LDS Article of faith Number 5:
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
This is all about Authority, the LDS church teaches that all other Christian churches are in a state of Apostasy and are lacking the fullness of God because we do not have Priesthood Authority.
So preaching the gospel, baptism and any other church function is invalid elsewhere, this means when someone joins the Mormon church from another Christian background they must be baptized into that church.
What I would like to do in this post is deal with this issue of Priesthood Authority.
Quoted below is a section from “Our heritage, A Brief history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”
Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods
When the angel Moroni first met with Joseph Smith on the
Hill Cumorah in September 1823, he gave important instructions
about the restoration of priesthood authority to the earth,
including the following declaration: “When [the gold plates] are
interpreted the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some, and they
shall begin to proclaim this gospel and baptize by water, and after
that they shall have power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying
on of their hands.”10
In the spring of 1829, Joseph participated in the partial fulfillment
of the angel’s words. As he and Oliver Cowdery were
translating the Book of Mormon, they found mention of baptism
for the remission of sins. On 15 May they sought further knowledge
on the subject from the Lord in prayer. While offering up
their petition on the banks of the Susquehanna River, the two
men were visited by a heavenly messenger. He identified himself
as John the Baptist (pictured) of New Testament times. Laying his hands on
the heads of Joseph and Oliver, he said, “Upon you my fellow
servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron,
which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the
gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the
remission of sins” (D&C 13:1).
After this ordination, Joseph and Oliver baptized one another
as commanded by John the Baptist and ordained each other to
the Aaronic Priesthood. John told them that “this Aaronic Priesthood
had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the
Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter.”
He also said that “he acted under the direction of Peter, James and
John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which
Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us”
(JS—H 1:70, 72; see also 1:68–72).
The Prophet said of this experience: “Immediately on our
coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we
experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly
Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy
Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many
things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I
had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when,
standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and
many other things connected with the Church, and this generation
of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost,
and rejoiced in the God of our salvation” (JS—H 1:73).
Later, Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph and Oliver
and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. They also
bestowed the keys of God’s kingdom upon them (see D&C
27:12–13; 128:20). The Melchizedek Priesthood is the highest
authority given to men on earth. With this authority, the Prophet
Joseph Smith was able to organize the Church of Jesus Christ in
this dispensation and begin to establish the various priesthood
quorums as they are known in the Church today.
So in the Mormon Church we see two levels of Presthood Authority the Aaronic and the melchizedek Priesthood. Both are offices only held by men in the Church.
Aaronic priesthood holders ages 12–18 prepare, bless, and administer the sacrament, collect fast offerings, assist in home teaching, and occasionally perform baptisms.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaronic_priesthood)
The Melchizedek priesthood being the higher of the two relates more to eternal things such as Baptism for the dead as well as having the authority to perform healings and receive revelation for their own family. Fathers will often give a priesthood blessing to their family when an important situation arises.
The important thing to take from this is the Mormon Church teaches this authority is essential to following God in this life and the next and that all other churches do not have this due to the Apostasy.
Both of these Priesthoods do exist in the bible however seem to hold a very different role to what the Mormon Church Teaches.
The Aaronic Priesthood or the Levitical Priesthood was held by Aaron the brother of Moses (Exodus 6:20). The priesthood was used in these times and was for Aaron and His sons.
Exodus 28:1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
There is no indication in the bible that this priesthood was ever meant for gentiles and no indication that this Authority lived on after the sons of Aaron.
The Melchizedek Priesthood comes from a relatively unknown character in the Old testament.
Genesis 14:18-20 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
However this priesthood is never seen in the bible as something which is passed on to worthy males, there is only one other person in the bible shown as receiving this priesthood and that person is the Savior Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 5:5-6 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Many LDS members may not have realised this but the book of Hebrews clearly teaches why the Priestood of Melchizedek is not available to anyone else ever again.
In the Old Testament times there was always one high priest functioning at a time, who once a year went into Gods presence in the temple, this role was only passed on when that High priest died and then another took over. This is the case with the Melchizedek priesthood today.
Hebrews 7:17-28 Shows this.
17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
20And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
21(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
22By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
23And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:
24But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
In v17 we see Jesus has this priesthood, in v23 we see that these priests existed until death thats why we needed more than one in the past, however v24 shows that Jesus holds this priesthood permanently as He is alive, in v27 we see that He has paid the ultimate sacrifice by sacrificing Himself for us, so unlike the old priests He does not need to offer sacrifices daily. and v18 shows we no longer have weak human high priests but we have Jesus who is the perfect high priest forever.
Mormons will still ask so where is your authority to baptize? Well this is an authority all believers have by being in Christ, think of the great commission.
16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus says all authority has been given to me therefore GO!!
Where does our authority come from? It comes from being in Christ, He is our Prophet, He is our Priest, He is our King.
Our forgiveness, leadership, love, and authority does not come from a human man it comes from Christ, the only time Priesthood is talked about for believers in the New Testament is for ALL believers.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
If you are born again, in love with Christ and have assurance that He alone is your source of salvation then you have all of the spiritual authority that you could ever need.