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Prophetic AuthorityDemocratic Hierarchy and the Mormon Priesthood$
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Michael Hubbard MacKay

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043017

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043017.001.0001

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The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

The Authority of Peter, James, and John

(p.85) 6 The Kingdom of God
Prophetic Authority

Michael Hubbard MacKay

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores Joseph Smith’s overarching narrative of priestly power by identifying a continuous chain of authority back to Adam in Mormon scripture. A crucial component of that chain was the idea of administrative keys that link priestly authority among the New Testament apostles with priestly authority in Joseph Smith’s church. The chapter focuses on how an emerging narrative about Peter, James, and John determined Mormon administration and the ecclesiastical hierarchy. This apostolic narrative enabled Joseph Smith to empower the Mormon clergy with authority without compromising his unique position within the church as its president and prophet. On the one hand, Smith centralized power in himself, like a monarch over the kingdom of God. He alone held all of the keys of full church administration. On the other hand, he empowered regional parallel sites of authority of priests and high priests by distributing some keys freely to others, who also distributed them regionally. The chapter further explores the notion of the Mormon kingdom of God and how the apostolic mythos about Peter, James, and John enabled and maintained a long-lasting Mormon hierarchy. The chapter explores the mythos historically as an evolving narrative, to demonstrate how it came to represent the foundations of Mormon authority.

Keywords:   Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Hierarchy, Apostles, Priesthood, Clergy, Restorationism, Ecclesiology, Communal Religion, Democracy, Kingdom of God

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