Archive for the ‘Benjamin R. Reed’ Category

Our authority to act in God’s name comes from His call on our lives

Female Priesthood holders join hands in corporate public prayer at a Women of Faith Conference.

by Benjamin R. Reed and Fred W. Anson
Mormonism is fueled by faith-promoting stories. No one said this better than Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, “We have in the Church an untapped, almost unknown, treasury of inspiring and faith-promoting stories. They are the best of their kind and there are thousands of them.” (“The How and Why of Faith-promoting Stories”, New Era magazine, July 1978). Unfortunately, some of them, as another Mormon Apostle said well, only provide “…a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Teacher Come from God”, Spring General Conference 1998). This series exposes the following ten “Twinkies”…

10 Myths That Mormonism Tells About Biblical Christianity

  1. Biblical Christianity apostatized.
  2. The Bible has been corrupted.
  3. Biblical Christians believe in cheap grace.
  4. Biblical Christians believe Christ prayed to Himself.
  5. The Biblical Christian God is a monster who sends good people to hell just because they never had a chance to hear the gospel.
  6. Biblical Christians worship the cross and the Bible.
  7. Biblical Christians have no priesthood.
  8. Biblical Christian Pastors and Apologists practice Priestcraft – they’re only in it for the money.
  9. Biblical Christians hate Mormons.
  10. Biblical Christianity is divided into 10,000+ sects, all believing in different paths to salvation.

… and replaces them with nourishing truth. Let’s talk about the one that’s bolded, shall we?

The Myth
“Biblical Christians have no priesthood.”

One doesn’t have to go any further than the very first investigator lesson in the official LdS Church manual “Preach My Gospel” (which contains both the official training curriculum for all LdS Missionaries and the correlated lessons that they are supposed to teach those who are investigating the LdS Church). In the very first Investigator Lesson starting in the third section, entitled “Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation” the Missionary and the Investigator are informed that:

“When widespread apostasy occurs, God withdraws His priesthood authority to teach and administer the ordinances of the gospel…

After the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With the death of the Apostles, priesthood keys and the presiding priesthood authority were taken from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrine of the gospel pure and maintained the order and standard of worthiness for Church members. Without the Apostles, over time the doctrine was corrupted, and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. Important parts of the doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth. This apostasy eventually led to the emergence of many churches…

Even though many good people believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach His gospel, they did not have the fulness of truth or the priesthood authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances.”
(LdS Church website, “Preach My Gospel”, “Lesson 1: The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”; ellipses added for the sake of brevity, retrieved 2022-11-02)

Again, and to reiterate, this is the very first lesson that those investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given. To say that the issue of Priesthood and its accompanying Priesthood Authority is a key distinctive of Latter-day Saint Theology is understating things greatly. Stated plainly it is the key distinctive of modern Mormon Theology – at the very core of their current “Restoration” dogma. If there is any lingering doubt on this point, the same source makes sure that this point is not missed:

“After the appearance of the Father and the Son, other heavenly messengers, or angels, were sent to Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery. John the Baptist appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to perform the ordinance of baptism. Peter, James, and John (three of Christ’s original Apostles) appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, restoring the same authority given to Christ’s Apostles anciently. With this priesthood authority, Joseph Smith was directed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. Through him, Jesus Christ called twelve Apostles.

The time in which we live is referred to by Bible prophets as the last days, the latter days, or the dispensation of the fulness of times. It is the period of time just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the final dispensation. This is why the Church is named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Sounds compelling, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there’s a problem: It’s not true. It’s a myth.

A diverse group of male Priesthood holders gather together to worship God and hear God’s word at a 1997 Promise Keepers event.

Why It’s a Myth
Let’s back up and start at the very beginning, shall we? First, what exactly is meant by the biblical word, “priesthood?” Bible commentator, Wayne Jackson explains:

“A priest, in effect, is a mediator who stands between God and man. He offers sacrifice to God on behalf of man and administers other worship obligations that people feel unworthy to offer personally. The nearest thing to a definition found in the Scriptures is probably Hebrews 5:1.

“For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”’
(Wayne Jackson, “Exploring the Concept of Priesthood”)

And 19th Century Christian Scholar William Smith explained how and why a priesthood is required:

“The idea of a priesthood connects itself in all its forms, pure or corrupted, with the consciousness, more or less distinct of sin. Men feel that they have broken a law. The power above them is holier than they are, and they dare not approach it. They crave for the intervention of some one of whom they can think as likely to be more acceptable than themselves. He must offer up their prayers, thanksgivings, sacrifices. He becomes their representative in “things pertaining unto God.” He may become also (though this does not always follow) the representative of God to man.
(William Smith, “Smith’s Bible Bible Dictionary”, “Priest”)

In a sense, after the fall, without a priest to mediate between God and man and offer sacrifices there was no forgiveness of sins and thus no reconciliation with God. Thus immediately after the fall of man we see mankind in general offering sacrifices to God (see Genesis 4:2-6) and assuming a priestly role. Another 19th Century Scholar, Matthew George Easton, offers this quick summation and overview of the priesthood in his own well-known Bible dictionary:

“At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham (12:7; 13:4), Isaac (26:25), Jacob (31:54), and Job (Job 1:5).

The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18). Under the Levitical arrangements the office of the priesthood was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the qualifications of priests are given in Lev. 21:16-23. There are ordinances also regarding the priests’ dress (Ex. 28:40-43) and the manner of their consecration to the office (29:1-37).

Their duties were manifold (Ex. 27:20, 21; 29:38-44; Lev. 6:12; 10:11; 24:8; Num. 10:1-10; Deut. 17:8-13; 33:10; Mal. 2:7). They represented the people before God, and offered the various sacrifices prescribed in the law…

The whole priestly system of the Jews was typical. It was a shadow of which the body is Christ. The priests all prefigured the great Priest who offered “one sacrifice for sins” “once for all” (Heb. 10:10, 12). There is now no human priesthood. (See Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.)”
(Matthew Easton, “Easton’s Bible Bible Dictionary”, “Priest”)

On that last point, Mr. Easton was most likely overreacting to Catholic priesthood dogma, which allows for both a common and ministerial priesthood1 – a distinction that was frequently polemicized in the 19th century by Protestants as much or more as it was dogmatized by Roman Catholics.

His point is biblically correct but also biblically incomplete: The Bible is clear that there is a New Testament priesthood, however, it’s neither the Melchizedek nor the Aaronic priesthood. After all, the Levitical system of sacerdotalism2 that formed the basis for the Aaronic priesthood was fulfilled by Christ’s atonement, and then the Melchizedek priesthood, which again, only contains one member, Jesus Christ.3 Nevertheless, there are priests in what the Apostle Peter refers to as the “Royal Priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV bolding added for emphasis):

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

And it is this priesthood of kings that the Apostle John refers to in Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:10 (NKJV bolding added for emphasis):

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

You [the Lamb of God] were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

It is also important to look at Christ as the ultimate high priest in providing a final propitiatory sacrifice that only He, being God incarnate, could provide. When the veil was rent into two from the top to bottom, oblations (burnt offerings) and other types of human intervention were simply a moot point – it was literally torn asunder:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”
(Matthew 27:50-51 NIV)

Thus, with the veil now torn, all true believers in Christ and His atoning work could have direct access to divine guidance and holy communion with the Triune God. The Holy of Holies and the Mercy Seat of God Almighty was open to all true believers without restriction through the blood of Christ and their calling was sealed by being baptized into the Royal Priesthood. Christ himself referenced his culminating divine act of love in John 19:30 when in shedding that blood He exclaimed, “It is finished!”

 65,000 Priesthood-holding youth people fulfill their priestly calling by offering up the sacrifice of praise to God at a 2020 Passion event at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA

That’s why, just three years after posting his bombastic 95 Theses, at the Diet of Worms in 1520 reformer Martin Luther alluded to this very fact in a tirade against the Roman Catholic Church’s abuse of sacerdotalism by exacting money from its members via the Papal dogma of Indulgences.4 In his trademark, direct, in-your-face style, Martin Luther very correctly asserted that our calling as royal priests is divine and not a matter of human ordination:

‘As for the unction by a pope or a bishop, tonsure, ordination, consecration, clothes differing from those of laymen–all this may make a hypocrite or an anointed puppet, but never a Christian, or a spiritual man. Thus we are all consecrated as priests by baptism, as St. Peter says: “Ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9); and in the book of Revelation: “and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests.” (Rev. 5:10)’
(Martin Luther, “The Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate” (Kindle Locations 108-112), bolding added for emphasis)

And then again, and elsewhere Luther concluded:

“How if they were compelled to admit that we all, so many as have been baptized, are equally priests? We are so in fact, and it is only a ministry which has been entrusted to them, and that with our consent. They would then know that they have no right to exercise command over us, except so far as we voluntarily allow of it. Thus it is said: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1 Pet. 2:9Thus all we who are Christians are priests.”
(Martin Luther, “On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (Kindle Locations 1458-1461) Kindle Edition, bolding added for emphasis)

Martin Luther soundly affirmed via scripture that all believers were now priests who could go directly to the Lord for forgiveness and serve Him! So is there a priesthood today? The biblical answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” However, it is significantly different than that of the Old Testament. It now consists of offering the sacrifice of praise and offering of thanksgiving (see Hebrews 13:15) that we bring daily to our God. As British Pastor David H.J. Gay notes well:

“It is in the new covenant that God through Christ has formed his people into a priesthood for the very purpose of satisfying his demand and desire for true spiritual worship from true spiritual worshippers (John 4: 23-24). In Christ, he has established a body of priests who truly worship him in spirit, and offer true spiritual sacrifices… It is we – believers under the new covenant – it is we who are the true people of God, the true Israel, who truly and spiritually worship God! In short, the newest believer approaches God with greater glory than Aaron himself ever did.”
(David H.J.Gay, “The Priesthood of All Believers: Slogan or Substance?” (Kindle Locations 2024-2032) Kindle Edition)

One might also ask, so what happens with ecclesiastical offices?  Reformed theologian Tim Bertolet explains that they in no way nullify the concept of the priesthood of all believers and in fact are quite complementary:

‘In church history, the priesthood of believers became an important point for Martin Luther in his theology. Often today, one of the common critiques of the priesthood of believers is that makes the Christian individualistic. Writing in his, The Theology of Martin LutherPaul Althaus argues that for Luther the ‘priesthood of all believers’ emphasizes the congregational life. “The universal priesthood expresses not religious individualism but its exact opposite, the reality of the congregation as a community” (314). Just as Peter says, Christians are being built together as a spiritual house. Believers minister to one another. Althaus says ‘We stand before God, pray for others, intercede with and sacrifice ourselves to God and proclaim the word to one another” (314). Christians are being built together as a spiritual house. Believers minister to one another. Althaus says ‘We stand before God, pray for others, intercede with and sacrifice ourselves to God and proclaim the word to one another” (314).

Another misunderstanding of the priesthood of all believers is that the church should not have ordained offices such as elders and deacons. First, Scripture clearly identifies that the church should have such offices. The priesthood of believers never means that there are not men of God appointed to authoritatively proclaim the Word. Proper understanding of the priesthood of believers does not deny the diversity of spiritual gifts God gives to the body. However, the church as a whole has the right and authority to preach and proclaim God’s Word. Just as Israel as a kingdom of priest was to stand and minister to the nations, so the church proclaims the Word and is to spread the Word (see also Althaus, 315). “Luther recognizes no community which is not a preaching community and no community in which all have not been called to be witnesses. Each one is to care for his brother with the consolation of the word which he needs in trouble” (Althaus, 315-6).’
(Tim Berolet, “Luther’s Theology: The Priesthood of Believers“, “Place for Truth” website retrieved 2022-11-05)

But in the end, probably no one summed up the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, better, succinctly, and beautifully than John Newton in his well-known hymn:

“Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
’Tis his love his people raises,
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, his solemn praises
Each for a thank-offering brings.”
— John Newton,
“Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”

All things said and done, it is the fulfilled divine work of Jesus in his tri-fold office as Prophet, Priest, and King of the New Covenant to make salvific works effectual. It is Jesus who is the center of such a Holy Priesthood – the High Priest of the Royal Priesthood of all true believers in Christ.

A diverse group of East Indian Priesthood holders lift up the classic hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” like spiritual incense ascending to heaven in 2019 at the 200-year-old St Andrew’s Church (The Kirk) in Chennai, India. (click the above image to listen)

How It’s a Myth
At the core of the myth of Latter-day Saint priesthood dogma is the assertion that it is primarily an issue of authority – and that it is an authority that male Mormon priesthood holders alone have to boot. The archived official LDS Church website “” (which was designed for outsiders and investigators) explicitly states:

“The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. The same priesthood authority that existed in the original Church established by Jesus Christ exists in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. The Church is directed and led through this authority.

All male members of the Church who are prepared receive the priesthood in order to help lead the Church and serve Heavenly Father’s children. A man with the priesthood might serve in some of the following ways:

    • Leading congregations of the Church
    • Performing the ordinances of the Church, such as baptism
    • Blessing those who are sick

God expects those who hold this sacred priesthood authority to follow the example of Jesus Christ and serve with love, gentleness, and kindness.”
(“What is the priesthood?” website archived copy, bolding added for emphasis)

But such an assertion is only true if that authority in reality truly comes directly from God himself. On this matter, the words of the previously cited Wayne Jackson come right to the point:

“The Mormon priesthood dogma has no authority higher than that of Joseph Smith, Jr., who claims to have “restored” the ancient order of priests on May 15, 1829. The error in this is all too obvious to anyone with a more-than-minimum acquaintance with the New Testament.

First of all, the Melchizedek priesthood was to belong to Christ, and to none other, until the end of time. The writer of Hebrews says concerning Jesus that: “. . . he, because he abides forever, has his priesthood unchangable” (7:24). The key word is “unchangable” (aparabatos), which suggests that the Lord’s priesthood is imperishable. Some suggest that the meaning of the Greek term is simply “permanent, unchangable” (F.W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 97), which, of itself, would eliminate the Mormon idea. But even more to the point is the proposed meaning “non-transferable” (C. Spiqu, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994, 1.143-44). That would specifically deny that it could pass to other persons.

Second, the Aaronic priesthood cannot be operative today because it was an integral part of the law of Moses, which law was abolished by Christ (Eph. 2:15), being, in a manner of speaking, nailed to his cross (Col. 2:14). Moreover, the verb rendered “hath taken away” in this latter passage is a perfect tense form, which argues for the permanent abolition of that law. There is no biblical indication that the law was to be, or ever will be, restored. Too, one could not restore the Aaronic priesthood without “of necessity” resurrecting the entire Mosaic Law (Heb. 7:12).”
(ibid, Wayne Jackson, “Exploring the Concept of Priesthood”, bolding added for emphasis)  

In other words, there is no legitimate support for LdS Church Priesthood claims – biblically, they’re empty. Therefore, the entire system rests on Joseph Smith’s say-so that he received a divine mandate that somehow overrode biblical authority when he and Oliver Cowdery received first the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, and then the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John. And as both honest Latter-day Saint scholars and critics have pointed out over the years, Smith’s claims in this regard are problematic to the extreme.5

Priesthood holders wave Taiwanese flags and another blows a shofar during a gathering in Jerusalem. Thousands of evangelical Christians from more than 80 countries descended upon Jerusalem to profess their love for the Jewish state and its people at this event on Sept. 29, 2015.

Despite the historical support for the church’s narrative regarding authority, many of Mormonism’s magisterial leaders have often lashed out at Christian churches for the exercise of Holy Ordinances and Sacraments:

“Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking his specific authorization. And no one can ob­tain God’s authority from reading the Bible or from just a desire to serve the Lord, no matter how pure his motives.”
(Spencer W. Kimball (author), Edward L. Kimball (compiler and editor)) “The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball”, p. 494)

We would heartily dispute Mr. Kimball’s poor understanding of the Holy Sacraments and their authority, relating to the concept of “priesthood.” Understood rightly, it is God himself who is the “doer of the verbs.” As Martin Luther contends, they are incumbent on God and not man.

“For to be baptized in the name of God is to be baptized not by men, but by God Himself. Therefore, although it is performed by human hands, it is nevertheless truly God’s own work. From this fact every one may himself readily infer that it is a far higher work than any work performed by a man or a saint. For what work greater than the work of God can we do?

Therefore I exhort again that these two, the water and the Word, by no means be separated from one another and parted. For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as that with which the servant cooks, and may indeed be called a bath-keeper’s baptism. But when it is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament, and is called Christ-baptism. Let this be the first part, regarding the essence and dignity of the holy Sacrament.”
(Martin Luther, ”Holy Baptism” in Large Catechism)

Why It Matters
As we saw in the opening of this article, the claim that a legitimate Christian Priesthood and its subsequent authority don’t exist outside of Mormonism is the myth that the LdS Church deceives both investigators and its own Missionaries with. And it works, because the theology of most modern Christians is either incomplete or is lacking when it comes to biblical Priesthood of the Believer theology. So if this article has seemed like a theology lesson to you so far, you would be right – our goal is to fix both. And as soon as one’s theology gets fixed this myth is easily exposed, it’s not only not hard to see, it’s glaringly wrong.

Simply put, our authority to act in God’s name comes from His call on our lives as the chosen elect of God. Therefore, the so-called “priesthood authority” that He gives came upon us when each and every one of us placed our trust in Christ and received His free gift of eternal life by faith through grace. We are the royal and legitimate priests of God through Christ, His atoning work, His call on our lives, and nothing else.6

On this point, Mormon Researcher, Hal Hougey very correctly points us to how true biblical restoration and Priesthood works, observing:

“In 2 Kings 22 we find Israel in apostasy. One day an apostate priest found the Law of the Lord where it had been lost and forgotten in the temple. It was read to the people and obeyed. Thus, a restoration was brought about. It did not require a visitation by angels to restore authority.

A restoration can be brought about today in the same way by reading and obeying the teachings of Christ and his apostles as taught in the Bible. The Bible is the word of God; when it teaches something we have authority from God to obey it without having to receive authority from angels or men. If you learn you should be honest, do you have to go to some church official for the authority to be honest? Certainly not. Likewise, when the Lord in His word teaches us to be baptized and to baptize others, we have the authority to do so, from the word itself.”
(Hal Hougey, “Latter-day Saint: Where do you get your authority?”)

 Summary and Conclusion
The folks at the Got Questions? website countered this Mormon Myth nicely in summarizing our priesthood as Christians:

“In summary, believers are called “kings and priests” and a “royal priesthood” as a reflection of their privileged status as heirs to the kingdom of the Almighty God and of the Lamb. Because of this privileged closeness with God, no other earthly mediator is necessary. Second, believers are called priests because salvation is not merely “fire insurance,” escape from hell. Rather, believers are called by God to serve Him by offering up spiritual sacrifices, i.e., being a people zealous for good works. As priests of the living God, we are all to give praise to the One who has given us the great gift of His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf, and in response, to share this wonderful grace with others.”
(Got Questions? website, “Is the priesthood of all believers biblical?”)

So the next time a Mormon asks you where you get your authority, you can simply say to them, “Through my calling into the Royal Priesthood through the atonement of Jesus Christ by faith through grace alone and nothing more – the Bible tells me so!”

Each and every person who places their trust in Christ is a Priest. If and when this child accepts God’s gift of eternal life, forgiveness, and the persevering grace that will sustain her through Christ’s atonement – even if it is at this very young age – then she too is as much a member of the Royal Priesthood of All Believers as Martin Luther (represented by the statues that she’s admiring in this photograph taken in 2017) is.

1 A Roman Catholic quiz app for Catechism Five explains the distinction between the two in this simple and succinct manner:

“Q: What is the difference between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood?

A: The difference between common priesthood and ministerial priesthood is that common priesthood is the vocation all of God’s disciples are called to (following in Jesus’s footsteps) and ministerial priesthood is when someone has received ordination and can administer the sacraments.”
(“Religion Ch 5”, Quizlet website)

Those desiring a more in-depth, comprehensive, and/or official Roman Catholic Church explanation can refer to the following post-Vatican II clarification, which, among other things, agrees with this article’s assertions regarding “common priesthood” as an expression of the Royal Priesthood as it is taught and affirmed in the New Testament:

“Christ the Lord, the High Priest of the new and everlasting covenant, wished to associate with His perfect priesthood and to form in its likeness the people He had bought with His own blood (cf. Heb. 7:20-22, 26-28; 10:14, 21). He therefore granted His Church a share in His priesthood, which consists of the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood. These differ from each other not only in degree but also in essence; yet they are mutually complementary within the communion of the Church.

The common priesthood of the laity, which is also rightly called a royal priesthood (cf. 1 Pt. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:9ff.) since through it the faithful are united as members of the messianic people with their heavenly King, is conferred by the sacrament of Baptism. By this sacrament “the faithful are incorporated into the Church and are empowered to take part in the worship of the Christian religion” in virtue of a permanent sign known as a character; “reborn as children of God they are obliged to profess before men the faith which they have received from God through the Church.” Thus those who are reborn in Baptism “join in the offering of the Eucharist by virtue of their royal priesthood. They likewise exercise that priesthood by receiving the sacraments, by prayer and thanksgiving, by the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity…

Priests, acting in the person of Christ the Head, offer this Sacrifice in the Holy Spirit to God the Father in the name of Christ and in the name of the members of His Mystical Body. This sacrifice is completed in the holy supper by which the faithful, partaking of the one body of Christ, are all made into one body (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16ff.).”

These Roman Catholic doctrinal distinctions weren’t as clear in the 19th Century as they are today (thanks largely to Vatican II) and hence were frequently misunderstood by Protestants, like Matthew George Easton, and turned into an Anti-Catholic polemic – as seen in the citation that the authors used from his well-known 1893 Bible Dictionary.

2 From the neutral source, Wikipedia:

Sacerdotalism (from Latin sacerdos, priest, literally one who presents sacred offerings, sacer, sacred, and dare, to give) is the belief in some Christian churches that priests are meant to be mediators between God and humankind. The understanding of this mediation has undergone development over time and especially with the advent of modern historical and biblical studies.”
(Wikipedia, “Sacerdotalism”)

3 This statement follows the teaching of John Calvin and others that the Melchizedek figure in Genesis 14:18-20 is a Christophany (an Old Testament physical manifestation of Christ). This follows logically when the text is interpreted in light of Hebrews 7:1-3 (NKJV) which says:

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”

Thus since only one human meets (or has ever met) that criteria it’s fair to conclude that the Genesis 14 Melchizedek is in fact, Jesus Christ. This is just one of several valid interpretations. However, it’s clear that at the very least Melchizedek is at least minimally, a type of Christ.  As the website summarizes well:

“Are Melchizedek and Jesus the same person? A case can be made either way. At the very least, Melchizedek is a type of Christ, prefiguring the Lord’s ministry. But it is also possible that Abraham, after his weary battle, met and gave honor to the Lord Jesus Himself.
(“Who was Melchizedek?” website)

4 In short, and for those who are unfamiliar with Roman Catholic Doctrine, The Doctrine of Indulgence is a dogma that asserts that a Roman Catholic Church Authority (such as the Pope or another Church-ordained Church Leader) can reduce the amount of punishment that one has to undergo for sins in penance. From Wikipedia:

“In the teaching of the Catholic Church, an indulgence (Latin: indulgentia, from indulgeo, ‘permit’) is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and all of the saints”.”
(see “Indulgence”, Wikipedia website)

5 According to the canonized history of Mormonism Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829 and the Melchizedek Priesthood shortly thereafter on some unknown date:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood, with its authority to baptize, on 15 May 1829. The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored next, bringing to earth all the power and authority necessary to organize and direct the Church of Jesus Christ and to perform additional saving priesthood ordinances. While the Prophet and his associate, Oliver, did not record the date that they received the Melchizedek Priesthood, historical records and the testimony of witnesses indicate that it occurred between the day after the Aaronic Priesthood restoration and 28 May 1829. Both the scriptures and the testimony of contemporaries attest that the brethren on whom the Lord had bestowed the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood—the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery—acted in the authority of those keys as they organized the Church on 6 April 1830.
Larry C. Porter, “The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods” official LdS Church website)

However, the historical record discredits these claims as this Mormon Think summary explains:

“Researchers who have closely examined the D&C and primary source accounts found that the official narrative of priesthood restoration contains numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Scholars also raise important questions that expose potential weaknesses in Smith and Cowdery’s story of their miraculous ordinations. For example, if Joseph and Oliver had experienced events as remarkable and life-altering as divine visitations by John the Baptist and three of Christ’s apostles, why would they not tell others? These miraculous ordinations were not publicly revealed or documented until five years after they supposedly occurred. Moreover, if the restoration of the priesthood is a fundamental tenet of the LDS Church, why was this revelation excluded from the Book of Commandments when it was originally published in 1833, only revealed in the revised and re-named Doctrine and Covenants in 1835?”
“Priesthood Restoration” website)

The specific problems in the story of the Restoration of the Priesthood:

“Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery failed to testify to the members nor record anything about the appearances of “John the Baptist” and “Peter, James, and John” in any publications prior to 1834 (five years after the events purportedly took place)—nor did they teach that men ordained to offices in the church were receiving “priesthood authority”.

Nobody in or out of the church knows the exact date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and Oliver Cowdery was inconsistent in describing which heavenly being(s) had come to confer that authority.

Joseph Smith and other early members stated that the first conferral of the Melchizedek priesthood happened in June 1831 in Ohio at a conference of Elders, and that Joseph himself was ordained to the high priesthood by church elder Lyman Wight at that time.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 D&C [Doctrine & Covenants], adding verses about the appearances of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John AS IF those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelations, which they weren’t. The Book of Commandments, which later became the D&C says nothing about these appearances.”
(“Priesthood Restoration, Problem Summary” website)

Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of Joseph Smith, contradicts the official accounts from Mormonism, regarding the “authority to baptize.” Mrs. Smith seems to think it came from the “Urim and Thumim”:

“They immediately went down to the Susquehana River and obeyed the mandate given them through the Urim and Thummim[. A]s they were on the return to the house…..They had now received authority to baptize…and they [then]….went straightway to the water…..”
(Palmer, Grant, 2002, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins.” Kindle edition, location 4761)

Early defender of Mormonism David Whitmer also proclaimed:

“I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as state and believed by some. I regard that as an error, misconception.”
(Palmer, Grant, 2002, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins.” Kindle edition, location 4761)

Simply put, if Joseph Smith’s Priesthood Restoration didn’t occur as he claimed, then the Mormon Priesthood is a hollow shell of nothing – it’s an empty claim with no substance to it.

6 Step back to the start of this article and reread the priesthood definitions. In the Bible, the Priesthood is an office, a function, and a duty. And any authority that came with the office was limited strictly to performing those very specific functions and duties. Throughout the biblical narrative “the authority to act in God’s name” came directly from God and His call on your life irrespective of your office, status, or position in life. Anyone who was called was authorized – it was just that simple.

Consider, for example, the man Jesus Christ. It was impossible for Him to have “Priesthood Authority” because he wasn’t a priest.  Christ was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi, and was, therefore, immediately disqualified from the Aaronic priesthood.  Furthermore, the book of Hebrews is clear that the resurrected Christ became our High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek through His atonement:

“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:

“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”

Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
— Hebrew 7:11-179:11-15 (NKJV)

So according to Latter-day Saint priesthood doctrine, Jesus Christ was acting without authority during His ministry and incarnation since He wasn’t a legitimate priesthood holder.

Further, we could also talk about Paul who was from the tribe of Benjamin (Acts 13:21, Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5), and the 12 disciples (with the possible exception of Matthew who may have been a Levite) and their lack of priesthood authority. Suffice it to say, according to Latter-day Saint priesthood dogma, none of them had the authority to act in God’s name, lead congregations, perform ordinances such as baptism, bless those who are sick, etc., etc., etc.  Yet in stark contrast to that dogma, the Bible is filled from cover to cover with men and women who had the required authority to act in God’s name simply by virtue of the fact that God had called them. For example consider the prophet Isaiah who, like Christ, was also from the tribe of Judah.

“I [Isaiah] heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
— Isaiah 6:8-10 (NKJV)

Simply put, our authority to act in God’s name comes from His call on our lives as the chosen elect of God. Therefore, the so-called “priesthood authority” that He gives came upon us when each and every one of us placed our trust in Christ and received His free gift of eternal life by faith through grace. We are the royal and legitimate priests of God through Christ, His atoning work, His call on our lives, and nothing else.

‘But you are God’s “chosen generation”, his “royal priesthood”, his “holy nation”, his “peculiar people”—all the old titles of God’s people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. In the past you were not “a people” at all: now you are the people of God. In the past, you had no experience of his mercy, but now it is intimately yours.’ (1 Peter 2:8b-10 J.B. Phillips)

The authors were surprised at the dearth of resources regarding the biblical doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers when we started to research this article. It’s clearly a subject that the modern Christian Church is neglecting. So to save the reader some time and effort, and to preserve the good resources that we found, we offer this bibliography.

Suggested resources on the Priesthood of All Believers:
David H.J. Gay, “The Priesthood of All Believers: Slogan or Substance?”
This is the most exhaustive treatise on the subject that I found. The author is as ponderous and verbose as a 19th Century preacher but leaves no doubt that his arguments are substantive and fully grounded in scripture.
[click here for the Kindle Edition] [click here for the FREE audio Edition]

Wikipedia, “Universal Priesthood”
This is the one you’ll want if you want the short, cryptic treatment of the subject. An excellent historical overview but that’s about all.

Wayne Jackson“Exploring the Concept of Priesthood”
This is the best short summary of the subject that I’ve found. It’s also useful in that it addresses the issue of how Catholics and Latter-day Saints have corrupted the biblical priesthood system.

Got Questions? website, “Is the priesthood of all believers biblical?”
Another good, short primer that limits itself to biblical text. If you’re looking for the short, concise biblical case for the Priesthood of all believers this is the article you’re looking for. 

August Van Ryn“Every Believer a Priest”
A longer primer on the subject from the biblical text. 

Art Lindsley, Ph.D., “The Priesthood of All Believers”
So you’re OK with the concept of priesthood, but are unclear about the practical application of the concept? This is the article for you.

Suggested resources on the LdS Priesthood:
While there’s a dearth of good resources on Priesthood on the Christian side, there’s a glut on the Mormon side. Here are some of the better resources among many that I found in preparing this article that didn’t make it into the main article:

John Farkas, “Fabricating The Mormon Priesthood: By God Or By Man?”
A detailed deconstruction of Joseph Smith’s priesthood claims relative to the historical record and Mormon scripture.

Lane Thuet“Priesthood Restored or Retrofit?”
An excellent lecture on the issues and problems surrounding Mormon Priesthood claims.

L. W. Spitz, “The Universal Priesthood of Believers,”
A Biblical understanding of the Christian doctrine regarding this principle. A nice summary is found here.

Rob Bowman“Mormon Priesthood Offices and the Bible”
A point-by-point comparison of the Latter-day Saint Priesthood system versus the biblical system. 

Rob Bowman“Mormon Priesthood: Do Mormons Alone Have the Power?”
An in depth analysis of Latter-day Saint Priesthood authority claims. 

Grant Palmer“An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”Priesthood Restoration – Chapter 7
Chapter Seven of Mr. Palmer’s classic book gives us a objective “deep dive” into what the historical record tells us about Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery’s claims regarding a restored priesthood.

About Benjamin R. Reed Mr. Reed is a former Mormon. He is currently Spanish Language Brand Manager at Lee Family Broadcasting in Twin Falls, Idaho. Mr. Reed served an LDS mission to Argentina and later spent 5 years in Mexico where he left Mormonism for Biblical Christianity. While in Mexico, he received a B.A. in Systematic Theology from the multi-denominational Universidad Global de Teología, completing a 200-page treatise on Mormonism vs. Christianity. Mr. Reed briefly studied missiology at MBTS in Kansas City, Missouri before becoming a Lutheran “Evangelical Catholic.” Since 2015, he has been a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Parish in Jerome, Idaho where he serves as an elder.

About Fred W. Anson Mr. Anson is the founder and publishing editor of the Beggar’s Bread website, which features a rich potpourri of articles on Christianity with a recurring emphasis on Mormon studies. Fred is also the administrator of several Internet discussion groups and communities, including several Mormon-centric groups, including four Facebook Support Groups for Ex-Mormons (Ex-Mormon Christians, Ex-Mormon Christians Manhood Quorum, Mormons in Transition, and From Mormonism to Christianity). Raised in the Nazarene Church, Fred later became an Atheist but then returned to the Christian faith during the Jesus Movement in 1976. He is currently a member of Saddleback Covenant Church, a non-denominational church, in Mission Viejo, California.

(Portions of this article were taken from Fred W. Anson’s, March 7, 2015, Beggar’s Bread article, ‘Weak Arguments #12: “There is no priesthood anymore.”’)