The Next Prophet or Spokeman of God


Thank you again for taking the time.
It seems to me that the author of Hebrews called this the “Order of Melchizedek.” You are claiming that the Tradition of the Catholic Church clarifies that “Order of Melchizedek” is a poetic devise. There is only the priesthood of Christ. Calling it the “Melchizedek Priesthood” like LDS do is not in alignment with Catholic Tradition. Calling it the “Order of Melchizedek” like the author of Hebrews does is poetic language that obscures truth (like calling a bottle opener a church key) and is not in alignment with Catholic Tradition.

Am I understanding so far?

When you say “Melchizedek didn’t hold Christ’s priesthood” are you saying that there are “historical facts” and there are Biblical teachings for the purpose of communicating God’s truth. And that if a historian could gather data concerning Melchizedek, said historian would determine that he either didn’t exist or didn’t hold a priesthood different from the Pagan priesthood of his day. The Old Testament (and a HUGE body of ancient Jewish literature) has romanticized a character Melchizedek and the author of Hebrews was looking for a way to explain the person of Christ that Jews would relate to SO he latched onto this mythical figure Melchizedek? The truth is the Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was the priest and the sacrifice of the New Covenant and the author of Hebrews was inspired to give a romanticized account that would help Jews recognize this truth.

Is that what you mean?
I am not sure I would choose to go there, but I want to understand what you are saying. I do not believe that the earth and mankind was created in six 24 hour periods, so there is some allegory in the Bible in my view.

Charity, TOm


Yes. With one very important qualification. We would not say that Scripture (in this case Hebrews) “obscures truth.”

Instead, it is poetic language (or literary device) which is used in Hebrews. We simply borrow that poetic language.

It would be obscuring the truth to say that the line in Hebrews is to be taken literally rather than as a literary device.

(time permitting, I’ll try for one paragraph at a time, lest one post get too long)


I would not go so far as to say that he did not exist. He might have, or he might not. It doesn’t matter much to us. He might be just an allegorical figure—a literary device, rather than an actual historic person. A literary personification of “peace” since he is also called “King of Salem” meaning “King of Peace.” We don’t even know if Salem refers to a real place, nor do we care.

An overall point I keep trying to make is that Catholics do not think very much (meaning very often) about the character of Melchizedek in Genesis. We attach very little significance to the event. If you were to ask a Catholic “what if that never happened and/or was never recorded in Genesis?” we would shrug our shoulders and say “it wouldn’t matter. It changes nothing of importance.”

If he existed, he would have been some kind of mono-theistic religious figure; some kind of “priest of God”. Since he lived at the time of Abraham, he shared Abraham’s faith in One God, but we cannot say much more about him.

Possibly. Catholic theology would not outright reject that theory.

Still, it’s not what I keep explaining. The purpose of recording Melchizedek in the Old Testament is for God to show us that He intended to establish the Christian Priesthood, and that He has had this intention all along (not invented after Christ was born). I keep saying this, but then you keep ignoring it and asking if we believe something else. We do not believe “something else.” We believe exactly what I keep posting here.

It won’t matter how many times or ways someone phrases the question “do you believe such-and-such about Melchizedek?” The answer is not going to change. The event is a literary device that shows us that God intended all along to establish the Christian Priesthood; and that He gave us a hint or foreshadowing of that in the literary person of Melchizedek offering a sacrifice of bread and wine.


I prefer “literary” rather than “romanticized.” Otherwise, I’d say that’s fair.

It also foreshadows the truth that the same sacrifice of Christ would be offered as bread and wine, consecrated to be His Body and Blood, to His followers. Even as early as the time of Abraham, God knew that He would later command His people to take part in the Christian Sacrifice which is the Mass.

It’s easy for someone to say that the team is going to make a comeback when the score is 30-28 in the last 30 seconds of the 4th quarter. God is telling us in the first 10 seconds of the first quarter what is going to happen in Abraham’s future.

Yes, of course, there’s quite a bit of allegory.


Thanks again. It looks like I am getting close!
The term “order of Melchizedek” is not theologically important. The existence of Melchizedek or the exact parameters of his priestly behavior are not important.
What is important is that God inspired Old Testament authors to discuss a figure from long before Christ who offered sacrifice of bread and wine. This existed in ANCIENT Jewish scripture.
In the 1st century AD, God inspired the author of Hebrews to point out God’s plan and by so doing show us that God planned all along to establish the Christian Priesthood.
This give the Jews a powerful reason to see Christ as the prophesied Messiah.
The priesthood Christ holds is Christ’s eternal priesthood. Saying that Melchizedek held Christ priesthood is neither important nor warranted because this thousand year plus narrative is for the purpose of showing that God all along planned Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice.
The term “Order of Melchizedek” served its purpose in that it showed the perfect foresight of God and His perfect plan.

I hope you are in bed. I should be too.
Charity, TOm


well this Catholic has never claimed that LDS worship Joseph Smith. I see no evidence of it.


is this different from saying that the Holy Spirit inspired the Church leaders to be able to discern what is and what isn’t ‘sacred’ scripture?

??? are you saying that overall, the laity rejected Arianism and there was no need for a church council to declare it heresy?

so is this like the Catholic belief that the Holy Spirit inspired the church under the leadership of the bishops to canonize scripture?

so to the LDS, there is no clear discernment as to what is and what isn’t sacred scripture?

how do you ‘recognize’ it as inspired? and what exactly does ‘inspired’ mean? But it is not a 'common set of scriptures since the 1600s. Who gets to decide what is and what isn’t sacred scripture? The Catholics accept more OT books than most protestants.

So it comes down to if “I” like it “I” will call it sacred scripture. How can there be any Christian unity if there isn’t a uniform acceptance of what is and what isn’t sacred scripture? And of course it was the church which decided that certain documents, although read in Mass, were not divinely inspired and were then removed from universal usage.

Doesn’t seem sufficient for LDS. So what is the Bible sufficient for?

Who does scripture say has the authority to determine what is scripture and to whom should we listen?


Mostly yes. About 99.9%

There is still one subtle, but very important point.

Melchizedek not only “did not” but “could not” hold Christian priesthood. That would be impossible.
I am writing this because you wrote “neither important nor warranted.” That doesn’t go far enough.

Spiritually, speaking, we place the Incarnation of Christ at the center of time. Not in a superstitious sense like 6 o’clock is in the middle of 12 and 12, so we can calculate the end of time. It’s not about calculating or measuring, but spiritually, Christ is at the center.

The Old Testament prepares the world for the coming of Christ. All of Salvation History is a record of God (the Trinity) preparing the world for the coming of the 2nd Person of the Trinity as Incarnate flesh (God-become-man).

When we discuss Melchizedek, we concentrate mostly on the “allegorical” method of reading scripture. Christ is the center. Christ is the reality, the Truth. Melchizedek is a “type” for Christ—a sort of reverse image, like a letter on a type-writer or an image on a rubber-stamper. The “type” cannot be understood unless we apply the ink, press it to a piece of paper, and then the true image appears.

[Even though typewriters and rubber stampers would come much later, ancient peoples did have such things in the form of metal dies for striking coins, or similar tools for jewelers or leatherworkers. So, while “type” might seem to be an anachronism, it’s really not]

Melchizedek cannot (absolutely cannot) hold the Christian priesthood—because at that time, it does not yet exist. It certainly exists in the mind of God, but as a concept (let’s not go off on a tangent “if God thinks something it becomes real”) It is a concept in the mind of God, but will not exist in reality until the Incarnation.

Christ established the Christian priesthood and conferred it on the Apostles at the Last Supper. Before that, there were no Christian priests, there was no Christian priesthood. Yes, there was Christ the Priest, but there was no priesthood --no institution.

Melchizedek, the “type” provides one image (an imperfect, sort of reversed) one, whose purpose is to point toward the Christian priesthood which would be established later at the Last Supper. However, he cannot be himself a Christian priest.

Later edit: fixed a formatting error in quoting the earlier post.


James E. Talmage and the LDS website agree with me, when they both claim the priesthood started with Adam. After reading Talmage on the subject it seems to me that Christ having this priesthood is no different than the Mormon President having it, or even you having it.

When Mormonism teaches their priesthood started with Adam and the Catholic, biblical, understanding is that it started with Christ, a Mormon can agree with Catholics in saying it “does not start with Melchizedek,” as gazelam did. And then truthfully tell us that Mormons believe the Mormon priesthood started in Old Testament times.

Yes, the Mormon priesthood they call the Melchizedek Priesthood predates Christ, just like Mormon baptism predates Christ. Because they started without Christ, they are not Christian.

While the biblical reality is that there is no such thing as a Melchizedek Priesthood.


Thank you for that.
Charity, TOm


No one should pay any heed to false characterizations of his religion. no matter what religion that might be.


I do not think that this is radically different, but the entire body of LDS is asked to accept new revelation to be part of the scriptural canon. This judgement of the entire church guided by the holy spirit is the highest sealing of truth in LDS thought.

I am actually offering Newman’s view of the importance of the laity especially in their rejection of the Arian controversy. Newman praises the work of the Bishops at Nicea, but the WORST of the Arian heresy came after Nicea. “The whole world groaned to find itself Arian” -St. Jerome.


This is what Newman said:

In another of Newman’s works he explains how the phrase from Augustine, “Securus judicat orbis terrarum” - “the secure judgement of the whole world” was important to Newman’s transition from Anglican to Catholic (there is no “via media.”)
I just point to these because LDS place great emphasis upon “Common Consent” or the “secure judgement of the entire faith.” There is a balance between the members and the leaders.

More later hopefully.
Charity, TOm


I would say that the Catholic view is that the Episcopate guided by the holy spirit selected the books to be in the canon.
I would say the LDS view is that LDS leaders (starting at the Prophet, through the quorum of the 12, …) present revelations to be added to scripture and these are accepted by “common consent.” Here is President Harold B. Lee’s statement:

I am saying that the ancient church which I believe lacked “General Authorities” passed judgement on books of the Bible. I neither powerfully assert nor powerfully deny that this judgement was guided by the Holy Spirit. I lean towards guidance. I think the Holy Spirit was involved and I think the product (the Bible) is wonderful. I also assert that the CoJCoLDS has accepted by “common consent” the Bible as scripture.

More later.
Charity, TOm


LDS discernment is produced via common consent. The 4 standard works are scripture. More scripture can be added if God reveals it to the prophet, it is accepted by church leadership, and then is accepted by “common consent.” This is the LDS discernment process concerning scripture and potentially canonized new revelation.

LDS Common Consent is the highest sealing action for the CoJCoLDS.
Inspired means that God communicated to a human, like St. Peter, St. Paul, or Joseph Smith. Inspired scripture comes when the human writes down or dictates what they received. There is only ONE perfect half in this communication, namely God.
For the CoJCoLDS scripture is determined by “common consent.”

It has nothing to do with the an individuals liking or disliking.
My statement was because I believe that the Protestant position that the New Testament is the complete and perfect inerrant word of God and yet the folks who debated and then decided 100% correctly on the books of scripture were almost 100% wrong when they spoke about the authority they have. Perfect in defining scripture and almost perfectly wrong in their understanding of God’s authority / the need for God’s ordained leaders. Is a very weak position.


LDS have never claimed the Bible is complete and inerrant. It is sufficient.
Christian unity (indeed the unity of all of God’s children) is to be had when all recognize that Russell M. Nelson is God’s spokesman on earth. They sustain the prophet and attempt to live the teachings God has bestowed upon His church. (If I say that I know some anti-Mormons will quote this and tell me how it will never happen and it will be a cold day in hell and …. will it stop that post from being made?)
Christian unity is not a product of everyone accepting a single book and then believing whatever they honestly believe that book says.
I really think there are two options for unity.

  1. The recognition that the Catholic Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the magisterium teaches true doctrine. This requires and orthodoxy of belief because those who reject DOGMA are not in communion with the Catholic Church (as I understand it today and certainly as has been shown by numerous church councils).

  2. The recognition that the Prophet of the CoJCoLDS is God’s prophet on earth. The sustaining of the prophet and the attempting to live the teachings of God through His church as elucidated by His inspired church leaders.

I do not think Christian unity will ever be had because we all read the same Bible.

According to the CoJCoLDS, the Bible is sufficient for its use within God’s church. There is no need for LDS to re-exam ancient books and move some additional inspired scripture into the Bible. This does not mean that “the canon is closed or that there is not need for continuing revelation.” That view is not correct per LDS teachings.
Without thinking about your second question too much (I am getting tired), I would say the Bible points to the Holy Spirit, but I also think the Acts 8 teaches that divinely chooses teachers are essential too.

That was long!
Charity, TOm


In Catholic thought, Melchizedek does not/cannot have the Christian priesthood because the Christian priesthood is instituted IN TIME by Christ. It is the FOCAL point of God’s salvation plan and God’s salvation narrative. Melchizedek has a poetic role in this as a type of Christ.

That does open up a clear difference in Catholic and LDS thought which is probably evident in the my response on Baptism so I think I will not mention it here.
Thank you again for your responses.
Charity, TOm


Let me try again.
As Gazelam pointed out D&C 107:3,

LDS believe Christ is eternal and that He acted throughout the Old Testament. Christ’s priesthood existed with Christ and was given to Adam and Melchizedek.
So, you are correct in that the man Adam lived and died before the man Jesus Christ was born, died and was raised from the dead. But in LDS thought the Son of God’s priesthood was given to Adam and was possessed by Christ before Adam was in the Garden of Eden.

The Catholic understanding offered by Father David is very clear that there is no “Melchizedek Priesthood.” This is a point of disagreement and I do not think the Bible settles the issue.

The question becomes what is allegorical and what is not allegorical. Some Christians reject the miracle of the loves and fishes, I think that was a miracle. Some Christians believe the earth was created in six - 24 hour periods. I think that is allegorical. For a LDS, the existence of the Christian priesthood for the person Melchizedek is not allegorical or poetic.

Now, my question to you is …
Do you believe the LDS view that there is an “Order of Melchizedek” is unbiblical (not in alignment with the Bible)? Or just not in alignment with the understanding of the Catholic Church (and I know that you believe the Catholic understanding is the only truth and this is because the Bible is a Catholic book and …, but try to answer as if it is possible that God’s Church is not the Catholic Church else what is the point in us discussing things)?
Charity, TOm


I cannot remember whether I refuted the Boetner List before of after I read Keatings Catholicism and Fundamentalism but both of these were early forays into my attempt to understand my former faith better than I did when I left it.
I would very much agree that one should not be hurt by those who mischaracterize ones faith, especially when it is obvious that they are not trying to understand anyway. But, I think there is a place for correcting false understandings, especially when those who are being correct might sincerely desire to have a correct understanding. Like perhaps if one thought it was in anyway appropriate to claim that Catholic priests have the Melchizedek Priesthood. grin
Charity, TOm



At least “I think so.” It sounds that way.

It seems there is a difference here in how we view the notion of time.

The reference to baptism actually helps me to understand where you’re coming from.

As a Catholic, we would say that the Qumran baptisms mean nothing (literally and entirely “nothing”) beyond the notion that we can see spiritual symbolism in our everyday acts. As human creatures, we wash ourselves, so it’s only natural for us to see baptism as a washing away of sin. Were we to discover other ancient forms of baptism (and maybe we already have)* in other cultures, we’d have the same reaction. It means nothing other-than to reinforce the commonsense connection between spiritual and physical cleansing. Even the thought of John the Baptist being a member of the Qumran would not change this. Our opinion on that is “maybe he was or maybe he wasn’t” it makes no difference at all (beyond interesting trivia). We would attach no more significance to this than we would try to make a connection between the Bread of the Eucharist and a discovery of where a younger John the Baptist frequented his village bakery.

  • Indeed, we already have. Many cultures/religions do have forms of initiation or rites-of-passage involving water.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit