An association between mankind and those on the other side of the veil. It is a brotherhood. It is also, potentially, a sisterhood. It is a fellowship wherein mortals are connected with the “Powers of Heaven.”1 There are two brotherhoods. One is between men (or women), and it is here among mortals. There is a second one between mortal man and the Powers of Heaven. It is the fellowship, association, or priesthood with the Powers of Heaven that gives to man the power.2 Priesthood is not a franchise, nor is it given to control others. Priesthood, in its highest form, is an opportunity to serve and bless others. (That is not true of priesthood in lesser forms.) This high priesthood is a call to save, redeem, and rescue others from destruction. Man can condemn himself with only very little authority. But to raise mankind up and offer salvation is a greater work requiring greater authority.3 Men do not make priests; God does. Men do not make prophets. God has reserved that right for Himself (see Numbers 7:22). God calls them, whether or not men accept or recognize them.4 Priesthood, in its most meaningful sense, involves the Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God.5 The Lord has revealed that only a very few of those who ever receive even a little priestly authority will be saved (see T&C 139:5–8). Priesthood authority cannot be abused. When it is attempted, the authority comes to an abrupt end.6 The focus of attention on priesthood skews what may be most important; it distorts the whole picture: All of the miraculous things that Melchizedek accomplished — quenching the violence of fire, closing the mouths of lions, causing rivers to run out of their course — all of those things were accomplished by Melchizedek without the priesthood. When Paul listed the things that got accomplished by faith, he was not talking about priesthood, ordination, office, or authority. Most of what people think belongs to the franchise called “priesthood” really should be viewed as the evidence (or the absence) of faith. Priesthood has a really limited bundle of rights and responsibilities that, at its most basic level, involves baptism and blessing the sacrament.7
Priesthood is connected to Heaven. Without a connection to Heaven, there is no priesthood. The “Powers of Heaven” are the angels themselves. Priests must have angelic accompaniment to claim priesthood. And angels cannot be manipulated by the world ambitions of men or their self-will.8 The power of the priesthood cannot be controlled by men. It comes from Heaven or it does not come at all. There has never been an institution or church entrusted with the power of Heaven. The power of the priesthood comes only one way, and, as the revelation to Joseph Smith states, men do not have any right to either confer it, or prevent it from being conferred. Heaven alone determines if a man will be permitted to act as one of Heaven’s chosen high priests (see T&C 139:5). Ordination invites. God alone confers His power.9 The purpose of priesthood is to accomplish two things: first, to have valid ordinances; second, to obtain answers or direction. One can have the first with nothing more than Aaronic priesthood. However, the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God can give the second.10See also HOLY ORDER.
1 Preserving the Restoration, 173–174.
2 Preserving the Restoration, 177.
3 Preserving the Restoration, 172.
4 “Discussion of the Gentiles and the Remnant,” July 24, 2010, blog post.
5 “The Holy Order,” Oct. 29, 2017, 10, paper.
6 Come, Let Us Adore Him, 188–189.
7 “Cursed: Denied Priesthood,” Q&A, Jan. 7, 2018, 13, transcript of talk.
8 “The Restoration’s Shattered Promises and Great Hope,” address given at Sunstone Symposium, Sandy, UT, July 28, 2018, paper, 12.
9 “The Restoration’s Shattered Promises and Great Hope,” address given at Sunstone Symposium, Sandy, UT, July 28, 2018, paper, 11–12n29.
10 Preserving the Restoration, 187.