The Mormon Temple

Does the Mormon restoration of the temple reflect the original?

Reference Links

Detailed Info on Temple Ceremonies
Masonic Influence on Mormonism
Mormon Temple vs the Bible

Video Transcript

In 1832 Joseph Smith received a revelation that the Mormons should restore the practice of temple ceremonies. Four years later, the first of over 130 LDS temples was completed in Kirtland Ohio, at which time Jesus, Moses, and Elijah appeared to Smith and Oliver Cowdery to express their satisfaction.

As is common with most of Smith’s restoration of Christianity, it bears no resemblance to the original found in the Bible. The temple of the Old Testament was built to a specific architectural plan, and was used for the sacrificing offerings of animals, food, and incense to minister in the special presence of the Lord. There was only one temple, no baptisms, marriages, or secret rituals were performed, and only specially qualified males from the tribe of Levi could enter.

In the New Testament, the physical temple became obsolete as Christians, both individually and corporately, are described as the temple because the Holy Spirit dwells within them.

The Mormon temple was originally used as a place for ceremonial washing and anointing for church leaders, and as a gathering place. Today, anyone with a temple recommend, which is given to members who meet a list of requirements, can perform and receive secretive ordinances that are required for personal salvation.

Baptism for the dead is a ceremony wherein a living person is baptized on behalf of a dead person, giving them an opportunity to be saved in the afterlife, even thought the Book of Mormon clearly states that no one can be saved after death. There is a reference to baptism for the dead in the Bible, but it is certainly not taught.

In the endowment ceremony, patrons are endowed with special knowledge. The first part of the ceremony involves a washing, which used to be literal, but is now symbolic. This is followed by being given the temple under garments, which were originally meant to be worn only in the temple, but now are worn at all times. They are also given a new secret name, which will act as a password to enter heaven when they die.

The second part involves watching a film about salvation. Up until the 1990’s, this film included a scene wherein Satan hires a Christian minister to spread his word. More symbolic temple clothes are worn and participants are taught special signs and tokens; secret handshakes and arm movements that they will later be tested on in a ritual symbolic of entering heaven.

This ceremony bears striking resemblance to Masonic ceremonies, which is not unusual because it was instituted soon after Joseph Smith joined the Masonic Lodge. There are Masonic symbols throughout the temple and on temple garments, and the handgrips and vows are quite similar, which is unexpected because the Book of Mormon condemns secret signs and oaths.

But much of the Masonic influence was removed from the ceremony in 1990, most importantly, the penalties, symbolic signs of how one would be killed if they revealed the ceremony’s secrets.

Sealings, or temple marriages, are where a man and woman, and sometimes their children, are sealed together for eternity, without so doing one cannot obtain the highest degree of heaven. This is in spite of Jesus’ teaching in the Bible that there is no marriage in the resurrection.

Finally, there is the second anointing, given only at the invitation of the church president, this guarantees the recipient the highest degree of salvation. It is not public knowledge if this is still practiced.

Although Smith stated that temple ordinances were instituted in heaven and were not to be changed or altered, many changes have taken place, perhaps for political correctness. For instance, up until the 1920s there was an oath of vengeance for the murder of Joseph Smith.