A new breakaway LDS Restorationist group is in business. The Church of the Firstborn Westwood has been granted corporate status by the State of California. Their primary grievance is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not present the Temple Endowment in the same way as Joseph Smith intended, so they believe they have been "called out" from among the LDS people to "restore" the original ordinance. And they're looking to build a temple...in Utah. So far, there's been no reaction from the mainstream LDS Church, and there's unlikely to be any reaction. Pictured at left, the church's Prophet-Leader, Dr. Randall Larsen
Their full press release, posted HERE and also published on Pravanue.com, has been cross-posted below:
(Free-Press-Release.com) August 3, 2009 --
The Church of the Firstborn Westwood, a break-off from the LDS Church, was today granted corporate status by the State of California. The new and well-financed church plans to build Mormon Temples worldwide starting in Utah and California. The purpose will be “to present the Temple Endowment untampered as the Prophet Joseph intended.” The church currently has a 30 million dollar budget to build one Temple in Utah. Representatives are looking at potential sites near Salt Lake City.
To learn more visit the church's yahoo group:
Church spokesperson Louisa Beaman answered the following questions about the new church:
Q: How do you regard the LDS church and LDS leaders?
A: Our view is that the LDS Church is tasked with teaching first principles to the world at large along with administering the first saving ordinances such as Baptism for the remission of sins to those who request this work. Unfortunately, the LDS church has rejected the Temple Endowment as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith so the Father has taken the Keys to direct the administration of this blessing away from the LDS leaders and has given those Keys to a people called out of the LDS people.
As the prophet Joseph tells us “the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed, otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing.” The LDS leaders have rejected “major indexical gestures” in the temple ordinances. This rejection disqualifies those leaders from holding the directing keys to those ordinances inasmuch as "they obey not mine ordinances" thus saith the Lord. For example the initiatory washing of parts of the body cannot be performed as a “symbolic only” washing any more than Baptism by immersion could be performed without the total immersion of the person in the waters of baptism. The “indexical gesture” of washing each part of the body is lost--the “indexical gesture” essential to making the covenant is lost.
In addition LDS leaders have rejected the law of adoption restored by the prophet Joseph. This sealing ordinance is essential to connecting those of this generation back through the Prophet Joseph to Peter and Jesus and our progenitors in the Priesthood back to Adam. According to Brigham Young this ordinance is the means to make us lawful heirs “to bring us back to God.”
The Priesthood that was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith is greater than the LDS Church and thus the Priesthood directs other organizations not connected with the LDS Church. The Church of the Firstborn Westwood is a Priesthood organization or Holy Order that by revelation from the Father is now commissioned to direct the administration of the Father's Temple ordinances.
Q: What is the source of your authority to found the Church of the Firstborn Westwood?
A: Our prophet Randall Larsen holds the keys of the Priesthood by Lineage and by blood.
For more information:
2355 Westwood Blvd 166 Los Angeles, CA 90064-2109
The LDS Endowment website provides a history of the practice of initiatory washing. Originally, initiates were presented to the washing room nude. Water and oil were generously applied while the initiate sat in a tub. Sometime in the early twentieth century, it became customary for initiates to wear a "shield," a sleeveless robe open at the sides. The shield preserved modesty while allowing officiators to touch the various parts of the body named in the rite. At this time, the washing and anointing became more symbolic: officiators merely dabbed a little water and oil on each part of the body while the initiate sat on a stool, clothed in the shield. The temple garment was placed on the initiate under the shield following the washing and anointing.
Despite the increased modesty, the twentieth-century initiatory remained a physically intimate rite, requiring officiators to touch initiates on the center of the sternum (while blessing the "breast"), on the lower back near the kidney (while blessing the "vitals and bowels") and on the side near the hip (while blessing the "loins"). These gestures were facilitated by the shield's being open at the sides.
Beginning in 2005, initiates were instructed to clothe themselves in the garment in the privacy of their locker, before being presented at the washing room. This means that they are clothed throughout the initiatory. As before 2005, initiates wear a shield during the initiatory, but this is now worn over the garment. But the 2005 revision eliminated the touching of the various body parts. Officiators pronounce the same blessings as before, but they do so while laying hands on the initiate's head. The washing and anointing have thus become even more symbolic than in the twentieth century, with water and oil being applied only to the forehead or crown. Because officiators no longer wash or anoint other parts of the initiate's body (which is covered by the garment), the shield is now closed at the sides.
Consequently, if the Westwood sect wants to restore the endowment exactly as Joseph Smith envisioned it, I would assume they would want people to undergo it stark naked, and have the applicable body parts actually touched, washed, and anointed. This practice has actually alienated a few LDS people in the past; some who eventually left the Church cited this practice as a cause of their departure.
Update August 6th: Regarding the modesty issue, in a comment, Dr. Randall Larsen stated, "I have no objection to providing for modesty (shields will be used) or economy of motion (pre-1990 washing and not bathtub bathing). We are seeking revelation on whether to use the long garment in the temple (ankle length)".
The editor of the pro-LDS SpamLDS website, Greg West, is understandably a bit skeptical of this group, asking "I wonder how long it'll be before they're publishing anti-Mormon literature?" Mind you, I don't normally like to start religious wars with Restorationist sects on this blog, since the LDS Church itself was once persecuted, but one has to wonder why they're breaking away from the mainstream LDS Church over this issue. I could understand them breaking away if they actually had some serious differences with the mainstream LDS, but over an Endowment ceremony?
This seems like an example of the scriptural verse about "assuming a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof". This is Talmudic.
As for the Westwood Prophet-Leader Randall Larsen, research indicates that this appears to be the same Randall Larsen who is the personnel manager for Randall Larsen Management (same street address, although city erroneously identified as Honolulu) and Randall Larsen Productions. Politically, he identifies himself as a liberal.