PRIESTHOOD IN MORMONISM
The Mormon Church teaches that through the priesthood all worthy male members act on God’s behalf. It provides the authority to administer the ordinances and the power to receive revelations. In Mormonism, there are two priesthoods: the Aaronic and the Melchizedek.
The Aaronic priesthood is the entry point for boys twelve and older to begin their service in temporal matters. Mormonism teaches the higher Melchizedek priesthood, restored to Joseph Smith, governs spiritual matters. Each priesthood includes offices and duties that comprise the hierarchical organization of the Mormon Church.
PRIESTHOOD IN THE BIBLE
In the Old Testament, God established priests to represent the people. Sin created separation, so the priests offered daily sacrifices to bridge that divide. This continued year after year but it didn’t work. The blood of animals could not appease God’s anger.
Since the Aaronic priesthood did not possess the power to overcome this barrier of sin, God ended that priesthood by sending another priest, Jesus, in the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:3). This unique context is not only a picture of Christ’s heavenly descent, but also clear indication that we should not expect any others in this priesthood line. There is no need: “because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24).
The sacrifice he offered was also unique. “He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:27). Since he had no sins, he could take on ours. Only this sacrifice could satisfy God’s justice by paying the debt we owed.
Yet, what makes this priesthood stand out most is what it means for us. Melchizedek is literally translated, “King of Righteousness.” What a beautiful description! Jesus not only removed our sin, but gives us his righteousness. You possess all you need to enter God’s presence.
Tragically, Mormonism obstructs that access. First, it sets up an endless series of intermediaries. You need deacons to distribute the sacrament. You need a priest to get baptized. You need the bishop to give you a temple recommend. You need a high priest to perform ordinances. You need a patriarch to receive blessings. You need apostles and a prophet to provide continued revelation. This adds far more barriers than God ever established in the Old Testament!
Second, Mormonism replaces the perfect sacrifice with one that is far inferior. It effectively establishes a gauntlet course with obstacles you must overcome. You must keep your covenants and receive the ordinances. Your repentance must demonstrate you deserve forgiveness. You must prove your worthiness. Everything depends on you.
With so many barriers, it’s understandable why Mormons often describe God as distant and are never sure they will reach his presence.
The priesthood matters! The one who serves as your priest and the sacrifice he offers determines your destiny.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only mediator we need. (1 Timothy 2:5). His sacrifice removed every obstacle. This was made apparent on the cross. “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). He won for us clear and direct access to God. Nothing can now separate us from his love. He even intercedes on our behalf.
While Jesus is the only priest we need, the Bible does make mention of one more priesthood—yours. God describes all believers as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). Your role is easy. Rather than adding barriers, you show how they’ve all been removed. You simply point others still trapped in darkness to the light.
This is especially important as we witness to Mormons. Help them to see that a long line of middlemen further prevents our access to God. Emphasize how our efforts could never come close to the sacrifice Jesus already made.