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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Latter-day Saint priesthood rests upon claims of divinely bestowed authority, rather than reformation of existing faith traditions. Such claims are documented as arising within months of the founding of the church in 1830. The gradual evolution of the structure and function of LDS priesthood led to increasingly detailed narratives describing its development with said narratives gradually morphing from historical to theological in character. Within a year of the church’s founding, priesthood came to embody two elements: legalistic authority, on the one hand, and “power from on high”—borrowing the words from Luke 24:49—on the other. While those two elements remain the basis of LDS priesthood today, LDS ecclesiology—the structure of the priesthood—continues to evolve in response to numerical growth, geographical reach and changing exigencies.

Keywords: priesthood, authority, power, ecclesiology, polity, church structure

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