The Fourth Article of Faith

Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost

            It is difficult to get a satisfactory answer from anyone in the Mormon faith when asking about the gift of the Holy Ghost, much less the laying on of hands to receive it.
Joseph B. Wirthlen, a member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, writes,

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.”The gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, is obtained only upon condition of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands by authorized servants endowed with the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is a most precious gift available only to worthy members of the Lord’s Church.  In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord calls the gift of the Holy Ghost “the unspeakable gift.”(D&C 121:26)  It is the source of testimony and spiritual gifts. It enlightens minds, fills our souls with joy (D&C 11:13), teaches us all things, and brings forgotten knowledge to our remembrance. The Holy Ghost also “will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do.” (Wirthlin)

None of this cooperates with Bible explanation.  The Holy Spirit has revealed what everyone needs to do through the word of which He inspired the writers.  Those who received the Holy Spirit received it by the miraculous abilities.  It enabled them to perform miracles.  A good example of this is when Peter and John entered Samaria (Act 8).  Only the apostles had the authority to lay hands on others to receive these miraculous gifts.  The same Greek form also applies to Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:45.  Those who received the gift from the apostles were able to perform miracles.  If anyone were to receive it the same way today they would be able to do the same miracles as described in the New Testament.

The purpose of miracles were to confirm the word (Heb. 2:1-4).  Under New Testament, the apostles had the ability given by God to lay hands on people in order to impart a miraculous gift.  Miracles such as prophecy are like scaffolding to a building.  Once the building is complete, there is no more need for scaffolding.  Such was the case with prophets (Cates 27-29).  Paul talked about wanting the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31).  However, there was coming a time when all of it would end.  Paul wrote, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (1 Cor. 13:8).  Notice that prophecy would fail.  Tongues would cease.  A supernatural type of knowledge would vanish away.  The only thing still in effect would be love.  Paul continued, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:9-10).  That which is “in part” refers to the sharing of imperfect knowledge and includes prophecy, tongues, and miraculous knowledge.  That which is “in part” will be done away.  It would be the end of the miraculous gifts.  Why?  It is because they would no longer be needed.  What was “done away” was the “in part” system of delivering truth.  The “perfect” (complete) word of God would be revealed and completely delivered.  The “perfect” in this text is not the Christ, as Christ had already come and ascended back to heaven.  Paul said that there would not always be a need for prophets.  He then offered an analogy: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11).  He put away childish things as the church would put away the needs of a prophet and miraculous gifts.  “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

If the “first principles and ordinances of the [Mormon] gospel” are not viable, how can any of it be trusted?  The Bible has always been consistent and agreeable with itself.  The Mormon ordinances are nothing more than an attempt to redefine what the Bible has already made clear.  Further study will expose even more irregularities in a system that has a pattern of changing.  Paul writes, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:14)

Works Cited

Cates, Curtis. “Does the Holy Spirit Work Miraculously?” Pillars – The Holy Spirit. Duluth: Rampart Productions, 2007. 27-29.

 The Age of Accountability: Why Am I Baptized When I am Eight Years Old? Feb 2000. 5 Mar 2014 <http://www.lds.org>.

Wirthlin, Joseph B. The Unspeakable Gift. May 2003. 5 Mar 2014 <http://www.lds.org>.