Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Mormonism 101: Second Level Statements (Final)
06/25/2007 - James WhiteThe LDS Temple Ceremonies
Recognizing that Mormons find discussion of their ceremonies offensive, we present only that information that is vital to determining the theological teaching of those ceremonies. We have already established the fact that these ceremonies are believed to be revelatory, and hence must be allowed to speak with reference to the official LDS doctrine of God.
What do the LDS temple ceremonies teach concerning the nature of God and Christ? At one point during the endowment ceremony, the temple patrons hear the following words:
Brethren and sisters, as you sit here, you will hear the voices of three persons who represent Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael. Elohim will command Jehovah and Michael to go down and organize a world. The work of the six creative periods will be represented. They will also organize man in their own likeness and image, male and female.
Elohim: Jehovah, Michael, see: yonder is matter unorganized. Go ye down and organize it into a world like unto the other worlds we have heretofore formed. Call your labors the First Day, and bring me word.
Jehovah: It shall be done Elohim. Come Michael, let us go down.
Michael: We will go down, Jehovah.
Jehovah: Michael, see: here is matter unorganized. We will organize it into a world like unto the other worlds we have heretofore formed. We will call our labors the First Day, and return and report.
Michael: We will return and report our labors of the First Day, Jehovah.
Jehovah: Elohim, we have done as thou hast commanded, and have called our labors the First Day.
Elohim: It is well.
Here we have very clearly presented the concept that we have seen already, specifically, the plurality of gods. Here Elohim (the Father) is seen as one personage; Jehovah, the Son, is another, a separate god. The role of Michael is a fascinating one in LDS history, but beyond our scope here. Elohim directs the creation (in reality, the organization of pre-existing matter), and Jehovah does Elohims bidding.
The LDS temple ceremonies have undergone a good deal of evolution and development over time. In fact, a major change was made in the endowment ceremonies in April of 1990. The ceremonies, which had been 90 minutes in length, were radically altered, and now last only 60 minutes. The scene recorded above is from the current (1990) edition of the endowment. However, many LDS today have gone through both the pre-1990 version as well as the post-1990. Prior to 1990, and for the vast majority of the history of the LDS Church, a sectarian minister was presented (and mocked) in the LDS endowment ceremonies. What is significant for our purposes is the fact that specific doctrinal information was presented in the words of this sectarian minister. In this case, however, it was doctrinal error, or more specifically, the very doctrines of Satan himself, that was presented. We pick up with Lucifer encountering the Preacher:
Lucifer: Good morning sir!I emphasize that this material is not a part of the current LDS temple ceremonies. However, it was a part of the ceremonies for at least a century, and it does communicate a fair amount of information about how the LDS leadership views God. In light of the claims that the LDS ceremonies were given by revelation, many even in Mormonism have questioned how the Church could so radically alter the ceremonies at all. But that issue aside, the LDS Church taught, as revealed doctrine, that to believe in the Christian concept of God is to believe, in reality, in the very teachings of Satan himself. One does not have to look too hard to see the influence of the Westminster Confession of Faith in the preaching of the Minister, and the phrase without body, parts and passions comes directly from that Confession (2:1):
Sectarian Minister: Good morning!
(The Preacher turns and looks into the camera.)
Sectarian Minister: A fine congregation!
Lucifer: Yes, they are very good people. They are concerned about religion. Are you a preacher?
Sectarian Minister: I am.
Lucifer: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry?
Sectarian Minister: Certainly! A man cannot preach unless he has been trained for the ministry.
Lucifer: Do you preach the orthodox religion?
Sectarian Minister: Yes, that is what I preach.
Lucifer: If you will preach your orthodox religion to these people, and convert them, I will pay you well.
Sectarian Minister: I will do my best.
At this point Lucifer leads the minister to Adam and Eve, and a conversation ensues:
Sectarian Minister: I understand you are inquiring after religion.
Adam: I was calling upon Father.
Sectarian Minister: I am glad to know you were calling upon Father. Do you believe in a God who is without body, parts, and passions; who sits on the top of a topless throne; whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved by grace, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure? Do you believe in this great Being?
Adam: I do not. I cannot comprehend such a being.
Sectarian Minister: That is the beauty of it. Perhaps you do not believe in the devil, and in that great hell, the bottomless pit, where there is a lake of fire and brimstone into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but arenever consumed?
Adam: I do not believe in any such place.
Sectarian Minister: My dear friend, I am sorry for you.
There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.One might well recall that Joseph Smith claimed, upon his returning home after his First Vision, that he told his mother, I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true (Joseph Smith History, 1:20).
We are seeking to establish, as fairly as possible, the official LDS position based upon their own Scriptures, statements, and teachings. We have come a long way in looking at these second level statements from Joseph Smith, the First Presidency, and the Temple Ceremonies. The outlines we were able to see in the LDS Scriptures and in the words of the living Prophet have been greatly expanded by these teachings. We find a strong consistency here, for the concepts of a plurality of gods, God once havingbeen a man, and the possibility of exaltation to godhood, have been affirmed over and over again all across the spectrum of evidence.
 For those unfamiliar with the LDS endowment ceremonies, we note that actors on a stage (in the old style--in the vast majority of temples today, movies present these scenes) are portraying various events, such as creation, the Fall, etc. Temple patrons are seated, viewing these films, dressed in their Temple garments. At points they stand to make various signs and symbols, representing various oaths being taken, that fit into the dialogue taking place before them on the movie screens.
 Cited in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony: 1842-1990 (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1990), p. 65.
 For a full discussion of Michael, Adam, and the Adam-God doctrine, see Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982), pp. 173ff.
 Ibid., pp. 79-80.
 Westminster Confession of Faith, cited from BibleWorks 3.5, Hermeneutika Software, Electronic version Copyright © 1991 by M. S. Bushell.