The person rebutting made some errors, such that it is difficult to imagine that the person has actually participated in the Mormon temple ceremony. I did many times. I was a veil worker in the Los Angeles temple.
"It is highly significant to me that when Christ died the veil of the temple was ripped (Matthew 27:50-51 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent). Upon His death, this ripping of the veil symbolized the end of separation between man and God on the basis of sin. The secured veil was no longer a fitting symbol for the relationship between God and man."
Quite true. But then...
"Our temple has a similar layout. The ordinance room (also called the terrestrial room) symbolizes man apart from God. The veil is there but it is "ripped" (separated) into small sections corresponding to the "New Testament" veil that appeared after Christ's death."
Not true. There is no veil that is "ripped" or "separated into small sections" in Mormon temples. The veil simply has "priesthood marks" on it, compass and square, etc. On the other hand, The Hebrew veil represented Christ's body (Heb 10:20). At Messiah's death the Hebrew veil was significantly ripped in two from top to bottom showing that man's righteousness had nothing at all to do with ending the separation. (Mat 27:51) All we can do is symbolically walk between the two torn pieces. Significantly, Mormons walk around their unripped veils during their ceremony.
"When Mormon Christians approach the veil, how is it that the pass through? I won't get specific, but the symbols are CLEARLY directed at Christ's suffering and death on the cross (not, I might point out, in Gethsemane). So it is by symbolically taking Christ's sacrifice upon ourselves that we pass through the veil of separation between man and God. What could be more Christian?"
This is somewhat misleading, I believe. Firstly, the initiate passes thru the Mormon veil after a series of exchanges between the initiate and "God." The four "tokens" (handshakes), two for the "Aaronic priesthood" and two for the "Melchezedek priesthood", are given to "God" along with their keywords. After "God" tells the initiate the keyword for the last handshake, the initiate is allowed to pass around the veil into the "Celestial room". Ther are a few interesting and puzzling things about these "tokens" or handshakes. The handshakes are linked with several "laws", summarized here:
Law of Obedience / Law of Sacrifice -----First Token of the "Aaronic Priesthood"
Law of the Gospel ------Second Token of the "Aaronic Priesthood"
Law of Chastity -----First Token of the "Melchizedek Priesthood"
Law of Consecration -----Second Token of the "Melchizedek Priesthood"
What is puzzling about this is that the "Law of the Gospel" is part of the so-called Aaronic, or lesser Mormon Priesthood. The nature of the "Law of the Gospel" is not explained in the Mormon temple. It is only called "the Law of the gospel as contained in the scriptures." The odd thing is that the "tokens" of the "Mechizedek priesthood", which are explained to represent nails driven into the hands and wrists of Jesus at this crucifixion, are not associated with the "gospel", which is part of the lesser, Aaronic priesthood order. The apostle Paul summarized the true gospel in 1 Cor 15:1-4. By the Mormons putting the "gospel" in the lesser Mormon priesthood category, along with a "token" or handshake the name of which is the initiates own given name, the true nature of the system starts to become visible.
The last two handshakes in the ceremony are tokens for the Mormon "Melchizedek priesthood." Their names are "nail" and "sure sign of the nail." And while it is explained in the ceremony that these relate to nails driven thru Christ's hands and wrists, these are not explicitly said to be symbols of His death. The early Christians were however given a symbol of Christ's death. It was called baptism. When a person is baptized he or she symbolically represents the death and resurrection of Christ and the Christian's full identification of it. (Rom 6:3,4, Col 2:12) Thus baptism is a far superior symbol than mere nails.
At any rate, whatever the nails represent, the full story is that the Mormon does not pass by the veil solely on the merits of Christ's life and death, and the Christians identification with it. The Mormon passes by giving two other handshakes as well, representing obedience to the Mormon law of obedience and sacrifice, things that have nothing at all to do with Christ's death on the cross, but rather one's own righteousness.
I think it significant that the Mormon veils are not ripped in two. Rather the initiate actually walks past it on the right. So what we have here is a not-torn-in-two veil, thru which the initiate presents tokens representing Christ's crucifixion nails, along with his own righteous lawkeeping. Thus the death of Christ is watered down at best, and subtly mocked at worst, considering that the "nails" are not associated with the Mormon "Law of the Gospel." At any rate, according to Paul, this puts Mormonism squarely in the camp of "another gospel". The Book of Galatians completely destroys the claims of Mormonism. Explained below.
Also there is the issue of the green apron. It is puzzling that "Adam and Eve" (each individual Mormon is considered "Adam" or "Eve" during the ceremony) are instructed by the one playing Lucifer to put on the green apron at a specific point in the ceremony. "Adam" asks what the apron is, and Lucifer tells him that it "represents my power and priesthoods." When "God" comes back after "Adam" and "Eve" have eaten the forbidden fruit, "Lucifer" urges them to put "make aprons for yourselves" to hide behind so that God will not see their nakedness. At that point in the ceremony, the Mormons must put on their own green aprons. They then wear these aprons for the remainder of the ceremony, upto and including the veil ceremony, after which they pass around the veil into the "Celestial Room" stilling wearing "Lucifer's" apron. This is perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the ceremony. Why would Mormons enter the "Celestial Room", represented the highest heaven, wearing a badge of Luciferic rebellion and covering? If the death of Christ really takes care of all this, and covers all sin, then why is the stain of rebellion and self-atonement still there.... even in "Heaven?" (The Hebrew word, "kaphar" translated atonement means "covering") This certainly contradicts 2 Cor 5:17, 1 John 1:7, Rev 7:14. Imagine having "robes" washed in the blood of Christ with an emblem of Lucifer wrapped around it. The Spirit of Yahweh in me is grieved by such an idea.
"Anyone who reads the temple ceremony can't help but be impressed with its fundamentally Christian character."
At first glance, perhaps. However, counterfeit money look real as well until you start looking at the details in comparison to the real thing. The old saying, "the devil is in the details" proves all too true in the case of the Mormon temple ceremony.
"Yet, this being the case, some individuals, such as yourself, deny this and focus on the similarities between the temple and Masonic ritual. To do this, you have focus on a few discrete similarities at the expense of a whole host of differences."
Never mind Freemasonry. It's obvious that Smith borrowed handshakes, penalties (no longer used), five points of fellowship, etc, etc. Anyone who denies that is hiding their head in the sand. However, what is more important is what the Mormon ritual is actually teaches, expressly and symbolically, in contradistinction to what the Bible teaches.
The Mormon theological idea of priesthoods and eternal marriage give it away as "another gospel", if Paul was an apostle. For in Galatians 3:26-29 we see that "whoever is baptized into Christ has put on Christ." The context deals with heirship with Christ and with Abraham. The word translated "put on" is from the Greek enduo. It is the source of the English word "endow." It means to endow, be clothed with, robed with, arrayed with, etc. The idea being wrapped around with a garment. In other words, whoever is baptized into Christ has been robed with Christ and this means full heirship. (Col 2:9)
For the early Christians, baptism was the "rite of initiation", the rite of confession of Christ and the external rite of union with him as a full priestly heir. This can be seen in Romans 10:10,13 and surrounding context, "with the mouth confession made unto salvation....for whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." This "calling on the name" confession was tightly associated with the rite of baptism, as can be seen in Acts 22:16, 2:38.
The point is that full inheritance comes at baptism into Christ, not at the reception of additional "priesthoods", or "eternal marriage." (The real "eternal marriage" is between Jesus and His Bride, the Church.) I stress "additional" because indeed Christians are priests. But the priesthood is not something extra that needs to be added in addition to union with Christ, it is identical with it and Gal 3:26-29ff cf Col 2:9 prove it. The Old Covenant priesthood was a "shadow" of the New, as the writer of Hebrews explains. The New Covenant priests are the "sons of Aaron" to the True Aaron, that is, to Jesus Christ the one and only true High Priest that ever was. This is so obvious I don't see how anyone could miss it. But Smith (and Ridgon) certainly did.
The Mormon temple rituals are superfluous for they add to union with Christ which Paul says comes at the robing/betrothal/sealing of baptism, and which Paul taught brings full heirship. Mormonism in essense proclaims that Christ is insufficient since being united with Him is insufficient, and thus the doctrine is exposed as a subtle counterfeit, and according to Paul the more extrreme of curses (Greek: anathema) hangs on their head unless they repent. All warm and cozy firesides and nice socials aside, this is serious business.
Mike Wagner, Joined to Christ (and Former Mormon)
"Mike Wagner", email@example.com