Mormonism is a works based faith, of this there is no doubt. We’ve written in exhaustive measure how the Church keeps members busy, so busy it’s hard to find private alone time to actually sit in silence in order to read and study the Bible.
Our submission here is case in point. There are literally hundreds of administrative roles to fill in the Church and many of those roles take as much as forty hours of work each week for each member. While they’re busy filling their respective roles they’re also holding down full time jobs in the secular world and raising larger than average families.
Our objective in this article is twofold. We want to give a clear picture of how the Church hierarchy works and compare their organization with the original Christian church in New Testament times. The Church maintains they’re a restoration church, meaning they’ve re-instituted the way the apostles and early believers assembled, worked and interacted within the body of Christ. But is this true? Let’s take a look at how the early church operated and the roles of prophets, apostles and disciples.
The original twelve apostles served as the founding teachers for Christianity’s first generation of believers with Jesus being the cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20. Unlike Mormon apostles, being an apostle in the early church didn’t entail an ecclesiastical hierarchy, nor was there a set of presidents and/or counselors.
We see in scripture that Jesus gave gifts to the church and the first of those gifts was apostles – Ephesians 4:11-12;
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Therefore, we see how the body of Christ was built upon the foundation of the apostle’s teachings and they were specially commissioned to get the church functioning.
The qualifications for being an apostle in the early church were very specific.
One had to be a witness of the resurrected Christ – 1 Corinthians 9:1
You had to be specifically chosen by Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit – Matthew 9:9, 10:13; Mark 2:14, 3:13-19; Luke 5:27-29, 6:12-16; Acts 1:13-26, 9:15; 1 Cor 15:7
You had to have the ability to perform signs and wonders – Acts 2:43, 2 Corinthians 12:12
Uniqueness of Their Calling
We also need to take special notice of how the apostles argued for the uniqueness of their position; they laid the foundation of the teachings in public discourse, the miracles they performed and scriptures they wrote. It’s been 2,000 years and we’re not still working on the foundation, furthermore they told the Christians to remember their teachings. 1 John 5:11-12, 1 Peter 1:25, 2 Peter 3:1-2, Jude 1:17, 1 Thess. 2:13, Acts 6:2.
Endowed with Inspiration
Because the apostles were endowed with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to write infallible scripture they were the only ones qualified. This prevented and secured against all error – John 14:26, 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21.
We can know the office of apostle ended upon their deaths for several reasons –
They made no provisions for others who would take their place –
They expressed no concern over the lack of apostles for future generations –
They gave no instructions on how to choose future apostles –
They expressed no detailed reason why a church in subsequent years couldn’t be a true church without apostles –
They gave repeated warnings against those who would come calling themselves apostles –
They warned the body of Christ their message was the foundation on which the body of Christ would rely upon, thus negating the need for future apostles who would come with a new gospel – Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Cor 11:14
We see in the words of Jesus and His apostles how they warned the body of Christ repeatedly that false apostles and false Christs would emerge. This didn’t take long to go into effect as many like Simon to make an appearance in Acts 8:9-11 who was using sorcery in his works against God. The lesson to take from this is how the body of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, stopped him in his tracks. This event serves as proof that Jesus’ promise was kept in John when He told His disciples He’d never leave nor forsake them.
Now that we have a firm foundational understanding of the job descriptions of an apostle let’s take a look at all the offices of the LDS Church and ask why they’ve chosen to work against the Lord and His bride, the body of Christ.
“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth”. – 6th Article of Faith
“A general falling away from the truth occurred after the death of Christ’s Apostles. This is called the Apostasy (Amos 8:11-12; Acts 20:29-30; 2 Timothy 4:3)…
…After the Apostles and many righteous Church members were killed and other members departed from the truth, the Lord took the priesthood authority and His Church from the earth. Without God’s priesthood authority, the Church no longer functioned as Christ had established it. The ordinances were changed and many plain and simple truths were lost. While many good people and some truth remained, the original Church was lost.” – Mormon.org – Restoration of the Gospel
The LDS Church has a conglomeration of men who fill the offices of General Authorities starting with their prophet, his counselors and their twelve apostles. The prophet’s two counselors are chosen from the rank of the twelve apostles and fill their roles based on seniority. If/when a position opens because of death or infraction (which is extremely rare nowadays) the whole rank and file moves up one space placing them closer and closer to the position of prophet/president.
The Presiding Bishop has two counselors and all three people serve under “the First Presidency to administer temporal affairs of the Church”. When not giving speeches around the world they’re busy counseling with other leaders for the Young Men Program, tithing, building projects, etc.
Their tenure can last anywhere from a year to a couple of decades depending on the needs of the Church. To date there have only been fourteen Presiding Bishoprics that serve the whole church since 1831.
There are eight groups of the Seventies and each quorum can have up to seventy members. The Church says they’re called to proclaim the gospel and help build up the Church. They serve until the age of seventy and live in various geographic locations they’ve been assigned to during their three to five year tenure.
The next group is called “Areas” and this is divided up into 25 different worldwide locations (we’ve listed each area below).
The First Presidency assigns the Presidency of the Seventies to preside over areas in the US and Canada. For those outside the US & Canada the First Presidency assigns Area Presidencies and they’re run under the direction of the Twelve Apostles.
Area Presidencies consists of a president and two counselors and typically an Area President is chosen from the first or second quorum of the seventies.
Again, the Church claims they’ve restored true Christianity including how the apostles ran the early churches, but nowhere in the Bible do we find such a conglomeration of red tape.
In each “area” there are stakes. Stakes are run by a Stake Presidency and his two counselors who each watch over a certain number of wards or congregations. The number of stakes in each area is determined by the number of wards in each area.
Each stake is made up of five to eight wards consisting of roughly five thousand members or less. Districts are another name for stakes and exist when they don’t have enough members to form a complete stake. They too have a president and two counselors.
Just as general authorities in the upper section of the Church have twelve members who oversee works in the Church so does each stake. The stake has twelve high priests and these twelve people oversee the many auxiliaries by fulfilling advisory and admin responsibilities. The auxiliaries consist of the Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday school groups and each of those have a presidency the stake president meets with on a regular basis.
In addition to all those administrative meetings, he’s also in charge of overseeing Stake Conferences which take place twice a year.
The Stake President has a full time job in the secular world and is given no stipend for the tremendous amount of work he does. They typically serve in this capacity for eight to twelve years.
Wards is another name for congregations that are made up of anywhere from 300 to 500 members. When the LDS population is sparse the smaller ward is called a branch and each branch has their own president and two counselors. The branch president has many of the same duties as that of a bishop.
Wards are overseen by bishops who has two counselors and these three are referred to as the bishopric. A ward also has their own auxialliries made up of a Relief Society, young men and women’s groups, Sunday school, Primary and both the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods. Each of those groups also has their own presidency and two counselors.
The bishop is in charge of conducting temple worthiness interviews, placing people in various callings to fill open positions, oversees missionary work, cares for the poor and needy of the ward, counsels ward members, takes roll of those in attendance and oversees finances. He also meets with the leaders of each group regularly to plan events of Sacrament Meetings.
In addition to all that a bishop also works a full time job in the secular world as they’re not paid for their role as a bishop. Bishops typically serve for five years and are replaced with a new bishop at the end of his tenure or before if he’s unable to serve the whole time.