The updated initiatory ordinances (related to the Biblical “washings and anointings”) in the Temple are old news, but it wasn’t until last week that I got to participate in those ordinances since the change. Very nice! Much better, not just for newcomers to the Temple, but for oldtimers as well. The core concepts remain unchanged, but the updated details of administering the ordinance are much better suited for our era and will make the overall Temple experience even better.
While critics guffaw at any change we make (“The Changing World of Mormonism” is one series I’ve heard on the radio), they often fail to recognize how dramatically their religion and texts have changed over the centuries. Given their rejection of continuing revelation since the last page of the New Testament was written, changes in doctrine and ordinances raise many questions. But I respect the flexibility that is possible within the Church, based on an understanding of what is policy or practice versus doctrine and core covenants, and based on the concept of continuing revelation and inspired, authorized leaders.
Inspired adjustments made by properly authorized leaders is something we need not fear, especially changes in policy and practice. The real problem is when there has been loss of truth and loss of covenants from unauthorized changes, such as the changes that resulted in the lost understanding of the nature of God and Christ, or the introduction of infant baptism, and the many other examples of loss and improper change that have occurred over the centuries.
Yes, there are plenty of arguments to make against the LDS version of the Temple. Is it needed? Why do we do this or that? How do you separate ancient elements from modern influences? Can we really trace allegedly ancient aspects to ancient times? Did early Christians really have the same ordinances?
I won’t go into those issues here. For me, as one who has experienced the Temple and has dabbled in some aspects of the ancient world, I’m impressed with what we have and can respect it as an inspired institution with ancient roots and divine covenants to bring us more fully to Christ and to help complete the work of His Church on the earth. Indeed, I can rejoice at what a jewel the Temple is, the House of the Lord, a prophesied institution that would play a role in the gathering of Israel in the last days. It is the powerhouse of the Restored Church, as High Nibley put it. And it just got a little better with an inspired tweak in the format of its initial ordinances.
(I don’t want comments that get into details of the Temple here, and do not consider this to be the place for the usual assaults on this institution. For this post, keep comments short and respectful, please.)