Austin asked me the following in the comments section of another post:“Where & how specifically did your pastor (& all pastors and ministers of today’s Protestantism) get his/their authority to organize a church, to baptize, confer the Holy Ghost, to perform miracles in the name of Christ, to call and ordain other pastors and ministers, to guide and direct, to keep the doctrines pure?”
I think to answer your question I need to take a step back and explain better what Protestants think of the acts that preisthood holders perform. As far as baptism and communion go, we Protestants don’t think that there is anything magical or significant about the actual physical act. They are outward expressions of the inward condition of the heart. There is nothing significant about getting dunked under water by a special man. The only significance that matters is the condition of the person’s heart and the Holy Spirit’s acceptance of that intention. I fully believe that an atheist could baptize someone and it would “count” as long as the person being baptized view it as a sincere act of his devotion to Christ. There aren’t any special rules that HAVE to be followed no matter what. If they don’t go all the way under the water, it still counts. If they’re wearing mickey mouse socks, it still counts. If it’s done in a hot tub, it still counts. If a woman dunks you under water, it still counts. What’s important is the person’s heart.
I’d be interested to hear if LDS think that a baptism doesn’t count, if some minor violation of protocol wasn’t followed. Say a man doesn’t go all the way under, walks outside and gets hit by a car. Are you saying that Christ wouldn’t accept that baptism? What if the Priest who performed the function was just going through the motions and had secretly violated all of his covenants and abandoned the faith? Would Christ still accept it?
Pastors and church elders get their authority directly from the Holy Spirit. If they feel called to the position by the Spirit, they’re work can be judged by its fruit. The Holy Spirit does not need anyone to confer Himself on to other people. He is God and can fill anyone He wishes. No man can withhold Him from any other man. Those who are called to church leadership are held in check by the authority of the Bible. They are held accountable to what the scripture clearly teaches. If they violate that trust, they would have been better off having a mill stone tied to the neck and thrown in the water.
38″Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
39″Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
We Protestants could be wrong about all of this. Perhaps there is a specific line of priesthood succession that must be followed. Perhaps there is a protocol that makes all of these things legitimate rather than just the condition of a man’s heart. I wonder, for what reason should I believe that the priesthood line comes from Joseph Smith? What reason or evidence can I investigate that he didn’t just make it up himself? At this point, if you convinced me that I am wrong about the priesthood, I would just join the Catholic or Orthodox church.