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Evolution of Temple Worship: From Speaking in Tongues to Masonry

Temple worship has changed significantly over the years.  In early Kirtland, many of the Saints spoke in tongues at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.  Also in Kirtland, the ritual of washing and anointing was first practiced by many of the early saints.  In Nauvoo, not only did we have baptisms for the dead, but also many Mormons were Masons, and Masonry was highly influential in the development of temple endowment.  In this episode, Dr. Richard Bennett a BYU professor of history and religion will talk to us about the development of many of these early temple practices.  Some quotes:

Brigham Young spoke in tongues many times.  When they got here out in the [Salt Lake] valley they spoke in tongues.  But it’s just gradually been, not replaced, but that other gifts have been emphasized more than the gift of tongues.

The development of the Kirtland Endowment is a progressive one.  It doesn’t come immediately.  Joseph seemed to indicate something was coming and it created an anticipation of something special at the Kirtland Temple to coordinate with its dedication in April of 1836.  Even before that there were what they would call special washings and anointings and washing of the feet as well which began in the Newell K. Whitney store and eventually migrated into the Kirtland Temple.  There were a series of what we would today call preliminary ordinances that were given to priesthood holders for preparation for going on missions and as a blessing and a benediction for having worked so hard on the temple.

The signs and symbols that you sometimes see in the temple, whether they are the all-seeing eye, or the geometric symbols have some similarity to Masonry.  There’s no question about that.  Maybe even some of the clothing has some parallels.  But Joseph Smith explained that he did it, he may have borrowed some of it, but for and entirely different reason, something that they were somewhat familiar with but for an entirely different reason. To the best of my knowledge, the differences are very, very stark when it comes to scripture and prophetic and Christian.  Masonry is a benevolent and wonderful society, but it’s not necessarily for just the Christians.  It’s not a religion.

What do you make of early temple practices?


Evolution of Temple Worship: From Speaking in Tongues to Masonry


4 thoughts on “Evolution of Temple Worship: From Speaking in Tongues to Masonry

  1. Hi, Rick. Thanks for these podcasts. Mark Staker has been great! I wish I could say the same for Brother Bennett. Unfortunately, he seems more concerned about keeping his pension than about giving a straight answer. For the history of the priesthood and its evolution, there are better sources, such as Gregory Prince and W.V. Smith. For information about the temple and its ordinances, you could consider some of the authors who have published germane articles in the JMH. If you can get more scholars who are open and honest, I will definitely contribute to your enterprise.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Greg Prince is on my list of future interviewees. I’m not familiar with W.V.Smith. Do you have contact info for him? Evolution of priesthood is something I have wanted to talk about too.

    To save money, I’m mainly concentrating on Utah historians (although my next interview is with Dr. Darron Smith from U of Memphis. Smith was in Utah last week so I was able to interview him while he was here.) I hope to go to Mormon History Association in St. Louis in July and hope to interview more out of state people at that time. If you’re aware of any people like Prince coming to Utah, let me know so I can nab them! (It took me 2 tries for Smith, but was glad to get him.)

  3. Would you consider phone interviews? Skype or Facetime? Finding a way to use those tools would make a much larger pool of scholars available to you. WVS blogs at By Common Consent and at Depending on the topic, I could make other suggestions.

    Sadly, I would avoid current CES employees no matter how qualified they are because they will avoid anything “controversial” like the plague. Take Steven C Harper’s recent interview at LDS Perspectives Podcast. He is eminently qualified, but his discussion of the Law of Consecration was so non-informative and even obfuscating as to be painful. Just as one example: He never mentioned that the United Order didn’t exist during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, but that the term was retrofitted into the D&C. It seems like a germane and important point to make as one reads the D&C this year.

  4. AListener, I don’t know why your comment got stuck in my spam queue (especially without notifying me.) Sorry about that.

    I really appreciate the suggestions, and I’ll try to contact WVS. I’m sure those tools will open up more scholars, and I may use them. One of my goals is to create Mormon history documentaries and I want to have good footage. I know I’ve been struggling with the audio a little; I’m not sure Facetime or Skype will have good enough video or audio and not sure if it would look as high quality as I’m striving for, but I will keep it in mind and really appreciate the suggestions.

    I’m certainly not limiting myself to CES employees, and frankly Mark Staker and I think Dr. Bennett’s discussion of Spiritualism and Ouija boards was quite unexpected (see my newest post.) Bennett brought up Ouija boards, not me. I think church employees can offer some surprising insights, just as non-CES folks can. Of course Paul Reeve isn’t a CES employee, and I just interviewed Darron Smith of the Univ or Memphis. I welcome good, scholarly diverse viewpoints and hope to talk to Brian Hales, Don Bradley, Greg Prince, and others too like Dan Vogel, Will Bagley, and Todd Compton. Hopefully they will say yes.

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