- The words “oath” and “covenant” from D&C 84:39 are clearly drawn from Hebrews, as any one in Joseph’s time would have recognized.
- Note that God made oath and covenant, that it’s His (D&C 84:40). Not actually a covenant we make with God! This is one sided when it is made, and then we are told/asked to receive it.
- D&C 132:22-25 are very worth looking at, as well as JST Genesis 14!
- The language of confirmed is related to oaths and covenants in Bible.
- Where else does “oath and covenant” come up together, as a phrase? In the Book of Mormon! But it always means oaths and covenants of robbers, bad secret society. Is the priesthood meant to be thought of as the “good” secret society? The one that counters the bad?
- The consequence for breaking an oath or covenant in a bad secret society is usually death! Severe consequence. D&C 84:41 is also severe.
- Interesting that it’s not about this life, as D&C 132 talks about (hard time this life, ok in next)
- The good secret society. It is a fundamental change in how we relate to other people. [Tangent here about how even when we as Latter-day Saints don’t understand all that this gospel is or how deep and wonderful the covenants are, there is still a change in how we relate to others. There are all sorts of “fringe benefits”that come even from the watered-down version of things. And the real vision is still buried in there, still being carried along by the church members even though we don’t realize it.
- Now, some notes/thoughts from what Don shared with us:
- “According to” usually means we’re referring to something just talked about, or to something clearly established. This “accords” with that previous thing.
- This seems to accord with Hebrews, which refers back to Psalms
- But also, look at Gen 14 “order of the covenant” also “oath by himself”
- JST Hebrews was worked on only 7 months earlier, and Joseph had just gone back through it about this time. So not only would the audience have thought about Hebrews, Joseph was thinking about Hebrews a lot during this time
- Some sort of “everlasting covenant” talked about in stories of David and others but Hebrews might be only place in NT (Heb 13:20).
- The JST of Hebrews 9 changes testament to covenant
- JST Hebrews 7:19 adds “without an oath” Law was administered without an oath
- JST Deut 10:2 adds “save words of everlasting covenant of priesthood” (second tablets did not have words of the covenant)
- So with JST changes, Deut says law did not have words of covenant, and Hebrews says law did not have oath
- D&C 84:25 God took Moses and priesthood out from them (=took words of covenant & no oath?)
- Similar to 1 Ne 13 – took plain and precious from gospel, even many covenants. Then took from book.
- D&C 132:19 – what is “it”? everlasting covenant (later in 19: as hath been sealed upon their heads)
- b/c everlasting covenant from JST Gen 14 = godhood, this makes sense.
- D&C 132:19 and JST Gen 14 both use principalities and powers
- D&C 84:42 “by mine own voice” also in JST Gen 14:29 and Hebrews (and Alma 13 – called)
- Oaths – Hebrews talks about Abraham’s oath, and Christ’s priesthood oath
- “confirm” talked about in Hebrews 7 and D&C 84:39-42
- D&C 132:59 by mine own voice Aaron Hebrews also says called of God
- back to covenants taken out: Covenant given to Adam etc, then missing until Abraham, then missing until Moses, then missing until Christ, then missing until Joseph Smith
- covenant is received, as we emphasized earlier. Given by God, oath made by God. Receive covenant, receive oath, over and over. Alma 13, God ordains. God calls. D&C 84:40, D&C 66: , D&C 132:27.
- Consequences come after that is clear D&C 132:27, D&C 84:41
- In 1831 office of high priest given, thought of as sealing lots of things, even sealing up to eternal life
- D&C 84 was in 1832 developed, but think context of sealing up to eternal life
- Joseph Smith’s later discourses, Moses’s people won’t accept last stage the gift of eternal life. Why did they reject? don’t know. D&C 84 says same thing didn’t want to enter God’s rest, see face to face. See discourses maybe March 1844
- Receive everlasting covenant, not obey everlasting covenant.
- Joseph Smith’s creativity with everything (laws on polygamy, etc.) may reflect his position of receiving this higher law and power, like Nephi (in Helaman), Enoch, etc. They had power to move rivers, mountains, create famines, etc.
- did Joseph’s confidence come from lost 116 pages? God has many ways of doing His work, He is wise, I can’t ruin it, in for the ride
Tag Archives: D&C 84
I’m working on a comment for Dews From Heaven and I need a place to stick my draft. 🙂 Here it is so far:
I’ve been trying to think about “mysteries” and the “therefore” and “thereof” in verses 19-21. I think I’m inclined to read these verses a little bit differently, so let me know what you think and where I might be missing something.
What is being referred to by the words “in the ordinances thereof” in verse 20? The options seem to be: 1) the ordinances of the mysteries, 2) the ordinances of the gospel, or 3) the ordinances of the greater priesthood. I think Candice your reading favors the first of these options. I hadn’t seen that option until I read your post! I see how that follows an older meaning of the word “mystery” as a sacred right. Previously, I had been inclined towards the third option, but since verse 21 separates “ordinances” and “priesthood,” I think I want to rule that one out. So I think either option 1 or option 2 could work here. In addition, the two could be mixed: the ordinances are the ordinances of the gospel, which are the mysteries that teach us about God.
If we were to read “in the ordinances thereof” as “ordinances of the gospel,” what ordinances would be included? Verse 19 talks about the greater priesthood administering “the gospel,” while verse 27 talks about the lesser priesthood and “the preparatory gospel.” I assume we could read baptism as an ordinance of the preparatory gospel; what ordinances would be included as ordinances of “the gospel”? At the least, I assume we would include the giving of the gift of the Holy Ghost and the temple ordinances, all of which require the Melchizedek Priesthood as we understand it today.
For a minute, I’m going to think about “mysteries of the kingdom” as separate from the ordinances to see what options there might be. I find the next words helpful: “even the key of the knowledge of God.” The mysteries <i>are</i> simply that which gives knowledge of God? Or, is this a specification: of all the mysteries, the specific one given through this key is the knowledge of God?
I find it interesting that later, it says that Moses’s people could not “endure [God’s] presence,” and therefore God “swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness.” Could we read these phrases as they could not endure the “knowledge of God,” and therefore could not enter “the kingdom”? Is the knowledge of God an necessary entry into the kingdom, or a necessary first step to receiving the mysteries of the kingdom?
How could these ordinances be read in tandem with the other responsibility mentioned in verse 19, to “hold” the key of the mysteries of the kingdom?
Thoughts on how Ranciere’s work on equality & hierarchy might help us think about LDS Priesthood and stewardships
Note: These are some thoughts lifted from the Dews From Heaven blog. In the course of a discussion, I tried to explain my thoughts on what Ranciere is saying in The Ignorant Schoolmaster and how that might apply to priesthood callings and callings generally in the Church. I thought it was worth posting just those thoughts here since I’ve written on this blog about Ranciere in the past and it would be helpful for me to have all those thoughts in one place.
The whole idea behind being an “ignorant schoolmaster” is that you are a master not by virtue of having more intelligence, but simply by a structured situation. The structure almost has to be artificial, or arbitrary, to really work. The master has to see her or himself as equal to the student. When both the student and master see themselves as equal, then the call of the master to “pay attention” to the assignment or whatever is their “thing in common” has more effect. If the student constantly assumes they are inferior to the master, then there is the temptation to just wait until the master explains it to them. (Emancipation is when the student comes to realize they don’t have to wait to be explained to, and that there is always something they can think or say about the thing in common. Of course, that requires that the master actually gives them a thing in common, and asks questions that don’t have a specific, definite answer that only the master can validate.)
Anyway, the point is, when both individuals recognize the equality of intelligence, then they both see the hierarchical structure for what it is. It allows a master to impose their will on the will of another, rather than their intelligence on the intelligence of another.
Ranciere points out that when a hierarchy of intelligence is created (rather than an artificial hierarchy) it has to be based on a justification of superiority and inferiority — I am the master because I know more or have greater intelligence and you are the student because you know less or have inferior intelligence. Power must be justified to keep the hierarchy in place. But, if a student realizes that the master does not in fact have greater knowledge or greater intelligence, then hierarchical structure begins to crumble and the master loses his or her power. The student no longer has someone imposing intelligence or will upon him or her, and learning ceases.
This can get us into trouble in the Church, if we think that so-in-so has a particular calling because that person is inherently more spiritual than me. If that person makes what appears to us to be a mistake or something immoral, then we can began to question their spiritual superiority. Then we begin to question that person’s position within the hierarchy, and we no longer accept the imposition of will or decisions that come from that calling.
Of course, to really work appropriately, the person in the callingalso needs to recognize the spiritual equality (or intellectual equality, I don’t know that those are so separate in the end) of those serving “under” her or him within the hierarchy. I think when this is done right then spiritual growth occurs, in parallel to the learning that occurs within Ranciere’s model.
…Kim said some really cool things about D&C 121, so I’m adding those too: “The thought occurs to me: what if we were to understand the (lack of) priesthood structure in the early church (phases 1-3) as intentional, then? That is, rather than seeing Joseph kind of haphazardly make things up as he goes along, gradually consolidating power until he’s at the top of a great Mormon pyramid scheme, perhaps God purposefully revealed the priesthood in a way allows for the saints to experience it as non-hierarchical for several years. Then, by the time the complete hierarchy is finally revealed, the arbitrariness of that hierarchy is fully revealed, as simply one response to the needs of the kingdom at the time. Perhaps the early “lateral” priesthood was thus intentional, instead of being a watered-down, waiting-for-further-revelation, proto-version of the other? That’s the direction your Ranciere synopsis has me thinking in, anyway.
“And I like that picture, in some ways, because of the warning in D&C 121 about decoupling priesthood and power. The second a hierarchy is no longer seen as arbitrary, it becomes a question of power and situating oneself in a certain power network. Perhaps D&C 121 is reminding us to relate to priesthood hierarchy in an emancipated way?”
I like the idea of D&C 121 warning us against turning things into the wrong sort of hierarchy. I think that’s a very good reading! Your comment makes me think of D&C 107:21 – “Of necessity there are presidents, or presiding officers growing out of, or appointed of or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two priesthoods.” I like the phrase “of necessity”. I want to hear it as: It was necessary to have leaders for practical reasons, but not because they were of a different type or superior.
I think there is actually something to the idea that ministering works in a hierarchically structured situation — I allow my visiting teachers to counsel or help me because of their calling, even though I know they are my equals. In our terminology, we might say that it is by virtue of their stewardship that they can help me, and I even recognize that they can receive revelation to help me. But the moment that they are released from that assignment, I no longer assume that they can receive revelation, or at least not in the same way. They could help me as a friend, and I assume friends too get prompted by the Spirit. 🙂 But I mean that in the Church we recognize that those in structured circumstances have rights to revelation for those under them, or within their stewardship. A Bishop receives revelation for the ward not because he is who he is, but because of the calling he has. It is by virtue of his temporary place or arbitrary (arbitrary because God created it or called him, and because it is not because he is inherently better).
So ministering might be like the work of a teacher in Ranciere’s model. I think that works well.
What about administering, though? I like the point that you can’t say one person just ministers and another just administers. Where the administration is an administration of ordinances (rather than administration of a program), I think we might see that administration as Ranciere’s “thing in common.” A teacher gives to others something that both teacher and student can work on together. With ordinances, priesthood holders give to someone something they already have, and then they together to think and talk and work on understanding that thing. So maybe administering is something done within the work of ministering? Or sometimes one priesthood holder can administer an ordinance, like the sacrament, but it is a “thing in common” for other priesthood holders and those without priesthood (RS teacher, visiting teacher, etc.) to talk about when they minister?
…Kim asked, “It sounds like you’re saying that both ministers and administrators fill the role of a Rancierian teacher, is that right?”
Okay, I suppose what I meant was that the ordinances themselves were the thing in common, which could be provided by a minister or an administrator. In Ranciere’s stories, the “thing in common” was given by the teacher but it wasn’t created by the teacher. For example, if I pick an art book and open to a picture of a painting by Monet, and then I tell Jacob that artists use colors to create moods and feelings, I have given him something to work on. I haven’t told him what Monet is communicating with colors, and I don’t have one right answer I am looking for. The book and the piece of information are our “thing in common.” Then I ask questions, “What colors do you see Jacob?” “Are there different kinds of colors in different parts of the painting?” “How do they make you feel?” “What is the scene about? Do you think the colors are communicating something about the scene?” “What else do you think about when you see the colors in this painting?” In that case, I did give him the book and information to start with. But, that information could have been given to him by someone else. It is not something I created, based off of my “superior” intelligence, or only something I could validate. It is a piece of information he could have read on his own and received it that way, but in this case I delivered it to him. But at that point it is something we hold in common, and we can get to work on learning from that point.
Does that help at all? Administration (of a thing in common) is not the teaching moment itself, but a part of constructing the teaching situation. I might also give Jacob two paintings and just ask him to think about what is different. Giving him the books wasn’t the teaching situation, asking him what he thinks about it is the potentially emancipating teaching moment.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
Why “therefore”? I think it’s saying that the Melchizedek Priesthood has the keys of the mysteries and of the knowledge of God, therefore, when you receive an ordinance of the gospel through the Melchizedek priesthood, that ordinance contains something of those mysteries and knowledge? Or, they have the key that open those doors, and they way they help others through those doors are by the ordinances?
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
I was trying to figure out how the word “godliness” was being used here, and I finally thought to do a search. I found this scripture in 2 Timothy and I’m almost positive D&C 84 is referring to it: “2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”) I think that’s got to be the reference! I’m excited to keep thinking that through.
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
Search for “godliness” and “power” had just a few references: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=godliness+power&x=0&y=0
The question I have comes from verse 17. It says that the Melchizedek Priesthood “continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.” What do you make of the two phrases “in the church” and “in all generations”?
1) Does the priesthood continue in all generations (is always on the earth) and there is always a Church with men to hold it? That doesn’t seem to be the right reading, given our understanding of “the Apostasy.” On the other hand, the idea that the men from Esaias to Jethro kept the priesthood on the earth and that it was then given to Moses has me wondering! Are there always people somewhere, lost to the knowledge of the world, who have the priesthood? But, on the other hand, Peter, James, and John returned to give the Melchizedek Priesthood to Joseph Smith. So that would seem to suggest that there weren’t other people living on the earth who held that priesthood. But who knows! Maybe there were but God did it that way for some purpose He had. I’m open to about anything right now!
2) Does the priesthood continue in all generations if and when there is a Church organized on the earth? This is the more standard reading of course. This could be why the rest of the verse points out that the priesthood is without beginning or end; it is important to remember that while it is only manifest when a Church is organized, it exists all the time.
And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;
Are they sons according to, or because of, the Holy Priesthood? Being his heir to the priesthood makes you a type of son? Or will the “sons of Moses” do something according to the Holy Priesthood?
Why why why why is there a separate chain of priesthood authority that runs from Abraham’s time to Jethro? That is so fascinating to me! I read the Bible and I assume that all of God’s work was going on through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s line. The whole Book of Mormon project is to unite Gentile and Israel – those seem to be the only two groups in the world. But here we have a covenant, non-Israelite group with the priesthood. And not only that, that group has the very Melchizedek priesthood that is passed on to Moses and so forth. Crazy! 🙂 The Bible really is the story of one covenant people!
And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb; And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu; And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy; And Jeremy under the hand of Gad; And Gad under the hand of Esaias; And Esaias received it under the hand of God.
Here too, we find that God started a chain of priesthood authority. Esaias was blessed by Abraham (next verse) but he didn’t receive the priesthood from Abraham. Amazing!
Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—
What kind of blessing are we talking about, I wonder?
Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—
And this is a detail we don’t get from Genesis or even the Book of Abraham. Abraham was not only blessed by Melchizedek, he received the priesthood from him. And the Bible sees Melchizedek as without father or mother, which, while I assume doesn’t mean literally, I had sometimes taken that to mean that he received the priesthood straight from God and not because of his lineage. But, here it says he did receive it through the lineage of his fathers! Yikes! 🙂 Abraham does say he held the right belonging to the fathers, which came down from the fathers, though his immediate fathers didn’t believe. Maybe he was related to Melchizedek? Or, he wasn’t, but he knew Melchizedek was related to this line of fathers?
Also, I can’t understand why this chain goes back to Abel, when the Book of Moses suggests that Seth became the new priesthood line. But I don’t think there are enough details to riddle that out, so I’ll let that one go.
Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.
Two thoughts here. One, the description of the priesthood being without beginning of days or end of years is similar to Kim’s discussion of priesthood in the Alma 13 posts. Two, what do we make of the priesthood that continues in the church of God in all generations? Is the emphasis on “in the church” or “in all generations”? Whenever there is a church, then there is priesthood? and this is true in every generation in which there is a church established? Or, somewhere on the earth there is always a church established in which the priesthood can be preserved? Jethro is an interesting example of that, perhaps. As well as the Nephities having the priesthood at times when those in the Old World did not (it seems). Other thoughts on this?
And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.
The impression I’ve gotten in the past is that the Lord came up with the idea to invent a “lesser” priesthood when the Israelites rejected the higher priesthood. I think before that it was all just “priesthood” in a full, sealing-power-and-all sense. Israel rejects this, but at the same time is a covenant people with the possibility of working on the Abrahamic Covenant again, and God finds a way to keep them a covenant people even in their weakness. I don’t know if that’s at all right, but it’s the sense I’ve had in the past.
Verse 18 here may or may not challenge that reading. We have “confirmed a priesthood” on Aaron, but there’s nothing that gives me a sense whether this is a new idea or a priesthood order that has always existed. That’s a good way to put it — the priesthood power had always been there, and the ordinances, but the sense I’ve had in the past was that a new order was created with certain responsibilities.
This verse does point out the existence of this order going forward: “continueth and abideth forever.” Whether it’s absorbed into the higher priesthood at some point is just pure speculation, as far as I have come across.
If I’m correct (that’s a big “if”), then we have a “new” but “forever” scenario, which is similar to the phrase the “new and everlasting covenant.” I’m not suggesting that they are the same thing at all, but I’m curious about a similar construction. I’ve wondered about those words “new” but “everlasting.” I suppose I should have thought about this as I do the Aaronic priesthood: created at a certain point but going on forever. But as I’ve studied the new and everlasting covenant it seems to me that it is a restoration of the covenants given to Abraham. So it’s not a new thing, is it? Maybe it’s a new embodiment of those covenants? Later in D&C 84 we’ll get a phrase I really like — “covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you.” It isn’t a covenant that has been newly created, but newly made again. It’s like renewing the loan of a library book — things are back as if you had just checked it out for the first time. That’s the way I personally like to think of the phrase “new and everlasting covenant.”
But coming back to Aaron and his sons: from what you’ve read in scripture and elsewhere, do you think that the Aaronic priesthood order was created new at that time, or that it was already in existence?
(Similar post & thoughts on these same verses here: https://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/initial-reactions-to-dc-84-6-18/#comments)
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…