The Restoration of the Priesthood
This episode proposes that we anchor our testimonies on hierarchies or principles rather than dominoes of presuppositions.
For example, let’s take a look at the components of belief in the restoration of the priesthood:
- Joseph Smith had authority to act in the name of God
- This authority came through the priesthood
- Joseph received this priesthood authority from Peter, James, and John (and other keys from other figures)
- Peter, James, and John had this priesthood authority
- Peter, James, and John received this priesthood authority from Jesus
- Jesus established priesthood authority during his lifetime
And remember, all this is based on the position that God grants authority in a specific way.
The restoration of the priesthood plays a fundamental role in LDS belief. Along with temple ordinances it is integral in justifying activity in the Church.
It also turns out to be tricky historically. Joseph Smith said that John the Baptist restored the Aaronic priesthood on (May 15, 1829, as recounted in D&C 13), but we are never told when Peter, James, and John appeared to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood.
These complexities invite us to find ways to resolve them ourselves, and our lived experienced with the priesthood proves most important. In addition, we can remind ourselves that no matter the answers we come to, there are deeper principles upon which we can build the foundation of our testimonies.
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You can access my Lesson Notes here (or PDF)
Dating the Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood
Lesson 8: The Restoration of the Priesthood
- “Oliver Cowdery’s Gift”: This article gives context for the revelation now known as Doctrine and Covenants 13.
- Priesthood Restoration Site: A series of articles, maps, and other content helps visitors learn more about Harmony Township, Pennsylvania, where priesthood authority was restored.
- “Ministry of Joseph Smith: The Restoration of Priesthood Authority”: This one-minute video introduces the priesthood restoration.
- “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women”: This Gospel Topics essay gives an overview of Joseph Smith’s teachings involving the priesthood and women.
- Daughters in My Kingdom, chapter 8: This chapter gives an overview of Joseph Smith’s teachings involving the priesthood and women.
- “Race and the Priesthood”: This Gospel Topics essay discusses the history of the racial restrictions on priesthood, which were Church policy from the 1850s until 1978.
- “Witnessing the Faithfulness”: This article discusses the experiences of a few black members of the Church in the United States, Brazil, and Ghana leading up to and just after the 1978 revelation that once again extended the priesthood to worthy men of African descent.
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