Friday, September 7, 2012

Regularly Ordained

A good question was asked that would be helpful to answer with a post.  The question was about the previous post and how D&C 42:11 fits in.  Here is the scripture and question:

"11 Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church" (D&C 42:11).

"How do you reconcile that verse with Abinadi, the unnamed prophet who called Eli the high priest to repentance, Samuel the Lamanite, John the Baptist, Lehi, and most of the Old Testament prophets, who were neither ordained by the heads of the church nor did the church know they had authority besides what they claimed God gave them." 

To simplify, I don't think there is a need to 'reconcile that verse' with prophets the Lord chooses independent of men's input.  This may appear contradictory at first glance, but is not.  Read the entire section and ask when, why, and under what circumstances the revelation was given.    

These were instructions to the church.  Specifically, they were instructions given to the church while Joseph was alive.  It duly established a precedent and order by which our missionary work is carried out.  There were to be no secret ordinations performed to offices within the church.  Those who were extending the call to serve and ordaining others to "go forth to preach" were to be "known to the church" to have authority to do so.  We still follow this instruction.

Section 42 contains instructions for the church in sending forth missionaries and in preaching the gospel, and was revelation given while a particular group of elders was present.  Beginning with verse 1 it is clear the Lord has in mind "ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together" (D&C 42:1).  Specific instructions were given for the elders present, and exception is even made for Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to some of the instructions that were given (D&C 42:4-5).  The revelation is instructions for "building up" Christ's church (D&C 42:8).  When you get into verses 11, 12, 13 and so on, it remains clear this is instruction for "this church." 

There is an order in the Lord's church.  Joseph followed these instructions and called and sent missionaries to preach the gospel.  Missionary work was to be organized and authorized by the "heads of the church."  It was not to be a free-for-all.  There was order established by the Lord, and the church has done a good job following that order.

The revelation does not bind God, however.  In fact, God's commandments to his children have never been binding on him.  God and his holy prophets do things at times that appear contrary to what is right and holy (I think of Nephi killing his uncle, Abraham sacrificing his son, Elijah slaying hundreds of priests, God killing, etc.).  Those examples are never license for others to break the commandments of God.        

God is not bound to accomplish his work by our standards or expectations, even if they are standards he has established for the conduct of his church.  God has called prophets independent of churches since the beginning.  It makes you wonder if he would choose to do the same in our day as he has in the past. 

God has also established his church, or a covenant people, throughout history.  His covenant people, other than in rare cases that achieved Zion, have generally been slothful, proud, religious and unbelieving.  It seems that when Zion has been established, it was because a people chose to accept what God offered through a true prophet while he was living (i.e. Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, etc.).  Most often though, the prophets have been killed and the fulness lost.

When Joseph Smith was killed a grand opportunity was lost.  He had come with the fulness and offered to establish Zion.  Generations have passed since then and God is beginning to extend that opportunity again.  There is more to all of this.  This is the beginning of the end. 


  1. Thanks for your answer. That is what I was thinking as well.

    I actually stumbled upon this mode of thinking when pondering missionary responsibilities for disciples of Christ, and whether an autonomous mission a la sons of Mosiah would be acceptable today. The D&C is replete with indications that a desire IS a call to a mission. The question was whether that is possible to fulfill without wearing a name tag and a suit or getting your assignment from HQ. Although there is a historical precedent of Joseph Smith allowing everyone who had a desire to go and preach, such has not been the case for a long time. Now the window of service is pre-marriage and post-family. Interesting...

  2. Every member a missionary...:)
    I crack up when I hear myself or others so certain that we know all of God's rules and ways, and that he just has to act according to our frail system.
    We are funny, limited, and small.
    I think He must laugh at us a great deal. Especially at me.
    I truly enjoy your blog. Your statements are well thought out and considerate.
    Thanks for working on our collective conscience and energizing my mind.

  3. To understand this revelation it would be wise to also understand the background of how, when, and why it was given. Although we only have D&C as the revelations, the manuscripts contain a lot more information of the previous questions mentioned above. The Elders were asking specific questions and situations to be resolved. It was all settle with the background of Isaac Morley's community, or also known as the Morley's farm. Many things happened withing a few months of Oliver Cowdery and three others preaching to this group of people and the coming of Joseph a few months later. One of this things was that Black Pete and a few others were claiming to be receiving "letters from heaven" that would serve as their ordination and base of preaching. It's too long to comment about it, but I really recommend the book "Hearken, o ye People" by Mark Lyman Staker. It sets up the reasons for each of the revelations in D&C given in Kirtland. It will help you understand the reasons of why the Lord said what He said in that particular situation (they had a righteous prophet and leader that was in communion with God, and he was ordaining people to go on missions). Abinadi, came when no leaders were in a position of receiving revelation, and came with a message of repentance, not with a message of ordination. Sammuel the Lamanite came with a message of repentance. Lehi came to Jerusalem with a message of repentance. Even Jesus adjusted himself to the hierarchy of the Church until they totally rejected Him. When there isn't a prophet receiving revelation (as it happens today), we can expect the Lord calling people to preach repentance. When this message will be totally rejected, then the marvelous work and wonder, the strange act will come to pass.

    What an exciting time to be living on this Earth!!