This Web Page is not officially associated, in any way, with
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church).
"I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor
underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot
be talked about and will not bear investigation."
---Mormon President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 264.
To the Reader
The purpose of this homepage is not to offend, but to inform. This page discusses, in a frank manner, the temple ceremonies of the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Church. These ceremonies are held sacred by members of the Church. Although I have printed the text of the entire Endowment Ceremony, I am told that the Ceremony is almost completely symbolic. The meaning of the symbolism is revealed through the "Spirit of God" which enables sincere patrons to understand the "mysteries of Godliness" as they regularly participate in the Ceremony.
Because I am not a Mormon, I cannot claim to completely understanding the ceremonies. I am only an interested (and hopefully fair-minded) observer, not a participant in these sacred mysteries.
Why this page exists: My "Close Encounter" with Mormonism.
In 1986, after taking the "Missionary discussions," several members of my family converted to Mormonism. The Mormon religion, with its wholesome, family-oriented image was very appealing to my parents, who had always tried to raise us responsibly. Allured by the Church's appearance, I was also almost converted, but decided to investigate the matter on a deeper level. I resolved to study several books pro et con and then weigh their arguments in the balance. On the "pro" side, I read all of the Mormon "Standard Works" (scriptures) in their original editions, and compared them with their modern counterparts, as well as several other "faith promoting" LDS books. I also read several historical works on Mormonism and its doctrines, and a few anti-Mormon books (for a suggestion of fascinating titles on Mormonism, see my recommended reading list).
After reading the Mormon scriptures, I put Mormonism to the test. I prayed several times to learn whether the Church was "true," and received no answer at all. The only "answer" that made any sense to me was that Mormonism--however appealing--was not what it represented itself to be.
My LDS family members have refused to listen to me and reconsider their position. The missionaries who taught my family insisted that the temple ceremonies were inspired by God, and that they contained great secrets which were necessary for "exaltation" in the "Celestial Kingdom." I do not believe this. Because there is so much rumour and speculation (and a share of lying) as to what really happens in a Mormon temple, I have decided to create a page with factual information on Mormon temple rites.
Some Preliminary Information on Mormon Doctrine.
The LDS Church professes to be a restoration of the primitive church established by Jesus. Following his crucifixion, the primitive church is believed to have fallen into a state of apostasy which reigned until 1820, when Joseph Smith, a young man living in New York, was selected by God to be his instrument in bringing forth the "restoration of the fullness of times." This restoration included the power to act in God's name (Priesthood authority), and faithful Mormon Priesthood holders have the power to perform acts with eternal consequences. Priesthood functions include blessing and naming new born children, baptism, confirmation, blessing the sick, and conferring Priesthood authority on others. Shortly before his martyrdom, Joseph Smith introduced several remarkable concepts into Mormonism. One of these was that family ties could survive the grave and that worthy couples who were "sealed" by Priesthood authority could remain married throughout eternity in heaven (the "Celestial Kingdom"). Another was that there were many Gods, although there is only One True God as far as the inhabitants of the Earth are concerned. God, he revealed, is an exalted man who had lived faithfully on another planet, died, resurrected and now sits enthroned in heaven. Because of his love for us, God provided a way for us, his children, to overcome the consequences of the fall of man (Adam's transgression, which resulted in death for humanity). The redemption of humanity is in part brought about by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but one must also assume certain covenants and receive certain Priesthood secrets in order to become a God. This is one of the reasons for building temples.
What are Temples?
According to Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "Holy sanctuaries wherein sacred ordinances, rites and ceremonies are performed which pertain to salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God are called temples. They are the most sacred places of worship on earth; each one is literally a House of the Lord, a house of the great Creator, a house where he and his Spirit may dwell, to which he may come, or send his messengers, to confer priesthood and keys and give revelation to his people" (Mormon Doctrine, 1979 ed., pp.779-780).
Once a Mormon temple is dedicated only faithful Mormons who bear a temple recommend may enter. The temple recommend is like a license or dues card, and a new one must be obtained each year. Possession of a temple recommend indicates that the bearer is in full faith and fellowship with the Church. In order to obtain a temple recommend, one must answer a series of questions in a temple recommend interview.
Salvation for the Dead: Work by Proxy in the Temples
Mormonism teaches that all people will have an opportunity to accept or reject the restored gospel. After death the deceased enters the "spirit world" where he awaits resurrection at the second coming of Christ. If the deceased is non-Mormon, or never had a fair opportunity to accept the Mormon gospel, the spirits of deceased Mormons are called upon to perform missionary labor. Mormons believe that the spirits of the dead have the same personalities and tendencies as when they were living. Thus, a good man may accept the gospel whereas as evil man may not. In order for the deceased to be worthy of entering heaven he must receive the same ordinances (by proxy) as a living human being. This means that he must be baptized, by proxy, and also be ordained to the Priesthood and receive his endowments and temple marriage. The LDS Church's emphasis on genealogy is to further "temple work" by performing the temple ordinances on as many dead persons as possible.
What is the Temple Endowment Ceremony?
Apostle James E. Talmage explains, "The temple endowment, as administered in modern temples, comprises instruction relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations, and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history. This course of instruction includes a recital of the most prominent events of the creative period, the condition of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, their disobedience and consequent expulsion from that blissful abode, their condition in the lone and dreary world when doomed to live by labor and sweat, the plan of redemption by which the great transgression may be atoned, the period of the great apostasy, the restoration of the gospel with all its ancient powers and privileges, the absolute and indispensable conditions of personal purity and devotion to the right in present life, and a strict compliance with gospel requirements..." (The House of the Lord, 1912 ed., p. 99).
Among other things, the temple endowment answers the "terrible questions," i.e., Where did I come from? Why am I here? And Where will I go when this life is over? These questions are answered by a meaningful, richly symbolic drama, which is presented as a filmed presentation. The setting of the drama begins with the creation of earth by the Gods Elohim (God the Father), Jehovah (Jesus Christ in his pre-mortal form), and Michael (the Archangel, whose spirit is put into a body when he becomes the first man, Adam). By following the Mormon version of the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and their subsequent expulsion, temple patrons discover the "plan of salvation" which may enable them to return to live with God. During the endowment participants are encouraged to view Adam and Eve as representatives of the human race. Thus, their fidelity becomes a model for the faithful Mormon's lifestyle.
Although the endowment is currently presented on film, it was previously acted out in dramatic form, not dissimilar to fraternity rituals. But the ceremony is much more than a modern "morality play," because faithful Mormons believe it has eternal consequences. During the ritual, participants (called "patrons") enjoy brief participation, as they are required to don special robes, and stand up in front of their seats, while assuming certain obligations and receiving the Mormon priesthood secrets (the tokens and signs of the Holy Priesthood).
Prior to receiving the endowment one must be baptized, ordained a member of the LDS Church, receive the Melchizedek Priesthood (if male), and the "Initiatory Ordinances" of the temple. The latter consist of a series of symbolic washings and anointings, the reception of the Garment of the Holy Priesthood and also a new name.
The washings and anointings include a series of ceremonial blessings spoken over various members of the body, and prepare the initiate for the life hereafter.
Following this, the initiate is clothed in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, which is said to be "a shield and a protection" to the wearer throughout life. Mormons sometimes claim escape from bodily harm on account of wearing this Garment.
With the Garment, the initiate receives a "new name" which serves as a "key word" to be used later on in the Endowment Ceremony. This new name may be almost any Biblical or Book of Mormon name, such as Moses, David, Nephi, etc. If the patron's given name is similar to the new name used that day in the temple, the substitute name of "Adam" is given.
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