In reply to the chapter, “Pagan Mysteries Restored”
This entire chapter claims to show that Masonry is the main source for the ideas in Mormonism. This accusation is repeated throughout the book. The authors equate Masonry with the occult, or satanism. Thus, their conclusion is that Mormonism must be satanic.
Charges that the LDS temple ceremony is “basically Masonic” are long-standing and difficult to refute, since few persons are intimately familiar with both ceremonies or have the qualifications (including freedom from obligations of confidentiality) to publish an objective comparison. The following statement by an LDS scholar who has been a Mason for fifty years is pertinent:
No Mason—or anyone else—acquainted with the rituals of the Order can honestly claim there is the slightest resemblance of those ordinances or procedures [of the LDS endowment ceremony] to anything presented in a Symbolic Lodge of Free Masonry. (Mervin B. Hogan, “The Historicity of the Alleged Masonic Influence on Mormonism,” pp. 17, 30-31 [Jan. 15, 1984]).
Page 117, lines 7-12
Referring to Reed Durham’s paper he read at the annual Mormon History Association convention on April 20, 1974, the authors write: “The audience was stunned. . . because the implication was too devastating . . . Dr. Durham had forced them to look at something so incriminating that Joseph Smith’s credentials as a Prophet were torn to tatters.”
As far as I know, no one has left Mormonism or changed his mind about it as a result of Reed Durham’s speech. I heard the speech in Nauvoo personally and the authors did not. Their overdramatized account is grossly exaggerated. In effect Durham merely said, “Although we all know of Joseph Smith’s association with Masonry, here’s information that he was involved to a greater extent than what we have known.”
Page 117, lines 14-16
“Thanks to the diligence and courage of a very few people who had brought their tape recorders, the staggering speech was soon in ‘underground’ circulation”.
Actually Durham planned to allow his speech to be printed, as are many other speeches from these conventions. It requires courage to tape record a speech? Tape recorders have always been used at these conventions; they are open, not closed meetings.
Page 117, lines 21-25
“It was awesome to see how quickly the Mormon hierarchy [acted]. The very next day the angel [Moroni] with its Masonic markings that Dr. Durham had referred to in his talk was hastily removed from its Visitors’ Center display in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, never to be seen in public again.” (This “incident” is considered important enough to repeat on page 232, lines 16-19.)
There was no such happening. This story perhaps has as its origin the removal of a small replica of a wind vane, perhaps an angel Moroni, which was atop a model of the Nauvoo Temple in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center only a few hundred yards from the scene of Dr. Durham’s speech. Some well-intentioned visitors’ center worker was perhaps responsible, but to link this to “quick action by the Mormon hierarchy” is not accurate.
Page 117, lines 29-31 to end of page 120
After explaining about the Jupiter talisman, etc., the book discusses this point for the next couple of pages.
“How do you feel about your Nauvoo speech now?” I asked Dr. Durham recently. “I now wish I had presented some of my material differently,” he replied. “For instance, at the present time, after rechecking my data, I find no primary evidence that Joseph Smith ever possessed a Jupiter talisman. The source for my comment was a second-hand, late source. It came from Wilford Wood, who was told it by Charlie Bidaman, who was told it by his father, Lewis Bidaman, who was Emma’s second husband and a non-Mormon not too friendly to the LDS Church. So, the idea that the Prophet had such a talisman is highly questionable!”
Dr. Durham also told me he was trying to play the “devil’s advocate” in his Nauvoo speech, which is what many there, including myself, sensed. Unfortunately others took the words to further their purposes.
Page 121, lines 9-15
“The alleged First Vision’ [has] nine contradictory versions.”
This will be discussed in relation with page 214, lines 3, 10-11 and page 214, lines 16-18.
Page 121, lines 23-28
“The gradual theological metamorphosis in Joseph Smith from almost biblical (as expressed in the original printings of the Book of Mormon and Book of Commandments) to a polytheist who denied hell and promised godhood to the worthy on the basis of secret pagan Temple rituals is also consistent with the growing Masonic influence upon him.”
This sentence has at least four errors:
- When the authors say Joseph Smith’s work began as “almost biblical,” it contradicts earlier charges that Mormonism’s foundations were satanic from the beginning. (See previous answer on page 71, line 20.) The authors do not believe the First Vision, priesthood restoration, the Book of Mormon or other early Latter-day Saint claims.
- Joseph Smith did not evolve from a monotheist to a polytheist, as answered in comments on page 74, line 5. Since Masonry is not polytheistic, how can the authors say Masonry was the reason for Joseph Smith’s “metamorphosis” to polytheism?
- Joseph Smith did not deny there was a hell. (See comments on page 76, line 30.)
- If Joseph promised godhood to his followers late in his career, and Masons do not teach this, this concept is not Masonic related.
Page 122, line 35 to page 123, line 7
Some have concluded that because a number of early LDS leaders had been Masons long before Joseph Smith was initiated in 1842, he could have known about the inner Masonic workings long before the Nauvoo period.
However, this was not likely, because the Masons would have been sworn to secrecy with regard to the inner workings.
Page 125, lines 5-6
“Like Mormonism, [Masonry] opposes historic Christianity.”
Since Joseph Smith opposed the man-made creeds of traditional Christianity from the First Vision on, how does this show Joseph Smith was influenced by Masons?
Page 125, line 6
“[Joseph Smith] claimed that heavenly visitors told him that all Christians were corrupt. “
The heavenly visitors made no negative remarks about all Christians but about their man-made creeds (Joseph Smith—History 1).
Page 125, lines 8-12
“Masonry claims to be the ‘true’ religion.”
The consensus view I found in reading about Masonry is that most Masons claim Masonry is not a religion at all, but a fraternal order.
Page 127, line 1-3
“On May 4, 1842, less than two months after he had been initiated into Masonry, Joseph Smith introduced what is known today as the [priesthood] Temple Endowment Ceremony.”
I inserted the word priesthood in brackets in the quoted passage above because the endowment ceremony is essentially a priesthood ordinance. The priesthood was restored in 1829. The authors do not mention that the Church’s second building in Kirtland, Ohio, was its first temple, started in 1833 and dedicated March 27, 1836, six years before Joseph Smith became a Mason. They also fail to point out that the Latter-day Saints had plans for a number of temples in Missouri in the 1830s, two of which were started before the Latter-day Saints fled to the Nauvoo area in 1839.
As Elder John A. Widtsoe pointed out, “Almost from the organization of the Church, Joseph promised the people a higher endowment, a continuation of that received in baptism . . . . At the dedication [of the Kirtland temple in 1836], some ordinances were given preparatory to the fuller endowment to come. There was nothing new about temple work when it came in its greater completeness. It was expected.” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, p. III.)
On January 19, 1841, well before his initiation into Masonry, Joseph Smith recorded a revelation that speaks clearly of the need for a temple in Nauvoo and of some of the ordinances to be carried out there (see D&C 124:27-42).
Quite obviously, Joseph Smith’s understanding of the priesthood temple endowment began long before his initiation into Masonry.
Page 127, lines 13-15
“Thus were originated the secret functions of the Tower and Priesthoods’ of Lucifer, which form the very core of Mormonism.”
On the contrary, the origins of the LDS temple ceremonies are wholly divine. For specific information on this, see comments on pages 116-131 and page 127, lines 1-3.
Page 128, lines 28-36
The authors quote Reed Durham as saying that Masonry once was part of the ancient priesthood and then turn around and say Durham must have really meant a pagan priesthood.
To say that Durham meant something other than what he actually said is irresponsible.
Page 129, lines 24-30
“Masonry is a Luciferic religion,” the authors again state.
Then why did Joseph Smith need to change it so much to form the LDS Church, which the authors also claim is satanic?
Page 129, line 33 to page 131, line 2
“What is this ‘Mystery’ that only the very few at the highest levels of Masonry (and Mormonism) are intended to understand? . . “
The authors continue with more quotes which (even with my limited knowledge of Masonry) sound inaccurate and must come from unfriendly sources.
I cannot speak for Masonry, but I know every honest LDS temple goer will agree there is not one resemblance between the book’s description and the occurrences in an LDS temple. The LDS temple is actually called “House of the Lord,” as well as “temple.” The temple ceremony exposes Satan’s deceitful purposes and is designed to bring the temple-goer to the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the temple is dedicated.
Page 131, line 2 to end of chapter
“This is the religion that Joseph Smith and about 1,500 early Mormons embraced enthusiastically before they were expelled from Masonry. According to no less an authority than Dr. Reed Durham, this is also the religion that determined almost every major doctrine and practice in Mormonism.”
This is totally false. Latter-day Saints love and worship God and put their faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. They abhor Satan and his works. Reed Durham’s response to me is that the above is a gross exaggeration of what he said.