By Sharon Lindbloom
30 May 2017
In its “Until We Meet Again” feature, the April 2017 issue of the LDS Church’s Ensign magazine includes an article titled, “The Power of God.” This is a 500-word excerpt from a longer (2300-word) General Conference address titled, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood.” Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie delivered this address in April 1982 during the Conference’s general priesthood session.
The excerpt piqued my curiosity regarding the other 80% of Mr. McConkie’s teaching on the LDS priesthood (found in the May 1982 Ensign, 32-34). In reading the full address, I learned that, according to Mormonism, there is nothing greater than priesthood power.
The Mormon apostle taught that Heavenly Father is God because of priesthood power; Jesus Christ gained eternal life because of priesthood power; faithful men become Gods themselves because of priesthood power.
Keeping in mind that Mormonism claims an eternity past of men becoming Gods (“…you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you…” -Joseph Smith), consider the logical ramifications of Mr. McConkie’s doctrinal teaching on priesthood power. “God is God,” he said, “because he is the embodiment of all faith and all power and all priesthood.” In other words, God possesses priesthood power, therefore He is God. Jesus Christ was able to “gain eternal life,” (i.e., attain Godhood) “by virtue of” priesthood power. If priesthood power is responsible for making the Gods Gods, isn’t priesthood power more highly exalted than the Personage of Mormonism’s Heavenly Father — the Personage Mormons call God?
What follows is a list of consequences that Bruce McConkie attributed to priesthood power. Each consequence is followed by a quote from his 1982 address:
- The worlds were made (“that power by which the worlds were made”)
- Men are saved (“we as mortals may use this same power to… save ourselves”)
- Men are blessed (“we as mortals may use this same power to bless our fellows”)
- All things are regulated, upheld, and preserved (“the power by which all things are regulated, upheld, and preserved”)
- By which the Father creates and governs (“the power of faith, the faith by which the Father creates and governs”)
- God’s Godhood (“God is God because he is the embodiment of all faith and all power and all priesthood”)
- The granting of eternal life (“And the extent to which we become like him is the extent to which we gain his faith, acquire his power, and exercise his priesthood. And when we have become like him in the full and true sense, then we also shall have eternal life.” Also: “through the priesthood, we grow in faith until, having all power, we become like our Lord”)
- Faith (“Faith is power and power is priesthood.”)
- The creation of the earth (“Adam…used the priesthood when he participated in the creation of the earth.”)
- The perfecting of man (“The holy priesthood did more to perfect men in the days of Enoch than at any other time.”)
- The translation of Enoch and his people to heaven (“the power by which he and his people were translated.”)
- The governance and control of all things on earth (“all who received the priesthood would have power, through faith, to govern and control all things on earth”)
- Put at defiance the armies of nations (“all who received the priesthood would have power, through faith… to put at defiance the armies of nations”)
- To stand in glory and exaltation before the Lord (“all who received the priesthood would have power, through faith… to stand in glory and exaltation before the Lord.”)
- To do all things necessary to save and exalt men (“Melchizedek Priesthood is… the power and authority to do all that is necessary to save and exalt the children of men.”)
- Gave Jesus eternal life (“Melchizedek Priesthood is… held by the Lord Jesus Christ himself and by virtue of which he was able to gain eternal life”)
- The source of eternal life (“the Melchizedek Priesthood, out of which eternal life comes.”)
- Heavenly Father’s enjoyment of His high status of glory, perfection, and power (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that our Eternal Father enjoys this high status of glory and perfection and power because his faith is perfect and his priesthood is unlimited.”)
- God’s power (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that priesthood is the very name of the power of God”)
- Creation of eternal families (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we can enter an order of the priesthood… because of which order we can create for ourselves eternal family units of our own, patterned after the family of God our Heavenly Father.”)
- Governance and control of all things (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we have power, by faith, to govern and control all things”)
- Miracles (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we have power, by faith, to… work miracles”)
- Perfection of lives (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we have power, by faith, to… perfect lives”)
- The ability to stand in the presence of God (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we have power, by faith, to… stand in the presence of God”)
- The ability of people to be like God in faith, perfections, and power (“What is the doctrine of the priesthood?… It is that we have power, by faith, to… be like him because we have gained his faith, his perfections, and his power, or in other words the fulness of his priesthood”)
- The ability to do all things (“there is power in the priesthood—power to do all things!”)
- Men being raised from mortality to immortality (“all men shall be raised from mortality to immortality by the power of the priesthood”)
- Raising the dead (“that same power can cure the diseased and the dying and raise the dead”)
Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie proclaimed,
“This, then, is the doctrine of the priesthood, than which there neither is nor can be anything greater.”
In Mormonism, then, the priesthood rules; the priesthood reigns supreme. The Mormon Church is built on the idea that many righteous men have and will possess this priesthood, and by virtue of this power they will become what is called “Gods.” But the Mormon priesthood is greater than these God-men. It is greater than Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Therefore, it could be said that priesthood power is Mormonism’s King of kings and Lord of lords. From Mr. McConkie’s teaching it follows that the supreme God of Mormonism is not a personal Being; rather it is some sort of force that is revered and sought after, known to Mormons as priesthood power.
This is not biblical teaching. Indeed, Mr. McConkie began his address saying,
“This doctrine, this doctrine of the priesthood—unknown in the world and but little known even in the Church—cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. It is not set forth in the sermons and teachings of the prophets and Apostles, except in small measure. The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation.”
Mormonism’s doctrine of the priesthood as expounded by LDS apostle Bruce McConkie presents a different god than the personal, loving, relational God Who reveals Himself to us in the Bible.