Sunday, May 15, 2011
Mormon Theology no. 38 - The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist
The foundation of the Latter-day Saints' claim, which is legitimate, of being the only Church on Earth recognized by God as having proper Priesthood Authority, is laid by John the Baptist. This is the same John the Baptist who baptized Jesus of Nazareth in the river Jordan.
The event occurred on 15 May 1829. The Prophet Joseph Smith had continued to translate, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon, and Oliver Cowdery had continued to write for Joseph. I now quote from Joseph Smith's own account:
We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying: 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; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. (JS-H 1:68-69)
Now, this event, according to the Law of Witnesses, actually occurred, because there is more than one witness attesting to the truth thereof. Oliver Cowdery wrote,
On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the ‘blaze of day’; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! . . . we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’ . . . The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry. (Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), p. 14–16)
To further illuminate the necessity of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, and to also further prove that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only authorized Church of God on the earth, I quote President Joseph Fielding Smith. Said he, "It is contrary to the order of heaven for those who have passed beyond the veil to officiate and labor for the living on the earth, only wherein mortal man cannot act, and thereby it becomes necessary for those who have passed through the resurrection to act for them. (Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. (1974), p. 58)"
President Oliver Cowdery further testified,
He [Joseph Smith] was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on Fryday, the 15th day of May, 1829. . . . our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer—to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit, according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to admin[ister] in the same: … the Lord … answered us out of the heavens, and while we were in the heavenly vision the angel came down and bestowed upon us this priesthood. (Patriarchal Blessing Book 1, p. 8–9, Historical Dept., Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City)
The foregoing quotations seem sufficient enough to give credence to the Latter-day Saint argument concerning Priesthood and the rightful claim thereto. I add my witness that I know the Priesthood of Aaron was restored by John the Baptist on the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the whole earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Jesus Christ the Son of God. In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen!