Sunday, September 25, 2022

The LDS Trinity

Recently the missionaries stopped by our house to introduce themselves and say 'hi'. We love the missionaries. Their excitement, single focus, sincere desire to help and do what is right is a beautiful thing. They are wonderful in almost every way.

We invited them in and told them that we aren't the typical inactive member. We don't "go fishing on Sundays" or just feel "too lazy" to go to church. We love the church, we love the members, we love the Book of Mormon, we love serving and participating in activities and even encouraged our son to take seminary the last two years. We told them that we love Jesus above all and that we haven't found Him to be the focus in church and that He often takes a back seat to "follow the prophet" and temple work. We have felt that following the prophet and going to the temple have, over time, become conflated into worshipping Jesus.

As we talked about the Temple for a bit I said that I used to feel that the Temple was the only place I could really get answers from the Lord. I told them I used to tell my husband, "I need to get to the Temple, I have to ask the Lord something important!" When I said this, one of the Elders let out an uncontrolled, "HA!" We looked over at him as he had raised eyebrows and he said, "That happened to me just recently!" He went on to tell us how the mission was allowed to have a special temple day. It was two months away so he spent a great deal of time preparing for it with some big questions he needed answered. He said when the day came, he sat expectantly in the celestial room and asked the Lord his questions. He said nothing came. Not a word. The longer he sat there waiting, the more he began to feel very sad. He'd pondered and waited all this time for just this moment to speak to the Lord on such important topics. He said he prayed, "Why Lord? Why haven't you answered me?" He said that the Spirit told him, "You waited all this time to ask Me those questions and I'm not going to answer you right now because you need to know you could have brought them to Me at any time."

Mic drop. The Lord speaks us in JUST the right way. What a fantastic young man. I was so amazed by the pure and profound revelation he received. God is seeking after his heart. Just like He's seeking after yours and mine. 

I generally do a pre or post General Conference post. Maybe I do that because I wonder if you, like me, have felt that you, "couldn't wait" to finally hear from the Lord and get some answers for your life. 

(Update 9.29.22: This screenshot is from an email from the Church that came in my inbox today:)

General conference and the Temple, for me, was where I believed I could get big answers. Because of that belief - I didn't hear much from the Lord until those times because I believed that was the only place God would speak to me. In His mercy, He did sometimes meet me in those places because He worked with my understanding. It wasn't until a few years ago that I began to wonder if He could meet me anywhere. That wonder led to questions and those questions led to long prayers and those long prayers led to long hours in my closet in worship. I began to trust the scripture in 1 Corinthians 3:16 when it says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" As I trusted in those words that we are the temple of God - the scripture in Malachi 3:1 took on a new meaning: "...the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

If you, as a church, have billions of dollars invested in Temples with more on the way, General Conference messages will need to press the importance of "the Holy Trinity" of Latter-day salvation: 

1. Pay your tithing.
2. Pledge allegiance to the church leaders who have never and can never lead you astray.
3. Stay on "the covenant path" (aka go to the Temple as much as possible).

“Keep going to the Temple...keep thinking about the covenants. Keep thinking about the promises you made in the Temple.”

The irony is that the Book of Mormon doesn’t mention building a temple and making temple covenants and doing work for the dead. Doctrine and Covenants doesn't mention building and attending a temple (it does say to build a "house") with the exception of D&C 124, 127 & 128 which gives brief mentions of baptisms for the dead. D&C 132 has a vague mention of sealings (Joseph Smith never published D&C 132 nor did he approve of it and wasn't included in the Doctrine and Covenants until many years after Joseph's death and only after it was "revised." See photo of the Joseph Smith papers below).

When the Doctrine and Covenants does mention temples it commonly does so with symbolism showing the human body as the Temple of God

Some examples are:

 D&C 93:

35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple. 
D&C 101:

22 Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;

23 And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.
D&C 36: 8 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore, gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple. Even so. Amen.
D&C 133
Most members believe "stand ye in holy places" means that if times get tough, we will be hightailing it to the nearest temple for cover. 

That just isn't so. 

D&C 87:8 says, "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen."

Because our LDS culture is so heavily focused on the outward ordinances, it's no surprise that we assume, "standing in holy places" means some place physical. Symbolism is often lost on us and nowhere is that more evident than in the temple endowment where patrons know little to nothing of the gestures, words, and clothing they wear.

Standing in Holy Places means YOU are Holy and wherever you stand is a Holy Place!! You are the temple of God when you seek and do His will!

D&C 27:5 tells us that the Book of Mormon is the book that contains the fullness of the gospel. That means, it contains all the information you need to be saved and exalted. And in that book which contains the fullness of the gospel, you will not find mention that the Temple and its ordinances are the pinnacle of your spiritual journey in this life. You will, however, find that what the Book of Mormon is pointing you towards is demonstrated in the Temple. But since most members do not know what they are saying, doing, and wearing in the temple - they miss the presentation of the fullness of the gospel. The journey back to God becomes morphed into work for dead ancestors rather than being raised from the dead personally (as all who go through the temple are spiritually dead and not yet alive in Christ).

If the Church desires for members to really understand their covenants, they would need to squash the belief that we can not talk about the temple outside of the temple. The majority of members do not know what the clothing they wear represents, what the gestures they make mean, or what the words they say are pertaining to. New initiates are ill informed before they go to the temple pertaining to what they are about to experience. They aren’t prepared to make covenants because we have believed we can not speak about most everything that happens in the Temple.

So then, you take your son or daughter and as they stand in the temple and are asked to make and keep sacred covenants they have about three seconds to decide whether to commit to them or not (add on top of that a situation of extreme social pressure). 

This is troublesome because the promise you made before God, angels and witnesses are now tied to your eternal salvation and you barely had two seconds to understand what in the world they meant or what you were promising. Then the church, from that point forward, lets you know that you must make any sacrifice thereafter because you promised to be faithful to these covenants. And it was something that happened in a blink of an eye without much prior thought. This, to deep thinking members, presents holes that can cause things to fall apart. 

There is nothing in the Temple Endowment that uses the priesthood (the officiator never specifies by what authority he or she acts, merely that they have 'authority'). What is presented to you in the Temple isn't something that only the church can offer. 

If you have read the book Pilgrims Progress, it demonstrates a beautiful example of the Endowment. An animated version of Pilgrims Progress was made and you can watch it for free on Amazon (link). Even though it is animated, I highly recommend it even for adults). 

Those covenants that are made in the Temple aren't given to you by any priesthood holder because someone with the priesthood couldn't bestow them on you anyway, it is for God to bestow upon you Himself. The endowment is an invitation to learn how to pass the angels who stand as sentinels so that you can be redeemed from the fall and journey back to into the presence of the Lord. 

Another example of someone who has received their endowment from the Lord is Charles Mully. If you haven't watched this documentary on Amazon, please do. It is the best movie I have ever seen (link). You will watch a man, abandoned in childhood, walk the path of the endowment until he is so connected with God - he is allowed to reclaim a lost people. Watch this movie and try to convince yourself he hasn't obtained his endowment. Are we so prideful to believe that the LDS church is the only one with access to the endowment from He who offers Salvation? We place our value in dead works, never realizing we are the spiritually dead doing work for the physically dead. Until we are alive in Christ, our dead works will remain dead. 

To better help you or a loved one understand the Temple endowment, please see this website: 

LDS Endowment (link)

The blog offers a book format found on Amazon (link)

Passing the Angels Who Stand As Sentinels