Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gary E. Stevenson on the importance of priesthood keys

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (b. 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015..
"My heart is filled with overwhelming gratitude for the restoration of priesthood authority and priesthood keys. Without this restoration, we would be locked out from the vehicle necessary to transport us on our journey home to loving heavenly parents. The performance of every ordinance of salvation comprising our covenant pathway back to the presence of our Father in Heaven requires appropriate governance through priesthood keys....
"The priesthood, or priesthood authority, has been defined as 'the power and authority of God' (Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), page 8.) and “the consummate power on this earth' (Boyd K. Packer, 'Priesthood Power in the Home.' worldwide leadership training meeting, Feb. 2012; see also James E. Faust, 'Power of the Priesthood,' Ensign, May 1997, 41–43). Priesthood keys are defined for our understanding as well: 'Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth' (Handbook 2, 2.1.1). Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority. Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that 'ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used' (Dallin H. Oaks, 'The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,' Ensign, May 2014, 50)."
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?," General Conference, April 2016, Saturday morning session
Click here to read the full talk

This talk, given in the first general session of conference, was a good review of basic priesthood concepts. It might have been a talk shared in a priesthood session, but I think it was wonderful to have it shared with the general membership. I think the concept of priesthood keys continues to not be well understood in the Church; discussions like this one will be helpful.

This is a key concept: "Every ordinance of salvation" is governed and directed by priesthood keys. In other words, no priesthood holder can perform such ordinances on his own, unless authorized and directed by one who holds appropriate keys to direct the performance of those ordinances. This helps maintain order, ensures that proper records are kept, and demonstrates that authority is delegated and not "owned." Great principles!

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