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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1966

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1966.” You can view other years here.

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1966:    Jan.:  Can man see God without the Priesthood?

“Question:  I would appreciate an explanation of a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants which is as follows:  [D&C 34:19-24]

Answer:  If you will look at the date of this revelation, you will discover that it was given in September 1832, which was two years after the organization of the Church and several years after the appearance of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Therefore, permit me to emphasize this fact:  There is no law or commandments which declares that the Father could not appear to a man in person when the Holy Priesthood was not among men on the earth.  In this day when the divine authority is here and men are appointed to officiate in its ordinances, there is no occasion for the Father to come to any man who has no divine authority.  At a time when the priesthood is conferred, and there are authorized servants who bear divine authority, there could hardly arise a time when the Father and the Son should have occasion to appear to any man who was without that authority.

There is one thing, hoever, that is of the greatest importance.  The divine law has always been that there should be at least two witnesses to every manifestation of vital importance.  It is written in the book of Deuteronomy:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.  (Deut. 19:15)

The Savior also said:

[Mt. 18:15-18]

How wonderful it would be if this counsel of our Savior were universally followed and, when differences arise between brethren, they would take time to sit down calmly and consider their differences in the spirit of charity, humility, and prayer.  It has occurred many times that a trivial matter could have been easily settled among brethren by a calm and humble discussion of differences in the spirit of prayer.  Many a heart is aching and many a friendship has been permanently broken because the power of Satan has entered into the hearts of men and brethren.”  (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 69:15, Jan., 1966)

22 Sep.:  Which officers are to give counsel.

“We repeat the counsel sent to you under date of December 19, 1951:

[Verbatim repetition of the 1951 letter]”

(First Presidency Circular Letter, 22 Sep., 1966; xerox)

23 Sep.:  Discontinuance of missionary farewells.

“Effective immediately we ask that you discontinue any further scheduling of missionary farewells.  Those farewells which already have been scheduled and for which programs have been arranged may be held, but any further scheduling of farewells should be avoided.

We also ask that you discontinue the printing and distribution of programs dealing with missionary departures together with newspaper notices of departing missionaries.

We request that you counsel families against holding receptions for departing missionaries.

The bishop or branch president should invite the departing missionary to speak in one of the sacrament meetings, not as part of a farewell program, but as a sacrament meeting speaker concerning whom no special notice or publicity is given.

The bishop or branch president should accord the same privilege of speaking in sacrament meeting to young men who are going into military service, at which time the bishop or branch president might appropriately call the attention of the departing servicemen and those attending the sacrament meeting to opportunities to teach the gospel by example and precept while in the service.

We recognize that this policy will result in discontinuance of the practice of taking up collections at the door for departing missionaries.  In place of this we encourage the bishop or branch president to urge members to contribute to the ward or branch missionary fund from which missionaries may be assisted with travel and other expenses.  Of course, individuals should be left free to make personal contributions directly to departing missionaries.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 23 Sep., 1966; xerox)

Nov.:  The Power of the Priesthood.

“Priesthood is inherent in the godhead.  It is authority and power that has its source in the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

We speak of certain powers and prerogatives possessed by the President of the United States, of rights and privileges vested in Congress, of power held by the Supreme Court of the United States: and the source of such authority we easily comprehend.  Ultimately the origin centers in the people as an organized body.  In seeking the source of the priesthood, however, we can conceive of no condition beyond God himself.  In him it centers.  From him it must emanate.

Priesthood being thus inherent in the Fathe, it follows that he alone can give it to another.  Priesthood, therefore, as held by man must ever be delegated authority.  There never has been a human being in the world who has had the right to arrogate to himself the power and authority of the priesthood.

As an ambassador of any government exercises only authority that has been given him by his government, so a man who is authorized to represent Deity does so only by virtue of the powers and rights delegated to him.  However, when such authority is given, it carries within limitations the privileges of a ‘power of attorney,’ by which one is empowered by another to act in another’s stead.  All official action performed in accordance with such power of attorney is as binding as if the person himself had performed it.

Priesthood is a ‘principle of power.’  To form a mental picture of a principle in its abstract form is difficult, if not impossible.  We can interpret it only as it is expressed in human action.  A principle is that something which is inherent in anything, determining its nature.  I have already said that priesthood centers in the Almighty.  Its very essence, therefore, is eternal.  As it finds expression in life, it manifests power.

We can liken the power of priesthood to being as potentially existent as an impounded reservoir of water.  Such power becomes dynamic and productive of good only when the liberated force becomes active in valleys, fields, gardens, and happy homes.  So the priesthood as related to humanity is a principle of power only as it becomes active in the lives of men, turning their hearts and desires toward God and prompting service to their fellowmen.

Strictly speaking, priesthood as delegated power is an individual acquirement.  However, by divine decree men who are appointed to serve in particular offices in the priesthood unite in quorums.  Thus, this poer finds expression through groups as well as in individuals.  The quorum is the opportunity for men of like aspirations to know, to love, and to aid one another.  ‘To live is not to live for one’s self alone.’

Male members of the Church twelve years of age and over have a place in the quorums–twelve deacons, twenty-four teachers, forty-eight priests, ninety-six elders, seventy seventies, and high priests gathered under the ecclesiastical group in each stake.  Where we do not have that number we have groups.  In every ward we have deacons, teachers, and priests, and in the stakes, the elders, seventies, and high priests.

Now, each quorum has a duty to perform.  The presidencies have a responsibility to sit in council with quorum members and to teach them their duty–the quorum work.  That is the duty of the quorum–not the bishop, not the stake presidency, unless it is the priests or the high priests quorum.

For a quorum to function, there must be an organization of the Church.  In the history of God’s dealing with men, individual prophets have held the Holy Priesthood at times when there was no regularly organized Church on the earth, but never under such a condition has there been a quorum of priesthood organized.  The Church, therefore, is the means through which the authority of the priesthood can be properly exercised and administered.  Whenever the full authority of the priesthood is upon the earth, a church organization must be maintained.  Contrariwise, there can be no true Church without the divine authority of the Holy Priesthood.

The world is full of organizations and governments of various kinds and of churches of many denominations, but only as each possesses an element or elements of eternal truth and abides by that truth will it persist.  Man-made organizations are continually springing up, existing for a while and then dying.  Only the Church possessing the eternal power and authority of the Holy Priesthood and abiding therein can endure eternally.

Just preceding and following the year 1830, many religious, educational, and economical organizations sprang up as remedial elements offered to a socially and religiously sick world.  They flourished for a time, then failed.  These were followed by others that also proved ineffective in alleviating the ills they sought to cure.

In that same year, however, through an unlearned and unknown youth, God re-established an organization that has endured and that will endure forever simply because of the divine power by which that Church was organized–the power of the priesthood after the order of the Son of God.  To this church we may apply the words of one who speaks of ‘God’s truth an faithfulness, which are like the ocean, vast, fathomless, sublime, the same in its majesty, its inexhaustible fullness, yesterday, to-day and forever; the same in calm and storm, by day and by night; changeless while generations come and pass; everlasting while ages are rolling away.’

There are two conditions that should always be considered when the priesthood is conferred.  The first of these is the individual’s worthiness to receive it.  The second is the service that he can render to the Church and to his fellowmen.

The Creator is the eternal and everlating source of the priesthood; he alone directs it.  It is a glorious privilege and blessing for a man to possess the priesthood.

A man who is thus in communion with his God will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant in defense of right; he will find the priesthood a never-failing source of happiness–a well of living water springing up unto eternal life.”  (David O. McKay, “The Power of the Priesthood,” IE 69:958-959, Nov., 1966)

Nov.:  How long have membership records been kept?

“Q–How long has the Church kept records of its members?

A–Since the Church was organized in 1830, but the membership record system as we know it today came into existence in 1941.  Originally each branch or ward kept a list of its members.  When one moved out of a ward, his name was merely scratched off the list.  Later, membership cards were given to members.  When a person moved he presented his card to his new bishop, who would keep it until the person moved again.”

(“How Does the Church Keep Track of its Members?” IE 69:960, Nov., 1966)

28 Dec.:  Home teaching in ward priesthood meetings.

“Pursuant to action of The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, the last regular ‘Ward Priesthood Meeting’ (see first paragraph, Page 16 Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook, 1964) held each month during the first eight months of 1967, is to be devoted to promoting Priesthood Home Teaching.  The number of lessons in the regular study course has been reduced to accommodate this program.

At this meeting there will be no separation into departments.  All bearers of the Priesthood, Melchizedek and Aaronic, are to meet and remain together.

The Church ‘Priesthood Home Teaching Committee’ will provide a course of study to be followed in these meetings.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 28 Dec., 1966; xerox)

29 Dec.:  New AP and Adult AP handbooks.

“Within a few days you will receive copes of a new Aaronic Priesthood–Adult handbook and a new Aaronic Priesthood–Youth handbook.  These will be shipped separately from this office, so they may not arrive in the same package.

Because of the new concepts and procedures involved in these two handbooks, we would recommend that you have your Aaronic Priesthood–Youth committee and your Aaronic Priesthood–Adult committee make a special point to study these two handbooks very carefully.  Each committee might even be asked to make a report to the other members of the high council on the contents, changes, etc. of each program.”  (Presiding Bishopric Circular Letter, 29 Dec., 1966; xerox)