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Article of Faith # 5 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Updated on May 13, 2015

The 5th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints reads

"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."

This is an interesting statement that was made by Joseph Smith. We learn a couple of things that are worthy to note. I will also mention that the beliefs in this Article of Faith separate the LDS church from the rest of Christianity. We believe that we hold the proper authority from God and have the fullness of the gospel and the keys to exaltation. Anyway this statement makes these statements:

  • God will call men to positions
  • This call will be by prophecy, to someone with authority
  • This call will be done by the laying on of hand by someone with the proper authority

God Will Call Men to Positions

As I was searching for the first reference that might show that God calls Men to authority I came across one that while its not the first I believe it's a good description of why God calls men to positions of authority to lead his people. For this we turn to Numbers 27: 15-17.

"And Moses spake unto the Lord, saying, Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd. "

Moses, who is the prophet, is asking the Lord to call someone to lead the congregation.

Another example of men being called to positions would be the calling of the Lords Apostles. Christ, if you will recall, approached each of them and asked them to fallow him. In John 15:16 this is addressed:

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

Christ himself spells out pretty clearly; that he will chose who he will ordain. Now let's not get confused and think that this stating that God will chose people to follow him. Christ is simply stating that he will chose who the leaders of his church will be.

Calls will be by Prophecy, to Someone with Authority

In the first example with Moses, this is pretty clear. Moses is the prophet and he is the one asking for someone to lead the congregation. This works in the LDS church today. Bishops and Stake Presidents seek out people to call to a position through prayer and asking of our Heavenly Father. I can say from personal experience that this is done, even for callings where individuals work with those in the nursery.

Calls will be done by laying on of hand by someone with the proper authority

Let's return to the example of Moses (I use this example because frankly it's the perfect example of how the calling of man is to be done). If we continue reading on in verses 18-23 we can read:

"And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses."

Here we see a couple of things. The first I would like to point out that God told Moses to call Joshua and he did. Next we notice that is was God calling Joshua and not Moses saying, well this guy is cool, lets call him. And the third thing we need to pay attention to is that Moses laid his hands on Joshua and "gave him a charge". This is extremely important part. LDS believe that each "calling" has rights and privileges associated with it. Having hands laid upon you (we call it "setting apart") gives you these rights and privileges. One other thing that typically happens is that a blessing is given to the receiver of the call. This blessing sometimes contains words of encouragement and even instruction.


The views and opinions expressed here reflect only those of the author, and are not official views of the LDS church. The intent of this article is commentary.

About The Author

John Taylor has been a member of the LDS church his whole life. He is, in fact, an 8th generation member of the church. He is directly related with President John Taylor who was the third president of the LDS church.


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    • runsrealfast profile image

      John 9 years ago from Idaho

      You know there is a quote out there (by a Catholic, I believe Cardnell) that basically says that its either the Catholics or the Mormons. If one believes in an apostacy then one must believe in a Restoration. The LDS church is that restoration.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California


      The world has just been given a great example of this process with the calling and "setting apart" of our newly ordained prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson. This claim to authority is made only by one other religious organization, all others are in "protest" of that authority. With the event of a full apostasy, which was extensively prophesied in the Old Testament, and New alike, a restoration of that authority was necessary. I believe that only one faith claims to be a "restorationist faith." Do you have any opinions on that?