Mormonism and temples/Criticisms

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Criticisms related to Mormon temples

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Question: Did Joseph Smith make up the temple ordinances or borrow them from an earthly source?

No, there are many statements by the Church and its leaders that indicate that the temple ordinances were revealed by the Lord and restored from antiquity

It is claimed that the LDS temple ordinances were either made up by Joseph Smith or borrowed, by him, from an earthly source. However, there are many statements by the Church and its leaders that indicate that the temple ordinances were revealed by the Lord and restored from antiquity.

This collection of quotes has been divided into two sections. The first section consists of statements from the LDS Church's official website indicating that the temple ordinances were 'revealed' by the Lord and 'restored' from antiquity. The second section consists of statements from scripture and the General Authorities of the LDS Church.

Section 1

  • Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, March 2002.

“The temple endowment was given by revelation. . . . Temples, ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings have been restored, precisely as prophesied. . . . A review of the Old Testament and the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price may be especially enlightening after one is more familiar with the temple endowment. These books of ancient scripture underscore the antiquity of temple work and the enduring nature of its ordinances.”

  • Temple Preparation Seminar Manual, 2003 / Lesson 3.

“the Lord has always commanded His people to build temples. He has revealed the work to be done in temples. . . . Temple work in its fulness has been restored in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

  • Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, September 1993.

“Isn’t it marvelous to ponder how much the Prophet Joseph Smith learned throughout the extended process of restoring the holy apostleship, the holy priesthood, the holy endowment, the holy sealing power.”

  • Temple Preparation Seminar Manual, 2003 / Lesson 6.

President Harold B. Lee: “The temple ceremonies are designed by a wise Heavenly Father who has revealed them to us in these last days.”

  • Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 2002 / “Taught from On High,” adapted from The Holy Temple by Apostle Boyd K. Packer.

Apostle John A. Widtsoe, “The endowment and the temple work as revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

  • Apostle Marion G. Romney, Ensign, March 1971.

Prophet Joseph Smith: “What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world? . . . . [T]o build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house.”

  • Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 2002 / “Come to the Temple,” adapted from The Holy Temple by Apostle Boyd K. Packer.

“In the temples members of the Church who make themselves eligible can participate in the most exalted of the redeeming ordinances that have been revealed to mankind. There, in a sacred ceremony, an individual may be washed and anointed and instructed and endowed and sealed.”

  • Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, ch. 44, 2007.

“During the Prophet’s ministry, all things were restored that were necessary to lay the foundation of the greatest dispensation of all time. The priesthood, with its essential keys, was restored; the Book of Mormon was translated; the Church was organized; and doctrines, ordinances, and covenants were revealed, including the ordinances and covenants of the endowment and the marriage sealing.”

  • “Endowed with Covenants and Blessings,” Ensign, February 1995.

It was through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century that the Lord restored again to earth the holy ordinances of temple covenants and blessings. The following recollection of President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency describes the intense interest that members of the Church had in the 1840s when the blessings of the temple were again made available to mankind: “When the Prophet Joseph [Smith] first communicated that the Lord had revealed to him the keys of the endowment, I can remember the great desire there was on every hand to understand something about them. When the Prophet would speak about his desire to complete the temple in order that he might impart unto his fellow servants that which God had delivered to him, a thrill went through the congregation and a great desire for this filled their hearts” (Gospel Truth, Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, 2 vols., comp. Jerreld L. Newquist, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, 1:228).

  • Apostle Mark E. Peterson, Ensign, January 1972.

“As the gospel was restored in these last days, temple building and temple ordinances also were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

  • D&C and Church History Teacher’s Manual, 1999, Lesson 18.

“Explain that the Kirtland Temple was not like today’s temples, where saving ordinances are performed for the living and the dead. The Lord restored temple ordinances a few years later while the Saints were in Nauvoo.”

Section 2

“I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid . . . . let [the Nauvoo Temple] be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people.”

Jesus Christ (D&C 124:38, 40).

“God sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood.” “the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed.”

Joseph Smith, explanations 3 and 7 for Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham.

“These [temple] ordinances have been revealed to us; we understand them, and unless we attend to them we shall fall under condemnation.”

Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 13:32.

“the Prophet Joseph . . . communicated that the Lord had revealed to him the keys of the endowment.”

George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 179.

“I think that portion of this revelation which I have read, will give you a general idea of the sacredness of the house of the Lord, which is to be built in the latter times, a place wherein the angels may come and visit, as they did in the ancient Temple; a place wherein you can receive all those ordinances which the Lord has revealed and which He will hereafter reveal from time to time.”

Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16: --; 7 October 1873.

“When the [Kirtland] Temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little.”

Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 19: ---, 20 May 1877.

“We build temples. What for? To administer the ordinances of God. What ordinances? Those that God has revealed, and those that the world know nothing about.”

President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21: -- 2 January 1881.

“Today we enjoy the great happiness of having . . . these sacred structures completed, dedicated to and accepted of the Lord, wherein the Saints can enter and attend to those ordinances which He, in His infinite goodness and kindness, has revealed.”

Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, Messages of the First Presidency, 3:--, 18 March 1893; cited by James E. Talmage in The House of the Lord.

“In Kirtland, the brethren were not endowed with the same ordinances that are now bestowed upon the people, because they had not yet been revealed. It was in the days of Nauvoo that these blessings and ordinances of endowment were made known to the Prophet Joseph.”

Franklin D. Richards, Collected Discourses, 5:--, 5 October 1896.

“the pattern of endowment garments was revealed from heaven.”

Joseph F. Smith, Messages of the First Presidency, 5:--, 1918.

“the endowment and the temple work as revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

John A. Widtsoe, "Temple Worship," in The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 12 [April 1921]: 58; cited in Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple.

“The Ancient Order of the Endowment Revealed . . . . The ancient order of the endowment restored.” “He tried to impress upon the Saints the great responsibility which was upon them in having a house of the Lord where these sacred ordinances which had been revealed to him could be given to the Saints.”

Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1949), 4: lesson 133/34 and 138/39; Melchizedek Priesthood quorum manual; copyrighted by LDS Church President George Albert Smith.

“The temple ritual as revealed to Joseph Smith and communicated by him to his brethren is essentially symbolic. Its ordinances are not only ancient but also represent profound truths.”

John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith – Seeker After Truth (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951), --.

“temple ordinances for the living and the dead were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

Presiding Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report, October 1956.

“In 1836 Elijah came and restored the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens (D&C 110:13-16; 132:45-47). At a still later date, temple endowments and other ordinances were revealed -- all of which are a necessary prelude to the performance of an eternal marriage.”

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. 1966.

“The temple ceremony was given by a wise Heavenly Father . . . . The endowment was revealed by revelation.”

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (chapter on Temples and Temple Work).

“the Prophet Joseph Smith . . . the endowment ceremony was given to him.” “It is the Lord's house. He directs the conditions under which it may be used. He has revealed the ordinances that should be performed therein.”

Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple.


Question: Was the temple obsolete after Christ?

There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord

Some Christians charge that Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection meant that the temple was to be removed from Christian worship—the Atonement made the temple superfluous. Therefore, they criticize the LDS for persisting with temple worship. Some claim that the veil in the temple becoming rent in twain after the crucifixion of Christ indicates that the temple was no longer to be used.

There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord, and the receipt of prophetic calls.

It is not surprising that Christians have since down-played the importance of the temple, since most do not have one. No one would want to admit they are missing an important part of the gospel. But, if Paul and other apostles valued and honored the temple, why do critics attack the Latter-day Saints for doing the same?

BYU Professor William J. Hamblin wrote:

Unfortunately for [critics] it is quite clear that the New Testament apostles continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple after Christ's ascension (Acts 2:46, 3:1-10, 5:20-42). Even Paul worshipped there (Acts 21:26-30, 22:17, 24:6-18, 25:8, 26:21). Paul is explicitly said to have performed purification rituals (Acts 21:26, 24:18), and prayed in the temple (22:17, cf. 3:1); he claims that he has not offended "against the temple," implying he accepts its sanctity (25:8). Indeed, Paul also offered sacrifice (prosfora) in the temple (21:26, cf. Numbers 6:14-18), a very odd thing for him to do if the temple had been completely superceded after Christ's ascension. Finally, and most importantly, Paul had a vision of Christ ("The Just One" ton dikaion) in the temple (Acts 22:14-21), paralleling Old Testament temple theophanies, and strongly implying a special sanctity in the temple, where God still appears to men even after Christ's ascension.[1]

Hamblin elaborated further on Paul's vision of Christ in the temple during which he received his prophetic call:

Ananias says Paul will "see the Just One." (Acts 22:14)
Paul then goes to Jerusalem (Acts 22:17)
"When I [Paul] was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance" (Acts 22:17)
Then he sees Christ/The Just One (Acts 22:18)
Christ tells him to leave Jerusalem (Acts 22:18) and go preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).[2]

Hamblin then illustrates that Paul continued to offer "sin offerings" in the temple after his conversion to Christanity:

Paul’s prosfora was participation in the fulfillment of a Nazarite vow taken by four men (Acts 21:21-26). The sacrifices required to fulfill this vow are described in Numbers 6:13-18. They include making a “sin offering” (Numbers 6:14). Therefore, Paul’s prosfora included a sin offering. (See Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed, p. 443-8.) Furthermore, Christ’s sacrifice is called a prosfora in Hebrews 10:10,14,18, and is directly correlated to the temple sin offerings (Acts 10:3-9). Given all this, it is rather blatant special pleading to claim that Paul’s prosfora in the temple did not include a sin offering.[3]

One respected non-LDS scholar notes the connection between certain biblical language and the temple concept:

In general, any cultic activity to which the biblical text applies the formula 'before the Lord' can be considered an indication of the existence of a temple at the site, since this expression ... belongs to the temple's technical terminology.[4]


Question: What is the role of the Mormon temple to be built in Independence, Missouri?

Regarding the building of a temple in Independence, nobody can predict the timetable of the Lord

Independence-missouri-temple-site-766076-gallery.jpg

Regarding the building of a temple in Independence, nobody can predict the timetable of the Lord. Perhaps it would be advantageous for one to apply Biblical principles when it comes to understanding the time and seasons of the Lord, and should read the Bible with regards to this matter of "next generation." After all, as it states in the Bible: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Even if we look at the prophecy in D&C 84 as if the term "this generation" does mean a time frame of about 100 - 120 years (just to give M&J the benefit of the doubt), it still does not mean it is a false prophecy by LDS terms. D&C 124:49 states, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of man to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept their offerings." The Latter-Day Saints were driven out of the area by the mobs that violently persecuted them. In light of this scripture, the mobs are responsible for the temple not being built, not the LDS or God. But then, "this generation" could be referring to Latter-Day Saints as a whole, and not only are we still here, but we are growing in number.

Some critics of the Church only quote verses 84:4 and 84:5 of D&C 84 in an attempt to demonstrate a "false prophecy" on the part of Joseph Smith. D&C 84 is a revelation on priesthood, as it pertains to temple ordinances. That being the case, there are a few other verses which are significant in understanding this particular temple as revealed in this section. Since critics are concerned that the temple was not built, and is not even yet built, we need to understand if they, and the Lord, have the same understanding of events that were, and are to happen concerning this temple. These other verses give us a clue as to when this temple needs to be completed. First, however, we need to understand the pattern that the Lord uses in revealing doctrine to mankind. It is important to examine the time line of events to see the pattern the Lord had in mind. The Lord does not reveal things all at one. He does so one step at a time as indicated in Isaiah 28:9-13:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...

Not only was this the pattern in the Old Testament days, it was the pattern during Christ's time as well, as noted in the following scriptures:

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Corinthians 3:2)

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

The Lord reveals patterns to his prophets

This pattern continues. Thus things were revealed to Joseph Smith one step at a time. So what was the pattern for temple building as revealed to Joseph Smith?

The authority of the priesthood was necessary to perform the ordinances of the temple. Continuing with section 84, we learn that the ordinances are directly connected with priesthood authority.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh. (D&C 84:20-21)

How did the priesthood authority come about for these temple ordinances? If you are familiar with LDS Church history, remember that the gospel, the doctrines and ordinances, were not revealed all at once. They were revealed from 1820 through 1844 to the Prophet Joseph Smith, line upon line, precept upon precept. After Joseph was murdered, other prophets have been given further directions from the Lord. Just as a new member learns of the gospel one step at a time, so did the early Saints. There was a gradual revealing of the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel. And, the doctrines came first, then the ordinances. So let's look at the pattern by which the doctrines and ordinances were revealed. In December 1832 the Lord stated the following in relation to building the Kirtland Temple:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. (D&C 88:119)

A few months later, in May of 1833, the Lord provided specific instructions on the construction of the Kirtland Temple. (D&C 94:3-9, D&C 95:13-17) It is important to understand; that this instruction is in keeping with the pattern the Lord has used throughout all time, as He has instructed His prophets in the building and making of many things. The Lord gave instructions on building Noah's Ark (Genesis 6). The Lord gave instructions on how the Tabernacle was to be built (Exodus 26). The Lord gave instructions on how the Ark of the Covenant was to be built (Exodus 25:). The Lord gave instructions on the making of candlesticks (Numbers 8). The Lord gave instruction in the building of altars (Joshua 22:). The Lord gave instructions for the building of temples (1 Chronicles 28:). The fact that the Lord gave instructions on the building of the Kirtland Temple is strong evidence of the divine call of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.[5]

The Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March 27, 1836; however, it was not built with the same purpose as temples today are. This was a "preparatory" temple. It wasn't until this temple was built that the keys of the priesthood could be restored.

The purpose of the Kirtland Temple

The Kirtland Temple holds a peculiar place in the annals of temple building. It is not like other temples. It was built primarily for the restoration of keys of authority. In the receiving of these keys the fulness of gospel ordinances is revealed. The keys of salvation and exaltation for both the living and the dead were given within its sacred walls. An endowment, such as was necessary at the time, was also given. This was not as complete as the endowment later revealed.

In the Kirtland Temple there was no provision made for the salvation of the dead. It had no baptismal font, for it was only a preparatory temple. It had no provision for the endowment ordinances which were later revealed. It was a temple, however, and fully answered the purpose of its creation.[6]:242

The purpose of the Kirtland Temple was fulfilled on April 3, 1836 when the priesthood keys were restored. (D&C 110:) These keys were restored by Jesus Christ (Keys of Resurrection), Moses (Keys of the Gathering of Israel), Elias (Keys of the Blessings of Abraham), and Elijah (Keys of Sealing).

Line upon line

According to the principle of "line upon line, precept upon precept," construction could now begin on a temple in which these priesthood keys could be used. On April 6, 1841, construction of the Nauvoo Temple began. As most of the Saints left Nauvoo under threat of mob violence in early February 1846, a special crew stayed behind and completed the temple. Three months later the building was considered complete and was publicly dedicated on May 1, 1846. Thus we see the first edifice was for the restoration of priesthood peys, and the second edifice was for the application of those keys for the living. The next temple that was completed was the St. George Temple, in which endowments for the dead began.[7] "The first endowments for the dead in this dispensation were performed in the St. George Temple. Endowments for the living were performed in Nauvoo." [6]:171

The line upon line, and precept upon precept, which the Lord revealed was;

  1. Kirtland Temple for the priesthood keys
  2. Nauvoo Temple for the full ordinances for the living
  3. St. George Temple for the ordinances for the dead

The purpose of the Independence Temple

So we see that the Lord works the same today as He did yesterday. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."[8] So how does this temple in Missouri that Joseph Smith spoke of fit in with the process of temple building? This temple is to be the "chief temple."

The center place! Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fulness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fulness of the ordinances of the Lord's house may be administered. But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when the Second David reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people.[9]

How can this temple be the "chief" temple without others? Since it is to be the chief temple, and since the Lord has revealed construction plans for His tabernacles and temples in the past, it would only be logical to assume that the Lord would reveal the pattern in which this temple is to be built.

This is only a faint outline of some of our views in relation to these things, and hence we talk of returning to Jackson county to build the most magnificent temple that ever was formed on the earth and the most splendid city that was ever erected; yea, cities, if you please. The architectural designs of those splendid edifices, cities, walls, gardens, bowers, streets, &c., will be under the direction of the Lord, who will control and manage all the matters; and the people, from the President down, will all be under the guidance and direction of the Lord in all the pursuits of human life, until eventually they will be enabled to erect cities that will be fit to be caught up--that when Zion descends from above, Zion will also ascend from beneath, and be prepared to associate with those from above.[10]

D&C 84 also mentions a specific purpose for this temple in Missouri.

Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses-for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed. (D&C 84:31)

This offering is a book listing the generations of the human race from Adam down through the centuries until the last person. The keys that Elijah held were the sealing keys. (Malachi 4:5-6) The keys that Elijah gave to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple were for the sealing of families in the eternities. (D&C 110:13-15) This is the acceptable sacrifice, which will be by the Sons of Levi.

Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation. (D&C 128:24)


Question: Why does the church spend so much money on temples when children are dying of starvation?

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that tithing is commanded for the building of temples

Why does the church spend so much money on temples when children are dying of starvation in other parts of the world? Wouldn’t the money spent on these buildings be better used in feeding the hungry? [11] One critic of the Church states, "Tithing is for the poor."[12]

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that tithing is commanded for the building of temples:

10 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you.

11 Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people. (D&C 97:10-11, italics added)

Likewise D&C 119:2-3 commands tithing for a variety of purposes:

2 For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.

3 And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.

Thus, tithing is properly used for temples and other activities consistent with building the kingdom of God ("laying the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood"). Joseph Smith used tithing for such purposes throughout his administration.

"The poor" are nowhere mentioned in these commands, since the scriptures have a different mechanism for providing for them—the fast (Isaiah 58:6-7).

Christ was anointed with expensive oils. The act was criticized by Judas who suggested that the items could have been sold to benefit the poor

Just prior to the crucifixion, Christ was anointed with expensive oils. The act was criticized by Judas who suggested that the items could have been sold to benefit the poor. Christ's response was telling. He said "for ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial" (Matt 26:11-12). Just as with this event that served to the preparation for the eternal sacrifice of Christ, even so Temples serve to the eternal blessing of the rest of us and make Christ's sacrifice effective to the exaltation of others. The reality is that eternal salvation is the point of this earth life. Poverty, while certainly tragic and deserving of our individual sacrifices and attention, will only pertain to this existence. In the gospel, we must seek to find the appropriate balance.

Temples are built for the blessings of individuals and families into the eternities. Like the anointing of Christ, their existence serves an eternal cause and are in fact considered the House of the Lord. Just as the use of the oils were deserving of the expense, Latter-day Saints likewise consider constructing temples where sacred, eternal covenants pertaining to eternal exaltation are made, are deserving of our best efforts and sacrifices. Because the ordinances of the temple make all of the purposes of life complete and worthwhile, the temples command a level of attention like almost none other in the church.

Church members always have the choice of directing their cash donations to specific funds

It should be noted that, that according to some reports, Mormons donate more to charities than almost any other denomination. We have an extensive network of farms and canneries that are used to help feed individuals around the world. Our welfare system that is based on generous donations of the value of foregone meals from our monthly fast serve to benefit untold individuals. The church has programs to help build wells for safe drinking water and irrigation in Africa, and the church is constantly preparing to rush aid to disaster stricken areas. The truth is that Latter-day Saints are known to be extremely generous in their efforts to give and sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Church members always have the choice of directing their cash donations to specific funds. In addition to categories for tithing and fast offerings, there are also a temple fund, perpetual education fund and humanitarian aid. Tithing donations are dedicated to the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, which includes financing the building of places of worship. Fast offerings are used to assist people in need, first for members of the Church, but second for all others. If one wants a temple built, one may pay into the temple fund. If one wants to help third-world countries, they may pay into the humanitarian aid fund. If one wishes to help people in poor countries obtain a better education, the perpetual education fund would be appropriate. It would be objectionable if the Church took money that was specifically donated for humanitarian aid in order to finance temple construction. Likewise, it would be objectionable if they took money that was donated for temples in order to finance humanitarian aid.

One must keep in mind that there is an element of personal responsibility that also must be weighed when considering what and how to donate to a person or group. As the saying goes, “It is better to teach how to fish and feed a man for life rather than to give a man a fish and feed him for a day.” The church expends considerable resources to this end with programs such as the perpetual education fund and other programs.

The Church and humanitarian aid

The primary focus of the Church is to help people to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. To be perfected in Christ also means that we learn to lead an active life, where we use our agency and take responsibility for our own situation.

Tons of relief goods and huge amounts of funds have been transferred from the 1st world to the 3rd world, yet hunger still persists. For example, the "Granary of Africa", Ethiopia, has become a region of scarcity. People have ceased to be self-sufficient and instead have become reliant on that which is given to help them. Funds intended for humanitarian purposes are instead being used by warlords to purchase weapons. Relief goods intended for the people deteriorate on ports and airports, because warlords do not let them pass. In short, the situation in Africa, instead of getting better through European and American help, has been worsened.

Nevertheless, the Church sends humanitarian aid in goods to regions in need and is always among the first organizations to do this.

But the Church also takes another approach by sending welfare missionaries to the 3rd world, teaching the people how to become self-reliant again with a minimum of foreign capital. This, of course, is not a "cheap" solution, where you can send down money and stop worrying, but rather an "expensive" one, in that you need specially trained people for the job, people willing to fulfill such a mission. You do not need young men on those missions, but seasoned specialists, and there are only so many of them.

The blessings of having a temple nearby

On the other hand, it is still necessary to have chapels and temples that "do the job,” and it is the LORD who tells us how this is accomplished. If the Lord commands us to build a temple, then we build it without second guessing His reasoning.

It should be noted that there are practical benefits that result from families preparing to attend the temple. When great efforts are made by the Saints to attend the temple, they tend to become better people both before and after they attend. This effort generally results in an increase in faith and faithfulness for husbands and wives, and hopefully causes them to become more nurturing parents. This in turn impacts the children in these families, as they are raised knowing that they are loved and cherished. These children come forth into the world with less baggage and fewer "hang-ups" than a child who is neglected and not loved. The end result is another citizen who is ready to serve and contribute to the welfare of the poor and neglected rather than one who depends upon society to help them. In a sense, one could consider this our way of "teaching a man how to fish." As in all things there must be a balance, and aid to the poor cannot be neglected while we prepare future generations to go out and render such aid.

The question about the appropriate balance between expenses for worship, instruction, and eternal ordinances and the temporary alleviation of hunger is one that, without a doubt, weighs heavily on church leaders. They no doubt consider that there is a need for these other items or else they would not have made such a choice. Just as one might have to chose to expend money and resources on a computer and internet connection, or a home and personal clothes, or a car and other personal items, the church likewise must consider all the expenses and choices. Bringing temples close to individuals in poverty stricken areas is one eternal blessing that the church feels is important to sacrifice for. Families in poor areas of the world have sold everything that they had so they could attend the temple to be sealed together as an eternal family. Building a temple close to people such as these makes such future sacrifices unnecessary and will bless tens of thousands. The faithful Saints in poverty stricken countries are willing to sacrifice greatly for the privilege of having a temple close to them, just as did the early Saints in Kirtland, Ohio who made substantial contributions in the midst of personal poverty to construct the first LDS temple in that city. The Kirtland Temple was one of the most expensive ever constructed if you consider the relative poverty and cost of living of those who built it. The point is that Temples are so sacred and valuable to Latter-day Saints that their temporary periods of poverty are not as critical to them as obtaining the blessings of eternity.


Question: What are the worthiness requirements to enter a Mormon temple?

The possession of a "temple recommend" is an indication that the church member has passed a series of interviews in which worthiness to enter the temple is determined

The possession of a "temple recommend" is an indication that the church member has passed a series of interviews in which worthiness to enter the temple is determined. Having a "temple recommend" does not make a member worthy. It is possible to have a "temple recommend" and yet not be worthy to participate in the ordinances of the temple. The recommend is an identification card which is carried by the member, and which expires after two years, and which is then renewed by the member as the member desires. Cards are used because of the number of members in the Church worldwide, and the number of temples. The process to get a recommend involves two interviews (not one)-one with your local leader (a bishop or branch president) and the second with your regional leader (a Stake President or Mission President or their counselors).

Temple recommend questions

Both of these interviews consist of a series of questions, and depending on how the questions are answered, a recommend indicating temple worthiness is issued. The questions are as follows (the questions themselves, as provided here are in both instances taken from a 'recommend book' which contains blank recommends, and also instructions for giving the interview):[13]

  1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?
  2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?
  3. Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?
  4. Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  5. Do you live the law of chastity?
  6. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  7. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
  8. Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
  9. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  10. Are you a full-tithe payer?
  11. Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?
  12. Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?
  13. If you have previously received your temple endowment: 1) Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple? 2) Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?
  14. Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?
  15. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord's house and participate in temple ordinances?

Temple interview questions are essentially similar to baptismal interview questions

Compare these questions with the following set of questions-used to determine a convert's readiness for baptism.[14] (If the candidate for baptism does not respond affirmatively to these questions, baptism may be postponed until the individual is better prepared to accept and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.):

  1. Have you prayed about the gospel? Have your prayers been answered?
  2. Do you accept Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God?
  3. What are your reasons for knowing (or believing) that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?
  4. Will you sustain the President of the Church as a prophet, seer, and revelator and as the Lord's representative on earth?
  5. Are you now living each of the Ten Commandments?
  6. What is your understanding of the law of tithing? Will you live this law?
  7. What is your understanding of the Word of Wisdom? Will you live this law by abstaining from tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco [or other harmful drugs]?
  8. What is your understanding of the law of chastity? Will you obey this law?
  9. Have you repented of all past transgressions?

The bar for entrance into the temple is simply that one continues to keep the commitments that they made in baptism

Effectively, the questions amount to the same standard. The bar for entrance into the temple is simply that one continues to keep the commitments that they made in baptism, and that were clearly explained to them. As the authors point out, one of the qualifications necessary to enter the temple is "an agreement to obey the Word of Wisdom." When was this agreement made? When that individual was baptized into the LDS Church. What I want to demonstrate by this is that temple worship requires nothing more than that a person is actively living the gospel of Jesus Christ and fulfilling the covenants he made to God at baptism.

It is also relevant to note that for the most part, these requirements are based on the member's understanding of the gospel, and not a pre-determined list of rules regarding compliance to these questions. Taking tithing as an example, a good summary of the Church's position on this teaching is found in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

By revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated that members should pay "one-tenth of all their interest [increase] annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever." (D&C 119:4) Present Church policy specifically states that no one in the Church has any authority to interpret this revelation for another person (See Financial Clerk's Handbook). This prohibition applies to everyone, including Stake Presidents and Bishops. If a local Church leader instructs you how to calculate your tithing, then he is in violation of this policy. It is up to the agency of each individual person to determine what constitutes a fair interpretation of the revelation.[15]

In other words, even in complying with these requirements, the compliance largely hinges on a members understanding of the gospel principle. It is for this reason that some of the questions overlap, so that there is no question as to the requirements in specific instances-staying up to date on child support being one of those areas where it was decided that being more specific was necessary. Further, it is implied in this process that the person who goes unworthily into the temple is doing so both willfully and with a personal recognizance of their lack of worthiness. While God does not 'strike them down', they certainly do so to their own condemnation.


Question: Does Acts 17:24-25 teach that the idea of temple worship is foreign to Christianity?

Christians continued to honor, revere, and worship at the Jerusalem temple

It is claimed that Acts 17:24-25 teaches that the idea of temple worship is foreign to Christianity, [16] when Paul says:

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

Christians continued to honor, revere, and worship at the Jerusalem temple. Paul's remarks about temples "made with hands" were designed to counter the pagan idea that god(s) could only be worshiped in temples, and that they were confined to such man-made structures.

In the scripture cited above, Paul is addressing Greeks (the Athenians) and their temple "to an unknown god". Paul's point is that God does not swell solely in a physical object, like the temple of Athena at Athens (see Acts 7:48). This is not to say that there is no temple where the true God can be worshiped—Paul respected the temple and even underwent ritual purification after one of his missionary journeys (REF). The early Christians also continued to show great reverence to the Jerusalem temple. Rather, Paul argued that God is the God of the whole world and can be worshiped at all times and at all places.

An analysis of the Greek text also supports this view, since the term, "made with hands" likely refers to idolatrous worship.

The expression "made with hands" is defined as follows: in

4654 χειροποίητος
χειροποίητος,
“made by hands,” in the [Septuagint] applied only to idols, but in the NT used of material temples (Acts 7:48, 17:24): cf. Orac. Sib. xiv. 62 ναῶν ἱδρύματα χειροποιήτων. In the travel-letter, P Lond 8544 (i/ii A.D.) (=111. p. 205, Selections, p. 70), the writer remarks that many go by ship ἵνα τὰς χει]ropοι]ήτους τέ]χνας ἱστορήσωσι, “in order that they may visit works of art made by hands,” on the banks of the Nile. [17]

The term appears, in the same form, in Acts 7:48:

ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὁ ὕψιστος ἐν χειροποιήτοις κατοικεῖ, καθὼς ὁ προφήτης λέγει· (BGT)

The NRSV reads:

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says, (Act 7:48 NRS)


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Question: Do Mormon temples always face east?

Temples face whatever direction is most practical and artistically pleasing for the site they are on

Temples face whatever direction is most practical and artistically pleasing for the site they are on.

The front of the temple is the elevation where the phrase "House of the Lord" is found. So, for example, the "front" of the Provo temple is on the east-northeast elevation as the temple itself is 20 degrees off of a true east/west axis. The front of the Oakland Temple is the north elevation, and the front of the Los Angeles Temple is the southeast elevation. The Stockholm Temple faces due south, which, at such a northern latitude, would be the direction of the most light; its front is, therefore, the south elevation.

Nauvoo is an interesting case as it has the phrase on both the east and west elevations of the building. We know that the original Nauvoo temple had the phrase on the west elevation but no photographic record or architectural drawings exist of the east elevation, so the design of the east elevation of the modern Nauvoo Temple is guesswork. Thus, in the case of Nauvoo, you can take your pick on the west or the east elevation as the "front". Most people, however, would say that the west elevation is the front of the building as there are no doors on the east elevation.

In summary, to find the "front" of an LDS temple you find the phrase "House of the Lord" on the building itself, not on a sign. The elevation that the phrase is on is the front of the building. It is not always the east elevation. The angel Moroni statue has nothing to do with what is the front of the building. Temples are placed on the site in the manner that is most practical and artistically pleasing for that particular site. They can face in any direction.


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

Question: Should there be only one temple?

Through Joseph Smith, the Lord directed the construction of many buildings besides temples

One critic of the Church claims that "Joseph Smith only built one building. He completed the Kirtland temple. He got the Nauvoo temple started, but Joseph Smith only built one building."[18]:30, and that there should not be more than a single temple: I will briefly mention there will need for a temple to be built at some point. Not yet and not more than one. But there will be a need for one.[18]:4

This claim, which is made by Denver Snuffer, is false. The Doctrine and Covenants commands that consecrated Church funds be used for a variety of purposes:

Therefore, the residue [of the funds] shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council;

And for the purpose of purchasing lands for the public benefit of the church, and building houses of worship, and building up of the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed...(D&C 42:34-35, italics added)

Through Joseph, the Lord directed the construction of many buildings besides temples:

  • A house in Kirtland for himself[19]
  • A house in Kirtland for Sidney Rigdon[20]
  • "a house...for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you."[21]
  • The Nauvoo House (D&C 128:55–75).

Snuffer's history is simply wrong, and he makes false claims based upon his false history.


Notes

  1. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 15h03), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link (All quotes have been edited to insert hotlinks to scripture references.)
  2. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 12h47), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
  3. Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairboards.org (30 September 2006 15h52), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
  4. Menahem Haran, Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School (Eisenbrauns; Reprint edition, 1985[1979]), 26.
  5. Many modern day temples have been seen in vision before their construction. "It may come as a surprise to some that the Manti, Oakland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Provo temples were all seen in vision prior to being built. Even the design of the Idaho Falls Temple is based on the vision of an ancient Nephite temple that was shown to the architect." [Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith, Symbols In Stone, Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 1997), 9.] It is even proposed that Moroni in his travels, which led him to upstate New York where he buried the plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, dedicated several temple sites including St. George, Manti, Salt Lake, Nauvoo, and Kirtland. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni (City Unknown: PeaceMakers Publishing, 2000), 213.]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56).
  7. Endowments for the dead were first performed in the St. George Temple on January 11, 1877. The St. George Temple was completed before the Salt Lake Temple.
  8. Hebrews 13:8 The LDS believe Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are two separate individual beings who work as one. It was Jesus Christ who appeared to Moses and other Old Testament prophets. It was Jesus Christ who revealed to the ancient prophets "line upon line, precept upon precept," and He did so with Joseph Smith as well.
  9. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 595. ISBN 0877478724. ISBN 978-0877478720. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  10. John Taylor, (6 April 1863) [[Journal of Discourses/10/[citation needed]#147|Journal of Discourses 10:147]].
  11. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  12. Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014), 30.http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  13. [citation needed]
  14. [citation needed]
  15. Howard D. Swainston, "Tithing," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 4:1481.
  16. "Dr." James White, "Temples Made With Hands," e-tract. off-site
  17. G. Milligan and J.H. Moulton, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Baker Academic, 1995), 687. ISBN 978-0801047206.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Denver Snuffer, "Preserving The Restoration," Lecture 10, Mesa, Arizona (9 September 2014).http://www.scribd.com/doc/239760895/10-Phoenix-Transcript-Preserving-the-Restoration#download
  19. "it is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., should have a house built, in which to live and translate.(D&C 41:7).
  20. "it is meet that my servant Sidney Rigdon should live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments" (D&C 41:8).
  21. the second lot on the south shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you. And it shall be fifty–five by sixty–five feet in the width thereof and the length thereof, in the inner court; and there shall be a lower and a higher court. And this house shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, for the work of the printing, in all things whatsoever I shall command you, to be holy, undefiled, according to the pattern in all things as it shall be given unto you (D&C 94:10-12).