Respect for an Aging Prophet

PresMonsonWomensBroadcast2014_02I watched the recording of Saturday’s historic Women’s Conference the other day. The music was beautiful, the messages were wonderful. Someone at church commented on Sunday that President Monson “did not look well.” OK, let’s see. He’s 86 years old, has long been suffering from the effects of diabetes and lost his wife almost a year ago. I hope I look as well at age 86.

Even Our Prophets Get Old

I watched the video closely at the end as he walked out of the Conference Center, assisted by church security and then accompanied by his daughter. I even paused the recording every few seconds to study his features. He looked pretty good to me. I took a frame grab and posted it with this short entry so you can judge for yourself. Sorry about the poor quality. He didn’t pose for us.

After All, He’s Still a Man

Why do we do this? Why do we care so much about how our prophet looks? And why do we seem surprised the man is aging and is, gasp, possibly suffering from the effects of what we call dementia, senility or Alzheimer’s? He’s not a God. He’s a man. All men must die. And he’s not the first LDS prophet to suffer diminishing health while serving as President of this large church.

Leave President Monson Alone

I wrote previously about the decline of President Benson over the last six or seven years of his life when he was pretty much out of touch with reality. As I wrote there, it didn’t bother me then that President Benson had Alzheimer’s and it doesn’t bother me now. If President Monson is suffering from dementia, then for goodness sake, let’s give him a break and let him enjoy it.

Will He be “Allowed” to Speak?

Every six months the dialog on the Internet forums goes a little bit overboard in analyzing how President Monson looked or the way he delivered his addresses. The speculation is rampant that he may not be “allowed” to speak for fear of going off and getting lost in his delivery. He was always pretty good at engaging his audience with antics like the ear wiggling in Priesthood.

Update after Saturday Sessions:

As everyone knows, President Monson spoke at both the opening and the Priesthood sessions. He sounded wonderful. He can still deliver a good talk. I was so pleased to see him looking and functioning so well. I don't recall seeing President Packer. I pray the Lord's blessings upon him. Elder Perry looked as spry as ever. He may soon be the President of the Quorum (end of update).

Update after Sunday Morning:

If his delivery of Sunday morning's address was any indication, the Lord blessed President Monson in great measure. I was especially touched by his own little prayer he offered at the end: "Heavenly Father, I am always glad you are here and there." So touching. So sweet. So childlike. This man is not putting on an act. He truly is becoming more child-like. God bless President Monson.

Keyword Searches are Trending

I know I’m nobody as far as influence on the LDS blogging community, but I still get a lot of Google hits on phrases like “Monson senile,” or “Monson dementia.” Watching the keyword searches on my blog is like taking the temperature of what church members are discussing on a daily basis. It’s that time again. Those “Monson Alzheimer’s” keywords are starting to trend.

The Internet Has Changed Everything

Thomas S. Monson has spent almost his entire life in the service of an institution that has grown tremendously. Every growing institution has challenges. Besides managing that growth, another challenge is dealing with disenchanted members. The Internet has done two things that were, by all indications, not anticipated by the Brethren until it was too late. The damage has been done.

We Can Know More Than The Brethren

First, it provided a massive repository of material from early church history that was previously unknown to most members. Second, it provided a platform, through forums and blogs, to connect with other members in a way that allowed them to share research and build community. Leaders found themselves overwhelmed with people who knew more about church history than they did.

We Gave the Current Leaders Their Titles

We put the title of prophet, seer and revelator on the fifteen men who lead this institution. Now the Lord gave those titles to Joseph and to Hyrum, but as far as I know, He did not give them to members of the Twelve. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Brigham did not give himself those titles. He was voted into the office of President through common consent by members.

Brigham Never Claimed to be a Prophet

We are the ones who gave those titles to our President and members of the Twelve. Again, someone please show me where the Lord designates they should have those titles in scripture. In fact, Denver wrote about this specific thing both on his blog and in Passing the Heavenly Gift. I am fairly certain Brigham never claimed them for himself.  It was a more recent church change.

Commentary by Denver Snuffer
Inside the Church the current interpretation is that the "office" has associated with it a "title" set out in scripture.  The "office" of the President of the High Priesthood (D&C 107: 65-66) , who is the President of the Church, also bears the "title" of "prophet, seer and revelator."  (D&C 107: 91-92.)  The current interpretation of these verses is that the possessor of the office is entitled to the title of "prophet, seer and revelator" by virtue of office alone.  Therefore, nothing more is needed in current church usage other than possession of the office, which alone gives the possessor of the office the title accorded to the office.  So, no, our current terminology does not require something other than office. Source: Denver Snuffer Blog, 21 May 2010

Yes, we Have Administrative Apostles

I am in agreement with Denver that being ordained to the office of Apostle does not make one a prophet, seer or revelator (or translator). We have come to associate the titles with the office of President or Apostle. There are two different kinds of apostles – those who have actually received the Lord and had their ordination complete and those who are apostles in name only.

This May be New To Some of You

Please don’t be offended if this is a radical new interpretation or understanding of the highest positions we seem to almost worship in our church. These are all good men and I love them dearly. I will be listening very closely to each of them speak – if they are well enough to do so. We may or may not hear President Monson speak. If he does, great – if not, I’m OK with that.

Exercise ALL the Priesthood Keys

I still sustain him as “prophet, seer and revelator and as the only man on the earth authorized to exercise ALL the priesthood keys of the Kingdom of God on earth.” There are other keys not associated with the Kingdom of God on Earth one can receive. We may also need to come to a better understanding of what a key actually is. Is it permission as we teach or is it knowledge?

Keys, Keys, We’ve Got Keys

I want to make this short because this is what the Lord asked me to teach when I prayed about it Sunday night. It is not new and what I have shared here is not complete. You add the rest in the comments if you would please. Also, correct me where I’m wrong. Keys, keys, keys - We’ve got to understand what they really are and who can hold them. Our eternal salvation is at peril.

I Uphold Them with my Faith and Prayers

God bless us all to enjoy General Conference this weekend. I hope I have made it clear I love and sustain these Brethren. Like Denver, even if one of them directs I need to be disciplined, as Elder Nelson did toward Denver, I will sustain them as authorized in the office they hold. We sustained them. We put them in those offices by common consent to lead this institution.

Offices in One or Both Kingdoms

Just remember, there is currently a big difference between the Kingdom of God on the Earth and the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Think about it. I am grateful to have membership in both. I hope and pray they will come together in my lifetime, but I am an old man, so it may not be my privilege to witness the joining of the two. Besides, I think we are far from ready for Zion yet.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

But that’s a topic for another day – April 12th, to be exact, in Grand Junction Colorado. Wish I could be there. Carol and I are making plans to attend at least one of the lectures in St. George, Las Vegas or Phoenix. Denver, if you want to come to Southern California, let some of us help you find a venue. Please don’t forget there are saints outside of Utah who love you. Peace.


log said…
I still sustain him as “prophet, seer and revelator and as the only man on the earth authorized to exercise ALL the priesthood keys of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Emphasis added. If only that was the way they worded the question. In point of fact, it is worded thusly:

Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?

Which is quite different.
log said…
Additionally, the scriptures do not attach the titles of "prophet, seer, and revelator" to the office of president of the Church, neither that of the apostles.

Read carefully, it says something else.

D&C 107
91 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—

92 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.

The president has the duty to be like unto Moses, which is the duty 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. And, note well, it says nothing - at all - about the apostles in connection with these gifts and powers.

The problem is that a gift may be bestowed and not received.

D&C 88
33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

We therefore have no scriptural warrant to assert that a man, by virtue of his calling as president of the Church, has these gifts and powers.

After all, it is standing in the presence of God and Jesus in the heavenly temple that makes a man a prophet.

I cannot think of a better discourse on these things than that found in the Book of Mormon.

Mosiah 8
13 Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer.

14 And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God.

15 And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.

16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.

17 But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.

18 Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.
Larry said…
If you ever met someone who really has the Gift of "prophecy" you would know the difference. Consider the woman at the well, when Jesus told her everything about her life. That is a spiritual Gift. Joseph Smith had that gift and I've met some Apostles up close who do not. Some of the Prophets of our generation may have the Gift. I have not met them all so can't say..If you meet one who does have the gift then you can no for sure. Just because your are Ordained to the Head of the Church does not mean you have the Gift........
LDS Anarchist said…
No one says you must answer those questions with a "yes" or a "no." For example, I might answer,

Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?


"I sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only person on the earth who is authorized to exercise all the priesthood keys that are given to the church."

And I might answer,

Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?


I sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

No one can twist one's arm to get someone to say a plain, "yes" or "no," to the questions. You answer the questions however you want to answer them, according to your conscience and knowledge, and then let the interviewer make up his mind, based on what you said and didn't say.
I attended a Congregational Church meeting in Keene, NH right there at town center square in 1992 when the preacher announced a Mormon brother was in the congregation with them. Why? Because everyone likes to be validated. I waived and smiled from the pew. Everyone turned to look. His sermon was on keys and the relationship between the word "key" and Peter the chief apostle. He went through the usual sermoncraft of examining the word from many angles. He touched on revelation as a possibility but concluded "key" was more like "keystone" than anything else. A keystone is vital to the arch like Peter was to the church. Moreover for a plasterer a key (a horizontal gap between lath slats) allows the first layer of cement to cling to the surfaces of the wall or ceiling. Arghh...He didn't go as far as I wanted him to go. Go preacher go I silently chanted. Tell'em it's revelation!

In April 1981 when I was in a greater state of personal apostasy, after my mission, Elder McConkie said in his talk "Upon This Rock", "Revelation: Pure, perfect, personal revelation—this is the rock! Revelation that Jesus is the Christ: the plain, wondrous word that comes from God in heaven to man on earth, the word that affirms the divine Sonship of our Lord—this is the rock!"

Within my heart, I have not been a good friend to Elder McConkie in recent years because of the way orthodoxy minders use his 7 Heresies talk as a club. I have unrighteously in silence thought, "when I see him, I'll punch him in the nose!" Hmm...OK uncle! As unfriendly as he seemed to be toward personal revelation seekers like me, he hit it out of the park in April 1981 as he did at other times. More members in gospel doctrine class remember his straightforward style and sayings than any other apostle of whom I know or remember. We love Elder McConkie.

If key means revelation, key means knowledge. To have knowledge one must have faith. For faith one must possess hope.

In coming months and years there will be some who will mistake me for a conspiracy theorist. A conspiracy theorist is one who looks for fault when they ought to be looking for ways to keep this church together. A conspiracy requires malice and forethought. I will never believe in a conspiracy when it comes to our Brethren. Therefore I am categorically not a conspiracy theorist. I WAS an apostasy theorist, but this blog community has confirmed my "theory" so it's not something that is interesting to me anymore. Now I gotta figure out how to warn my neighbor of the latter-day apostasy without offending them. My dear friends and family members are so sensitive about it. And they should be. We are in a state of apostasy and we are sliding away from what the Lord had in mind when he planted us in a choice part of his vineyard.

I will use Levi Savage's 1856 example of sticking with his team because he loved them and the Lord. The aftermath of the Willie and Martin Companies' tragedy aroused the anger of President Young in the old tabernacle at bishops training meeting in late fall. President Young looked right at two of the bishops (one my ancestor) and scorched their ears with his disappointment and reproval. He said, "so brothers, will you now apostatize with the others?" "No President Young. This is our church too."
log said…
No one says you must answer those questions with a “yes” or a “no.” ... No one can twist one’s arm to get someone to say a plain, “yes” or “no,” to the questions.

That depends upon your bishop, and, in their turn, the stake presidency.
Tim Malone said…
Hi Log. Yeah, I know the question is a little different. Can't I just pretend that's the way the question is worded when I'm asked in my recommend interview in July? When I make the fifth covenant in the temple, the wording (which has also been changed over the years to add the name of the church), ends with that phrase - the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Bishopric counselor won't know the difference.
Tim Malone said…
Oh my. How often we forget that. How I would love to tell those leaders who insist we must "align ourselves with the Brethren in all our thinking" that I have been commanded of the Lord to confirm everything for myself, no matter the source. We, as members, hold power through common consent.

Someday, we just might see a block of members in the Conference Center, vote no when asked to sustain some individual. Of course, they are "dealt with" after that and lovingly told to "get in line." Say, isn't this the conference where some of the women of the OW movement have said they might just do that very thing - vote no as a block?

Looking forward to this weekend. We may have some fireworks inside the Conference center as well as outside.
As men we crave responsibility and to be on a team that actually ushers in the Second Coming. If I am a target for administrative discipline I will preempt my brothers who walk with me in this probation.

Administratively my stake president whom I love will not be able to resist his area president's directive because he can't. If he tries he will be released and I don't want that for him. My area president doesn't know me and will not shed the same tears on my behalf as will my stake president.

Brother Malone has a preemptive advantage because he can release pressure by just being released from a highly visible calling. In California where he lives, the members are closer and more networked than here in jolly old zion. If Brother Malone's calling has changed to a teacher then teach he must, but without the strain of waiting for an unnecessary council to be called.

There is no honor in a disciplinary council because the outcome is predetermined in cases of "apostasy" and puts us at odds with administrators. The spirit of contention and rebellion often accompanies such councils and makes things worse for the one receiving the love. It's better to avoid contact.
Shyloh said…
Excellent point log. I think the key phrase in the scripture quoted from D&C 107:92 is essential.... "Behold, here is wisdom". I am intrugues by that phrase. It is everywhere in the D&C, and usually is followed by very important instruction from the Lord. The Lord does not just want a president of the church to perform a duty, but an actual prophet. Verse 92 also talks about having all the gifts of God... Meaning spiritual gifts. We may all be born with some, but the rest are to be sought after.

It reminds me a lot about our temple blessings wherein we are "to become". I think one also has to "become" a prophet.
Tim Malone said…
Oh, no. Even though I know the outcome in advance because I know my Stake President would counsel privately with me first and ask me to conform to certain requirements, I simply would not want to miss the opportunity to participate in a council even where I know the outcome because it gives me an opportunity to express my love for my brethren in the priesthood. Even if I am not allowed to speak, my example of willing submissiveness will speak for me. I will not contend or argue.
log said…
I cannot counsel you on this matter, but if one accepts the principle of mentally adding to or subtracting from the questions before answering them, then what does one's answers really mean?

No one can ever enter the Celestial Kingdom unless he is strictly honest. - Joseph Smith (Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, p.104)

Then, O ye Twelve! notice this Key, and be wise for Christ's sake, and your own soul's sake. Ye are not sent out to be taught, but to teach. Let every word be seasoned with grace. Be vigilant; be sober. It is a day of warning, and not of many words. Act honestly before God and man. Beware of Gentile sophistry; such as bowing and scraping unto men in whom you have no confidence. Be honest, open, and frank in all your intercourse with mankind. - Joseph Smith (TPJS, p. 156)

And is not the essence of dishonesty saying one thing while thinking another?
bbytheway said…
When answering the question, whose definitions do you use? When the question is about keys and I understand the word differently than the church does, do I answer with my definition of keys, or the way the church (who authored the question) understands it?
Tim Malone said…
Well then, I have a problem I didn't have before Sunday night. It was easier to be a believer, but now I know certain things. I also possess keys, given to me by the Lord, but I don't have all keys, so I'm OK there.

Do I sustain Thomas S. Monson as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? I don't know if he possesses all priesthood keys. I don't know if there may be another who possesses additional or other priesthood keys.

So it goes back to the definition of keys. Do I accept the traditional interpretation that keys are permissions or do I accept my newfound understanding that keys are knowledge? Still pondering. I have months.
Jonathan Felt said…
Sorry. Can you remove dfsd? I was testing whether or not I was logged in ; kind of like I would have tested an old ballpoint pen on a piece of scratch paper.

I am enjoying the posts today. I think we're all hoping for the best in your life because we don't want to see you or your family embarrassed or hurt. It's like watching a brother go off to war. A stupid war, but a war nonetheless.
Steve said…
Second to last paragraph re-worked with references, missed adding them in:

Priesthood keys are authority that opens the door to the spiritual blessings of the church or spiritual knowledge (the mysteries of the kingdom or the knowledge of God).

D&C 84: 19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

D&C 107: 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church

These blessings come through obedience to that which is offered through the authority (ordinances).

D&C 84: 20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
D&C 84: 21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh [emphasis mine]

As the quotes previously given in D&C sections 68 & 107 show, keys and authority are equated; therefore the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, or the key of knowledge of God could likewise be called the authority of the mysteries of the kingdom or the authority of the knowledge of God; or in other words, keys are the authority to perform heaven-authorized ordinances which open up the gates (through obedience to the principles and covenants associated with these ordinances) to all the spiritual blessings of the church--all spiritual blessings tending to spiritual knowledge or the mysteries of God.
the unpope said…
keys come with a specific assignment from the Lord- the knowledge power and instruction related to fulfilling that assignment are the key(s).
Tim Malone said…
Now that's got me excited - a simple explanation that makes perfect sense with what I experienced Sunday night. I've got keys now that did NOT come from anyone in authority over me in the church. So, Thomas S. Monson does not have the keys (well, it was just one) the Lord gave me and which I am still learning to exercise. Thank you to the unpope for helping me understand with that straightforward answer.
Eric said…
“. . . if He [Jesus] comes to a little child, he will adapt himself to the language and capacity of a little child” (TPJS 162).

In my opinion, we empathetically converse in the mindframe and capacity of the other person.

If we do not, there is a potential for appearing condescending or prideful, if the other person's mind/heart is not open enough.
log said…
The interpretation of "last time" might need some very careful nuancing, lest we contradict the scriptures. Joseph Smith declared "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of [Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!"

Clearly Joseph meant "last" as "latest," and this can be supported logically as well as by consulting Webster's 1828 dictionary.

The logic is as follows - if Joseph's testimony (eyewitness account) was indeed "last of all," meaning "the one past which there cannot be any more," then every man who has testified of Christ since Joseph was, or is, a liar. Or, conversely, Joseph was lying.

The scriptural contradiction in interpreting "for the last time" meaning "never to be done again" comes when we peruse JST Matthew 21, in which the Savior declares straightforwardly that he shall destroy the wicked Gentile husbandmen, meaning the leadership of the Church, who shall indeed possess the keys of the kingdom at the coming of the Savior, when he comes, and shall appoint other husbandmen in their stead who shall render the Lord the fruits of the vineyard in their seasons. (Since the Savior has not come, the keys are yet with the Church.)

However, Tim and I had already covered the "keys of the kingdom" in the first couple of comments. If the TR question had asked if one acknowledges the president of the Church as the sole person possessing and authorized to exercise all the keys of the kingdom, there would be no issue - that's plainly scriptural, and therefore the official teaching of the Church, by common consent.

Unfortunately, the question actually being asked is quite different - whether we acknowledge the president of the Church as possessing and authorized to exercise all priesthood keys - and, per President Kimball, citing Brigham Young, this question cannot be honestly answered in the affirmative, in my view, due to the universal and unrestricted nature of the claim.

Your mileage may vary.
log said…
D&C 27
5 [T]he hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni...

6 And also with Elias...

7 And also John the son of Zacharias...

8 Which John I have sent unto you, my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, to ordain you unto the first priesthood which you have received, that you might be called and ordained even as Aaron;

9 And also Elijah...

10 And also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham...

11 And also with Michael, or Adam...

12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;

13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.

It is not clear that the "whom" of verse 13 is a reference to Joseph and Oliver; indeed, grammatically, it seems a reference to Peter, and James, and John (the "whom" of verse 12). In light of JST Matthew 21, this is the most likely reading.

Your mileage may vary.
Steve said…
Latest can mean last, and last can mean latest ( see Merriam Webster online dictionary), in the sense of final, closing, terminal, or very end. As in "The latest day of the year is Dec. 31st" is equivalent to "The last day of the year is Dec. 31st".

"Last" however, does not, and cannot mean "latest" in the sense of "most recent" if that is what you are trying to suggest. If you are, you are simply grammatically mistaken there.

"Last of all" is qualifying the previous clause, meaning the "last of all the testimonies which have been given of him". It does not say it is the last of all testimonies which ever will be given of him, nor does it say "the last testimony which we give of him" for that would mean their final testimony of Christ, but again that is not what was said.

Whereas in the phrase "last time" in D&C 90:2, last qualifies time and can only mean "final time". Likewise in the phrase "last kingdom" in D&C 90:6 last qualifies kingdom and thus can only mean "final kingdom", not the most recent with potentially more to come.

Your desire to change the meaning to fit a preconceived notion of interpretation for JST Matt. 21, is unconvincing to say the least. Trying to change the meaning is not only grammatically incorrect, it is also far from reading the most plain interpretation, or "with no interpretation at all".

Yes, of course there are Priesthood keys beyond what mortals can hold, but I think it's safe to say that the temple recommend interview at the very least implies, "Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as... the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys [that can be held by mortals]". If you want to nitpick so much as to have to qualify and say, "I only believe he possesses those Priesthood keys that can be held by mortals" then feel free to do so. I feel confident the question is not asking me whether I believe President Monson also holds all priesthood keys including those which cannot be held by a mortal.

Of course, I realize this would still be problematic for you, since you have expressed that you do not confidently believe President Monson holds all the priesthood keys or authority of the priesthood that can be held in mortality. I believe your disbelief on this thing is the very thing the question is trying to get at, disbelieving a fundamental truth claim of the current Church and believing there are potential alternate authorities that we could (maybe even should) be looking to now or in the future.

Anyway, I've spent enough time on this already, so I'll bow out and allow you last word (and by that I don't mean "most recent" or latest word). I believe the most direct and obvious meaning of the scriptures on this, but I suppose your mileage may vary.
Eric said…
"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. . . . The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church" (D&C 107:8, 18).

The Melchizedek Priesthood (which is not a person) has authority over ALL the offices(!) and holds the keys of ALL the spiritual blessings(!).

If I read this right, then any righteous man who receives the Melchizedek Priesthood holds all of the keys (but some or most may be unexercised).

"The Holy Ghost is God’s messenger to administer in all those priesthoods" (HC 5:555). So I would add that any righteous woman can attain the same spiritual blessings through the Holy Ghost.

For example, we each potentially have the sealing power on an individual level. We can be sealed up by the Lord unto eternal life. No middleman required.

Under this interpretation, the temple recommend question is accurate:

Yes, the President possesses all of the keys. Every righteous Melchizedek Priesthood holder does.

Yes, the President exercises keys that I don't. "The Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, have a right to officiate in all the offices in the church" (D&C 107:9). One example would be the keys of the kingdom, which may include "officiating" and maintaining the Church's organizational structure. By virtue of being at the top of the organizational structure, he is the only one who can "officiate" over the entire structure.
Eric said…
I'll need to ponder all this further...

So when Joseph received the keys of the gathering of Israel, by my current interpretation:

We each receive a key (singular) of the gathering of Israel, again on an individual level -- the call for a person to gather oneself to Israel, or in other words, to become a covenant person.

[That may also explain why it's only the "key," not "keys," of the knowledge of God. Knowing God is an individual thing.]

Receiving the keys (plural) of the gathering of Israel means that for the President, the scope of his stewardship expands to the entire world.

I suppose that another possibility is that the keys of the gathering of Israel exist outside of the Melchizedek Priesthood... Does anyone think that priesthood keys have an independent existence outside of the priesthood itself?
Tim Malone said…
Loved your second and third paragraphs, Eric. I had never considered the idea that it is the Melchizedek Priesthood that holds all the keys and not necessarily a single man. Yes, that does make the temple recommend question accurate. And yes, I absolutely believe the president of the High Priesthood has all the keys - every righteous Melchizedek Priesthood holder does. Wow.

But he is the only one authorized to exercise ALL of the keys. I've always believed that. Your example of officiating and maintaining the organizational structure of the church / hierarchy / institution was very helpful. By virtue of being at the top, he is the only one who can preside, officiate or administer over the entire structure of the kingdom of God on the earth. I know I'm repeating you but that helps me learn.

Oh, and you just answered for me that there is a difference between keys and "the key of knowledge." That's something that helps me understand better what happened Sunday and Monday night after my prayers. I wish I could explain the "data download" I felt flowing into my intelligence. I could feel my spirit literally vibrating as if filled with electricity. Well, maybe it was. Our body's nervous system is electrochemical.

I know the life of the body is in the blood, but this was life separate from that flowing through my veins. I could feel a different kind of life flowing through me. It was as if my nervous system was lit up and switched on high. I felt "tingly" and could tell my body was literally vibrating. Plus, at the same time, it was such an intensely emotional feeling - as in the pure love of Christ - I could not resist it. It melted my heart.

I felt as if I have been given the key of knowledge now. I now know how to receive revelation in a more direct and immediate manner. Understanding and interpreting the answer to my prayer was clear and straightforward. I knew the Lord had heard my prayer - through the messenger or the Holy Ghost and I knew when he answered it with clear and unmistakable insight in my inner eye. I "saw" the answer I had prayed for. Hope that makes sense.

Anyway, it was an intensely sacred experience and I'm still trying to understand it. By the way, I have been filled with so much energy this week as a result of this prayer experience that I haven't needed more than 5 or 6 hours of sleep before I'm fully charged and ready to go. That's a change. All of last year I was dragging and lethargic. Say, maybe that's what is meant by the renewing their bodies in D&C 84, verse 33 I think.

Thanks, Eric.
Stephen said…
Tim said: "We are the ones who gave those titles to our President and members of the Twelve. Again, someone please show me where the Lord designates they should have those titles in scripture."

Ok, maybe not scripture, but Joseph said,

"I then called upon the quorums and congregation of Saints to acknowledge the Twelve Apostles, who were present, as Prophets, Seers, Revelators, and special witnesses to all the nations of the earth, holding the keys of the kingdom, to unlock it, or cause it to be done, among them, and uphold them by their prayers, which they assented to by rising." (March 27, 1836.) DHC 2:417.
VJ said…
It's been a while since I read it, and I don't have it next to me to look it up. However, Didn't Michael Quinn's book Mormon Hierarchy (probably Origins of Power) document when was the first time Brigham had himself sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator? If I recall correctly, Quinn portrays the event as something where the quorum of the 12 didn't want left behind, so they asked/pushed to be sustained in the same manner. Thus, the tradition began and continues. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Dave Park said…
As I stated on an earlier post Tim, now you have me thinking. Thanks for your love of us.
"I believe these things “dispensations, rights, honors, majesty, glory keys, and “powers of your priesthood”etc. are the names of things that commence after coming into direct contact with the Lord, and are the covenants or assignments of work for one to complete or engage in on the Lords behalf at his bidding . This is whats come to my mind as I ponder these things,Thanks. David "
Tim Malone said…
Good enough. And good to see it was so early. Thanks Stephen. I've seen this subject (of keys) go back in forth so many times over the years on so many blogs and forums. It's good to see a quote from DHC. And it's good to see the faith Joseph had in the Twelve that he asked the people to sustain them with the same titles he possessed. Say, isn't that what we do every six months? Looking forward to this weekend. We've been praying for them in our home.
Surf40 said…
Back to the original post, yes, we must let Pres Thomas S. Monson live in peace. But the church bureaucracy must also be honest in his declining health. They will have a harder time with the Internet and cell phone videos of hiding his decline like they did with Pres Benson. A simple statement from one of his counselors that says “Due to the declining health of Pres Monson, he will no longer be participating in the day to day running of the church. He is being well taken care of, and we meet with him weekly to review matters of the church with him. “
Let’s not have him propped up at special events, or have him auto-sign mission calls with a pen as they did with Pres Benson. Let the man die in peace!
Rick said…
Hi Log! I finally understand you. Took me awhile. It is interesting that we have the Book of Mormon, we read it, but we haven't really understood it.

The Doctrine of Christ includes the Baptism of Fire. When you have the Baptism of Fire, you are then on the strait and narrow path.

Then the rest of what Nephi tells us makes sense. Then you can speak with the tongue of angels.

And understand the warnings, which aren't very positive to us Gentiles...course, most of the church doesn't know we are or believe we are Gentiles....
Joe Gardner said…
Does anyone know when the title of "prophet, seer, and revelator" was added to define the 12 in the temple recommend and in conference's sustaining vote? Just curious.
Steve said…
Ugh, this is why we can’t have a conversation, what more can I do when you can’t (or won't) even read the dictionary correctly. If you can change objective definitions of single words to suit your purposes, I don’t know how we could ever have a meaningful conversation on JST Matt 21 (which I also believe has a straightforward meaning, but without your mistaken interpolations added into the text that assumes “wicked men” refers to the LDS Church).

Let me recap our conversation over definitions using different words as a last ditch effort to help you see your logical error. The word “last” has several definitions and the word “latest” has several definitions; one of these definitions overlaps. Likewise the word “club” has several definitions and the word “bat” has several definitions; one of these definitions overlaps. Replacing the second set of words for the first, our conversation looks something like the following.

You say, club can mean bat, and bat means nocturnal flying animal, and therefore you conclude club can mean nocturnal flying animal.

I respond, yes club can mean bat, and bat can mean club, but it does not follow that because one definition overlaps, that all definitions can apply to both words. Club means bat in the sense of an object used to hit something, but club does not and cannot mean nocturnal flying animal.

Then you say, look at the dictionary, one of the first definitions for club is bat, and therefore club does indeed mean nocturnal flying animal.

Can you the see the logical error?

Let me give you two usages for latest:
1) Late, later, and latest
2) The latest fashion trend

In the link you provided, in the definition where latest is mentioned it succinctly says, “That comes after all the others”. Which of the above 2 examples do you think that applies to? Can you see that the first example above means “last” or “that [which] comes after all the others”, and the second example means “most recent”; they are two separate definitions. Even though latest can mean “most recent”, “last” never does in this same sense (i.e "the last fashion trend" is not equivalent to "the latest fashion trend"; suggesting as much is nonsensical) . You’re simply grammatically wrong on this point.
Log said…
I see my comment was the "last," meaning "latest," at the time it was posted.

SteveF, no amount of arguing the point, or endlessly asserting I'm in error, is going to persuade me. Honestly, I'm not trying to persuade you either. You are free to believe what you will.

D&C 109:60
60 Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.

JST, Matthew 21:47–56.

Compare Matthew 21:45–46

47 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

48 And they said among themselves, Shall this man think that he alone can spoil this great kingdom? And they were angry with him.

49 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they learned that the multitude took him for a prophet.

50 And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them?

51 Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me.

52 I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken.

53 And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.)

54 Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.

55 And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

56 And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

Tim Malone said…
Amen. But he's still going to auto-sign mission calls. Always has.
Shyloh said…
In Joseph's quote you mention, Joseph specifically called on the people to acknowledge the Twelve "Who were present". Meaning the current 12 apostles (at the time) The remark is from 1836.

I found this in the Church History Vol 3, chapter 26 from July 1839:

"Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to
minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a
Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the
testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony. Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either; and I will say that no man knows these things without this."

The School of the prophets was brought about in 1833, and they definitely were comprised of more than the 12. Point being, Joseph had a completely different view of what a prophet, seer, or revelator was. It was not until 1844 that Joseph committed the "KEYS" to the 12

Joseph's words as recorded by Orson Hyde:
"Brethren, the Lord bids me hasten the work in which we are engaged. He will not suffer that you should wait for your endowments until the Temple is done. Some important Scene is near to take place. It
may be that my enemies will kill me, and in case they should, and the Keys and power which rest on me not be imparted to you, they will be lost from the Earth; but if I can only succeed in placing them upon your heads, then let me fall a victim to murderous hands if God will suffer it, and I can go with all pleasure and satisfaction, knowing that my work is done, and the foundation laid on which the kingdom of God is to be reared in this dispensation of the fullness of times. Upon the shoulders of the Twelve must the responsibility of leading this Church hence forth rest until you shall appoint others to succeed you. Your enemies cannot kill you all at once, and should any of you be killed, you can lay your hands upon others and fill up your quorum. Thus can this power and these Keys be perpetuated in the Earth."
Orson went on.." We now feel it a pleasure in reducing it to writing, and freely give our names to the world in confirmation of the above statements; and further, that Joseph Smith did declare that he had conferred upon the Twelve every key and every power that he ever held himself before God".

So, Joseph is teaching that the 12 and quite a few other brethren were prophets, and even asks the body of the saints to acknowledge them as prophets, seers and revelators nearly a DECADE before he actually bestowed upon them they keys of the kingdom.

Yet, in our day, the notion that anyone besides the 15 can be prophets is considered heresy. Interesting indeed.
Shyloh said…
I looked back as far as publishes conferences, and it was there in 1971.
McKay said…
I've looked into the origins of sustaining the twelve as prophets, seers and revelators. If we can trust the History of the Church, we have to lay it on Joseph.

Here's a piece I wrote a month or two ago that goes into the history a little.
Words are important. They matter. Salvation depends on words. Words are used by Christ to impact hearts. (D&C 93). Satan loves to take the words of God and twist them. "Marriage" is such a word. So is "prophet".

Christ's words to Joseph were "duty to be". Joseph, as president of the high priesthood had a DUTY TO BE a prophet, seer and revelator. Here's the words of the revelation.

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 107:91-92

That was Joseph's duty. And Joseph was up to the task. He received many revelations as seer, gave new doctrine as revelator, and received from God a mission and ministry as prophet. Good for Joseph.

Joseph, however, if we can trust TPJS, was not as careful with words as God. He wanted peers. He wanted his friends to share in his gifts, so he asked the members of the church to "acknowledge the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators". (TPJS, p. 109, DHC2:417). Well what does that mean? Acknowledge that they are visionary even when they are having no visions? Acknowledge gifts among the twelve not in evidence and to which the members had no knowledge? With the benefit of hindsight we know now that many were not seers, revelators or prophets. Some said so in their journals and over the pulpit, yet Joseph, if the scribe got it right, asked members to acknowledge that the 12 were things they weren't. He would have done better to explain their "duty to be" as Oliver had done in his charge to them at their call as apostles. (I would love to find an explanation which gets Joseph off the hook for this mistake).

For nearly 160 years the church left it at that, acknowledging the twelve as prophets, seers and revelators. In doing so, they were only imitating the founder of our church. We even dialed back the rhetoric a notch when rather than acknowledge we "sustain them as PSRs". The latitude in that phrase allows almost any interpretation.


JaredA said…
Good Comment. You are right "words matter." Like you said "salvation depends on words." There were and are many that are very prone to exaggeration to appeal and build faith by inspiring with great ideas but not necessarily truth. Joseph wasn't one of them. He knew the importance of the spoken word and even equated it to spirit itself (D&C 84:45)

Here is a primary source of what might have impacted the words that we now have that are "from Joseph".

"President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when 'Thus saith the Lord', comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill."
~ Apostle Charles Penrose (Millennial Star 54:191)

"Many of the full-bodied discourses of Joseph Smith can be
traced to only one man, Wilford Woodruff. With an overwhelming
conviction of his calling, he kept a faithful record of all the
utterances of Joseph Smith he was present to hear. He could hardly
sleep until he had taken his notes and transcribed them into a
detailed account. Of his total effort B. H. Roberts wrote:

Other men may found hospitals or temples or schools for the
Church, or endow special divisions or chairs of learning in
them; or they may make consecrations of lands and other
property to the Church but in point of important service, and in
placing the Church under permanent obligations, no one will
surpass in excellence in permanence or largeness the service
Wilford Woodruff has given to the Church of Jesus Christ in the
new dispensation, by writing and preserving the beautiful and
splendid journals he kept through sixty-three years — so far do
the things of mind surpass material things (Comprehensive
History of the Church, 7:355) .(From the Forward "The Words of Joseph Smith")

If interested, I can send you some additional information regarding this that might.
Julie said…
If you need to, refer to Elder Oaks' PH session talk, where he clarifies that the church only has the keys of THIS dispensation, but not all of them. So there, it's been said by someone authoritatively and recently, and you can't get in trouble for taking issue with the wording of the interview question!
Julie said…
I feel like this post has been neglected by your readers. I've been following the activity on the other recent posts, and all the action is happening there, even though the message of this post is arguably much more important. 

Since Tim wrote this post, I've been thinking a lot about keys and priesthood. I confess that most of what the church publishes about priesthood and keys doesn't quite feel right to me. It's always explained in a very organized and highly logical manner, but never rings with the clarity and light that I always experience when I am learning Truth. Elder Oaks' conference talk is a good example. Very logical, very organized, but not inspiring.

Over the past week, I've been trying to boil things down for myself to grains of truth that do ring with clarity and bring confirmation of the Spirit. This is what I've come up with so far:

1. The priesthood is the power of God, period. Not power delegated or authority exercised. It's just His power, available to be access by anyone who exercises faith. 

2. A key is something that gives you access to God's power and light. It opens the door between you and Him to some degree, by allowing you to understand something, for Him to communicate something with you by the power of the Spirit, or for you to receive some blessing.

3. My patriarchal blessing refers to my responsibility to receive the keys that are in the temple. As a woman in the church, I'll never be officially given priesthood keys in the sense that the church talks about them. But I am supposed to get keys in the temple. Where or how do I get them? The few times I have approached temple workers or presidency members to ask questions, I've been politely but firmly turned away. This tells me that not only does the church (as an institution) not have the authorization to share the keys in question with a single woman, it doesn't "have them" at all. I have received some of those keys now, but not from the church. They have come to me through the Spirit, after months and years of questioning and personal study and working things out for myself. I believe the purpose of the temple rituals is to give us keys to knowledge that can't be taught or conveyed from one person to another, but can only be transmitted and understood through the Spirit.

What I don't understand clearly is what the connection is between the administrative structure of the church (which we call priesthood authority and keys) and what I've described above. Maybe what we call priesthood in the church is just a calling to facilitate access for all members to God's presence and power, and to help open doors to further light and knowledge, but it's just falling depressingly short of that goal?

Another thing I don't quite understand yet is the sealing power/bind on earth and in heaven (referred to as the key of David in the Bible), which seems to be in a class of its own. As I currently understand it, the Lord sometimes grants actual power to a person He deems worthy, like Nephi. But I don't believe that power can be passed from one man to another, and it's not the same thing the Church generally refers to when we talk about sealing.

So am I close to something here, or gone way off the deep end?
Tim Malone said…
Thanks Julie. This is the post the Lord asked me to write after my first experience with the True Order of Prayer. Here's something else to ponder from Denver's April 7th blog post:

"I am trying to understand Elder Oaks' talk. Taking everything he said at face value, here is what I think he said:

1. Women don't hold the priesthood.

2. Those who hold "keys" can give assignments to others who then act under the authority of the priesthood of the key-holder.

3. In the temple sisters use the authority of the priesthood to perform washings and anointings, inasmuch as they were set apart by key-holders.

4. Therefore women use the authority of the priesthood.

From this it can be surmised: Sister missionaries will be able to baptize some day using the authority of the priesthood of a key-holder.

This talk was designed to accomplish what the "Ordain Women" movement wants by approaching it in two steps rather than one. It is de facto ordination, incrementally adopted by careful measures."

------ End of quote from Denver -----

I shared the idea with my wife, a returned missionary. She said "hogwash," or words to that effect. However I think Denver is correct in his prognostication or logical deduction.

I am also of the opinion we will see sister missionaries able to baptize in the very near future. And frankly, I'm OK with that. How about you? They'll be acting under priestly authority of another. This is Aaronic priesthood power. Sealing power is Melchizedek.

I'll just ask it for what it's worth. Do you think the church has the Melchizedek power and, do you think the church has the higher sealing power? If not, by what authority do we, and sisters, act in the temple?

This is a purely theoretical exercise for discussion and learning.
Julie said…
I also saw Denver's post, which is why I read Elder Oaks' talk once it went up. Great minds think alike, apparently. :)

I also predict that the church is eventually going to cave in on female ordination, as well as gay marriage. I honestly don't know how I feel about that. I supposed I will have to decide when it happens.

I've got a temple recommend interview coming up this week, which is another reason that the issue of keys has weighed a bit on my mind. I'm very glad that Elder Oaks clarified in his talk that the church only has the keys to THIS dispensation, because it reassures me that I can answer the question about "all the keys" honestly, without getting in trouble.

I think the church (and its leaders) has all the keys in the sense that we have access to the keys, but they aren't necessarily being used. Like when we confirm new members, and the elder giving the blessing says "receive the Holy Ghost"--but it's up to the recipient to actually accept or obtain it.

I do not believe the church has the sealing power described in Helaman 10:4-11, because I don't believe it can be passed from person to person, but only from God to man.

I also don't really know by what authority we act in the temple, other than maybe that God has given us rituals to practice, hoping that at least some of us with get the idea and figure out how to use it to reach Him.

Honestly, when it comes to questions of administrative authority and authorized ordinances, I'm inclined to think that our church is a primarily man-made bureaucratic construct that helps us keep ourselves organized, rather than some kind of divinely mandated hierarchy.

I guess that's why I am ambivalent about female ordination. When it happens, it will be a bureaucratic adjustment to public pressure, rather than the result of new, revealed doctrine. Someone might argue, well what if the President of the Church receives a revelation extending the priesthood to women? The problem is, the OW movement is not campaigning to get the "power" of the priesthood--they just want administrative rights, essentially, and so that is all they will get. Think of the women's suffrage movement: the right to vote was absolutely worth fighting for. Our activists? The battle they picked was getting the right to attend a meeting. I have a hard time relating to them. So eventually the church will grant them the administrative rights they request, but it won't make a scrap of difference to anyone's salvation.
Eric said…
Julie wrote, "The priesthood is the power of God, period."

The Light of Christ, or Spirit of the Gods, is also referred to as the power of God (D&C 88:13). I personally like this, because it's gender-neutral. A faithful/righteous sister will have more of the power of God to move mountains or heal the sick than a less faithful/righteous Priesthood holder.

Question: In people's opinions, is the Priesthood the exact same thing as the Light of Christ?

Julie also wrote, "My patriarchal blessing refers to my responsibility to receive the keys that are in the temple."

Perhaps your patriarch was using the word "keys" metaphorically? ("Your college education gives you the keys to unlock a higher career." "Your temple experiences will give you the keys to unlock a higher knowledge.")
Julie said…
I like the idea of priesthood being the light of Christ. I'll have to think about that some more.

I think priesthood "keys" are always metaphorical, otherwise physical keys would be handed out with ordinations. I don't think the usage in my blessing is significantly different from most of the other uses I came across as I studied the topic.
Eric said…
Ah, you answered another question I almost typed, but then erased. I'll add it now (for others):

Question: In people's opinions, are all "priesthood keys" simply metaphors, or do some or all of them have an independent nonphysical existence (like love, for example)?
Tim Malone said…
In our philosophy class, Carol and I were introduced to the idea of some concepts being self-sustaining, such as the example of love. Another is light, another is truth. These things exist even if we do not understand them or believe in their existence. I suppose the same could be said for God and for Priesthood - "...without beginning of days or end of years."

I know the standard discussion of the differences between priesthood and keys of the priesthood, but I have gained a new understanding of keys over the past few years. I was always taught, and have taught it myself many times, that keys simply represent specific authority to perform a specific act or assignment in behalf of the key-holder. lately, I have thinking of keys more as knowledge, but then knowledge is power.

Thanks Julie and Eric. I did not expect the dialog to go toward keys, but it makes sense as we may soon be confronting the same difficulties we did when President Benson was out of commission for so long at the end of his life and ministry. Keys - held by fifteen men, but only one authorized to exercise them all. Power, permission or knowledge - do keys represent only one of these ideas or all of them. Pondering...
Eric said…
After doing some more research, I'll answer my own question.

“Priesthood is divine authority which is conferred upon men that they may officiate in the ordinances of the gospel. In other words, priesthood is a part of God’s own power” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:80, italics in the original, bold added).

“There are two concepts that over the years have been expressed in defining the meaning of priesthood. One is that priesthood is the authority given by our Heavenly Father to man to authorize him to officiate in all matters pertaining to the salvation of mankind upon the earth. The other concept is expressed by another meaningful thought that priesthood is the power by which God works through man” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 251-2, bold added).

So to me, it's looking like the priesthood is a subset of the light of Christ, or power of God, which encompasses:

(1) the power by which God "works through man," including the authority to officiate (be responsible for the organizational structure of the Church and most ordinances), which is the priesthood, and

(2) the power by which God works not through man, such as power to beget mortal life.
Ryan said…
Hi Julie - I'm no authority on this stuff, but in my opinion you're right on track. I think you should continue to trust your impressions. I think they're leading you on a more productive course than you would be on trying to decipher what the church teaches about priesthood and keys. Especially on keys, I think you're going in the right direction.

My feelings have been similar to what you describe here: "I confess that most of what the church publishes about priesthood and keys doesn’t quite feel right to me. It’s always explained in a very organized and highly logical manner, but never rings with the clarity and light that I always experience when I am learning Truth."

The following seems right to me: "A key is something that gives you access to God’s power and light. It opens the door between you and Him to some degree, by allowing you to understand something, for Him to communicate something with you by the power of the Spirit, or for you to receive some blessing."

I need to renew my recommend soon as well and, like you, I've been turning these things over and over in my mind, especially the temple recommend question about sustaining our leaders as prophets, seers and revelators and the only ones with all priesthood keys.

One other thing on my mind lately has been what it says in the first lecture on faith about faith being the power by which all things were framed and created. Once upon a time, I would have said this is priesthood. But my inclination toward such a notion I think was a product of our "upbringing" within the church and its traditions.

Priesthood and keys are much talked about and emphasized (I think increasingly) and I just don't think we, in our mainstream teachings and doctrine, know much of anything. But if that were the only problem, we might be well enough off. What I'm more concerned about is what seems to be an increasing emphasis in the church on trusting in the so-called keys of priesthood leaders and their direction. We need less dependence on any presumed power and authority our leaders have and more dependence on the Holy Spirit to show us all things which we should do.

Anyway, there are some profound things in the first lecture on faith: "24 Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things: by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeably to the will of God. Without it, there is no power, and without power there could be no creation, nor existence!"

The terms "power", "dominion" and "authority" are all used in connection with faith, not priesthood. That seems very significant to me. What we have in the priesthood found in the church is the authority to administer the ordinances and the rights, more generally, to administer the church i.e. make decisions on the use of tithing funds, the building of temples, issuing of callings at all levels, etc. Once we start to make claims beyond that, I think we risk overstating the "power" or "authority" that we have.
Eric said…
Brigham Young stated the ideal: “My KNOWLEDGE is, if you will follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, every man and woman will be put in possession of the Holy Ghost; every person will become a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” (Journal of Discourses 1:243, bold added).
Eric said…
When the true Zion has arrived, every member will be able to sustain every other member as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Won't <bthat be exciting!

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