A Bad Experience?
Many people who have been through the Mormon temple
endowment later admit that they were shocked by the ceremony because
it was so different from anything they had previously encountered
in Mormonism. A prominent Mormon educator who served at Brigham
Young University told us that when his wife first went to the temple
to receive her endowments, she became so upset with the ritual that
she refused to go any further and the entire session was delayed
while temple workers tried to convince her to go on.
Over the years a surprising number of people have
told us that they had a very bad experience when they went through
the temple ritual. Many of them said that their first serious doubts
concerning the authenticity of Mormonism arose when they went through
the endowment ceremony. Couples have told us that they both had
very negative feelings during the ceremony but at the time did not
dare confide these doubts with each other. We recently received
a letter in which the following appears:
"We converted to Mormonism 16 years ago when two
delightful young missionaries knocked on our door.... I had been
raised in a Christian household... We subsequently married in
the Temple in New Zealand; an experience we found to be very confusing
and frightening and we both wanted to leave, but did not mention
this to each other... I became a Christian in October last year
and my husband followed shortly after.... We feel so full of the
spirit of God and we love Jesus with all our hearts." (Letter
from Australia, dated Jan. 11, 1990)
Many people who enter the temple are puzzled as
to why they should have to wear specially marked garments for the
rest of their lives and learn secret passwords, signs and handshakes
to enter into the presence of God. They feel that this is rather
childish. As we have shown, David John Buerger has pointed out that
these types of things are found in secret lodges and also in "college
organizations, with their attendant associations of youthfulness
and possibly immaturity."
The endowment ceremony actually gives the impression
that God is like a youngster who only allows those who know the
secret passwords and signs into his heavenly clubhouse. This is
entirely different from anything we find in the New Testament. In
John 10:14, 27-28, the following appears: "I am the good shepherd,
and know my sheep, and am known of mine.... My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal
life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them
out of my hand."
Those who really know Christ do not have to worry
about remembering any secret words or handshakes. As the Apostle
Paul expresses it, those who are alive at his coming will be "caught
up together with them [i.e., those who are raised from the dead]
in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever
be with the Lord." (I Thessalonians 4:17) This hardly allows any
time for questions and answers and a ceremony of passing through
the veil. In I Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul wrote that "we shall all
be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trump..." Apostle John added this comforting thought: "...when he
shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
(I John 3:2)
While the temple ritual leads Mormons to believe
that God is going to put them through the type of test a Mason has
to go through to get into the lodge, Christians believe that at
death they will be received immediately into God's presence. We
find great encouragement in this promise. We feel that God is like
the father of the prodigal son; he did not make his son pass through
some type of test upon his return home. Instead, he "ran" out to
meet him, and "fell on his neck, and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)
As we have already stated, Mormonism teaches that
only Mormons who receive their endowments and are married for eternity
can obtain the highest exaltation in the hereafter. While the Bible
clearly proclaims that "whosoever believeth in him [Jesus] should
not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:15), Mormon leaders
have taught that "eternal life" only comes through temple marriage.
For example, President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th
prophet of the church, emphasized:
"Only through celestial marriage can one find
the strait way, the narrow path. Eternal life cannot be had in
any other way. The Lord was very specific and very definite in
the matter of marriage." (Deseret News, Church Section,
On another occasion, Spencer W. Kimball bluntly
stated that "the ordinance of sealing is an absolute, and that without
it there can be no salvation in the eternal world, no eternal life."
("The Ordinances of the Gospel," as cited in Achieving a Celestial
Marriage, page 204) As we have noted earlier, Mormon theology
teaches that those who have been married in the temple can become
Gods, whereas those who refuse to go through the endowment ritual
become servants for all eternity. These teachings are, of course,
very objectionable to orthodox Christians.
The fact that so many changes have been made in
the temple ceremony over the years provides powerful evidence against
the claim that it came to Joseph Smith by divine revelation. While
it is true that these changes have made the endowment more palatable
to the Mormon people, they do not bring the ceremony into conformity
to Christian beliefs. In Mark 2:21, Jesus said that "No man also
seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece
that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made
worse." The endowment ritual not only has many patches in it, but
it also has patches on top of patches. Even though there have been
improvements in the temple ceremony, it is still filled with material
taken from the Masonic ritual and concepts that are not Biblical.
Sewing new patches on the many rents in this old garment will not
really solve the problem. The entire ceremony and the idea of men
becoming Gods needs to be abandoned.
While we do not know what the future holds for Mormonism,
we are very encouraged by recent developments. More and more Mormons
are beginning to reject the concept that "when the leaders speak,
the thinking has been done," and many of them are turning to the
Lord for help. We feel that the recent changes in the endowment
ritual will serve as a catalyst in bringing LDS people to the truth.
While the discussion of the temple ceremony used to be almost completely
taboo, active Mormons are now coming into our bookstore and discussing
the matter with us.
A number of them, who have recently gone through
the temple, have provided important details concerning the changes.
We have also received word that they are discussing these matters
among themselves. Those of us who have labored for years to bring
the truth to the Mormons are excited about the future. We have been
ridiculed in the past by those who did not believe our work could
have any affect on the leadership of the church. It is our belief
that a large number of Mormons are growing tired of blindly following
their leaders and that we will see tens of thousands of them turning
to the Lord.
For those who are interested in learning more about
the endowment ceremony, we recommend our new book, Evolution
of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, 1842-1990.