Mormonism and temples/Endowment/Freemasonry

Table of Contents

Relationship between the Endowment and Freemasonry

Summary: Important note: Members of FairMormon take their temple covenants seriously. We consider the temple teachings to be sacred, and will not discuss their specifics in a public forum. Some critics of Mormonism see similarities between the rites of Freemasonry and LDS temple ceremonies and assume that since Joseph Smith was initiated as a Freemason shortly before he introduced the Nauvoo-style endowment he must have plagiarized elements of the Masonic rituals. This viewpoint leads them, in turn, to conclude that the LDS endowment is nothing but a variant form of Masonic initiation and therefore not from a divine source.

Jump to Subtopic:

"It has always been commonly reported, and to a great extent believed, that the mysteries of the Endowment House were only a sort of initiation…of the rites of Masonry; but I need hardly say that this statement when examined by the light of facts, is altogether ungrounded and absurd.”
— Fanny Stenhouse, Nineteenth Century Anti-Mormon Author[1]

Question: What criticisms are associated with the temple ritual and its relationship to Freemasonry?

Critics of the LDS Church often point to similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and the LDS temple endowment

Critics of the LDS Church often point to similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and the LDS temple endowment and claim that since Joseph Smith was initiated as a Freemason in Nauvoo, Illinois shortly before he introduced the full endowment to the Saints (as opposed to the partial endowment given in the Kirtland Temple), he must have incorporated elements of the Masonic rites into his own ceremony. Implicit in this charge is the idea that Joseph Smith's ritual was not revealed to him by God and thus not a legitimate restoration of ancient Israelite and early Christian ordinances.

It is worthwhile to note that these critics are also often critical of Freemasonry, and thus attempt guilt by association.

Some of the endowment was developed and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason, but other elements were developed prior to his association with Freemasonry

While it is true that some of the endowment was developed and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason. This oversimplifies the issue considerably. The endowment and other parts of LDS temple worship developed slowly over a period of years. It did not happen all at once. Joseph Smith's critics want to label him as an intellectual thief by claiming that he stole some of the ritual elements of Freemasonry in order to create the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony. The greatest obstacles to this theory are the facts that

  1. Joseph Smith claimed direct revelation from God regarding the Nauvoo-era endowment,
  2. Joseph Smith knew a great deal about the Nauvoo-era endowment ceremony long before the Nauvoo period—and thus long before his entry into the Masonic fraternity, and
  3. the Nauvoo-era temple endowment ceremony has numerous exacting parallels to the initiation ceremonies of ancient Israelite and early Christian kings and priests—parallels which cannot be found among Freemasons.

Furthermore, Joseph's contemporaries saw the parallels to Masonry clearly, and yet no one charged him with pilfering.

In order to understand this issue, a few facts need to be understood:

  1. Joseph Smith, Jr. was initiated as a Freemason in Nauvoo, Illinois on the 15th and 16th of March 1842; his brother Hyrum and (possibly) his father Joseph Sr. were Masons before the Church's organization in April 1830.
  2. A few of the early leaders of the Church were Masons before the Church's organization while many others were initiated into the Masonic institution after the Prophet was in 1842.
  3. Masonry was a well-known social institution in mid-19th century America.
  4. There are similarities between the rituals of Freemasonry and those of the LDS Temple endowment. These similarities center around
  • the use of a ritual drama—the story of Hiram Abiff is used by the Masons, while the LDS endowment uses the story of Adam and Eve and the creation (the LDS versions have parallels to ancient Israelite temple worship).
  • some similar hand actions in the course of the rituals (the LDS versions having distinct parallels to ancient Israelite temple worship and early Christian usage).

Symbolist F. L. Brink suggested that Joseph Smith successfully provided an "innovative and intricate symbology" that suited well the psychic needs of his followers. [2]


Question: When did Joseph Smith demonstrate knowledge of the elements of the endowment ritual?

Joseph Smith knew of Nauvoo-era endowment ritual, phraseology, vestments, and theology at least a year before he ever became a Freemason

Critics have noted that Joseph's initiation into Freemasonry (15–16 March 1842) predates his introduction of the full temple endowment among the Saints (4 May 1842). They thus claim that Masonry was a necessary element for Joseph's self-generated "revelation" of the Nauvoo-era temple ceremonies.

But one LDS author draws attention to the fact that there is much more to the history of the endowment restoration than critics of the Church are willing to admit.

Plenty of evidence...is available that Joseph Smith had a detailed knowledge of the Nauvoo temple ceremonies long before he introduced them in May 1842 and long before he set foot inside a Masonic hall...While Joseph Smith was translating the book of Abraham from Egyptian papyri, he wrote a series of short explanations for three of the illustrations that accompanied his translation. The Prophet noted that in Facsimile 2, figures 3 and 7 were related in some manner to "the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood" and "the sign of the Holy Ghost." When he came to figure 8, he explained that this area on the Egyptian drawing contained "writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God."...

Other writers have used the Facsimile 2 material to sharpen the chronological argument against Joseph Smith. Facsimile 2 and its temple-related explanations were first printed in the 15 March 1842 edition of the Times and Seasons, the same day that the Prophet received the first of three Masonic initiation rites. Latter-day Saints have traditionally argued that this issue of the newspaper was published during the day while the Prophet's Masonic initiation did not occur until that evening. Thus Joseph Smith must have had temple knowledge before he had Masonic knowledge. But critics point out that the 15 March issue of the paper was not actually published until 19 March, several days after the Prophet witnessed the Masonic ceremonies.

This is where terminology becomes crucial. Some claim that the phrases employed by Joseph Smith in the Facsimile 2 explanations are Masonic and that it was not until several days after his Masonic induction that Joseph Smith "first spoke of 'certain key words and signs belonging to the priesthood.'" These critics assume the terms are necessarily "Masonic," yet it must be remembered that Freemasonry's rites are little more than borrowed baggage. Then what about the supposedly incriminating timing of these incidents? This is precisely the point at which the entire argument falls apart. On 5 May 1841 William Appleby paid a visit to Joseph Smith, who read to him the revelation on temple ordinances, now identified as Doctrine and Covenants 124, that was received 19 January 1841. After the two men discussed baptism for the dead, the Prophet got out his collection of Egyptian papyrus scrolls and, while exhibiting Facsimile 2, explained to Appleby that part of the drawing was related to "the Lord revealing the Grand key words of the Holy Priesthood, to Adam in the garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and to all whom the Priesthood was revealed."

It is also clear from Doctrine and Covenants 124 that Joseph Smith was well aware of the main ritual elements of the Nauvoo endowment ceremony at least as early as 19 January 1841. (See D&C :124.) [3]

The note from Appleby is found in his journal under the date of 5 May 1841, a little less than a year before Joseph's initiation into the Masonic Lodge at Nauvoo. [4] There is a great deal more historical evidence that the Prophet Joseph Smith knew of Nauvoo-era endowment ritual, phraseology, vestments, and theology long before he ever became a Freemason.

In evidence of this fact, we find that upon his initiation into Masonry Joseph Smith was already explaining things which the Masons themselves did not comprehend. According to one witness:

"the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful." [5]


Question: Why would Joseph Smith incorporate Masonic elements into the temple ritual?

There are two aspects of temple worship: The teaching of the endowment, and the presentation of the endowment

In order to understand the relationship between the temple endowment and Freemasonry it is useful to consider the temple experience. In the temple, participants are confronted with ritual in a form which is unknown in LDS worship outside of that venue. In the view of some individuals the temple endowment is made up of two parts:

  1. The teachings of the endowment, i.e., the doctrines taught and the covenants made with God.
  2. The method of presenting the endowment, or the "ritual" mechanics themselves.

It is in the ritual presentation of the endowment teachings and covenants that the similarities between the LDS temple worship and Freemasonry are the most apparent. The question is, why would this be the case?

Joseph's challenge was to find a method of presenting the endowment that would be effective

It is the opinion of some people that in developing the endowment Joseph Smith faced a problem. He wished to communicate, in a clear and effective manner, some different (and, in some cases, complex) religious ideas. These included such abstract concepts as

  • the nature of creation (matter being organized and not created out of nothing)
  • humanity's relationship to God and to each other
  • eternal marriage and exaltation in the afterlife

The theory is that Joseph needed to communicate these ideas to a diverse population; some with limited educational attainments, many of whom were immigrants; several with only modest understanding of the English language; all of whom possessed different levels of intellectual and spiritual maturity—but who needed to be instructed through the same ceremony.

Ritual and repetition are important teaching tools

Joseph Smith's very brief experience with Freemasonry before the introduction of the full LDS endowment may have reminded him of the power of instruction through ritual and repetition. Some people believe that Joseph may have seized upon Masonic tools as teaching devices for the endowment's doctrines and covenants during the Nauvoo era. Other people are of the opinion that since these elements were previously present in the worship of the Kirtland Temple they were not 'borrowed' by the Prophet at all.

Regardless, the use of symbols was characteristic of Joseph Smith's era; it was not unique to him or Masonry:

Symbols on buildings, in literature, stamped on manufactured goods, etc. were not endemic to Mormons and Masons but were common throughout all of mid-nineteenth century American society (as even a cursory inspection of books, posters, buildings and photos of the periods will bear out.) So, assuming [Joseph] Smith felt a need to communicate specific principles to his Saints, he might naturally develop a set of easily understood symbols as were already in familiar use about him. [6]


Question: Why is confidentiality associated with the temple ordinances?

The LDS temple ceremony was, and still is, considered to be sacred, and was not to be exposed to the view or discussion of outsiders

Joseph Smith was of the view that some of the Saints were not good at keeping religious confidences:

The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till Doomsday. [7]

A few of the early leaders of the Church pointed out that one of the aims of Masonry was to teach adherents proper respect for promises of confidentiality. [8] For instance,

  • Joseph Smith: "The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret." [9]
  • Brigham Young: "The main part of Masonry is to keep a secret." [10]

This institutionalized Masonic principle was a trait that would be necessary for the Saints to incorporate into their lives once they were endowed, because certain elements of the temple ritual were considered to be very sacred and were not to be divulged to the uninitiated. This may be the key for understanding why the Prophet encouraged so many of the Nauvoo-era Saints to join the Masonic brotherhood.


Question: How do the goals of Freemasonry compare to those of the Latter-day Saint endowment?

The goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same

It is worth noting that some of the similarities between the endowment and Freemasonry which are highlighted by Church critics are only superficial. For example, critics typically focus on the common use of architectural elements on the Salt Lake Temple and in Masonry, even though the endowment makes no reference to such elements. In almost every case, shared symbolic forms have different meanings, and thus should not be seen as exact parallels.

It should also be emphasized that the goals of Masonry and the LDS endowment are not the same. Both teach important truths, but the truths they teach are different. Masonry teaches of man's relationship to his fellow men and offers no means of salvation; i.e., it is not a religion. The temple endowment, on the other hand, teaches of man's relationship to God, and Latter-day Saints consider it to be essential for exaltation in the world to come.


Question: Where did 19th-Century Latter-day Saints believe that Freemasonry came from?

It was a common 19th century belief of both Mormons and Masons that Masonry had it origins in the Temple of Solomon

The Saints of Joseph Smith's era accepted the then-common belief that Masonry ultimately sprang from Solomon's temple. Thus, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball understood Masonry to be a corrupted form of a pristine ancient temple rite. [11] One author later wrote that masonry as an "institution dates its origins many centuries back, it is only a perverted Priesthood stolen from the Temples of the Most High." [12]

It was a common 19th century belief of both Mormons and Masons that Masonry had it origins in the Temple of Solomon. A few Masons cling to this view even today. An opinion not, it turns out, supported by the historical evidence but it was only an opinion. When studying the relationship between Mormonism and the fraternal order known as Freemasonry it is important to acknowledge and understand the perspective expressed by nineteenth century Latter-day Saints. Below are seven examples of what some Mormons thought about where the rites and teachings of the Masons came from (some of these people were also Masons). Notice that some of these quotes purport to reflect the view of the Prophet Joseph Smith on this subject.

Early Latter-day Saints' views of Freemasonry

Joseph Fielding wrote during the Nauvoo period:

Many have joined the Masonic institution. This seems to have been a stepping stone or preparation for something else, the true origin of Masonry. This I have also seen and rejoice in it.... I have evidence enough that Joseph is not fallen. I have seen him after giving, as I before said, the origin of Masonry. [13]

Heber C. Kimball wrote of the endowment:

We have received some precious things through the Prophet on the Priesthood which would cause your soul to rejoice. I cannot give them to you on paper for they are not to be written so you must come and get them for yourself...There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph says Masonry was taken from Priesthood but has become degenerated. But many things are perfect. [14]

Thus, to Joseph's contemporaries, there was much more to the LDS temple endowment than just warmed-over Freemasonry. None of Joseph's friends complained that he had simply adapted Masonic ritual for his own purposes. Rather, they were aware of the common ritual elements, but understood that Joseph had restored something that was both ritually and theologically ancient and God-given.

Early Church leaders believed that Freemasonry was an "apostate" form of the Endowment

  • Willard Richards (16 March 1842): “Masonry had its origin in the Priesthood. A hint to the wise is sufficient.” [15]
  • Heber C. Kimball (17 June 1842): “There is a similarity of priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph [Smith] says Masonry was taken from priesthood.” [16]
  • Benjamin F. Johnson (1843): Joseph Smith “told me Freemasonry, as at present, was the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion.” [17]
  • Joseph Fielding (December 1843): The LDS temple ordinances are “the true origin of Masonry.” [18]
  • Saints in Salt Lake City (1849–50): “Masonry was originally of the church, and one of its favored institutions, to advance the members in their spiritual functions. It had become perverted from its designs.” [19]
  • Heber C. Kimball (9 November 1858): “The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy. . . . They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.” [20]
  • Church Authorities (1842–1873): “The Mormon leaders have always asserted that Free-Masonry was a . . . degenerate representation of the order of the true priesthood.” [21]


Question: Why is the Masonic symbol of the "All Seeing Eye" present on the Salt Lake Temple?

The All-Seeing Eye of God was not a symbol created by the Masonic fraternity and, in fact, was utilized as an emblem in Christian architecture long before Speculative Freemasonry became an organization

The claim is sometimes made by critics that since the All-Seeing Eye of God is displayed on the exterior and interior of the Salt Lake Temple[22] and the All-Seeing Eye is an emblem utilized by the Freemasons then the Mormon usage must be an indication of a connection between Mormon temples and Freemasonry.

The All-Seeing Eye of God was not a symbol created by the Masonic fraternity and, in fact, was utilized as an emblem in Christian architecture long before Speculative Freemasonry became an organization.

Latter-Day Saints as a group became involved in Freemasonry in early 1842 but, as noted in the timeline below, the All-Seeing Eye of God was a well-established symbol among the Mormons long before this affiliation.

1828–29 – “I pray the God of my salvation that He view me with His all-searching eye” (2 Ne. 9:44).

1828–29 – “under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God” (Jacob 2:10).

1828–29 – “the glance of [God’s] all-searching eye” (Mosiah 27:31).

December 1830 – “I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also” (Moses 7:36).

2 January 1831 – “Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes. . . . mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me” (D&C 38:1–2, 7).

13 August 1831 – “mine eyes are upon those who have not as yet gone up unto the land of Zion” (D&C 62:2).

1 November 1831 – “Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of Him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men” (D&C 1:1).

November 1831 – “Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you” (D&C 67:2).

31 July 1832 – “my heart is naked before [God’s] eyes continually.”[23]

4 January 1833 – “the eyes of my Maker are upon me.”[24]

May 1835 – “the scrutinizing eye of ‘Him with whom we have to do.’”[25]

29 January 1836 – “[the] Lord had [His] eye upon thee.” [26]

9 May 1836 – “they stand naked and exposed to the piercing eye of Jehovah.” [27]

May 1836 – “God is not mocked with impunity. His all seeing eye beholds you at all times. . . . His all-seeing eye surveys the whole of His vast creation.” [28]

April 1837 – “the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah is ever upon them.” [29]

June 1837 – “In vain do they attempt to hide from the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah.” [30]

20 March 1839 – “Behold, mine eye seeth and knoweth all their works.” [31]

3 July 1839 – “the God of Jacob has His eye upon you.” [32]

September 1840 – “the all-searching eye of an Omnipresent God.” [33]

January1841 – “God that sheweth mercy; having His eye at the same time directed towards His covenant people.” [34]

13 December 1841 – “Let it not be supposed that the sick and the destitute are to be denied the blessings of the Lord’s house; God forbid; His eye is ever upon them for good.” [35]


Question: Did Joseph Smith copy Masonic material in order to create the Mormon temple rites?

The Masonic rites and the temple endowment likely trace back to the same source

It is claimed that Joseph Smith copied Masonic material in order to create the Mormon temple rites. Below are several quotations from Dr. Hugh W. Nibley regarding this issue.

  • "Latter-day Saints believe that their temple ordinances are as old as the human race and represent a primordial revealed religion that has passed through alternate phases of apostasy and restoration which have left the world littered with the scattered fragments of the original structure, some more and some less recognizable, but all badly damaged and out of proper context. . . . There are, in fact, countless tribes, sects, societies, and orders from which [Joseph Smith] might have picked up this and that, had he known of their existence. The Near East in particular is littered with the archeological and living survivals of practices and teachings which an observant Mormon may find suggestively familiar. The Druzes would have been a goldmine for Smith. He has actually been charged with plundering some of the baggage brought to the West by certain fraternal orders during the Middle Ages -- as if the Prophet must rummage in a magpie's nest to stock a king's treasury! Among the customs and religions of mankind there are countless parallels, many of them very instructive, to what the Mormons do. But there is a world of difference between Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews and the book of Isaiah, or between the Infancy Gospels and the real Gospels, no matter how many points of contact one may detect between them. The Latter-day Saint endowment was not built up of elements brought together by chance, custom, or long research; it is a single, perfectly consistent, organic whole, conveying its message without the aid of rationalizing, spiritualizing, allegorizing, or moralizing interpretations." John Gee and Michael D. Rhodes, eds., The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2005), xxvii-xxviii.
  • "The most consistent thing about histories of Freemasonry by its most eminent historians is the noncommittal position in the important matter of origins." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 419.
  • "[I]t was Joseph Smith who first pointed ['patternism'] out, recalling a common heritage from what he calls the archaic religion, coming down from Adam in such institutions as Freemasonry, and clearly pointing out their defects as time produced its inevitable corruption. What he himself supplied single-handedly is the original article in all its splendor and complexity." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 48.
  • "Question: Where did the Masons get the ceremonies they have today? Did they come from these documents? Answer: Their ceremonies didn't come from these documents. Nobody had the texts until recently. They do give us an interesting check. The Masonic rites have a lot in common with ours. Of course in part they do have the same source, if you trace them way back. But what a different picture you see. The Masons don't give any religious meaning to them. They think of them as symbolic, as abstract. They don't see any particular realities behind them. The rites have nothing to do with salvation, but consist only of broken fragments. . . . They have been picked up from various times and places, and you can trace them back." Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 319.
  • "Did Joseph Smith reinvent the temple by putting all the fragments -- Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth -- together again? No, that is not how it is done. Very few of the fragments were available in his day, and the job of putting them together was begun, as we have seen, only in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even when they are available, those poor fragments do not come together of themselves to make a whole; to this day the scholars who collect them do not know what to make of them. The temple is not to be derived from them, but the other way around. . . . That anything of such fulness, consistency, ingenuity, and perfection could have been brought forth at a single time and place -- overnight, as it were -- is quite adequate proof of a special dispensation." (Ensign, February 2007).
  • Nibley quotes the 17 June 1842 letter from Heber C. Kimball (a long term Freemason) to Parley P. Pratt in which Kimball reported that the Prophet had said, "Masonry was taken from the Priesthood, but has become degenerated." Nibley also quotes the Benjamin F. Johnson report that the Prophet had said, "Freemasonry, as at present, is the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion [is] the apostate religion." Stephen D. Ricks, ed., Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2008), 381.
  • "[T]he Freemasons . . . put heavy emphasis on the allure of Egypt and the theatrical trappings of pseudo-temples and rites." Hugh W. Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2010), 474.
  • "[There are] parallels between Mormon rituals and those of the Hopi . . . . [including an] initiation ritual [regarding parts of the body and the pronouncement of blessings] . . . . Parallels appear between the language of the Mormon temple ceremony and the Hopi myths of origin . . . . Responding to someone who asked about similarities between the Mormon temple endowment and the Masonic ceremony, Nibley wrote that the parallels between the Mormon endowment and the rites of the Hopi 'come closest of all as far as I have been able to discover -- and where did they get theirs?'" Boyd J. Peterson, Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life (Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2002), 282.
  • "an extensive reading of Masonic and Mormon teachings and history should make it clear to any reader that the former is the shadow, the latter the substance. The one is literal, the other allegorical." "What is a Temple?" in Truman G. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1984), nt. #71.


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.


Video


To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes

  1. Mrs. T.B.H. [Fanny] Stenhouse, "Tell It All": The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington & Company, 1875 [1874]), 354.
  2. T. L. Brink, "The Rise of Mormonism: A Case Study in the Symbology of Frontier America," International Journal of Symbology 6/3 (1975): 4; cited in Allen D. Roberts, "Where are the All-Seeing Eyes?," Sunstone 4 no. (Issue #15) (May 1979), 26. off-site off-site
  3. Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site (citations omitted)
  4. William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, MS 1401 1, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  5. Horace H. Cummings, "True Stories from My Journal," The Instructor 64 no. 8 (August 1929), 441.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  6. Allen D. Roberts, "Where are the All-Seeing Eyes?," Sunstone 4 no. (Issue #5) (May 1979), 26. off-site off-site(emphasis added)
  7. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194–195, (19 December 1841). off-site Direct off-site; see also History of the Church, 4:478–479. Volume 4 link
  8. See footnote 20 of Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  9. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 329. off-site{15 October 1843)
  10. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:418, (22 January 1860, spelling standardized). ISBN 0941214133.
  11. See Footnote 30, Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  12. H. Belnap, "A Mysterious Preacher," The Instructor 21 no. ? (15 March 1886), 91.; cited in Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  13. Andrew F. Ehat, "'They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet'—The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding," Brigham Young University Studies 19 no. 2 (1979), 145, 147, spelling and punctuation standardized.
  14. Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, 17 June 1842, Parley P. Pratt Papers, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, spelling and punctuation standardized.
  15. Letter, 7–25 March 1842, Willard Richards to Levi Richards, published in Joseph Grant Stevenson, ed., Richards Family History (Provo, UT: Stevenson’s Genealogical Center, 1991), 3:90.
  16. Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 85.
  17. Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Heber City, UT: Archive Publishers, 2001), 113.
  18. Brigham Young University Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, Winter 1979, 145; hereafter cited as BYUS.
  19. John W. Gunnison, The Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake (Philadelphia: Lippincott and Company, 1856), 59.
  20. BYUS, vol. 15, no. 4, Summer 1975, 458.
  21. Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 698.
  22. The All-Seeing Eye of God can be seen on east and west center towers of the Salt Lake City temple and also in the interior in the Garden Room (see Ensign, October 1990, 39; March 1993, 33).
  23. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in Dean C. Jessee, ed., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and BYU Press, 2002), 269; hereafter cited asPWJS.
  24. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in ibid., 298.
  25. Statement by Oliver Cowdery in Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, no. 8, May 1835, 121; hereafter cited as M&A.
  26. Joseph Smith Sr. statement in Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds., The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals Volume 1, 1832–1839 (Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 176.
  27. Letter by Parley P. Pratt dated 9 May 1836 in M&A, vol. 2, no. 8, May 1836, 318.
  28. [citation needed]
  29. Statement by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 7, April 1837, 493.
  30. Comment by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 9, June 1837, 525.
  31. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in PWJS, 435.
  32. Epistle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and George A. Smith in Brigham H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 3:394; hereafter cited as HC.
  33. Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), 27.
  34. Article by Brigham Young and Willard Richards in Millennial Star, vol. 1, no. 9, January 1841, 223.
  35. Epistle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles signed by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Lyman Wight, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards in Times and Seasons, vol. 3, no. 4, 15 December 1841, 626. Notice that the all-seeing eye is being indirectly connected with the temple.