WHERE DOES YOUR PASTOR GET HIS AUTHORITY?


     Sarcastic, smug, and superior, were feelings I had as I sat in the balcony of Central United Protestant Church with my parents and my LDS girlfriend in the late 80's. I felt those feelings because I already "knew" the LDS church was true and all others were a part of the great apostasy. The missionaries had asked me, "Where does the Pastor get his authority to speak and act for God?" The missionaries taught me if the Pastor does not have the proper priesthoods, he cannot speak or act for God, and it was because of this I had the feelings of superiority over Central United Protestant Church. My church, the LDS church, had the priesthoods and Central United Protestant did not!


A Loaded Question.

Strawman, slippery slope, tu quoque, ad hominem, are some of the logical fallacies I've learned about over the years; there is one that is very important to the topic of this chapter; loaded question. A loaded question is what it sounds like, a question with a load, and sometimes the load is very misleading. A common example of a loaded question is "Have you stopped beating your dog?" The assumption, or load, is that the person has been beating his dog, and if a man is asked this question in a crowd, he may not even get the chance to defend himself before the hoard of puppy lovers pounce him. You may not have realized this, but the question "Where does your Pastor get his authority to speak and act for God?" is a loaded question. What is the "load"? That there is some special "authority" a Pastor must have before he speaks and acts for God. This is an easy trap to fall into. Is there a special "authority" someone must have before speaking and acting for God? That is the question this chapter will wrestle with.

     Many of the Latter-day Saints I talk to are male. We men have this juice flowing through us called testosterone, and testosterone is often accompanied with a need to win, sometimes at any cost. I've learned to use men's passion to win on this priesthood issue. I say, "I will give you $100 if you can find one person the Bible says holds the Aaronic priesthood under the New Covenant, or one person the Bible says received the Melchizedek priesthood. I ask this question to expose the "load" in the loaded question "Where does your Pastor get his authority to speak and act for God?" Let's expose the "load" in the loaded question.


$100 Challenge

     If you are LDS you know how important priesthood authority is to your faith. I am a Christian who cares about you, and I’m excited you are taking time to read this book.

     I will give $100 dollars to the first person that finds a Christian in the New Testament that holds the Aaronic priesthood in the Church age. Above that find one that holds the Melchizedek priesthood.


        Bible verses often quoted to collect $100

     Bible verses that use words and phrases like power, appoint, send, receive, keys, gift, laying on of hands, are often used to demonstrate that LDS priesthoods are in the Bible. Here are some examples that are quoted: Acts 8:18-24; 19:13-17; Mark 3:14; John 15:16; 17:18; 20:21-23; Matthew 16:19; 1st Timothy 4:14; 2nd Timothy 1:6 etc…

     Take some time, open up your Bible, and examine each of the above scriptures. Ask yourself this question, “Is priesthood even mentioned in these verses?” Is it really fair to say these verses teach the LDS priesthoods when priesthood is not even mentioned? So far my $100 is safe. 

     I am a Christian and some people call me Pastor James. Latter-day Saints have asked me, “Where do you get your authority to speak and act for God? Do you have the authority of the Aaronic, and Melchizedek priesthoods?” Hebrews 5:4 is often quoted which says, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” They tell me Pastors do not have the priesthood authority, and conclude they can’t speak and act for God.

     You may be wondering what the point of this Chapter is. It is simple. The LDS version of priesthood authority is suspiciously absent in the Bible. Yes, the Bible speaks of an Aronic priesthood, and describes Christ’s priesthood as “according to the order of Melchizedek.” However, there is a serious problem.

     Here is that problem. The LDS descriptions of these priesthoods do not match Biblical descriptions. It would be like me asking someone for a soccer ball and they give me a beach ball. Yes, they are both called balls, but their detailed descriptions are very different. Likewise, the LDS version of priesthood is very different from that found in the Bible.


Five reasons the LDS description of priesthood is different from the Bible.


Reason #1—Aaron’s priesthood was part of the Old Covenant and not the New Covenant

The LDS Church describes the Aaronic Priesthood as being for the Church today. However, the Bible describes it as being part of the Old Covenant, and not for today.

     Hebrews 7:12 tells us the priesthood has “changed.” What changed? The temporary Aaronic Priesthood stopped, and Christ’s permanent Priesthood began.

     Hebrews 7:18 teaches the Old Covenant (which includes the Aaronic Priesthood) has been “annulled.”

     Hebrews 8:13 reveals that the Old Covenant (which includes the Aaronic Priesthood) is “old” which means “obsolete” and is ready to “vanish away.”

     Again, the LDS Church describes this priesthood as being for today, yet the Bible describes it as having been changed, annulled, obsolete and vanishing away.

     You may feel this interpretation is incorrect. Find a Christian under the New Covenant in the Bible that holds this priesthood and I will give you $100.


Reason #2--Wrong bloodlines.

     The LDS Church describes the Aaronic Priesthood as being available for any worthy male age 12 or older. However, the Bible is clear that you must be in the direct bloodline of Aaron.


     “So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall attend to their priesthood; but the outsider shall be put to death.” (Numbers 3:10; Also see Exodus 27:21; 28:43 and 29:9)


     Most Latter-day Saints claim to be of the bloodline of Ephraim, or Manasseh, not Levi (Aaron’s dad). This is a very serious difference of descriptions.

     Do you know the Bible teaches Jesus could not hold the Aaronic Priesthood? Really, it does! It was because He was of the wrong tribe. He was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi (Aaron’s dad). (See Hebrews 7:11-14).

     Again, $100 to the first person who can find a believer in the Church age that holds this priesthood in the New Testament.


Reason #3—Different ordination process.

     The LDS Church describes this priesthood as being received in a simple ceremony. However, the ceremony described in the Bible is far from simple. It is complex, bloody, and very different from the LDS ceremonies.

In addition to the lineage requirement there was a specific ordination process. If you do not go through this process, as given in the Bible, you do not have the Aaronic priesthood. Read Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. Here are some of the highlights: 

1. Must be washed with water.

2. Must be anointed with oil.

3. Hands are to be laid on the head of a bull, not you!

4. The bull is to be killed, and its blood poured on the altar.

5. A ram is to be killed, and its blood sprinkled on the altar.

6.  A second ram is to be killed, blood put on your right ear, right thumb, and right great toe.

7. For the next seven days, one bull and two lambs are to be offered daily.

The LDS and Biblical ordination processes are very different from each other.


Reason #4—Different Answer to an important question.

     Another very important difference comes in the answer to a question. When Latter-day Saints are asked where they get their authority they refer to their priesthoods. When Biblical Apostles are asked the same question they never refer to the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods.

     Acts 4:5-12 is a great example of the above. Peter and John had been speaking and acting for God, and the Jewish leaders did not like it. They asked the apostles; “By what power [or authority], or in whose name, have you done this?” Unlike LDS missionaries they made no reference to priesthood.

     It is compelling that the New Testament writers never mention priesthood as their authority to speak and act for God. Paul’s writings commonly open like this, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” (Romans 12:1 See also 1st and 2nd Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; also 1st and 2nd Peter 1:1) Paul never points to a priesthood authority.

If priesthood was the source of authority, the Apostles, and Bible writers would have mentioned it in their list of credentials somewhere, but they did not.

     Biblical characters and Latter-day Saints have very different answers to the question, “where do you get your authority?”


Reason #5—The LDS Church, and the Bible, have two very different views of the “Melchizedek” priesthood.

     The difference is simple but glaring. The difference is this; the Bible does not speak of a “Melchizedek” priesthood for believers. Never!

The LDS church teaches that if you do not have the priesthood, you do not have the authority to speak, and act for God. Every worthy male in the LDS church is given this priesthood. This is interesting, considering the Bible only attaches the name “Melchizedek” to two people, Melchizedek himself, and Jesus. No one else! (See Appendix for further discussion on this point).

     When an Aaronic priest died, another in his bloodline took his office. Christ’s priesthood was not like that. Christ had no successors; he did not pass on a “Melchizedek” priesthood to anyone. Hebrews 7:23-24 makes this point clear, read it carefully:


     “Also there were many priests [Aaronic priests], because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He [Jesus] because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. (NKJV)


     The word “unchangeable” is very important. In the original Greek language, the word means, “untransferrable.” In other words, Jesus did not pass His priesthood to anybody. I will give $100 to the first person who can find, in the Bible, someone Jesus gave a “Melchizedek” priesthood to.


Where does true Biblical Authority come from?

     This may surprise you, but in the New Testament God never required any priesthoods like that described in the LDS church before man could act for Him. God simply commanded his people to speak and act. They had the choice to obey or disobey. For example, Jesus commanded the Apostles and empowered them to go and preach His message (Matthew 10:1-42). He did not say, “But before you go I must ordain you to be priests, or else you will have no authority.”

     The Bible does mention that every believer has a “Royal priesthood” (1st Peter 2:9), and we are a “kingdom of priests” (Revelation 1:6). This does not mean a kingdom of “Aaronic and Melchizedek” priests. Again, $100 to the first person who can find a Christian under the New Covenant, who holds the Aaronic priesthood or anyone Jesus gave a Melchizedek priesthood.

     I do not claim to have any special authority. The authority is in the truth of the gospel message itself! If the message is the truth the message has authority. If the message is not the truth it does not have authority.

Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth.” Then He simply said to his disciples without any priesthood transfer, “GO…” (See Matthew 28:18-20) Where do I or any Christian get their authority? From God who says, GO!



Appendix:

     From a Biblical perspective, it is more than challenging to prove there ever was a "Melchizedek" priesthood as described by the LDS church. The name is only connected to two people in the Bible, Melchizedek himself and Jesus, no one else. The LDS church however teaches a biblically foreign concept that all the major Biblical characters held a "Melchizedek" priesthood such as David, Adam, Moses, Solomon, Noah, Abraham etcetera (D&C 84:6-18). In the chapter called "Well, that just your interpretation" we discussed exegesis and isogesis. Exegesis is drawing the meaning from the text itself, and isogesis is imprinting a foreign meaning into the text. Saying the Biblical characters had this priesthood is a perfect example of isogesis; you must imprint a "Melchizedek" priesthood into the text. If you disagree with this, I will give you $100 if you can find one of these Biblical characters where the text says they hold such priesthood.

     There have been some elaborate attempts to prove the Bible teaches a Melchizedek priesthood, and that it was connected to more than just Jesus and Melchizedek himself. I'm a part of several Facebook groups designed for Mormons and Evangelicals to have civil discussions; on one occasion a Latter-day Saint posted a link to an article that allegedly proved many Bible characters had the Melchizedek priesthood.[1] The article was challenging for me, as I had not heard this argument before. I looked up each reference, examined the contexts, read commentaries, looked up Hebrew words etcetera. I will do my best to explain the argument, and then I'll explain why it is not real proof for the Biblical characters holding the LDS priesthood.

     The argument from the article starts out by quoting Psalm 110:4 which reads as follows:


     "The LORD has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."


     From the above passage, Latter-day Saints have argued the reference is not just for Jesus and Melchizedek, but to the Davidic Kings, thus David, Solomon, etcetera held the Melchizedek priesthood. To demonstrate the weak spot of this position I again extend the $100 challenge to show a Bible verse where Ps. 110:4 is applied to anyone but Jesus (see Heb. 5:10; 6:20; 7:1; etcetera).

     Based on the faulty assumption that Ps. 110:4 applies to others besides Jesus the argument continues and says,


"This would explain why David and Solomon, who were not Levites, would engage in priestly sacrifices and other actions (e.g.,2 Sam 6:12-14 [cf. Exo 28:6]; 2 Chron 6:13; 1 Kgs 8). Furthermore, the term כֹּהֵן (priest [KJV: rulers]) is used of the sons of David in 2 Sam 8:18. Here is the NRSV translation of this verse: "Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were priests (כֹּהֲנִ֥ים)."'[2]


     The problem with the above is the Kings did not perform the priestly duties themselves; they had the priests do it for them as will be demonstrated below. You will have to have your Bible open to follow along.


2nd Samuel 6:12-14: The key phrase the author of the article wants the reader to see is "he [David] sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep" (6:13b). The conclusion drawn is, since David was not a Levite, and did priestly duties, he must have had the Melchizedek priesthood. This is a faulty conclusion: Here is why. David did not actually do the sacrificing himself; rather he would have had the actual priests do it for him. He is the king after all. If David had offered it with his own hands he would have been in big trouble with God like Saul in 1st Sam. 13:8-14. Just because it says "he" did it does not mean "he did it himself." Simply reading the context reveals this. Back up to 6:12 where it says "So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom..." Does this mean that David himself put the extremely heavy ark on his shoulder and carried it? No, he had it carried by those whom God had chosen to carry it, the Levites (1st Kings 8:3) In the same way, David did not offer the sacrifices himself, he had it done by the priests. 


2nd Cron. 6:13: This passage says "for Solomon had made a bronze platform..." The author of the article wants us to conclude that since Solomon "made a bronze platform" (a priestly duty), he must have held the Melchizedek priesthood. If we let the Bible interpret the Bible, it is clear that Solomon would not have offered the sacrifice himself; he would have had the priests make it for them. If Solomon actually did the priestly duty himself the penalty would have been severe (Numbers 3:10). The context of the passage makes it pretty obvious, for example if you back up to 6:10 Solomon said "I have built the temple for the name of the Lord." So did Solomon build the temple himself or did he have it built? Obviously, he had it built. Solomon did not build the bronze platform with his own hands (a priestly duty), he had it built by those whom God said could, the Levites. 


1st Kings 8: This is a long passage but the key verse I think the LDS author of the article wants the reader to see is 8:5 which says "King Solomon, and all the people of the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen." Again, the author wants the reader to conclude that Solomon (a non-levite), and all the congregation of Israel, did the priestly duties with their own hands. Again, like the passages I commented on above, they did not do it with their own hands; they had the priests do it for them. The penalty was severe if they did it themselves (Num. 3:10). Here is an illustration of what happened: If I took my broken down car to the shop and I come home and tell my wife "I fixed my car" it does not mean I personally drove my car onto the dolly, grabbed the shop tools and personally fixed my car; the mechanic did. Reading further in the passage Solomon says of the Temple "I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever" (8:13). Does that mean Solomon did the job with his own hands? No, he had it built.


1st Sam. 2:18: The article argues that Samuel was not a Levite, yet he did priestly duties, thus Samuel must have had the Melchizedek priesthood. Again, $100 will be given to you if you can show a Bible passage that says Samuel had the Melchizedek priesthood. At first glance, it would appear that Samuel was not a Levite, but an Ephriamite, thus, not in the priestly bloodline:


"Now there was a certain man [Samuel's father] of Ramathiam Zophim, of the mountians of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite." (1st Sam. 11)


     However, upon close examination, Samuel was in the Levite bloodline, and was a priest contrary to the articles assertions. Samuel's Levite blood is traced through Elkanah (See 1st Chronicles 6:33-38).

     Does the Bible teach a Melchizedek priesthood for all worthy LDS males? No, it simply is not a concept found in the pages of the Bible, in fact, the opposite is true.

[1] "Biblical Evidence Of Multiple People Having Held The Melchizedek Prieshood," accessed November 29, 2016, http:/​/​scripturalmormonism.blogspot.com/​2016/​09/​biblical-evidence-of-multiple-people.html?m=​1.

[2] "Biblical Evidence Of Multiple People Having Held The Melchizedek Priesthood," accessed December 2, 2016, http:/​/​scripturalmormonism.blogspot.com/​2016/​09/​biblical-evidence-of-multiple-people.html?m=​1.



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