Friday, June 4, 2010
"Power" or "Authority"
In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority. It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed. The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
In contrast, the Lord's ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
"And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you." (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)
It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was "power" and not "authority." Consider the difference. Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has "power" from the Lord.
Is there a difference between having the "authority" to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the "power" to baptize as conferred by Christ? If there is, then what is that difference?
Good questions to ponder. Particularly as you consider President Packer's timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today's church in his recent General Conference address, "Power in the Priesthood."