The title to this post comes from Isaiah 28:15
Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.
Ancient and modern scripture contain references to the fact that God’s people would believe lies and be under strong delusion in the last days. Here is one example:
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
While it is difficult for faithful mormons to contemplate the possibility that we are deluded or believe lies, an honest assessment of scripture and the historical record should be enough to convince us otherwise. This is especially true of one of the beliefs that latter-day saints hold most sacred — the temple endowment ceremony. Because of the high regard that many hold for this ritual, I want to be careful to treat it with respect and not divulge anything which might be offensive to a modern temple-going member. However, I believe it is important to analyze the ceremony — to determine whether or not it represents an eternal principal and ordinance necessary to return to the celestial kingdom, or if it represents what the Lord promised he would do to his people who had rejected his gospel law (D&C 42) and broken the covenant of consecration in the latter days.
And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.
And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto satan, (Book of Commandments 4:5-6)
The foregoing conditional promise and warning was given in 1829, before the church was officially established and before the fulness of the priesthood was restored at the Morley Farm in June 1831. By the end of 1834, the saints had rejected the covenant and the fulness was lost as I have blogged about previously. It was not until 1842 in Nauvoo that Joseph became a Master Mason and shortly thereafter introduced the beginnings of the temple endowment ritual.
MORE OR LESS
In 3 Nephi 11: 32-40, the Lord declares his doctrine. It is the baptism of water, and of fire, and of the Holy Ghost. He then goes on to say:
And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
In other words, at it’s core, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple. This simple gospel of Jesus Christ was sufficient for Joseph Smith and others to receive the promise of eternal life in 1832 as recorded in D&C Section 88. This was over 9 years previous to the masonic-based temple endowment ceremony. So one has to ask the question: Is the temple endowment ritual not adding more to what is required to enter the celestial kingdom? Has it not been established as doctrine by the LDS church and even a central part of our theology with every effort being made to get people to the temple to engage in this ordinance and the ordinance of sealing?
If the Lord means what he says, and I believe that he does, then does not the masonic endowment represent the equivalent of “another gospel” as warned about by Paul in his letter to the Galatians 1:6-8?
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Interesting that Paul warns against an angel from heaven preaching another gospel. Only those who realize that God sometimes uses prophets to test his people to see if they will be true to his gospel can comprehend how Joseph Smith could act as God’s right arm in turning the latter-day saints over to Satan for a period of chastisement as the Lord had warned about in the Book of Commandments.
So let’s examine all the various reasons why the masonic-based temple endowment ceremony is inconsistent with the purity of the gospel and the scriptures:
1 – The True Endowment is a Spiritual Endowment
In Kirtland, the elders were awaiting a great spiritual outpouring which Joseph consistently referred to as “an endowment” in order to go forth and preach the gospel with power for the last time. It consisted of washings, anointings and ordinations, followed by solemn prayer and waiting upon the Lord in the temple for the promised spiritual blessings. It never had anything to do with signs, tokens or passwords. In fact, one can find NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING, in the scriptures to even remotely suggest that you need a secret handshake, a secret name, word or phrase to gain entry into the celestial kingdom. Again, Joseph and others received the promise of eternal life long before the masonic-based temple endowment was introduced.
2- Section 76
The vision of the three degrees of glory received by Joseph and Sidney as recorded in D&C 76 outlines the requirements for entry into the celestial kingdom:
50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
Nothing there about needing to experience a temple endowment-like ceremony, only the simplicity of the 3-part baptismal covenant and overcoming by faith. Again, another witness of the simplicity of the gospel.
3- The Fulness of the gospel is in the Book of Mormon
We are told by the Lord in several places that the fulness of His gospel is contained in the the Book of Mormon.
And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel. (D&C 42:12)
While there are references to temples being built in the Book of Mormon, there is nothing to suggest an endowment-like ceremony or needing to know secret information in order to return to God. In fact, when it was first published the Book of Mormon was seen as very anti-masonic because of the its warnings against secret societies with their secret signs and secret words. So if the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel and yet does not even hint at an endowment ceremony what does that tell us about this so-called ordinance?
4- The Lord gives us the purpose of temples in the Doctrine and Covenants 124:39:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.
So here is a list of all the ordinances associated with the Lord’s house. It includes cleansing rituals prior to receiving spiritual blessings and endowments of power. Interesting that there is no reference to marriages or sealings.
Yes, there is a reference to “endowment of all her municipals”. What does this mean? The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “municipal” as one who enjoys the rights of a free citizen. In other words, one who enjoys the rights of belonging to the Lord’s church. Clearly, however, the above scripture refers to an endowment of spiritual gifts and does not remotely suggest a ritualistic ceremony with names, signs or tokens that one must learn to gain entry to God’s kingdom. Also note that this scripture was given in 1841, prior to the introduction of the masonic-based endowment.
5- Covenant with Death
Those who have gone through the modern endowment prior to 1990 will understand that there were penalties ritualistically enacted that represented ways of taking life should one reveal the secrets of the temple. One needs to realize that it is only Satan who requires people to swear oaths of death and blood.
And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands. (Moses 5:29)
Contrast this with the Lord’s teachings to “Swear not at all” (Matt. 5:34-37)
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Again, we have the Lord warning us that “more” than this cometh of evil.
Isaiah has much to say about us in the latter-days if we will only open our eyes and consider the fact that we are in a state of blindness and apostasy. With regards to the temple endowment he references a “covenant with death” which will not save the people from the scourge to come.
Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
16 ¶Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
18 ¶And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. (Isaiah 28:15-19)
In other words, the people think that this covenant that they have entered into will save them, when in fact it won’t. The only thing that will save them will be reliance upon the sure foundation of Christ, not some temple endowment ceremony.
6- The Implied Threat of the Endowment
Anyone who has gone through the endowment will understand that there is an implied threat made by Satan during the ceremony. Obey all your covenants or you will be in his power. One would think that the endowment would be focused on the mercy and grace of the Lord in redeeming us from sin unto salvation and endowing us with spiritual gifts, not some threat to become subject to Satan if we did not perform everything to the letter. The New Testament describes Satan as being in the temple of God:
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Joseph said that the “man of sin” was revealed at the Morley Farm in June 1831 in fulfillment of the above prophecy. Since Mormons are the only people on the earth currently who teach a robust temple theology and build numerous temples, one can see how this prophecy relates to the current endowment and Satan representing himself as God.
7- The Keeper of the Gate
In 2 Nephi 9:41, Nephi informs us that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there.”
OK. About now you should be going over in your head the endowment teaching that you need the signs, key words and tokens to pass the angels who stand as sentinels as you walk back to the presence of God. Problem is, this is wholly inconsistent with Nephi’s teaching about the keeper of the gate being Christ himself, not some other servant or series of servants to whom the secret information must be given in order to pass.
8- The True Order of Prayer
The endowment teaches a method of prayer that requires a prayer circle of multiple patrons, the re-enacting of certain signs and tokens, followed by prayer as the way to get answers from God. Trouble is that the Lord in scripture never says anything about some secret way to receive revelation from Him. Rather he teaches us to “ask, and ye shall receive” prolifically throughout the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants. I won’t even bother to include scriptures on this point as they are everywhere. Recall that he “upbraideth not” meaning he doesn’t find fault or scold those who venture forth to inquire of him. All the early revelations given to Joseph were based upon him simply asking in sincere, humble prayer. There was no need for anything other than that and those prayers were answered–sometimes in amazing fashion. So who are we really conjuring when we petition using the the secret signs and tokens?
9- Touch Not the Evil Gift
In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni exhorts us to:
“Come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.” (Moroni 10:30)
While I don’t know exactly what was going through Moroni’s mind when he inscribed that passage, could he not be referring to the masonic-based temple endowment? A definition of “endowment” is “gift” so with everything we have discussed thus far, it would not be a stretch to read this as saying that we should not participate in that “ordinance” as it comes of evil, not of light and good.
10- God’s True Ordinances Don’t Change
The endowment has changed many times over the years. LDS apologists argue that it is only the “presentation” of the endowment that has changed, not the endowment itself. Assuming the endowment is a true ordinance, which parts are everlasting and which parts are just teachings? Brigham Young taught in the first endowments that Adam was the same man as God the Father, a teaching the church now rejects. In 1990 the penalties were removed along with the five points fellowship, both of which had become uncomfortable to many attendees. There have been many other changes over the years. If the core of the endowment is really only the signs, tokens and key words then nearly anyone with an internet connection can access that information and presumably walk back into the presence of God.
11- True Masonry?
One of the claims made about the endowment is that it represents the restoration of a true ordinance that originated at the time of the Temple of Solomon. Over the years it had become corrupted, yet still maintained by the Masons. When Joseph came to know of it, he recognized what needed to be changed to restore the true ordinance. Unfortunately, masonry cannot be traced any further back than medieval times, much less all the way back to Solomon. At the risk of repeating my self, where is the scriptural evidence that remotely supports the need for the secret information?
Another argument is that the endowment represents the mysteries spoken of in the scriptures. There are many mysteries associated with God and His kingdom, that by definition we don’t know anything about. Joseph referred many times to things he wanted to share, but couldn’t because of wickedness and unbelief. There is nothing to say that the mysteries of God encompass the teachings of the endowment. The mysteries are vast, and certainly not limited to signs, key words and tokens (assuming these are at all necessary to return to God).
13- A Simple Question
Would the Lord introduce an even higher law (the endowment and sealings) when the saints had already rejected the Law of the Celestial Kingdom brought forth in D&C 42? I believe it is that simple. Of course, He wouldn’t. Line upon line is how He has worked in the past, and how He works now.
Joseph once said that the secret of masonry was to keep a secret. When you understand that the other abomination that was being perpetuated at the time (spiritual polygamy) required secrecy on the part of the participants, it is easy to see how the endowment was introduced as part of the Lord’s plan to turn His people over to “strong delusion” for a period of time due to their disobedience as a people to his simple gospel. Emma said that it was “secret things” which resulted in Joseph’s death.
Given everything enumerated above, it should not now be too hard to discern what the Lord meant when he said the following through his prophet, Isaiah:
5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. (Isaiah 52:5)
Are we not blaspheming the name of the Lord when in His holy name we participate in lies and falsehoods daily in houses dedicated to Him. The book of Ether testifies that we won’t receive the sealed part of the Book of Mormon until we repent of our wickedness and abominations. I believe one of the greatest abominations that we are completely blind to, yet are in dire need of repenting of is the masonic-based temple endowment that blasphemes the name of the Lord on a daily basis in temples that dot the world.
So much of the efforts of us Mormons centers around the temple, diverting our attention from being Christians in the truest sense of the word. Truly it can be said that:
Israel hath forgotten his maker, and buildeth temples. (Hosea 8:14)