the purpose of qualifying those who shall be appointed…” This seems almost preparatory in nature, whereas before these High Priests had a “right to officiate in their own standing.”

Finally, the Lord makes it clear that the Quorum of the Twelve, the Quorum of the Seventy, and the stake high council have equal authority. Could you imagine a stake president telling the President of the Quorum of the Twelve to stuff it? Yet this is how the Lord organized things…the Twelve only had authority outside the stakes. My how times have changed.

It’s important to realize that this organization with Stake Presidents, Apostles, and Seventies, is the organization of downgraded church. If we are going to have the fullness restored unto us, I suspect we will first see the Lord’s 1835/1841 organization restored, with Twelve Apostles preaching to the world and leaving the organized stakes alone. Once we redeem Zion, I would expect to see a return to the 1833 organization inside Zion, where other than a president people seem to govern themselves.

As we read the scriptures, it’s critical to keep these different organizational structures in mind, as well as the scriptural definitions of different priesthoods. The misapplication of the term Melchizedek Priesthood to the office of Elder and the continued use of the office of High Priest has definitely muddied the waters. Only by looking back at how the priesthood was referred to and organized during specific periods of the church’s fullness, and comparing that to the state of the church and it’s downgrade, can we decode what the priesthood really looks like, how it should act, and why we don’t see the promises we should have it we truly had the fullness. But it also tells us what we should look for when the Lord sets his hand a second time to recover Israel and redeem Zion.

 

Cracking the Priesthood Paradox – Part 4

D&C 107 is important in understanding priesthood. But it’s actually two separate revelations received three and a half years apart. Unless you treat this as two separate revelations, you will come to false conclusions about the priesthood.

Verses 59-100 were received on November 11, 1831. Our current version does have some changes from the original revelation. Verses 90 and 93-98 were added in 1835 to address the newly called Seventy. Verses talking about literal descendants of Aaron (parts of 69-71, 73-74, and all of 76) were added in 1835. If you strip those out, you get a picture of the priesthood as revealed in November 1831, when the fullness of the priesthood was in the Church of Christ.

Verses 1-58 were received in March or April of 1835, when the church had been downgraded from to the Church of Latter Day Saints. By the time of this revelation, not only had the name been changed, but a Patriarch, Quorum of the Twelve, and Quorum of the Seventy had been called. The priesthood organization in the Church of Latter Day Saints is significantly different from the Church of Christ.

Here’s what the scriptures in 1831 said about the priesthood. Words in blue show differences from the version we are familiar with.

 

D&C 107:65-66, 91-92
Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church; or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church.And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.D&C 81:1-2
Hearken to the calling wherewith you are called, even to be a High Priest in my church, and a counselor unto my servant Joseph Smith Jr., unto whom I have given the keys of the kingdom, which belong always unto the Presidency of the High Priesthood.D&C 107:79-81
The President of the court of the High Priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors; and thus the President of the High Priesthood and his counselors shall have power to decide upon testimony according to the laws of the church. And after this decision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord; for this is the highest court of the church of God, and a final decision upon controversies in spiritual matters. There is not any person belonging to the church who is exempt from this court of the church.
 

D&C 107:89-90
The duty of the president over the office of elders is to preside over ninety-six elders, and to sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants. D&C 20:37-45
An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons; and to administer the flesh and blood of Christ according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; and to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost; and to take the lead of all meetings. The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost.
 

D&C 107:87-88
The duty of the president over the Priesthood is to preside over forty-eight priests, and sit in council with them, to teach them the duties of their office, as is given in the covenants—this president is to be a bishop; for this is one of the duties of this priesthood.D&C 107:68
The office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things.D&C 20:46-52
The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties. And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons. And he is to take the lead of meetings. But none of these offices he is to do when there is an elder present, but in all cases to assist the elder.
 

D&C 107:86
And also the duty of the president over the office of the teachers is to preside over twenty-four of the teachers, and to sit in council with them, teaching them the duties of their office, as given in the covenants.D&C 20:53-59
The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty. And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—and is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires. But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands; they are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.
 

D&C 107:85
The duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside over twelve deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.

The general structure should look familiar to us. Here are a few things to note.

In 1831, there was no scriptural command for a First Presidency. The scriptures indicate the church is to be led by the Presiding High Priest who is the President of the office of the High Priesthood. In 1832, Joseph would call Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon to be his counselors. Section 81 discusses this and calls this the Presidency of the High Priesthood. Although Joseph originally called Jesse Gause, less than a year later Frederick Williams replaced Jesse. When this revelation was published in 1835, Jesse’s name was replaced with Frederick’s. So a Presidency of the High Priesthood consisting of three high priests existed during the fullness, but didn’t come into being until 1832, after the November 11, 1831 revelation. Not a problem, but something to keep in mind.

Priesthood was synonymous with the office of Priest. High Priesthood was synonymous with the office of High Priest. So when people talked about the High Priesthood during the fullness, they were not talking about Elders and High Priests, they were only talking about High Priests. When they talked about the Priesthood, they were talking about Priests. That’s not how we use those words today, but it’s critical that we honor what the words meant back when they were used, and not impose our modern definitions that would be unknown to Joseph and his contemporaries when they were writing these things.

It’s important to remember the office of bishop had almost nothing in common with the role that goes by that name today. The bishop during the fullness quit his day job, was paid by the Church, and worked fulltime to provide for the temporal needs of the members…i.e. food, clothing, and shelter administered under the law of consecration. Despite being a high priest, he did not run the local congregations, didn’t choose the speakers or the topics, nor did he ask teenagers about their sexual experiences in worthiness interviews.

Lastly you’ll notice that the priests during this period have autonomy when there are no elders present, but when there are elders present they are to do none of their duties autonomously, but only to assist the elders. So if there was an elder in the building, the elder blessed the sacrament.

Notice what doesn’t exist in the organization during the fullness. There is no Quorum of the Twelve, no Seventy, no Patriarch, no stake presidents or even stakes. These were all introduced as the church was being downgraded. In the next post, we’ll look at what that organization looked like.

Cracking the Priesthood Paradox – Part 3

Now that we’re razed the unstable foundation of our false priesthood traditions, let’s examine how the priesthood actually functioned during the life of Joseph Smith so we can build on a solid foundation.

Let’s start with the most ignominious of priesthood offices in the LDS church today: Teacher. In today’s church, they can’t bless the sacrament, and usually don’t get asked to pass the sacrament. Their claim to fame is preparing the sacrament and cleaning up afterward. During the actual sacrament they might be allowed to stand by the chapel door. I’m not sure why you need authority from God to put water into paper cups or open a door, but hey, I’m not a prophet, seer, or revelator, so what do I know?

Not that most Mormons care, but this is so utterly inconsistent with the office of Teacher back when Joseph was running the church. In 1838, several of the Twelve Apostles traveled to Far West, deposed the stake presidency, and established themselves as the leadership of the stake. This was is clear violation of the role of Apostles, but that’s another issue. What is important is that after running roughshod over the local church, they quickly had to make peace with the locals. On February 24, a high council meeting was held which came to these decisions:

Resolved, by the High Council, that it be considered that no High Priest, Elder or Priest (except the Presidency, High Council and Bishopric) has any right or authority to preside over or take the charge of any branch, society, or neighborhood within the bounds of this Stake: but that the teachers, assisted by the deacons, be considered the standing ministry to preside each over his respective branch of the Stake agreeable to the covenants.

Resolved that we recommend to all High Priests, Elders, and Prieststhat they do not take the lead of nor appoint meetings in any branch or neighborhood of Saints within the bounds of this stake without the invitation or consent of the presiding officer of that branch. We also, consider that the teacher, who is the presiding officer, has a right to object to any official character, who may come among them, to officiate

Resolved that the High Council recommend to each neighborhood or settlement of Saints, within the bounds of this stake, to choose for themselves a teacherto take the watchcare over them and preside agreeable to the covenants, who shall be assisted by the other teachers and deacons in the branch.

Resolved that each branch of this stake send one or more teachers once in three months to the quarterly conference of this stake, with a written account of the true situation of his branch, agreeably to the Covenants.

I was gobsmacked when I read this the first time. The teachers are the presiding officers, selected by the local congregation, and they have the right to tell the High Priests, Elders, and Priests to stuff it! That’s totally different than anything we’ve been taught in the last 150 years. Realizing that this was connected to the corrupt Twelve exerting authority where they had none, I thought maybe this was an anomaly. Then I found other statements supporting this.

In a meeting on July 6, 1838, Sidney Rigdon reinforced these roles, saying, “the foundation of the happiness of the church rests upon the heads of the Teachers and Deacons, whose duty it is to go from house to house and see that each family in the church is kept in order, and that the children are taught the principles of righteousness…He compared the Elder to quarriers of stone, who merely quarried the stones and brought them to the building, where the Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, are polishers, whose duty it is to prepare them for the building.

John Corrill later wrote, “The high priests, elders, and priests were to travel and preach, but the teachers and deacons were to be standing ministers to the church. Hence, in the last organizing of the church, each branch of the church chose a teacher to preside over them, whose duty it was to take the particular charge of that branch, and report from time to time to the general conference of elders.”

Three years before Far West, the June 1835 edition of the Messenger and Advocate included this: “The Teachers and Deacons are the standing ministers of the Church, and in the absence of other officers, great things and holy walk are required of them. They must strengthen the members’ faith; persuade such as are out of the way to repent, and turn to God and live; meekly persuade and urge every one to forgive one another all their trespasses, offenses and sins, that they may work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Once I saw the pattern here, I wondered if I could see that in the scriptures.

D&C 20:53-57
The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty. And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—and is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires.

D&C 20:81-82
It shall be the duty of the several churches, composing the church of Christ, to send one or more of their teachers to attend the several conferences held by the elders of the church, with a list of the names of the several members uniting themselves with the church since the last conference.

Teachers lead the meetings, watch over the local congregation, and attend a conference held by the elders to report on the local congregation. This is consistent other scriptures:

D&C 84:111
The high priests should travel, and also the elders, and also the lesser priests; but the deacons and teachers should be appointed to watch over the church, to be standing ministers unto the church.

If you’ve always been taught that Teachers are 14-year-old boys, this doesn’t make sense. When you learn the truth, that Teachers were adult men until Brigham changed it up in the 1860s, this all makes sense. During Joseph’s ministry, even during the dark days of Nauvoo, the Teachers and Deacons ran the local congregations and they were adults. This is consistent with the Biblical qualifications for a Deacon:

Timothy 3:12
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

There is no way anyone can claim the current Deacons quorums are a restoration of the Biblical quorums. They were when Joseph was running the show, but once Brigham started his “improvement era” we quickly disconnected from reality. And thanks to Russell, we now have 11-year-old boys serving as Deacons. Instead of Deacons ruling their children well, the Deacons are the children. (sigh)

 

Cracking the Priesthood Paradox – Part 2

In the previous post we introduced the scripture-based model for the Holy Priesthood and the offices and appendages to that priesthood. Here’s the graphic as a reminder.

Let’s walk through LDS history and see how this developed.

“Aaronic Priesthood”

As mentioned in the first post, the term “Aaronic Priesthood” was not introduced until 1835, and was then applied retroactively. For example, in 1838 Joseph Smith wrote about the visit of John the Baptist. He wrote:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron…”

Notice he calls it the Priesthood of Aaron, because in 1838 that’s what people understood it to be. It’s like reading a history referring to New York City being founded in 1660. In 1660, it was called New Amsterdam. In 1666, the Dutch handed the city over to the British and it was renamed New York.  So what was the Priesthood of Aaron called before 1835?

In 1834, Oliver wrote an account of the encounter with John the Baptist, wherein John says:

Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this priesthood and this authority…

It is interesting to note that no account says that Joseph and Oliver were ordained to a specific office within the Aaronic Priesthood. Using our model, the office of Priest and the lesser priesthood are synonymous, and the offices of Teacher and Deacon are appendages. So whether Joseph and Oliver were ordained to the office of Priest or given the lesser priesthood, the net effect was the same. They had the authority to baptize. Here’s a scriptural proof:

D&C 107:20
The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

The whole reason John the Baptist appeared was because Joseph and Oliver wanted to be baptized and knew that required an ordination. Baptism is only administered by Priests in the Aaronic Priesthood, so the power and authority of the Aaronic Priesthood is the office of Priest. They are synonyms. The other offices in the Aaronic Priesthood are appendages:

D&C 84:30
The offices of teacher and deacon are necessary appendages belonging to the lesser priesthood, which priesthood was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons.

It’s important to note that at no time during Joseph’s ministry were Deacons and Teachers given authority to administer any ordinances. Priests were the only office in the Aaronic Priesthood with authority to administer ordinances.

The office of Deacon is also noteworthy. It is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, though it is in the New Testament (Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.) This office was created in 1831.

So the office of Priest is the Aaronic Priesthood, and within that exists the authority to ordain people to the appendages of Teacher and Deacon.

The office of Elder

Keeping in mind that the term Melchizedek Priesthood wasn’t introduced until 1835, look at how Joseph describes the next step in the revelation of the priesthood:

JS-H 72
The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second.

Joseph wrote this 1838, well after the fullness of the priesthood had been lost. Notice that what Joseph and Oliver “would in due time” receive was the office of Elder, which is an appendage to the High Priesthood, not the High Priesthood itself.

On March 23, 1846, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter in which he stated:

Had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater…

Notice what Oliver doesn’t write. He doesn’t say they received the Melchizedek Priesthood, he says the Greater [priesthood]. Is the office of Elder greater than that of Priest? Yes. But is it the Melchizedek Priesthood as defined by D&C 107 and 84? No, the office of Elder is an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Here’s another proof:

D&C 107:63-64
Wherefore, from deacon to teacher, and from teacher to priest, and from priest to elder, severally as they are appointed, according to the covenants and commandments of the church. Then comes the High Priesthood, which is the greatest of all.

Elder is greater priesthood than Priest, but the High Priesthood (or High Priest) is the greatest of all. I think these nuances in language are important – there is a difference between greater and greatest. Unfortunately for Brigham Young, this part of Section 107 was recorded after Brigham had already been called to be an Apostle. Claiming the apostleship is higher than the High Priesthood is contradicting scripture. But I digress.

It would seem from the scant historical record that Peter ordained Joseph and Oliver to the office Elder, which is an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood…enough authority to get the church up and running. The historical record makes it clear that the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood was not restored until June 1831.

Here’s some more data points:

D&C 20:2-3
Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church; and to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand.

In April 1830, Joseph and Oliver were ordained Elders and Apostles…yet by Joseph’s own account the Melchizedek Priesthood wasn’t restored until June 1831. How could this be?

D&C 20:38
An apostle is an elder.

An apostle is not higher than a high priest. An apostle does not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Remember, the office of Elder is an appendage just like the Aaronic Priesthood is an appendage. Peter holds the keys of the apostleship and the appendage office of Elder. It appears that Peter ordained Joseph and Oliver to that appendage office of Elder/Apostle, but he did not restore the Melchizedek Priesthood.

There is no record designating the time frame when Peter ordained Joseph and Oliver to the appendage office of Elder. It apparently happened after May 15, 1829 and before April 6, 1830.

In June 1829, Oliver Cowdery recorded a revelation he received, which became the Articles of the Church of Christ. In this revelation, the Lord tells Oliver, “I speak unto you even as unto Paul my apostle for ye are called even with that same calling with which he was called.” Oliver concludes his account of the revelation by stating, “Behold I am Oliver. I am an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I take that as proof that Peter had conferred the office of Elder on Joseph and Oliver by June 1829.

The office of High Priest, or the Melchizedek Priesthood

As with much of the official LDS history, the explanations for the June 1831 revelation of priesthood are both true and false. SLC will admit that the office of High Priest was introduced here, but claims that despite what was written, the Melchizedek Priesthood had actually already been restored earlier by Peter, James, and John 1829. That is incorrect. As already shown, Peter restored the appendage office of Elder (aka Apostle).

Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1838
On the 3rd of June, the Elders from the various parts of the country where they were laboring, came in; and the conference before appointed, convened in Kirtland…and the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders.

Let that sink in. The Elders are receiving the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood for the first time. That means these Elders didn’t previously hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. When you understand that the office of Elder is an appendage, this makes sense.

John Whitmer, History
The Lord made manifest to Joseph that it was necessary that such of the elders as were considered worthy, should be ordained to the high priesthood. The spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner…After he had prophesied, he laid his hands upon Lyman Wight to the High Priesthood after the holy order of God.

Lyman Wight, Journal
Here for the first time I saw the Melchizedek priesthood introduced into the church of Jesus Christ as anciently.

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839
The Melchizedek priesthood was then for the first time introduced, and conferred on several of the elders.

Parley Pratt, Autobiography, 1874
Several were then selected by revelation, through President Smith, and ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of the Son of God; which is after the order of Melchizedek. This was the first occasion in which this priesthood had been revealed and conferred upon the Elders in this dispensation, although the office of an Elder is the same in a certain degree, but not in the fulness.

D&C 107:3-5
Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood. All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.

When you discard the false model of Melchizedek Priesthood taught by the SLC church, this statements all become consistent. The Elders, who possessed only an appendage of the Holy Priesthood, now received the Melchizedek Priesthood, the fullness of the priesthood, for the first time.

The seeds of confusion

Unfortunately, Joseph’s introduction of the term Melchizedek Priesthood occurred during the downgrading of the church, after the fullness of the priesthood had been removed. The appendage office of Elder still existed, and because that was the only vestige of the Melchizedek Priesthood remaining in the church, the term Melchizedek Priesthood began to be used to describe the office of Elder.

On August 28, 1843, Joseph gave a sermon that discussed three priesthoods. According to James Burgess, Joseph said, “Abraham’s priesthood was of greater power than Levi’s, and Melchizedek’s was of greater power than that of Abraham.” According to Franklin Richards, Joseph taught this about the three priesthoods:

1st Levitical which was never able to administer a blessing but only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear
2nd Abraham’s patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church
3rd That of Melchizedek who had still greater power, even power of an endless life

When you realize that the church in 1843 was not the same church in 1831, this statement makes sense. The Church of Christ ceased to exist in 1834. It was replaced by the Church of Latter Day Saints, which morphed into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1838. By 1843, the appendage office of Elder (aka the Abraham’s patriarchal priesthood) was the greatest priesthood experienced in the downgraded church. We have confirmation of this in D&C 124 where the Lord confirms the fullness of the priesthood had already been taken away.

Priesthood Cheat Sheet

Office Alias
High Priest Holy Priesthood after the order of the Son of God
Melchizedek Priesthood
Elder Greater Priesthood
Patriarchal Priesthood
Apostolic Priesthood
Priest Aaronic Priesthood
Teacher / Deacon / Levite Appendages to Aaronic Priesthood

 

Cracking the Priesthood Paradox – Part 1

Understanding the true nature of priesthood is challenging: there are so many contradictions in the scriptures, discourses and writings of early church leaders, and today’s traditions. Even the simple question of how many priesthoods exist isn’t obvious: SLC says two (Aaronic and Melchizedek), Joseph talked about three (adding Patriarchal), others say four (adding Apostolic). And don’t forget the Levitical Priesthood! Why is this so difficult?

There are several reasons. Joseph didn’t begin using the terms Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood until 1835. Before then, authority came from the office you were ordained to, not from a priesthood. What really made this difficult was that Joseph retroactively applied those terms when revising revelations for the 1835 D&C, as well as in his historical accounts and discourses. Making matters worse, this began after the fullness of the priesthood had been lost, yet they continued using terminology that had been associated with the fullness. Then the SLC church airbrushed the history to resolve challenges to Apostolic rule over the church, and created a new priesthood office of Apostle that was supposedly higher than a high priest. Add in over a hundred years of false tradition and it’s no wonder we’re all confused.

This has been gnawing at me for a couple years. I knew the SLC version wasn’t correct, but still couldn’t figure out the inconsistencies. Several accounts claim the Melchizedek Priesthood wasn’t restored until June 1831, yet prior to that men were being ordained Elders and members were receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I spent quite some time trying to unlearn everything I know about the priesthood, and walking though the historical records to piece together the progression of the priesthood, and trying to understand the shifting language used to describe it. I’m sure I’ve still got some things to learn, but I’ve made some major breakthroughs that explain the contradictions and harmonize many of the accounts. This does require purging all the traditions you’ve been taught about priesthood and starting from scratch. If you’re willing to commit to that, I’ll walk you through it.

There is only one priesthood (technically)

D&C 107:2-5
Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest. Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood. All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.

That last sentence is critical. There is only one true priesthood authority – anything else is an appendage to it. To be specific, the office of high priest is that one true priesthood authority. We think of offices as things that are within the priesthood, but the office of high priest is the priesthood talked about here. It’s comprehensive:

D&C 107:9-10
The Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, have a right to officiate in all the offices in the church. High priests after the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing, under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, and also in the office of an elder, priest (of the Levitical order), teacher, deacon, and member.

You can have a fully functioning church with only High Priests. There is no other priesthood office that can claim that, not even Elders. Why even have other priesthood offices if all that is required are High Priests?

Appendages

APPENDAGE: Something added to a principal or greater thing, though not necessary to it, as a portico to a house.

This is from the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I like the example of a portico. Most would recognize a portico as a part of a house, without truly being part of the house. The house can function without it, and indeed the portico may have been built years after the house was built, but if your portico was damaged, you’d likely consider your house to be damaged. But you could also decide to remove the portico and the house remains intact.

This concept is critical to understanding the other priesthood offices.

D&C 107:5
All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.

Let’s start with the easy one.

Aaronic

D&C 107:13-14
The second priesthood is called the Priesthood of Aaron, because it was conferred upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations. Why it is called the lesser priesthood is because it is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.

The Aaronic Priesthood is not a separate priesthood, it is a subset of the one true priesthood. The High Priests already have the power to administer in outward ordinances such as baptism and the sacrament. Someone who has the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them cannot, however, administer in the spiritual aspects of the priesthood. Their authority is limited to the specific subset of authority they have been given. It’s an appendage to the one priesthood.

When this was conferred upon Aaron, there were two subsets. The priests, or the sons of Aaron, had the authority to run all the ordinances in the temple, and one priest each year would be chosen as the high priest (still an Aaronic priest) to administer in the outward ordinances of the day of atonement. The Levites, those who were not of the priestly line, had a smaller subset of authority to help run the temple and assist with the sacrifices and such. But a regular Levite would never be eligible to become a priest.

We are familiar with the offices of Deacon, Teacher, and Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. The good news is that those names are correct, but the function they played in the true church was dramatically different than what we see today. We’ll cover that in a future post. But here’s another important distinction:

D&C 84:26-27, 30
The offices of teacher and deacon are necessary appendages belonging to the lesser priesthood, which priesthood was confirmed upon Aaron and his sons.

Teachers and Deacons are appendages of Priests. The greater priesthood consists of High Priests, the lesser priesthood consists of Priests. All other offices are appendages. That means that Bishops and Elders are appendages to the office of High Priest, and Teachers and Deacons are appendages to the office of Priest.

Bishop

D&C 84:29
The offices of elder and bishop are necessary appendages belonging unto the high priesthood.

The office of bishop is a necessary appendage to the high priesthood. It is a specific subset of the High Priest’s responsibilities.

D&C 107:68-71
Wherefore, the office of a bishop is not equal unto it; for the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things; nevertheless bishop must be chosen from the High Priesthood, unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron; for unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron he cannot hold the keys of that priesthood. Nevertheless, a high priest, that is, after the order of Melchizedek, may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth.

Here’s where this gets really wonky. The office of Bishop is a hybrid. Ideally it is filled by a descendant of Aaron, but if one can’t be found it is an appendage to the office of High Priest and is filled by a High Priest. In referring to the lesser priesthood (aka Aaronic) we learn:

D&C 107:15
The bishopric is the presidency of this priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same.

So the Bishop straddles the greater priesthood and the lesser priesthood. The duties of the bishop today are dramatically different (and mostly unscriptural) compared to during the life of Joseph, but we’ll cover that in a future post.

Elder

This is the one that is going to take some serious re-education.

D&C 84:29
The offices of elder and bishop are necessary appendages belonging unto the high priesthood.

Just as the offices of Deacon and Teacher are appendages the the office of Priest, and the entire Aaronic Priesthood is an appendage of the High Priesthood, the office of Elder is also an appendage. Let that sink in.

The office of Elder is not integral to the High Priesthood. It’s a portico — not necessary, but beneficial. It’s another subset of responsibilities – basically allowing the High Priests to outsource part of their duties. Or better yet, allowing God to delegate specific roles to men who either don’t qualify for the High Priesthood, or just don’t have access to the High Priesthood at that time.

Elders do not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. They have received a subset of the Melchizedek Priesthood, just as Aaronic offices have received a subset. Only a High Priest holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.

D&C 107:7
The office of an elder comes under the priesthood of Melchizedek.

UNDER: In a state of pupilage or subjection; as a youth under a tutor; a ward under a guardian; colonies under the British government.

I like the last example. The Elders are like colonies. Semi-autonomous, but definitely not part of the main government or country. Their powers are limited, especially when a high priest is present.

D&C 107:11-12
An elder has a right to officiate in his stead when the high priest is not present. The high priest and elder are to administer in spiritual things, agreeable to the covenants and commandments of the church; and they have a right to officiate in all these offices of the church when there are no higher authorities present.

Putting the pieces together

Here’s what that organization would look like.

In this scripturally-based model, there really is only one priesthood, but there are subsets of that priesthood. In this model, your authority ties directly to the office to which you are ordained. You aren’t given all of the priesthood and then restricted in what you can do (as we do today by giving 11 year old boys the Aaronic priesthood but then telling them they cannot perform baptisms). Either you are a High Priest that holds all the priesthood, or you are ordained to an office that holds only a specific subset of that authority. When you read the early history of the church, men were ordained to offices, not priesthood.

Hypotheticals

Let’s say, hypothetically, that God wanted to restore his church to the world after a long absence. Just as you don’t go from sitting on the couch to running a marathon in the Olympics without some training in the middle, you can’t go from apostasy to the fullness of the gospel without some intermediate work. God could give a subset of authority (Priests and Teachers) to allow people to begin repenting and administering outward ordinances like baptism. Then he could give another subset of authority (Elders) to enable men to preach the gospel and give the gift of the Holy Ghost. Once the people were “in shape”, they would then be ready for the fullness, specifically the complete priesthood or the office of High Priest.

Let’s also say, hypothetically, that God decided to remove the fullness of the priesthood and there were no more men with the authority of High Priest. The office of Elder, being a subset and an appendage, could continue to function and run the church, albeit with some limitations. In this case the church would be downgraded from it’s previous status, but still have the opportunity to administer in both outward ordinances and give the gift of the Holy Ghost and preach the gospel to the world.

What would that look like?

That looks like two separate priesthoods: a higher priesthood and a lower priesthood. If the people kept using the term High Priest even though they didn’t have the authority anymore, it would be confusing and incorrect, but from an actual authority standpoint it would still look like two priesthoods, even though they were really two appendages or subsets of the true priesthood that is not available.

The key insight for me was to think in terms of offices rather than priesthood. That’s the language that was used for the first five years of the church when all this was being restored. It wasn’t until after the fullness had been lost that the priesthood terminology was introduced and muddied the waters.

Next:

In the next post, we’ll review the history of the restoration of priesthood offices, keeping track of the different wording used at different times, and show how this model reflects what actually happened.

Updated Edition of Reformatted Doctrine and Covenants

A new edition of the Reformatted Doctrine and Covenants has just been published. This edition has additional historical details added along with some maps.

We will be using this as the roadmap for our upcoming podcasts on church history and the Doctrine and Covenants. I suspect that as we go through this in depth over the next year, we’ll find errors or other items that should be added. I encourage anyone that finds errors or has suggestions for additions or improvements to contact me. Once we’re all done, I’ll publish another edition with all those changes.

As always, electronic copies are free to download. Printed versions can be purchased at cost. Head over to the Reformatted Scriptures page for all the links.

 

He will yet reveal many great and important things

Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth Letter in 1842. From that letter the LDS church extracted what we know as the Articles of Faith. Number nine tells us:

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

Our current scriptures contain several promises from the Lord that more records will come forth in the latter days. It’s been almost 180 years since Joseph wrote that we believe God will yet reveal many great and important things, yet we have had no new revelations. I decided to compile a list of the promised records that still need to be revealed. I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a few, if so, let me know. (Hat tip to Paul/Saul for pointing out one I missed). Joseph was right, there are many.

Download a PDF here: Yet to be revealed

 

When he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh

The final chapters of 2 Nephi include powerful teachings from Nephi on the doctrine of Christ. His teaching in 2 Nephi 31 can be summarized by Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. This is doctrine that is testified of repeatedly and consistently throughout the scriptures, both ancient and modern.

In 2 Nephi 32:6, while talking to his people in the Americas, he states:

Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.

Self-proclaimed modern prophets and visionaries use this verse to justify why the new doctrine they are teaching (which isn’t found in the scriptures) is true doctrine. They claim that because they, while in the flesh, have seen Christ, he has taught them a higher doctrine and they now have “further light and knowledge” than the fullness of the gospel God says is contained in  the scriptures.

Strangely, they also freely teach this new doctrine, even though they themselves supposedly only received it after qualifying to enter into God’s presence. If the doctrine can only be obtained individually through a personal encounter with Christ, why would they be free to splash it all over the internet and teach it to anyone and everyone who hasn’t obtained a personal encounter with Christ themselves? Alas, I digress.

The fundamental issue here is whether Nephi is actually teaching that every person on earth needs to have a personal encounter with Christ to learn higher doctrine than what is taught in the scriptures. Regular readers of this blog probably won’t be surprised when I say, “Let’s see what the scriptures say!”

2 Nephi 6:9
The Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after he should manifest himself they should scourge him and crucify him, according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.

This is Jacob teaching, and he is clearly referring to Christ’s earthly ministry when talking about God manifesting himself in the flesh. It isn’t the audience that is “in the flesh”, it’s God that is “in the flesh”.

2 Nephi 25:12-13
But, behold, they shall have wars, and rumors of wars; and when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father, yea, even the Father of heaven and of earth, shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold, they will reject him, because of their iniquities, and the hardness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks. Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

This is Nephi, and when he talking about God “manifesting himself unto them in the flesh” it is during Jesus’ earthly ministry, while he himself is dwelling in a tabernacle of flesh.

Enos 1:8
And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

Enos lived roughly 500 years before Christ’s earthly ministry. God does not promised Enos that Christ will manifest himself to Enos during his lifetime. Christ, the Messiah, will manifest himself in the flesh many years (about 500) in the future. If Nephi had promised that humans in the flesh could see God at any time, why would God tell Enos many years would pass away before this could happen? Shouldn’t it have already been happening ever since Nephi made the promise in 2 Nephi 32? Did God mispeak?

1 Nephi 13: 35
For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.

Once again, Nephi, the same Nephi that wrote 2 Nephi 32:6, is using the “manifesting himself” terminology to refer to Christ’s ministry among the Nephites after his resurrection and his teachings found in 3 Nephi that will come forth with the publication of the Book of Mormon. The people that Christ manifest himself unto did write the doctrines they were taught, and those doctrines are found in 3 Nephi. Why are the modern visionaries teaching a different doctrine than what we find in 3 Nephi if we’re all supposed to have the same experience and learn the same doctrine?

Alma 45:10
And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.

Alma is referring to Christ’s manifestation to the Nephite nation in 3 Nephi, not to numerous personal manifestations that occur over thousands of years. Agreeing with Nephi and Jacob, Alma believes that Christ will manifest himself unto the Nephites at one specific point in time, and that four hundred years later the people will dwindle in unbelief.

3 Nephi 10:18-19
And it came to pass that in the ending of the thirty and fourth year, behold, I will show unto you that the people of Nephi who were spared, and also those who had been called Lamanites, who had been spared, did have great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads, insomuch that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them—showing his body unto them, and ministering unto them; and an account of his ministry shall be given hereafter. Therefore for this time I make an end of my sayings.

This is Mormon as he is summarizing the events shortly after the death of Jesus. Mormon, like Nephi, Jacob, Enos, and Alma before him, thinks that Jesus manifesting himself unto the people is one specific incident rather than a process spread across thousands of years. He even goes so far as to promise that he will give an account of that manifestation in the flesh, which comprises the rest of 3 Nephi. .

The scriptural authors, including Nephi himself, consistently use “manifest himself unto them in the flesh” (or variations of that) to refer to Jesus’ ministry recorded in 3 Nephi. There are no scriptural examples of the interpretation that Christ manifesting himself in the flesh is a personal visitation to individual humans while those humans are in the flesh. That’s redundant. All humans are in the flesh, so any manifestation of God would qualify if “in the flesh” referred to the audience. But it doesn’t refer to the audience, it is God who is “in the flesh” during this important manifestation. That is when Jesus lived on the earth in Judea and when he appeared in the flesh to the Nephites after his resurrection.

The modern day “prophets” who claim that Nephi is teaching that God will reveal a different gospel to individuals who have a personal encounter with a spiritual being are either ignorantly and willfully twisting his words to say something Nephi nor any other prophet ever taught. If this were true, why didn’t any of these scriptural prophets, after having their own divine encounter, ever mention all the new doctrine they were taught? If ancient prophets were prohibited from sharing this secret doctrine, why are today’s “prophets” able to freely tell everyone about their secret doctrine? That is inconsistent, and God is not inconsistent. So everyone should question the source of this secret doctrine.

What was the new commandment that Nephi promised would be introduced after Christ manifest himself in the flesh? Notice that Nephi specifically said the Nephite would have to “observe to do” this new commandment after Jesus gave it.

3 Nephi 18:5-6
And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.

This new commandment appears to be the sacrament. All the ordinances of the law of Moses that pointed people to Christ were replaced with the sacrament. The sacrament was the new, approved method to testify to the Father that we remember Jesus. Jesus commanded all believers to partake of the sacrament regularly. The scriptures have multiple witnesses that after Christ’s resurrection this was the defining new “doctrine” of Christians, to partake of the bread and wine in his memory.

The real test is whether we will believe the simplicity of the doctrine of Christ as contained in the scriptures, or allow our itching ears to drive us to look beyond the mark and seek out a different gospel that was never taught in scripture. Buyer beware!

 

Redemption

In The Doctrine of Nehor Part 3, Watcher wrote:

Redemption has to do with being resurrected from death and therefore redeemed from death. It does not necessarily address what glory a person is saved into.

Here’s the first challenge to that statement. Alma the Younger, after spending several days in a “spiritual coma”, regains his strength and announces:

Mosiah 27:24
I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

Was Alma the Younger resurrected from the dead at that moment? This is more than one hundred years before the birth of Jesus, so of course not. Alma later teaches people that when they repent the plan of redemption is immediately brought about unto a person:

Alma 34:15-16
And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

That doesn’t mean they are resurrected from death at that time. Just as Alma the Younger wasn’t resurrected from the dead at the time of his spiritual rebirth. Watcher’s definition of redemption contradicts the scriptures. Let’s start with a look at the Webster 1828 definition.

REDEEM, [Latin redimo; to obtain or purchase.]
1. To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability to suffer or to be forfeited, by paying an equivalent;
2. To regain possession of a thing alienated, by repaying the value of it to the possessor.
3. To rescue; to recover; to deliver from.

Alma the Younger was rescued from hell when he repented. It seems that when we are spiritually reborn we receive the promise that we will be rescued from hell – we’ll go to spirit paradise instead of spirit prison. Even people like Alma that are in hell can be redeemed from it. But there are conditions – no one gets redemption without meeting the conditions. Redemption is consistently linked to repentance.

Alma 9:27
And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name.

Alma 19:13
For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name. Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the Spirit.

Helaman 14:2
And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.

Helaman 5:9-11
O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world. And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.

There is no other way or means. He can’t redeem people in their sins. Repentance brings redemption and salvation. If you don’t repent, you cannot be redeemed.

Alma 12:32-35
Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God. But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son; therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.

Mosiah 15:26-27
But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection. Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.

D&C 29:43-44
And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe; and they that believe not unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not;

Ancient and modern revelation agree. One cannot be redeemed without repenting. If Christ redeems all mankind, that means all mankind must at some point repent. There is no other way. If people repent, and Christ refuses to receive them, then Christ is a liar, because he has promised many times that all who repent shall enter into his rest.

Redemption is not given to the unrepentant. Those that do repent enter into the Lord’s rest. There is no other way or means by which man can be saved. Period.

More to come.

Celestial Bodies

In The Doctrine of Nehor – Part 3, Watcher wrote:

The significance and profundity of verse 20 in section 88 is easily overlooked. It can create indigestion because it challenges an existing paradigm.

20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.

There are “bodies who are of the celestial kingdom” who were made and created before they become sanctified so that they can “fulfill the measure of their creation” (verse 19).

These bodies who are of the celestial kingdom are sanctified so that they can possess the celestial kingdom from which they came.

Let’s actually look at what verse 19 says, but to do so we need to start at verse 17:

D&C 88:17-19
And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it. Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;

Contrary to what Watcher claims, verse 19 is not talking about celestial people, it is talking about the earth. The earth will be crowned with glory after the earth has fulfilled the measure of its creation. It doesn’t say anything about the people living on it fulfilling the measure of their creation. Later verses reiterate that it is the earth that fulfills the measure of its creation.

20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.

25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abides the law of a celestial kingdom, for it fills the measure of its creation, and transgresses not the law—

26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.

The earth fills the measure of its creation…not the bodies of humans. I’m not sure where Watcher found the quotation “fulfill the measure of their creation”, but it didn’t come from verse 19 like he claims. Verses 19 and 20 are talking about the earth, not the people. In fact, a search reveals that the phrase “fulfill the measure of their creation” appears nowhere in scripture (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, nor Lectures on Faith). This should be a red flag.

Watcher carries this false scripture even further, by writing:

88:19 informs us that we all come with a predetermined “measure of creation” that will be fulfilled.

D&C 88:19 says nothing of the sort–it is talking about the earth. Let’s look at D&C 88:19 just to make sure I’m not making this up.

For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;

Humans aren’t mentioned at all. Not sure how this can be interpreted as informing us that “we all come with a predetermined measure of creation”.

Let’s dig into this a little bit more. The earth will be crowned with celestial glory and receive the presence of the Father, and this was the reason it was created. And Watcher wrote:

These bodies who are of the celestial kingdom are sanctified so that they can possess the celestial kingdom from which they came.

How does that align with other scripture?

D&C 137:10
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.

If Watcher’s theory is true, that means that only humans made from celestial material can die before the age of eight. Because Watcher also teaches that few people were created from celestial material, and the vast majority of us are made from telestial material, we should see numerous cases of infant immortality every day. All these telestial children under the age of 8 must survive horrendous accidents, diseases, and catastrophes because if they were to die, they would have to go to the celestial kingdom, and this is impossible according to Watcher’s theory of celestial physics. Yet we don’t see any such phenomenon. The infant mortality rate is sadly high in much of the developing world, meaning there are a great many children dying and going to the celestial kingdom, rather than the few Watcher teaches. So which is it? Are there few that are saved in the celestial kingdom? Or is every child that dies before the age of accountability in the celestial kingdom? You can’t have both.