Authority in the Church – How is it Obtained?

Brigham Young said: “Whoever is ordained to the office of an elder in the Holy Priesthood possesses the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood to a certain degree and, if only one elder should be somehow left on the earth, he could go and set in order the Kingdom of God through revelation.”

Elder John A. Widstoe in his book A Rational Theology on page 103 wrote of this proposition: “As an illustration of the great power, authority, and duty carried by the Priesthood, it may be recalled that, if by any chance every man holding the Priesthood in the Church should be destroyed, save one elder, it would be the duty and right of that one elder, UNDER DIVINE REVELATION, to reorganize the whole church with all the grades of the Priesthood and its offices.”

Mixing Church and State

I fail to see how a church has any right to enforce its religious beliefs on the general populace, either directly or hiding and working in the shadows behind a government, particularly when it comes to abridging the rights of others. A church has a right to discipline its own members as it sees fit, but what the Mormon Church tried to do with Proposition 8 in California was evil in my view, and I see nothing in D&C 134 to justify it.

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. D&C 134:10.

But if the Church is more interested in regulating public morality according to their doctrines, why not fight with equal fervor against divorce, child abuse, and abortion? These are clearly labeled as sins, so why not lobby to deprive all who commit these offenses of their civil liberties? The reason why is because these things are now politically acceptable to the religious right.

And the idea that the leaders of the LDS church “hold” certain keys and pretend to certain eternal privileges is not provable. Read the D&C carefully and see exactly which keys were actually COMMITTED (not given) to him and which are still committed to Elijah and to Peter, James, and John. (See my post about “Eternal Lives” for exact references.) Also, keep in mind that the gold plates were also COMMITTED to Joseph Smith, and he was required to render an accounting for his use of them; he lost them on one occasion, and eventually had to return them. Then there are many questions concerning succession of authority.

A better way would be to foster and uphold the good rather than fighting against evil. Satan really doesn’t care what side you are on an issue. His plan is to entice you into hatred and contention. This is the clearest sign to me that the leadership of the LDS Church has lost its vision: that it is spending more time and effort fighting the petty political values of the day and ignoring what Joseph Smith called “its greatest object”: building up ZION, which by the way, will be made up of ALL nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples.