In the Church today we are often taught about the importance of Priesthood Keys. In Chapter 14 of Gospel Principles, Joseph F. Smith teaches:
“The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood has this authority delegated to him.”
“But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 141).
A common analogy is that of a physical key. In order to properly enter someones house. We must receive a key from the owner. That key allows us to unlock the door and enter.
Priesthood keys, we are taught, are not a set of physical keys, but are a set of spiritual authorities. They are all bestowed upon the President of the Church when he is ordained. The President can then bestow certain keys on other male Priesthood holders so that they may perform their duties.
It is through these keys that the affairs of the church are administered. Those priesthood duties can be done with God’s authorization and thus have effect in both heaven and earth. For example, a person who seals a marriage must have sealing keys otherwise that sealing is not recognized by God in the eternities.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe that these keys were restored to Joseph Smith and that they have been passed down to through Brigham Young and all his successors and that they are held today by President Thomas S. Monson.
It is important to note that we are taught the bestowal of these keys does not come through the transfer of any physical object. Rather they are received by the laying on of hands by those who already possess keys. It is then pronounced that the recipient has the keys and they are now recognized as having that spiritual authority.
In the case of a new President of the Church being ordained, the Quorum of the Twelve collectively holds all the keys, they give all these keys to the new President. In the case of a local leader, someone with higher authority, who possessed only a limited number of keys, bestows an even more limited number of keys upon the local leader.
This is the modern understanding. However, there are statements by Joseph Smith that show that perhaps our current understanding of keys is not complete. As initial evidence of this, I would like to present Doctrine and Covenants Section 129. After explaining how to detect messengers of God by using handshakes, we read in verse 9:
These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.
Here in this revelation Joseph Smith uses the term keys, but it doesn’t seem to be used in the sense of a spiritual authority. Rather it seems to be a piece of knowledge that is a key.
Another example is on page 156 of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith states:
“I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity”
Here Joseph Smith says he is giving one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom and then he says that “It”, the key, is an eternal principle. If Joseph Smith restored the Priesthood keys as we understand them today; why then would these statements exist which do not agree with our modern understanding?
There must be something else about these Priesthood Keys, in Joseph Smith’s understanding, than what exists in our modern one. If we dig a little deeper we can find out just what Joseph Smith understood Priesthood keys to be. And since Joseph Smith is the one who restored the keys, his understanding and teachings about the keys must be the foundation upon which we base our understanding.
Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Keys
Joseph Smith’s beliefs about keys were developed early in his life. If we look at Joseph’s youth we can see that he was involved in practices that are termed as, “magic.” There is often a negative connotation associated with using the term magic in association with Christianity and also Mormonism. However the “magic” that Joseph Smith was practicing came from the tradition of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. This type of “magic” is actually better understood as actions that help a person gain the attributes of God. So while Joseph Smith was doing things that can be called magic, in Joseph Smith’s mind it was a set of practices to help him gain the attributes of God.
Because many of Joseph Smith’s relatives were Freemasons Joseph was also immersed in Freemasonry, as was common at the time. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s book* was used by Joseph Smith in his “magical” practices. The reason Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa carried such weight in those days was because at the time it was believed that Agrippa was a Freemason. Because of this other masons were reading his works. Agrippa’s teachings, and also those of Masonry, established the framework through which Joseph Smith’s would later understand and relate to his spiritual experiences.
If we look at this information we can see that Joseph Smith’s understanding of keys came from these works and his Masonic upbringing. In these books we read of certain “keys” for invoking the power of God or for bringing various aspects of His power down to man.
It is taught that a Key possesses three attributes. The first attribute is physical. A key must possess some physical manifestation such as a hand grip, hand gesture, or something written.
The second attribute is something spoken. A key must possess a spoken manifestation. But this is not simply saying a word. It is speaking something with complete conviction, as if your entire being is that word.
The third attribute is the Spiritual power or attribute that is accessed by the previous two elements.
So when Joseph Smith spoke of keys he was referring to these type of keys. It was not simply a spiritual authority, but was a physical and spoken manifestation that must be known. It was believed that when these keys were used they brought about a very real spiritual power/manifestation.
In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith(pg. 199) we read:
There are certain key words and signs belonging to the Priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing. The sign of Peter was to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained.
Here we have Joseph Smith teaching that there are KEY WORDS(spoken attribute) and SIGNS(physical manifestation) which belong to the priesthood.
With this new understanding of keys we can reexamine events in the history of the church from a new perspective. Here is when Joseph received the keys in the Kirtland temple
Doctrine and Covenants 110:1-16
11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.
13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.
Since we understand what Joseph meant by the term keys we can better understand what occurred during these events. Joseph and his companions didn’t just stand there and have angels tell them, ‘I am now giving you the keys.’ Rather these were sacred communions with heaven wherein knowledge of the Keys, and how to perform them, was transmitted from angels in heaven to men on earth.
When these visitors came to Joseph and gave him the keys. They were not simply imbuing him with power. But they were giving him knowledge and teaching him the keys necessary to access the powers of heaven pertaining to the specific realms of each key.
Conferral of the Keys
Let’s discuss this idea of conferring Keys in greater depth. We have seen that according to Joseph Smith’s understanding that the conferral of Keys in the early church was not a magical transfer of power from one person to another. Rather the conferral of Keys involved educating the recipient in the Keys and how to perform them.
What this means is that in order to receive priesthood keys the recipient must be taught them. This concept is almost completely foreign to modern members of the church. However this is exactly what was meant by Joseph Smith. And we know this is the case because of Joseph Smith’s early practices, his statements, and beliefs.
Knowledge of what the Keys are and how to use them cannot be transferred through simply uttering the phrase, “I bestow upon you the keys.”
It would be like giving your car keys to someone, but not actually giving them the physical keys. Instead you just tell them that they now possess the keys to your car. But unless they do some hot wiring, they aren’t going to be starting the car anytime soon.
No, the Keys must be taught to the recipient. Therefore, when Joseph Smith received the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, the messengers who bestowed them must not have simply pronounce upon them the keys. Rather they bestowed the knowledge of the physical and spoken manifestations that are the Keys.
This entire concept is can be difficult to grasp. However there is something that many members of the church can relate to, and this is something I feel I should speak very carefully about. In the endowment ceremony members receive certain keywords and signs. These keywords and signs that are given in the endowment are keys. And all the other keys of the priesthood as restored by Joseph Smith are similar to these.
Who is Supposed to Hold the Keys?
It is very easy to show that the President of the Church is supposed to hold all the keys. It is also easy to show that the Quorum of the Twelve is supposed to hold all the keys collectively. But there is information to show that other people are supposed to hold all the keys as well.
Before I continue, I know people will be pointing to Section 132:7 where it says: “7 …whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)…”
This verse is often quoted as proof that only one person on the earth at any given time who holds all the Keys of the Priesthood. But there are problems with Section 132. The most original version we have came from Brigham Young after the Saints arrived in Salt Lake. To explain this situation I would like to quote Rock Waterman from the blog Pure Mormonism:
Brigham’s later explanation for why the revelation was not in Joseph Smith’s handwriting was that this one was actually a copy of the original revelation, as “Sister Emma burnt the original.”
When Emma Smith, back in Nauvoo heard this claim, she replied that she had “never saw such a revelation until it was published by Pratt in The Seer.”
This “copy” of a very lengthy revelation was in the handwriting of William Clayton, formerly a scribe of Joseph Smith. He was also now a polygamist.
What I wonder about is this: was it the practice of Joseph Smith to have his scribes immediately create a second copy of all of his revelations, or did Brigham Young simply ask Clayton to “recreate” this one from memory?
To be succinct the providence of section 132, especially the phrase about only one holding they keys at a time, is not as clear cut as first thought. Also when considering some of Joseph’s other statements it may not be correct.
First, here is a quote that relates to the issue of women and the Priesthood(a topic which I plan on blogging about another time):
[Joseph] spoke of delivering the keys to this Society and to the church— that according to his prayers God had appointed him elsewhere.
This comes straight out of the Relief Society minute book available on Josephsmithpapers.org. Here Joseph Smith says he is going to give the Keys to the Relief Society and also to the Church. There are other quotes relating to this but are not relevant to the discussion of keys.
Second, Joseph spoke that it was part of the ordinances of the church that a person receive all the keys of the priesthood:
The declaration this morning is, that as soon as the Temple and baptismal font are prepared, we calculate to give the Elders of Israel their washings and anointings, and attend to those last and more impressive ordinances, without which we cannot obtain celestial thrones. But there must be a holy place prepared for that purpose. There was a proclamation made during the time that the foundation of the Temple was laid to that effect, and there are provisions made until the work is completed, so that men may receive their endowments and be made kings and priests unto the Most High God, having nothing to do with temporal things, but their whole time will be taken up with things pertaining to the house of God. There must, however, be a place built expressly for that purpose, and for men to be baptized for their dead. It must be built in this central place; for every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washing and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the Priesthood, the same as for himself.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.362
Here we see that for the operation of the church the President holds all the keys and also the Quorum of the Twelve holds all the keys collectively. But we also see that it is the divine purpose for each person to attain the fulness which includes “all the keys and powers of the priesthood”.
Conclusion: The Keys Today
We have examined this topic from a historic perspective. We have learned that Priesthood Keys are not simply a spiritual authority; but are a three part key bringing together the physical, the spoken, and the spiritual to distill the powers of heaven upon mankind. We have learned who are supposed to hold the keys. We have also learned that keys cannot be conferred only by placing hands on the head, but they must be taught to the recipient. Now in order to bring our analysis full circle we must apply our understanding to our modern times. We can clearly see that the understanding of priesthood keys early in the restoration is not the same as that which we have now.
So what happened? Did God change the nature of priesthood keys? Was Joseph Smith wrong in his understanding? Or has something been lost in our understanding of what keys are?
For me I don’t think God would change something as fundamental as Priesthood keys. The Keys were restored as a certain type of tool, a physical and spoken manifestation, to access the powers of heaven. For this to have been changed would completely undermine the work of Joseph Smith and the restoration. Likewise if Joseph was wrong about the keys then it destroys the work he did as the founding prophet of this dispensation and again undermines our own foundation.
I think the issue we must face today is that we have simply lost a fundamental understanding of what the priesthood keys are supposed to be. And since the understanding of keys, which is taught to us from the highest level of the Church, is different than what Joseph Smith taught keys were; then it seems that the nature of keys has also been lost among the leaders as well. Granted, this is just speculation on my part, but it seems to me that if the leaders are not teaching the correct nature of priesthood keys, then it means that they themselves do not have this understanding. This begs the question, How long ago was this understanding lost? When did it happen? And even more importantly, if and understanding of the nature of priesthood keys has been lost, then the keys have not been taught to the following generations of leaders. And if they keys have not been taught to the leaders, then how are they supposed to possess them?* These are questions we must all very carefully consider.
Post Script: What Are the Keys?
Now that we have an understanding of what keys really are in general terms lets look at specific keys. Throughout the scriptures there are mentions of specific keys. Only a small portion of these references exist in the Bible, the rest are in the Doctrine and Covenants. I apologize for not including the references for each key.
Here is a list of keys, some of which have an explanation as best as I can research(many have a descriptive name so I have not provided an explanation):
Key of the house of David/Key of David
“The word key in this verse is maf-tay-ach in Hebrew. It means an opener, Strong’s #4668.
The name Eliakim (EL-YAW-KEEM), Strong’s #471, means “whom God raises up or sets up”.
The word shoulder is she-kem, Strong’s #7926, meaning the place of burdens like a yoke.
So now we have the paraphrase: ‘EL will lay the yoke on the place of burdens of the one He raises up; and this yoke is the opener of the house of David. What He opens no one shall shut; and what He shuts no one shall open.’” – http://yeshivahanateev.org/keyofdavid.html
This key refers to the authority to establish the House of David or the Kingdom. Revelation 3:7 tells us that it is Christ that holds this key.
Keys of the Kingdom
This is a term that seems to refer to all the keys. It is related to the sealing powers and the Key of knowledge.
Key of Knowledge
According to Luke 11:53(JST) the Key of Knowledge is the fulness of the scriptures.
Keys of Hell and Death
In Revelation 1:18 Christ tells us he holds the Keys of Hell and Death. Hell could be associated with salvation and death could be associated with resurrection.
Key of the Bottomless Pit
Keys of the Gift of Translation
The term “translation” here means translating languages, not the changing of the body into a Celestial state.
Keys of John’s ministry
Key to live until Christ comes
Key to prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues, and people
Keys of the Record of the Stick of Ephraim
Keys of Bringing to Pass the Restoration of All Things Spoken by the Mouth of All the Holy Prophets Since the World Began, Concerning the Last Says.
Keys of the Power of Turning the Hearts of the Fathers to the Children, and the Hearts of the Children to the Fathers
Keys of the Mysteries and Revelations Which are Sealed (a.k.a. Keys of the Mystery of Those Things Which Have Been Sealed)
Keys of the Church
Keys of the Mysteries of the Kingdom
– That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy;
Keys of the Aaronic Priesthood:
Key of the ministering of angels
Key of gospel of repentance
Key of baptism for the remission of sins
Keys of Salvation
Keys of the School of the Prophets
Keys of this Kingdom and Ministry
Keys of all the Spiritual Blessings of the Church
Keys of the Gathering of Israel From the Four Parts of the Earth
Keys of the Leading of the Ten Tribes From the Land of the North
Keys to Administer in Outward Ordinances
Keys of the Patriarchal Blessings
Keys Whereby He May Ask and Receive Blessings
Keys of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times
Key to Know a Resurrected Being by Shaking His Hand
Key to Know a Just Spirit by Offering Your Hand and He Will Not Take It.
Key to Know an Angel from the Devil in that You Will Not Feel His Hand When You Offer to Shake It.
There are also the Keys of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood as given in the Endowment.
Thank you for giving your readers a key of knowledge by which we can understand what keys even are! I would like to know what other readers think about the way this doctrine impacts us due to the changes in the ordinances. Particularly the endowment which has been changed in its instructions, symbols and even the key words, signs, and tokens. Please keep your replies reverent for such sacred things, and please don’t go into specifics, but it seems to me that when such changes are made the “key” is actually lost. As such I want to obtain the true keys so that my ordinances will have actual meaning, and power. It seems that the ordinances now that they are changed lack the power to endow anyone with the actual keys. what do you think? and if there is a temple on the earth where the “Keys” are still available through ordinances that are administered unchanged would you be interested in coming to that temple?
I just posted on a related topic of the temple myself.
I would say there are different kinds of keys. A key by definition is simply something which unlocks something. There are keys that unlock knowledge (hidden knowledge = mysteries). Since knowledge is power, these keys are also unlocking powers. These keys don’t necessarily need any outward sign or spoken word to be had. They can be had oftentimes by just reading the scriptures. The Holy Ghost imparts these keys freely when we are in a righteous state of mind… and when the time is right.
Then there are keys which unlock authority. These kind of keys include some of the major keys Joseph Smith received for the restoration: the keys to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, the Gathering of the House of Israel and performing work for the dead, etc. These keys must be passed by signs and ordinances. Keys of authority are directly linked to God’s chain of command and only received through this chain of command through ordination. If you fall out of grace with these rulers you loose your authority to act with the Priesthood they hold.
There are certainly different kinds of Keys, and I agree with most of what you said, but isn’t it more important to be in harmony with God than with “rulers”? Even if a person has all the claims to authority in the world, if they are not in harmony with the commandments, or they change the ordinances, then they have no authority. I prefer to think of God as the source of authority, and am skeptical of any mortal claiming to be part of a “chain of command”. Even if God organized the priesthood into quorums etc. that seems more like men being called as “servants of all” instead of “commanders” as you seem to characterize it.
When God says, “whether it be my voice or the voice of my servant, it is the same.” The kind of “rulers” I speak of are these kinds of servants. Only servants can be rulers. Any man who uses unrighteous dominion looses authority in God’s eyes. If he doesn’t repent during the mercy period God gives he will be cut off as a leader. It is the obligation of every follower to be close enough to the Spirit to know whether they are being lead of God or not via his rulers. I think the word just has a negative connotation due to the nature of man abusing his position so often.
But if we look even at the Key of Knowledge, which is a fulness of the scriptures. We can see the same pattern: the medium the scriptures are recorded upon(physical manifestation); the words we read(spoken manifestation); the power of God’s Word(the spiritual manifestation. It is certainly not as clear cut as things like the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood keys, but the pattern is prominent.
The keys Joseph Smith learned of in Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s books were written on paper. That paper was the physical manifestation. So I don’t think the physical manifestation always has to be a gesture.
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This reminds me of the thesis of Quinn’s book “Early Mormonism and the Magical World View” http://www.amazon.com/Early-Mormonism-Magic-World-View/dp/1560850892
I think many in the church found it offensive, but I for one simply find it insightful. If we overcome our prejudice of the word “Magic” and think of this in terms of “the unseen world” as it is called in JS-H 1:16, it makes a lot of sense. And after all “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So instead of “Magic” think faith when you see the word and it will make more sense to modern sensibilities. So is anyone going to respond to the question: It seems that the ordinances, now that they are changed, lack the power to endow anyone with the actual keys. what do you think? are changed temple ordinances still effective? and if there is a temple on the earth where the “Keys” are still available through ordinances that are administered unchanged would you be interested in coming to that temple?
Well If we look at the history of the LDS endowment the signs, tokens, and keywords were taught in their original form until relatively recently. However the removal of the penalties has corrupted the keys. Of course there are many more keys than those given in the endowment.
Also if I recall correctly early L-DS church leaders prophecied that if the Church ever gave up plural marriage they keys would be taken from them. It is claimed that John Taylor organized a special group of people to continue the practice even if the church condemned it. It is believed by some that tthe Key have continued through them.
Actually, we have ‘published’ proof by Joseph Smith himself that he warned just the opposite, that if anyone ever falls for the practice of polygamy they will lose their Priesthood and keys and be damned.
Thus Brigham Young and all those who were deceived to follow him out west & even those who believe in polygamy today, lost their Priesthood keys and even spiritual membership in the true Church. For it appears Joseph was about to excommunicate all those leaders who were practicing polygamy in 1844, but then he died before he could do it.
I don’t understand why or how anyone could put faith in and follow men who preached contrary to Christ and Joseph Smith and ancient BoM prophets, and believe in polygamy when they clearly all preached so strongly against it, and still say they believe in Christ and Joseph Smith and the Book or Mormon.
Is there any real proof that Joseph Smith actually was involved with Masonry? Or is it all just based on hearsay and second hand testimony like the accusations are that he was involved with polygamy, but no proof of it?
Actually there is a great deal of proof that Joseph Smith was involved with the temple endowments and other ordinances. Brigham Young was not the only one to make this claim nor is he the only one to have built temples for such purposes since. The Cutlerites, which still exist in Ind. Mo. also have an endowment ceremony and do baptisms for the dead etc. Much like the mainstream church they no longer have any polygamous members, but they can at least independently verify that many including Joseph Smith were polygamists. The followers of Lyman Wight also had an endowment and built a temple. The remaining Rigdonites and the Community of Christ (Reorganites) generally argue that all of these groups, especially Brigham Young, were all apostate and doing these things independently, but this seem historically untenable. Yes Joseph Smith did publish many things in his lifetime contradicting polygamy, but he also published “the peacemaker” and other pro-polygamy writings. (He is thought to be the actual author of “the peacemaker”, or at least a co-author, which would itself be sufficient proof of his polygamy.)
You also allege that polygamy is contrary to the teachings of Christ. In what way? certainly if Christ was opposed to polygamy there were ample examples around for him to condemn, especially since the greco-roman world was the only society in the world that practiced monogamy during his lifetime, and even they were known to have many lovers, even though they only granted legal status to one “wife.” Yet the gospels contain no negative mention of polygamy at all. Instead we have the parable pf the ten “virgins” or brides all waiting for THE bridegroom (singular) and many places where the entire church with millions of members is called the bride of Christ! Now that is a huge polygamist marriage indeed! If this idea was so repugnant to Christ, why would he use this as a metaphor? It seems more likely that as a product of the Jewish polygamous society he was raised in that he would be a polygamist himself. Indeed if the spiritual metaphor is accurate then Christ is a polygamist because he accepts all of us who come to him and repent. How awful it would be if he were a monogamist and applied his atonement to only one person, then all the rest of mankind would be eternally lost! and if he limited his Love to just one person how could he even choose. His Love for us is too great to be confined. Besides the fact that there is sufficient evidence that Jesus was married to think it possible he was not antagonistic to the whole institution.
It seems more reasonable to argue that Christ taught against eternal families, or against marriage as an institution, rather than against one type of family.
So you ask how anyone can believe in polygamy and still believe in Joseph Smith, and in Christ? simple: all three of them are clearly polygamists. To say otherwise is to contradict their own record. Are there inconsistencies in the recorded publications of Joseph Smith? of course. You’d think that he was afraid of being martyred for his beliefs or something! oh wait, that was not an irrational fear in his case was it? Polygamy was one of the main points of controversy raised by the Nauvoo Expositor, and one of the main motives for the mob who did in fact murder him.
The larger point brought up by this post is that the keys are not the type of thing which can be given by simply the laying on of hands, nor can they be taken away simply by being mistaken about some other topic. The keys are not a code word for complete legitimacy, they are physical, mental, and spiritual things which must be taught, and therefore cannot easily be simply forgotten. So if Joseph gave keys to others, as was the entire purpose of the restoration, then they had those keys even when they may have disagreed on other points. The question then becomes one of finding which lineage transmitted those keys to the present day. Well the anti polygamist groups such as the “Community of Christ” have never even transmitted keys, nor do they have endowments. In fact only those groups which trace their legitimacy through Brigham Young, or Cutler still have an endowment or a concept of “Key words signs and tokens” anyway. Those who trace their linage to Brigham Young are the mainstream LDS church, which has changed the ordinances and therefore lost them, and the fundamentalists, who have mostly also lost or changed the ordinances. If you want to maintain a belief in “Keys” and reject Brigham at the same time you could seek out the Cutlerites, but only 22 members of the Cutlerite church still remain, and it is not clear if they have preserved the ordinances or changed them. So either you should seek the hidden temples where the temple ordinances are still preserved, or you should decide that eternal families, and indeed the whole concept of “keys” is false, and join the “Community of Christ.” I see no reason to stay anywhere in the middle where the keys are clearly still theologically important, but are also clearly absent. AV, It looks to me like you have already made your choice and have rejected Brigham Young and the entire concept of Temple ceremonies. as such what role do keys hold in your beliefs? Are you a member of an LDS sect such as the Community of Christ?
Have you listened to the podcasts with George Miller?
His research has shown that Joseph Smith was deeply involved in Freemasonry, even from a young age.
I would encourage you to do more research into true historical documents that can be proven, instead of just believing any and all hearsay that might support your beliefs. God does not want us or expect us to base our testimonies on hearsay. Only on what Christ & the holy scriptures & the Holy Spirit say.
I believe the overwhelming proof left by Joseph, that he never preached or practiced polygamy, nor did he write “The Peacemaker” (which he said he didn’t and he called it vile ‘trash’), nor do I believe he instigated the temple ceremony (for it is filled with false doctrines), I believe Brigham Young did and pinned it on Joseph just like he did polygamy.
I am looking for things written in Joseph’s own hand or things he published while he was alive or in the D&C that teach about the temple ceremonies. I have not seen any yet. Even if such things existed, it doesn’t mean such is truth, for Joseph could have fallen just as easily as most all the other church leaders did back then.
Christ did teach very clearly against polygamy when he taught about divorce, yet most people never pick up on it. See Matt. 19:9, etc. and see if you can see it.
Why do you discredit the BoM prophets who so strongly condemned polygamy? If you believe true prophets can lie and intentionally lead people astray, as you seem to believe Joseph did, then there is not reason to continue discussing this. We must just agree to disagree. For I believe true prophets can’t lie, just like God can’t lie.
Can you imagine if the next Pres. of the Church got up and said that adultery is ok, the past prophets were just lying, but now it’s ok and everyone should do it? Would you go along with that too? For that’s what happened with Brigham Young, he started preaching something so vile and condemned by all past prophets.
“I would encourage you to do more research into true historical documents that can be proven, instead of just believing any and all hearsay that might support your beliefs.”
Ok, I’ll take a little something out of the Book of Mormon:
“And in that day, seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious; the fruit of the earth excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem—”
(2 Nephi 14:1-3)
When a woman is called by a man’s name it usually means she is married to him. Biblically women felt reproach for being barren (i.e. not having children). Not only this but these people who are doing this are called “beautiful and glorious” and “holy.”
AV also wrote:
“Can you imagine if the next Pres. of the Church got up and said that adultery is ok, the past prophets were just lying, but now it’s ok and everyone should do it? Would you go along with that too? For that’s what happened with Brigham Young, he started preaching something so vile and condemned by all past prophets.”
Prophets like say… Abraham or Isaac? Both of these were polygamists and had children from their many wives, in fact it is from them that we get the house of Israel the people whom God loves. Also, if it was so wicked why is it that we never, not once see God rebuke them for their sins? AV, you have an irrational bigotry towards the teachings of God. Please stop persecuting God and his prophets.
I believe that particular scripture is talking about unrighteous women today, who are willing to live polygamy. For I see this all around me, so many women today are so desperate to have a man & be married that they will go along with almost anything it seems, no matter what the character of the man is, and they don’t even expect the man to support them.
That verse does not sound like righteous women to me, for righteous women are not desperate like that, nor do I believe righteous women would ever live polygamy, even just to have a man or child. I don’t know of any righteous women today who would do such either. I believe staying single and childless is far better than having to live polygamy. And I speak from experience unfortunately.
I believe there was a break in thought & topic, between his talking about those women who were so desperate vs.the next verse when he starts talking about Zion.
Not to mention that the Prophet Isaiah wouldn’t be teaching contrary to Christ or Joseph Smith’s scriptures. So that alone reveals that he can’t be referring to righteous women or polygamy as a righteous thing or a part of Zion.
Actually God commanded Abraham to send Hagar away, and I believe Abraham repented of his evil of polygamy. So I believe God did rebuke Abraham for his sin and many others for their sins of polygamy, as we read in Jacob 2-3. I do not believe that Issac ever lived polygamy, it was BY that said Issac lived it, but the Bible or BoM does not support such a claim. And I believe Christ and Joseph Smith over Brigham Young.
I believe I am honoring Christ & his true prophets and their teachings & scriptures. But I don’t accept those who I believe are false prophets who teach contrary doctrines and a different religion than Christ did.
So I guess you don’t accept Joseph Smith’s Article on Marriage which was included in the Doctrine and Covenants until Brigham Young removed it.
There is a part which states:
“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”
So you disagree with Joseph Smith that a husband or wife may marry again after their first spouse dies.
Marrying again after your spouse dies is not a sin, it is not adultery like remarriage after divorce, but it is not righteousness or on the level of ‘true love’ either. So I understand why Joseph said that. The apostle Paul also said that you can marry if you can’t contain yourself & stay single, for he said it is better to marry than to commit sin. Remarriage after the death of a spouse is a Terrestrial level law, not a Celestial level law. I believe that only those who have true love for their spouse, true charity, and never remarry after their spouse’s death, divorce or desertion, will achieve Exaltation.
I believe good and honorable people who are not strong enough or don’t love their spouse enough to stay faithful to their covenants to their spouse (which should be ‘eternal’ covenants & promises, not just for this life) would achieve the Terrestrial level.
For Christ always taught that if we don’t have charity, true love, then we are nothing and we won’t make it. No matter how wonderful we may be in other areas. I believe that. It takes alot to have true charity, true love in marriage, to keep our covenants to our spouse to be completely faithful to them even in death. They are faithfully waiting for us in heaven and I believe God expects us to do the same and wait faithfully to be reunited to them after this life.
But these things can generally only be learned by the Holy Spirit, for true love is very rare and hardly ever seen. The Holy Spirit will teach us the truth about all things that aren’t clearly taught in the scriptures. But one must 1st believe in & possess true love before the Spirit will give someone a complete knowledge of it. It is unconditional true love, charity, especially for our spouse, that qualifies us for Exaltation. It is the hardest & highest virtue to gain in this life. I have never known of anyone in my life who possess this charity, this true love or I don’t think I know of anyone who even believes in it. But true love is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is what he came to earth to teach us to have. Everything else he taught revolves around having true everlasting unconditional Christlike love, which is charity.
True love, charity, is also the power by which God does all his mighty works. It is Priesthood power. The more true Christlike love we possess the more Priesthood power we gain. No one can possess any Priesthood power if they don’t have unconditional true love, especially for their spouse.
True love is an exclusive love in marriage. It is impossible to have true marital love for more than one person. If you remarry you prove you don’t have true love for your 1st spouse. I believe those who truly possess true love for their deceased spouse always wait, they don’t date or remarry another, not after death and not after divorce. For they know they will be with their spouse again in the next life, after they die or after their spouse repents and returns to them.
I believe that all remarriages, after death or divorce, are not eternal anyway, and the one’s after divorce are adultery according to Christ and thus would certainly not be eternal. I don’t believe there is any polygamy in heaven, for Christ and his prophets have said it is an evil, and not a righteous thing or law, thus remarriages after a spouse’s death could not be eternal anyway, it only proves that one did not stay faithful to their deceased spouse.
There are also many blessings associated with having true love for a deceased spouse. It can make a person worthy of frequent visits by their deceased spouse. I have known many people who are visited often by their deceased spouse. Many of these people are of different religions. Even Christ visited his wife Mary after he died, she was the 1st one he came to, to comfort her, and I believe he visited her many times, if not frequently til Mary died too. For they were both righteous enough for this blessing. When your deceased spouse visits you often, they can give you love & comfort and help you get through the rest of your life alone much easier.
Also, when we possess unconditional true love for our spouse & keep our covenants to them & stay completely faithful to them after death or divorce, we gain great power to save our errant spouse or children, once they repent in Spirit Prison. We can then take them into the Celestial Kingdom with us, whereas they wouldn’t have made it there on their own merit. Charity is the greatest of all, for it can literally save souls. There will be no greater joy than to save our spouses & children’s souls. It is well worth being single the rest of your life after a spouse dies or deserts you. Many prophets and church leaders have talked about this power.
Also, it is important to realize that Joseph Smith was learning line upon line too, like the rest of us, and he didn’t understand everything probably about marriage yet. Just like he didn’t understand everything with slavery, for it’s very apparent through his writings that he felt different about slavery later in his life than earlier. Thus I believe Joseph mentioned that remarriage after death was ok, yet he didn’t teach the higher law of true love like Paul did, either because he knew the people weren’t ready for it, or he didn’t fully understand it himself.
It’s very apparent that Joseph was frequently deceived by evil men around him. Thus, even Joseph was still learning about the Gospel, discernment and having true love I’m sure. But I believe he did have such true love for Emma. He said came back to Nauvoo for Emma, even though he knew he would die because of it.
I agree about Love being Godly power. As such I refute your contention that Love is ever exclusive. Petty Lust may be exclusive, selfish possessiveness may be exclusive, but Love is never exclusive. No person who has ever felt to Love of God can argue that it is narrow or limited. If we desire to be worthy to be called the children of God we must also learn to Love as he does: liberally.
Your views on marriage and divorce seem unique in all of Christianity. you seem to believe that Jesus was married, but not polygamous which already puts you in a tiny pigeon hole, and not only this but you seem to believe that marriage can be eternal, which is taught in Section 132, which you clearly reject, and no where else in scripture. How can you believe in eternal marriage and not in polygamy? I have never met anyone who accepted the eternity of marriage and did not also accept that polygamy was righteous, at least in heaven.
Your ideas about faithfulness requiring exclusiveness, and even celibacy for the divorced and widowed are certainly unique. I am not aware of any monogamous society that wholly rejected re-marriage. (except perhaps the wife burning sects of India. I don’t suppose you are a proponent of that are you?) This serial monogamy is much more akin to polygamy than your views. This may mean that you are the first true monogamist I have ever heard of. I would find it interesting to know if you are widowed or divorced, for how long, and your age. Many ideals are discarded when circumstances teach the idealist that they are untenable. One of my favorite quotes on the topic of the foolishness of making rigid ideals for ones self before experiencing the circumstances those ideals impose is about child rearing. It says: “Before I had children I had five theories on child rearing, now I have five children and no theories.” This principle may also apply to your theories about how Love should be exclusive of others, rather than inclusive. Right now you may Love someone and think that you could never Love another, but if they are ever taken from you and you open your heart and find true divine Love for another, you will be faced with your ideals on one hand telling you to discard this new love, and abandon those who love you, in order to uphold your petty ideals. If you are ever faced with the tearful eyes of someone you truly Love and who Loves you in return, and you feel you must throw them and that Love away like trash because you have this ideal that says you should, you will find that your ideal of “love” has become in fact an excuse for hate, and abuse. If you have ever discarded another human being who Loved you into the cold of this dreary world because you felt your quota for compassion and love has previously been filled, then shame on you! If you are an idealist who has never been in that situation, I hope that if that day ever comes that you will choose true Love over your dogmatism.
I have found that many, if not most, people who love their spouse hope and believe in eternal marriage, whatever religion they may be. It is not an exclusive mormon doctrine like many think it is. Half my extended family is non-lds and of many different religions and so I know their beliefs.
I believe Joseph Smith believed he would be with Emma in the next life even though he did not believe in polygamy. I know many people who believe they will be with their spouse in heaven, but they don’t believe in polygamy. It was Brigham Young who tied eternal marriage with polygamy, the 2 ideas weren’t associated before he came along and threatened women that if they didn’t go along with polygamy then they couldn’t be married for eternity, which is a lie of the greatest kind.
The Spirit can teach anyone in any religion that marriage is eternal, that is not strange to believe or understand. Polygamy has nothing to do with eternal marriage, in fact if one lives polygamy Christ & his prophets taught that they won’t be married for eternity for they will be damned. For Christ clearly taught that polygamy is adultery (when you marry another when your 1st wife is still living, whether you divorce her or not) (Matt. 19:9)
I did not say that all love is exclusive, only marital love, we don’t go around sharing ourselves with everyone just because we have charity/love in our hearts. We are commanded to give our whole body & soul to just one person on earth, our spouse and no one else. The is very clear in the marriage vows of most religions, even the vow that Joseph Smith put in the D&C, (which BY took out). Couples across the globe understand that they vow to keep their marital love totally exclusive. Even Joseph Smith taught how exclusive our love should be in marriage. But that doesn’t mean we can’t & shouldn’t love everyone else in a general & Christlike way.
I have gained my high ideals because I learned them through studying the scriptures, prayer & actually living them, I practice what I preach, though I am not perfect. We have to actually live these ideals to know of their truth. The Holy Spirit can teach us the truth of these things.
But it is very rare to find someone who even believes in having the true love that Christ taught of, let alone to find someone who possesses it for their spouse. That is why you haven’t seen it or maybe heard of such before, especially on a society level. These are such high ideals that only the Spirit can teach them to people, though Christ & his prophets have tried to at times, but few were willing to have such true love for their spouse. For few there be that find it or possess it.
Even Christ’s apostles were surprised at Christ’s high ideals and teachings of true love & faithfulness in marriage. They said to him in reply that if such is required then perhaps it would be better to never marry at all, then to have to stay with and be faithful to the same woman their whole life.
Christ’s ideals are very rare and very few people except or live them. That is why I have said I have never met anyone who truly believes in Christ & his teachings & Gospel or who possess charity, which is everlastingly love, especially for their spouse, who is generally hardest to have true love for, for a lifetime, for most spouses usually don’t stay faithful to their promises or don’t treat their spouse as they should and so it’s hard to give unconditional love to someone who doesn’t deserve it. But Christ showed us how to do that, if we are willing to learn & follow his example.
And no, I do not believe that Christ was a polygamist. He wouldn’t have preached that polygamy was adultery and had his prophets preach the same, & then gone & married multiple women himself. Christ can’t lie or else he would cease to be a God. Even Joseph Smith couldn’t lie or he would cease to be a true prophet. So it is impossible that either of them could have lived polygamy and been our Savior & a true prophet. Christ preached and was the supreme example of true love in marriage to one woman.
Parely P Pratt in “Key to Theology” equates keys of Priesthood to the keys of the science of Theology.
“Whenever the keys of Priesthood, or, in other words, the keys to the science of Theology…”(pg 116)
He defines Theology thus:
“First. THEOLOGY is the science of communication, or of correspondence, between God, angels, spirits, and men, by means of visions, dreams, interpretations, conversations, inspirations, or the spirit of prophecy and revelation.
Second. It is the science by which worlds are organized, sustained, and directed, and the elements controlled.
Third. It is the science of knowledge, and the key and power thereof, by which the heavens are opened, and lawful access is obtained to the treasures of wisdom and intelligence—inexhaustible, infinite, embracing the past, the present, and the future.
Fourth. It is the science of life—endless and eternal, by which the living are changed or translated, and the dead raised.
Fifth. It is the science of faith, reformation, and remission of sins, whereby a fallen race of mortals may be justified, cleansed, and restored to the communion and fellowship of that Holy Spirit which is the light of the world, and of every intelligence therein.
Sixth. It is the science of spiritual gifts, by which the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the sick are healed, and demons are expelled from the human system.
Seventh. It is the science of all other sciences and useful arts, being in fact the very fountain from which they emanate. It includes philosophy, astronomy, history, mathematics, geography, languages, the science of letters; and blends the knowledge of all matters of fact, in every branch of art, or of research. It includes, also, all the scientific discoveries and inventions—agriculture, the mechanical arts, architecture, shipbuilding, the properties and applications of the mariner’s compass, navigation, and music. All that is useful, great, and good; all that is calculated to sustain, comfort, instruct, edify, purify, refine, or exalt intelligences; originated by this science, and this science alone, all other sciences being but branches growing out of this—root.”(pg 1-2).
This is a remarkable and important bit of research, Mike. Nicely done. It would seem that in many regards, when we speak of a “key,” it would be better understood to mean “key information.”
In Chapter 3 of Denver Snuffer’s “Passing the Heavenly Gift,” someone (I think it was Wilford Woodruff -I have my feet up and don’t feel like going and checking) said that at the time Joseph died, the twelve were in a lot of confusion about what the keys were and which ones they had. By the late 1870’s Brigham Young had revised the history so that the official explanation was that Joseph gave them all the keys -and by now “keys” were beginning to refer to “authority” in a special meeting before he died. This may be the genesis of how we came to think of the keys as “rights to officiate” rather than being about knowledge as to how.
Anyway, a very nice and important post this is. I have been looking forward reading it ever since you told me you were first looking into the topic, and it was worth the wait. It’s clear that we in the church deserve to reexamine our thinking. Just as many members can’t seem to tell the difference between the church and the gospel, many can’t differentiate between claims to authority and keys of knowledge.
There we go Rock, your comment was stuck in the spam filter.
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At what point in LDS History did we begin to conflate the idea of “keys” with “presiding”? When was it first articulated that Deacon’s Quorum Presidents and other Quorum Presidents hold “keys”. Watching the church training on “keys” again this morning left me ‘depressed’.
I think the idea may not have been fully understood by some in the earliest days of the church. But as time progressed this idea began lost. I would bet the correct understanding of priesthood keys was lost by the time of Heber Grant. Some information I have suggests that there was a correct understanding still in Wilford Woodruff’s time. I would bet that for most of the L-DS Church’s history we have been operating under an incorrect understanding of Priesthood keys.
John Taylor, in July of 1880, while serving as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve after the death of Wilford Woodruff said the following:
“There is another question associated with this matter. Because a man is a high priest, is he an apostle? No. Because a man is a high priest, is he the president of a stake, or the counselor to the president of a stake? No. Because he is a high priest, is he a bishop? No, not by any means. And so on, in all the various offices. The high priesthood holds the authority to administer in those ordinances, offices, and places, when they are appointed by the proper authorities, and at no other time; and while they are sustained also by the people. Now these are the distinctions which I wish to draw, simply to classify them. And when there is anything said about a high priest, you say, “I am a high priest, and if such a man has authority, I have it!” You have if you have been appointed to it, or you have not if you have not. You have it if you are appointed to fill the office, and are properly called and set apart to that office; but unless you are, you have not got that office, but still you are a high priest; and high priests after the order of the Melchizedek priesthood have a right to officiate in their own standing under the direction of the presidency, in administering spiritual things, but they must be under that direction or presidency. Now here is where the question comes in. Is it not plain when you look at it? To me it is very distinct and pointed, and it is to you who are intelligent and have studied these things. It is not because a man holds a certain class of priesthood that he is to administer in all the offices of that priesthood. He administers in them only as he is called and set apart for that purpose. . . .”—JD, 22:193-196, July 18, 1880.
This is a very succinct explanation of what we would explain today using the current concept of ‘keys’. However, it didn’t even occur to President Taylor to use the term or even the concept.
Rather, you “hold authority to administer in those ordinances, offices, and places, when they are appointed by the proper authorities, and at no other time”
I am unable to find any reference to priesthood keys, in the teachings of John Taylor, that is congruent with current theology. (Please forgive me if one does come up…). Yet, he discusses keys and priesthood keys many, many, many times in his writings and discourses. Interesting.
By 1901, we have this teaching articulated by Joseph F. Smith while serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, just months before becoming the Prophet:
“The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood, has this authority delegated to him.
“But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor. Thus, the president of a temple, the president of a stake, the bishop of a ward, the president of a mission, the president of a quorum, each holds the keys of the labors performed in that particular body or locality. His Priesthood is not increased by this special appointment, for a seventy who presides over a mission has no more Priesthood than a seventy who labors under his direction; and the president of an elders’ quorum, for example, has no more Priesthood than any member of that quorum. But he holds the power of directing the official labors performed in the mission or the quorum, or in other words, the keys of that division of that work. So it is throughout all the ramifications of the Priesthood—a distinction must be carefully made between the general authority, and the directing of the labors performed by that authority.”—Improvement Era, Vol. 4, p. 230, January, 1901.
THE POWER OF DIRECTING THESE LABORS CONSTITUTES THE KEYS OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
So what happened between John Taylor and Joseph F. Smith that led to a new understanding of keys?…..my guess, another orphan child of THE MANIFESTO and all that surrounded it.
Can’t you just here the words being spoken as they relate to performing sealings? “It is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order.”
I like this clear and simple explanation of Priesthood keys:
8 …For did not My servant Joseph Smith teach all Mine apostles many days concerning the building up and establishment of My Zion, and then said to them that he had taught them all that he was allowed, and that they had all the keys he had?
9 And “the keys” he referred to was all the knowledge he had of the building up of My kingdom.
10 And again I say unto you, a man may be ordained to the Priesthood, yet if he receive not the keys, he hath no power, and it is as if he hath never received it, for as faith without works is dead, so also is an ordination to the Priesthood that hath no keys, which keys are the knowledge of how that Priesthood is to be used.
11 And this knowledge can be obtained in but one way and that is by revelation from Me.
If I hand you a key and you take it in your hand, then your whole body HAS the key, but only your hand HOLDS the key. The Keys given to Joseph were given to the body of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Any man ordained correctly to the MP HAS all the keys in connection with the body of MP holders. But only one MP member is set apart to HOLD the keys as a servant for the body. Without revelation the keys cannot be used, even if the MP body HAS them.
Revelation is the source of all KEYs. http://www.2bc.info/onias/Quotations.html
Here is an article I wrote concerning Priesthood Keys: http://www.2bc.info/pdf/PAC.pdf
Reblogged this on I Looked and Beheld and commented:
‘….since Joseph Smith is the one who restored the keys, his understanding and teachings about the keys must be the foundation upon which we base our understanding.”
How to use your Endowment of Power
Posted on April 24, 2014 by c j
Dear Brothers and Sisters consider yourselves Adam and Eve,
Adam and Eve…we are brought back into the Lord’s Presence…
By using your priesthood keys-signs-tokens-
These next pages are some of my journal writings, from various sources. That helped me move along rapidly in my progression. They are treasures and I will share them with you…
Even if you have the keys they will not work until your heart and hands are pure.
Ether 6:17 and they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.
Follow the Spirit…He will lead you to All Truth…The Order of Heaven…
Rend the veil of unbelief, and then shall the greater things be manifest…
All the Saints of God…The Sons and Daughters of God…Belong to the Church of the Firstborn…Access to heavenly messengers… and Jesus Christ Himself…
Doing what Adam and Eve did…
Adam: Let us do as we were commanded and seek the face of the Creator. We will take of this world, limbs, skins and stones, and we will build a place wherein we may seek His face.
10) Eve: It is good that we act upon the commandments we have been given.
11) Narrator: Adam took tree limbs, animal skins and stones and built a place where he and Eve could pray. And when they went down into the place and offered up their thanks for everything that they had learned,
How to use your Endowment of Power…Follow the footsteps of Adam and Eve, they began to be visited by Heavenly spirit beings. Every day they were visited by different instructors. And Adam built an altar and offered an oblation to the Lord.
12) Adam: Oh God! Hear the words of my mouth! Oh Father! Hear the words that I am praying! Oh Lord! Can You hear the words of my prayer?
13) Angel of the Lord: Why do you offer sacrifice at this altar?
14) Adam: I know not, save that I was commanded to do so.
15) Angel of the Lord: That which you shall do in this place and upon this altar is in accordance with the Law of the Gospel. You shall offer sacrifice here that shall be in the likeness and similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of the Father. It is good that you are obedient to the commands of your Lord.
16) Narrator: And when Adam offered his oblation unto the Lord, Satan was also attracted by the commotion. He appears as a wise old man.
17) Satan: What is wanted?
18) Adam: I am praying for messengers from my Father.
19) Satan: Oh, you want religion. What you need is good, sound religion. I will have preachers come and teach religion to you by and by. Listen to them, for they are wise like me.
20) Narrator: The old man stayed with Adam and Eve for many years and he taught them all of the ways of men.
We have to prepare our hearts and minds to receive instructions from the angels and heavenly messengers the Lord sends…When we have our home altar prepared…The Law of the Gospel, we have to have an altar and a place set apart and made holy…just like our first parents…
Satan will tell you another plan…listen to wise old men and learn religion.
The family altar has been removed from LDS instruction…
Before 1978 (1), prayer circles were held outside of the temple, with many Stake Centers having altars that adjoined the High Council room. Extra-temple prayer circles can be traced back to their foundations in Nauvoo. George Albert Smith preached in the completed Temple in 1845:
When we come together * * and unite our hearts and act as one mind, the Lord will hear us and will answer our prayers…Said that whenever they could get an opportunity they retired to the wilderness or to an upper room, they did so * * * and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us * * every day and pray to God in private circles.
It is, perhaps, from this focus on the quotidian ritual that a fixture emerged among the saints that is generally forgotten: the family altar. The idea of walking into somebody’s house who is Mormon and seeing an altar in their living room borders on the absurd or apostate. However, for the Saints of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the family altar was consistently preached from the pulpit and in Church periodicals (3).
Joseph F. Smith preached in 1881:
…it is absolutely necessary that the Latter-day Saints should come together in the family capacity, and kneeling around the family altar, call upon God for his blessings morning and evening. And they need not confine themselves to morning and evening prayer, for it is their privilege to enter into their closets and call upon Him in secret, that He might reward them openly.
Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal Brigham Young’s understanding of the family altar:
I attended the prayer meeting in the evening. President Young said the family Altar was the same as an Altar in the prayer Circle. It is for parents and Children to Join hands over the Altar and pray.
Now, I am sanguine that there are many who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who have neglected their duty in this respect, and many a son is permitted to grow to manhood, whose father has never asked him to bow with them at the family altar. This is a serious neglect upon the part of those who have named the name of Jesus, who have come up to these mountains to be taught in the ways of the Lord.
Needing to be taught from on high….following in the foot steps of our first parents Adam and Eve….
Lastly, in 1905, Elder Hyrum Smith promoted the use of the family altar as a means of spiritual self sufficiency:
We ought not to complain if our stake conferences come and go and we do not have in our midst one of the brethren known as the authorities of the Church…You should not feel to complain, even though one of the Twelve, or the First Council of Seventy, or even the First Presidency, find it impossible to be with you.
You should read the word of the Lord from the books, and kneeling down around the family altar, you should commune with the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, judgment and enlightenment. You should depend more upon Him and less than some of us do upon those who constitute the authorities of the church.
On May 3, 1978, the First Presidency announced that all prayer circles outside the temple were to be discontinued.
Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith pg.237
…Setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days (Adam) and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure those plans and principles, by which anyone is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Elohim in the eternal worlds…
Keys must be used to obtain the fullness of blessings, and a sure word of prophecy…
Page 326 (TPJS)
I anointed him to the patriarchal power—to receive the keys of knowledge and power, by revelation to himself…
Adam and Eve prayed in the true order of prayer use their signs and tokens—knowledge and power…We need to do the same thing… Moses 5: 4, 10
4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from (the way) toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
The use of the signs, and tokens (TPJS)
The Father desires all to come back in His Presence…
These same keys of communications were given to us in the endowment
TPJS pg.237 with these keys the latter-day saints are able to approach God in the proper manor and learn to commune with heaven these keys, where by an individual may ask and receive an answer, all who receive their endowments receive the keys of the priesthood…which are the signs and tokens used in prayer…with these keys we are enable to commune with the heavens, and the Church of the Firstborn…
How are you going to receive Heavenly Messengers?
And be introduced into the Terrestrial World…
Cindy Mexico, I believe you are right. How do I then receive Heavenly Messengers? How am I introduced into the Terrestrial World?
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
How do we know if someone has keys?
A key unlocks something, and in this case it unlocks the knowledge of God. If a man claims to have keys and does not know the mysteries and know God for themselves, they do not have the keys of the priesthood. It’s that simple.
Those that really have keys, as described in the verse above, will know the mysteries of God and will know God for themselves. That is what it means to have keys of the priesthood.
It is not the President of the Church that is supposed to hold all the keys. In fact the words “president of the church” are not to be found in D&C 132 at all. It is the Lord’s Anointed who holds the keys, and that office is mentioned in 132. The president is voted on by the people; the lord’s anointed is chosen by God. These are two separate and distinct offices.