2. True Masonry
We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.
CES Letter, Page 107
Joseph Smith taught that the origins of modern temple ordinances go back beyond the foundation of the world (TPJS 271-72).
In addition, the early Saints who wrote on the subject believed that “the endowment and Freemasonry in part emanated from the same ancient spring” and that at least some similarities could be thought of “as remnants from an ancient original” (K. W. Godfrey, Freemasonry and the Temple, p. 529).
Hugh W. Nibley and other scholars in and out of the Church have made notable contributions to temple studies. Such studies have shown that the general concept of a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) expressed in modern temple ordinances is consistent with ancient religious practices. For example, Nicolas Wyatt summarizes a wide range of evidence indicating a broad continuity of culture throughout the ancient Near East wherein the candidate for kingship underwent a ritual journey intended to confer a divine status as a son of God and allowing him “ex officio, direct access to the gods. All other priests were strictly deputies” to the divinely sanctioned priesthood office held by the king (N. Wyatt, Degrees, pp. 192, 220).
One remarkable example of kingship rites comes from the city of Mari in about 1800 BCE (J. M. Bradshaw, Investiture Panel). Despite the fact that this ritual took place in Old Babylon, none of its primary themes will be unfamiliar to temple-going Latter-day Saints — nor to careful students of the Bible. Such resemblances may prove interesting for their bearing on the idea that corrupted versions of temple rites sometimes may have derived from authentic originals that predated the Old Testament as we now have it.
Portions of these original rites seem to have been imperfectly preserved in the teachings and rituals of some strands of second temple Judaism, in the practices of Copts and of Christians with Gnostic leanings, and in the liturgies of Christian Churches (e.g., H. W. Nibley, Temple and Cosmos).