seem to have great concern over the specific words used in priesthood ordinations.
Research shows that during the nineteenth century particularly, a wide
variety of terms were used when priesthood was bestowed. (See Fundamentalists
and Priesthood Conferral.)
Here Musser suggests that there a lower apostleship is conferred if
the ordanation is "of" Jesus Christ and a higher apostleship is given if
ordained "by" Jesus Christ. While it is an interesting concept, it is completely
THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN is God's heavenly Church. Musser seems to find solace in the reality that the Church on earth has a different name than its heavenly counterpart. However, it appears that neither of them have anything to do with an external PRIESTHOOD organization. Even Musser did not consider his PRIESTHOOD organization to be The Church of the Firstborn. Consider what President John Taylor taught:
I am looking for a celestial glory. I want to
be associated with the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are
written in the heavens, and with Prophets and Apostles, and with all the
holy men of God who are inspired with the same hopes, who lived generations
ago, as well as with such men who now live... If then the General Assembly
and Church of the Firstborn are to come down out of heaven to
dwell on the earth, how important it is that the Latter-day Saints
should be prepared to join this grand company, being united as they are,
having no feeling of dissension, no division in their midst, no evil or
corruption of any nature; no covetousness, no feeling of individuality
in regard to wealth, but having all upon the alter ready to subserve the
purposes of the Most high in building up his kingdom upon the earth. (JD
Obviously whatever "Church" was referred to, it is not the same heavenly Church of the Firstborn John Taylor referred to above or to that mentioned in Hebrews 12:23 and D&C 76: 54, 71, 94, 102 etc. How it might be associated with the PRIESTHOOD is also unclear.
Here is the reference:
President Joseph Smith, Jun., addressed the assembly
and said, the Melchizedek High Priesthood was no other than the Priesthood
of the Son of God; that there are certain ordinances which belong to the
Priesthood from which flow certain results; and the Presidents or Presidency
are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the
Church, are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven,
and the power and privilege of this Priesthood. It is also the privilege
of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates
to his particular calling and duty in the Church. All are bound by the
principles of virtue and happiness, but one great privilege of the Priesthood
is to obtain revelations of the mind and will of God. It is also the privilege
of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to reprove, rebuke, and admonish, as well
as to receive revelation. If the Church knew all the commandments, one
half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance. (History of
the Church, Vol.2, Ch.33, p. 477.)
It appears Joseph Smith was teaching about Church leadership here. Doubtless,
anyone listening to the Prophet teach that day knew he was talking about
the First Presidency. Perhaps is useful to observe that members of the
PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL were seldom, if ever called "President."
Here is the entire quotation:
Council of the Twelve met in the evening at Brother
Savary's to teach the Elders. Elder Young said:
Views of Brigham Young on Presidency.
A man should, in the first place preside over
himself, his passions, his person, and bring himself into subject" to the
law of God; then preside over his children and his wife in righteousness;
then he will be capable of presiding over a branch of the Church. But many
Elders are contending about presiding over churches, when they are not
capable of presiding over themselves or the least child they have.
The first principle of our cause and work is to
understand that there is a prophet in the Church, and that he is at
the head of the Church of Jesus Christ on earth.
Who called Joseph Smith to be a prophet? Did the people or God? God, and not the people called him. Had the people gathered together and appointed one of their number to be a prophet, he would have been accountable to the people; but inasmuch as he was called by God, and not the people, he is accountable to God only and the angel who committed the gospel to him, and not any man on earth. The Twelve
are accountable to the prophet, and not to the
Church for the course they pursue; and we have learned to go and do as
the prophet tells us. (History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.27, p.521.)
Musser taught that God's prophet exists outside of the Church,
but here we see Brigham Young teachings that the prophet was in the Church
and the head of the Church.
Here is the entire quotation:
NOTE President Young in writing a letter (May
3, 1844) to Reuben Hedlock, president of the European Mission at the time,
said to him: "The kingdom is organized; and although as yet no bigger than
a grain of mustard seed, the little plant is in a flourishing condition
and our prospects brighter than ever. Cousin Lemuel is very friendly [referring
to the Indians] and cultivating the spirit of peace and union in his family
Again in a discourse under date of July 8, 1855,
President Young said: "As was observed by Brother Pratt [this morning]
that kingdom [i. e. of God] is actually organized and the inhabitants of
the earth do not know it. If this people know anything about it, all right;
it is organized preparatory to taking effect in the due time of the Lord,
and in the manner that shall please him. As observed by one of the speakers
this morning that kingdom grows out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, but it is not the church; for a man may be a legislator in that
body which will issue laws to sustain the inhabitants of the earth in their
individual rights and still not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ at
all. And further though a man may not even believe in any religion it would
be perfectly right, when necessary, to give him the privilege of holding
a seat among that body which will make laws to govern all the nations of
the earth and control those who make no profession of religion at all;
for that body would be governed, controlled and dictated to acknowledge
others in those rights which they wish to enjoy themselves. Then the Latter-day
Saints would be protected, if a kingdom of this kind was on the earth,
the same as all other people."
The late President George Q. Cannon while editor
of the Juvenile Instructor said:
"We are asked, Is the Church of God, and the Kingdom
of God the same organization~ and we are informed that some of the brethren
hold that they are separate.
This is the correct view to take. The Kingdom
of God is a separate organization from the Church of God. There may be
men acting as officers in the Kingdom of God who will not be members of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this point the Prophet
Joseph gave particular instructions before his death, and gave an example,
which he asked the younger elders who were present to always remember.
It was to the effect that men might be chosen to officiate as members of
the Kingdom of God who had no standing in the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. The Kingdom of God when established will not be for
the protection of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints alone,
but for the protection of all men, whatever their religious views or opinions
may be. Under its rule, no one will be permitted to overstep the proper
bounds or to interfere with the rights of others." (History of the Church,
Vol.7, Ch.28, p.381.)
The Kingdom of God is the Council of Fifty which will govern during
the millennium. Joseph Musser did not assert that the PRIESTHOOD was this
kingdom. But he did suggest that it presided over the kingdom.
The reference was made after Joseph's death when Sidney Rigdon was attempting to persuade Church members to follow him as the "Guardian of the Church.":
Does this church want it as God organized it?
Or do you want to clip the power of the priesthood, and let those who have
the keys of the priesthood go and build up the kingdom in all the world,
wherever the people will hear them?
If there is a spokesman, if he is a king and priest,
let him go and build up a kingdom unto himself; that is his right and
it is the right of many here but the Twelve are at the head of it.
I want to live on the earth and spread truth through
all the world. You saints of latter-days want things right. If 10,000 men
rise up and say they have the Prophet Joseph Smith's shoes, I know they
are impostors. In the priesthood you have a right to build up a kingdom,
if you know how the church is organized.
Now, if you want Sidney Rigdon or William Law
to lead you, or anybody else, you are welcome to them; but I tell you,
in the name of the Lord that no man can put another between the Twelve
and the Prophet Joseph. Why? Because Joseph was their file leader, and
he has committed into their hands the keys of the kingdom in this last
dispensation, for all the world; don't put a thread between the priesthood
I will ask, who has stood next to Joseph and Hyrum?
I have, and I will stand next to him. We have a head, and that head is
the Apostleship, the spirit and power of Joseph, and we can now begin
to see the necessity of that Apostleship.
Brother Rigdon was at his side---not above. No
man has a right to counsel the Twelve but Joseph Smith. Think of these
things. You cannot appoint a prophet; but if you let the Twelve remain
and act in their place, the keys of the kingdom are with them and they
can manage the affairs of the church and direct all things aright....
I do not make exceptions to anything he has said.
I believe there is no power, or officer, or means wanted to carry on
the work, but what is in the Twelve. I am satisfied that no man can carry
on the work, but the power that is in the Twelve, as has been stated.
There is one thing to secure the salvation of
this people, and that is not in union alone, it is for you to know the
right and be united--- it has been presented to you by President Young,
and I will back him up. All I design to do is to redeem my pledge.
President Young has stood next to the Prophet
Joseph, with the Twelve, and I have stood next to them, and I will stand
next to them. I have been at the back of Joseph Smith, and will be at the
back of the Twelve forever, and then we will be saved.
There is no need of a President, we have a
head here. What is that head? The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the
head. We now see the necessity of the Apostleship.
I might rise up as well as any other man to ask
for the Presidency, but I could not do it without endangering my salvation.
This is the power that turns the key to bestow salvation through all the
land, in the way that Joseph commenced it, the first one called to do the
same in all the world. If Joseph Smith had any power to bear off the
kingdom of God, the Twelve have the same.
I could not advocate a choosing of a President,
and myself a candidate; so then you know the place I occupy is, to stand
to the Twelve the same as the Twelve did to Joseph, either on one side
or the other. I do not want to go before them or to fall asleep. I want
to see the kingdom roll forth by our united faith and efforts. (History
of the Church, Vol.7, Ch.19, p.235-237.)
It is difficult to assert that a PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL was functioning
in these days in light of these plain statements by Brigham Young .
Here is the entire citation:
Those under the authorities of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have to give an account of their transactions
to those who direct them in the priesthood; hence the elders give
an account to presidents of conferences; and presidents of conferences
to presidents of nations. Those presidents and the seventies give an account
to the twelve apostles; the twelve to the First Presidency; and they to
Joseph, from whom they, and the twelve, received their priesthood. This
will include the arrangements of the last dispensation. Joseph delivers
his authority to Peter, who held the keys before him, and delivered them
to him; and Peter to Moses and Elias, who endowed him with this authority
on the Mount; and they to those from whom they received them. And thus
the world's affairs will be regulated and put right, the restitution of
all things be accomplished, and the kingdom of God be ushered in. The earth
will be delivered from under the curse, resume its paradisiacal glory,
and all things pertaining to its restoration be fulfilled. (John Taylor,
The Gospel Kingdom, p.217.)
It is difficult to assume that President Taylor was referring to a PRIESTHOOD
or PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL in this reference. It seems to exclude the possibility
that such could even exist.
Here is the reference:
Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were
I to ask you a question--Does a man's being a Prophet in this Church prove
that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet,
Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the President
of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the President of the
Church, as long as he lived: the people chose to have it so. He always
filled that responsible station, by the voice of the people. Can you find
any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of
the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God
on the earth, and were not to be taken from him in time or in eternity;
but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice
of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of
their voice. (JD 1:133.)
Here President Young teaches that a man may be a prophet and not be
the President of the Church. But being a prophet would not automatically
make him a member of the PRIESTHOOD or PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL either. Hence,
it is puzzling to discern how this supports Musser's theories.
This conclusion is obvious. One must be an "apostle" to hold all priesthood authority, not an elder. Brigham Young taught:
The keys of the eternal Priesthood, which is after
the order of the Son of God, are comprehended by being an Apostle. All
the Priesthood, all the keys, all the gifts, all the endowments, and everything
preparatory to entering into the presence of the Father and of the Son,
are in, composed of, circumscribed by, or I might say incorporated within
the circumference of, the Apostleship. (JD 1:134-135.)
"Part" of this reference is not available to us - that concerning the "Second Comforter." However, JD 9:87 does state:
Moses held the keys and authority above all the
rest upon the earth. He holds the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek,
which is the Priesthood of the Son of God, which holds the keys of all
these Priesthoods, dispensing the blessings and privileges of both Priesthoods
to the people, as he did in the days of the children of Israel when he
led them out of Egypt. This Priesthood has been on the earth at various
times. Adam had it, Seth had it, Enoch had it, Noah had it, Abraham and
Lot had it, and it was handed down to the days of the Prophets, long after
the days of the ancients. But the people would not receive the Prophets,
but persecuted them, stoned them and thrust them out of their cities, and
they had to wander in the wilderness and make dens and caves their homes.
The children of Israel never received the Melchizedek Priesthood;
they went into bondage to enjoy it in part, but all its privileges and
blessings they never would receive in full, until Jesus came, and then
but a few of them would receive it. This High Priesthood rules, directs,
governs, and controls all the Priesthoods, because it is the highest of
What ordination should a man receive to possess
all the keys and powers of the Holy Priesthood that were delivered to the
sons of Adam? He should be ordained an Apostle of Jesus Christ. That office
puts him in possession of every key, every power, every authority, communication,
benefit, blessing, glory, and kingdom that was ever revealed to man.
Here is the reference:
We have scores of branches of this Church in different
parts of this country, and had we better now place officers, helps and
governments in these branches, or wait till the people come to understanding,
and learn to appreciate and honor such appointments? It is chiefly because
of the ignorance of the people that we often concentrate in one man these
different offices and callings, but when the people are sufficiently informed
and have advanced further in the knowledge of the truth, it will not be
so, but every branch will have its full quota of officers--a Patriarch,
President, Bishop, High Council, and all officers that are necessary for
the work of the Ministry, and the edifying of the body of Christ. Until
the people can receive and honor these helps and governments, and be benefitted
by them, the different offices will be concentrated in as few men as possible,
for men will contend for power, and as to which shall be the greatest,
until they are better informed. (JD 10:96-97.)
Precisely how this supports the existence of a PRIESTHOOD organization
Here is the citation:
I sometimes think that I would be willing to give
anything, to do almost anything in reason, to see one fully organized Branch
of this kingdom--one fully organized Ward. "But," says one, "I had supposed
that the kingdom of God was organized long ago." So it is, in one sense;
and again, in another sense it is not. Wheresoever this Gospel has
been preached and people have received it, the spiritual kingdom is set
up and organized, but is Zion organized? No. Is there even in this Territory
a fully organized Ward? Not one. It may be asked, "Why do you not fully
organize the Church?" Because the people are incapable of being organized.
I could organize a large Ward who would be subject to a full organization,
by selecting families from the different Wards, but at present such a Branch
of the Church is not in existence. (JD 10:20.)
Precisely how this supports the existence of a PRIESTHOOD organization
is unclear. But its reference to the Kingdom is interesting.
Here is the reference:
Our Lord Jesus Christ--the Savior, who has redeemed
the world and all things pertaining to it, is the only begotten of the
Father pertaining to the flesh. He is our elder brother, and the heir of
the family, and as such we worship him. He has tasted death for every man,
and has paid the debt contracted by our first parents. What about this?
I am not going to tell this, for I have a few more ideas with regard to
the Christian world that I wish to lay before you. Why have they wandered
so far from the path of truth and rectitude? Because they left the Priesthood
and have had no guide, no leader, no means of finding out what is true
and what is not true. It is said the Priesthood was taken from the Church,
but it is not so, the Church went from the Priesthood, and continued
to travel in the wilderness, turned from the commandments of the Lord,
and instituted other ordinances. There are a great many churches that do
not believe in ordinances at all, and there are some called Christians
who do not believe in the blood of the Savior, and that he, himself, was
nothing more nor less than a good man....
When the Lord called upon His servant Joseph,
after leading him along for years until he got the plates, from a portion
of which the Book of Mormon was translated, "By and bye," said he, "you
are going to organize my church and establish my kingdom. I am going to
have a church on the earth. All these churches you have inquired about
are wrong; they have the truth amongst them, but not the Priesthood.
They lack a guide to direct the affairs of the Kingdom of God on the
earth--that is the keys of the priesthood of the Son of God." This tells
the story. We possess the Priesthood. The Lord sent John to ordain Joseph
to the Aaronic Priesthood, and when he commenced to baptize people he sent
a greater power--Peter, James, and John, who ordained him to the apostleship,
which is the highest office pertaining to the Kingdom of God that any man
can possess on the face of the earth, for it holds the keys of the Kingdom
of Heaven, and has power to dispense the blessings of the kingdom.
This priesthood is that which the Christian world do not possess, for they
have taken leave of the kingdom and the priesthood. Joseph bestowed this
priesthood upon others, and this Church possesses it and its power, which
enables us to detect all error, and to know what it true. (JD 12:69-71.)
Precisely how this supports the doctrine of the PRIESTHOOD is unclear.
Again it is difficult to see how this supports the idea of a PRIESTHOOD. No leader has stated that there would be seats for PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL in the temple either.
The implication here is that if there is an "apostleship of the Twelve" then maybe there is also a higher "apostleship of the Six" or a HIGH PRIEST APOSTLESHIP - members in a PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL
There have been men ordained as apostles without making them members of the Quorum of the Twelve:
Jedediah M. Grant (ordained 7 April 1854) and Daniel H. Wells
(ordained 4 January 1857) were both ordained as "apostles" but never were
called as members of the Quorum of the Twelve. They did serve as counselors
in the First Presidency.
John W. Young (ordained 22 February 1855) and Joseph A. Young
(ordained 4 February 1864) were ordained apostles and never served in either
the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve.
Brigham Young, Jr. was ordained an apostle 4 February 1864 and
became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve four years later.
Joseph F. Smith was ordained an apostle 1 July 1866 and became
a member of the Quorum of the Twelve 8 October 1867.
It is interesting to note that Brigham Young, Jr. was ordained to the
office of apostle prior to Joseph F. Smith. But Joseph F. Smith was a member
of the Quorum of the Twelve before Brigham Young, Jr. This place Joseph
F. Smith in a position of seniority, not may the date of ordination, but
by the date of induction into the Quorum. (See Reed C. Durham, Jr. and
Steven H. Heath, Succession in the Church, pp. 68-69.)
From this we can see that the Lord's admonition to ordain Heber J. Grant
and George Teasdale to the "apostleship of the Twelve" meant that they
were to be ordained apostles and called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve
at the same time. The idea that other types of "apostleship" might actually
exist is pure speculation.
This teaching is consistent with the revelations:
Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed
of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be
called President of the High Priesthood of the Church; (D&C
And again, the duty of the President of the
office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church,
and to be like unto Moses- (D&C 107:91.)
Exactly how this supports a PRIESTHOOD idea is unclear.
Musser's use of this citation to support his theories is puzzling. Where else might the Church have obtained authority except from the Priesthood? There is no indication that the Priesthood mentioned here is an organization.
Here Musser's suggests that if the Church were following the "strict order of the priesthood" they would be supportive of his PRIESTHOOD and PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL. As imperfect beings, it is doubtful we would ever be completely following the "strict order of the priesthood." However, that isn't to say that current efforts are that far from the mark. Neither is there any suggestion that President Smith was referring to a PRIESTHOOD organization or external PRIESTHOOD COUNCIL.
Anyone familiar with the Council of 50 knows that it is also called the Kingdom of God. Obviously it is a distinct entity from the Church. Yet, there is nothing to tie it to the PRIESTHOOD idea.
Musser would be forced to discount many callings in the Church including those to the apostleship if a written revelation was required to legitimize them. The callings of some of the apostles has been written in revelation. But not all were thus designated.