Mormonism and temples/Obsolete after Christ

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Temples after Christ

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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 Numbers 6:14-18), a very odd thing for him to do if the temple had been completely superceded after Christ's ascension.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]


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

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.


Article(s) to read next

The best article(s) to read next on this topic is/are:

  1. Dr. William Hamblin, "Tract Made Without Evidence". Hamblin responds to James White's (of Alpha & Omega Ministry) e-tract, "Temples Made Without Hands" (22 September 1999). off-site