Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
"We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." (6th Article of Faith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
In their ongoing quest to prove that they are the only true church, the LDS maintains that they have the same organization as did the primitive church. But this is not so..
In biblical times no man ever held a position of leadership or served in any religious office prior to attaining the age of thirty. That was why John the Baptist and Christ both waited until they had turned thirty before commencing their ministries.
The word elder is indicative of a mature, older and wiser person. So naturally these were the first qualifications necessary. Marriage and parenthood give a depth of wisdom and understanding that is not generally attainable by a single person. So church elders were required to be married (to one wife only). Their children had to be practicing Christians, as this indicated that they could be trusted with nurturing the church in the faith. They also needed to be knowledgeable and skilled in the scriptures so that they could preach and teach sound doctrine and correct error. Furthermore, they were required to be faithful and just stewards of God, sensible, even-tempered, hospitable, devout and self-controlled, and not addicted to wine or interested in financial gain. (1 Timothy 5:17, Titus 1:5-9).
In the primitive church, elders were shepherds or pastors and as such were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the congregations (Acts 20:17, 28). Because of their wisdom and maturity the community looked to them for advice and guidance. In Acts chapter 15 the elders met together with the apostles to sort out a dispute that had arisen in the church over circumcision. (Elders were never apostles and vice verse.) The elders also managed the church’s finances (Acts 11:27-30).
Although the LDS uses biblical terms with gay abandon, they have given them incorrect and exclusively LDS meanings, some quite bizarre. For instance Mormon elders are often unmarried youngsters of eighteen or nineteen who have come straight out of school, have never held down a responsible job and have absolutely nothing to offer in the way of worldly wisdom. Some of these young men readily confessed to the writer that they had never even read the Bible, let alone studied it. Yet they were ordained as elders prior to leaving for the LDS mission field. And they were carefully instructed to insist on being called by that title because of the respect that it carries.
LDS elders don’t meet the requirements of the primitive church.
The biblical priest was a mediator between man and God. He offered sacrifices for sin to God on behalf of the people. And the priesthood was reserved solely for the blood descendants of Levi. Never ever was it passed on by laying on of hands as it is in Mormonism, only through ancestry. Because of the depth of this subject, the LDS priesthood is discussed on its own. A link to the relevant article is provided at the bottom of this page. Suffice it to say that the Mormon priesthood bears no resemblance whatsoever to the priesthood practiced in biblical times. Both the qualifications and the duties differ radically.
The LDS appoints twelve to fourteen year old boys as deacons, which they say is an office of the Aaronic Priesthood . They hold this office until the age of seventeen. But the priesthood was used in Judaism only under the Old Covenant and never ever by the church of Jesus Christ under the New. Furthermore, only those in the bloodline of Levi qualified for the priesthood. And they had to be thirty years old before they were permitted to go into service (c/f Leviticus 21, Numbers 4:34-35). (Aaron was a son of Levi.)
Contrary to LDS teachings, priests were never deacons and vice verse. The office of deacon was a church position under the New Covenant, whereas the priesthood falls under the Old Covenant that was between the nation of Israel and Jehovah God.
Legally, twelve to fourteen year olds are still children under the responsibility of their parents. Nowhere in the Bible do we find children becoming deacons or priests or holding any other church office.
In the primitive church deacons were required to be mature, married men. They also had to have proved themselves to be good managers of their own households and children (1 Timothy 3:12). In addition they needed to be wise, have a good reputation, be Spirit filled (Acts 6:3), honest and dignified, and not interested in accumulating wealth or inclined to over-indulge in the drinking of wine. Their faith had to have been tested and they were only permitted to serve as deacons if they were beyond reproach (1 Timothy 3:8-10).
The Mormon practice of appointing twelve to fourteen year old children as deacons would never have been permitted in the primitive church.
The primitive church’s qualifications for an apostle were that he had to have been called by Christ Himself to that office, and that he had to have personally seen Him after His resurrection. His calling was verified by the sign of miracles.
“And when it was day, he [Jesus] called unto him his
disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named
apostles.” (Luke 6:13, KJV)
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).” (Galations 1:1, KJV)
“ Am I not an apostle? … Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, KJV)
“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” (2 Corinthians 12:12, KJV)
“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43, KJV)
LDS apostles do not fulfil the requirements of the primitive church.
The President of the LDS church is always their official prophet. But the primitive church didn’t have a president and the LDS’s stance on an official prophet would not have been tolerated.
Biblical prophets were never restricted to the ranks of spiritual leadership. Nor were they appointed by the religious hierarchy. They were called by God Himself to be His mouthpiece to the people and they came from all walks in life. For instance, Amos said:
“ … I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15, KJV).
The main task of God’s prophet was to be a spiritual watchdog. He guided and publicly warned and rebuked the rulers and leaders as well as the ordinary folk. Because he was a reformer he was most active when the spiritual leadership was backslidden or corrupt. Through his prophets God exposed their sin both to the people and to the leadership and exhorted them to repent. He prophesied judgment on them if they did not. That’s why true prophets were generally unpopular. Nobody likes to be corrected or threatened and they frequently did both in the name of the Lord.
Not only did God’s prophets minister to believers, they also warned ungodly nations of coming judgment on a regular basis. And they acted independently of the religious leaders of the day. God’s prophets answered to Him alone.
God’s main characteristic is holiness and His constant cry throughout the Bible is, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” So, as His representative and mouthpiece, the people’s holiness was the main concern of the prophet. He was God’s instrument of warning so that they could be saved from judgment and his unrelenting theme was “Repent, repent!” (John the Baptist was a prophet and He called the people to repentance.)
However, the Mormon prophet’s main concern in the past seems to have been the introduction of unbiblical doctrines. In present times he is merely the figurehead of the LDS church and does not carry out the mandate of a prophet of God.
It is quite obvious that the LDS church does not have the same organization as did the primitive church in spite of their claim that they do.
In any event, whether or not a church is a true church depends not so much on how they organize their establishment, but on whether or not their doctrines are true, including and especially their doctrine on deity. The LDS’s doctrines had their origin in the mind of Joseph Smith and they contradict those of the Bible, the apostles and the primitive church. The God they worship is exclusive to their religion and was not always a God. At one stage in his eternal progression he was a mere fallen, mortal man. So how could they possibly be “the true church?”
We would vigorously defend their right (and the right of any other religious group) to organize their church however they see fit. We are not criticizing them for that. What we are objecting to is their misrepresentation.
As there is complete freedom of worship in America it is difficult to understand the LDS’s reluctance to admit that Mormonism is a different religion with a different organization to that of biblical Christianity.
The following link leads to an article comparing the LDS priesthood with what the Bible teaches:
This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.
Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.