Artikkelit > Temppelisivu

Temple Ritual Altered 6

From The Salt Lake City Messenger No. 75, July 1990
Jerald and Sandra Tanner

Other Changes

In the version of the temple ceremony which we published in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 467, the men "covenant and promise" that they will "obey the law of God." The women, however, agree to obey the law of their husbands:

"ELOHIM: We will now put the sisters under covenant to obey the law of their husbands. Sisters, arise, raise your right hand to the square. Each of you do covenant and promise that you will obey the law of your husband and abide by his council in righteousness. Each of you bow your head and say yes.

We have already shown that since the church leaders revised the endowment ceremony on April 10, 1990, there has been some kind of a change in the covenant women are required to make. It has been stated that they "no longer must vow to obey their husbands." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 29, 1990)

While we do not know the wording of the new version, it appears that some of the women are pleased with the changes in the ritual. In the Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1990, we find this:

"Lavina Fielding Anderson... said she received the revisions 'with joy.' 'I anticipate further changes with hope and faith,' she said... 'Some portions of the temple ceremony have been painful to some Mormon women and, in some respects, still are,' she added, without identifying what elements may still be objectionable. Women, for example, still cover their faces with veils at certain points in the ritual, sources said."

Another important change seems to have been made in the sign for the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the ceremony, as printed in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 471, we find this:

"The sign is made by raising both hands high above the head and by lowering your hands to the side, saying:

Pay lay ale
Pay lay ale
Pay lay ale"

As early as 1969 we pointed out a problem with this: "there seems to have been a change made in this part of the ceremony, for the Salt Lake Tribune, Feb.12, 1906, gave the words as 'Pale, Ale, Ale,' and Temple Mormonism used the words 'Pale, Hale, Hale.'" (The Mormon Kingdom, vol.1, p.138)

However this may be, in another portion of the ceremony (Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 468), it is explained that "Pay lay ale" means "O God, hear the words of my mouth!"

In the early 1980's some critics of the church began to proclaim that in Hebrew these words really mean, "Wonderful Lucifer." If this were true, this would mean that the Mormons were praying to the Devil in this part of the ceremony. We took very strong exception to this claim and pointed out that there is no way that these words can be translated "Wonderful Lucifer." We still stand by this research which we presented in detail in our book, The Lucifer-God Doctrine, pp. 11-15, 85-86.

In any case, many Mormons must have been bothered when they had to raise and lower their hands repeating the strange words "Pay lay ale" three times during the ritual. According to what we can learn, the Mormon leaders have now replaced the mysterious words with the English words which were mentioned earlier in the ceremony: "O God, hear the words of my mouth!"

The fact that four different versions of the sign of the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood have been given over the years certainly raises a question concerning the claim that the endowment was revealed by revelation.

We have been informed by two different sources that the Lecture Before The Veil has been removed. This lecture was previously given to all those who were going through the ritual for the first time. It was not deemed necessary, however, for those who were going through the endowment ceremony for the dead. The words "penalty" or "penalties" were used six times in this lecture, and it referred to the "sectarian minister" who preached false doctrine (i.e., the minister who was employed by Lucifer).

There probably were many other changes made in the temple ceremony which have not been reported yet. There have been different reports regarding how much material was actually removed from the ceremony or changed in some way. The Salt Lake Tribune, April 29, 1990, referred to the rituals "current length of about 90 minutes." One man noted that just after the changes were made, temple workers were having a very difficult time with the new wording and felt that when they become proficient in the use of the new script, the ceremony might be somewhat shorter than when he went through.

Revelation Or Accommodation?

Although the Mormon leaders have been extremely quiet about the changes in the temple ceremony, John Dart reported that the following appeared in a statement by church leaders:

"'We are a church that believes in modern and continuous revelation, and the changes that were recently made in our temple ceremony are reflective of that process...'" (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1990)

An increasing number of Mormons are beginning to believe that what is called "revelation" by church leaders is not really revelation from God, but rather "accommodation" to the views of the world. A number of things which have happened since 1890 lead to that conclusion. The changes concerning polygamy, the blacks and the temple endowment all point in this direction. The process of "modern and continuous revelation" could probably be summed up in the following formula: Criticism of a specific doctrine or practice from without the church + acceptance of that criticism by Mormon scholars and prominent people = "Revelation."

Take, for example, the practice of polygamy. Joseph Smith claimed to receive a revelation from God on July 12, 1843, stating that plural marriage was to be practiced by the Mormon Church. This revelation is still published in the church's Doctrine and Covenants as Section 132.

Interestingly, this system of marriage was an extremely important part of the sealing ceremonies which are still performed in the temple for "time and all eternity." For many years the Mormon leaders taught that temple marriage and plural marriage stand or fall together. Apostle Orson Pratt, for instance, emphasized that:

"...if plurality of marriage is not true, or in other words, if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true, and your faith is all vain, and all the sealing ordinanc[e]s and powers, pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be true. Amen." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p. 296)

Non-Mormons, of course, vigorously opposed the practice of polygamy. In addition, the United States Government prosecuted Mormons who were engaged in the practice. On Jan. 16, 1886, Lorenzo Snow, who later became the fifth prophet of the Mormon Church, was sentenced to six months in prison. When the prosecuting attorney predicted that if Apostle Snow was convicted, "a new revelation would soon follow, changing the divine law of celestial marriage," Lorenzo Snow emphatically replied:

"The severest prosecutions have never been followed by revelations changing a divine law, obedience to which brought imprisonment or martyrdom. Though I go to prison, God will not change his law of celestial marriage." (Historical Record, 1887, vol.6, p. 144)

Things went from bad to worse for the Mormon leaders. Pressure not only increased from the outside, but members of the church were swayed by the opposition. John Taylor, who was the third prophet of the church, strongly denounced those who would give up the practice:

"God has given us a revelation in regard to celestial marriage.... they would like us to tone that principle down and change it and make it applicable to the views of the day. This we cannot do... I cannot do it, and will not do it. I find some men try to twist round the principle in any way and every way they can. They want to sneak out of it in some way. Now God don't want any kind of sycophancy like that.... If God has introduced something for our glory and exaltation, we are not going to have that kicked over by any improper influence, either inside or outside of the Church of the living God." (Journal of Discourses, vol.25, pp.309-310)

Apostle Orson Pratt argued:

"God has told us Latter-day Saints that we shall be condemned if we do not enter into that principle; and yet I have heard now and then... a brother or a sister say, 'I am a Latter-day Saint, but I do not believe in polygamy.' Oh, what an absurd expression!... If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed to the Latter-day Saints, is not true, I would not give a fig for all our other revelations that came through Joseph Smith the Prophet; I would renounce the whole of them.... The Lord has said, that those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they shall be damned, saith the Lord... I want to prophecy that all men and women who oppose the revelation which God has given in relation to polygamy will find themselves in darkness... they will finally go down to hell and be damned if they do not repent." (Journal of Discourses, vol.17, pp. 224-25)

Notwithstanding all of the strong rhetoric used by Mormon leaders, in 1890, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth prophet of the church, suspended the practice of polygamy when he issued the Manifesto (see Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration--1). President Woodruff proclaimed that the Manifesto was given by revelation from God:

"...the Lord... is giving us revelation... The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it... all ordinances would be stopped... and many men would be made prisoners.... the God of Heaven commanded me to do what I did do... I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write...." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 volumes in 1, pp. 105-106)

It is obvious from the evidence we present in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? pp. 231-34, that President Woodruff yielded to pressures from both non-Mormons and members of his own church and issued the Manifesto which eventually ended the practice of plural marriage within the church.

Prior to June 9, 1978, the Mormon Church had a doctrine which was referred to by outsiders as the "anti-black doctrine" because blacks were forbidden the priesthood. The basis for this doctrine was Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham (published in the Pearl of Great Price, one of the four standard works of the church). Joseph Smith wrote that

"from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land." Blacks were identified as descendants of Ham and were "cursed... as pertaining to the Priesthood." (Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham, 1:21-26)

It was taught that even "one drop of Negro blood" would prevent a person from holding the priesthood, marrying for eternity in the temple, or even going though the endowment ceremony (see Race Problems--As They Affect The Church, by Mark E. Petersen, August 27, 1954).

Bruce R. McConkie, who later became an apostle, bluntly stated:

"Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them... Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned..." (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p.477)

There was a great deal of discussion regarding civil rights in the 1950's. In 1959 we printed our first criticism of the Mormon doctrine concerning blacks. As early as 1963. we believed that it was likely that the Mormon leaders would have a new "revelation" regarding blacks and printed a sheet entitled, "Will There Be a Revelation Regarding the Negro?" At the bottom of this sheet we predicted: "If the pressure continues to increase on the Negro question, the leaders of the Mormon Church will probably have another revelation which will allow the Negro to hold the priesthood."

Over the years we continued to print a great deal of material on the subject of blacks and the priesthood. Although there were some Mormons who had doubts about the anti-black doctrine, at that time very few were willing to publicly criticize the church. We were ridiculed for the stand which we took, but we persisted in challenging this doctrine and a number of Mormons began to take our work seriously.

Pressure for a change in the doctrine concerning blacks continued to mount both without and within the church. Finally, on June 9, 1978, the Mormon church's Deseret News carried a startling announcement by the First Presidency which said that a new revelation had been given and that blacks would be allowed to hold the priesthood:

"...we have pleaded long and earnestly... supplicating the Lord for divine guidance. He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come... all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color."

Shortly after this revelation was received, it became clear that the church's ban on marriage to blacks had been lifted. On June 24, 1978, the church's newspaper announced that "the first black man to gain the priesthood" was allowed to go through the temple endowment and was sealed to his wife for time and eternity.

Like the polygamy revelation, the revelation by President Spencer W. Kimball granting blacks the priesthood was given only after tremendous pressure was exerted by non-Mormon critics and members of the church itself.

With regard to the recent revision of the temple ceremony, it is clear that the "revelation" came in the same way as the changes on polygamy and the black doctrine. In the Introduction to our 1964 reprint of Temple Mormonism, we pointed out that "there have been quite a number of changes made since the Temple ceremony was first introduced." We went on to predict that there would "probably be other changes made in the Temple ceremony as time goes on."

As we have already shown, after printing Temple Mormonism in 1964, we published an updated version of the endowment ceremony in 1969 in The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 1. This same version was printed in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? in 1972 and is still found in that book. In addition, in our book, The Changing World of Mormonism, published by Moody Press in 1980, we included portions of the endowment ceremony. We have mentioned also that Chuck and Dolly Sackett published the ceremony in a pamphlet and distributed tapes of the actual ceremony. Others also disseminated the ceremony or portions of it in books, pamphlets, tracts, films and tapes.

Although the Mormon Church completely lost control of the situation and had no way to stop the tens of thousands of copies of the endowment which were being distributed throughout the world, most members of the church who felt there was something wrong with the ritual did not dare to openly protest. They feared that they would be strongly reprimanded or even excommunicated if they raised their voices on the issue. In 1987, however, a remarkably frank article by David John Buerger was printed in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a liberal Mormon publication which is not controlled by the church. In this article, Buerger acknowledged that there were "strong indications that Joseph Smith drew on the Masonic rites in shaping the temple endowment, and specifically borrowed the tokens, signs, and penalties." (Dialogue, Winter 1987, p.45)

Mr. Buerger went even further by suggesting that church leaders needed to seriously consider making changes in the ceremony to counter declining rates of attendance at endowment ceremonies:

"The number of operating temples has increased dramatically... An analysis of ordinance data, however, suggests that rates of temple work have remained relatively constant over the last fifteen years.... Members of my own stake made 2,671 visits to the Oakland Temple in 1985, versus 3,340 visits in 1984--a 20 percent drop in activity.... Without comparing the policies of stakes in other temple districts, it is impossible to say how characteristic my stake might be.

"These declining rates suggest that many Latter-day Saints apparently do not participate extensively in either vicarious or living endowments. The need for reevaluation can at least be discussed. As the history of the endowment shows, specific content and procedural alterations were made in 1845, 1877, 1883, 1893, 1919-27, the early 1960s, and 1968-72....

"The feelings contemporary Saints have for the temple certainly merit a careful quantitative analysis by professional social scientists. I have heard a number of themes from people who feel discomfort in one degree or another with elements of the temple ceremony.... Probably in no other settings except college organizations, with their attendant associations of youthfulness and possibly immaturity, do most Mormons encounter 'secret' ceremonies with code handshakes, clothing that has particular significance, and, perhaps most disturbing to some, the implied violence of the penalties. Various individuals have commented on their difficulty in seeing these elements as 'religious' or 'inspirational,' originating in the desires of a loving Father for his children.... some are also uncomfortable at the portrayal of a Christian minister as the hireling of Satan...

"Sixth, the endowment ceremony still depicts women as subservient to men, not as equals in relating to God. For example, women covenant to obey their husbands in righteousness, while he is the one who acts as intermediary to God... Some find the temple irrelevant to the deeper currents of their Christian service and worship of God. Some admit to boredom. Others describe their motivations for continued and regular temple attendance as feelings of hope and patience--the faith that by continuing to participate they will develop more positive feelings... Often they feel unworthy or guilty because of these feelings since the temple is so unanimously presented as the pinnacle of spiritual experience for sincere Latter-day Saints.... The endowment has changed a great deal in response to community needs over time. Obviously it has the capability of changing still further if the need arises.... From a strictly functional perspective, the amount of time required to complete a vicarious endowment seems excessive."
Dialogue, Winter 1987, pp. 63, 66-69

The reader will notice that David John Buerger felt there should be a "careful quantitative analysis by professional social scientists" to find out why attendance at temples has been declining. Although it could have been just a coincidence, it is interesting to note that within months of the publication of Buerger's article, the Mormon Church made its own survey of the opinions of members concerning temple work. In the Instructions for the Survey of Adult Members in the United States and Canada, the following appears:

"...we have developed this survey to help us understand your thoughts, feelings, and experiences relating to temple and genealogy activities.... along with you, approximately 3,400 other members in the United States and Canada are being asked to participate in this project.... We hope that you will feel you can be candid and open in your answers.... what you write will be anonymous. We will not be able to associate your name with the questionnaire you complete."

This survey was to be returned in the mail "by MARCH 30th," 1988.

Although Question 28 asked the person who had been through the endowment ritual if he or she "felt spiritually uplifted by the experience," it also probed to find out if the experience was unpleasant" or if the person "was confused by what happened. Q. 29 is worded, "Briefly describe how you felt after receiving your own endowment."

On the photocopy we have in our possession, the respondent has written: "Wierd [sic]."

Q. 37-k inquired as to whether the person found "it hard to go to the temple."
Q. 39-b asked if the individual fell "asleep during sessions."
Questions were also asked concerning whether the person really believed "The president of the LDS Church is a prophet of God," or if "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth." (Q. 70a-b)
There was also a question with regard to whether there were any "doubts about specific LDS doctrines and teachings." (Q. 77-g)
A page at the end of the Survey was left blank in case the person had any additional things to write "about your feelings or activities in temple or genealogical work..."

Although our photocopy of the page containing the "Comments" is faded out and difficult to read, it appears that the woman who filled out the Survey admitted she had lost faith in the church. This is supported by her answers to Questions 77 and 78. The "main reason for not attending LDS church services" was listed as: "I have some doubts about specific LDS doctrines and teachings." From all appearances it appears that the Mormon Church's Survey was a feeler to find out what changes should be made in the ceremony and how they would be received by members of the church.

While many Mormons will undoubtedly stand firm in their faith that the decision to change the ceremonies came by direct revelation from God, the evidence seems to indicate that the publication of the temple ceremony and objections to it by non-Mormons combined with criticism from within the church (as evidenced by David John Buerger's article in Dialogue) forced the Mormon leaders to issue a survey to find out why temple attendance had fallen off and what members of the church actually felt about the endowment ceremony.

The results of that survey must have indicated that a significant number of people were offended by parts of the ceremony. Consequently, a new "revelation" was given to make the ritual more appealing to the Mormon people. This tends to verify the formula that the criticism of a specific doctrine or practice from without the church + acceptance of that criticism by Mormon scholars and prominent people = "Revelation."

In the early days of the Mormon Church, the word "revelation" had a very different meaning than it does today. Joseph Smith often used the word to refer to some new doctrine or teaching which he claimed God himself had revealed to him. Some of his "revelations" were extremely unpopular, but this usually did not bother him very much. Take, for instance, his "revelation" concerning polygamy. In spite of the fact that many members of the church were violently opposed to the doctrine, he continued to secretly advocate the practice and to take plural wives himself. Unlike the current leaders of the church, he did not feel that it was necessary to take a survey and modify the doctrine to fit the opinions of others. While we do not believe that the "revelation" on polygamy came from God and are very opposed to the practice, we must admit that Smith was not easily swayed by public opinion.

While Joseph Smith used the word "revelation" to refer to controversial new doctrines he brought forth to the church, later prophets have used the same word in an attempt to destroy the very teachings which Joseph Smith claimed were divinely inspired. When President Wilford Woodruff claimed he had a "revelation" to stop the practice of plural marriage in the church, he was not adding any new doctrine. Instead, he was throwing overboard a doctrine Smith taught was essential for salvation. If the information that polygamy should not be practiced was a "revelation," then Christians actually received it first. Long before Mormonism began, they were condemning the practice.

Some people now point to the "revelation" which Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th prophet of the church, gave concerning the blacks as evidence that the church is still led by revelation. Nothing could be further from the truth. President Kimball did not reveal any new truth to the world. Instead, he destroyed a doctrine that came from Joseph Smith's own "Book of Abraham"--a doctrine which the prophets of the church had stubbornly clung to until pressure from within and without the church was so strong that he was forced to yield on the issue. Millions of Christians and even a large number of Mormons had received this "revelation" many years before President Kimball received his answer.

As far as we know, the recent "revelation" that the temple ceremony should be altered has not produced any new or important material. Instead, it is a mutilation of what was supposed to have been revealed by "revelation" to the prophet Joseph Smith. Things that were formerly considered to be "most sacred" were stripped from the ritual. For many years Christians have spoken against the very things which have now been removed. Why did it take so long for Mormon leaders to obtain their "revelation" on the subject? The liberal Mormon David John Buerger seems to have had the "revelation" some time before church leaders changed the ceremony.

It seems that it is very difficult for most faithful Mormons to grasp the significance of what is really going on within the church. The implications are just too devastating for them to face. The following hypothetical illustration may help the Mormon reader put the matter into perspective:

If we were to say that God had given us a "revelation" that baptism should no longer be practiced, members of the church would protest that this could not be a true revelation. They would undoubtedly claim that we were merely feigning a "revelation" as a pretext to remove an important ordinance from the teachings of Christ and might even suggest that we were embarrassed about getting wet in front of a crowd.

To those who are paying close attention, it is obvious that the word "revelation" is really being used as a cover-up for what is going on. Church leaders are really destroying the original teachings of Joseph Smith in a very sneaky way. Each time they remove some part that Smith considered vital, they clothe the action by saying it is a new "revelation" from God. When will the people wake up and realize what is going on? We, of course, agree that Joseph Smith's teachings are filled with errors. We feel, in fact, that sweeping changes need to be made, but we do not believe it is being honest to do it under the guise of "revelation." Instead, the General Authorities of the church should openly admit that they feel Joseph Smith departed from Christian teachings and then propose a plan to effect the changes that need to be made.

It seems obvious, however, that they will not do this because they know they will lose power with the people. It is much easier to say that the prophet has had a new "revelation" and that, of course, marks "the end of controversy." O. Kendall White has pointed out that the Mormon leaders' claim of "continuing revelation" is really a mechanism which they use to side-step acknowledging the "errors of the past." This, of course, leads to the impression that "the church is never wrong."

Although they would never admit it, it would appear from the changes they made in the temple endowment ritual that the current leaders of the church realize that portions of the ceremony were not from God--at least we assume that they never would have changed these parts if they truly believed they came from God. They must agree, therefore, that we were correct in our assertion that the penalties which they themselves removed from the ceremony were really derived from Masonry. It is certainly sad that with all the evidence they have in their possession that the endowment ritual is man-made, they still choose to remain silent.

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