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6 Counterpoints to Women & Priesthood Essay (Part 8 of 9)

Dr. Margaret Toscano gives a summary of her essay in the “Gospel Topics Series” book edited by Dr. Matt Harris & Dr. Newell Bringhurst.  Toscano outlines 6 counterpoints to the Women and Priesthood essay.

Margaret:  I’ll quickly do my six areas where I think Joseph did confer Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood to women through their endowments. The first body of evidence I talked about are the contemporary statements he makes, where he gives a context for what he meant by those Relief Society speeches. That would include, also, women’s reactions to what he said. That’s where I bring in these statements by Bathsheba Smith, Eliza Snow and Sarah Kimball, where they say, “Joseph gave us all everything.  He gave us every order of priesthood through the temple.” So, that’s the first body [of evidence] and so I have a lot of quotes from that. The second is if you look at the complete discourses to the Relief Society, the most startling thing where he says, “You’re going to have been the order of the priesthood, just like in Enoch’s day, in Paul’s day,” referring to these other dispensations. But, if you look at the whole speeches, I think there’s, not just picking something out, proof-texting, either for or against, I think you can see that he really meant priesthood.

And again, he felt that he was giving them keys, and that the Relief Society should be this priesthood organization. So, the first one are contemporary statements by him and other women. The second thing is the complete text of the whole speeches to the to the Nauvoo Relief Society. The third one, and here is again, maybe where Jonathan and I really disagree. I think that Joseph Smith felt that when Elijah came to restore priesthood, it was not just about sealings, in the sense of sealings of families and couples and so forth to each other, but that he meant the sealing powers that were part of the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood. I think it’s really interesting that Joseph Smith made a statement where he said that the Church and the priesthood were not organized correctly until Elijah came. I think he saw, and I guess I have a quote here that I could read in a minute, if we want to come back to it, that the keys of Elijah, were really about the fullness of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, not just about sealing.  So, that’s the third body [of evidence.]

Check out our conversation to hear her other points….

Dr. Margaret Toscano outlines 6 counterpoints to the Women & Priesthood essay.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Margaret!

550:  Women’s Spiritual vs Ecclesiastical Priesthood

549:  Priest or Priestesses?

548: Quorum of the Anointed

547:  Keys of the Priesthood

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essay

 

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Women’s Spiritual vs Ecclesiastical Priesthood (Part 7 of 9)

LDS Priesthood encompasses both spiritual and ecclesiastical aspects.  Dr. Margaret Toscano compares and contrasts her position on female priesthood with that of Dr. Jonathan Stapley.  Where are they similar and where do they converge?

Margaret:  Both Jonathan and I say, yes, if you look at 19th century views on the priesthood, not just women in priesthood, but even the larger issue of priesthood, I think we agree on two things. The 19th century did view it differently than we do now. They had a different view. I think both Jonathan and I really like to focus on the spiritual dimension of priesthood, the notion of how people use the priesthood in kind of a private way. Jonathan emphasizes that a lot with looking at blessing rituals, and so forth. Those are the two areas where we agree that current views are different. Maybe the way I could say that is that I think that when people think of the priesthood in the Church now, they think of it as the priesthood offices that men hold, and then their callings, how they function within the church ecclesiastical structure. Most people think of the priesthood in those terms. So, even if you think of that definition that’s used in the Church of what is the priesthood? It’s the power of God. Right? I think all of us have heard of that.

Where we disagree, and maybe it comes from a different focus, is that I think that if you look at Jonathan’s book, he uses a lot of documents from the 19th century Utah period, to look at how did people think and use priesthood in the 19th century, again, not so much in the ecclesiastical sense, but kind of on a private level? So, that’s his focus.

Mine, the focus I’ve always had, is looking at Joseph Smith, and looking at everything that Joseph Smith said and did, and asking, “How did Joseph Smith view the priesthood?”  My work really does focus on Joseph Smith’s views on priesthood. In that sense, I believe that Joseph Smith, and here we’re going from kind of just general how he saw priesthood in general to how he saw it with women. I feel like Joseph Smith’s statements and actions mean that he felt that women not only were they supposed to have priesthood, which he began to give them, but also that he felt like that there was a Church function with that. Because of the priesthood that they received through the endowment, that they had various functions that they can perform within the Church. I think Joseph Smith felt like that the Relief Society was supposed to be women’s priesthood organization. So, that’s really where Jonathan and I very much disagree.  He sees the idea that, “Yeah, they had the spiritual authority and power, but it didn’t give them any justification for functioning within the Church structure.”  I think that’s the big difference. I think there are ways in which he and I overlap in the way we look at it, but I think that’s the kind of central difference.

Do you side with Jonathan or Margaret?  Check out our conversation….

Dr Margaret Toscano compares & contrasts her opinions on early Mormon priesthood with Dr Jonathan Stapley.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Margaret!

549:  Priest or Priestesses?

548: Quorum of the Anointed

547:  Keys of the Priesthood

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essa

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Quorum of the Anointed (Part 5 of 9)

The Quorum of the Anointed was a special quorum founded by Joseph Smith just prior to his death in 1844.  It was unusual in the fact that both men and women were members of the quorum.  Dr. Margaret Toscano discusses how this quorum should inform our understanding of women and priesthood.

Margaret:  There’s a book by Gary Bergera, and Devery Anderson called Joseph Smith’s Quorum of Anointed, which I think is really critical source material. In that, and there are some other sources [too], so it’s pretty well documented that on September 28, 1843, in the minutes of the Quorum of the Anointed, and there are several versions of it, that are given in that book by Anderson and Bergera. This is the quote: “Barak Ale” which, of course, was Joseph Smith “was by common consent & unanimous voice [vote] chosen president of the Quorum & anointed & ordained to the highest & holiest order of the priesthood (& Companion) ditto.” I love that little phrase “and companion ditto.” Of course, all scholars say the companion was Emma Smith. We know that she had received her endowment sometime in 1842. In 1843, though, she received this ordinance along with Joseph to be ordained. So that “ditto” is really important because the ditto means that she had the same thing, which means Emma Smith was by common consent and unanimous voice chosen president of the quorum and anointed and ordained [to] the highest and holiest order of the priesthood “and companion.” So was she just ordained to the highest order [of] the priesthood, or were they [Joseph and Emma] joint presidents? Because the man and woman had to have this together.

GT:  This is joint presidents of the Quorum of the Anointed. Is that what you’re saying?

Margaret:  Yes.

GT Okay.

Margaret:  I know. This is a radical interpretation. But even if you don’t say she was joint president, she was at least anointed and ordained to the highest and holiest order of the priesthood. But it was part of a quorum. This is kind of like my sixth thing [the Quorum of the Anointed]. I think that the Quorum of the Anointed in Nauvoo shows that Joseph Smith intended to have women function in Church priesthood. It was a quorum. It was the highest Quorum of the Church. It was organized in 1843. So, it only functioned for about a year. I argued way back in 1984 that it was a real priesthood quorum. Later, Mike Quinn, he also agreed, and he said they conducted all kinds of business there. But the women were present. Then as soon as Joseph Smith died, Brigham Young and the boys stopped holding the meetings of the Quorum of the Anointed. Certainly, [they] were not going to have Emma [as] a part of this. No, this is a really important thing. That was my sixth thing; this Quorum of the Anointed is a really important precedent for Joseph Smith’s different view.

Check out our conversation….

Dr. Toscano tells more about the Quorum of the Anointed.

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

547:  Keys of the Priesthood

546: Joseph’s Statements on Women & Priesthood

545: Critiqing Women & Priesthood Essay

544:  Strengths of Women & Priesthood Essay