There are a limited number of similarities between the temple endowment and freemasonry – this video discusses how to make sense of these and why they are not a cause for concern.
Okay. So, in this video I want to talk about the temple and the impact that Freemasonry may have had or may have not had on the temple. I will say, please watch the video I just released in conjunction with this, in a sense, on the ancient ties to temple ritual. If you watch that, you almost don’t need to watch this video specifically, in my opinion, but let’s go into it.
So, what is Freemasonry? Well, it’s one of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in the world. Four million members today. Its origins are from the medieval stone guilds. A first reference you can find is in 975 A.D. in York, England. They started to collapse in the late 1600s though with the tough economy, and so they decided to open it up to non-stonemasons in a sense and attract other members. It really got its start though in 1717, when the first Grand Lodge was formed in London, and then some craziness really started to develop. In 1737, there’s a lot of stories where we’re told there’s a lecture in France, Chevalier Ramsay talked about elaborate story of the Crusaders and the Knights Templar helping to preserve the craft with secrets that were recovered from the Holy Land, and so there’s just a lot of interesting things.
It was a very controversial group. It still is because of the secrecy. In fact, Joseph Smith said that the secret of Masonry is to keep a secret there, but that was part of their practice and to show fidelity to the covenants essentially. Also, there was concern that they replaced religion without salvation. There it required belief in God, but there was no focus on Christ and no focus on any kind of salvation in there. It’s a focus on ritual drama of teaching through active participation, focused on a man named Hiram Abiff. That’s the legendary name, but it is an actual person in 1 Kings 7, Hiram of Tyre, the widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali. He is essentially murdered, and you participate in this in Masonry for not sharing the secrets, the secret passwords, in a sense that was there.
And he was in 1 Kings 7 instructed to help build the temple. In fact, even the mason with the 12 oxen, he was given instruction to do that there. The act of participation is to reinforce moral and social values, especially fidelity there, and they believe he was the master architect of the temple.
So, why did Joseph want to join? Well, Joseph and the Saints in Nauvoo, this is when this happened. If you think about it, they’ve been driven out of several states now, and any kind of brotherly kindness through a fraternal organization, and that was the focus is brotherhood would’ve been very attractive, especially with non-members possible and help protect them in a sense.
Also, the thought of going back to Solomon’s Temple. That was the very solid understanding everyone had of this at that time, and so there would have been a desire I think to learn their line upon line, which had happened throughout the Restoration. And so, the Nauvoo Lodge was built at the end of 1841. Joseph Smith went through it in mid-March, March 15th of 1842, and he received the initiation and went through the three degrees, main degrees of Masonry, to become the Master Mason. And then, he introduced the Endowment about two months later on May 4th in the Red Brick Store.
So, huge problems started to develop because there were just a number of Masons in Nauvoo, 1,200. There were 2,000 in the United States, 1,200 in Nauvoo, so it created a lot of strains. There are concerns of power. In fact, Joseph actually is believed were killed in the martyrdom by fellow Masons. In fact, his cry, “Oh, Lord, my God,” was viewed by many as the Masonic call for distress, which did no good if those were his Masonic brothers in a sense.
So, okay, comparing it to the temple, Masonry and the temple are so dramatically different if you think about, again, a belief in Christ, salvation. No women are allowed. It’s just for men. They can become Masons. There are some auxiliaries that will allow women now, but no women initiates. There’s no baptism, no ordinances in that sense. There’s salvation, no washings, anointings that we do in the temple. Sealings to children or to spouses, no proxy work, no priesthood. So, there’s just tremendous differences foundationally. The place where there’s some similarities that come about are in the Endowment in the ritualistic format of the way that the Endowment is done, and then some symbols also that I’ll go through.
So, a few great quotes here. Non-member, even anti, Fanny Stenhouse said, ‘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.” The Catholic scholar, Massimo Introvigne’s writes, “Anti-Mormons often read too much into similarities between the Endowment and Masonic ritual. Smith had used the Masonic language of the rituals for the purpose of confirming his followers familiar with Freemasonry into a doctrine which had no similarities with anything they had heard in the Masonic lodges.”
Now, in the Endowment, the Masonic imagery or ritual teachings, there are four possibilities for believers in my mind. This is my own slide, just the way I’ve put it together, but Masonry, Freemasonry, ties directly back to Solomon’s Temple, 100%, or number two, Masonry ties back to early Christianity, which was influenced by ancient temples. Number three, Masonic rituals are not ancient, but Joseph and everyone of his era thought they were, and God was able to use this as a catalyst for the full revelation on the temple endowment. Remember, God speaks in the language of his children and in their circumstances or for some combination of the above. And that’s my guess is number two and three would be my guess of the combination here, and I’ll show that as we go through hopefully.
Okay. There’s actually in 2008 a Deseret News interview with the new Grand Master of the Utah Grand Lodge of Masons. It’s a member of the Church, and he said here in the interview, “Freemasonry is not a religious practice, but confusion about what it stems in part from the fact that the fraternity is believed by many historians to have originated in the ancient world because its symbols and rituals bear some similarity to sacred ceremonies that existed among the Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Israelites, and even the Catholic and Protestant liturgies– all thought to have some common biblical source.” I’m going to come back to that.
“Many believe it originated with some stone masons who worked on Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, though no definitive evidence of that legend is known to exist. Others speculate that its tenants were had by Enoch and possibly by Adam. Scholars have documented evidence that institutional Masonry dated back only to the Middle Ages when great European cathedrals were being built by guilds of stone masons who practiced the craft.” Okay. The official Church website on the topic of Masonry says, “The emphasis on the similarities between the teaching styles and outward forms of Masonry and the temple endowment obscure significant differences in their substance. Masonic ceremonies promote self-improvement, brotherhood, charity, and fidelity to truth for the purpose of making better men, who in turn make a better society. During temple ordinances, men and women covenant with God to obey His laws for the purpose of gaining exaltation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Masonic rituals deliver stage-by-stage instruction using dramatization and symbolic gestures and clothing with content based on Masonic legends. The Endowment employs similar teaching devices, but it draws primarily upon the revelations and inspired translations given to Joseph Smith for its content.”
If you look here in the … I love what was said in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism by Kenneth Godfrey. He said, “Resemblances between the two rituals are limited to a small portion of actions and words,” and I would add some symbols, which I’m going to go through.
“Indeed, some find that the LDS Endowment has more similarities with the Pyramid texts and the Coptic documents than with Freemasonry. Even where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different. In addition to creation and life themes, one similarity is that both call for the participants to make covenants. Yet, the Endowment alone ties covenants to eternal blessings and to Jesus Christ. The Masonic ceremony does not emphasize priesthood or the need to be commissioned by God to represent Him. The active participation of God in the world and in men’s lives is a distinctly LDS temple motif, while Masons believe in an undefined, impersonal God. Everything in the LDS Endowment emanates from, or is directed to, God who is a personage and man’s eternal Father. The Endowment looks to the eternities and to eternal lives, but Freemasonry is earthbound, pervaded by human legend and hope for something better.”
And he goes on to say, “Freemasonry is a fraternal society, and in ritual all promises, oaths, and agreements are made between members. In the temple Endowment, on the other hand, all covenants are between the individual and God. In Freemasonry, testing, grading, penalizing, or sentencing accords with the rules of the fraternity or membership votes. In the Endowment, God alone is the judge. Within Freemasonry, rank and promotions are of great importance, while in the LDS temple rites, there are no distinctions. All participants stand equal before God. The clash between good and evil, including Satan’s role, is essential to and vividly depicted in the Endowment but is largely absent from Masonic rites. Temple ceremonies emphasize salvation for the dead through vicarious ordinance work such as baptism for the dead. Nothing in Masonic ritual allows for proxies acting on behalf of the dead.”
“Women participate in all aspects of LDS temple rites. Though Freemasonry has women auxiliaries, Masonic ritual excludes them. The Endowment’s inclusion of females underscores perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two rites: LDS temple rites unite husbands and wives and their children in eternal families. Latter-day Saint sealings would be completely out of place in the context of Masonic ceremonies. Thus Latter-day Saints see their temple ordinances as fundamentally different from Masonic and other rituals, and think of similarities as remnants from an ancient original.” Absolutely love that.
Okay. And then if you want to pause the screen, you can read this. This is Matt Brown. This book is the book I would highly recommended if you want a big read on this, Matt Brown, Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons. In here, he does a great summary of what temple activities are centered on, what masonic activities are centered on, dramatic difference, and it kind of parallels to a lot of the stuff we just read there in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
If you go, Joseph’s command to build the Nauvoo temple. The revelation in 1841, January, talks about washing household built to my name, Moses, the tabernacle, to build a house in the land of promise that those ordinances might be revealed, which had been hid from before the world was, your anointings, your washings, your baptisms for the dead, memorials for your sacrifices, and listen to this. “for your oracles.” Now in 1833, that meant divine statements and commandments. So, think of divine statements and commandments, “… in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations and your statutes and judgments.”
“An endownment … house be built … kept hid from before the foundation of the world, and I will show unto my servant, Joseph, all things pertaining to this house and the priesthood thereof.” Fascinating there, and so this was well a year plus before Joseph went through and became a Mason there. The Lord was preparing his mind and what was going to happen there.
So, if you will look again in this book for Matt Brown, he talks about the connection between early Christianity. So, if you look here, “Orthodox Christianity is the place to start looking when it comes to the question of Masonic origins. The Encyclopedia Britannica goes so far as to state that up until the Grand Lodge Era, 1717, Freemasonry was wholly Christian in nature. Robert Cooper, the curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library, puts it plainly. ‘Freemasonry adopted much Christian symbolism and iconography. Freemasonry doubtless used other sources and invented some, but the majority were adopted from Christianity.'”
“How far did the borrowing of the Masons extend? According to John Hamill, ‘None of the symbolism employed in Freemasonry is peculiar to Freemasonry. It has all been borrowed.’ With this perspective in mind, it seems prudent to look at Orthodox Christianity as a source for the setting of practice of the Freemasons.'” Now it’s fascinating he does this. Look at this. He compares the Masonic lodges to the early Christian churches, and he goes through this in the book in detail and shows these specific things. The lodges, the altar, the chair settings for leaders, the Mosaic floor, the candlesticks, the shiny icon for God seen in the east, and how these tie to early Christian churches.
Then, he goes even deeper. This is fascinating. He goes into the early Christian rites and their ties to these in Masonry. These are the subsections of this long chapter. He goes through temple, guard, three degrees, drama, manner of presentation, prayer, darkness and light, oaths and obligations, mysteries, circumambulation, almsgiving, investiture, regalia, death and immortality, and catechism. He says, “An important clue about the origins of Masonry rituals can be found in the writings of one Masonic historian from the late 19th century. He notes that in the year 1870, he traveled to Rome and witnessed the initiation of a Benedictine monk at St. Paul’s Basilica,” and then he actually gives in the book, the actual description of this initiation.
And then, he says, “Those who are familiar with the initiation rites of Freemasonry cannot fail to recognize the parallels between this Orthodox Christian ritual and that used for the induction of speculative Masons. Indeed, the further back in time one looks, the closer the connection between Masons and the Christian faith becomes.” Then it gets really crazy fascinating. He includes in his book, “Another Masonic author who took an interest in this line of thought in modern times was a reverend by the name of Neville Cryer. ‘I think I know where we came from,’ he said. ‘The real basis of Freemasonry is Christian understanding and the purpose of the rites is to place a man on a figurative pilgrimage to God’s heavenly temple.’ Reverend Cryer’s studies led him to the conclusion that some of the legendary material of the craft came from a world history composed by a Roman Catholic monk.”
In addition, he concludes that Masonic signs originated with the set of gestures utilized by a few of the orthodox monastic orders. He felt that the catechetical instruction of Masonry was rooted in the method of monastic worship, i.e. the chanter and deacon statement and response routine performed in the choir. Allegory coupled with symbolism according to Cryer can be traced to the monk known as the Venerable Bede, 673 to 735 A.D., who wrote about the Israelite temple. His work even became part of the monastic curriculum. Finally, Cryer thought that the Jesuit monks employed symbols that the Freemasonry had adopted.” So, my next question is where did these monks get it from way back then? So, fascinating thoughts.
Okay, so let’s look at, actually various comments from early Church leaders on Masonry. Willard Richards said, “Masonry had its origin in the priesthood. A hint to the wise is sufficient.” Heber C. Kimball, “There is a similarity of priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph Smith says, ‘Masonry was taken from priesthood.'” Benjamin F. Johnson, “Joseph Smith told me Freemasonry as at present, was the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion.” Joseph Fielding, “The LDS temple ordinances are the true origin of Masonry.”
Now, the Church website actually says, “Joseph and his associates understood Masonry as an institution that priests preserved vestiges of ancient truth. They acknowledged parallels between Masonic rituals and the Endowment but concluded, based on their experiences with both, that the ordinance was divinely restored.” Remember, the Lord speaks to them in their understanding and their circumstances, and they were going through both and viewed it this way. How would they see this in their time and experience?
Okay. Dr. Mark Rivera is a Latter-day Saint, and a Mason. He actually has written a lot. He presented at a Worldwide Freemasonry Conference, and I’m going to share a couple of fascinating comments he shared there. I’ll link it in the program. “I believe that this pattern is key to understanding the emergence of the LDS temple ceremonies. As we have seen, Joseph Smith came to his Masonic initiation in 1842 with years of experience that gave his initiation a unique context. For over 20 years, Smith had shown a pattern of encountering sacred texts, pondering them prayerfully, and then receiving major revelation.”
Now, if I can say as an example, James 1:5, pondering that text led to the First Vision. As they pondered baptism, and translating the Book of Mormon, led to the experience of receiving the priesthood restoration. As they ponder the Resurrection, that’s when he and Sidney Rigdon had this hour-long vision of the three degrees of glory in the upper room of the John Johnson Farm. The Book of Abraham, as he pondered the Egyptian scrolls, receiving that revelation there.
So, “For seven years, Smith had been in possession of ancient Egyptian texts that dealt with ritual initiation. Smith had been involved in the development of rituals for temple worship for over a year. Based on other revelations he had received, Smith had been expecting to receive major revelations involving the bestowal of temple rituals. With these sorts of concerns on his mind, Joseph Smith received the first three degrees in Masonic initiation in March 1842. Those who have been through the craft degrees of Masonic initiation know that when the ceremonies are conducted well, they are solemn occasions that can make a long lasting impression upon the candidate. It is my belief that the three Masonic ceremonies of ritual initiation constituted for Smith another sacred text for him to ponder and meditate upon. In turn, I believe this pondering and contemplation over the weeks following his initiation became a context for Smith to receive a major revelation consistent with the pattern in which Smith had received some major revelations before.”
And then, the Endowment came about several months later. And in fact, the official Church website says this, similar thoughts. “There are different ways of understanding the relationship between Masonry and the temple. Some Latter-day Saints point to similarities between the format and symbols of both the Endowment and Masonic rituals and those of many ancient religious ceremonies as evidence that the Endowment was a restoration of an ancient ordinance. Others note that the ideas and institutions in the culture that surrounded Joseph Smith frequently contributed to the process by which he obtained revelation.
In any event, the Endowment did not simply imitate the rituals of Freemasonry. Rather, Joseph’s encounter with Masonry evidently served as a catalyst for revelation. The Lord restored the temple ordinances through Joseph Smith to teach profound truths about the plan of salvation and introduce covenants that would allow God’s children to enter His presence.”
So then, Dr. Rivera continues, and he says, “I believe Joseph Smith’s Masonic initiation was a sort of catalyst and event that prepared Smith’s mind to receive the major, temple-related revelation that he had been awaiting for over a year. Smith’s Masonic initiation also provided him with a sort of ritual vocabulary, something that his general Protestant upbringing in upstate New York had not provided to him. According to this interpretation of events, Joseph Smith neither violated his obligation as a Freemason by revealing Masonic ritual, nor plundered Masonic ritual for the LDS Endowment ceremony. The experience of Masonic initiation prepared Smith’s mind to receive through revelation an extensive body of ritual for the LDS temple Endowment. However, the one was not stolen from the other. A direct comparison of important aspects of the Masonic ritual of initiation with the LDS temple Endowment ceremony is highly instructive.”
And I love this, by the way, because he is a Mason and a Latter-day Saint. He says, “Symbolic meaning of the gestures is paramount as I believe that they are symbols of the specific covenants that the temple patron has made. There are those who would say that the very existence of ritual gestures in the LDS temple ceremony raises suspicion of some Masonic origin. The example of history says otherwise. One may find ritual postures and gestures,” watch what the other video I mentioned, “illustrated within the art of many religious and spiritual groups across the earth and through the centuries.”
“For example in Egyptian sacred artwork, one may see what seemed to be ceremonial postures and gestures. Some people have claimed that these seemed similar to postures and gestures found in the LDS temple ceremony. As another example, dozens of symbolic gestures or mudras are to be found within the religious traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Some people have claimed that some of these seem similar to gestures in the LDS temple ceremony, and it’s obviously senseless to claim that Joseph Smith stole his temple ceremonies from the ancient Egyptians, the Hindus, the Taoists, or Japanese Buddhists. There was little in the way of literature on these traditions available to general readers on the American frontier during the 1830s and 1840s.”
Then, he finishes, “The fact of the matter is that symbolic postures and gestures are part of the symbolism of spiritual and initiatic traditions throughout the human history; our present Western culture being relatively uneducated in matters of serious and esoteric spirituality, is relatively unfamiliar with the aspect of spiritual symbolism, but the Masons are not unfamiliar with it and neither are the Mormons. Of course, all of this raises the question of why such things as symbolic postures or gestures should have any spiritual significance at all.”
“It makes sense for human spirituality to be expressed in physical ways. The use of ceremony and body postures and gestures serves to involve the body quite directly in a spiritual endeavor. Adopting a certain posture or making a certain gesture sends a message to the mind that now we are doing something different, something special, something meaningful.” I love this.
Donald Parry and Joseph Fielding McConkie said this on symbolism. “Symbols are the universal tongue. Symbols bring color and strength to language while deepening and enriching our understanding. Symbols enable us to give conceptual form to ideas and emotions that may otherwise defy the power of words. They take us beyond words and grant us eloquence in the expression of feelings. Symbolic language conceals certain doctrinal truths from the wicked and thereby protects sacred things from possible ridicule. At the same time, symbols reveal truth to the spiritually alert. Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and all ordinances of salvation had been revealed. From the time we are immersed in the waters of baptism to the time we kneel at the altar of the temple with the companion of our choice in the ordinance of eternal marriage, every covenant we make will be written in the language of symbolism.”
And then, John Widtsoe said, “The Endowment is so richly symbolic that only a fool would attempt to describe it. It is so packed full of revelations to those who exercise their strength to seek and see, that no human words can explain or make clear the possibilities that reside in temple service. The Endowment which was given by revelation can best be understood by revelation, and to those who seek most vigorously with pure hearts will the revelation be the greatest.”
Okay. Now, let’s talk about some symbols. The compass and the square symbol used in Masonry and in Latter-day Saints. Matthew Brown talks about this in the book. He says, “Parley P. Pratt reported in his autobiography that in the year 1830 he was shown shapes that correspond to these particular instruments, the compass and the square, in a heavenly vision, and they were not displayed to him in a Masonic fashion either. The compass and square are biblical symbols in the sense that they were actually mentioned in the 1599 Geneva Bible in a footnote for 1 Corinthians 3:3.”
But take a look at this slide going way back. There’s ancient paintings showing the first rulers of China holding the tools of creation, the compass and the square, and I talk about this in the other video. One of the earliest images of a square is a carpenter from the tomb of Rekhmire in Egypt in the 18th dynasty there. So, interesting things there. The Royal Arch degree, which is an optional advanced degree in Masonry, also. Joseph did not participate in that, but some people point to that as also a source of the temple because it involves robes and going through a veil to the Holy of Holies. Well, that’s exactly what the Bible says, too. That was what happened in Solomon’s temple. So again, interesting things there.
So, a hand clasp. Look at the dates on here. First of all, this goes way back. Anyway, watch the other video on that, but look at these dates. 1832, the right hand of fellowship was given by Elder Partridge. 1836, the First Presidency and Twelve took each other by the hand in confirmation of their covenant with each other. 1839, I love this one. Joseph taught the members of the First Presidency, this is D&C 129, one of the keys of the kingdom, which was how to detect the nature of an otherworldly visitor by means of a hand clasp.
“Holiness to the Lord.” That appears on the wall in the Masonic Lodge. It’s also on every temple. It’s also in Exodus 28. “Thou shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave upon it the engravings of signet, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ and that’s to be worn upon the forehead of the high priest and be consecrated for the ordinances.'”
Bees and the Beehive. This is kind of used by lots, but it was also in the Book of Mormon. In Ether 2:3 it talks about the honey bees called deseret. 1832, we had this comment here, “Industry like the bees.” In 1841, working on the temple, “Busy as bees,” there.
Another one is aprons. The stonemasons wore aprons, so they wear aprons there. The Latter-day Saints wear aprons to represent Genesis 3 where it talks about Adam and Eve wearing aprons, and that was this symbolic reference to those. Totally different meanings.
The Eye of Providence, or the all-seeing eye, Book of Mormon verses, here, you can see them there talking about the all-seeing eye. That’s there. Look at this Christian painting, back to 1525. Fascinating. Proverbs 3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” “The light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Now, this has become a big symbol of the Illuminati, which is just conspiracy theories. The Illuminati was squashed. Anyway, centuries ago, but it was started in 1776 in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt. He established the Order of the Illuminati. And then a year later he became a Mason, and he tried to start recruiting people into this order from the Masons, so that’s why it ended up that the Illuminati often being tied to the Masons. Their goal was actually to replace the monarchy there in Bavaria with a Republican government. The police destroyed them eight years later, demolished the order. Everyone was kicked out of Bavaria and all Masons as well, but rumors continue to persist to this day as you well know, I’m sure. And this all-seeing eye is often used as a symbol of the Illuminati.
I love this. Look at this screen here. This Eye of Providence is on the $1 bill. If you look at it there and look when it happens, 1782. Now Freemasonry, they adopted this in their iconography in 1797, so it wasn’t from the Masons. This already existed well before that, and I showed you the painting from the 1500s, but I love this, this Latin “annuit coeptis”, He approves our undertakings or has approved, and it says, “God knows 13 steps,” there representing the original states, and then the future growth, the unfinished pyramid, there. So, kind of cool.
Then, the Pentagram. So, take a look at all these pictures of pentagrams here. The bottom left is from ancient Israel. It was viewed as the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Pentateuch, and the middle one is from the Masons. The top right is the pentagram pointing down. This was thought of as Christ and the five points of the wounds of Christ and coming down to earth often was the way that that’s why we put it on the Nauvoo Temple, pointing down. Christ coming down to Earth.
But then this was adopted and changed into a symbol of the occult. It’s crazy, but it happened in 1856. A Catholic Deacon, Alphonse Constant, he changed his name to Eliphas Lévi. He became … He was a Mason, a Catholic Deacon, but he became very involved in an occult and magic, and he adopted the symbol. He said the inverted Pentagram specifically meant evil there, and that was in 1856. So again, it’s sad how, but not surprising, Satan would want to try and turn some of these beautiful symbols in there.
Now, I love the aspect of this symbol, by the way, of Venus, the Morning Star. Jesus Christ himself in Revelations 22 refers to himself as the Morning Star, and that was looked at as that is the star. Venus is the closest planet to Earth, and when it’s on the other side of the Sun, it leads the Sun up in the morning. It appears several hours before, and it’s the bringer of light. The Greeks called it there. They referred to it as the Morning Star. If you look at the pattern that Venus forms over eight years in rotating around the Sun, it is a pentagram. I just love that symbolism. It’s beautiful. It’s all there, and again, desecrated by Satan with trying to make this a symbol of the occult.
And Truman Angell actually wrote a letter to the prophet John Taylor, addressing symbols on the temple and informed him in writing that none of the symbols on the building’s exterior were meant to be Masonic.
And then, last I want to finish with this. Scott Gordon in 2017 FairMormon Conference gave a phenomenal presentation on Mormon temples and Freemasonry. I put it in the show notes. You can watch it or read it. But, I love the way he ended with a Q&A, and I want to share these key things. He says, “Did Joseph simply copy the temple ceremony from the Masons? No. There is too much in the temple that isn’t related to what goes on in Masonry.” Question, “Are there elements in the Endowment ceremony that are found in Masonry? Yes. There are a few, but they have been completely repurposed. Certainly, the temple ceremony contains some of the phrases, wording, and symbols that exist within Masonry, but these things, both Masonic and biblical, are part of the world Joseph Smith lived in. Just as we use movie language in our speaking, it’s not surprising to have some Masonic language in the world of Joseph Smith.”
Question, “Does Freemasonry go back to the time of King Solomon, or is it a modern creation?” Answer, “We don’t know, and we have no way of knowing. While members of the Church like the idea of Masonry from the ancient temple and it is what early Church members believed and taught, currently, thought leans towards a more modern origin of Freemasonry. Nevertheless, even if there were a more modern origin, Masonry included Biblical temple themes and ancient symbols.”
Question, “Did Joseph copy those similar elements from modern Freemasonry, or do they stem from Solomon’s temple and other ancient temples?” Answer, “We don’t know, and we have no way of knowing.”
Question, “Did Joseph Smith simply believe something was ancient that was really modern and copy that into a fake temple ceremony? No. Even if you stripped out all the elements that overlap with Masonry, the temple ceremony is surprisingly in alignment with ancient temples.” Watch my other video. “The Lord wanted to give us a gift or endowment. He directed Joseph Smith to create a ceremony where we would make covenants with God and received promised blessings. The teachings, covenants, and promises within that temple ceremony do not come from Masonry. Even if we were to take the position that Joseph Smith took the revealed covenants and designed a ceremony himself to remind us of those covenants on a regular basis, Joseph Smith would still be a prophet acting within his calling. We take the sacrament each week to symbolically reenact the Last Supper while we make covenants. In the temple, we are symbolically reminded of our purpose in life and how we should follow God. I know that that theme comes from God and is ancient in origin.”
And then, he concludes by saying, “Masonry focuses on man’s relationship to man, while the temple endowment focuses on man’s relationship to God. While there may be some passing similarities between some Masonic rituals and the temple ritual endowment, the teachings, the covenants, and the purpose are completely different. Did Joseph Smith use some of the words and symbols from Masonry to create the temple ceremonies? Probably, but only a very small amount that he repurposed for a different meaning.”
“Did the Masons use words and symbols from Solomon’s temple to create their Masonic ceremonies, or were they purely 17th century creations? I don’t think anybody knows that answer for sure, but it really doesn’t matter. Because the claim Joseph Smith borrowed the endowment ceremony from Masonry, whether created in the 17th century or not, is clearly false. While there are a few similarities, the entire purpose and intent is different. Instead of believing that Joseph Smith copied the ceremony from the Masons, it makes much more sense to say that Joseph Smith received the promises and covenants of the temple from God and from scriptures. But, he also adapted and repurposed some things he was exposed to in Freemasonry to assist in that temple ceremony. Whether those few repurposed Masonic elements are of ancient or modern origin, I will leave up to you.”
And I will leave it up to you as well. Hope you enjoyed the video. Subscribe for more.
Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons – Matthew Brown
Masonic Initiation Rituals and Mormon Temple Ceremonies – Dr Mark Koltko-Rivera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCu0d…
Deseret News Article, Mar 29,2008; A Mormon Mason: New grand master is the first in a century who is LDS https://www.deseretnews.com/article/6…
Church Website – Topic: Masonry https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/s…
FairMormon – Mormonism & Freemasonry: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mo…
Encyclopedia of Mormonism – Freemasonry and the Temple; Kenneth Godfrey https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Freemas…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.