Priesthood
in the
Mormon Church

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man, including the authority to perform ordinances and to act as a leader in the church. The church deviates from traditional Christianity with its emphasis on authority.

Today the Church recognizes three orders of priesthood: (1) theAaronic priesthood, (2) the Melchizedek priesthood; and (3) thePatriarchal priesthood. Although these are different orders, they are, in reality, all subsumed under the priesthood held by Jesus Christ, that is, the Melchizedek priesthood.

The Aaronic priesthood (also called the Levitical priesthood), is considered to be a lesser priesthood tracing its roots to Aaron, the brother of Moses, through John the Baptist. In Latter Day Saint theology, being derived from the  priesthood which Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received on May 15, 1829, when they were ordained by an angel identifying himself as John the Baptist. In 1835, Smith and Cowdery clarified that this authority was the "Aaronic, or Levitical priesthood".

Priesthood denotes elements of both power and authority. The priesthood includes the powerJesus gave hisapostles to perform miracles such as the casting out of devils and the healing of sick (Luke9:1). Latter Day Saints believe that the Biblical miracles performed byprophets and apostles were performed using the power of priesthood, including the miracles of Jesus, who holds all of the keys of the priesthood. The priesthood is formally known as the "Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God", but to avoid the too frequent use of the name of deity, the priesthood is commonly referred to as the Melchizedek priesthood (Melchizedek being the title the patriarch Shem bore when he accepted the tithes that Abraham paid).

When the priesthood is conferred upon an individual, he received the authority (the right) to perform the ordinances of the Church. But he also receives access to a mystical power

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints assert that the priesthood was confered on church founder Joseph Smith.He has a vision in which Peter, James and John ordained him. This ordination is known as the Melchizadek Priesthood.  Later the Prophet Joseph was ordained by John the Baptist. This ordination confered upon him the Aaronic priesthood. This lower priesthood has a function similar to the office of deacon in the Catholic Church..

Over the past 175 years the LDS views concerning priesthood have evolved. The church does not say this, but the facts are clear.

The Book of Commandments 1833 Edition
A revelation given to Oliver, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829              
  Doctrine & Covenants 1981 Edition
Revelation given to Oliver Cowdery at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829

Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, which is your God and your Redeemer, even so sure shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which have been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.

2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

4 Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.

5 O, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.

6 Now this is not all; for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod; behold, it has told you many things;

7 Behold, there is no other power, save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands,

8 For it is the work of God.

 

 

9 And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall know.

10 Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things. Do not ask for that which you ought not.

11 Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate all those ancient records, which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

12 Behold, it is I that have spoken it; and I am the same which spake unto you from the beginning. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you,  that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer,  even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge  concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit. 

2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

4 Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.

5 Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.

6 Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things;

7 Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you.

8 Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.

9 And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall have knowledge concerning it.

10 Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not.

11 Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you maytranslate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

12 Behold, it is I that have spoken it; and I am the same that spake unto you from the beginning. Amen.

It is clear that changes have been made. Without going into how it is possible to change a revelation from God, it can be seen that the original was dealing with the dowsing rod. In the latest version, this has been changed to references to the Gift of Aaron. The "priesthood" in these verses is the gift if divination.. If we are tc combine this with Bible references to the office of Deacon, we may safely say that the Aaronic priesthood  of the LDS Church deals with divination and "waiting on tables" - which might refer to administering communion.

By early 1831, Latter Day Saint theology also recognized a higher order of priesthood, or the high priesthood. This high priesthood had been foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon, which referred to men holding the unique position of high priest in the church organization described in that book, holding the "high priesthood of the holy order of God" (Alma 4:20, Alma 13:8); however, the office of high priest was not implemented in early Mormonism until some days after Smith was joined in his ministry by Sidney Rigdon, a newly-converted Cambellite minister from Ohio, who merged his congregation with Smith's. Rigdon believed the teachings of the early Mormon missionaries who taught him, but thought the missionaries were lacking in heavenly power  In response to Rigdon's concern, the church's first high priests were ordained at a special conference held in June 1831.

Today the Aaronic priesthood has nothng to do with divination and is referred to as the Lesser Priesthood, while the Melchizadek priesthood deals with leadership.