What Is a Priesthood Line of Authority?
Each Priesthood holder's Line of Authority is very special. It is his link back to the Lord Jesus Christ, showing the power that man holds to exercise the priesthood in ordinances of the Gospel.
Why Record Priesthood Lines
George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency in 1884, prophesied, "I believe the time will come when it will be necessary for every man to trace the line in which he has received the Priesthood that he exercises. It is therefore of great importance in our Church that records should be kept, and that every man should know whence he derives his authority--from what source, through what channel he has received the holy Priesthood, and by what right he exercises that authority and administers the ordinances thereof.
I believe this is of extreme importance, and that where there are doubts as to a man's legitimately exercising that authority, that doubt should be removed. Every man should be careful on this point, to know where he gets his Priesthood; that it has come to him clean and undefiled, legitimately;" (18 October 1884, Journal of Discourses 26:247)
Line of Authority Products
Certificates are 8 1/2 by 11" with an oval background beneath the text. Two backgrounds are available: Peter, James, and John ordaining Joseph Smith for Melchizedek offices and John the Baptist ordaining Joseph Smith for Aaronic offices. We have been given copyright permission to use these backgrounds.
These editable cards have been specially designed to explain how Priesthood Lines of Authority work on the front and contain the personalized line of authority on the back. The cards make it convenient for giving new ordainees a copy of their Priesthood Line of Authority immediately.
These cards are the same as the editable version but are laminated for added protection. They allow the Priesthood holder to carry his Priesthood Line with him at all times.
Which Priesthood Line is Used
Here is the answer to one of the most asked questions we receive:
"I have a question about my personal priesthood line of authority. Should the line of authority change from when a person is ordained an Elder, when he receives the Melchizedek Priesthood,and change again when he ordained to the office of a High Priest by a different person? I have looked everywhere and there is no reference to it in any Church publications. My father ordained me to all of the offices of the priesthood. But he was ordained an Elder by his father, a Seventy by another person, and yet a High Priest by another. Which line of authority do I follow?" Your actual line of authority goes back through the person who last ordained you to whatever office you now hold. Here is a statement from the First Presidency:
“ If a priesthood bearer desires to trace his own line of authority, he should pursue his current office in the priesthood—not former offices. Bishops and patriarchs should trace their line of authority as high priests. In completing an authority line, each step should go back through the office held by the person at the time he performed the ordination. It is not appropriate to trace the line of authority in cases of setting apart or for other ordinances. ” (General Handbook Supplement, Number 1, July 1, 1976)