Saturday, June 20, 2009


The origins of the Mormon Priesthood

Continuing my series on the arr
ival of the 1995 "Bedford Blessing" at Dereham Road Baptist Church. This series was written in 1997, but only now has been released for general viewing.

The Priesthood ! - A means, sometimes the means by which one can relate to God or by which blessing may come. Priesthoods are an ancient spiritual architecture, not one cast in stone or brick, but in the systems of relations between leaders and the lead. It is an architecture which exploits a rich complex of emotions and motif, and which has helped stabilise the relations between the shepherds and the sheep down untold ages. Mystique, gnosis, patriarchy, autocratic authority, spiritual inferiority, nervous expectancy, dependency, submission. These are some of the elements of the religious complex at whose heart is the underlying fear of the numinous and of the awe inspiring, holy, glorious and, without Christ, nameless God, from whose awful light the guilty seek safe refuge. In the stumbling, hesitant, and tense relations humanity naturally has with a holy God, any one able to confidently take up the dangerous task of interfacing with the divine is a boon, and attracts like a magnet the religiously insecure. Priesthoods in their various shapes and sizes, can be big business. But it is not all bad. Given the problems man has had relating to God, priesthoods have, in times past, been a legitimate and sometimes an only way to relate to God, and a means of blessing. They are, however, a way fraught with difficulty and the possibility of corruption. Human agency is always fraught with difficulty and the possibility of corruption as the Israelites discovered when Kings were anointed over them. But given the terrible state Israel had got itself into by the end of the Judges period it had little to lose. In fact they may not have even had a choice here: Given their moral and political condition, Israel ‘s desire to become a kingdom was less plan B than it was plan A, the fault being not so much in the plan itself but in the conditions which engendered it; it was the next logical step forward given their condition. They also experienced that peculiarly human dilemma of having to choose solutions to problems that themselves had problems. And so it is with human priesthoods. The general lesson is this: The givens of the human predicament are met with plans and covenants that, with varying degrees of effectiveness, treat the human condition, taking it forward from where it is; but given the sin of man, covenants employing human agency, whether of kings or of priests, are only a pattern and shadow of heavenly things, and therefore must decay and grow old and eventually pass away to be replaced by a covenant of divine agency; a perfect plan meeting the imperfect precondition just where it is: “In those days .. I will put My law in their mind and write them in their hearts.... And they shall no more teach one another, saying know the Lord - for all shall know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them”.

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