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Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood (Part 3 of 9)

In a previous interview with Dr. Jonathan Stapley, he stated that when early Mormon women healed, it wasn’t through Priesthood.  Dr. Margaret Toscano disagrees with Jonathan’s position.

Margaret:  I think that there’s quite a bit of evidence to show that. Again, I think that the big difference [between Jonathan and me is how we connect God’s power with priesthood power]. And it’s funny. I said this in my 1984 essay [that Joseph’s view of priesthood is different than how the Church views it today]. I think today in the Church, when we talk about [that] it’s the power of God, we think about the organization. It’s the power of God, where you can have an office in the Church or have a calling in the Church or whatever. But we don’t see it as–and even though, obviously, we acknowledge that you have to have spiritual power– I don’t think we see it as this necessary power that is part of the process of sanctification. The more I studied Joseph Smith’s statements about priesthood, I became convinced that for him, priesthood was kind of this series of ordinances, and that the ordinances are both a conduit to connecting to spiritual power, but they’re also an outward expression of what should be happening in the interior for us. So, I mean, even if you think about the whole idea of the power of godliness, it’s the power to make you godly. I think that’s partly what it means. So, we kind of focus on the church ecclesiastical function.

Margaret:  I think Joseph Smith was more concerned with the spiritual cosmological aspect of it. So even though Joseph Smith didn’t use the term cosmological, he used, again, the fullness of the Melchizedek [priesthood], the priesthood of Elijah, the Messianic priesthood.  Those were terms that Joseph Smith used, and he connects that. He used the term the fullness of the priesthood. You have this full power of the priesthood to bring you into the presence of God, which, of course, the temple does symbolically. It represents that journey of the soul from the pre-mortal world to go back to God. I see the endowment of priesthood as being part of that.

Margaret:  I want to say one more thing about this, I think for Joseph Smith, he saw the fullness of the priesthood as residing in individuals, that when you are given priesthood, God plants his power in you. Whereas, I think in the Church, we think of priesthood as the power residing in the institution. Then the institution can grant you power to act within the Church structure. But I think Joseph Smith saw priesthood, it was an endowment of power. It’s called an endowment. You’re endowed with power, and it’s internal. Now, obviously, you cannot act. You can’t ordain yourself to be an elder or you can’t say, “No, I’m really called to be the bishop.” But again, that’s an ecclesiastical thing. But I think from Joseph Smith’s perspective, that that spiritual power was the center, and that was the most important part of it.

GT:  Well, that’s interesting, because I think the issue, especially when I was talking with Jonathan, but I think with the essay as well is, in modern times, we have kind of conflated priesthood with priesthood office. I know Jonathan’s point, and I think the essay’s point, too, as well is, women were not ordained teachers, priests, deacons, elders, high priests, etc. I think everybody can get on board with that. The problem is, this definition of priesthood–today we equate priesthood with priesthood office. But that’s not necessarily how Joseph viewed priesthood.

Margaret:  No, I don’t think he did.

GT:  When we say that women have priesthood, or even Joseph Smith, when women have priesthood via the endowment, or even you said earlier, baptism, which kind of surprised me when you said that. That use of the word is completely separate from priesthood office. So, is that the issue? Is [the issue] that modern people equate priesthood with priesthood office rather than spiritual power? I mean, is that a way to view this issue?

Margaret:  Well, I think that that’s part of the problem. But I think it’s more complicated than that in the sense that, again, if you go back to these women, Eliza Snow, Bathsheba Smith, Sarah Kimball–people called Eliza Snow, a High Priestess–I think that those women really did think that the Relief Society, which was a Church organization, it’s not as though they saw it as a separate organization, or it wasn’t part of the Church. But I think that they saw their roles in the Relief Society as a kind of church function. Now, again, that didn’t make them Elders in the Church, right? So that’s one issue. I do think that in those 19th century women, [they] saw more of an overlap than we ever would.

What are your thoughts?  Check out our conversation….

Margaret Toscano analyzes Joseph statements to the Relief Society concerning priesthood power.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Toscano.

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essay

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Women Have Priesthood Since 1843! (Part 8)

In 1992, Dr. Michael Quinn published an essay stating that women have priesthood, and have held the priesthood since 1843.  It was one of the reasons church leaders cited in excommunicating him.  This will be an interesting contrast to our conversation with Dr. Jonathan Stapley, who did not endorse the idea that women held priesthood.  Both Stapley agree that women don’t hold priesthood office, but Quinn is bolder in his claims than Stapley.

Michael: Women receive priesthood when it’s conferred on them in the endowment, and I think that men do too, but they’ve already received it. They’ve received it separately as young men as 12-year-olds to prepare them for the endowment. Women don’t need that kind of preparation. They are already spiritually endowed.

GT: At least that is the stereotypical thinking.

Michael: That’s the stereotypical view. And I’m willing to adopt that because it’s convenient to help people understand this issue that women have a preparation that is separate for the endowment than men do.

From my conversation with Stapley,

Jonathan:  there’s no question that men and women have equal access to the power of God. So, women are recognized healers, for example.  They participate in the healing liturgy. Women perform anointings, and they seal anointings and they heal the sick and bless for comfort from the earliest days. Joseph Smith says this is of course, entirely appropriate activity for the Relief Society sisters to participate in, any women. Every church president after that says it’s fine.  So this is a manifestation of God’s power. I would say that women receive liturgical authority to perform those acts, but Joseph Smith never characterizes that as priesthood.

Who do you think is right?

I asked Quinn what he thought about the Ordain Women movement.

GT:  Ok, so what do you think about Kate Kelly’s movement with Ordain Women?

Michael: I understand it. I don’t support it.

GT: You don’t support it?

Michael: No, I understand it and I don’t think it’s necessary for women to be ordained to an appendage.

GT: Why not?

Michael: Women don’t need an appendage to have the priesthood.

GT: They’ve already got the priesthood.

Michael: They’ve got the priesthood.

GT: But what about the idea, why couldn’t a woman become a bishop? Lead a congregation?

Michael: If those who preside over the appendages of these offices, which is what the president of the church does, he’s the president of the high priesthood. He could change that.

This was a fantastic conversation, and I hope you check it out!

Dr. Michael Quinn says women hold priesthood through the temple endowment.
Dr. Michael Quinn says women hold priesthood through the temple endowment.  Women have priesthood since 1843!

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Quinn….

188: Translation by Joseph Smith & James Strang (Quinn)

187: LDS Succession Crisis (Quinn)

186: Quinn on Hofmann (Quinn)

185: “The Church Makes No Distinction Between God & Mammon” (Quinn)

184: Would LDS Church Income Ever Support a Paid Ministry? (Quinn)

183: Are LDS Church Revenues really $50 Billion/Year? (Quinn)

182: Michael Quinn Discusses Deseret Hemp Company (Quinn)

If you would like a transcript of this interview,

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Sealing & Born in the Covenant: A Guarantee of Heaven? (Part 7)

We’re concluding our conversation with Dr. Jonathan Stapley.  We’re talking about sealings, especially child to parent sealings, such as born in the covenant.  In early Mormonism, these bonds were considered permanent (as Dr. Bill Smith mentioned.)  John D. Lee was sealed as an adopted son of Brigham Young, but Lee also participated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  What is his status?

Jonathan:  Brigham Young has to wrestle with this. Well, is this a persevering relationship? And faced with that reality, he says, “No. You guys have to…” He gets up. And he’s like, “Oh, you people that are sealed to me, yes indeed. You can’t get on my coattails. You have to do your work.” Right? But on the one hand, but on the other hand he’s saying, “my kids are totally in.”

We will also talk about the protestant ideas of Calvinism and Arminianism.  How does Mormonism fit in with those paradigms?

Jonathan:  Calvinism is this idea that, you know, to the modern perspective, once you are saved, you are saved always and you cannot fall from grace. And Arminians were like, well, you can certainly backslide.  Like you can be saved and then screw up then backslide. And the challenge is that for everybody, for every Christian, no matter what sort of soft theology you adhere to, is that we all know folks that are burning converts that are regenerated and have the faith. And that also ended up being just complete jerks and falling away, right? And the Calvinists would perhaps say, “Well, he never really was saved in the first place.”  He was never elect.  Right?

And the Methodist, the Arminian would say, well, he was certainly saved, but he then backslid and fell from grace. And the question is, how does that—he explicitly referenced, Joseph Smith explicitly references these two ideas and then places the sealing in between. And I think how one way to think about this is that sealings in as much as they materialized, heaven, they created, literally heaven.  It doesn’t exist anywhere outside of the creation of these sealed networks. If I am sealed into the network of heaven, I have a place there. And then if I backslide, so the discussion with these early sins being persevering, that once you are part of heaven, you cannot be taken away. You persevere in heaven. The idea is, at least in section 132, is that you can backslide, but your place in heaven is still there and there’s strong language that destruction of flesh and, all these, like warnings, right?

Are Mormon sealings considered permanent today?  Are our marriage bonds sealing our children into heaven?

Dr. Stapley discusses child to parent sealings, like born in the covenant. Does this guarantee a child in heaven?
Dr. Stapley discusses child to parent sealings, like born in the covenant. Does this guarantee a child in heaven?

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