Thursday, December 27, 2012

Continuity Of Organization

Duane Hunt was a Catholic priest in Salt Lake City for many decades.  His continuous interaction with the Church and its members led him to write a pamphlet refuting our claims of a great apostasy, and attempting to demonstrate that the continuity of the Catholic Church is the measure of its validity.  

Hunt argued that because of "continuity of organization," from the time of Christ until the present day, the Catholic Church is the sole repository of keys and priesthood.  Though his work is not supported by the scriptures, his reasoning is an understandable attempt to justify his own faith.  The crux of his argument is as follows: 

"The continuity of the Church means, for one thing, institutional continuity, a continuous organization, linking in physical contact the officials of each generation with those of the preceding one and back finally to the Apostles themselves" (Hunt, The Continuity of the Catholic Church, p. 4).

As he continues, Hunt makes the tempting mistake of tying perpetuity of priesthood to the perpetuity of church office, and not to righteousness.  He assumes that because a man holds office he thereby holds priesthood.  He presumes the church lives on because there is a perpetuity of office holders.  To him, priesthood can only be lost from the church when all of the office holders cease to exist.  

Latter-day Saints understand that rights to priesthood are inseparably connected to the powers of heaven, and that a man connects to that power through righteousness (D&C 121:36).  Office in the church, in fact, has nothing to do with it.  When priesthood is lost the kingdom of God is not (HC 5:256-259). 

Hunt explains to his readers that being a Catholic provides comfort and assurance that no other church can provide:

"Every Catholic is sure that no matter what occurs, no matter how much the Church is maligned and persecuted, no matter how many mistakes are made by her own representatives, even by her clergy and higher officials, the Church will continue to live.  With this no other assurance known to man can be compared.  It is unique in all all human history; it is solid beyond all dispute" (Ibid, p. 10).

If it is the apparent continuity of an institution that matters to the Lord, then Hunt has a foundation upon which to build his argument.  However, devoid of priesthood, revelation, and the Holy Ghost, continuity of organization has only been crippling and blinding to mankind.  For it has been in the comforting assurance of continuous organizations that many have found themselves at ease, and lulled away into carnal security (2 Ne. 28:21-25). 

If the priesthood of God is indeed predicated upon connecting with the powers of heaven, continuity of organization is not the comforting link the priest was hoping it was.  Indeed, continuity of organization may not be the proper standard by which any man should attempt to measure the validity of a church that claims to be the Lord's own.

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