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Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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A temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a building reserved for special ceremonies and meetings, much as the Jewish Temple in the time of Solomon or Herod was used. It is believed that Joseph Smith was directed to build a temple again, in modern times. This article is covers some of the special ordinances that occur in Temples.

The Temple is a link between our mortal earthly existence and our immortal heavenly existence.

One must be a member in good standing of the church in order to enter a temple. However, the public is welcome to attend meetings in local chapels.

The church's website gives a brief explanation of temples here: http://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,1477-1,00

Baptism for the Dead

Anyone who passed away without the opportunity to be baptized into the LDS Church can receive baptism for the dead by a proxy. Baptism for the dead is first mentioned in the Bible in 1st Corinthians 15:29 and later in the Doctrine and Covenants (124: 29, 127: 5, 128: 1, 138: 33). Genealogical work is done for deceased ancestors and if it is determined that they did not receive baptism by the LDS Church then their name is prepared for Baptism for the dead. Many times the proxy who stands in will be a descendant while other times it is an unrelated volunteer. Baptism is a prerequisite for most other ordinances.

Temple Layout Mormon temples have a general layout in common. They feature a baptistry, which is usually designed as the "molten sea" mentioned in the Bible used for the cleansing of the priests. This is a large bapismal font suitable for immersion, standing atop statues of bulls. The other notable feature is the "celestial room", used primarily for mental reflection after the proxy sacraments are performed. It is designed almost universally as a hotel waiting room in a classic hotel.

Temple Endowments

Here is a report on the temple endowment. The church does not publish this information -- the Endowment is considered "sacred" but not "secret", and members do not discuss it openly. This section was compiled after careful readings of several dozen personal accounts, which were compared to authors' personal experiences. Search Google for "Temple Endowment" to see many of these firsthand accounts and make your own judgement as to the reliability of the sources. Some accounts are self-evidently from disaffected former church members, but others seem quite objective.

The accounts vary in a few minor details, possibly because the ceremony has changed several times. However, they all agree on the major points that are included in this article. Therefore, the details of the actual ceremony are considered accurate based on the best evidence available but should not be considered as established fact.

The most important ordinance, or ceremony, that is performed by members of the church is the Temple Endowment. The term Endowment comes from the Greek language word enduein, meaning "dress", "clothe", or "put on a garment". The name is fitting, because it is in the course of the Endowment ordinance that a patron receives the "Garment of the Holy Priesthood". More information about the Garment itself is discussed below.

The Endowment ritual was first introduced in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple in 1842 by Joseph Smith. It consists of four parts:

  1. Each patron receives a ceremonial washing and anointing with oil, either washing them clean (women), or washing them to become clean (men) from the blood and sins of this generation. This includes ceremonial blessings of various members of the body. After the anointing, the patron is given the "Garment of the Holy Priesthood". Each patron is given a "new name" which they are to use for the duration of the ceremony as a "key word", in order to pass. This name can be almost any name from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. All patrons on any given day are given the same name according to a monthly schedule, so that each female patron on the 11th of each month, for instance, might be given the name "Ruth", or a man "David" or "Abraham". If the patron's given name is the same as the "new name", the alternate "Adam" or "Eve" is given.
  2. A set of lectures is presented concerning the Creation, depicting Eloheim (God the Father), Jehovah (Jesus Christ), Adam and Eve, and others. Prior to a change in 1990, an orthodox (non-LDS) Minister was also included, portrayed as being deceived by Satan, who is then converted.
  3. Each patron makes a series of covenants, and is taught sacred Signs, Tokens and Words that represent the tests of righteousness required in order to enter the Celestial Kingdom (an LDS term for Heaven). The Signs are physical gestures, the Tokens are sacred handshakes, and the Words are the names of the Tokens. This concept of signs and tokens is extremely similar to both Egyptian and early Gnostic rituals. Prior to the changes of 1990, a penalty was also associated with these covenants. The sacredness of the temple ordinances was stressed to the participants with the admonition that it would be better that the participants die in a manner illustrated by the penalites than that they should they reveal the tokens, signs, etc. This element over-emphasized the disastrous consequence of spiritual death to the seeming temporary consequence of physical death (given the resurrection). It is considered spiritual death to suffer permanent, eternal separation from Heavenly Father, Eloheim. If one disobeys the commandents, or if they don't repent of their sins, they will suffer spiritual death. The discussion of physical death is not to be understood as an actual penalty for betraying temple ordinances; it was merely illustrative of temporary consequence of physical death versus the eternal consequence of spiritual death.

In Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews, in the section on the covenant at Sinai, Potok discusses the evidence for such gestures in the ancient world and in the Hebrew religion specifically.

  1. At the end of the ceremony, each patron passes through the "Veil" which is represented by a sheet of cloth, to enter the Celestial Room, where they are encouraged to sense the Divine Presence.

It has been observed by people with knowledge of both that the Endowment shares many attributes with the rites of Freemasonry. The church does not deny this, but instead claims that this is because the Masons use corrupted forms of the rituals that were originally given by God at the Temple of Solomon, and the LDS ritual is a reintroduction of those original forms. Historically, Joseph Smith is known to have been a Mason. For more information on this subject see http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_masons.shtml

Sealing

A Sealing is a special ritual or ceremony which is held only in a Temple. During a Sealing, the members of a family, including parents and children, are bound together as a family which is believed to endure beyond death. The Church teaches that a family which has been sealed in the Temple will remain a family even in Heaven. This is the belief which lies behind the well-known Church slogan, "Familes are Forever."



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