Patriarchal Priesthood

So a long time ago, say maybe 15 years ago, I’m sitting at home one evening when the phone rings. It’s a young woman I don’t know, who is clearly distraught. She has just left her institute class for the night, and she was deeply troubled by something the instructor had represented in the class. “Go on,” I said.

He had taught his young charges that there are not two, but three orders of the priesthood. In addition to the classic Aaronic and Melchizedek, there is a third order, the Patriarchal. This young woman was a lifelong member and had never heard of such a thing, and was concerned that her instructor was making it up or something. So she wanted to get the straight dope from me.

She didn’t tell me who her teacher was, but I had a pretty good idea, and I knew him as a fine gospel scholar, who was unlikely to make anything up. So I told her two things. First, I said, take a deep breath and relax. Second, I frankly acknowledged that I hadn’t heard of a patriarchal order of the priesthood either. But I asked her to give me some time to look into it and get back to her, and she agreed. I wasn’t able to find much, but I did put my hands on a short article in BRM’s Mormon Doctrine, so I called her back and shared that with her, and that seemed to ease her concern about this phantom order of the priesthood.

The key text is this discourse from August 27, 1843:

There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.

1st. The King of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life…. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

The 3rd is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.

The Holy Ghost is God’s messenger to administer in all those priesthoods.

Of course, Joseph died before he was able to really articulate where he meant to go with this idea, which was a clear development from the two orders of priesthood he had articulated in the 1830s. But there are enough contemporary scraps from the time to get some idea of what he intended.

Apparently, the patriarchal priesthood is a priesthood received by those who are sealed together in the temple. Ironically, despite the name patriarchal (which apparently derives from the priesthood being associated with Abraham, one of the great patriarchs), this priesthood is held jointly by both the man and the woman who are parties to such a sealing. Of course, there is no office associated with this priesthood, and its principal implication appears to be to facilitate the sealing together of couples and families in the hereafter.

There aren’t a lot of resources on this topic, but there are a few, so I thought I would put up some links and then open it up to you to add your wisdom on the subject. This post will then constitute a place I can send people when this question arises in the future.

Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchal_priesthood

John Tvedtnes did an article for Meridian Magazine on the subject. But now that Meridian has redesigned its site, the article appears to be lost. But you can find the same material in his book, Organize My Kingdom:

http://books.google.com/books?id=dTPfTNkbWfwC&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=tvedtnes+%22patriarchal+order%22&source=bl&ots=V9XpLT654O&sig=yej6u_d8xrQudkdn7NO6G2JNYag&hl=en&ei=KOxeTJrgGIyesQOH-7GqCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCQQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

An essay by Robert L. Millet:

http://ce.byu.edu/cw/cwfamily/archives/1998/Robert.L.Millet.pdf

One thing I’ve noticed in the little commentary I’ve been able to find is that there is a tendency to want to simply incorporate this order into the Melchizedek priesthood, presumably to avoid freaking out students such as the one who called me years ago.

Please add your own information on this subject so as to make this a useful repository for future reference.

Comments

  1. Left Field says:

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism has an article by Lynn A. McKinlay.

  2. Kevin Barney says:
  3. Well today in primary somebody mentioned the “Ironic Priesthood.”

  4. Here are a couple offerings from Joseph Fielding Smith in a drive-by review of the first sources that came to mind:
    .
    ————————————-
    .
    PATRIARCHAL ORDER OF THE PRIESTHOOD
    .
    I glean these facts from Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
    .
    The first authority of Priesthood in the earth was Patriarchal. Adam was a patriarch, so were those who succeeded him. Being patriarchs, of course they were, as stated by Alma, high priests after the Holy Order. This Patriarchal (or Evangelical) order of Priesthood continued through the generations from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Moses. The revelation says:
    .
    It is the duty of the Twelve, in all large branches of the church, to ordain evangelical ministers, as they shall be designated unto them by revelation
    .
    The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.
    This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
    From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth;
    Because he (Seth) was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age. — D.C. 107:39-43
    .
    [Pres. Smith omits vv 44-52, which trace the continuation of this Patriarchal Order to Noah.]
    .
    (The Way to Perfection, p.72, published 1931)
    .
    ————————————-
    .
    PATRIARCHAL ORDER PART OF MELCHIZEDEK PRIESHOOD. The priesthood which prevailed from Adam to Moses was the Patriarchal Order, yet it was only a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood. All of the ancient patriarchs were high priests, but the direction of the Church in those days was by patriarchs.[fn D&C 107:39-57] After the time of Moses, when the Melchizedek Priesthood was withdrawn from Israel, this order as it is called, of Patriarchal Priesthood, did not continue. There came, then, the Aaronic Priesthood, with the prophets holding the Melchizedek Priesthood as high priests. The bestowing of this higher authority, however, ha to come by special designation; it was not generally given to the male members of the tribes.
    .
    After our Savir established his Church, he placed in it all the the officers as we have them today, with presiding high priests at the head, and apostles, patriarchs, high priests (the patriarch being a high priest)m seventies, and elders. All priesthood is divine authority, but it is divided into the two grand heads, Melchizedek and Aaronic, although we speak of the order of evangelist, or patriarch, and the order of the Levites. We could also speak of the order of high priests, or the order of seventies, or of elders, meaning the calling of those who hold these offices.
    .
    [italics shown as in the original].
    .
    (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol III, p. 104, published 1956)
    .
    ————————————-

  5. BTW, my father served faithfully in the bishopric but he sometimes became tongue-tied when conducting Sacrament meetings; he twice led the congregation in sustaining the advancement of young men from the office of teacher to “preacher.”

  6. Interesting set of thoughts. I’d comment more, but you’ve made me reflect and I need to reflect more before I have anything worth saying.

  7. Wow, I would absolutely love to know what the “Ironic Priesthood” involves! Perhaps it was designed for hipsters.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    There is a cartoon where in the first panel some teenage boys are drinking and hooting at passing girls, and in the second panel the next day are administering the sacrament.

    The caption to the cartoon is “Ironic Priesthood.”

  9. I treat Patriarchal Priesthood in my forthcoming book. Smith merged it into temple, but it predated the Nauvoo temple rites. Mostly people have thought of it as merged into Melchizedek Priesthood with the passage of time.

  10. Another semantic conundrum: marriage is referred to as ‘matrimony’, but the order of priesthood for sealing/marriage is not ‘matriarchal’ but ‘patriarchal’. What are the chances of getting Correlation to realign the semantics? :P Of course, with an all-male priesthood, we might end up with ‘patrimony’ instead….

  11. Artemis,
    It’s “matrimony” because according to Augustine, marriage was meant to make a woman a mother, that’s why the root words for marriage and mother are the same. The word had nothing to do with lineage being from mother or father.

  12. Quinn is the guy to ask.

  13. mmiles, thanks for the insight. Although, I wasn’t really serious nor was I even thinking of lineage. I was just thinking what fun it would be if we had a Matriarchal Order of the Priesthood….

  14. “Ironically, despite the name patriarchal (which apparently derives from the priesthood being associated with Abraham, one of the great patriarchs), this priesthood is held jointly by both the man and the woman who are parties to such a sealing.”

    I have heard the Patriarchal Priesthood referenced occasionally, both as you describe it above and as a way of claiming only men hold the Priesthood – but the only compelling explanation I have heard is the one you give. This is the main reason I believe endowed women really do “hold the Priesthood” – even if the administrative authority for ordinances currently lies latent (due to cultural norms) when they leave the temple.

  15. Although it has been defunct for a while, there used to be an Ironic Priesthood.

  16. The patriarchal priesthood, as I understand it, is basically the regular priesthood organized according to families rather than organized according to quorums etc. Elsewhere Joseph Smith says that all priesthood is Melchizedek (it’s not a different kind of priesthood, it is just a difference of organization). The reason it is associated with the temple is that it is in the temple that we are organized into a big family, everyone sealed together.

    This was talked about quite a bit in the early church. The idea was that we have quorums because so many people don’t have parents in the gospel but that in heaven we won’t be organized in quorums but in families.

  17. Better than a Moronic Priesthood.

  18. How I would have welcomed this discussion in RS today. The lesson was on the priesthood – the first question was “What are the names of the higher and lesser priesthoods.” The whole hour pretty well followed that type of question. Wanted to stick pins in my eyes to keep them open.

  19. Michelle says:

    Is this different from the patriarchal order? It sounds to me like it’s probably one and the same.

    If so, I like this simple explanation from Elder Cree L. Kofford:

    The gospel, which is called “the new and everlasting covenant,” includes many specific covenants, one being called “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” This title, or name, is simply another way of saying “patriarchal order.” Thus, that portion of section 131 could read: “And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into the patriarchal order of the priesthood.”

    Seems that is the way Robert Millet sees it, too. Brother Millet also calls it “the family order.”

    I guess I’m still not sure why the student freaked out. Is it because it had the label ‘patriarchal’? The irony there to me is that by definition the patriarchal order is only entered into via the sealing ordinance, which is a joint venture between man and wife.

    That article by Bro. Millet is worth a read. I like how he puts it, simply stating that “the patriarchal order is a partnership.”

  20. Kevin,

    I’m not all that familiar with how the patriarchal priesthood was interpreted in Nauvoo, which is what you seem to be referencing, but it seems to have been first restored in 1833 in connection with the office of Presiding Patriarch, and to have been further elaborated in 1835 in connection with the KEP/BoA and practice of giving patriarchal blessings. This was conceived as a lineal priesthood, passed from father to son. My impression is that all sons inherit the priesthood (and thereby the right and responsibility to give blessings to their own children), but only the firstborn (or eldest surviving) son could inherit the office of Presiding Patriarch over the Church.

    Although the concept was restored in 1833, of course, lineage and firstbornness were not new concerns for Joseph Smith. These were continual objects of fascination for him that are found in the earliest sources and revelations.

    Peace,

    -Chris

  21. I can’t provide any reference but somehow I’ve always thought that Patriarchal Priesthood has something to do with the fullness of the priesthood ordinance.
    Am I totally wrong?

  22. I can’t seem to find it now, but several years ago (1990s?), Elder Boyd K Packer gave a talk in which he explained that it is like the man has two keys. The first opens a vault door. Inside was a chest that required two keys to open. The man only had one key to fit it. The woman enters in with her key, and together they open the chest together.
    In this way, it explained the difference between the Melchizedek Priesthood and Patriarchal Priesthood. Sure wish I could find that talk for you now…

  23. William Schryver says:

    It is from the October 1993 address by Elder Packer entitled “For Time and All Eternity”. To this day, my wife and I refer to different duties as being either “one key” or “two key” jobs. For example, taking out the trash can to the street is a “two key” job.

  24. In my little knowledge of things, I always viewed the ‘Patriarchal Priesthood’ to be another word for ‘sex’ (or ‘baby-making’ or ‘the power of procreation’) since everything I’ve ever read about it (including ‘For Time and All Eternity’) always hinted that by a union of a man and a woman something was given (or opened).

    Could it be that the Patriarchal Priesthood is nothing other than the ability to bear children within the blessings of a temple marriage? Which, in that case I would have to ask if that level of the Priesthood wasn’t given to women who can’t bear children, or husbands that have a low sperm count.

  25. This is an excellent post. Like Stephen M, I need to think about it more before commenting.

  26. My only history with this is a priest’s quorum lesson where the teacher made some vague and mysterious references to a third “patriarchal priesthood”. I think the bishop shut down the discussion, and that was it. Since then, I recall reading one general authority mentioning the patriarchal priesthood, and saying that it was equivalent with the Melchizedek priesthood. So, I guess what I’m saying is, any insights I may have are based on third-hand conjecture and speculation…and that’s the gospel way :)

  27. “How does the current Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles measure up? -(c. 1980 or 1990)-100% of them are related in some way to current or former general authorities of the LDS Church. In the top 2 leading quorums – consisting of 15 men (The First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles), five of these men are directly related to each other. Four are related to each other by marriage. Four are directly related to former LDS Presidents. Five are directly related to former apostles. Two are married to wives who are direct descendants of former presidents. Five are married to wives who are directly related to former apostles. Seven are married to wives who are relatives of current general authorities or of their wives.”
    Is this what we are talking about???

  28. Since the 1990’s it hasn’t been so much a family club. By the way, to whom is President Monson related?

  29. IIRC, some of the founders of the FLDS were ordained patriarchs and they used this “patriarchal order” business to assert that the Church leadership, as members of the Melchizedek Order, had no authority over them and thus couldn’t prevent their solemnizing polygamous marriages.

  30. #17 Sally, you wouldn’t happen to live in Tx would you? We had the same lesson on Sunday and that was the first question.

  31. “There are references to a patriarchal priesthood. The patriarchal order is not a third, separate priesthood (see D&C 84:6–17; D&C 107:40–57). Whatever relates to the patriarchal order is embraced in the Melchizedek Priesthood. “All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to [the Melchizedek] priesthood” (D&C 107:5). The patriarchal order is a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood which enables endowed and worthy men to preside over their posterity in time and eternity.”

    from “What Every Elder Should Know – And Sister As Well”, Elder Boyd K. Packer, 1994

  32. could we expand the original caller’s concern and ask “how many priesthoods do we believe there are?” certain aspects of the temple seem to suggest that it’s not just the good guys who get access to such things–that we’re henopriesthoodists, or something. but perhaps at that point there are some semantic issues about what the word really means–maybe something more akin to an order of priestcrafthood?

  33. interesting discussion… i’d like to know what can be done to squash the persistant and oft publicly stated opinion that the women are so much better at XYZ that they don’t need the priesthood, and that the men are weaker and need the priesthood to bring them up to where the women are. I literally BARF inside everytime I hear that… including yesterday…

  34. I once heard that women didn’t need the priesthood because they could make babies and are very nice to cats and bunnies. Men, meanwhile crush and destroy things so we need the priesthood to keep us subservient.

  35. me and Chris (33)/(34) – Methinks you may be interested in this post and its comments: http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/07/26/mothers-heart-fathers-heart/

  36. larryco_ (32),

    The statement you quote from Elder Packer is one of only a couple of statements I’ve ever read that attribute the Patriarchal order to men only. In fact, the only person I’ve ever seen state that it is given to men exclusively is Elder Packer (although, having said this now, I’m sure there will be many corrections thrown at me). Given the numerous other statements that it is a shared priesthood, and Elder Packer’s own apparent aversion to any suggestion that women hold priesthood of any form, I’ve come to take this statement with a grain of salt.

    I do think it is important to recognize–as was pointed out already–that all priesthood is of the Melchizedek order. The Aaronic priesthood is but a subset of the Melchizedek order, and so it is with the Patriarchal order. The Patriarchal order is a subset without priesthood office, and with no priesthood ordinances. As far as I can tell, it is simply the rights, powers, and authorities (and maybe even keys) to preside over a family and receive revelations for the benefit of those in that stewardship.

  37. Benjamin’s comment #37 makes the most sense to me.

  38. Solicitor says:

    To follow up with #37, a question:

    Are women who officiate in ordinances of the Temple required to be married in the temple? Is this perhaps some kind of insight as to the question of women holding a form of, or being a member of an order of, the Priesthood, what the nature of that Priesthood (or order) is, and certain outward manifestations of it.

    Seems some confusion on the subject may be related to a conflagration of _the Priesthood_ with _an order_ of the Priesthood….it may be that these are separate things.

  39. Anson Call says:

    The Patriarchal order is a subset without priesthood office, and with no priesthood ordinances.

    This ignores the passage quoted in the OP in which Joseph Smith says the temple ordinances are associated with patriarchal priesthood. If the patriarchal priesthood is the priesthood organized by family rather than quorum, then the the “offices” are patriarch/matriarch and the ordinances are sealings of husband/wife parent/child.

  40. What I meant by “The Patriarchal order is a subset without priesthood office, and with no priesthood ordinances” I meant that receipt of the Patriarchal order doesn’t grant any authority to perform any ordinances. The sealings are performed by the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, as best as I can recall.

  41. Anson Call says:

    An example ordinance preformed by patriarchal priesthood is the father’s blessing. This comes through in the way Pres Kimball says it is the right and duty of every father “as patriarch” to give father’s blessings:

    “It is the right of every father and his duty as patriarch of his own family to give a father’s blessing to his children, and it is our hope that every father will give a sacred blessing to each of his children, especially as they are leaving home to go to school or on missions or to be married, which blessing should then be noted in the individual’s private journal” (October 1977 general conference).

    These days this does not extend to mothers, but I see the concept bleed through in statements like this one from Joseph Fielding Smith:

    A wife does not hold the priesthood with her husband, but she enjoys the benefits thereof with him; and if she is requested to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety. It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer to their children. . . . “(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., 1:, p.149)

    The idea of man and wife unitedly administering to their children makes sense to me in the context of patriarchal priesthood.

  42. A passage from Eugene England’s essay “On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage [Articles and Essays]” from Dialogue 20.4 (1987):

    “In ‘What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children About the Temple,’ President Benson lists three priesthood orders, the Aaronic, Melchizedek, and ‘patriarchal,’ pointing out that the third is ‘described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality’ (1985, 8). Just as the lower Aaronic (or Levitical) priesthood superseded by the Melchizedek when historical conditions or individual maturity warrant, so I believe the Melchizedek priesthood is a preparatory order to some extent superseded by the fully equal order that men and women receive when sealed in the temple. And though we are apparently not yet mature enough for God to inspire us to implement that order fully and administratively on earth, we should, it seems to me, try to imagine it for the future, at least in the celestial kingdom, and prepare ourselves for it by living it as fully as possible now.”

    ***

    A footnote in this section of England’s essay reads:

    “Joseph Smith preached on 27 August 1843 regarding three priesthoods: ‘The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.

    ” ‘The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Got to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.

    ” ‘The 3rd is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.’

    “This version, which appears in Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., _Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith_, 14th printing (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1964), p. 323, is, in turn, quoted from Joseph Smith, Jr. _History of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints_, B. H. Roberts, ed. 7 vols., 2nd ed. rev. (1949; rpt. ed, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1951), 5:555. This sermon was reconstructed from Joseph Smith’s diary for that date, kept by Willard Richards. The original text reads:

    ” ‘[The Melchizedek priesthood is] a priesthood which holds the priesthood by right from the Eternal Gods.—and not b[y] descent from father and mother

    ” ‘2d Priesthood, patriarchal authority finish that temple and god will fill it with power.

    ” ‘3rd Priesthood. Levitical.

    ” ‘Priests made without an oath, but the Priesthood of Melchisedek by oath and covenant’ (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps and eds. _The Words of Joseph Smith_ [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980], pp. 244-45).”

    ***

    D&C 131 could also possibly be interpreted as referring to the patriarchal order.

  43. @ Anson

    “To give a father’s blessing or another blessing of
    comfort and counsel, one or more worthy Melchizedek
    Priesthood holders place their hands lightly on
    the person’s head. Then the priesthood holder who
    gives the blessing:
    1. Calls the person by his or her full name.
    2. States that the blessing is performed by the authority
    of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
    3. Blesses the person as the Spirit directs.
    4. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.” (CHI, 42)

    That mothers were at least at some point encouraged to participate with a Melchizedek priesthood holder I’m not contesting. But those blessings were still administered under the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood and not the Patriarchal.

    @ Alyssa
    “All Priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 180).

    What’s more, describing the patriarchal order as a man and woman entering”into a covenant with God…to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality” implies that it is not a greater priesthood to be lived fully in the next life.

    Also, the Melchizedek priesthood is required to confer the Patriarchal. To imply that the Patriarchal is a higher order would seem to be similar to a priest ordaining an elder, would it not?

  44. Anson Call says:

    Benjamin,

    those blessings were still administered under the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood and not the Patriarchal

    Of course it says “by authority of the Melchizedek priesthood.” All priesthood is Melchizedek. You’re missing the point (strangely, since you are making it in your comments to others) that the patriarchal priesthood is not a different priesthood but the same priesthood under a certain organization and with specific and limited jurisdiction (the family).

  45. Like Sam above, I have papers forthcoming, one co-authored with Kris Wright on Female healing due out Winter 2011, and another due out Summer 2011 on adoptive sealings; both of these treat the idea of temple priesthood and its evolution with time.

  46. Anson Call says:

    Stapley, won’t you throw us a bone on this thread using a broad brush? I’d be interested as I eagerly await your paper.

  47. @Benjamin… Well, these ideas are Eugene England’s (not necessarily mine). I was just answering the call for more info and perspectives about the Patriarchal Order.

    That being said, if I were to hazard a guess about how the quotation you cited from Joseph Smith jives with what I posted, I’d probably want to look deeper into *when* he said the quotation you cited. You’ll notice that my citation comes in 1843, which was towards the end of Joseph Smith’s life. I think I actually may have had the same institute teacher that Kevin’s distressed friend had. (Only for some reason I wasn’t bothered by this info, I found it fascinating. Maybe the social equity implied by that doctrine appealed to my inner feminist.) In the lecture that I attended, the institute teacher argued that the revelation in D&C 107 (which states that there are only two priesthoods) came in 1835 many years before Joseph supposedly received the revelation about the third priesthood.

  48. Anson (45), I don’t know that I missed the point at all. You said, “An example ordinance preformed by patriarchal priesthood is the father’s blessing.” (42) I then pointed out that this was inaccurate, as father’s blessings are administered by the Melchizedek priesthood, supporting my original claim that the Patriarchal order does not authorize one to perform any ordinances. Then in 45, you seem to have changed your stance. So at this point, I’m not really sure what you meant in (42).

    Alyssa,
    my apologies for directing that at you. I still think England’s explanation fails, even when accounting for chronology. You are correct that the “All priesthood is Melchizedek” predated the introduction of the third order. If you look at Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (somewhere around 330 – 335) you’ll read about the three orders. There isn’t a lot on the patriarchal, but when Smith introduces it, he talks first about the Melchizedek, then the Patriarchal, and then the Levitical. I’m inclined to believe that he meant for the Patriarchal order to be a subset of the Melchizedek because 1) it makes more sense to present the three in descending order as opposed to set, superset, subset, and 2) it remains consistent with the earlier statement that all priesthood is Melchizedek.

  49. Anson Call says:

    Benjamin,

    A father’s blessing is an ordinance under the purview of the patriarchal priesthood. You suggested that this can’t be true because when it is done the person giving the blessing says it is done by the Melchizedek priesthood. Your suggestion relies on an assumption that the Melchizedek priesthood and patriarchal priesthood are different priesthoods, which is not correct. This is actually a very fundamental point about the patriarchal priesthood. If it were a third priesthood you might expect there to be occasions when someone says “by authority of the patriarchal priesthood” or you might expect there to be a time when the patriarchal priesthood is conferred by the laying on of hands similar to the way one receives the Melchizedek priesthood. Neither is the case. Instead, the patriarchal priesthood is just the same priesthood organized in a different way and with a specific scope. One has patriarchal priesthood by virtue of the fact that they have children sealed to them and responsibilities to care for and administer to them. If you are looking for someone to say “by virtue of the patriarchal priesthood” before you’ll say an ordinance falls under the purview of the patriarchal priesthood you are fundamentally misunderstanding the nature that priesthood and looking for it in the wrong way.

  50. Anson,

    I think you’ve greatly misunderstood what I have said. My original claim was that the Patriarchal order is a subset of the Melchizedek order in much the same way that the Aaronic is a subset of the Melchizedek. I never claimed it was a separate priesthood, but only a distinct set of rights, powers, and authorities contained within the Melchizedek.

    I also see no reason why the patriarchal order would necessarily have to be conferred by the laying on of hands. That pattern was established for the Melchizedek and Aaronic orders, but was never established for the Patriarchal. The laying on of hands is only a required component of an ordinance so far as it is proscribed by the governing bodies of the Church. Certainly, if instructed, any priesthood cold be conferred without the laying on of hands.

    Lastly, your argument that father’s blessings are under the purview of the Patriarchal blessing lacks logical consistency. A father who holds the Melchizedek priesthood but has not been sealed to spouse or child still has equal authority to give a father’s blessing as a father who is sealed to spouse and child. “Father’s blessings” may be given independently of Patriarchal priesthood. The only difference between a “Father’s blessing” and any “Other blessing of comfort and counsel” is that a Father’s blessing means a father blessing a child and any other such blessing may be any number of other relationships. But in the end, they are in fact the same ordinance.

    In the end, I get the sense that you’re using the logic
    Patriarchal order => patriarch => father

    I think that’s a limited view of the Patriarchal order that might have been better understood under the term Familial order.

  51. Is this priesthood the same as the apostolic priesthood

  52. I really like the way Jacob J (16) summed it up. The church can be organized in a Patriarchal fashion as it was in the early part of the Book of Mormon, where family is the governing structure. Or the church can be set up with different people having different callings, without respect to which family they are in. This happens later in the Book of Mormon.

    You can compare the “Patriarchal Order” that prevailed at certain times in the past to the “Ecclesiastical Order” that prevails in the church today. Someday, the ecclesiastical order will not be necessary and we will return to patriarchal order. It is all part of the Melchizedek priesthood.

    Thanks to all for the interesting comments above that have stretched my mind on this subject! It seems clear that these terms, like several other gospel terms, can have different meanings in different contexts.

  53. Robert Boylan says:

    Tvedtnes’ article is back online. It can be found at:

    http://meridianmagazine.com/ancient-world-mormon-doctrine/article/201?ac=1

  54. My favorite quote on the subject comes from Elder McConkie (who I know many of the blogging crowd doesn’t appreciate these days…) taken from 1998 Melchizedek lesson manual. “Joseph Smith says that in the temple of God there is an order of the priesthood that is patriarchal. ‘Go to the temple,’ he says, ‘and find out about this order.’ So I went to the temple, and I took my wife with me, and we kneeled at the altar. There on that occasion we entered, the two of us, into an ‘order of the priesthood.’ When we did it, we had sealed upon us, on a conditional basis, every blessing that God promised Father Abraham—the blessings of exaltation and eternal increase. The name of that order of the priesthood, which is patriarchal in nature, because Abraham was a natural patriarch to his posterity, is the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage.”

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