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In Mormonism, the Patriarchal Priesthood (or Abrahamic Priesthood) is one of three types (called "orders") of priesthood described by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. The other two orders are the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Patriarchal Priesthood is an obscure and controversial order about which he provided little information. It is particularly important among fundamentalist Mormons.
Unlike the other orders of Latter Day Saint priesthood, Joseph Smith believed that the Patriarchal Priesthood descended from father to son by the principle of lineal succession. He considered it to be the order that was passed form father to son from the days of Adam, and it was the order of priesthood held by a Patriarch (Mormonism).
- Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah, who were High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head: a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a Prince over them forever. So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity, holding the keys of the patriarchal Priesthood over the kingdom of God on earth, even the Church of the Latter Day Saints". (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sec. 1, pp. 38-39).
- There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.
- 1st. The King of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life.... The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.
- The 2nd Priesthood is Patriarchal authority. Go to and finish the temple, and God will fill it with power, and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood.
- The 3rd is what is called the Levitical Priesthood, consisting of priests to administer in outward ordinances, made without an oath; but the Priesthood of Melchizedek is by an oath and covenant.
- The Holy Ghost is God's messenger to administer in all those priesthoods. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sec. 6, pp. 322-323.)
Thus, Smith's statements appear to point to this "2nd Priesthood", the Patriarchal Priesthood, as something to do with the temple. Some have argued that this patriarchal priesthood was part of the Endowment and sealing ceremonies practiced in Latter Day Saint temples, which was thought to give participants an "endowment" of priesthood power that has generational-lasting affects on both sides of the veil. Others have suggested that the priesthood was limited strictly to the office of Patriarch, or that the order related to the Sealing power. This power has been partially referred to by James E. Faust, of the Church's First Presidency in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in speaking about effects of the blessings promised to sealed parents of wayward children.
The Patriarchal Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not recognize a Patriarchal order of priesthood separate from the Melchizedek Priesthood. After the death of Hyrum Smith in 1843, his position as Presiding Patriarch was passed among Hyrum's descendents until 1979, when the Church placed the current Patriarch, Eldred G. Smith, on Emeritus Status , although he was not released from his position. The reasoning given was "because of the large increase in the number of Stake Patriarchs and the availability of patriarchal service throughout the world." Eldred G. Smith was designated "a Patriarch Emeritus, which means that he is honorably relieved of all duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of Patriarch to the Church" (Conference Report Oct. 1979:25).
Since the office of Patriarch is a Priesthood office to which one is ordained and a General Authority position to which one is called, Eldred G. Smith's ordination remains valid even if the position is not currently filled. His son (and likely heir in the position) has written a controversial book that some feel is critical of the Church about placing the current patriarch on Emeritus status. At least on three occasions, someone has acted in the office of "Acting Patriarch of the Church" who is not in the specified lineage. The church has been silent to whether or not the position will be filled in the future.
- Irene Bates and E. Gary Smith, The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch (1995) ISBN 0-252-02163-0
- Priesthood (Mormonism)
- Patriarch (Mormonism)
- Presiding Patriarch (Mormonism)
- Patriarchal blessing
- Lineal Succession (Mormonism)
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