Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism Unmasked/Chapter 9

Response to claims made in "Chapter 9: By Whose Authority?"


A FairMormon Analysis of: Mormonism Unmasked
A work by author: R. Philip Roberts

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Response to claim: 138 - "The priesthood of the Old Testament was brought to an end with the death of Christ"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that "The priesthood of the Old Testament was brought to an end with the death of Christ."

Author's sources: Hebrews 7:11-12

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Question: Do we do not need a mediating priesthood since it has been "fulfilled in Christ?"

The Bible repeatedly speaks of a priesthood authority outside of Jesus both before and after His resurrection

Some sectarian Protestants claim that Christians do not need a mediating priesthood. Is a priesthood not needed since it has been "fulfilled in Christ?"

The Bible repeatedly speaks of a priesthood authority outside of Jesus both before and after His resurrection, with John describing such callings just prior to the second coming.

Early Christian authors insisted too that high priests, prophets, bishops, elders, priests, and deacons with authority persisted among the Christians.

Efforts to deny the need for a formal priesthood seem to arise mostly out of theological necessity, rather than historical or biblical evidence.

This criticism usually comes from Protestant circles and usually involves an argument for some form of "the priesthood of all believers."

The critics' theological need to dispense with priesthood authority—since Protestantism cannot claim authority from either a restoration (which they deny) or a continuation (having broken with Catholicism)—leads them to ignore the clear evidence from the early Church.

As William Hamblin pointed out:

Why, if Christ has removed all need for human priesthood authority, did Christ order the lepers he healed to go to the Jewish priests for purification (Mark 1:44, Luke 17:14)? Apparently Christ believed that his miraculous powers of healing did not negate or supercede the priesthood authority of the Jewish priests. Possibly Protestants could argue that Christ had not yet ascended into heaven and replaced the Jewish High Priest. If so, why does Peter speak of a post ascension "holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5) and "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9) among Christians? Likewise John in Revelation speaks of the saints as "priests to his [Christ's] God and Father" (Revelation 1:6), and "priests to our God" (Revelation 5:10); in the resurrection there "shall be priests of God and of Christ" (Revelation 20:6). What odd statements for an infallible book to make if [the critics'] understanding of priesthood is correct.

Some of the earliest Christians also explicitly disagree with White's claims. The author of the Didache, (one of the earliest post-New Testament Christian documents, late first to early second century), states explicitly that "the prophets ... are your high priests" (13.1). Note the plural here: the prophets (profetais) are the Christians' high priests (archiereis). So, early post-New Testament Christians had prophets (a thing [James] White believes Christians shouldn't have) who were high priests (a thing [James] White believes Christians shouldn't have); and there were apparently simultaneously more than one high priest. [1]

Evidence after the New Testament

Wrote another author:

While there are few New Testament references to priests, other than Jesus Christ and converted Levite priests (Acts 6:7), Protestants should not assume that this office was abolished. The early church had priests along with bishops and deacons. Origen (ca. 240 A.D.) spoke of the church hierarchy in the 2nd century describing the priest's office as being between that of the deacon and bishop (Jean Danielou, "Origen", p.44-45, 49-50; Cel. 5,3,1; De Princ. 3,2,4; Hom. Luc., 35; Hom. Ez. 1,7) and Eusebius (ca. 300 A.D.) clearly distinguished between those holding the priesthood (i.e. bishops, presbyters or elders, priests, deacons, etc.) and the lay members both men and women. (Eusebius, History of the Church, 6:19, 23, 43; 7:30; 10:3, 4) Eugene Seaich observes that "documents from the early Church show that the Aaronic Priesthood did not immediately disappear from Christianity. 1 Clement (ca. 96 A.D.) divides the priesthood into High Priests, Priests and Levites. The latter were also called "Deacons" and according to Justin's First Apology (ca. 150 A.D.) were responsible for passing the bread and wine to those attending service" (Ancient Texts and Mormonism, p. 59). Though the title priest was rarely used in the New Testament, so also were similar priesthood titles such as pastor (Ephesians 4:11), evangelist (Acts 21:8); (2 Timothy 4:5), presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14), and seventy (Luke 10:1),(Luke 10:17). [2]


Response to claim: 138 - The author states that "God set the minimum age of the Aaronic Priesthood at twenty-five"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "God set the minimum age of the Aaronic Priesthood at twenty-five."

Author's sources: Numbers 8:23-25

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

God also states in the same verse that the Aaronic Priestood is only given to the Levites. Numbers 8:24 states, "This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation." Neither of these restrictions applies to the modern Church.

Response to claim: 138-139 - "the only Christian priesthood mentioned in the New Testament is the spiritual priesthood of every believer"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "the only Christian priesthood mentioned in the New Testament is the spiritual priesthood of every believer."

Author's sources: 1 Peter 2:5-9

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Question: Is there a "Priesthood of All Believers" which eliminates the need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority?

Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood

It is claimed that there is no need for unbroken lines of priesthood authority since the Bible teaches that all believers hold the priesthood. However, Peter's reference to the priesthood was drawn from the ancient Israelite views of the priesthood, a view in which only a select group hold the priesthood. Neither the Bible nor other early Christian writings support the idea that all Christians hold priesthood authority to govern the Church or administer its ordinances. Instead, this doctrine is a novelty necessitated by the protestant break with Rome.

Here, we examine some of the scriptural passages cited in defense of the concept of a priesthood of all believers.[3]

"A royal priesthood"

  • "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

This was the principal passage cited by Martin Luther in defense of a priesthood of all believers. What Luther failed to note is that Peter was actually referring to an Old Testament passage, in which the Lord told the Israelites through Moses,

  • "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6).

Yet of the Israelites present at the mount of revelation, only the Levites were chosen for priesthood service.

The Gospels and Acts

Based on the belief in the "priesthood of all believers," a Protestant minister often feels that the Bible (or God) has called him to work. But Christ made it clear that this is not the way it works. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-24).

Only a believer would prophecy in the name of Christ or, in his name, cast out devils. Yet the Savior said that he would cast out those he never knew. It is wrong to profess to do something in the name of Christ when one does not have the authority to do so. Note that Christ said that there would be "many" who would claim to have performed good works in his name who would be rejected, so this is not just an occasional person.

That specific authority was required to perform ordinances in the early Church is made clear by the story found in chapter 8 of Acts: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money" (Acts 8:14-20). Simon was not trying to buy the Spirit, but the "power" to "lay hands" on people so they could receive the Holy Ghost. This power is what we call "priesthood." Simon had already been baptized in the name of Christ, but this did not authorize him to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

At the last supper, Christ told his apostles, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you" (John 15:16). This ordination did not take place because they were baptized, but came after they had chosen to follow Christ. In Luke 6:13, we read that "when it was day, he [Jesus] called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." So only twelve of Christ's followers were chosen to be apostles. Mark gives more details concerning this event: "And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils" (Mark 3:13-15). From this, it is clear that the apostles received, at that time, "power" that other followers of Christ did not have. He later gave that same power or priesthood to seventy others (Luke 10:1-20).

The account in Acts 19:1-6 is also instructive on the concept of authority to baptize and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost: "And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."

These men (twelve in number according to verse 7), said they had been baptized "unto John's baptism," probably meaning by someone claiming authority from the John the Baptist, who had been killed by Herod Antipas long before the time of Paul. But Paul doubted the truth of this statement, knowing that John had told people of Christ who, coming after him, would baptize them with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11; John 1:29-34). So Paul taught them about Jesus, after which "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" and Paul "laid his hands upon them" for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Early Christian history

Christians in the first centuries do not seem to have endorsed the idea of a priesthood of all believers either—instead, this was a later idea developed by Luther to justify his break with Roman Catholicism, which claimed priesthood inheritance from the apostles.


Response to claim: 139 - The author states that "Mormon high priests do not offer any sacrifices, so they are not following the Old Testament pattern"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "Mormon high priests do not offer any sacrifices, so they are not following the Old Testament pattern."

Author's sources: Hebrews 5:1

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law, and did away with the need to offer physical sacrifices. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not claim to be following the "Old Testament pattern" in all things. To do so would mean that we would have to ignore Christ's sacrifice in favor of the Law of Moses. Instead, we understand the Christ made the ultimate sacrifice.

Response to claim: 140 - The author claims that 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 refers to "various ministries or gifts in the early church" and that it is "not listing specific offices of the priesthood"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 refers to "various ministries or gifts in the early church" and that it is "not listing specific offices of the priesthood."

Author's sources: 1 Corinthians 12:28

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

We disagree. 1 Corintians 12:28 reads: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

Response to claim: 140 - "Paul lists apostles first and prophets second, indicating their order of importance"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "Paul lists apostles first and prophets second, indicating their order of importance." He states that in Mormonism that the apostles "serve under" the prophet, which he claims is a "reversal of the biblical order."

Author's sources: 1 Corinthians 12:28

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

All apostles are considered prophets, seers and revelators. The designation of one apostle to be the president of the Church simply means that he is the one authorized to make final decisions after the deliberation of the Council of the Twelve and the First Presidency.

Response to claim: 140 - The author states that the only men who could be chosen as apostles were those who were an "eyewitness to the full ministry of Jesus"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that the only men who could be chosen as apostles were those who were an "eyewitness to the full ministry of Jesus, including his resurrection," and states that "the New Testament offers no evidence that others were later chosen to take the place of anyone else in the twelve."

Author's sources: None provided

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

In Acts 1:13–26, the apostles call a new apostle to replace Judas.

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphæus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

15 ¶And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.

18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.

21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

Response to claim: 140 - The First Presidency plus the twelve apostles is equal to 15 apostles. The author states that this is not the same as Jesus' twelve apostles

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The First Presidency plus the twelve apostles is equal to 15 apostles. The author states that this is not the same as Jesus' twelve apostles. The author states that that Mormonism has "too many apostles."

Author's sources: None provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

There is no biblical restriction on the number of apostles that may exist at one time. However, there are always only 12 apostles who are members of the Quorum of the Twelve at any given time.

Response to claim: 141 - The author claims that "bishop is not a separate office in the church but one of the elders"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that "bishop is not a separate office in the church but one of the elders."

Author's sources: 1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:7

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This is simply the author's interpretation of the Biblical passages. 1 Timothy 3:1 clearly defines "bishop" as an "office":

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Response to claim: 141- a deacon cannot be a 12-year-old boy, but must be mature men and "the husband of one wife"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that a deacon cannot be a 12-year-old boy, but must be mature men and "the husband of one wife."

Author's sources: 1 Timothy 3:8-12

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This is the result of some changes in the nature of priesthood offices. This is a letter with instructions given to Timothy from Paul, and is basically the equivalent of the church Handbook today, or a letter from the First Presidency with instructions/policies, which can be changed as needed. According to Brigham Young (JD 2:89, 1854):

When you have got your Bishop, he needs assistants, and he ordains Counselors, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, and calls them to help him; and he wishes men of his own heart and hand to do this. Says he, “I dare not even call a man to be a Deacon, to assist me in my calling, unless he has a family.” It is not the business of an ignorant young man, of no experience in family matters, to inquire into the circumstances of families, and know the wants of every person. Some may want medicine and nourishment, and to be looked after, and it is not the business of boys to do this; but select a man who has got a family to be a Deacon, whose wife can go with him, and assist him in administering to the needy in the ward. [4]

The original division in the priesthood was between temporal and sacred functions, with the Aaronic priesthood administering to the temporal needs (the remains of this function has the Bishop as the head of the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward). The shift to younger/older divisions happened after the requirements for Statehood removed the ability of the Church to function in the temporal realm. The functions of the Aaronic Priesthood were being subsumed under the Territorial and later State governments. That left the Aaronic Priesthood with nothing to do, and the shift provided different ways for the Aaronic Priesthood to have a function in the ecclesiastical realm.

Response to claim: 141 - "Teachers" must be "mature Christians" that are "able to teach others" rather than teenagers

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "Teachers" must be "mature Christians" that are "able to teach others" rather than teenagers.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The New Testament Student Manual 2014 states,

In Paul’s list of Church officers, he mentioned teachers immediately after apostles and prophets, which underscores the importance of effective teachers in the Church. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged all of us to improve our teaching skills:

“In this Church it is virtually impossible to find anyone who is not a guide of one kind or another to his or her fellow members of the flock. Little wonder that Paul would say in his writings, ‘God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers.’ [1 Corinthians 12:28.]

Therefore, according to Elder Holland, the "teachers" being referred to by Paul are anyone who is a "guide of one kind or another to his or her fellow members of the flock."

Response to claim: 141 - The author states the the LDS Church "does not have any pastors"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states the the LDS Church "does not have any pastors," and states that it is "inconsistent for Mormons to insist the words apostles and teachers are specific offices of the priesthood while denying that pastor or evangelist are priesthood offices."

Author's sources: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, 108-9; Ephesians 4:11

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

A Latter-day Saint bishop or stake president is the equivalent of a pastor in other churches. Elder Tad Callister stated,

The blueprint of the New Testament reveals other officers that constituted part of the organization of Christ’s Church: bishops (see 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1:7); elders (see Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5); deacons (see Philippians 1:1); evangelists (see Ephesians 4:11), meaning patriarchs; and pastors (see Ephesians 4:11), meaning such men as bishops and stake presidents who preside over a flock.[5]

Response to claim: 141 - The author states that "Evangelist" and "Patriarch" are not the same

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "Evangelist" and "Patriarch" are not the same.

Author's sources: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, 108, 170.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph Smith defined "evangelist" as "patriarch",

An Evangelist is a Patriarch. … Wherever the Church of Christ is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons. [6]

Response to claim: 142-143- The author claims that the Bible justifies a paid ministry

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the Bible justifies a paid ministry.

Author's sources: Numbers 35:7; Josh. 21:191; Timothy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:5-6; 1 Corinthians 9:11, 14; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Phil. 4:16, 18.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Question: What do the scriptures teach about paid ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ?

Having a paid clergy is not in and of itself a terrible thing. Problems arise when the issue of money becomes a greater motivator than the things of God

The scriptures mention circumstances in which a paid ministry is appropriate, and also provide several cautions about the practice.

Having a paid clergy is not in and of itself a terrible thing. Problems arise when the issue of money becomes a greater motivator than the things of God (and this can happen to any member). So the members support those who are engaged full time in the work of the Church if necessary, but we also do not have a system where one can simply choose to become one of these full-time workers (for example, by getting a degree and looking for a job as a clergyman). This lack of a professional clergy acts as one of the checks on helping to make sure that it is not the financial reward that drives those who serve in the church.

New Testament: "who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"

In general, the most explicit statement about it comes from 1 Corinthians 9:7-12:

7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

The King James language can be a bit archaic; the NIV translation of the last two verses (13 and 14) may be more clear:

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Most of the early members had a real distrust of paid clergy

Within the church, we often tend to forget that the context for the "unpaid" aspect of the church goes back to general distrust of paid clergy at the time the church was formed (in 1830), which stemmed largely from a Protestant view of Catholicism—so most of the early members had a real distrust of paid clergy.

Within the lifetime of Joseph Smith it became apparent that you cannot have a religious organization with individuals who are devoted to the work of that organization (full time) without finding a way to provide for their material needs (and there were swings of opinion as to the extent that the church could or should support individuals even in the first couple of decades). The New Testament verse that they used to justify helping support some leaders in the early LDS Church was Luke 10:7, whose language was reflected in D&C 70:12 –

Luke 10:7: “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”
D&C 70:12: “He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things;”

The Doctrine and Covenants Student manual notes:

In addition to his many responsibilities in the Church, Joseph Smith had a family, and he could not neglect them, although his responsibility was chiefly a spiritual one. Although not completely relieved from responsibility for his temporal needs at that time, the Prophet was told by the Lord to look to the Church for temporal support. Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented about those who are asked to give full-time service to the Church:

“All our service in God’s kingdom is predicated on his eternal law which states: ‘The laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.’ (2 Nephi 26:31.)

“We know full well that the laborer is worthy of his hire, and that those who devote all their time to the building up of the kingdom must be provided with food, clothing, shelter, and the necessaries of life. We must employ teachers in our schools, architects to design our temples, contractors to build our synagogues, and managers to run our businesses. But those so employed, along with the whole membership of the Church, participate also on a freewill and voluntary basis in otherwise furthering the Lord’s work. Bank presidents work on welfare projects. Architects leave their drafting boards to go on missions. Contractors lay down their tools to serve as home teachers or bishops. Lawyers put aside Corpus Juris and the Civil Code to act as guides on Temple Square. Teachers leave the classroom to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions. Musicians who make their livelihood from their artistry willingly direct church choirs and perform in church gatherings. Artists who paint for a living are pleased to volunteer their services freely.”[7]

Temporal support from the members is probably only part of what is implied in these verses, however. The members were encouraged to support and sustain the Prophet in every possible way.[8]

Church members have a particular sensitivity to issues surrounding paid ministries particularly due to admonitions in the Book of Mormon relative to a practices known as priestcraft

Perhaps the most explicit scriptural statement about this issue from a negative perspective comes from 2 Nephi 26:31 (cited above).

Church members have a particular sensitivity to issues surrounding paid ministries particularly due to admonitions in the Book of Mormon relative to a practices known as priestcraft, which is "that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion" (see 2 Nephi 26:29). It is warned against and decried repeatedly (see Alma 1:12,16, 3 Ne 16:10, 3 Ne 21:19, 3 Ne 30:2, D&C 33:4). For this reason, the idea of compensation for service seems contradictory to strongly held values of the Latter-day Saint community. However, it should be noted that priestcraft as it has been defined is a condemnation of intent (to get gain and praise, and not for the welfare of Zion), and not about an individual receiving support. Living stipends are not compensations for service, but recognition of a practical reality that individuals who dedicate their full time to Church service are sometimes unable to simultaneously provide for their own modest living needs.

The example of King Benjamin adds to the LDS value of self sufficiency of leaders in particular. Benjamin, while king, still labored for his own support (see Mosiah 2:14). This is a very admirable demonstration of humility on the part of the king. However, this example was being used in the context of his political position as king, and would be comparable to a President refusing to accept his salary for his service. It should not be used to condemn the practice of helping provide for the modest living needs of full time leaders who are unable to dedicate time to earning a living.

Many people of other faiths admirably desire to serve as clergy in their respective churches, and go through extensive training to do so

Many people of other faiths admirably desire to serve as clergy in their respective churches, and go through extensive training to do so. Most clergy live on subsistence level wages. Principles of priestcrafts apply equally to these people as to our own leadership. The scriptures denounce preaching the gospel solely from a desire to make money and get rich, or to defraud people (see 1 Peter 5:2). The Book of Mormon likewise defines "priestcraft" as teaching for the sake of getting gain while not seeking "the welfare of Zion" (see 2 Nephi 26:29. Likewise, many members of other faiths devote time to their churches without any monetary compensation. Certainly they follow the teachings of Jesus by so doing, and accomplish much good thereby.


Response to claim: 143 - The author claims that "Many of the Mormons are not aware that their apostles receive a salary"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that "Many of the Mormons are not aware that their apostles receive a salary."

Author's sources: The Encyclopedia of Mormonism

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

After making a biblical case for having a paid ministry, the author is now complaining that top church leaders receive a living allowance.

Question: Why do General Authorities receive living stipends?

Gordon B. Hinckley: "the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people

Some members of the Church are unaware that some General Authorities receive a modest stipend as a living allowance. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the Church has a professional ministry in the traditional sense.

Calls to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the First Quorum of the Seventy are calls to “for-life” positions, members of the Twelve serving full-time until they die and members of the First Quorum of Seventy serving full-time until retirement to emeritus status at age seventy. At the present time, calls to other Quorums of the Seventy do not require the same full-time commitment, so those who serve in these positions do not receive the living allowances.

The fact that this stipend exists has not been hidden. As President Hinckley noted in General Conference:

Merchandising interests are an outgrowth of the cooperative movement which existed among our people in pioneer times. The Church has maintained certain real estate holdings, particularly those contiguous to Temple Square, to help preserve the beauty and the integrity of the core of the city. All of these commercial properties are tax-paying entities.

I repeat, the combined income from all of these business interests is relatively small and would not keep the work going for longer than a very brief period.

I should like to add, parenthetically for your information, that the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people.[9]

The stipend has also been discussed many other times in the past

Conference reports published during 1940s and 1950s and 1960s always included financial reports; part of this was a "Church Disbursements," of which the first item read:

Office of the Corporation of the President: Including salaries of 49 employees: expenses of office; equipment; maintenance of the Administration Building; and the living allowances and traveling expenses of the General Authorities, all of which are covered by non-tithing income.[10]

In 1979 it was common knowledge for a non-member to wonder about why a successful banker would settle for the modest "living allowance":

In Honolulu a few months ago I boarded a plane, sat in my seat, and was strapping myself in when a man sat by my side. I introduced myself to him and extended my hand in a greeting of good fellowship. He was of Japanese extraction, spoke impeccable English, and explained that he was on his way to Boise, Idaho, to attend a bank directors’ meeting. Immediately I was curious.

“Which bank?” I queried.

“Citizens National,” he replied.

“Then you must be acquainted with Martin Zachreson, who is mission president in Southern California for the Mormon Church.”

“Yes,” he said. “ I wondered why he would leave the position of chairman of the board of a successful bank to serve as a mission president for a mere living allowance.”

As you can imagine, that opened a door that I was anxious to walk through. So I asked, “May I explain to you?”[11]

We have seen above President Hinckley's discussion in the mid-1980s.

In the early 1990s, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (prepared in conjunction with the Church) noted:

Unlike local leaders, who maintain their normal vocations while serving in Church assignments, General Authorities set aside their careers to devote their full time to the ministry of their office. The living allowance given General Authorities rarely if ever equals the earnings they sacrifice to serve full-time in the Church.[12]

In 2011, the Church's official magazine noted:

Serving as a mission president is both a challenging and a spiritually exhilarating three-year assignment. In dedicating themselves to this call, many couples essentially put their old lives on hold, including their jobs and families.

The interruption to professional employment can in some cases mean financial loss. While the Church provides mission presidents with a minimal living allowance, the couples usually have the financial means to supplement that allowance with their own funds.[13]

In a 2013 manual for Church teens, the text indicates:

In our day, General Authorities of the Church give up their livelihoods to serve full-time, so they receive a modest living allowance—enough for them to support themselves and their families.

Why is it appropriate for Church leaders who are called to full-time service to receive compensation for their needs?[14]

If there were no stipends, only the wealthy could serve

If the Church did not provide living allowances, then only those who were independently wealthy would qualify for Church service. Some critics would doubtless be troubled by this scenario, and would probably then claim that the Church exalted wealth and personal prosperity, and would not allow any without it to serve.

Many Church General Authorities come from respected professions from which they make a substantial living

Dedicating themselves full time at the sacrifice of substantial careers, these leaders live modestly, work tirelessly, keep grueling travel schedules, and continue doing so well past an age when others retire. They are also demonstrably men of education and accomplishment; one can hardly claim that they were unsuited for work in the world given their accomplishments prior to being called to full-time Church service.

Michael Otterson, formerly head of Church Public Affairs, observed:

I can hardly believe it when I hear people question the motives of the Brethren for the work they do, or when they imply there is somehow some monetary reward or motive.

Let me share the reality. Not all the Brethren have been businessmen, but most have had extraordinarily successful careers by the time they are called to be an apostle. As President Spencer W. Kimball once pointed out, the ability to lead people and an organization is a more-than-helpful attribute in a Church of millions of people, especially when combined with spiritual depth and a rich understanding of the gospel. Because several have been highly successful in business careers, when they become apostles their stipend and allowances may literally be less than a tithe on what they previously earned.

Some of the Brethren have been educators. Elder Scott was a nuclear physicist, Elder Nelson a heart surgeon. Several were highly successful lawyers. Right now we have three former university presidents in the Twelve. President Boyd K. Packer was also an educator by profession, although in his spare time and in his earlier days he loved to carve beautiful things out of wood. That sounds curiously related to another scripturally honored profession — that of a carpenter.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be called to the Twelve? In most cases you have already had a successful career. You know you will continue to serve the Church in some volunteer capacity, but you have begun to think of your future retirement. The First Presidency and the Twelve, of course, do not retire. Neither are they released. With their call comes the sure knowledge that they will work every day for the rest of their lives, even if they live into their 90s, until they literally drop and their minds and bodies give out. Their workday begins early and does not end at 5:00 p.m. The Twelve get Mondays off, and those Mondays are frequently spent preparing for the rest of the week. If they have a weekend assignment, they will often travel on a Friday afternoon. Periodically, even though in their 80s, they face the grueling schedule of international speaking conferences and leadership responsibilities.

What about when they are home? I have the cell phone numbers of most of the Brethren because I sometimes have to call them in the evening, on weekends or when they are out and about. I’m not naïve enough to think that I am the only Church officer to do so. So even their downtime is peppered with interruptions. I invariably begin those calls by apologizing for interrupting them at home. I have never once been rebuked for calling. They are invariably kind and reassuring, even early in the morning or late at night.

Their primary time off each year is from the end of the mission presidents’ seminar at the very end of June through the end of July. And while this time is meant as a break, most of the Brethren use this time to turn their thoughts, among other things, to October general conference and preparation of their remarks. During Christmas break they do the same for April conference. Every one of them takes extraordinary care and time in deciding on a topic and crafting their messages. The process weighs on them for months as they refine draft after draft.

This is not a schedule you would wish on anyone. Yet they bear it with grace and find joy for some overwhelmingly important reasons — their testimony and commitment to be a witness of the Savior of the world and their desire to strengthen His children everywhere. They would be the very first to acknowledge their own faults or failings, just as we can readily point to the apostles of the New Testament and see imperfect people.[15]

In 1996, the stipend was in the neighborhood of $50,000 per year. In 2014 it was increased from $116,400 to $120,000

In 1996,[16] the church altered some of the responsibilities given to General Authorities. Prior to this point in time, they also served on corporate boards of church-owned companies and for these positions they received a stipend. At that point in time, some of the financial information was disclosed, indicating that the stipend was in the neighborhood of $50,000.00 a year.

To give a sense of proper comparison, US Department of Labor statistics list the 1996 average salary of a civil engineer at $52,750, that of a computer programmer at $50,490, and that of the average junior college teacher at $49,200. Therefore, the living allowance, which provides for most of the normal day-to-day expenses of a full-time authority and his family (including house payments, personal transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, etc.), is in line with that of a professional employee. It is far lower than the large management salaries that might be expected for someone with the skills that these General Authorities must have and the responsibilities that they must shoulder.


Response to claim: 144 - Church finances are not made public

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author complains that Church finances are not made public.

Author's sources: Not provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Question: Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) not provide public disclosure of its financial data?

The Church complies with all legal requirements for reporting income, business profits, and donations

Some have claimed that the Church ought to provide full disclosure of its financial records to members or interested on-lookers.

Believing members typically believe that their tithes and offerings are consecrated gifts to God, and do not feel that they need a detailed accounting of their use.

That said, the Church complies with all legal requirements for reporting income, business profits, and donations. These laws vary by country and political jurisdiction. But, the Church has no duty to provide more information than that required by law.

Providing "full disclosure" would not provide much more information than is available now without considerable time and expense

"Full disclosure" is a nice slogan or buzz-word, but those who advocate for it do not seem to realize the difficulties with it, or the fact that doing so would not provide much more information than is available now without considerable time and expense. Many critics would also likely be impossible to satisfy on this front, and complaints would then turn to micromanaging and Monday-morning quarterbacking Church expenditures.

Financial experts discuss these and other issues here:

Accusations that the Church does not provide "full disclosure" are often intended to cast questions on the honesty of the Church or its leaders

These accusations are often intended to cast questions on the honesty of the Church or its leaders. Similar strategies are employed in other such complaints, such as:

For a detailed response, see: Mormonism and church integrity/City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City }}


Response to claim: 145 - baptism does not need to be done "by someone holding a special priesthood"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that baptism does not need to be done "by someone holding a special priesthood," and that it is simply "a symbol of one's identification with Christ and is not a necessary requirement for salvation."

Author's sources: Acts 16:30-34

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Bible talks of the authority required to perform ordinances in the name of Jesus Christ.

Question: What does the Bible teach about priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observes all the Biblical principles taught about priesthood

There is much more about the priesthood that is contained in the scriptures. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observes all the Biblical principles taught about priesthood, including:

  1. That the Priesthood is the authority for man to act in God's name.
  2. The priesthood is given directly from God, though Jesus Christ.
  3. That Christ was not the only one to have the higher priesthood.
  4. Christ ordained the 12 Apostles with the priesthood.
  5. The Apostles ordained others with the priesthood.
  6. The church is identified as having the priesthood.
  7. The priesthood is necessary to act in God's name.

When Christ was on the earth during His mortal ministry, He set up a specific organization

When Christ was on the earth during His mortal ministry, He set up a specific organization (called the Church).

Does it make sense that if Jesus Christ organized a Church, that the true Church would have the same positions today? What are some of the offices or positions in the church Christ established?

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:13)(emphasis added)
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:(James 5:14)(emphasis added)
11 And he [Jesus Christ] gave some, apostles; (12) and some, prophets; (Ephesians 4:11)

(12 Apostles collectively, and the one leading the church with his counselors -- Peter, James, and John)

and some, evangelists; [i.e., Patriarchs in the modern LDS Church] and some, pastors [i.e., Bishops, Stake Presidents in the modern Church] and teachers;

("Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48)

  • of the saints

(the members of the Church -- interesting that they are called Saints, just as we are called Latter-day Saints today.),

  • for the work of the ministry

(The administration and performing the ordinances of the Church),

  • for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13)

(Even though all Christians claim to believe in Christ, and the Bible, there certainly is no unity of faith or doctrine, therefore these offices are still needed.)

  • and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

(unto a perfect man—NOT some incomprehensible being as the creeds declare.)

  • 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)

(The creeds came by councils of men, not a singular pronouncement of revelation by a prophet of God, as all other scripturally based doctrines are. The creeds directly contradict scripture. The creeds are not declared to be scripture. The creeds have not been declared to have been given by revelation. The creeds came about by political power struggles. Hence, the creeds are a wind of doctrine.),

  • by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14)
  • But speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 4:15)

(Without prophets who are regularly receiving inspired direction from the Lord, the church will be led by men and not by Jesus Christ)

True teachers will have priesthood authority from God

So how can we tell true teachers? First, they will have authority (priesthood) directly from God. Christ was given the priesthood authority from God the Father.

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son

to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:26-27.)

The works that Christ performed were by this priesthood authority:

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (Mark 1:27)

Christ passed on this very same authority to His apostles.

1 THEN he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)(emphasis added)

This authority is necessary in order to preach the gospel.

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14) (emphasis added)
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:22)(emphasis added)
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2:7)

The apostles ordained others with this authority:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee...(Titus 1:5) (emphasis added)

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.(Acts 14:23)(emphasis added)

This authority was passed directly from God the Father, to Jesus Christ, to the Apostles, to the Elders, and to others. It was a priesthood which any worthy man could have, if called. It was also necessary for the establishment of the Church. Christ left this priesthood authority on he earth when He left, so that the Church could still function.

For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.(Mark 13:34) (emphasis added)

In fact, the church would be known as the true church because of the priesthood, for so the church is described in scripture.

This priesthood authority is sacred and cannot be bought.

18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he

may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.(Acts 8:18-20)

We cannot choose this priesthood authority for ourselves.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.(John 15:16)

You have to be called of God to obtain the priesthood authority

As shown above, you can't buy it, you can't take it upon yourself, and you can't choose for yourself to have it. So how can we obtain the priesthood?

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

How was Aaron called? He was called by Moses—as God instructed Moses—in other words, Aaron did not decide to accept this for himself, but was called by Moses, who was instructed by the Lord, who has authority over him.

13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. 14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: 15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. 16 Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. (Exodus 40:13-16)

Priesthood authority must be given by God

Finally, the question must be asked of anyone who claims to preach the gospel and proclaim its doctrines, where do you get your authority to speak and act in the name of God? Many people claim that they receive their authority from the Bible. However, that cannot be, for the Bible has no priesthood authority, it is a book and cannot perform any ordinance, it cannot choose you as it cannot make decisions, nor can it ordain you as it can not perform any actions. Seminaries and Universities have no priesthood authority, for their purpose is to grant educational degrees, whose requirements are developed and designed by men. Priesthood Authority comes only from God.

LET every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.{Romans 13:1)


Response to claim: 145 - "Joseph Smith supposedly restored the original temple ceremony of the Old Testament"

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "Joseph Smith supposedly restored the original temple ceremony of the Old Testament."

Author's sources: Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 780-1.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph Smith was indeed inspired to restore something genuinely Christian and genuinely ancient

Question: Do modern temple rituals have analogues in early Christian practice?

Joseph Smith was indeed inspired to restore something genuinely Christian and genuinely ancient

Latter-day Saint temple ritual, though it has some points of contact with nineteenth century ideas, also seems to have selected precisely those elements with analogues in early Christian practice, suggesting that Joseph Smith was indeed inspired to restore something genuinely Christian and genuinely ancient.

Given the sacred nature of LDS temple worship, this wiki article will avoid the citations of specifics. Instead, we include a list of useful articles and books which the interested reader can consult. Those who have familiarity with the LDS temple ceremony will easily be able to discern the parallels to which the authors allude.

Hugh Nibley


Response to claim: 147 - The author states that Paul condemned "endless genealogies" and that this contradicts the idea of performing temple marriages for the dead

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author states that Paul condemned "endless genealogies" and that this contradicts the idea of performing temple marriages for the dead.

Author's sources: Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Bible does not forbid genealogies: It rejects the use of genealogies to "prove" one's righteousness, or the truth of one's teachings.

Question: Does the Bible condemn genealogical research?

The Bible rejects the use of genealogies to "prove" one's righteousness, or the truth of one's teachings

Critics charge that the Bible condemns genealogy, and therefore the Latter-day Saint practice of compiling family histories is anti-Biblical, often citing 1 Timothy 1:4 or Titus 3:9.

The Bible does not condemn all genealogy per se. Rather, it rejects the use of genealogy to "prove" one's righteousness, or the truth of one's teachings. It also rejects the apostate uses to which some Christians put genealogy in some varieties of gnosticism.

Latter-day Saints engage in genealogical work so that they can continue the Biblical practice of providing vicarious ordinances for the dead

Latter-day Saints engage in genealogy work so that they can continue the Biblical practice—also endorsed by Paul—of providing vicarious ordinances for the dead, such as baptism (See 1 Corinthians 15:29) so that the atonement of Christ may be available to all who would choose it, living or dead. See: Baptism for the dead

The Bible clearly does not reject all uses of genealogy

This can be seen through its many genealogical lists, including two such lists for Jesus Christ Himself. (See Matthew 1:1–24 and Luke 3:23–38.)

The condemnation of "genealogies" in Timothy and Titus likely came because:

  • the Christians perceived a Jewish tendency to be pre-occupied by "pure descent" as a qualification for holding the priesthood. Since only pure descendents of Levi could hold the priesthood, there was endless wrangling about one's pedigree—since Paul considers the Aaronic Priesthood to have been superceded by Christ, the great High Priest like Melchizedek (see Hebrews 5), this probably strikes him as pointless.
  • some Jewish scribes and other teachers claimed that their "traditions" were directly descended from Moses, Joshua, or some other prominent leader, and thus superior to the Christian gospel.[17]
  • some gnostic sects had involved accounts of the descent of the Aeons (up to 365 "generations" in one scheme) and other mystic or pagan variations thereon.[18]

Since all these genealogies were either speculative or fabricated, they could cause endless, pointless debate.[19] Rather Paul wants the faith (in Christ) which builds up ("edifying") testimonies and lives.


Response to claim: 147 - The author claims that Paul was not advocating the practice of baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29, and that he was only emphasizing resurrection

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Paul was not advocating the practice of baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29, and that he was only emphasizing resurrection.

Author's sources: 1 Corinthains 15:29

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

This is the author's own interpretation of the scripture.

Question: Does the practice of baptism for the dead have ancient roots?

There is considerable evidence that some early Christians and some Jewish groups performed proxy ordinance work for the salvation of the dead

The most obvious of these is 1 Corinthians 15:29:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Attempts to shrug this off as a reference by Paul to a practice he does not condone but only uses to support the doctrine of the resurrection are indefensible. Paul's statement makes no sense unless the practice was valid and the saints in Corinth knew it. This is easily demonstrated if we just imagine a young Protestant, who doubts the resurrection, who goes to his pastor with his problem. The pastor answers him, saying, "But what about the Mormons who baptize for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?" You know what the young doubter would say. He would say, "Pastor, they're Mormons! What's your point?"

In fact, we know that baptism for the dead was practiced for a long time in the early church. As John A. Tvedtnes has noted:

... historical records are clear on the matter. Baptism for the dead was performed by the dominant church until forbidden by the sixth canon of the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397. Some of the smaller sects, however, continued the practice. Of the [Cerinthians][20] of the fourth century, Epiphanius wrote:
“In this country—I mean Asia—and even in Galatia, their school flourished eminently and a traditional fact concerning them has reached us, that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized.” (Heresies, 8:7.) [21]

Thus, baptism for the dead was banned about four hundred years after Christ by the church councils. Latter-day Saints would see this as an excellent example of the apostasy—church councils altering doctrine and practice that was accepted at an earlier date.

Tvedtnes continues:

In early Judaism, too, there is an example of ordinances being performed in behalf of the dead. Following the battle of Marisa in 163 B.C., it was discovered that each of the Jewish soldiers killed in the fight had been guilty of concealing pagan idols beneath his clothing. In order to atone for their wrong, Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish high priest and commander, collected money from the survivors to purchase sacrificial animals for their dead comrades:
“And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachmas of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection: for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:43–46.) [22]


Response to claim: 148 - temples became unnecessary after Christ and that they were replaced by the atonement of Christ

The author(s) of Mormonism Unmasked make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that temples became unnecessary after Christ and that they were replaced by the atonement of Christ.

Author's sources: Hebrews

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Question: Was the temple obsolete after Christ?

There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord

Some Christians charge that Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection meant that the temple was to be removed from Christian worship—the Atonement made the temple superfluous. Therefore, they criticize the LDS for persisting with temple worship. Some claim that the veil in the temple becoming rent in twain after the crucifixion of Christ indicates that the temple was no longer to be used.

There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord, and the receipt of prophetic calls.

It is not surprising that Christians have since down-played the importance of the temple, since most do not have one. No one would want to admit they are missing an important part of the gospel. But, if Paul and other apostles valued and honored the temple, why do critics attack the Latter-day Saints for doing the same?

BYU Professor William J. Hamblin wrote:

Unfortunately for [critics] it is quite clear that the New Testament apostles continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple after Christ's ascension (Acts 2:46, 3:1-10, 5:20-42). Even Paul worshipped there (Acts 21:26-30, 22:17, 24:6-18, 25:8, 26:21). Paul is explicitly said to have performed purification rituals (Acts 21:26, 24:18), and prayed in the temple (22:17, cf. 3:1); he claims that he has not offended "against the temple," implying he accepts its sanctity (25:8). Indeed, Paul also offered sacrifice (prosfora) in the temple (21:26, cf. Numbers 6:14-18), a very odd thing for him to do if the temple had been completely superceded after Christ's ascension. Finally, and most importantly, Paul had a vision of Christ ("The Just One" ton dikaion) in the temple (Acts 22:14-21), paralleling Old Testament temple theophanies, and strongly implying a special sanctity in the temple, where God still appears to men even after Christ's ascension.[23]

Hamblin elaborated further on Paul's vision of Christ in the temple during which he received his prophetic call:

Ananias says Paul will "see the Just One." (Acts 22:14)
Paul then goes to Jerusalem (Acts 22:17)
"When I [Paul] was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance" (Acts 22:17)
Then he sees Christ/The Just One (Acts 22:18)
Christ tells him to leave Jerusalem (Acts 22:18) and go preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).[24]

Hamblin then illustrates that Paul continued to offer "sin offerings" in the temple after his conversion to Christanity:

Paul’s prosfora was participation in the fulfillment of a Nazarite vow taken by four men (Acts 21:21-26). The sacrifices required to fulfill this vow are described in Numbers 6:13-18. They include making a “sin offering” (Numbers 6:14). Therefore, Paul’s prosfora included a sin offering. (See Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed, p. 443-8.) Furthermore, Christ’s sacrifice is called a prosfora in Hebrews 10:10,14,18, and is directly correlated to the temple sin offerings (Acts 10:3-9). Given all this, it is rather blatant special pleading to claim that Paul’s prosfora in the temple did not include a sin offering.[25]

One respected non-LDS scholar notes the connection between certain biblical language and the temple concept:

In general, any cultic activity to which the biblical text applies the formula 'before the Lord' can be considered an indication of the existence of a temple at the site, since this expression ... belongs to the temple's technical terminology.[26]


Notes

  1. Dr. William Hamblin, "Tract Made Without Evidence". Hamblin responds to James White's (of Alpha & Omega Ministry) e-tract, "Temples Made Without Hands" (22 September 1999). off-site
  2. Michael Hickenbotham, "Answering Challenging Mormon Questions," Horizon Publishers, 1995. off-site
  3. Part of this wiki article originally derived from John A. Tvedtnes, "Is There a Priesthood of All Believers?" FairMormon link. Due to the nature of a wiki project, it has since diverged from the source material, due to other editors' additions or alterations.
  4. Brigham Young, (1854) Journal of Discourses 2:89.
  5. Tad R. Callister, "What Is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?," CES Devotional for Young Adults (January 12, 2014}
  6. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 151.
  7. Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report (Apr. 1975), 77.; or "Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice," Ensign (May 1975), 52.
  8. https://www.lds.org/manual/print/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/sections-21-29/section-24-declare-my-gospel-as-with-the-voice-of-a-trump?lang=eng
  9. Gordon B. Hinckley, "Questions and Answers," Ensign (November 1985), 49.
  10. This example is from Conference Report (6-8 April 1945), 18.
  11. Royden G. Derrick, "The True Value System," BYU address (15 May 1979).
  12. Marvin K. Gardner, "General Authorities," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992).
  13. Heather Whittle Wrigley, "New Mission Presidents Blessed for Exercise of Faith," Liahona (December 2011). See also an on-line "Church News" feature which reproduces this material from 1 July 2011.
  14. Unit 15: Day 4, D&C 69-71," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (Salt Lake City, UT: Intellectual Reserve, 2013).
  15. "FULL TRANSCRIPT: Michael Otterson addresses FairMormon Conference," lds.org (7 August 2015).
  16. Lynn Arave, "LDS programs evolve over the years," Deseret Morning News (30 September 2006).
  17. George H. Fudge, "I Have a Question: How do we interpret scriptures in the New Testament that seem to condemn genealogy?," Ensign (March 1986), 49.
  18. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, 1811-1817, New Testament, "1 Timothy 1:4" & "Titus 3:9"
  19. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, eds., The Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), 353.
  20. The source erroneously refers to the "Marcionites" instead of the "Cerinthians".
  21. John A. Tvedtnes, "Proxy Baptism," Ensign (February 1977), 86. off-site
  22. John A. Tvedtnes, "Proxy Baptism," Ensign (February 1977), 86. off-site
  23. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 15h03), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link (All quotes have been edited to insert hotlinks to scripture references.)
  24. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 12h47), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
  25. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairboards.org (30 September 2006 15h52), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
  26. Menahem Haran, Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School (Eisenbrauns; Reprint edition, 1985[1979]), 26.