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

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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.


Notes