Mormon Church Structure

One of the many attractions of the CoJCoLDS is it’s claim of continuing the same organizational structure as that found in the early Church. In the Articles of Faith, we read:

"6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth. "

Is there evidence that the current Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does continue the same organization that existed in the ancient Church?

Prophets and Apostles

One of the hallmarks of the LDS Church is that they have people called prophets and apostles in the Church. I’m pretty sure that no traditional Christian church has offices of prophet or apostle (at least in name). But do LDS prophets and apostles continue the traditions of such offices from Biblical and early Church times?

Both Catholics and Latter-day Saints believe that Peter had primacy among the Apostles. Catholics believe that he was the first Pope, Bishop of Rome. LDS believe that he was the first Prophet. Did Peter choose anyone else to succeed him as Prophet? Who was the next prophet after Peter? Also, were prophets seen as the head of the Church? Were apostles not higher than prophets in New Testament times, and also, were there any apostles that were also prophets, and thus head of the Church? How much prophesying do current prophets do? I know that there is Official Declaration-2 by President Kimball, but what about after that. Some consider The Family: A Proclamation to the World to be a revelation, but it seems that it doesn’t reveal anything new, just reaffirms the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, which is a wonderful message.

Was there a First Presidency in the Primitive Church?

Is it right to say that the LDS Church has 12 Apostles, just like the Primitive Church, when it really has 15, including the First Presidency? Is the Quorum of Twelve Apostles supposed to be a continuation of the office of the original 12? If so, were they not supposed to be witnesses of the Resurrection? Also, 2 Corinthians 12:12 seems to say that apostles should show signs and wonders and mighty deeds, yet there seems to be a difference between the first 12 and the current LDS 12.

Pastors and Evangelists

The 6th Article of Faith says that the LDS Church believes in the same organization as the Primitive Church, including pastors and evangelists. Yet these offices don’t actually exist in the current LDS Church. Instead, there is the Patriarch. This seems to be a departure from that same Primitive Church structure that the LDS Church claims to follow in Article 6. It is claimed that the Patriarch is an Evangelist.

Seventies

In the New Testament, we find that Jesus Christ sent seventy men two by two to preach. In the LDS Church, there are various quorums of the seventy, and there aren’t actually seventy people in them! This doesn’t seem to continue the same organization of the Primitive Church. Also, only the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy have sealing power. I guess this is more of a latter-day revelation or addition. It’s interesting that the binding and loosing power given to the apostles in the New Testament, and what the LDS Church bases the belief in sealings on, is now also given to Seventies.

These are just some of my observations, and it is interesting that although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims a continuation of the organization of the Primitive Church, this continuation in many cases is moreso one of name than actual function.

Just because the LDS members call their various leaders: Prophets, Patriarchs, Seventies and such does not mean they actually are what they call themselves.

For example I converted from a Protestant denomination called The church of Christ. They seem to think they are the only Christians in the only church to exist.

The rationale is very simular to the Mormon rationale (as are other parts of there theology)
They call themselves The Church of Christ, which in ther minds makes them the Church of Christ. Even tho this denomination never existed before 1906. They too use the Mormon apostacy/restoration dichotomy.

Of course they refuse to accept that they are Protestants, or a denomination.:shrug:

Those are good questions, Religio71. It is a bit late in the day for me to answer them right now. Hopefully tomorrow when I get more time I will try and see if I can find good answers to them for you.

zerinus

yeah the Churches of Christ are also restorationist. They came out of the Restoration Movement of Stone and Campbell. They seem a bit more decentralized than the LDS Church.

And I agree, the LDS Church has people called prophets, apostles, seventies, etc., and there seems to be a disconnect between how these offices worked in Biblical times and how the LDS Church use them. A big one for me was that I see no evidence that Prophets were the heads of the Church, or even that they were over the Apostles. I think this is all an issue because the LDS Church claims, right in its Articles of Faith, that they believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church.

:thumbsup: Thanks zerinus, I look forward to your answer. Sometimes I do miss the culture and community of the LDS Church, and even the temple experiences were not the horror stories some ex-LDS claim. My big issue is that there are too many changes found in the LDS Church, and some things might seem nice on the surface (like the above), but the more you learn, it doesn’t seem to be what is portrayed. I also was turned off by the number of “transcription/editor” errors that are given as explanations for various discrepancies.

The so-called “church of Christ” is much more decentralised than the Mormon church, the CoC is very strictly congregational in structure, while in Mormonism all relies on the “Prophet” and it is strictly centralised, IMHO more than we Catholics are. In fact while the Popes have used infallibility twice, every word the “Prophet” says is counted as infallible. When the current Prophet dissagrees with his predacessors it’s just chalked up to “progressive revelation”.

I would bet that the disconnect would be attributed to more “progessive revelation”. What ever Smith and his succesors said would disqualify what is in the Bible

It seems that the Mormons have quick and convinent (for them) answers for everything.

What I was trying to get across in my previous message is just becuase a church calls people, Does not neccesarily make them so.

The Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods

Another claim made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is of course that priesthood authority was lost, or the Great Apostasy. Through various events, the priesthood was restored on Earth, with the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. The Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The authority to baptize is through the Aaronic Priesthood. Offices within the Aaronic Priesthood include Priests, Teachers, Deacons, and Bishop. The Bishop is the leader of a ward (equivalent to a Catholic priest). In the New Testament, LDS see this priesthood as a continuation of the Levitical Priesthood (Hebrews 7). However in the Bible, only those descended from Aaron could hold the Levitical Priesthood. Is there evidence that the Primitive Church had an Aaronic Priesthood?

The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood is not as clear cut, as the date is unknown for this event. Also, it isn’t really known who restored the priesthood, though it is believed that Peter, James, and John conferred it on Smith and Cowdery. Offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood have already been discussed, including Apostle, Seventy, High Priest, Patriarch, and Elder. Adam was the first high priest. Does Psalm 110 or Hebrews mean that there was an order of priests belong to a Melchizedek Priesthood? Or does it mean that he was a priest “like” Melchizedek, not necessarily belonging to an order or priesthood group? Catholics also recognize the importance of Melchizedek:

"1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men."15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”;16 "holy, blameless, unstained,"17 "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,“18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.” However Catholics don’t believe that a Melchizedek priesthood was created, or that it is the “full priesthood”. It seems that Melchizedek was a priest different from the Levitical priesthood, but not of a “Melchizedek priesthood”, and the references to “after the order of Melchizedek” aren’t necessarily saying that there was an Order or Group, but after the manner or “like” Melchizedek.

Were all men in the Primitive Church ordained as Aaronic and Melchizedek priests?

It’s curious that the Utah Church (I don’t know about the others) even reinvented the Papacy and College of Cardinals–just under a different name.

With this difference: papal infallibility is strictly limited; that of the Mormons’ various Living Prophets (including the deceased ones) doesn’t seem to be.

Firstly, the primitive church did have prophets as well as Apostles:

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

Acts 11:27 “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.”

Acts 13:1 “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

Paul I remember saying in one of his epistles that he enjoyed the spirit of prophecy more than many others, but I can’t find the reference for it now. If anybody remembers they can tell us.

In the LDS Church today we do not have an “office” of a prophet as such. We have the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles who are designated “prophets, seers, and revelators” to the Church. The office of an Apostle is higher than that of a prophet, and incorporates within it the gifts of prophecy, seership, and revelation. Both the latter gifts are greater than that of prophecy. In addition we have the Seventies and other General Authorities of the Church. These are not officially designated as “prophets,” but they must enjoy the spirit of prophecy and revelation to a remarkable degree to be able to function in their respective capacities. Indeed, the gift of prophecy is not restricted to high ranking officers of the Church. Anybody can enjoy that according to their faith and desires in God. Moses wished that “all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29); and John tells us that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

Both Catholics and Latter-day Saints believe that Peter had primacy among the Apostles. Catholics believe that he was the first Pope, Bishop of Rome. LDS believe that he was the first Prophet.

Not quite. We believe that Peter was the chief Apostle; or to put it in LDS terminology, he was the President of the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve Apostles form a Quorum consisting of Twelve members, one of whom presides over the rest. We believe that Peter occupied such a position. In the LDS Church there really isn’t such a thing as the office of a “prophet”. The President of the Church is called Prophet by popular demand! That is what people like to call him, and the Church goes along with that. But his official title as designated by revelation is the “President of the High Priesthood of the Church,” or the “Presiding High Priest over the Priesthood of the Church” (D&C 107:65–66). That title is in reality far higher than that of a prophet.

Did Peter choose anyone else to succeed him as Prophet? Who was the next prophet after Peter?

It is not known that he did; and I do not believe that he would have. He was the President of the Twelve; and the President of the Twelve is called and ordained by the Twelve. In LDS tradition, the senior Apostle (the longest serving member) is always the one who succeeds to that position. I believe that in the primitive Church too that procedure would have been followed—assuming that the Quorum of the Twelve remained intact to follow that procedure. I am not certain that it had by then.

Also, were prophets seen as the head of the Church?

No, see the explanation above.

Were apostles not higher than prophets in New Testament times, . . .

They were, and so are they in the LDS Church. See above.

. . . and also, were there any apostles that were also prophets, and thus head of the Church?

All Apostles are (and were) prophets; and that does not make them heads of the Church. See above.

zerinus

Continued … /

/… Continued

How much prophesying do current prophets do?

A lot! Listen to the last General Conference and find out. To prophecy does not meant to foretell future events. It means to communicate the will of God to man. It means to tell them what God wants them to hear. And that is what they do at conferences and other occasions when they speak or give counsel and direction to the Church.

I know that there is Official Declaration-2 by President Kimball, but what about after that. Some consider The Family: A Proclamation to the World to be a revelation, but it seems that it doesn’t reveal anything new, just reaffirms the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, which is a wonderful message.

It is not the job of the prophet to always reveal something new. If you read the prophecies of the Old Testament, you will find that the greatest proportion of their teachings consists of instructing the people to repent and keep the commandments of God; and that is also what the modern prophets do.

Was there a First Presidency in the Primitive Church?

As far as I can tell it was not. Some LDS commentators have suggested that Peter, James, and John were the First Presidency at that time; but I have not found any convincing evidence to prove that. Peter, James, and John were Jesus’ three closest companions, and were often with Him at the most important events of His ministry, such as at the Mount of Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and His agony at Gethsemane; and in that sense they were kind of special among the Twelve. But that does not automatically make them the first Presidency of the Church. Nothing has been revealed as far as I know to that effect.

Is it right to say that the LDS Church has 12 Apostles, just like the Primitive Church, when it really has 15, including the First Presidency?

The Twelve Apostles form a Quorum of whom there are always Twelve. There is never more than twelve in the Twelve! :slight_smile: The First Presidency members are Apostles; but they are not part of the Twelve. They are members of their own Quorum, which is that of the First Presidency. They act in that capacity as Presiding High Priests, not as members of the Twelve.

Is the Quorum of Twelve Apostles supposed to be a continuation of the office of the original 12?

Yes.

If so, were they not supposed to be witnesses of the Resurrection?

How do you know that they are not?

Also, 2 Corinthians 12:12 seems to say that apostles should show signs and wonders and mighty deeds, yet there seems to be a difference between the first 12 and the current LDS 12.

Miracles are performed according to the faith of the people. Jesus was often prevented from performing miracles among the people because of their unbelief:

Matthew 13:58 “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Mark 6:5–6 “And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

I believe that the modern prophets and Apostles do not go about performing such miracles because the condition and faith of the world is not conducive to perform it. But I believe that as the faith of the Church increases, a day will come when such events will become more frequent in the Church.

Pastors and Evangelists

The 6th Article of Faith says that the LDS Church believes in the same organization as the Primitive Church, including pastors and evangelists. Yet these offices don’t actually exist in the current LDS Church. Instead, there is the Patriarch. This seems to be a departure from that same Primitive Church structure that the LDS Church claims to follow in Article 6. It is claimed that the Patriarch is an Evangelist.

Yes, in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord has identified the office of “evangelical minister” to be that of a patriarch (D&C 107:39). What is your objection to that?

Seventies

In the New Testament, we find that Jesus Christ sent seventy men two by two to preach. In the LDS Church, there are various quorums of the seventy, and there aren’t actually seventy people in them! This doesn’t seem to continue the same organization of the Primitive Church. Also, only the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy have sealing power. I guess this is more of a latter-day revelation or addition. It’s interesting that the binding and loosing power given to the apostles in the New Testament, and what the LDS Church bases the belief in sealings on, is now also given to Seventies.

I don’t think we know enough about the organization of the Seventies in the primitive church to be able to come to such definitive conclusions as you have reached that it contradicts the present day organization in the LDS Church.

These are just some of my observations, and it is interesting that although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims a continuation of the organization of the Primitive Church, this continuation in many cases is moreso one of name than actual function.

I wouldn’t agree. I think that the above makes it clear that that is not the case.

zerinus

Religio71,
One way to try and figure out what the intent was within the Primitive Church with respect to priesthood authority, is to read the New Testament. If you’ll read Acts 14 and Paul’s epistle to Titus, I think you’ll have the impression that “elders” were ordained commonly in “every city” where Christ’s gospel was being preached. In Titus you’ll also read of Paul’s concern that some who had been ordained previously needed to be “rebuked” because they “turn from the truth.” (1:14)

I’m personally so grateful that the Aaronic priesthood has been restored by John the Baptist for our use as a preparatory and “outward ordinances” priesthood in our day, that whether or not every young man in the Primitive Church received the Aaronic priesthood, I wouldn’t particularly be concerned because I can see the benefits today, and they are huge. Young men with the responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood have something to live for outside of themselves that is tangible and gives them both a sense of importance and a sense of “I need to stay worthy”. I think this is a great help for today’s youth. I know that it has helped my three boys. I know that they are grateful to hold the Aaronic priesthood, and that my oldest son was thrilled to have had the authority to baptize my younger children, and to have been worthy to do it.

If I were in your shoes, I think I would want to pray about whether God intends for the priesthood to be a functioning part of the lives of young men and men, meditate about it, and get inspiration through the Holy Ghost about an answer to that question as you contemplate its potential benefits for helping men/young men have a cause outside of themselves and a very strong reason to stay worthy.:thumbsup:

Not true.

zerinus

The LDS Church came out of the Disciples of Christ as well. Rigdon, the hidden founder of Mormonism, was a Disciples of Christ preacher and brought almost all of that organization’s doctrine with him to Mormonism. He just added the idea that folks should all have their goods in common, an idea Mormonism tried which failed miserably:

sidneyrigdon.com/wht/1891WhtB.htm

Catholic20064,
Here’s more about Sidney Rigdon that you can ignore:

"Early in 1844, when Joseph Smith became a candidate for president of the United States, Rigdon was nominated as his running mate and he established residence in Pittsburgh to carry on the campaign. He was there when news arrived of Joseph Smith’s murder. He hastened to Nauvoo to offer himself as a “guardian of the Church,” promising to act as such until Joseph Smith was resurrected from the dead. His claims were duly considered, but at a memorable meeting in Nauvoo on August 8, 1844, Church members rejected him as guardian. The Twelve Apostles were sustained as the head of the Church. When he undertook to establish a rival leadership, Rigdon was excommunicated in September 1844 and left with a few disciples for Pennsylvania, where they organized a Church of Christ. Acting erratically, he lost most of his followers in less than two years. In 1863, he made another effort, founding the Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion, which continued into the 1880s. From 1847 to his death in 1876, Rigdon resided in Friendship, New York, usually in a state of emotional imbalance and unhappiness.

In 1834, in Mormonism Unvailed, Eber D. Howe attacked the authenticity of the Book of Mormon by adopting Philastus Hurlbut’s argument that Sidney Rigdon purloined the “Manuscript Story” of Solomon Spaulding, “plagiarized” it to compose the Book of Mormon, and gave it to Joseph Smith to publish under his name. During his lifetime Rigdon and members of his family consistently denied any connection with Spaulding, and after the discovery in 1885 of one of Spaulding’s manuscripts, the story was discredited.

But the Rigdon story believed by you lets you feel good about your own choices, so by all means keep it as you want it.

Hello,

Discussing Mormon Church structure diverts us from the important issues, that being, the orthodox christian faith. Using the term bishop or pastor or priest is secondary to understanding Christ and God. LDS theology is far removed from the Judeo-Christian understanding of monotheism. Knowing the richness of grace through Christ is what they need.

A very good point! It seems the LDS Church hasn’t completed the “restoration” of the early Church!

His grandson said it was well known within his family that Rigdon authored the Book of Mormon based on a Spalding manuscript. Just because the rest of his family lied about it and Sidney lied about it proves nothing:

Mormon apologists and Smith-as–Sole-Author advocates claim that Sidney Ridgon himself, and
his family consistently denied Rigdon’s involvement with the fabrication of The Book of Mormon
and that every member of the family supported this denial, even some who were antagonist to
Mormonism. While Rigdon’s wife and children evidently remained loyal in denying his
involvement, one of Rigdon’s grandchildren gave a different account. In 1888, Reporter Beadle
of the Tribune interviewed Walter Sidney Rigdon, a son of Algernon. Here are excerpts from
the interview:
‘Sidney Rigdon’s Grandson Says Their Family Understood it to be a Fraud.
– EDITOR TRIBUNE: – In the intervals of my literary labors here I have many talks with men who
were in Utah at a very early day, and occasionally with original Mormons or their sons… [M]y
chance talks with one of these are so agreeable that I report him briefly for you. Mr. Walter
Sidney Rigdon is a citizen of Carrolton, Cattaraugus County, N. Y., and a grandson of Sidney
Rigdon, the partner of Joe Smith. He talked with old Sidney hundreds of times about the “scheme
of the Golden Bible,” and his father still has many of the old Sidney’s documents. “Grandfather
was a religious crank,” says Mr. Rigdon, “till he lost money by it. He started in as a Baptist
preacher, and had a very fine congregation for those days, in Pittsburg. There was no reason at
all for his leaving, except that he got ‘cracked.’ At that time he had no ideas of making money.
Indeed, while he was with the Mormons, his chances to make money were good enough for most
men; but he came out of it about as poor as he went in.”

This quote comes from the following article which explains the entire story:

i4m.com/think/history/Book-of-Mormon.pdf

The story has hardly been discredited. There is more evidence being discovered all of the time.

Catholic20064,
I suppose you believe everything you read, and every “grandson” who tells the “great secret” about his ancestors that only he knows. I don’t. We differ in whom we believe.

I also differ in that I have read the Book of Mormon, know Sidney Rigdon could no way have written it or anything like it, nor could Joseph Smith have, but I’m happy for you that you have the basis you need for your personal perceptions and enjoyment of them. I’m glad you have a “grandson” figure you can trust because you know him and his character so well.:wink:

Belittle the Spalding theory if you would like to, but it is a better explanation than Joseph Smith ever provided. And of course the falsity of the Book of Mormon does not rest on whether or not the Spalding theory is true or false. The Book of Mormon has been shown to be false by modern scientific discoveries in archeology, genetics, linguistics and other branches of science. It’s absolutely proven beyond a shadow of doubt – it’s a 19th century creation which is a plagiarism of the Bible and other 19th century sources. Even B.H. Roberts understood that. Modern Mormons need to repent of their false God and accept the truth of the Trinity as found in the Bible and Church tradition.

Zerinus,

Thanks for the response. So the President is not officially known as a Prophet? Is the President then to be considered an Apostle? Or is he the Presiding High Priest and an Apostle? If the actual titles of the President are higher than that of Prophet, as given in the D&C, then why do LDS still refer to him as The Prophet? Also, there seems to be a disconnect between Peter being the chief Apostle and President of the original Quorum of 12 Apostles, and the current President of the LDS Church. Peter was one of the 12, and was president of the 12, and of the Church. But in the LDS Church, President Monson is not one of the Quorum of 12, but is more outside of it. Therefore it doesn’t really seem to be a continuation of the Primitive Church organization in that regard.

So if the Quorum of Twelve Apostles is a continuation of the original 12, then the First Presidency (adding 3 more Apostles) is more of a new, revealed practice?

Do the current Apostles claim to be witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ? What does this mean? What I meant was that the Apostles were actual, physical witnesses of the Resurrection.

As far as pastors and evangelists, the LDS Articles of Faith claim explicitly to continue the same organization as that of the Primitive Church, including pastors and evangelists, when these “offices” (can’t think of a better term) don’t exist in the LDS Church, and the office of Patriarch includes evangelist.

I agree that much isn’t known about the original Seventy, however we do know that there actually were seventy Seventies. And I guess we don’t know if they had a binding/loosing power (the sealing power in the LDS Church).

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