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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1919

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1919.” You can view other years here.

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1919:  6-7 Jan.:  Selection of Ballard as new Apostle.

6 Jan.:  “Yesterday in the Temple Prest Grant laid before the Apostles the name of Melvin Ballard to fill the vacancy in the Twelve quorum.  He was telegraphed to and asked to come with first train.

7 Jan.:  Bro. Ballard came from Portland and went with us to the Temple.  Here we met all of the Apostles.  Prest. Grant asked him if he would accept the office of an apostle.  He said he was willing to do what he could.  I was asked to give him the charge.  Then Prest. Grant ordained him.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 6-7 Jan., 1919)

Apr.:  Conferring the priesthood.

“To prevent disputes over this subject that may arise over the procedure presented on page 169, we draw attention to the fact that until recently, from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ordinations to the Priesthood were directly to the office therein for which the recipient was chosen and appointed, in form substantially as follows:

As to the Melchizedek Priesthood–‘By authority (or in the authority) of the Holy Priesthood and by the laying on of hands, I (or we) ordain you an Elder, (or Seventy, or High Priest, or Patriarch, or Apostle, as the case may be), in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers, keys and authority pertaining to this office and calling in the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.’

As to the Lesser Priesthood–‘By (or in) the authority of the Holy Priesthood I (or we) lay my (or our) hands upon your head and ordain you a Deacon (or other office in the Lesser Priesthood) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers and authority pertaining to this office and calling in the Aaronic Priesthood, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.’

In reference to the form of procedure mentioned on page 169, and that set forth in this addendum as adopted by the leading authorities of the Church from the beginning, our beloved and departed President, Joseph F. Smith, when questioned concerning them, decided, as of record, ‘It is a distinction without a difference,’ and ‘either will do.’

Persons, therefore, who have been ordained in either way hold the right to officiate in all the duties of their respective offices in the Priesthood.”  (First Presidency, Apr., 1919.  In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 5:120-121)

Apr.:  Judiciary system of the Church.

“The essential purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to save mankind from sin, and to enable the sinner to retrieve his character through contrite repentance and by further compliance with the laws and ordinances based on the Atonement wrought by the Savior of the race.

The Church of Jesus Christ, which as a corporate entity is the organized body of which the Gospel is the vital spirit, must of necessity provide a system of order and discipline for the guidance and government of its members.

In accordance with the revealed law of the Church, a complete judiciary organization is maintained in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and its operation has been strikingly effective from the beginning.

On the basis of territorial classification, the smallest fully organized unit is the Ward, which is presided over by a Bishop, with whom are associated two other High Priests as Counselors, the three constituting the Ward Bishopric.  As assistants to the Bishopric, there are deacons, teachers and priests.

Wards are aggregated in broader territorial units, known as Stakes, each Stake comprising such Wards as are conveniently situated, without numerical limitation except as the reuirements of efficiency make necessary.  The presiding body within a Stake is the Stake Presidency, consisting of the President and two Counselors, each of the three being a High Priest.  Assisting the Stake Presidency is a High Council, composed of twelve High Priests.

The General Authorities have jurisdiction over the entire Church, according to their respective callings.  At the head stands the President with two other High Priests as Counselors, the three constituting the First Presidency of the Church.  Next in authority is a body of twelve High Priests, specially ordained as Apostles, and these form the Council of the Twelve Apostles.

The usual order of reformatory and disciplinary ministry is in general as follows.  Should knowledge of any case of wrongdoing, or lack of harmony between or among members, come to the attention of the Bishopric of a Ward, it is their duty to delegate two or more priests or teachers to visit the parties concerned, and to try by brotherly mediation to bring about a reconciliation, or if there be evidence of actual sin, to report the facts to the Bishopric and make formal accusation.  If the case so warrants, the Bishopric sit as a court, before whom the accused person appears after due notice and summons.  If he denies the allegations of misconduct, he is given trial, and which his rights are scrupulously protected.  Should he be found guilty, the Bishop’s court requires the offender to effect restitution if such be practicable, or to make amends so far as the nature of the case allows; or, in cases of grave offense, formally withdraws fellowship from the guilty one, or excommunicates him.  The penalties never involve fines, deprivation of liberty, or levies on property; and the extreme judgment that can be rendered is that of excommunication from the Church, or, for lesser offenses, disfellowshipment.

An appeal may be taken from the Bishop’s court to the Stake Presidency and High Council, which tribunal possesses both appellate and original jurisdiction.  Appeals from the action of a High Council may be made to the First Presidency only, whose decision is final.  The Council of the Twelve Apostles is designated as the Traveling Presiding High Council of the Church, and they may officiate as a trial court anywhere within the Church; though this they do only in cases of very serious concern, or wherein Church members of different local units are involved, or as the First Presidency directs them to assume jurisdiction.

The purpose and basal plan of operation of the ecclesiastical courts was thus set forth by Joseph Smith, and the affirmation is authoritative through formal acceptance by the Church:

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct according to the rules and regulations of such societies, provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, neither to inflict any physical punishment upon them; they can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.  (Doctrine and Covenants 134:10).

That the courts of the Church in no sense assume to oppose or supersede the secular law is shown in a revelation given as early as 1831, wherein it is expressly required that if members of the Church commit crime, if they kill, or rob, or lie, they ‘shall be delivered up unto the law of the land.’  See Doctrine and Covenants 42.

We hold that in matters of difference between brethren, in which no specific infraction of the secular law is involved, and in offenses called ‘civil’ as distinguished from ‘criminal,’ it is as truly unworthy of members of the Church today as it was in Paul’s time that ‘brother goeth to law with brother;’ and that it stands to our shame if righteous judgment cannot be rendered among ourselves.  See I Cor. 6:5-7.”  (James E. Talmage, “Judiciary System of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” IE 22(6):498-499, Apr., 1919)

9-10 Sep.:  Concerning mode of ordination.

9 Sep.:  “Some of the Apostles met and discussed Prest. Smith’s speech on Peter’s denial of Jesus and that it was not the unpardonable sin, because have the Holy Ghost bestowed upon him [sic].  We think that it would have been better that this had not been put into a book for a text-book to the Priesthood. . . .

10 Sep.:  We met with the Priesthood committee and talked over some points in Prest. Smith’s book used as a textbook in the Priesthood quorum.  His believe that Peter’s sin would have been a sin against the Holy Ghost if he had received it before hand, but as he did not receive it until after the resurrection of Christ, his offense was forgiven him.  Also he holds that Judas not having received the Holy Ghost could not commit the unpardonable sin.  These two proposition was defended by Jos. F. Smith Jr. and David O. McKay and Rudger Clawson.  Prest Penrose felt they should be eliminated from the new edition.  The mode of ordaining was also objected to as opposed to the Book of Mormon and to the practice under all foregoing Presidents and Prest. J. F. Smith himself said that he made no objection to the old method as it was just as good.  There were several other points raised but it was agreed to print a new edition with and [sic] addenda printing the words of the President therein.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 9-10 Sep., 1919)

5 Oct.:  Confusion of roles of teachers and priests.

“What is the duty of the teacher?  As we read here in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which was given the day the Church was organized, it is the duty of the teacher to visit the homes of the people, to teach them, to see that there is no iniquity in the Church; that there is no fault-finding one with another, no backbiting, no false speaking one against another, and, more than that, to see that the members of the Church perform their duty.  That great responsibility rests upon the teacher.  He is to see that the members pray, that they fast upon the fast day, that they are paying their tithing in the season thereof, that they are attending their fast meeting in the ward, seek by week, and all these things are required of the teacher as he visits in the homes of the people.  And if the teacher does not see to these things, then the sin lieth at his door.

What are the duties of the priest?  The duty of the priest is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and administer the sacrament.  He is to visit the house of each member and exhort all to pray, vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties.  That is the duty of the priest.

Now the good bishops in the wards should see that their priests go into the homes of the people, and do this very thing, teaching the members in the spirit of prayer.  When they find an individual member of the Church who fails in any one of these particulars, it is the right of these teachers or priests to make the report to the bishop, the common judge.  However, they are to labor diligently, and with long suffering, in faith and humility, with these members who do not see the necessity of keeping the commandments of the Lord, and after they have done all in their power, and can do nothing further to bring the non-praying members to repentance, the common judge may cite them before him, and he has the right to take action against them for their fellowship.  Of course, our duty is to save souls.  We must not be hasty in casting any out.  So, I say, after the teachers or the priests have done all that can be done, then the drastic measures may be meted out.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, 5 Oct., 1919; CR Oct., 1919, p. 144)