Thursday, May 17, 2012

Institute For Religious Research Publishes Transcript Of Typical LDS Temple Endowment Ceremony

One of the more unique aspects of the style of worship employed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the endowment ceremony held within its temples. LDS men generally undergo the endowment before embarking on a full-time mission at the age of 19. LDS women usually receive their endowment before marriage, or if and when they leave on an 18-month mission at the age of 21. LDS members in general will then subsequently receive the endowment again, not just for themselves, but also on behalf of deceased individuals, enabling those in the spirit world to accept or reject the ordinances and covenants according to their own free will.

The Endowment ceremony includes four basic aspects:

-- A preparatory ordinance of ceremonial washing and anointing, and dressing in sacred temple garments, plus temple robes, always white as a symbol of purity and equality between everyone in attendance.
-- A course of instruction that features the creation of the world, some of the experiences of Adam and Eve, and the plan of salvation or redemption available to every human thanks to the sacrifice of Christ.
-- Making covenants constitute yet another aspect of the Endowment; LDS members solemnly promise the Lord to be obedient, giving of self, chaste, and loyal to the restored Church of Christ and its cause. In return, God will fulfill promised blessings of joy, protection, progress, and eventual return to His glorious presence.
-- Discernment. Most temple visitors can actually feel a degree of divine presence even now, for LDS temples are specially dedicated as places of holiness, of light, of peace and revelation and understanding. The Lord's hand can be felt in the LDS Church's practice of temple building, and it can be felt in the hearts and lives of those who worthily and reverently enter the temple.

Because the symbols used in the Endowment and the meanings of those symbols are sacred to Mormons, the Church customarily does not divulge specific details of what goes on in the temple. Because much of the Endowment ceremony differs significantly from other Christian ceremonies, individual Church members attend a Temple Preparation Seminar prior to undergoing the Endowment. Despite this, a small number of people find the Endowment difficult or even offensive; some eventually leave the Church because of it.

To better reassure people that the Endowment is strictly benign, I have linked to a transcript of a typical Endowment ceremony first identified in a May 17th Tucson Citizen article. The transcript is provided by the Institute for Religious Research, which, although they do not regard the LDS temple ceremonies as sacred and do not agree with the idea of keeping sacred things secret, expressly state that it is not their intention to mock Mormons or their practices, but merely to make information available to those who are looking for it. They provide the transcript without any editorial commentary; it is too lengthy to be re-published here.

The transcript of the Endowment ceremony does a great job of bringing out fundamental Gospel principles. It symbolically shows the complexity of setting up man's sojourn on Earth and the interaction that occurred between Elohim, Jehovah, Satan, Adam, Peter, James, and John. It shows that some of those whose mortal missions would occur much later, to include Peter, James, and John, played important pre-mortal roles in launching man's sojourn on Earth. This is revolutionary stuff not promoted by any other Christian denomination. It shows the limitless possibilities offered by Mormonism.

The Endowment ceremony is nothing to be scared of. It is something to be anticipated, but only once one is truly prepared. And to those people who wonder if they'll remember such things as the Sign of the Nail and the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, etc. etc., have no fear; when the time comes that you need to use it, you will remember all of these signs and tokens. We are told that at judgment, we will have a bright recollection of everything we ever heard, said, or did. As Spencer W. Kimball once said, faith precedes the miracle.

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