Temple Blindness

Ancient Chinese silk showing Nüwa holding a compass and Fuxi holding a square, symbols of order and creation far older than modern Masonry. From the Chinese Wikipedia entry for Nüwa. See the discussion of related figures in Yinyang by Robin Wang (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ Press, 2012), pp. 101-103.

Note: Future updates to this information will be made in the “Temple Blindness” page of my website at http://www.jefflindsay.com/lds/temple-blindness/.

I am pained to see Latter-day Saints get carried away in cynicism over the Temple because some elements are linked to modern sources such as Masonry. This is an important theme in some attacks that have gained publicity recently, where it is argued that the Temple is a fraud because it does not contain elements from Solomon’s temple but from modern Masonry. As I explain on my LDSFAQ page on the LDS Temple and Masonry, neither Masonry nor any other modern source explains the ancient majesty of the LDS temple concept, which is completely foreign to the modern world and to Joseph Smith’s world. Numerous aspects of the LDS temple concept such as washings and anointings, baptism for the dead, and the sealing of families have no relationship to Masonry or and/or predate Joseph’s exposure to Masonry, making Masonry a completely inadequate source to explain the content of the Temple. The LDS Temple is much more at home in a very ancient setting and offers strong evidence for an actual Restoration. As for Solomon’s temple, the relationship might be stronger than blind critics could ever see, as I’ll explore below.

The modern charge that the temple was just plagiarized from Masonry didn’t occur to Latter-day Saint Masons in Joseph’s day, including those who left the Church for various reasons. They knew they were dealing with something quite different, though it shared some superficial elements and felt more like a restoration of knowledge than a clumsy copy. Today the sense of restoration versus ripoff has a great of intellectual support. For example, as discussed in more detail on my LDSFAQ page, John Tvedtnes has pointed out that there is “a corpus of documents from the second century B.C. through the fifth century A.D. that deal with elements of the endowment as it is taught in LDS temples and which demonstrates the antiquity of the ordinance.” There I further discuss a few specifics and provide links for more detailed information. But for now, rather than getting caught up in minute details such as whether a particular symbol is used in modern Masonry or not, let’s consider some broader issues.

The real issue is not whether the Temple has any elements in common with Masonry or other modern sources. There can be many reasons for shared elements, and they may not be significant. A more meaningful question might be “Can significant aspects of the LDS Temple be viewed as a restoration of ancient concepts?” While the LDS Temple is part of a modern dispensation, adapted for modern participants, there is a strong case that it is part of a Restoration of ancient truths and concepts. Let’s begin with a review of the big picture of what the temple is, beginning with its very existence, and then looking at its role and purpose.

The modern Christian world has given up on temples. The ancient temple is gone and is no longer necessary, it is said. In a religious world that denied the need for and importance of temples, Joseph Smith provided revelations teaching that the temple was to play a central role. Modern scholars in looking at the Bible and other ancient writings now increasingly recognize that the temple and temple concepts were at the heart of not only Judaism but also Christianity. Simply reading the New Testament with an awareness of temple concepts, one can see that Christ was constantly at or near the temple. He defended its sanctity. Though early Christians would be cast out from the temple, at least initially they gathered there often as read in Acts 2:47: “And they [the followers of Christ], continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” The temple is where Christ was frequently during his mortal mission. It is where He will return at the Second Coming, according to Malachi 3:1-2. And after His return, the Lord’s temple is where Christians will labor night and day during the grand Millennium (Rev. 7:15). And yet we are supposed to be believe that the temple just doesn’t matter any more? I can understand why the argument of convenience and necessity, for the ancient temple was lost, along with the knowledge and authority required to operate it. But the answer is not to give up on the temple, but to look for and welcome its Restoration.

Scholars like Margaret Barker are now showing us that temple worship and related concepts was central to early Christianity. Her works such as Temple Mysticism argue that one reason why the message of Christ spread so well among the early Jews was that many were aware of the ancient traditions going back to the first temple, before the reforms that would stamp out much of the original temple concept. These traditions made the temple a place of ascent into the presence of God, and taught the ancient Jews that the Divine Council included Jehovah, a son of the Most High God. It was a place of covenants and revelation where angels were involved and where human priests represented divine beings.

Yes, like the ancient temple, the restored LDS temple is a place of covenant making. It restores the ancient primacy of covenants in the relationship between man and God. In fact, it employs a full covenant pattern (the “covenant formulary”) from the ancient Middle East that was not recognized by scholars until the 19th century. This pattern is also found in the Book of Mormon, particularly in King Benjamin’s covenant-making speech given at the Nephite temple (Mosiah 2-4).

The temple teaches an anthropomorphic God and Son of God who created man with the intent of bringing them into their presence where they will participate in their glory and joy. Theosis, becoming like God in some way, is an essential aspect of the LDS temple and one that is strongly attested in ancient sources—evidence of a Restoration.

The temple is based on the concept of sacred teachings that are not publicized but kept unwritten or secret. This flies in the face of religion in Joseph’s day but recently has been strongly confirmed in early Christian worship. Again, this is evidence that the broad concepts of the LDS temple are consistent with a restoration of ancient elements.

The temple also prepares us for the journey back to God’s presence in a series of steps. The Endowment involves three rooms, Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial. This is related to a variety of ancient concepts, including the three major sections of Solomon’s Temple.

Kevin Christensen reminds us of this basic concept in “The Temple, the Monarchy, and Wisdom: Lehi’s World and the Scholarship of Margaret Barker” in Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem (Provo, UT: Maxwell Institute, 2004):

The most obvious aspect of the temple in Jerusalem involved the levels of sacredness, increasing from the inner court to the holy place and to the holy of holies. According to Mircea Eliade, the three parts of the temple at Jerusalem correspond to the three cosmic regions. The lower court represents the lower regions (“Sheol,” the abode of the dead), the holy place represents the earth, and the holy of holies represents heaven. The temple is always the meeting point of heaven, earth, and the world of the dead. Lehi’s cosmology saw the world in these three realms (heaven, 1 Nephi 1:8; the earth, 1 Nephi 1:14; and the realm of the dead, 2 Nephi 1:14). King Benjamin, speaking from his temple, also sees the cosmos in terms of heaven, the earth, and the realm of the dead (Mosiah 2:25, 26, 41), with entrance into God’s presence as the ultimate joyous state (Mosiah 2:41). Considering 3 Nephi as a whole, we can also find these three distinct levels of sacredness: (1) darkness/separation (3 Nephi 8–10), (2) preparation/initiation (3 Nephi 11:1–17:23; 18:1–37; 19:13; 20:1–28:12), (3) apotheosis/at-one-ment (3 Nephi 17:24; 18:36–39; 19:14, 25–31; 28:10–18).

Margaret Barker has this to say in “Beyond the Veil of the Temple: The High Priestly Origin of the Apocalypses,” Presidential address to the Society for Old Testament Study, Cambridge, January 1998, published in the Scottish Journal of Theology 51.1 (1998):

Josephus, who was himself a priest (Life 1), says that the tabernacle was a microcosm of the creation, divided into three parts: the outer parts represented the sea and the land but ‘…the third part thereof… to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God’ (Ant. 3.181). Thus the veil which screened the holy of holies was also the boundary between earth and heaven. Josephus was writing at the very end of the second temple period, but texts such as Psalm 11 ‘The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven’, suggest that the holy of holies was thought to be heaven at a much earlier period, and the LXX of Isaiah 6, which differs from the Hebrew, implies that the hekhal was the earth3. The Glory of the LORD filled the house in v. 1, and the seraphim sang that the Glory filled the earth , v. 3.

The LDS temple likewise progresses from creation to the fallen world, and then ultimately to the Celestial Room after passing through the veil, consistent with the ancient Jewish temple.

The Ancient Temple: Not Derived from Masonry

Temple themes and subtleties in LDS religion cannot be explained from Joseph’s brief encounter with Masonry because a) Masonry does not contain most of these elements, and b) many temple themes are found in LDS scriptures predating Joseph’s brief exposure to Masonry in 1842.

Examples of ancient elements in the LDS temple not derivable from Masonry or other sources accessible to Joseph Smith include:

  • The covenant formulary: a detailed pattern used in ancient Middle Eastern covenants that is fully present in the LDS temple. The steps of this pattern were not recognized by scholars until the 20th century.
  • The prayer circle, which has ancient roots. According to non-LDS scholar E. Louis Backman, “If you are inducted into the Christian mysteries, then you must perform a ring-dance round the altar . . . not only with the other novitiates but also with the angels! For they are present and participate in the mystery.”, Religious Dances in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine, trans. E. Classen (1952; reprint, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977), 19; see also Hugh W. Nibley, “The Early Christian Prayer Circle,” in Mormonism and Early Christianity, 45-99, originally published in BYU Studies, vol. 19 (1978).
  • Baptism for the dead, a practice that does have roots in early Christianity—certainly not Masonry. Numerous documents since Joseph’s day strengthen the case for baptism for the dead as an authentic practice of at least some early Christians. This practice clearly has no relationship to Masonry and is clearly at odds with the religious environment Joseph grew up in. It cannot be explained as a product of his environment.


Some of the symbols commonly ascribed to Masonry such as the square and the compass are ancient and may have common origins with Masonry. For example, both of these symbols are found together in a ritual context on Facsimile 2 (figure 7) of the Book of Abraham, on an Egyptian drawing involving the passage of man into the afterlife dating back roughly 2,000 years. Many other ancient sources provide support for these symbols as ancient, meaningful symbols that have been imbued with at least some of the meanings and applications found in the LDS temple. Since I am in China as I write this, I wish to also mention that ancient China offers further evidence for the antiquity of the square and compass symbols in the LDS temple, where the very common and ancient word for order and rules (especially those of a community or organization) is guiju (规矩), which literally means compass and square (the carpenter’s square is depicted in right side of the ju character: 矩, which also an important element in many other characters). In the Third International Handbook of Mathematics Education by M. A. Clements et al., p. 527, we read:

In ancient Chinese mythology, there were demigods Nuwai and Fuxi who were the progenitors of mankind and shapers of human society. Legends say that Nuwa and Fuxi invented gui (compasses) and ju (set-square) to shape the world. On an ancient stone carving found inside a tomb from the East Han dynasty (25 to 220 CE) there is an intertwined image of Nuwa and Fuxi with Nuwa holding a gui and Fuxi holding a ju.

For the ancient Chinese, the basic concept of the world was “heaven is round, earth is square” and there was an ancient motto that “without guiju [rules], there are no square and circle.” This geometrical intuition about the physical world became metaphoric in the human world. The connotative usage of the word guiju refers to orderliness according to underlying rules, and even applies to human affairs. Hence for the Chinese, circle and square were elemental shapes and rules of the universe and they were embodied and symbolized by the tools that produced them.

See also “Nüwa and Fuxi in Chinese Mythology: Compass & Square” at TempleStudy.com. Note that the compass and square have meaning in the context of Creation as well as in establishing order for humans, reminding them of rules and boundaries for behavior. This is a good fit for the LDS concept and points to ancient roots for these symbols and their usage in the LDS temple.

Much of the evidence for the LDS temple as a restoration of at least some ancient elements comes from documents from antiquity that Joseph typically would not have read (often because the documents weren’t discovered or available until years later). On the other hand, some of the most important evidence is in plain sight in the Bible, yet long overlooked or denied by modern Christians. The single verse mentioning baptism for the dead is of that variety. That verse is certainly not enough material to guide Joseph in creating that majestic doctrine and the vibrant concept of family history work that blesses so many lives today, yet that verse stands as one of several important strands of evidence that some early Christians did have this practice in some form. Likewise, the book of Revelation in the Bible is infused with temple themes that many overlook.

Ancient and Restored Temple Themes in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is rich with references to concepts related to temple worship. For example, it makes reference to esoteric teachings or mysteries that are not made public as we read in Alma 12:9-11. Nephi refers to the Savior as the keeper of the gate in 2 Nephi 9:41, the gate that is at the end of the path that leads to the Savior, and where there is no other way but by the gate to reach the Lord. As keeper of the gate, “he employeth no servant there” (a possible reference, though, to the use of servants along the path prior to the gate). A test of some kind at the gate is also implied with the statement that the Lord as keeper of the gate “cannot be deceived.” Then in verse 42, “whose knocketh, to him will he open.” King Benjamin’s discourse at the temple is infused with covenant making themes and imagery. The Lord’s Sermon at the Temple in 3 Nephi is also rich in temple themes, as John Welch has demonstrated in his book, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount: A Latter-Day Saint Approach (2010).

However, some of the most temple-centric aspects of the Book of Mormon have been attacked as being evidence of fraud. Since 1831 when Alexander Campbell published “Delusions” attacking the Book of Mormon, critics have charged that it is pathetically anachronistic in depicting early Hebrews who worshipped Christ. Campbell was particularly outraged that the Nephites would engage in temple worship outside of Jerusalem (“contrary to every precept of the law”), and rely on a priesthood other than the Levitical priesthood. Such arguments lost some of their sting with the revelations from the Dead Sea Scrolls, where we find pre-Christian Hebrews in what has been called a church of anticipation, engaging in practices that were once thought to be uniquely Christian. Other documents confirmed that Jews outside of Israel such as those in Elephantine, Egypt had no trouble in building their own temples patterned after Solomon’s temple, as did the Nephites. More recently, Barker’s work helps us appreciate the ancient significance of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the primacy of early temple concepts in preexilic Jewish religion, remarkable consistent with the flavor of religion Lehi brought to the New World. What looked like silly anachronisms in 1830 now appear as impressive evidences that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text, and that temple-related concepts in it and in the LDS temple are fruits of a Restoration, not just ignorant blunders.

Further scholarship continues to shed temple-related insights into the Book of Mormon in ways that further confirm not only its authenticity as an ancient Semitic record. For example, subtle Hebraic wordplay on the structure of Solomon’s temple even appears to play an important role in Lehi’s vision in a way that Joseph Smith surely could not have fabricated, as I discuss at Mormanity and the Nauvoo Times. D. John Butler in his ebook, Plain and Precious Things: The Temple Religion of the Book of Mormon’s Visionary Men provides a new way of looking at Lehi’s vision. Lehi describes a journey that begins in a “dark and dreary wilderness” that joins a “large and spacious field, as if it had been a world” (1 Nephi 8:20). The Hebrew word ulam for the first part of the temple is very close, almost identical in sound, to olam, a word that means “world.” In Butler’s view, there is a Hebrew play on words linking the great and spacious field, “a world,” to the Temple’s ulam. It’s one of many clues that we are on a Temple trip—but not the happy place of light and joy we normally associate with the Temple. In Lehi’s dream, it’s a temple gone dark. Dark and dreary, filled with wicked priests representing the corrupt religions establishment of his day.

After the ulam comes the hekal, the “great building.” Recall Lehi’s words of what he saw after the field/world/ulam:

a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. (1Nephi 8:26-27)

The word “fine” is used repeatedly in the Old Testament to describe the clothing of the priests in the temple, not secular clothing. The people with the fine clothing in the great and spacious building include the priests of the temple in a sinister hekal, part of Lehi’s dark temple experience. Butler also compares the fumes of incense that are part of the hekal with the mists of darkness that lead people astray. The waters of life that are part of many temple scenarios in ancient literature are replaced with filthy waters that lead people astray.

Only those who resist the corrupt religious establishment of his day and the temptations and pressures of the adversary, clinging to the word of God (the iron rod) can make it past the dark ulam and sinister hekal and arrive safely to debir and the tree of life, rich in temple imagery also. Thus, Lehi’s dream also appears to use Semitic wordplay to refer to the 3 parts of Solomon’s temple, with a twist highlighting the forces of apostasy that he was opposing. Its references to a tree of life, waters of life, the Son of God, and so forth are consistent with Barker’s reconstruction of early temple theology prior to the Exile–again, evidence of a Restoration.

Temple Themes in Other LDS Scriptures Prior to 1842

The Book of Moses, published in 1831, contains many elements relevant to the LDS Temple. It begins with a classic heavenly ascent scene, which is related to the core concept of bringing man into the presence of God. Instead of taking place in a temple, this “Endowment” takes place in the natural substitute for a formal temple, a high mountain. There Moses sees God “face to face” and is able to “endure his presence” (v. 2). He is shown the world that God has created and learns more of God’s works, and is told he has been created in the image of the Son. After God departs, Satan comes telling Moses to worship him, and Moses casts him out in the name of the Son, and Moses departs, ranting and shaking the earth (v. 12-22). God then visits Moses again after this scene, and is shown more details of the Creation, including the first man, “Adam, which is many” (v. 34). Moses is commanded to write what he has learned and also writes the detailed Creation story.

The Book of Moses contains other elements that are integral to the LDS Endowment ceremony, including information about Satan’s rebellion and the premortal existence, and Adam’s faithfulness in offering sacrifices that were a similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God.

Much more can be said about temple themes in the Book of Moses. There is an entire book on the subject, Jeffrey Bradshaw’s Temples Themes in the Book of Moses. Highly recommended reading (see George L. Mitton’s review at Mormon Interpreter).

The Book of Abraham, published 1835, contains related temple themes. Abraham desires priesthood blessings. He is rescued from a human sacrifice and encounters God, and later has God appear to him (2: 6). In this second encounter God offers the Abrahamic covenant (2:8-11). He appears another time (2:19) and makes further promises. God reveals to Abraham details of the creation via preserved records from the fathers (1: 31) and also via vision aided by the Urm and Thummim (3:1-2), and he also shares the story of the Creation and also of the premortal existence.

There is so much more to say on this topic, including much more from early Christianity. The LDS temple and related topics are worth a lifetime of study. The temple and its teachings go deep into antiquity and bring together many of the most interesting aspects of the Gospel and of ancient religion. Read Eliade, read Levenson, read Barker, and read the many LDS scholars who have furthered our understanding of the ancient world, of early Christianity and Judaism, of the scriptures, of the modern Restoration, and of the ancient and restored Temple. Anachronisms and blunders are becoming subtleties and evidences for plausibility. Our ability to learn from the Temple and intellectually appreciate its majesty is greater than ever. There is no need to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this era, though the Temple is further than ever from the dark comfort zone of the world and its fine-clothed intellectuals.

Further resources:

Author: Jeff Lindsay

59 thoughts on “Temple Blindness

  1. LDS critics say that the main reason Temples are not needed is because when Christ was crucified, the Temple Veil was rent. The critics therefore say that the renting of the Veil is proof of the Temple not being necessary anymore. And they say that Christ was the last High Priest so no Priesthood is necessary. And then sometimes the critics bring the Jews into the mix: Dome of the Rock, Levites are only ones authorized to have a Priesthood, and so on. How can these criticisms be answered?

    When I was growing up in the 1970's and 1980's, I distinctly remember the First Presidency urging members to NOT join clubs like the Masons and Eastern Star's, and others like them, but specifically Masons/Eastern Star and their organizations for teens are the DeMolay (boys)/ Rainbow (girls).
    Now today, the First Presidency never mentions for members to not join these organizations. A lot of LDS men where I live are Masons. Any reason why the change in attitude towards Masons/Eastern Star and other organizations like it?

    Thank you for your time. And this was a good article.


  2. Perhaps some other temple themes that appear in LDS scripture before 1842 would come from one of my favorite temple related sections in D&C – Section 84.

    There is certainly the references to the power of the Higher Priesthood, and it's ability to "administer the gospel and holds the keys to the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God."

    That simple phrase above sums up the entire purpose of the endowment process. Of course, we only act it out symbolically, but there are some in this life who follow that pattern to receive the real thing.

    The pattern/ritual/symbols presented in the endowment mirror the language given in this revelation in 1832 – in that "in the ordinances of [the higher priesthood], the power of Godliness is manifest."

    We then have God clarifying that Moses sought to prepare a people to behold God, but they decided they could not endure His presence. Since I just taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson that covers this part of Exodus, it's safe to say the entire exodus account has strong themes of our current endowment. With God first establishing covenants, which the entire people assent to. Which allows God to advance them in their degrees of preparation and sanctification. Eventually, it reaches the point of preparation when God says that he would like to converse with them through a veil (through the cloud), in preparation for them to eventually behold Him. Unfortunately, that conversation at the veil was too frightening for most of Israel, and they reject what would have come next.

    Thankfully, 70 Elders did not reject what came next, and went beyond "speaking through a veil/cloud" and actually ascended the mount with Moses to behold God. Additionally, when the rest of Israel rejects this invitation, God says He will no longer go before them in the cloud, but that it will be an Angel instead. (Also what's pretty cool, is that despite Israel's rejection of God's invitation, Moses continues faithful and is eventually promise he will receive God's name. When the promise fulfilled and he receives it, it has a remarkable effect upon his body….he himself becomes translated and all glowing and celestial…..hmmm, perhaps we assume we've received something by hearing the symbol pronounced when we are at the veil, but maybe we haven't actually received anything of power at all until we complete our endowment like Moses did and hear it from God and have a literal "renewing of our bodies".)

    In our temple we have a period of time where we are ministered to first by Angels. They originally come not in true form, and then come later identifying who they are. When in their true form, it is revealed the angels desire to prepare people to behold God for themselves.

  3. Continued…..

    This brings me back to D&C 84 – and what I believe to be a massive overlooking on our part of what exactly the Oath and the Covenant of the Priesthood is, and who receives it. We think it is 12 and 18 year old boys….but it is clear by the scriptures in section 84 that this is not referring to ordaining young men….but it is referring to a temple endowment which at the time did not yet exist, but would.

    It says that people who are faithful to obtaining two priesthoods (perhaps symbolized by being dressed in robes of each priesthood and participating in covenants associated with each), and magnify that calling (or in other words are true and faithful to the things they covenant to and learn there), are sanctified to the renewing of their bodies (that's also washing/anointing and endowment language). It then gives the EXACT pattern for the future endowment – with people learning first to receive servants (angelic ministers), then the Son, and finally the Father. Or in other words, people by their faithfulness to the covenants, personally grow and develop in this life, and become capable of entering into, and conversing with beings of, a higher spiritual plain – Terrestrial and Celestial levels.

    It would seem the Oath and Covenant has a lot more to do with people who enter into the temple and who fulfill those covenants, then 12 and 18 boys who hardly have begun to understand what it means to be true and faithful to such things.

    D&C 84 and the Book of Mormon are GREAT LDS Temple themed scripture. But we must have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

  4. I also think the experience of the Brother of Jared in Ether 3 is interesting and very much related to the temple. Essentially he enters the Lord's presence after some preparation and teaching, and though I don't want to hash out the details in an online forum, I think there are some very interesting parallels.

  5. I am writing on a very "basic" level. We know the Masonic ceremony and LDS ceremony are different. The outcome is very different. We agree that the Church has removed many of the signs and tokens that were copied from the Masonic group.

    However, parts of the sacred veil ceremony were copied and remain as they were. Face it. We can dance until the moon falls and the copied parts remain essential to the LDS ceremony.

    Joseph was given a gun to protect himself in jail. He used the gun. It is very likely the man giving him the gun was a. Mason. Most men of Nauvoo were. Masons. The. Masonic lodge did not give him the gun. It was most likely a man, who happens to be a Mason that gave him the gun. The man/men who Joseph shot with the gun were likely Masons.

    I suspect that some of those in the mob that acted against Joseph were Masons. In Masonry Polyandry is loudly condemned. Polyandry is so serious in Masonry that it is spoken to in the Masonic ceremony. If the Lodge knew of Joseph's Polyandry he would not have been allowed to be a Mason.

  6. I really don't mind that portions of the endowment ceremony has elements (or copied) from the Masonic ceremony and altered to fit with the covenants that we make with Heavenly Father. This isn't the only ordinance that was "copied." We baptise, partake of the sacrament, give blessings by the laying on of hands, etc. Much of our sabbath day activities were "copied" from how other denominations did it. In fact, Joseph copied the Book of Mormon from the Gold Plates. Does it make it any less true? I believe that Joseph was called to restore the true gospel and as such, Heavenly Father required (among other things) that the covenants be made. How these covenants are presented to us to enable us to reach higher spheres of spirituality might well have been left up to Joseph Smith on how these were to be presented. I have no problem with this because of the closeness I feel when I participate.


  7. You know, I don't hear people objecting to the temple rites based on their Masonic origins. What I hear people object to the creepiness, the opacity and the extortion of having to commit to covenants before knowing what they are under the pressure of the whole assembly's watch. Is that part Masonic?

  8. People going to the Temple should know that they will be making covenants to keep the commandments, live a morally clean life, and consecrate our lives to God. These basic concepts are taught, as I recall, in the temple prep course.

  9. Interesting. So the masons make their promises in private to a respected one or two people of the lodge and not in "public" (in front of other lodge members) with others looking on? Is this so that they don't feel the pressure and extortion as I guess some do when they promise to lead clean lives in the endowment?

  10. "Is this so that they don't feel the pressure and extortion"

    The extortion comes by the fact that you cannot reach the celestial kingdom and obtain Theosis (becoming a God) without entering the temple. You cannot enter the temple without a "temple recommend" issued by your local Bishop. You cannot obtain a "temple recommend" unless you meet the "standards of worthiness" requirements. These include obeying the laws of TITHING and completing your annual "tithing settlement". Tithing settlement is where you settle up with your bishop and confirm you've paid all you're required to pay.

    Simply put: No pay > no temple admission > no becoming a god

    This is at worst, by definition extortion (obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one's office or authority) And at the VERY least, coercion (to compel to an act or choice)

    Many LDS may argue that he freely gives of his tithes to the church and that he does not feel he is being coerced into doing so. This may be true; however, it is the letter of "celestial law." wherein the coercion lies, not an individual's feelings about the law.

    The good news is Jesus never required money to obtain position with God, ever. It's your heart He wants, Christ doesn't need your money. Love for God should motivate giving.

  11. Anonymous,

    If you understand the doctrine of theosis and how it applies to Mormonism, then you should be able to view tithing less pessimistically than you are putting on.

    Simply put:

    God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.

    If a person cannot learn to part with some of his money, how can he understand sacrifice, charity, and giving, the way that our Father does?
    Sacrificing wordly goods was practiced by Adam and his children (Abel, and his animal sacrifice), by Moses and his people (the temple), and by the early Christian church (Ananais & Sapphira). This is not a uniquely Mormon concept, but I will venture to say that perhaps Mormons today have a better understanding of why sacrifice is an important principle. We have moved beyond mere obedience. My understanding of this principle and why it is a requirement, and how it relates to our doctrine of theosis has been an awesome blessing to me and has helped me to live it better than a mere belief in obedience ever could.

    "The good news is Jesus never required money to obtain position with God, ever. It's your heart He wants, Christ doesn't need your money."

    Which Bible are you reading? Putting the Old Testament aside (which is giving you an extermely generous break here), even the NT shows something different than what you are saying. Consider the young rich ruler in Luke, where Jesus told him that in order for him to progress ("what lack I yet?"), Jesus told him to sell everything and then follow him. I mentioned Ananais and Sapphira, who were struck down for lying about withholding donations. Jesus accepted expensive ointments and was criticized for not using the money for the poor instead. He admired the widow who tossed in her last mite and gave more than the others.

    Jesus does want our hearts. And so He has us give up wordly goods and money in order to make more room for Him. He always has, and He always will. If your religion does not teach sacrifice, then it is not much of a religion.

    "Love for God should motivate giving."

    That's the only reason why I would give as much money as I do.

  12. Pierce,
    I'm viewing LDS "Celestial Law" as it is written. You can spin it anyway you want. Again, YOU yourself may freely give of your tithes to the church without feeling coerced into doing so, that's beside the point. LDS "celestial law" requires full tithing payment in order to enter the temple or you WILL NOT ENTER

    Am I wrong about this?

    Show me the passage where Christ says unless you meet with one of my reps annually to make sure you gave enough money, you will not enter my temple.

    It doesn't exist

    The point of the exchange between Jesus and the rich young ruler was that Jesus knew the rulers heart. Jesus was making an accurate assessment of the man's own condition and standing before God. The bottom line, he had to choose himself or Christ. He had to choose between self-righteous pride and possessions and total abandonment to God.

    If you love self more than Christ, you can't be His disciple. If you love possessions more than Christ, you can't be His disciple. Eternal life is only for those who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, far more than self and far more than worldly possessions.

    It's a matter of the heart, not a required dollar amount

    As far as Ananais & Sapphira, It wasn't the withholding of REQUIRED money that got them killed, it was the PROMISE of money made to the Holy Spirit that did it. Again, it's a matter of the heart

    You're right, to follow Christ is a total sacrifice, but how genuine is that sacrifice when you're required to sit down with your Bishop and total up your required payment?

  13. "Am I wrong about this?"

    What you are doing is you are ignoring everything that I said, stripping everything down without context or explanation, and dismissing context and explanation as a "spin." You are demonstrating that your analysis of what "celestial law" is too flat when compared to an actual explanation. You're trying to tell an LDS man who pays tithing WHY he pays tithing, yet when he explains to you what is actually going on with him and what motivates him, you say he is spinning things. What is your basis of comparison?

    You are using the word "requirement" over and over again. Using that word is not going to prove your point of coercion. The Lord does have requirements of His people, for all who choose to follow Him. Demonizing the word cannot hide the fact that the Lord does make requirements of us. But it's a requirement that is as voluntary for me as it is for you.

    "Show me the passage where Christ says unless you meet with one of my reps annually to make sure you gave enough money, you will not enter my temple."

    Leviticus 5: 1-13 is pretty close. Those who did not bring sacrifice to their priest at the temple did not enjoy the blessings of the temple. Same principle, different way of administering it. And I don't know about you, but I believe Jesus to have been Jehovah.

    "The point of the exchange between Jesus and the rich young ruler was that Jesus knew the rulers heart."

    That's a nice interpretation, and one that I agree with. But your statement was that Jesus never required money to obtain position with God. No matter the reasoning behind it, Jesus required the man to part with his money.

    "it was the PROMISE of money made to the Holy Spirit that did it."

    And sacrifice is part of the promise we make at baptism, and even more so in the temple. If you cannot keep your promise to sacrifice, then you are cut off in a similar way–though not necessarily a physical death like our examples here. Perhaps it's more of a spiritual death.

    "But how genuine is that sacrifice when you're required to sit down with your Bishop and total up your required payment?"

    You do not seem to understand this process. I walk into the bishop's office, pray, and he asks if me if I am a full tithe payer. I tell him yes or no. I have said yes sometimes and no sometimes. The bishop didn't compare my bank statements to my tithing statement–so no, there isn't an emphasis on "amount". I was never coerced. I was simply accountable for the covenants I made. I answered a yes or a no question. It is always between me and God. A church is designed to strengthen that relationship.

  14. At the end of the day, Ananais and Sapphira were held accountable by a priesthood leader in relation to their promises of monetary donations. Peter's attitude and dialogue showed not only an existing expectation of donation, but also an expectation and accountability for promises made to donate. I'm just glad I haven't been struck down for similar weakness.

    The LDS doctrine of tithing seems to follow the New Testament narrative better than your model.

  15. "You're trying to tell an LDS man who pays tithing WHY he pays tithing"
    I never told you WHY you're paying, I simply stated paying tithes is ONE of the requirements to enter the temple.

    Either it is or it isn't.

    "The LDS doctrine of tithing seems to follow the New Testament narrative better than your model"

    How is this?

    1. Your only example of Christ (who is not Jehovah, btw) requiring sacrifice to enter the temple comes from the OT Law.

    2. Jesus Christ freed us from the Law
    Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us

    Rom7:4 tells us that Jesus in death satisfied the law because He died the death the law demanded. He paid the penalty in full for all of us and freed us from the law. That's why 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, "For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." He redeemed us from the law by death. He became a curse for us.


    3. If you want to live by the Law, you are cursed to keep ALL of the Law!
    Gal 3:10- For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by ALL things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

    Tithing settlement, Celestial Law, and Endowment ceremonies are ALL based on Modern revelation NOT found in in the Bible. Nowhere do we find Peter or any of the Apostles doing tithing settlements, giving temple recommends, performing Endowment ceremonies. Even Jeff knows "the LDS Temple is part of a MODERN dispensation, adapted for MODERN participants"

    The NT model for tithing is not LDS legalism but simply:

    2 Corinthians 9:6-7: "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."

  16. Anonymous,

    Everybody is agreement that tithing is a temple requirement. No need for a straw man here.
    Telling me that I am being coerced and extorted is telling me "why" I pay tithing, and that is where you have overstepped yourself.

    "How is this?"

    The LDS doctrine of monetary sacrifice is in harmony with both Old Testament and New Testament practices, per some of the examples I provided. Your doctrine that Jesus would never require a monetary sacrifice is in contradiction to what the scriptures suggest, as the case of the young rich ruler shows.

    I understand why this doctrine isn't as important to you. The saints in the early church gave their sacrifices to Peter because they recognized him as an apostle of God. I am assuming you don't have such a belief in a station like a recognized apostle today, such as Peter. So for a restored church, we are simply doing what the early church did. You can also accuse them of being extorted, but that's your prerogative.

    As for your other points:
    1. Oh man, you mean we can't use a majority of the Bible here to understand a biblical doctrine? Well who knew those rules. The OT, and the law specifically, was a schoolmaster that brought Israel to Christ and prepared them for a higher law. It was not demolished with Christ. Therefore, the saints still practiced sacrifice in the NT, and they were still accountable to their leaders for it (Ananais). You made the statement that a tithing settlement could not be found in scripture. I gave you an example from the OT and the NT.

    2. It's true–the annual tithing settlement meeting with the bishop and the administration of temple ordinances are based on modern revelation and much of it is a modern practice. I don't hang my hat on what we can parse out in the Bible, and neither does the LDS church. Thank goodness for that, too. However, the principles behind the things you listed are indeed found throughout scripture, and that I do hang my hat on.

  17. It doesn't matter how you personally feel about it, If a monetary payment is required to enter the Celestial Kingdom through temple ceremonies, that payment is no longer voluntary and is by definition coercion and obligation.

    And you're right about the Law. It teaches us and brings us to a knowledge of our sinfulness.
    Gal.19 – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions.

    But then Christ mercifully fulfilled it and brought us out from under that captivity

    Gal. 23 -Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

    Don't you see? The Law was put into place to reveal our need for Christ! You don't sacrifice animals in the temple do you? Of course not! There's no longer the need for animal sacrifices.

    Was Christ's death in vain that we should return to the Law?
    Gal 21 -I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    What did Paul tell us about returning to the Law?
    Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by ALL things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

    Paul makes it very clear. You can believe Christ made the final sacrifice, fulfilling the Law or you can go back under the Law, start sacrificing animals again and attempt to keep ALL of it.

  18. Let me make sure I understand. We are supposed to give everything to building up the Kingdom of God but we are not supposed to give 10% as a monetary donation to show our willingness? or Mormons do it naturally for the wrong reasons? Or we do it because we are coerced into giving everything to God? We are evil because we live the law of tithing? Are we evil because we live the law of chastity too or is the line drawn only at tithing and we are good with the other commandments?


  19. The New Testament is full of Temple symbolisms, but the mainstream Christian world is oblivious to it.

  20. Hey Steve,
    You can freely give as much as you want as 2 Cor 9:6-7 says, my issue is when a church mandates an amount to enter heaven.

    I never said you were evil by living the Law, Paul said we were cursed to keep ALL of if we choose to go back under it. Gal.3:10
    Thank God that Jesus feed us from it

    We can learn a lot from the Law and the commandments but we're no longer bound to it. Christ fulfilled the penalty of the Law.

    What did Christ say was the greatest commandment?
    Jesus replied: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 22:36-40

    If we can do this it takes care of the rest, doesn't it?

  21. Anon 1:44

    I agree with you, the NT is full of temple symbolism as far as man's sinfulness and need for God, the penalty of sin requiring a lamb sacrifice, and Jesus becoming that perfect lamb, making that sacrifice once and for all. And because of this the veil has been torn, we can approach God as Father and Christ can live in our hearts and we are His temple 1COR 6:19

    What an amazing picture of the temple!
    Why would I now want to undo Christ sacrifice?

  22. How did we move from talking about tithing to talking about the Mosaic Law? Did I miss a transition?


  23. Because the discussion Pierce and I were having was whether tithing was based on OT Law and how it applies today. Since we are no longer under OT Law, we are not bound to it.

    The LDS Church has now instituted their own version of the Law based on modern revelation including monetary payment to enter the temple.this teaching was not taught by Christ or His disciples and is what I am questioning

  24. Because the discussion Pierce and I were having was whether tithing was based on OT Law and how it applies today. Since we are no longer under OT Law, we are not bound to it.

    The LDS Church has now instituted their own version of the Law based on modern revelation including monetary payment to enter the temple.this teaching was not taught by Christ or His disciples and is what I am questioning

  25. I would just like to point out that paying tithing is no more or less voluntary than the requirement that one accept Christ as Savior. So I guess we're being coerced into that too.

  26. depends on how you look at, I guess. When you offer your child a gift, do you put your hand out for before he can receive it?

  27. I thought the Savior came to fulfil certain aspects of the Mosaic Law? When did the whole Old Testament canon get tossed?


  28. Your analogy defeats itself. There is still a requirement of belief and acceptance, otherwise there is no heaven for that person.
    Besides, that kind of talk is not how Jesus spoke of salvation.

    I would also like to clarify that paying tithing is not a requirement to enter the Celestial Kingdom. Neither are the higher covenants made in the temple. Those are designed for exaltation. Sacrifice is a prerequisite for these higher ordinances.

    I haven't seen any doctrine about tithing in relation to entry into the Celestial Kingdom. God will judge that person's situation and faithfulness. So there is a difference.

    Also, Jesus didn't teach tithing because people were already paying tithing. After he was gone, the church practiced having "all things in common," which is a higher form of tithing.

  29. Whether or not I put out my hand is irrelevant. The child still has to do something- in this case, take the gift, open it, and hopefully use it.

    As long as we're making comparisons, we might compare salvation (the gift) to a ticket home. My parents might pay the cost of my ticket, but in order for me to get home there are still certain requirements that will allow me to use the ticket. I have to get to the airport, for example, and I have to actually board the plane. I have to pack my suitcase. I may even have to spend some money, whether that's for gas to get to the airport/cost of a shuttle, food along the way, checking my bags, etc. My parents may even give me that money in advance, not unlike how everything we have originally comes from God. But I still have to use that money in the way it has been ordained to be used or else I don't get home. I could instead choose to squander that money as I see fit- to buy video games or whatever analogy you want to make. And if I should choose to use the money as my parents have asked me to, these payments benefit my parents about as much as tithing benefits God- that is to say, not at all. Employing my agency to use that money as they have asked, however, benefits me a great deal.

    In my analogy the cost of returning home is paid in full, but that doesn't absolve me of responsibility. That is what the Church teaches- Salvation is free. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility to take that salvation using the means that the Lord has provided for us to do it. In this case that may include funds to pay for the "shuttles" and such, if you will. Or it could come in the form of time, or talents, or anything else. In most of Christianity there is at least some requirement, even if it is only to confess Jesus and then do nothing about it for the rest of your life. There's still a responsibility.

  30. On a somewhat separate topic, I am curious. We will assume for this example that Mormons are wrong. Suppose as a 20-something I confess Jesus of Nazareth as my Personal Savior. Suppose that I do it in whatever way fits with your theology. Then 10 years later I join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believing Joseph Smith to be a Prophet, the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, etc. Am I now damned? Is the Grace of Christ not sufficient to forgive me of that sin? I have already confessed Him, and I should need no works at this point, because I have been saved. Right? Or is there now a work (repentance) required of me?

  31. Steve,
    Not only did Christ fulfill the Law…..
    HEBREWS.10:10 we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL

    …Christ also summed up the Law in two commandments!
    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.(this is key!)ALL THE LAW and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    "paying tithing is not a requirement to enter the Celestial Kingdom"

    I'm sorry, but it is. Follow this path

    1. Exaltation is the greatest of all the gifts and attainments possible. It is available ONLY in the highest degree of the CELESTIAL KINGDOM.

    2. All Church ordinances lead to EXALTATION, and the ESSENTIAL crowning ordinances are the ENDOWMENT and the ETERNAL MARRAIGE covenant of the TEMPLE

    3. The ordinances performed ONLY IN THE TEMPLE are baptisms for the dead, washings and anointings, ENDOWMENTS, and marriages or sealings for eternity

    4. …for all ordinances performed in the temple thereafter, ONLY members of the Church who have a current identification card, called a temple recommend, MAY ENTER.

    5. Temple recommends are usually issued by a bishop and countersigned by a member of the stake presidency in interviews conducted in private. He seeks to discern personal WORTHINESS…

    6. Worthiness REQUIREMENTS include …obeying the laws of TITHING.


    Monetary payment is required to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

  32. Pierce is saying that baptism is sufficient for the lower degrees of the Celestial Kingdom, which is still the Celestial Kingdom. Baptism does not require tithing. I suppose we're in some agreement that there's money involved in getting to the highest degree- insofar as one has money. The real requirement is that we give of everything with which the Lord has blessed us. So some farmer in a third world country would not be required to pay money to enter the temple if he did not make any money. He might instead donate 1/10 of his crop or his increase in livestock. Money is a convenient way to measure increase but by no means the only way. Note also that there is not a fixed "entrance fee" so that only the wealthy can enter. 10% of your increase. Give the Lord 10% of what He's given you. Show Him that you really love Him more than you love your money (or your livestock), that you trust Him to deliver you more than you trust your money (or your crops). That is what tithing is about, not some admission fee.

  33. Ryan,
    You've made some great points as far as personal responsibility and I agree with you to a point. There is a pattern of life or "fruit" that follows salvation.
    The apostle Paul addressed the same question in Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to CONTINUE IN SIN so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

    Genuine salvation is manifested by fruits worthy of repentance as demonstrated in righteous attitudes and conduct. Good works will be its proper evidence and fruit. But that comes AFTER we are saved.

    When Christ offers the free gift of salvation, it is truly free. It is always offered as "come, believe, accept, trust".
    Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of DEEDS which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
    –THAT is a truly free gift, with work, sacrifice, and giving to follow as we grow in Him.

  34. "Then 10 years later I join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believing Joseph Smith to be a Prophet, the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, etc. Am I now damned? Is the Grace of Christ not sufficient to forgive me of that sin?"

    I believe that if you've truly accepted Jesus as savior, He knows your heart. His grace is sufficient for me, you, LDS, anyone. God knows where your heart is.
    -HEB 13:5“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
    -HEB 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

    It is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God's Word, which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion for sinful living and carnality.
    -Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

  35. I'm quite aware they're not synonymous.

    Read 1. of the path. Exaltation is AVAILABLE ONLY in the Celestial Kingdom.
    You obtain Exaltation through the Endowment which is performed in the temple.

    Full Tithing payer(among other things)>>Worthiness>>Recommend Card>>Temple entrance>>Endowment>>Celestial Kingdom>>Exaltation

  36. In that case it sounds to me like we are pretty much on the same page here. I hope you don't think that Mormons believe their works save them. We don't believe that. We believe they are a manifestation of our faith, but if you don't do what Christ asks of you, then you probably don't really have faith in Him. So when I say "I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior" (and I do believe that), I better be willing to pay 10%, be baptized, go to the temple, or whatever else, if he asks it. But of course, faith comes first. That's in our 4th article of faith.

    So it sounds like the question isn't whether works are important, or even in what way they are important. We both seem to believe that they are the proof of our faith, and that faith without them is dead (James 2:17). The question, then, is what has Christ asked us to do about our faith? Has He asked us to pay tithing? Pierce and I are agreed that He has. We believe that He did not destroy the law, but rather fulfilled it and now even holds us to a higher standard. The law used to say "Thou shalt not kill." Of course we do not now have license to kill. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our license to be angry has been revoked. Not only should we not commit adultery, we should not even lust. On a similar note, we believe that to them of old it was said, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse," but now He says "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor…and come and follow me." The only reason we don't have "consecration settlement" instead of "tithing settlement" is that us mortals, Mormons and non-Mormons alike, tend to be like Ananias and Saphria and try to hold stuff back, and the Lord, being the merciful God that He is, allows us weak mortals to pay ONLY 10% for now. In reality He wants us, like the rich young man, the widow, Ananias and Saphria, to give Him everything. In fact, bringing this discussion back to the temple, endowed members are really supposed to live the law of consecration. So if 10% of my everything gets used as tithing funds to help build and maintain temples and churches, print scriptures, etc, what is that to me? Everything I have is His anyway, He can use it however He wants.

  37. "Monetary payment is required to enter the Celestial Kingdom."

    This conclusion is incorrect.

    If you would have read the article, you would understand that the endowment is not necessarily a requirement for the CK according to the letter.