Mormonism and temples/Symbolism

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Symbolism in Mormon temples

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Question: Does the Nauvoo Temple display symbols that are either occult or Masonic?

The "occult connection" exists only in the mind of the critic

I've heard there are some strange symbols on the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples. My non-member friend claims these have an "occult" significance. Some people are of the opinion that they are Masonic. [1]

LDS Temples are directed to the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Symbols can have multiple applications in different cultures; the intent of LDS symbols have been explicitly described by the prophets, architects, and craftsmen involved. All are focused on the worship of God and His Son. The "occult connection" exists only in the mind of the critic.

Creepy...This article’s intent is not to condemn Mormonism as a faith, but rather to analyze the symbols in Temple Square in an objective matter. A visitor of this religious area finds himself surrounded with symbols esoterically associated with Black Magic, evil or ancient paganism. Why are these symbols visible on supposedly Christian buildings, of all places? Many ex-Mormons have claimed that the LDS secretly leads followers to the worship of Lucifer. Are they right?
— Anti-Mormon author "Vigilant, Saints Alive in Jesus website, "Sinister Sites – Temple Square, Utah," (6 April 2010).
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Symbols Shown By Vision

The symbols located on the exterior of the Nauvoo Temple can be directly connected with a vision shown to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

In a revelation given on 19 January 1841 (which is about the Nauvoo Temple) the Lord Jesus Christ stated: "I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house" (D&C 124:42; emphasis added).

Joseph Smith later confirmed to the temple's chief architect, William Weeks, "I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building." The Prophet insisted that it be built according to the "pattern" that he had been shown.[2]

The Prophet was once asked by a stone carver, with regard to one of the sunstones he was working on, - "Is this like the face you saw in vision?" To which the reply was, "Very near it".[3]

Sequence of the Symbols

Even though the exterior symbols on the pilasters of the Nauvoo Temple are the sun, moon, and stars it should be understood that they are not arranged in the sequence that is associated with the three degrees of glory (i.e., star on bottom = telestial kingdom; moon in the middle = terrestrial kingdom; sun on top = celestial kingdom). Rather, the sequence on the Nauvoo Temple is moon (bottom); sun (middle); star (top). The physical arrangement of the symbols on the outside of the Nauvoo Temple indicate that they do NOT represent the three degrees of glory.

Meaning of the Symbols

These symbolic images can be matched up with information provided in the Joseph Smith Translation of the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation. There it is said of a vision that was shown to the ancient apostle John, "And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" (vs. 1). Thus, the moon is placed at the bottom, the sun in the middle, and the stars on top. In verse 7 of the same chapter the Prophet clarifies that "the woman . . . was the church of God."

Wandle Mace—the foreman for all of the framework done on the Nauvoo Temple—left behind a statement that makes a clear connection between the visions of John the Revelator and Joseph Smith. He said,

The order of architecture [on the Nauvoo Temple] was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original; being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife. John the Revelator, in the 12[th] chapter [and] first verse of [the book of Revelation] says, 'And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.' This is portrayed in the beautifully cut stone of this grand temple.[4]

Thus, the symbols on the outside of the Nauvoo Temple are a representation of the Church of God. And since the symbols are displayed in a heavenly setting they can naturally be associated with the Lord's heavenly Church, or what is sometimes referred to as The Church of the Firstborn. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism indicates that "the Church of the Firstborn is Christ's heavenly Church, and its members are exalted beings."[5]This is significant because on 4 May 1842 Joseph Smith gave the Nauvoo-era temple endowment for the first time to several of the Saints. The Prophet said that these ordinances consisted of "washings, anointings, endowments and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchisedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans and principles by which anyone is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn."[6] Therefore, it appears that the Lord had symbols placed on the outside of the Nauvoo Temple that represented the nature of the ordinances that were to take place inside of that building.

Inverted Five-Pointed Stars

Critics of the LDS Church are uncomfortable with the inverted five-pointed stars found on the stones and in the round windows of the Nauvoo Temple because in modern times they have come to be associated with Satan and devil worship. It should be noted, however, that this association did not occur until after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

It should be further noted that Latter-day Saints publicly disclosed their interpretation of the inverted five-pointed star when they built the Logan Temple in northern Utah. A contemporary newspaper report states that the star was symbolic of "the Star of the Morning"[7]—which in the New Testament is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 22:16).


Question: Isn't the inverted five-pointed star on some Mormon temples really a symbol of evil?

A connection between the "inverted pentagram" and Satan "is almost certainly a 19th century invention by Eliphas Levi"

Some critics of the LDS Church claim that the inverted five-pointed star on some of its temples are a symbol of evil and thereby demonstrate that Mormonism is not really a Christian religion.

The Prophet Joseph Smith indicated that he received the pattern for the Nauvoo Temple by revelation (cf. D&C 124:42). He told the architect of the project, "I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me."[8] The Prophet also stated that he had seen at least one of the exterior symbols of that temple in this vision.[9]

The inverted five-ponted star was first displayed on the exterior of an LDS temple in Nauvoo, Illinois in the early 1840s. (See here here here here)

One of the foremen who helped to build the Nauvoo Temple recorded what the emblems on its exterior represented. He said,

"The order of architecture was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original, being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. John the Revelator, in the 12 chapter [and] first verse of [the book of Revelation,] says, 'And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.' This is portrayed in the beautifully cut stone of this grand temple."[10]

Joseph Smith revealed the connection between the heavenly woman of the apostle John's vision and the restored Church. In the Prophet's revision of the King James Bible he modified Revelation chapter 12 verses 1 and 7 to read: “And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars . . . the woman . . . was the Church of God.” (JST Revelation 12:1,7).

This is the same arrangement of the symbols on the exterior pilasters of the Nauvoo Temple -- moon (bottom), sun (middle), and stars (top).

The stars are associated in the book of Revelation passage with a "crown" which is a symbol of royalty. In another section of the book of Revelation Jesus Christ proclaims His descent through the royal lineage that is within the house of Israel and then pronounces one of His titles: "I am the . . . offspring of David, and the bright . . . morning star" (Revelation 22:16). This is the title that nineteenth century Latter-day Saints assigned to the inverted five-pointed star. One of these emblems was put into place on the east tower of the Logan, Utah temple in 1880. An eyewitness to the event reported the following which was printed in a major newspaper: "Carved upon the keystone is a magnificent star, called the Star of the Morning."[11]

In 1985 LDS Church Architect Emil B. Fetzer stated that the inverted stars on early LDS temples were not sinister but were “symbolic of Christ.” He said that when the LDS Church “uses the pentagram or sunstone in an admirable, wholesome and uplifting context, this does not preclude another organization’s using the same symbols in an evil context.”[12]

A connection between the "inverted pentagram" and Satan "is almost certainly a 19th century invention by Eliphas Levi," who was a "defrocked priest."[13] He did not begin publishing references to this idea until 1854, a decade after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Examples of the inverted five-pointed star in ancient Christian usage and also numerous modern usages that have nothing to do with the occult or satanism

Below are links to examples of the inverted five-pointed star in ancient Christian usage and also numerous modern usages that have nothing to do with the occult or satanism.

Christian Churches

  • Kaarma, Estonia, Church of Sts. Peter and Paul - 1261 AD off-site
  • Amiens, France, cathedral, north transept window off-site
  • Market Church, Hanover, Germany off-site
  • Church pew, Europe, 12th century off-site
  • Chartres, France, niche surrounding Madonna and Child statue off-site
  • St. Mary's church, Adderbury, Oxfordshire off-site
  • St. Bartholomew church, Ucero, Spain off-site
  • Lisbon, Portugal cathedral cloister off-site
  • St. Paul's cathedral, Melbourne, Australia off-site
  • Orthodox Church, Olyphant, Pennsylvania - 2009 AD off-site
  • Schenkenschanz, Germany - 1634 AD [video] off-site

Christian Artwork

Jewish Synagogue

Medal of Honor

Boy Scouts of America

Coat of Arms

Flags

Miscellaneous


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[14] 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.”[15]

4 January 1833 – “the eyes of my Maker are upon me.”[16]

May 1835 – “the scrutinizing eye of ‘Him with whom we have to do.’”[17]

29 January 1836 – “[the] Lord had [His] eye upon thee.” [18]

9 May 1836 – “they stand naked and exposed to the piercing eye of Jehovah.” [19]

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.” [20]

April 1837 – “the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah is ever upon them.” [21]

June 1837 – “In vain do they attempt to hide from the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah.” [22]

20 March 1839 – “Behold, mine eye seeth and knoweth all their works.” [23]

3 July 1839 – “the God of Jacob has His eye upon you.” [24]

September 1840 – “the all-searching eye of an Omnipresent God.” [25]

January1841 – “God that sheweth mercy; having His eye at the same time directed towards His covenant people.” [26]

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.” [27]


Notes

  1. "Vigilant, Saints Alive in Jesus website, "Sinister Sites – Temple Square, Utah," (6 April 2010).
  2. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:196–197. Volume 6 link
  3. Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past: From the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1883), 389.
  4. Wandle Mace, autobiography, 207, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
  5. Ivan J. Barrett, "Church of the Firstborn," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:276.
  6. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:1–2. Volume 5 link
  7. Deseret Evening News (20 August 1880): 3.
  8. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:196-97. Volume 6 link
  9. Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past From the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1883), 389.
  10. Wandle Mace, Autobiography, 207, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
  11. Deseret Evening News, vol. 13, no. 228 (20 August 1880): 3.
  12. "The Public Forum," Salt Lake Tribune (13 November 1985): A–15.
  13. The Mathematical Gazette, vol. 78, no. 483 (November 1994): 319.
  14. 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).
  15. 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.
  16. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in ibid., 298.
  17. Statement by Oliver Cowdery in Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, no. 8, May 1835, 121; hereafter cited as M&A.
  18. 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.
  19. Letter by Parley P. Pratt dated 9 May 1836 in M&A, vol. 2, no. 8, May 1836, 318.
  20. [citation needed]
  21. Statement by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 7, April 1837, 493.
  22. Comment by William Marks in ibid., vol. 3, no. 9, June 1837, 525.
  23. Letter by Joseph Smith Jr. in PWJS, 435.
  24. 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.
  25. Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions (Edinburgh: Ballantyne and Hughes, 1840), 27.
  26. Article by Brigham Young and Willard Richards in Millennial Star, vol. 1, no. 9, January 1841, 223.
  27. 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.