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Among the varied teachings of "Mormon Fundamentalism," none is more significant than a claim to legitimate priesthood authority. Without genuine priesthood, no legal ordinances (including marriage) can be performed. This authority can be passed from one man to another through priesthood ordination. However, one man on earth presides over all this priesthood:

"Then comes the High Priesthood, which is the greatest of all.

"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;

"Or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church." (D&C 107:64-66; italics added.)

This one man is anointed and appointed to hold "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" to "bind on earth [that which] shall be bound in heaven: and [to] loose on earth [that which] shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). The Lord specifies: "and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred" (D&C 132:7).

In General Conference October 6th, 1890, George Q. Cannon, who had served as a counselor in the First Presidency to President John Taylor and was retained by Wilford Woodruff, referred to this one man:

"President Woodruff is the only man upon the earth who holds the keys of the sealing power. These Apostles all around me have all the same authority that he has. We are all ordained with the same ordination. We all have had the same keys and the same powers bestowed upon us. But there is an order in the Church of God, and that order is that there is only one man at a time on the earth who holds the keys of sealing, and that man is the President of the Church..." (Deseret News Weekly, 41:550-552, quoted in Collected Discourses 2:132; italics added).

For "Mormon Fundamentalists," no inquiry is more important than to correctly identify the line of authority and the identity of this one man. The Lord warned that ordinances, such as marriage, which are not sealed by this authority are "not valid neither of force" after death:

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God."  (D&C 132:18; emphasis added.)

Without the Keys of Sealing, "Mormon Fundamentalists" are eternally compromised.  (Click here for more information.)

"Fundamentalist" Teachings about the Sealing Keys

Several different strategies are employed by the various "Mormon Fundamentalist" groups to compensate for the absence of a clear line of authority to the Keys of Sealing as held by the one man on earth, Joseph Smith being the first in this dispensation.

(1) At one time, a majority of "Mormon Fundamentalists" believed that the Keys of Sealing left the Church through the efforts of a man named Lorin C. Woolley. Click here for more information.

(2) Many of the so-called "Independent Mormon Fundamentalists" believe that a clear line to the one man is not needed. Some of them assert that polygamy is so important that it can be practiced without worrying too much about the one man. These modern polygamists will allow men with rather dubious claims to sealing authority to perform their marriage ceremonies.

Other "Independents" will purport to have received authorization directly from the heavens allowing them individually to practice plural marriages and all other required ordinances.

(3) A third group called the "True and Living Church" (TLC) was started in the 1990s. They possess a rather unique approach to the problem of the one man. Click here for more information.