Thoughts on “administering the gospel vs. preaching the gospel –” that I need to work out before posting a comment as Dews From Heaven…
I think Kim is right that we ought to spend a great deal of time on Joseph’s 4-part list of events. I’m going to copy them here for easy reference:
“Firstly he receiving the testimony from on high”
“Secondly the ministering of angels”
“Thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of Angels to administer the letter of the Gospel—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—and the ordinances”
“Fourthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God [and] power and ordinance from on high to preach the gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit.”
The way he uses “the” (as in “the testimony,” and “the ministering of angels,” etc.) implies that this list is a pattern for how God calls prophets. So first, he receives a testimony or witness from on high; he knows for himself that God is real. Then, angels come ministering. The phrase “ministering of angels” is often given in lists of gifts of the spirit so it’s not surprising to see him say “the” ministering of angels. I did a quick search for “ministering of angels” in the scriptures and I think I could write a whole post thinking through those! How many times is the ministering of angels mentioned after Satan came tempting, or after someone repented of sins, and so forth? Why are the words developed into a phrase? It seems early in the Book of Mormon it isn’t a phrase but the word “minister” is still used in connection with angels. And in 3 Nephi angels minister and then Christ also comes ministering. D&C 7 says that a person will be made as a ministering angel. All sorts of things to work on! 🙂
But anyway, second, he receives angels, or further light and knowledge. A testimony was the important first step, and now we add to that.
Third, we find out another thing that the angels bring to him: the priesthood, which allows him, a mortal, to administer the gospel it was given to him. (Does it follow that the gospel laws, commandments, and ordinances were given to him by the ministering of angels?)
I do like the idea of “administering” the gospel as “giving out” or “distributing” the law, commandments, and ordinances of the gospel. I also like the idea that one administers what one has already received. Also, it makes sense that receiving the priesthood is what allows one to administer what one has received. I don’t know what about that feels so clear, but I like it.
Forth, he receives a confirmation and reception of more priesthood. Why a confirmation? Of what, exactly? We’ll see that word used in D&C 84 but I don’t really understand what we are confirming yet. Confirmation that he is doing the right thing? A confirmation of salvation? And why is it now “a” confirmation and reception instead of “the”? Is it that the first three steps have happened enough in history that his audience would be familiar with them, but the fourth one goes beyond that?
And what is it about preaching that requires such a grand and holy calling? In most churches, preaching is a lesser calling than administering ordinances. But what about separating preaching as in missionary work from teaching in Church settings? In Church settings, the majority of the audience has already received ordinances, whereas when someone is preaching the audience has not received ordinances. Is the role of a preacher to prepare the way for ordinances, and somehow that requires a higher priesthood?? D&C 42:11 is very clear that “it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.” I think this is meant to be separate from teaching, since the verse next few verses go on to talk about how elders, priests, and teachers should teach in the Church. But, they also must teach “as they shall be directed by the Spirit” and can’t teach without it, so my whole idea of the Melchizedek priesthood needing the Spirit more doesn’t really hold up in the end. 🙂
I suppose there might be still something to the idea that administering is more straightforward where as teaching and preaching need the Spirit…