Masonic/Endowment Similarities Described

Masonic/Endowment Similarities Described

The following was a message from

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

a Mormon writes:
Resemblances between the two rituals are limited to a small proportion of actions and words.

False. Resemblances extend to the structure of the ordinances, and include numerous symbols, phrases, expressions. It extends outside the Endowment, into such organizations as the Relief Society.

a Mormon writes:
some find that the LDS Endowment has more similarities with the Pyramid texts and the Coptic documents than with Freemasonry.

This has nothing to do with the issue of borrowing. How Joseph Smith may have reworked Masonic material is another issue altogether. And, I doubt seriously that the wording of the Endowment matches the Pyramid texts and Coptic documents as nicely as it does Freemasonry. There is a demonstrable, causual, genetic link between the Endowment and Masonry.

a Mormon writes:
Even where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different.

For goodness sakes, they were going to use the Square and Compasses on exterior of the Salt Lake Temple. While it is true that meanings are different in SOME of the shared symbols, it is nevertheless true that numerous Mormon symbols were initially borrowed from Masonry.

a Mormon writes:
In addition to creation and life themes, one similarity is that both call for the participants to make covenants. Yet, the Endowment alone ties covenants to eternal blessings and to Jesus Christ.

Well…that depends on how you look at it. Most Masons would say that the covenants WERE tied to eternal blessings, although Jesus Christ is not specifically mentioned in a Lodge meeting. For an example, when the candidate receives his Apron, he also receives the following monitorial admonition:

“Let its pure and spotless surface be to you an ever-present reminder of ‘a purity of life and rectitude of conduct’ … [and when you reach the end of life’s journey], may the record of your life be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem…And when your trembling soul shall stand, naked and alone, before the Great White Throne, may it be your portion, my brother, to hear from Him who sitteth as Judge Supreme, the welcome words: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'”

So… whether this relates to eternal blessings and to Jesus Christ depends on what you think of being a good and faithful servant, and entering into the joy of the Lord.

a Mormon writes:
The Masonic ceremony does not emphasize priesthood or the need to be commissioned by God to represent him.

Rather, as Carl Claudy noted, Masonry teaches:

So many men before they Altars kneel
Unthinkingly, to promise brotherhood;
So few remain, humbly to kiss thy rood
With ears undeafened to thy mute appeal;
So many find thy symbols less than real,
Thy teachings mystic, hard to understand;
So few there are, in all thy far-flung band
To hold thy banner high and draw thy steel.
And yet…immortal and most mighty, thou!
What hath thy lore of life to let it live?
What is the vital spark, hid in thy vow?
Thy millions learned, as thy dear paths they trod,
The secret of the strength thou hast to give:

a Mormon writes:
The active participation of God in the world and in men’s lives is a distinctly LDS temple motif.

Masonic ritual depicts this truth in other more subtle ways, but it is hardly absent from the ritual, and is CERTAINLY not absent from the associated LEGENDA.

a Mormon writes:
While Masons believe in an undefined, impersonal God, everything in the LDS Endowment emanates from, or is directed to, God who is a personage and man’s eternal Father.

This is absolutely untrue. Masons do NOT believe in an “undefined, impersonal God.” I AM A FREEMASON, and I have no such beliefs. Neither do the majority of Masons I know.

a Mormon writes:
Freemasonry is a fraternal society, and in its ritual all promises, oaths, and agreements are made between members. In the temple Endowment all covenants are between the individual and God.

Out of all the comments that have been made, this is absolutely the most inaccurate. One of the reasons a Mason is required to believe in the existence of God, is because men who kneel at Masonic altars make their covenants with Him. That is the thrust of the meaning of the bit of the Apron Lecture I quoted a moment ago…that we are accountable to God first.

a Mormon writes:
In Freemasonry, testing, grading, penalizing, or sentencing accords with the rules of the fraternity or membership votes. In the Endowment, God alone is the judge.

This is untrue. We SAY that “God alone is the judge,” but practically speaking, if you violate your covenants –say, the Law of Chastity– you are penalized not only by God but by the CHURCH. In a very real sense, in both Masonry and the Church, men are accountable foremost and primarily to God; but this does not preclude penalty for those who with impunity ignore the rule of the Lodge…or the rule of the Church.

a Mormon writes:
Within Freemasonry, rank and promotions are of great importance, while in the LDS temple rites there are no distinctions: all participants stand equal before God.

What a terrible mischaracterization. Let me show you why. The Masonic Apron is that piece of clothing without which NO Brother may enter the Lodge — no matter how finely dressed or how highly positioned. Every man who is regularly made a Mason receives this Apron, and is told:

“It is an emblem of innocence, and the badge of a Mason…more honorable…than …any…order that may be conferred upon you at this or any future time by king, prince, potentate or any other person….It may be that in the coming years upon your head shall rest the laurel leaves of victory; and from your breast may hang jewels fit to grace the diadem of an Eastern potentate…your ambitious feet may tread … the ladder that leads to fame within [our Fraternity]… But never again from mortal hands…shall any honor so distinguished, and emblamatical of all purity and perfection, be bestowed upon you.”

It is true that rank and promotions have their place in Masonry, as they do in the world. In the Temple, you have officiators and patrons; you have men, angels, gods and devils. But do not mistake the offices in the Lodge for a renunciation of the belief that all Lodge members, from the highest to the lowest…stand equal before God. There is NO MASONIC HONOR GREATER than the privilege of wearing the Apron…and that is bestowed as A GIFT. All Masons are required to be “good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must [otherwise] have remain’d at a perpetual distance” (Charges of a Freemason, 1723). Further, Masons recognize that all men –from the greatest to the least– stand equally before God, from Whom all receive their wages in due season, and to Whom all rise to give due obesience.

a Mormon writes:
The clash between good and evil, including Satan’s role, is essential to, and vividly depicted in, the Endowment, but is largely absent from Masonic rites.

Masonic ritual depicts man’s mortal journey; which he enters blinded, slipshod and awry…standing between two opposing poles and relying upon the mercy of those who lead and guide him. It depicts his walk in darkness, that by degrees he may come to find the Light which beckons everyman from the sun slowly rising in the East. This path towards the Light is rugged, and fraught with danger…even death. But it is the path that many have walked before us, and which many will walk after. It is the hero’s journey.

a Mormon writes:
Yes, there were penalties associated with the pre-1990 ceremony but, as has recently been noted in another thread, the penalties were identical to the sacrifices offered in the Temple of Solomon. Besides, they’ve been removed – without changing the nature or overall symbolism of the TC itself – which makes them “embellishments,” IMHO.

Or, it could mean that the meaning and purpose of the Endowment has changed over the last hundred years. Having more than a passing familiarity with the early Endowment and its ritual significance, I tend toward THIS as an interpretation.

James writes:
The Masonic initiate undergoes a ceremony indicating their death.
The Mormon initiate has a specific handgrip which emultates a crucifixion.

a Mormon writes:
Really stretching on this one, James. May I point out that there is a fundamental difference between physical death and spiritual death in LDS theology. While we teach both using the word “separation” (physical death = separation of body and spirit, spiritual death = separation of man and God), they are *totally different concepts*. The Mormon initiate never experiences physical death in the TC; he is never resuscitated (as is Hirum Abiff) and is never resurrected.

The meaning of this death and resurrection in Masonry is rather left up to the individual to interpret for himself. I personally find your comments about Hiram Abiff to be rather naive, although I know Masons who would agree with you. They point to the “reinterrment” of Hiram as indicating that he was never really resurrected. If they understood precisely WHERE he was reinterred, they would be silenced. But this is a matter of serious study, and I do not care to share what I have labored so hard to find out for myself. Those who know the final resting place of Hiram Abiff know how to answer you, although I imagine most would not. Wilmshurst tells it, if you care to search it out.

a Mormon writes:
The one death implied in the TC is that of Jesus the Christ. He died on the cross in terrible agony so that we could re-enter our Heavenly Father’s presence, thus overcoming the spiritual death.

“In Masonry, the prototype is Hiram Abiff, who met his death as the result of a conspiracy of workmen of whom there were three principal ruffians. In the Christian and chief of all systems…the greatest of the Exemplars died at the hands of the mob, headed also by three chief ruffians, Judas, Caiaphas and Pilate. If in Masonry the mystical death is dramatized more realistically than the resurrection that follows upon it, that resurrection is nevertheless shown in the ‘raising’ of the candidate to the rank of Master Mason and his ‘reunion with the companions of his former toils,’ implying the reintegration and resumption of all his old faculties and powers in a sublimated state, just as the limbs of the risen Osiris were said to reunite into a new whole and as the Christian Master withdrew His mutilated body from the tomb and resumed it, transmuted into one of supernatural substance and splendour” (WL Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, 142-3).

James writes:
The Masonic initiate is raised from death.
The Mormon initiate is raised from death. (Celestial Room)

a Mormon writes:
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Mormon initiate is *never* raised from the physical death. In the first place, the Masonic initiate is resuscitated – brought back to life, but still mortal. Nothing like that in the LDS Temple Ceremony. Nor is there any mention of resurrection.

Since we believe that *all* men will be resurrected (see New Testament:1 Cor. 15:22), it’s not a part of the Temple Ceremony. Though resurrection may be *implied* in passing to the Telestial Room, we’re still talking resurrection, not resuscitation.

“The Royal Arch is the natural conclusion and fulfilment of the Third Degree. The latter inculcates the necessity of mystical death and dramatizes the process of such death and revival therefrom into newness of life. The Royal Arch carries the process a stage farther, by showing its fulfilment in the EXALTATION or APOTHEOSIS of him who has undergone it. The Master Mason’s Degree might be said to be represented in terms of Christian theology by the formula ‘He suffered and was buried and rose again,’ whilst the equivalent of the EXALTATION CEREMONY is ‘He ascended into heaven'” (WL Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, 140).

You will notice that the Royal Arch Degree is called the Ceremony (or Rite) of Exaltation, and that it symbolizes the heavenly ascent. In this degree, one finds references to the restoration of that which has been lost; anointing; prophet, priest and king; prayer circles; passing through veils. The Royal Arch Degree of the York Rite ( 7�) is companions with the Royal Arch of Solomon Degree (13�) of the Scottish Rite.

a Mormon writes:
(2) 5 Points of Fellowship is no longer part of the Temple Ceremony (one of those “embellishments”)

Too bad Joseph Smith didn’t realize it was an embellishment; too bad that no one noticed how unnecessary this was for nearly 150 years. I rather think there were specific reasons for removing this from the Endowment; and IMHO, these reasons had little to do with it being an “incidental.” To understand the significance of the Five Points Of Fellowship, it might do you some good to read some Masonic articles on its history.

a Mormon writes:
(3) Even if the 5 Points of Fellowship *were* still a part of the Temple Ceremony, there are examples of it in antiquity from the middle and far east

Yes, but unlike the Endowment, those examples from antiquity do not make use of the language of American Freemasonry.

a Mormon writes:
(4) The “handshake” is different in form, fit and function

I believe the concept of tokens in Masonry was likely appropriated from Catholicism/Gnosticism. I believe it is authentic early Christian. However, I believe that it entered Mormonism through Masonry, as Joseph Smith and others indicated. Mormonism IS Masonic. In particular, the Mormon TEMPLE and its rites are MASONIC in character, as Joseph F. Smith clearly taught.

a Mormon writes:
(6) Ditto special clothing, except you can add England and Israel to the mix.

Except that the nature of the clothing and its “movement” are significant to Freemasonry as well. Even the Garden of Eden story was associated with Masonry. You would be surprised to read Masonic literature from the 1720’s thereabouts on these points.

a Mormon writes:
Joseph Smith did *not* have intimate knowledge of Masonry. He attended exactly *three meetings* before the endowment was introduced.

How many meetings he attended is hardly a fair indicator of his previous knowledge of Masonry. I suggest that he knew much more than you suppose.

a Mormon writes:
One of the causes of the persecution in Nauvoo was that Joseph Smith had been made a Mason *on sight*, IOW, initiated into the brotherhood without really earning it.

Yes, this is so. But it had nothing to do with Joseph Smith at all. It had more to do with Grand Master Jonas doing something that was not established in Illinois as a prerogative of the Grand Master, although it was in other states. It was entirely political. Just because Joseph was made a Mason *on sight* doesn’t mean he was ignorant of Freemasonry. In fact, those who heard him speak in Lodge say that he was quite informed on these issues. And, if the Joseph Hull letter is really from OUR Joseph Smith, then we have written evidence of just how advanced the Prophet’s thinking was in this area.

Actually, what really fried the beans of non-Mormon Masons was 1) irregularities in Nauvoo Lodge regarding balloting for and recieving candidates; 2) Masonic degrees in which more than one candidate received the degree at a time; 3) advancing candidates before they had become properly proficient in the preceding degree. Joseph’s violation of his Masonic oaths was also a sticking point, and may have directly contributed to the order of suspension of work in Nauvoo Lodge, U.D. By violation of Masonic oaths, I refer specifically to 1) having illegal sexual intercourse with the widow, wife or daughter of a Mason; 2) the initiation of women. I could raise other points, but I believe that these two would be sufficient to bring most men up on Masonic charges…even the Prophet.

a Mormon writes:
By your own logic, then, both X and Y must come from B – H and we can even predict an A which is the source of them all!

No, this does not follow. In fact, it does not naturally follow that because X preceded Y that Y was therefore derived from X. In the case of Mormonism and Masonry, there is a direct causual link… it is not merely an assumption based upon the fact that Masonry existed earlier than the Endowment.

And, neither the Endowment NOR Masonry demonstrates a causual link to the “B-H” you mention. This does not mean that they are absolutely NOT related to B-H; it only means that this cannot be demonstrated.

a Mormon writes:
[Joseph is] making this prediction *after* the saints had been shown the preparatory endowment in the Kirtland temple, but over a year *before* he becomes involved with the Masons. Pretty bold statement to make if the things which would be revealed/added weren’t going to be “borrowed” from the Masons for another 14 months, no?

Actually…NO. Since Bernard’s exhaustive expos�, LIGHT ON MASONRY, had been published in Utica NY in 1829 (third edition). You might wish to look at a map and see where Utica, NY is compared to say….Palmyra. Also, as I said before, events in Batavia had been heating up since 1826, and by 1827, Morgan’s expos� had been published in Batavia by his former associate, David C. Miller.

Just because there were fewer Masonic elements in Kirtland, doesn’t mean that Joseph was not familiar with Freemasonry by this time.

a Mormon writes:
January 6, 1842 – Joseph Smith records in his diary his thoughts, he writes that it was to “prepare the earth for the return of His glory, even a celestial glory, and a kingdom of *Priests and kings* to God and the Lamb, forever, on Mount Zion.” Two months before Masonry and he’s already using the central theme (i.e. becoming priests and kings to God – see NT:Rev. 1:5-6 – and entering the Celestial Kingdom) of the “revised” Temple Ceremony.

The idea of entering a Grand Council of Prophet, Priest and King is a theme found in Masonry as well. It is associated with the Masonic Rite of Exaltation we have discussed above.

a Mormon writes:
May 4, 1842 – The endowment is taught in a room in the upper part of the store. Joseph Smith has been a Mason for less than two months and has attended a grand total of three meetings, but he’s teaching the endowment – the whole enchilada, including “keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and … the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

And who were the Brethren attending that first meeting? I wonder how many of them were Masons?

a Mormon writes:
Noticeably absent from these meetings are his brother Hyrum and Sidney Rigdon, the other counsellor in the first presidency. Joseph Smith probably knew that his brother would be taken as well, and the first presidency dissolved, but this is just a guess.

D&C 124:124 indicates that as late as 1841, Joseph had hoped that Hyrum would lead the Church in his absence. Hyrum was not included in the Anointed Quorum until he had accepted the principle of Plural Marriage.

a Mormon writes:
Question: Joseph is administering the endowment in May, about six weeks after becoming a Mason. He is teaching it to men, some of whom have been Masons their entire adult lives, yet they are convinced that Joseph Smith is imparting to them a wealth of information they had not known before. In describing the event, words such as “instructing,” “made known to these men,” “council,” “communications,” etc. are used. On subsequent occasions, these same men are called together to receive *further* information on the endowment! Are you saying that Joseph Smith was such a genius that, after only three meetings with the Masons, he knows more about it than men who have spent many years in the fraternity?

Aside from noting that Joseph Smith had much more time to think on these things that you indicate, I would also say that I never hinted that he wasn’t a Prophet. That he was able to instruct the Brethren on these matters only three weeks after he had been raised a Master Mason does not mean that the Endowment was not borrowed from Masonry. Also, you minimize Joseph’s Masonic involvement when you say he only attended “5 meetings.” By the time *I* had attended 5 meetings, my knowledge of the Fraternity was pretty darn good.

Further, he was clearly engaging in Masonic activity outside the Lodge.

a Mormon writes:
John C. Bennett was excommunicated from the church and expelled from the Masonic Lodge at the same time. Yet in all his bitter, slanderous writings he never once accused Joseph Smith of having stolen the Temple Ceremony from the Masons.

The hell you say. He most certainly DID accuse the Prophet of this very thing! You evidently have not read History of the Saints. Even the new Bennet biography by Andrew Smith mentions this.

a Mormon writes:
Increase Van Deusen had received the endowment and also been a Mason. In 1847 he and his wife wrote a pamphlet entitled Spiritual Delusions. In it he revealed much of the Temple Ceremony, but never mentions Masonry.

Not directly, but the Van Deusens mention the SEVEN DEGREES of the Endowment. This is at least an interesting coincidence, since in the York Rite, the 7� contains the Masonic Ceremony of Exaltation.

a Mormon writes:
George W. Harris knew both ceremonies. After the exodus from Nauvoo, he wanted to make Kanesville, Iowa the new home of the Saints. He and his wife (the widow of William Morgan, who had earlier written an expose’ on Masonry) both apostatised and remained in Ohio, and wrote books against the Church. He wrote of certain “signs, tokens, grips of the hands, key words, etc.,” and affirmed that “they were *peculiar to this organization*” IOW, not part of Masonry.

Ebenezer Robinson, on the other hand, said that such things were frowned on in the early Church, and that he was surprised when such Masonic elements became associated with the Church. He timed their arrival with that of the Good Doctor, John Bennett.

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