FAIR is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of the doctrine, practice, and history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Question: Can the priesthood authority be re-conferred by heavenly messengers?
Those excommunicated members who still claim to follow the gospel outside the Church claim that ordinances do not need to be performed by one with legitimate Church authority, since "the required priestly authority is still available through the veil."
Thus, they believe divine messengers have come or will come to give them authority independent of the institutional Church.
To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here
Snuffer again contradicts Joseph Smith, who made it very clear that no ordinances would be performed by divine messengers once the authority had been conferred on mortals:
The angel told… Cornelius that he must send for Peter to learn how to be saved: Peter could baptize, and angels could not, so long as there were legal officers in the flesh holding the keys of the kingdom, or the authority of the priesthood. There is one evidence still further on this point, and that is that Jesus himself when he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus, did not inform him how he could be saved. He had set in the church firstly Apostles, and secondly prophets for the work of the ministry… and as the grand rule of heaven was that nothing should ever be done on earth without revealing the secret to his servants the prophets…. [S]o Paul could not learn so much from the [Page 196]Lord relative to his duty in the common salvation of man, as he could from one of Christ’s ambassadors called with the same heavenly calling of the Lord, and endowed with the same power from on high—so that what they loosed on earth, should be loosed in heaven; and what they bound on earth should be bound in heaven.
Snuffer's view is also contradicted by the Doctrine and Covenants:
28 But purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized, shall be damned. For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fulness of times. Which power you hold, in connection with all those who have received a dispensation at any time from the beginning of the creation; For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you (D&C 112:28-32, emphasis added).
The scriptures say that the authority regarding baptism and the associated keys have been given to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve for the last time.
Snuffer's claim that they have been lost, or that others will potentially need to receive them again from a divine messenger contradicts scripture. He argues against the Restoration that he claims to support.
Joseph Smith also taught directly against Snuffer's scenario:
An angel, said Joseph, may administer the word of the Lord unto men, and bring intelligence to them from heaven upon various subjects; but no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereunto; and the priesthood being once established on earth, with power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more…You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if any man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken away from this church.
Joseph Smith said that the Church would never lack priesthood authority, and that if someone claimed a heavenly messenger had brought them authority, they were either:
- deceived by Satan; or
- a liar.
- Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 468.
- Joseph Smith, "Baptism," Times and Seasons 3 no. 21 (1 September 1842), 905. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
- Orson Hyde, "Although Dead, Yet He Speaketh: Joseph Smith’s testimony concerning men being ordained by angels, delivered in the school of the prophets, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the Winter of 1832–3," Millennial Star 8 no. 9 (20 November 1846), 138–139, emphasis added.