LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXVI
Article VI, LDS Church and Organization
The sixth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz. apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.” LDS Apostle James Talmage explained the 13 LDS “Articles of Faith” in his book, the Articles of Faith. In it he said, “In the dispensation of the meridian of time Jesus Christ established His Church upon the earth, appointing therein the officers necessary for the carrying out of the Father’s purpose” (p. 198). He then said, “The existence of these officers, and particularly their operation with accompaniments of divine assistance and power, may be taken as a distinguishing characteristic of the Church in any age of the world—a crucial test, whereby the validity or falsity of any claim to divine authority may be determined. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the everlasting Gospel; its principles, laws and ordinances, and the Church organization founded thereon, must be ever the same. In searching for the true Church, therefore, one must look for an organization comprising the offices established of old, the callings of apostles, prophets, evangelists, high priests, seventies, pastors, bishops, elders, priests, teachers, deacons—not men bearing these names merely, but ministers able to vindicate their claim to position as officers in the Lord’s service, through evidences of power and authority accompanying their ministry” (p. 199). Talmage said, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the everlasting Gospel; its principles, laws and ordinances, and the Church organization founded thereon, must be ever the same.” But LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said on p. 140 of Mormon Doctrine, “ One of the great evidences of the need of contemporary revelation is the fact that changing social, economic, industrial, and other conditions, warrant changes in the helps and governments appended to the great basic and unchanging church organization.”
Both Talmage and McConkie said the “unchanging church organization must ever be the same.” But the LDS Church has made several organizational changes in their First Presidency, Assistant Apostles, Patriarchs, Seventies, High Priest quorums etc. So, the LDS Church organization has not been “ever the same.” What Talmage said about Christ establishing His church and appointing the officers in it is also problematic because during His earthly ministry Jesus only mentioned the “church” two times: once in Matt. 16:18 and twice in Matt. 18:17. And during His earthly ministry He never appointed any officers in His Church or even mentioned any offices in His Church! He “called” twelve apostles to follow Him before He established His Church and they helped Him in His ministry and in doing foundational work in establishing it as Eph. 2: 19-22 indicates! As He ascended after His resurrection Eph. 4:7-13 says He gave gifts to men for various ministries, but he did not say those gifts were “offices” in the church. Talmage also said, “In searching for the true church one must look for an organization comprising the offices” he listed. Neither Christ nor His apostles said the “true church” was an organization with certain offices! That is an assumption without any Biblical support! Even though Talmage said Christ Himself established His Church and appointed the officers in it, he said on p. 200 “Immediately succeeding the ministrations of the apostles of old…there was a universal apostasy from the Church of Christ!” Then he said, “The Lord in His mercy provided for the reestablishment of His Church in the last days.” On p. 204 he said the Lord did that “through the Prophet Joseph Smith” on April 6, 1830. So, LDS believe that the Church established by Jesus perished within 100 years, but the Church Joseph Smith “restored” in 1830 is going strong after nearly 200 years! Did Joseph Smith really build a better church than Jesus? Jesus said in Matt. 16:18, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” After Jesus ascended into heaven, Acts 2:47 says He added to His Church! LDS claims about Christ’s Church conflicts with what Jesus said! The sixth LDS Article of faith and Talmage’s explanations claim the LDS Church must have the same organization as the Primitive (New Testament) Church and must have “apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists etc.” But Talmage’s list on p. 206 is longer and includes “apostles, prophets, evangelists, high priests, seventies, pastors, bishops, elders, priests, teachers and deacons.” Neither the New Testament nor historical records lists all of those as “Church offices”! No Biblical text says that the true Church will have certain offices. Jesus said in John 6:47, “He who believes on Me has everlasting life” and John 3:16 says the same thing. The New Testament is about personal faith in Christ as Savior, not about Church organization! The New Testament Church is the “body of Christ” (Eph. 1:21-22), so it is a living organism more than an organization even though it is organized.
The first office listed in the sixth LDS Article of Faith and by Talmage is “Apostles.” Jesus chose 12 Apostles in Matt. 10:1-4. And Eph. 2:20 says the Church is “built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone. The prophets mentioned were the Old Testament Prophets since there weren’t any other true prophets. Eph. 2:21-22 says Christians are the building or temple built upon that foundation. When a building is built a builder doesn’t lay a new foundation and put a new chief corner stone in it every year! He lays the foundation only once and puts one chief corner stone in it! The foundation of the Church (apostles and prophets) and the Chief Corner Stone (Christ) are mentioned together in Eph2:20, which shows that the building, which is the Church, doesn’t need new Apostles and Prophets any more than it needs a new Christ over and over! Christ only chose 12 Apostles and their names are in the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14). Judas, who betrayed Christ, was the only Apostle ever replaced. Peter said in Acts 1:15-26 that David prophesied that after Judas died, he needed to be replaced by one who had been with Jesus from the time Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist until He ascended into heaven so that he could be a witness with the other eleven Apostles of Jesus’ resurrection (vs.21-22). That was the primary purpose of the Twelve Apostles. No one today can meet those qualifications! When the apostle James was killed in Acts 12:2 no one replaced him or any other Apostle when they died. The primary job of the Apostles was to be witnesses of Christ’s ministry and resurrection as Acts 1:21-22 says. Other sects and cults also claim to have apostles in addition to LDS but none of those apostles can do what Jesus’ Apostles did. Matt. 10:1 says Jesus “gave them (the Twelve Apostles) power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Those who can’t do that are not true Apostles of Christ! Jesus said to the Church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:2 “Thou has tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” And in II Cor. 11:1-15 Paul said those who preach a different Jesus, Spirit or Gospel are “false apostles” and deceitful workers who pretend or mascaraed as Apostles of Christ. So, the Bible warns about false apostles, false prophets and even false Christs!
Next time we will continue our discussion of AApostles. Prophets etc.