Sunday, November 02, 2008

Priesthood and Priestcraft: Remembering and Forgetting

What is priesthood? Priesthood is the power and authority given by God to man to act in the name of God. Why is priesthood necessary? God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and has infinite time. Therefore, God could answer all of our prayers and do everything necessary for our salvation all Himself; without human participation. But that is not how God operates. Our Heavenly Father often answers prayers through the kindness of others. And when it comes salvation, Our Heavenly Father encourages participation by empowering people to preach His gospel, administer His covenants, and shepherd His flocks. When I say that God allows man to participate in the work of salvation, I do not mean that man contributes to the salvation of himself or anyone else. Only Christ saves, and only the Holy Spirit converts. But Our Father in Heaven blesses man to participate in His work and thereby, witness the power of God as it inspires and empowers others to turn to Christ. In this way, God is saving 2 people for the price of one.

So, how does this divine delegation relate to priesthood authority? There seems to be all kinds of missionaries and shepherds out there preaching all sorts of doctrine and leading people in all different directions. The unauthorized speaking and acting in the name of God has a name. It is called Priestcraft. Religion can create enormous wealth, fame, and influence; and therefore can be a very enticing profession to choose to take up. But, unauthorized acting in the name of God is wrong, is considered Priestcraft, and is acting in the name of God for ones own honor and not for the glory and reverence of God.

Counterfeit religion and priestcraft is not just the fault of the priest. Some people desire false religion. Why would a person desire to believe in a lie? For all its complexity, man is really a simple creature. On any given day, a person is faced with a series of experiences, challenges, and stressors and that person will deal with that stressor in 1 of 2 ways. Influenced by their physiology, and subconscious, they will decide to deal with the problem now (fight), or to deal with it later (flight). Fighting and flighting aren't inherently good or bad of themselves. The flight response can help us escape stressful situations in order to face them in the future when we are better able and better prepared to face them. However, in our society, people pay billions of dollars for chemicals, or activities that don't just help people flee from their problems, but cause them to temporarily forget that the problem even exists. The danger with forgetting is that when the effect or the chemical wears off, they are often less prepared to deal with the issue then before.

How does priestcraft relate to an inappropriate flight response and forgetting? The biggest problem and stressor that man faces is that of our mortality, and eternal destiny of our souls. Eventually, each of us will die, and stand before God to be accountable for what we have done in life. Since, God is perfect, and we are imperfect, that creates a huge problem. In response to that stress, some pay big bucks to others who develop sophisticated scientific and philosophical arguments to deny that God exists. Why would someone do that. They would do that for the same reason people pay for and take other mind-altering substances, those theories and philosophies help them forget the problem. But, when it comes to mind-altering substances, some people tend to prefer uppers to downers.

In a way, Karl Marx and other famous atheists are correct, Religion can be the opiate of the masses. However, I think atheism is closer being an ideological opium while, false religion is more akin to a theological crack cocaine. Because while atheism denies the existence of God, many false religions including false Christian religions deny the problem of sin or the imperfection of man.

Why is the denial of sin a problem? The Bible clearly teaches that all mankind are imperfect and have sinned and therefore have fallen from the glory and perfection of God. But many Christian religions preach that if you just say that you accept Christ as your Savior, that Christ will sweep all your sins under the rug and help you escape the consequences of sin. However, the problem here is that Christ and his Atonement are not just about grace and whited sepulchres. The Atonement of Christ has both the grace and the power to turn man from away from sin, purify him like silver, purge sin from him, and empower man to good works. Christ did not come to save man "in" our sins, but to save man "from" our sins. Christ does help us "escape" from the jaws of hell and the chains of sin. But after escaping, there is no forgetting on our part. Instead, Christ gives us both time, grace, and power to repent, overcome, and eventually stand before God one day both justified and sanctified. It may take the entire 1000 years of the Millennium to finish the work of purification and sanctification within me, but the Bible promises that at that day when I stand before God to be judged:

Matt. 5: 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

1 Jn. 3: 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

1 Jn. 4: 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

While priestcraft leads people to forget, the true priesthood and religion of God helps us escape into the safety of Christ's arms, but at the same time, to remember both the power and grace of Christ, which will prepare us to stand before God perfected in Christ.

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