The Religion of Mormonism (The Priesthood: Mormonism's Foundation)
According to Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., on May 15, 1829, John the Baptist descended from heaven to confer the Aaronic priesthood upon himself and Oliver Cowdery.1 At the same time, John the Baptist allegedly promised that in "due time" the apostles, John, James, and Peter, would soon cross over from the immediate presence of God and bequeath the Melchizedekian priesthood to the Mormon prophet and his scribe.
Today, as the heirs of their prophet's priestly order, the Latter-Day Saints claim exclusive possession of the Aaronic and Melchizedekian priesthoods. The significance of this to the Mormon Church cannot be underestimated:
"And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live."2
"The Melchizedek priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things."3
The possession of these two priesthoods not only extends to the Mormon Church exclusive authority to minister "in spiritual things," but the whole of the Latter-Day Saints edifice is founded upon this very claim: "All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood."4
Hebrews vs. Mormon Claims
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stands or falls on the basis of their exclusive claim to the Aaronic and Melchizedekian priesthoods. Does the Mormon Church legitimately (i.e., biblically) possess these two priesthoods as they claim?
Brigham Young, Joseph Smith's successor as prophet and seer of the Mormon Church, invites inquirers into the claims of Mormonism to: "Take the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test."5 Nineteen centuries before the founding of Mormonism, the divinely inspired author of the Book of Hebrews addressed the challenge of Brigham Young.
In Hebrews 7:7-10, the Scripture clearly distinguishes the superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood over the Aaronic priesthood. Why? Because Abraham, the father of Levi, paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of Salem (see Genesis 14:18-20).
Hebrews continues: "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to comeone in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law" (7:11,12).6 The word perfection (Greek teleiosis) means "to make perfect in the moral sense,"7 i.e., the Aaronic priesthood was unable to provide propitiation for human sin "because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, "a change" is required in both the Aaronic priesthood and the Law (the Greek word translated change [metatithemi] refers to "a change from one state to anotherchange, transformation").8
At the moment of Christ's sacrificial death, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51). This signified the "change" or absolution of the Aaronic priesthood, for by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, all who believe now have access to God the Father (see 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). By claiming to possess the Aaronic priesthood, this sinister cult rejects the "once for all" atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord was not a descendant of Levi but rather Judah (Hebrews 7:14). And, therefore, He is our Great High Priest, not on the basis of His ancestry but on the basis of His "indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16). Thus, He is "a priest forever, in the order (Greek, taxis)9 of Melchizedek" (Hebrew 7:17). And because He "lives forever, he has a permanent (Greek, aparabaton) priesthood" (Hebrews 7:24). Aparabaton appears only here in the New Testament and means, "without a successor; permanent, unchangeable."10 The priesthood of Jesus Christ is nontransferable "because he always lives" (Hebrews 7:25).
The Mormon claim to the Melchizedekian priesthood is a subtle, demonically inspired (1 Timothy 4:1) denial of the bodily resurrection, ascension, and deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May God's forgiving grace turn Mormons from their destructive teachings to Jesus Christ who "is able to save completely (Greek, panteles, meaning, "forever, for all time")11 those who come to God through him" (Hebrews 7:25).
- Doctrine and Covenants, sections 13 and 27. The Mormon Church considers The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price to be inspired revelations of God equal to the Bible.
- Ibid., section 84:21,22. It is noteworthy that this "revelation" was not received until 1829, 9 years after Joseph Smith, Jr., claimed his vision of the Father and the Son as a 15-year- old boy in the spring of 1820. How was it possible for Joseph Smith to look upon the face of God and live without the priesthood?
- Ibid., section 107:8. The racist history of the Mormon Church is most evident in their historic claims that black men are to be restricted from joining the priesthoods (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 476- 477). The double-minded god of the Mormon Church is continually concerned with the Mormon image. Therefore, Spencer Kimball, the then president and prophet of the Mormon Church, claimed to receive a "revelation" on June 9, 1978, that would apparently rescind previous "revelations,"allowing for the entrance of black men into the Mormon priesthood. (See Walter Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, chapter 6, "Mormonism's Racism," 150, for a thoroughly documented discussion of the racism of the Mormon Church historically.)
- Doctrine and Covenants, section 107:5.
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:46. It must be stressed that Young professed: "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture," Ibid., 13:95.
- Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
- Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989), 88.38.
- Ibid., 13.52.
- Mormons attempt to point out that Jesus Christ belongs to an "order" of priests of which they are heirs through their prophet. However, the word translated order is better understood as "nature, quality, manner, condition, appearance," Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 804. Melchizedek mysteriously appears in Scripture as one without origins or end to his life (Genesis 14:18-20) and he is thus a fitting type of our Lord, (Hebrews 7:11) who is himself the "Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 1:8).
- Ibid., 80.
- Ibid., 608.