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Charismatic, Ecclesiastical, & Messianic Priesthood (Part 5 of 8)

The fullness of priesthood, what does that mean?  In our next conversation with Dr. Margaret Toscano, we’ll talk about messianic, ecclesiastical, and charismatic priesthood.  These aren’t terms we typically talk about in the LDS Church, but Toscano believes they are outside of our traditional Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood terms.

Margaret:  Then, in the same article, I talk about the September 28, 1843 anointing of Joseph Smith and Emma Smith, to the fullness of the priesthood. They’re anointed jointly and I saw that as an important key for women. The idea is, if you look at all the statements of Joseph Smith, that when you have the fullness of the priesthood, you really have the right to everything else. So what I proposed then, and this goes back to your question, is that in a way, it was almost like Joseph was saying that the women could sidestep all the going through all those stages, that as soon as you had the fullness of the Melchizedek, and of course, the temple also gives you the fullness of the Aaronic, that really, you have this fullness. I would see it like an umbrella like your little light things here, that the fullness of Melchizedek priesthood encompasses everything else. Now, this created a problem.

GT:  I can tell.

Margaret:  Because really what he did was he set up two mechanisms by which you obtain priesthood, and he never worked that out. So you have the church priesthood, actually, I would say that Joseph Smith through the stages had three different kind of stages of priesthood. There’s the charismatic priesthood. There’s ecclesiastical priesthood, the fullness of the priesthood, which he also called the Messianic priesthood. It encompasses everything. I think that he felt like there should be a relationship between the fullness and the ecclesiastical, but that he never developed that. So he left these remnants of two systems that can seem like they don’t correspond or you’re not sure what they do. We can come back to some of this because I want to go back to your other question. After he died, you had Brigham Young and Hebrew, C Kimball, and George A. Smith and all of these others who began to try to sort of bring this under control, both in terms of the Relief Society and in terms of how people view the endowment. It was like, “Oh, well, this thing over here, that’s the fullness of the priesthood that’s through the temple, it has to be under the control of the church, and that the thing that the women got, it was not really the priesthood. They’re just an auxiliary.”

What do you think about these different mechanisms for priesthood?  Check out our conversation….

Dr. Margaret Toscano uses some new terminology to describe priesthood.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Toscano!

369: Theological Case for Women & Priesthood

368: An Excommunicated Believer

367: Feminist Awakening at BYU

366: Toscano: From BYU to Utah

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Theological Case for Women & Priesthood (Part 4 of 8)

If I do say so myself, I think Dr. Margaret Toscano gives one of the most insightful discussions I have ever had on priesthood power.  This is really an amazing conversation, and then she asks why women should be denied priesthood blessings.  Whether you support female ordination or not, this is an amazing discussion you don’t want to miss. 

Margaret:  God was going to do this. He was going to transform the role of women in the church. He [Joseph Smith] says to the Relief Society, and as I read through the speeches carefully, I saw several really important things, the idea that God was going to make the women a kingdom of priests, that was one of them. Another one was that the Relief Society and I hope I can remember the language of this one, that he wanted to organize the Relief Society in the order of the priesthood. Now, you have to realize that when this later, in the History of the Church, and this started to happen, in like the 1840s and 50s after Joseph’s death, where these phenomenal things that he said to the Relief Society in Nauvoo were changed. The wording was changed so that the priesthood implications of this were all switched, so that the language was, “Oh, it’s not to the women”. When you read the teachings of the Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, the implication is that Joseph Smith is saying this to the Church, not to the women. The implication–and so when he says that the Relief Society is organized in the order of the priesthood, according to the order of the ancient priesthood, then it’s changed to they’re organized by the priesthood. I mean, that is significant. That is a very significant difference. It’s very interesting that—

GT:  Do we have a sense of who changed the wording, because I don’t think it was Joseph Fielding Smith, as old as he was.

Margaret: It was older than that. It probably, some of this started with George A. Smith in 1854.  Then B.H. Roberts–another thing that B.H. Roberts did is that Joseph Smith told the Relief Society, he said, “I turn the key to you.” That was then changed to, “I turn the key in your behalf. I’m going to get this picture because I want to show I an article that I did. This is really significant, this change. I’ve written tons about this.

What do you think?  Is Relief Society a quorum of priests? Check out our conversation…. 

Dr. Margaret Toscano makes a theological case for why women should receive priesthood.
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Feminist Awakening at BYU (Part 2 of 8)

Following her time as a student and teacher at BYU, Dr. Margaret Toscano had a bit of a feminist awakening.  What was it about BYU that led her to seek more about female spirituality? 

Margaret:  I’m working like crazy to finish this master’s thesis. Then right about the same time that I finished the master’s thesis is when I found the Ehat book with the Joseph Smith material and I’ll come back to that. I want to finish the professional trajectory, which really connects to this tension I felt between, what is it to be a good Mormon woman, and do my desires and ambitions conflict with that? What does God want of me? How does God view women in this bigger scheme of things? So really, that question is just kind of building up in me over the years, starting in the 70s, and feeling marginalized and ignored and invisible at BYU no matter what I did, and then getting married, and I’m having my kids, and then I’m starting to get interested in Mormon History and also in biblical studies and thinking about women within the biblical narratives. Then I do my thesis, and then I start really looking at these documents about the church. [The year] 1984 was when I did my first public speech on women and priesthood. I’ll come back to that. So that’s happening, but to go to my professional life, I’m really involved in Mormon studies and Mormon things from the 70s, the 80s, the 90s. I started my PhD in 1988, after I’d already published some things in Mormon Studies, because I realize and here it goes back to these tensions, that I really love teaching on the university level. I had been an adjunct teacher, already. So in 1988 I’d already been an adjunct teacher for like 10 years, with my master’s degree and I’m thinking I can never move beyond the adjunct position, if I don’t have a PhD.

I wanted to do that Ph.D., but it took me a lot of years, it actually took me 12 years to finish my Ph.D., for two reasons, well, three reasons. I was raising my family at the same time. Here again, I’ll sound really defensive. I actually never worked full time until my youngest was 12. Why do I feel like I have to say that? I’m a dedicated mother, right? But again, that’s what you’re put into–this kind of defensiveness. I’m taking my kids to school, going to a class, going home and pick them up, make them dinner, 11 to 2, work on my papers for my classes, trying to do this Ph.D. So it took me 12 years [because I was] raising my family. I was also still involved in Mormon Studies and my Ph.D. here at the University of Utah.

Check out our conversation…. 

Dr. Margaret Toscano tells why her time at BYU led her to embrace feminism.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Margaret!

366: Toscano: From BYU to Utah