Masonic Character of the Temple Ceremonies as described by a Mormon Master Mason

Masonic Character of the Temple Ceremonies as described by a Mormon Master Mason

The following was a message from

Joe Steve Swick III (a Mormon Mason) responds to a Mormon: (part 3) (part 2) (part 1):

a Mormon writes:
To deny that there is *some* similarities, to use those few similarities to draw the conclusion that the Endownent was taken from the Masonic Rite is fautly logic.

Yes, it is. Yet Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball and others knew and commented on the Masonic connections. Even in Joseph’s own day, the Endowment was referred to as “Joseph’s Lodge.” I assure you that this was not because of a few superficial similarities in wording and grips. The two rituals are conceptually very similar, and use similar devices. I will say that the purpose of the Endowment is somewhat different.

a Mormon writes:
If you look at the historical facts concerning the practice and beliefs of Freemasonry, you will see that they claim their rites come from those priests and laborers who constructed the very first Temple in Jerusalem.

I know of very very few Masons that would make that claim. The connections with the Temple are a part of the Masonic MYTHOS, as most Masons will tell you. There are authentic “secrets” in Masonry, and I believe that there is perhaps a genuine connection to Solomon’s Temple. However, the LEGEND of Hiram Abiff is just that … A LEGEND. The story is archetypical, and quite compelling; nevertheless it is a legend. I would be happy to direct you to numerous Masonic books and articles in support of this view, including:

“It is the lucky man who realizes early on that there is a way in which he, himself, is our Grand Master Hiram Abiff. When revelation of this sublime truth comes to the individual, it may strike him with a great force, making him dead to all that has gone before. We are the myth! And the lives of the great ones who have precedes us, are our lives, if we but choose to have it so! As we seek to walk the path they have walked, we become Adam, we become Abraham, we become Hiram. Their stories belong to us — and their lives are our lives; for the truth of their lives is the truth of human existence”

(see Joe Steve Swick III, MPS, “Veiled in Allegory and Illustrated by Symbols: An Invitation to a Deeper Appreciation of Masonic Teaching,” The Philalethes Magazine, Vol. XLIX No. 3, June 1996, pp. 74-5)

Some Mormons feel obliged to hold to the view that Masonry derived from King Solomon’s Temple, because it is theologically less complicated to do so than accept the historical roots of Masonry. As one Masonic writer recently noted:

“with books such as McGavin’s Mormonism and Masonry still in circulation, and perpetuation of the tradition of antiquity in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, it is hard to overcome the Latter-day Saint belief that Masonry is derived from King Solomon’s Temple. As long as LDS believe in the origination of Masonic ceremonies with Solomon, resentment of this ‘apostate’ ceremony will continue on the part of many Mormons.

Some change is occurring, as seen in Michael Homer’s Dialogue essay, and a February 4, 1995 Salt Lake Tribune article which discussed the relationship between the two groups. However, Dialogue is not as widely read among Latter-day Saints as other publications…. [Furthermore,] the Tribune article did not explain that most Masons no longer claim antiquity for the ritual, a facet of the misunderstanding which this author believes is critical”

(see Glen A. Cook, “A Review of Factors Leading to Tension Between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry,” The Philalethes Magazine, Vol. XLVII No. 4, August 1995, pp. 76-8, 81)

a Mormon writes:
It was a secret order, because according to the Lord’s directions only few could know what the interior contained, how it was constructed, and any other symbolic items that were inside it – especially the Holy of Holies. They were taught “revealed truths” throught the Prophets, and since they worked on the Temple they were allowed to enter into the covenants that are inside the Lord’s House.

“[The Encyclopedia of Mormonism] states in conclusion that ‘Latter-Day Saints [sic] … think of similarities as remnants from an ancient original.’ While this is a correct statement of the [LDS] belief, it would have been better to explain that the belief was based on a former claim of antiquity by Masonic authors” (Ibid., 81)

a Mormon writes:
If you want to get *really* technical, the only REAL similarities are two implements used in drawing and an object of clothing worn around the waist. That is were any real similarities end.

This is simply not so. As a Mormon and a Master Mason, I assure you that if I were to get *really* technical, the list of similarities are pervasive and deep. It is not just the square and compasses (I don’t know why you hesitate to use the terms here, because they are chisled onto public LDS buildings in Utah), but the relative positioning of them, and the moving of clothing from one side of the body to the other to “display” the appropriate symbol. Even the “return and report” sequence from the pre-1990 Endowment is drawn from the ritual opening of the Lodge and its three principal officers, as any who have seen both can attest.

a Mormon writes:
There is no “calling someone up out of the Grave” in the Endowment.

Yes there is. Explain to me how one enters the Celestial Kingdom without having first died and been raised. That is an important part of what the Ceremony at the Veil is all about.

a Mormon writes:
there is no mention of the Veil or of the Crucifixion in the Masonic Rite.

Yes there is. Passing through veils and prayer circles are associated with the Holy Royal Arch, also known as the Rite of Exaltation. This ritual includes an entering into the presence of a Grand Council and having restored that which has been lost. Just as admittance is gained into any Lodge by the giving of “three distinct knocks,” so a certrain “knocking” is a part of the Holy Royal Arch.

As a Mason, I do not care to be much more specific about these rituals, but I encourage you to read the Webb Monitor’s account of the Enoch Legend associated with this degree. Its relevance to Mormonism is quite striking.

a Mormon writes:
Some of the oaths taken in the Masonic Rite are similar to the Covenants taken in the Endowment, but considering that they first started in the First Temple it makes perfect sense that there are some slight similarities.

An assumption followed by a generalization. “Some slight similarities” is rather an understatement. Masonic influences were direct, not just in the Endowment, but in a great many other places in Nauvoo-period Mormonism.

a Mormon writes:
For someone to assume that the LDS Church lifted or borrowed anything from the Masonic Rite based upon a few things that seem to be close to each other is the poorest use of logic.

The Endowment and Masonic ritual share roughtly the relationship to each other that Kurosawa’s classic, “The Seven Samurai” shares to “The Magnificent Seven.” The latter is an ADAPTATION of the former. This has little to do with the religious inspiration of the Endowment or its soteriological significance. However, you cannot simply wish the facts were different than what they are.

a Mormon writes:
Interestingly, I have never heard anyone talk about singing in a Masonic Temple or Lodge when no one else was there, or a “glowing” around a Masonic Temple, or people seeing angels near or inside a Masonic Temple. On the flip-side, there have been hundreds of such events in relation to Latter-Day Temples.

This is specious reasoning. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether Mormon ritual borrowed from Masonry or not. Contrary to what critics might say, borrowing is not an indictment of the LDS ritual. Further, history cannot answer issues of faith, such as the inspiration of the ritual. I believe that the Endowment is sublime; it stands in my psyche in a completely different place than Masonry holds. It is salvific, and Masonry makes no such claims for its rites. I even appreciate the supernatural aspects of LDS temple worship you mention. However, I strongly submit to you that this has no bearing on Mormon borrowings from Masonry, any more than the sanctity of the Hebrew Temple argues against borrowings from the early Canaanite and Egyptian temple cultus.

a Mormon writes:
Now, let’s end this topic and concentrate on something more important

I rather thought that the topic we have been discussing was worthy of a few more comments. I hope my post has borne out my assumption.

a Mormon writes:
The constant repetition of a lie or deception does not make it any less that what it is.

Neither does the constant repetition of an accepted history add one iota to its historical validity or lack thereof.

See this page for a similar message from the same author.