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The Mormon Temple Part 7

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
August 2, 2021 9:28 pm

The Mormon Temple Part 7

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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August 2, 2021 9:28 pm

This is the second week of a two-week series dealing with a variety of aspects on the LDS temple, why it’s needed in this religion, and what takes place inside these buildings.

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Mormonism 101, a book by Mormonism Research Ministries, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, has helped many who want to understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith. In 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.

Our thanks to Adams Road Band for that musical introduction. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We've been talking about the Mormon Temple. As you know, the Mormons are very energetic in building a number of temples throughout the world, and many people looking at these buildings probably wonder, well, what is it all about? Why are they so significant? Do Mormons even worship in these buildings on Sunday? No, they don't.

They're closed on Sunday. They worship on Sunday in the local chapels. But temple participation is absolutely essential if a Latter-day Saint hopes to get the best that their religion offers them. Let me just read you a couple of quotes from some LDS leaders. The first is from a Mormon apostle by the name of John Andreas Widtsoe, John A. Widtsoe. This is in a book titled Evidences and Reconciliations, page 201.

Listen to what he says. You know that there are three levels of glory, the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdom. There's also outer darkness, but there's basically three levels of glory. In the celestial, which is the top, there are three more levels. Now, I've never seen where the Church differentiates what's going on in each of these levels, but the goal for the Latter-day Saint is to get into the top level of the celestial kingdom.

It has also been referred to as the Church of the Firstborn. To be relegated to the second or third level is not good enough. There are no eternal benefits, at least that I know most Mormons are hoping for, in the second and third level. They want to go to the top level.

But let me go on with Widtsoe's quote. Such exaltation comes to those who receive the higher ordinances of the Church, such as the temple endowment. This is a significant part of temple worship, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such as temple endowment, and afterwards are sealed in marriage for time and eternity, whether on earth or in the hereafter. Then we have this statement made by Boyd K. Packer, also who served as an apostle before his death.

The blessing of the endowment is required for full exaltation. Every Latter-day Saint should seek to be worthy of this blessing and to obtain it. Now from those two citations alone, we can see why temple building is so important to the average Latter-day Saint.

They need this in order for this exaltation, this true salvation that they seek. Now the point that we have been trying to make when we began this series last week, is that the LDS Church gives the impression that what they do in their buildings is patterned after what was done in earlier days, in biblical days to be specific. Our objection is, is we do not see this. We do not see this pattern spelled out in the New Testament.

We don't even see this pattern in history. The early Christian church was not all that worried about temple participation. It's not that we don't see Christians hanging out at the temple in Jerusalem, but we don't see them going through this endowment ceremony that, as I just read, is absolutely essential if a Latter-day Saint hopes to receive exaltation. It's completely foreign to the New Testament.

We don't see it at all. Now what is this endowment? Last week, I read a statement from the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It says this when it comes to the endowment, in a general sense, a gift of power from God. Worthy members of the church can receive a gift of power through ordinances in the temple that gives them the instruction and covenants of the holy priesthood that they need in order to attain exaltation. The endowment includes instruction about the plan of salvation. Now, Eric, in reading just that small explanation, I can see so many areas that are entirely unique to the LDS Church and not Christianity at large.

That's not something that early Christians concerned themselves with. But the official website of the LDS Church goes into a little more detail when it comes to this endowment. What does it say on another page? Yeah, this is on ChurchofJesusChrist.org slash temple slash what is temple endowment hyphens between what is temple endowment, and the title is about the temple endowment. I think we should read this article to help us understand officially what the church believes about the endowment ceremony. It starts off this way with the subheading, your personal gift from God. Receiving your temple endowment is one of the most sacred experiences of your life. Personal preparation will make it more meaningful and powerful. Many members of the church receive their endowment before a mission or marriage, while others simply have a strong desire to move forward along the covenant path. Regardless of the circumstances, it's important to realize that your endowment is more than just another step. It's an essential and glorious part of your eternal journey.

Okay, let's stop there. That seems to go along with what John Witzel said and what Boyd K. Packer said. If this endowment is so essential in your spiritual journey, why is it we don't see anything about this in the New Testament? Why is it that the Book of Mormon doesn't mention anything about this? For all we know, based on what we read in the Book of Mormon, Nephites, if they existed at all, certainly were ignorant of such a temple endowment. We have no hint at all in the Book of Mormon that they were doing what Mormons are doing today. Again, when they try to make this comparison to what they think happened in ancient times, we don't see the evidence for that. Now, a Latter-day Saint could easily say, well, I prayed about it, and because I prayed I got a confirmation that this is the way it is.

Folks, that's just being lazy. Look into the history. Look into what the New Testament says. You will not find anywhere where in the Book of Mormon the Nephites practiced temple endowments or in the New Testament that the first century Christians were practicing temple endowments. When it says that it's an essential and glorious part of your eternal journey, we mentioned yesterday that the Christians, after the temple was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans, did not seem to mind that there was no temple being rebuilt.

Nobody was talking about that. In the fourth century, you have a guy named Constantine who made Christianity the state religion. You talked about that yesterday, but while Helen, Constantine's mom, is going around and looking at the different sites and verifying where these actually were, in Israel, nothing was done as far as the temple location. Nobody was talking about building a temple, which perhaps Rome could have done if it was essential and glorious part of an eternal journey.

And I think you make a very good point there. If it's that important of a piece in the puzzle of an individual's salvation, why is it ignored? Why is it not mentioned?

Folks, I think it's quite simple. It's because it's unique in the mind of Joseph Smith. It's not a part of history. It's not a part of early Christianity. And if the Latter-day Saints are going to insist that what they're doing is a restoration, the only way you can really support that claim is if you can show from history how it has been restored from something that was done earlier.

If you have no evidence of it being done earlier, you cannot claim it was a restoration. How many Latter-day Saints have never even thought about the history of the temple and its importance back in the biblical time and why it's so important to Latter-day Saints today? The article on the church website continues by citing President Russell M. Nelson. It says he reminded us that every activity, every lesson, all we do in the church point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the church as a sign of our faith in life after death and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and for our families. And that's found in the Ensign magazine.

It was a General Conference talk, Ensign May 2001, page 32. The article goes on and says, Only in the temple can we receive the ordinances necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances, including the endowment, lead to the greatest blessings available through the atonement of Jesus Christ and help us focus on the Savior, His role in Heavenly Father's plan, and our commitment to follow Him.

Bill, I'm not quite sure. How does the temple help a Latter-day Saint focus on the Savior? Well, they would argue that everything in the temple is all about the Savior. But really, when you think about it, a lot of it is all about obedience, because you're going to be making these covenants that you're going to promise to do all these things that the church is telling you to do. It goes back to this whole notion of commandment keeping. The temple is very much a part of that.

And I think what's important, too, is even to get into a temple, you have to prove yourself, as you've read earlier, you have to prove yourself worthy in order to get there. It's all about commandment keeping. Everything about Mormonism is all about commandment keeping. The fact that we are even here on this earth in human bodies, according to Mormonism, connects with how we behaved in the pre-existence when we were mere spirit children of our Heavenly Parents.

Because of our actions there, that's what determined where we would be in this mortality. This is why the LDS Church had for so long this doctrine of the black skin. They argued that the people who have black skin in this life obviously were not as valiant as they could have been in the pre-existence, and that was a part of their punishment. LDS leaders spelled this out. I know the church does not believe that today, or at least they're trying to separate themselves from that teaching, and I can understand why. It's a repugnant teaching. I'm glad they've come around on that. But let's not forget, it was a part of their church for much of its own history.

It only changed around 1978, and now they tell us they don't even understand why. Everything is connected with works in the LDS Church. It's all about works.

Well, the article goes on, Bill, and this is what it says. The word endowment means a gift. In this context, the temple endowment is literally a gift from God whereby He bestows sacred blessings upon you.

The endowment can only be received in His way and in His holy temple. Some of the gifts you will receive through the temple endowment include, number one, greater knowledge of the Lord's purposes and teachings. Two, power to do all that God wants us to do. Three, divine direction and protection as we serve the Lord, our families, and others. Four, increased hope, comfort, and peace.

Finally, number five, promised blessings now and forever. Notice number two, power to do all that God wants us to do. You're right, it's very much about obedience, and in fact, at every temple open house, they have a display where there's a reception room, and that display reads this way. In the temple, we promise to serve others and obey God's commandments. You're making covenants in there to do what God intends for you to do. We hope you will join us again as we look at another Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 07:28:31 / 2023-09-18 07:33:37 / 5

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