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LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXIV

Article IV, Laying on of Hands, Cont’d

Mormons confirm members of their Church by laying on of hands which also gives them the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit). That gives them the only authority that God accepts for baptism, ordination, etc. Orson Pratt, one of the original LDS Apostles wrote, “Baptism in order to be acceptable in the sight of God must be administered by a man ordained of God and authorized by Jesus Christ, otherwise it will be a solemn mockery before God, and highly sinful in His sight. But who in this generation have authority to baptize? None but those who have received authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord’s Supper from their hands will highly offend God; for He looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people. Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of their unholy and impious act” (The Seer, p. 255).

What Orson Pratt said above is not Biblical. LDS believe God only accepts ordinances done by the LDS priesthood because Joseph Smith said so. In LDS scripture in the Pearl of Great Price (P. of G. P.), Joseph Smith-History 1:68-73 Smith told how he received that priesthood. He said while translating the Book of Mormon in May of 1829 he and Oliver Cowdery read about baptism for the remission of sins and went into the woods to pray about it. As they prayed John the Baptist appeared as an angel “in a cloud of light” and laid his hands upon their heads and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. Neither Smith nor Cowdery had been baptized, so by LDS standards, they were unbaptized sinners when they received the Aaronic Priesthood! LDS doctrine says no one can receive the LDS priesthood until after they are baptized. So, why didn’t John the Baptist baptize Smith and Cowdery before ordaining them as Aaronic Priests if that is what God required? Luke 1:15 says John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” and he baptized Jesus, so surely he had authority to baptize Joseph and Oliver! Whether John the Baptist was resurrected or a spirit wouldn’t matter since the P. of G. P., Moses 6:64-65 says Adam was baptized in water by the Spirit of the Lord! So, John the Baptist could have baptized Joseph and Oliver!

In the P. of G. P., Joseph Smith-History 1:70, he said John the Baptist told them the "Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost", but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.” That verse says the Aaronic Priesthood did not have “the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” So, Smith and Cowdery did not receive the Holy Ghost when John the Baptist laid his hands on them. And John the Baptist told Joseph to baptize Oliver even though Joseph had not been baptized. LDS do not allow an unbaptized person to baptize now! Oliver, who had been baptized by unbaptized Joseph, baptized him, which would not be acceptable to LDS now. Smith said after they baptized each other, “I laid my hands on his (Oliver’s) head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.” But John the Baptist laid his hands on Joseph and Oliver and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on them in verse 69! If they received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, they didn’t need to ordain each other to it! But if they didn’t have the Aaronic Priesthood their baptisms would be invalid by LDS standards! So, wasn’t the Aaronic Priesthood John gave them good enough?

Joseph Smith said in verse 73, “Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell on him…” Smith said he experienced the same thing and they were both “filled with the Holy Ghost.” LDS scripture in Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) 20:41 says that LDS Melchizedek Priesthood holders are “to confirm those who are baptized into the Church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.” So, LDS believe the Holy Ghost is only given by the laying on of authorized hands. John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15) and even baptized Jesus, so he should have been able to confer the Holy Ghost on Joseph and Oliver. The P. of G. P., Joseph Smith—History, shows that John the Baptist’s visit was unnecessary since all he did was ordain Smith and Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood, but they also ordained each other to that priesthood! Joseph could have baptized himself while baptizing Oliver since Alma did that when he baptized Helam in the Book of Mormon (B. of M), Mosiah 18:14. Alma was converted in Mosiah 17:2 of the B. of M. where it says he was a descendant of Nephi, the son of Lehi. Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh according to Alma 10:3, so he wasn’t from the priestly tribe of Levi and could not be a priest! All Biblical priests had to be Israelites from the tribe of Levi and family of Aaron (Numbers 3:5-12). No Aaronic Priest was “ordained” a Priest because they inherited the priesthood as descendants of Aaron! Since Alma was not qualified to be a priest when he baptized himself and Helam in Mosiah 18:14, were their baptisms valid?

Joseph Smith—History 1:70-72 in the P. of G. P. says that John the Baptist told them the Aaronic Priesthood didn’t have the power of laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost but that power and the Melchizedek Priesthood would be conferred on them later by Peter James and John. LDS claim that happened a month later in June of 1829, but they have no record of an exact time or place. LDS scripture in D. & C. 7:1-3 says John the Apostle never died and the B. of M. III Nephi 28:6-7 says John and 3 of the 12 Nephite disciples never died! If D. & C. 7 and III Nephi 28 are true, the priesthood and church did not need to be restored to Joseph Smith through Peter, James and John. Those LDS scriptures say that from the time of Christ’s ministry on earth until He comes again John and the three Nephites have been and will continue to convert multitudes and add them to the Church! Why did Peter and James need to return from the dead to help John give the Melchizedek Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery if John and the three Nephites were and are still alive and ministering on earth? The origin of LDS Priesthood raises serious questions about its validity, yet every LDS priesthood holder ultimately got his priesthood from Joseph Smith or Oliver Cowdery!

Next time we will discuss Article 5 “Authority in Ministry.”

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