3. Same Masonic Version

If Masonry had the original Temple ceremony but became distorted over time, why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry, which would be more correct rather than the exact version that Joseph Smith was exposed to in his March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois initiation?


CES Letter, Page 107

"Joseph Smith regularly found ways to make productive and pedagogic use of the Saints’ “traditions” by harnessing words and concepts already available to his listeners and then gradually modifying them in an effort to better explain complex and original — even radical — doctrines" (J. H. Lindquist, Keywords, p. 36).

If the Prophet was correct in the Saints’ tendency to “fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes tht is contrary to their traditions” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 20 January 1844, p. 331), then introducing the endowment ceremony in wholly unfamiliar terms would have been extremely difficult.

D&C 1:24 explicitly recognizes the need for bounded flexibility in adapting divine communication to accommodate mortal limitations, asserting that God always speaks to humans “in their weakness,” choosing a language of revelation that is “after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” 

 It should be no more a surprise to Latter-day Saints if some phrasing, gestures, forms, and patterns within the rites of Freemasonry parallel selected aspects of restored temple ordinances than the idea that wording similar to that of the King James Version was adopted in the English translation of scriptural passages from the Old Testament included on the Book of Mormon plates (see, e.g., B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, pp. 215–225). In both cases, the use of elements already familiar to the early Saints would have served a pragmatic purpose, favoring their acceptance and understanding of specific aspects of the ancient teachings better than if a whole new and foreign textual or ritual “vocabulary” had been introduced.


Additional Resources:

Steven C. Harper, “Joseph Smith’s Relationships to Hermeticism and Masonry” (25min)

Masonic Initiation Rituals and Mormon Temple Ceremonies Mark Koltko-Rivera

David Seely and Jo Ann Seely on “Creation and Temple”

Jeffrey Bradshaw on “The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the Story of Noah”

Jeffrey Bradshaw on “The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the Story of Noah”

David Calabro on “The Divine Handclasp in the Hebrew Bible and in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography”

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “Freemasonry and the Origins of Modern Temple Ordinances.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 15 (2015): 159-237.

Ehat, Andrew, “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the Mormon Succession Question.” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982.

FAIRMORMON: Relationship between Freemasonry and Temple Ceremonies

Questions About the LDS Temple Ceremony and Masonry by Jeff Lindsay

The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry (2005) by Greg Kearney

Ask the Apologist: Similarities between Masonic and Mormon temple ritual

Secret Combinations and Flaxen Cords: Anti-Masonic Rhetoric and the Book of Mormon –  by Paul Mouritsen

4th Watch 9: Secret Combinations – The Masonic Mormon Connection, Greg Kearney

Secret Combinations — The Masonic Mormon Connection

Ehat, Andrew F. “‘They might have known that he was not a fallen prophet’ — The Nauvoo journal of Joseph Fielding.” BYU Studies 19, no. 2 (Winter 1979): 133-66.

Jeffrey Bradshaw on “The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the Story of Noah”

Jeffrey Bradshaw on “The Ark and the Tent: Temple Symbolism in the Story of Noah”

Bushman, Richard Lyman. "Response." In 2013 BYU Church History Symposium: Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World. Provo and Salt Lake City, UT, 2013. http://religion.byu.edu/event/2013-byu-church-history-symposium. (accessed October 27, 2013).

Ehat, Andrew F. "'They might have known that he was not a fallen prophet' — The Nauvoo journal of Joseph Fielding." BYU Studies 19, no. 2 (Winter 1979): 133-66.

Gardner, Brant A. The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2011.

Lindquist, Jason H. "Keywords: Joseph Smith, language change, and theological innovation." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 1-37.https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/V38N02.pdf. (accessed May 18, 2015).