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1st International Temple was almost a Temple Ship!

Trivia question for you:  what was the first LDS temple outside the United States?  The answer is below but see if you can guess before you read the answer.  In our final conversation with BYU Church History professor Dr. Richard Bennett, we learned that this temple marked the end of gathering the church to Utah, and the beginning of creating temples away from the center of Mormonism.

Temples were magnets and were a powerful factor in people gathering from Europe and inland to the Rocky Mountains.  Originally they went to Nauvoo.  The saints wanted to be where the temple is.

After 1900 and the beginning of an understanding that we should stay where we are and gather to the local units and gather in their own nations, you begin to see temples now moving out from Utah.  I think the first major expression of that would be the Cardston Temple.

We also discussed the Temple Ship, an idea mentioned in Greg Prince’s biography of President David O. McKay!

Yes I know that story, like a Hope Ship.  It had a lot of traction at one time.  It’s pretty hard to keep sacred a ship though, {chuckles} and I think that was the thing that sunk it, the idea that, oh we can have this boat that would be a dedicated temple.  The reason it had traction was you could go to places where the saints were. You could go to the islands and different countries all over the world.  But I think, I don’t know.  I remember studying that when I was studying the life of David O. McKay years ago, and I wrote the history of Brigham Young University, shadow boat history.  This was going to be difficult to keep a ship afloat that’s a temple and keep it sacred, going all over the place, and having it serviced and everything else, plus the cost.

Check out our conversation, and give us a 5 star review on iTunes or Youtube!

 

1st International Temple was almost a Temple Ship!

 

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Ouija boards, Spiritualism, Manifesto, & Endowments for the Dead

You’ve probably heard lots of ghost stories, Ouija boards, and other supernatural phenomenon.  I was surprised to hear Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor of Church History tell us that Spiritualism, the idea of communing with the dead, may have had some impact on the LDS endowment.  Some quotes from Dr. Bennett:

Spiritualism, the practice of communing with the dead, adulterated today by Ouija boards and things like this and telekinesis and paranormal, but Spiritualism is well-known in American history as flowering after the Civil War with so many dead and lost and the great desire of many families to know what happened to their sons or their fathers or their brothers.

In the 1870s there’s a lot of comment by general authorities, leaders of the church, particularly Orson Pratt about this is a counterfeit, but it has its place.  We understand why people are seeking the dead.  Was that a factor in the beginning of endowments for the dead for the church in 1877?  I claim that it may have been one of the factors to begin to address how we really think about them.  There is redemption for the dead but it’s not that way.  So was it a factor?  I argue that it probably was one of the factors.

We also talked about the start of the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper!

There were a small number of astute, intellectual Latter-day Saints who broke with Brigham Young in the 1870s, who thought they knew the gospel a little bit better than Brigham Young did.  But they thought that they knew economics better than Brigham Young did and they broke with the church over that.  The Salt Lake Tribune starts with the Godbeite movement which was very negative,of course against the church.  It still tends to be a little bit on that side, but that’s its history.

There’s also a discussion about the revelation that preceded the Manifesto.  Check it out!

 

Ouija Boards, Spiritualism, the Manifesto, and Endowments for the Dead

 

 

 

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Sealing to GA’s Through Law of Adoption

It was once a common practice for faithful LDS Church members to be sealed Church leaders until about the 1890s when President Wilford Woodruff put a stop to the practice.  This was known as the Law of Adoption.  BYU professor Dr. Richard Bennett will talk to us and tells us about the theological justifications and why church members felt the need to be sealed to church leaders. Bennett makes the case that until Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 of the Spirit World, that many didn’t know the gospel was preached to the dead.  How do we better understand the Law of Adoption?

Dick:  I don’t think you can talk about the Law of Adoption without understanding the development of the doctrine of the Spirit World and the doctrine of the gospel being taught in the Spirit World, which really doesn’t come to fruition in our doctrine and our history until Joseph F. Smith’s great revelation in 1918 and what was going on in the spirit world.  It’s a progressive doctrine about the souls of men and women that are living in the spirit world.

Are they being reclaimed?  Are they being taught the gospel?  Are they being converted?  Are they being forgiven?  Are they receiving the fullness of the gospel there?

Baptism for the dead opened that door, to actually begin to do ordinances for the dead.  But could we be sealed to our ancestors like we do today?  We take it so for granted.  You’re just being sealed to your ancestors.  Well if they’re not receiving the gospel, we don’t want to take the risk of being sealed to them because what’s going to happen to us if they don’t accept the gospel?

Until it became clear that the fullness of the gospel was being taught to them, the deceased, and that they were receiving the fullness of the ordinances, better be on the safe side and be sealed to a living prophet or a deceased prophet maybe like Joseph Smith and we’ll be sealed.  Until we know more clearly what’s going to happen, let’s be sealed to the prophetic priesthood lineage of the prophet Joseph priesthood claim and therefore it’s a done deal.  Can I use that term?  It’s a safer way than, we don’t know what’s happening to our ancestors.  That’s going to change as we learn better and more clearly, especially in 1877 with Wilford Woodruff when he announces that from now on, we’re going to do endowments for the dead.  We don’t begin to do endowments for the dead until 1877. That’s 40 years after Nauvoo, 30 years after Nauvoo.

Were you aware that this is why church members were sealed to prophets and other general authorities?

 

Law of Adoption

 

 

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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

 

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Origins of Baptism for the Dead

Baptism for the dead is one of the most unique things Mormons do in all of Christianity.  What were the events that led Joseph to inquire about this practice?  Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor in Church History talks about these events.  They started in Kirtland, although a lot of the events also happened in Nauvoo.

Alvin Smith, Joseph’s brother who died in 1823, was a big supporter of Joseph’s prophetic gift.  Alvin died from what was called bilious colic back in the day.  Doctors gave him some mercury to cure him, which ended up killing him.  The cure was worse than the disease in that case.  A Presbyterian minister said that since Alvin was never baptized, he was consigned to hell.  Joseph Smith, Sr. was so offended that he never joined with any of those protestant churches.  I asked Dr. Bennett if this was the source of Joseph’s thoughts on baptism for the dead.

It’s reasonable to suppose that this was a factor, but it’s impossible to prove.  It is certain though that Joseph Smith, Sr. himself is sick and dying in 1839, before Joseph Smith reveals baptism for the dead, and he dies within days of a few weeks of the announcement and Joseph Smith is clearly thinking about his father and perhaps of Alvin, so you wouldn’t want to dismiss this as immediate factors for it, but you can’t say for certain yet. We haven’t found anything yet where Joseph Smith says, this is where I came up with this idea.  It was a process of revelation.  We talked about the reclamation of revelation.  We have to think about the progression of revelation too.

What is the answer to the Haun’s Mill Massacre?  Joseph now is not just leading a church, people are dying for his religion.  The ante goes up in his mind.  It’s one thing to believe in what I’m telling you but people are giving their lives for it.  The Missouri conflict and conflagration, all those who died in sickness and death, David Patton [an apostle who died at Battle of Crooked River] and all the rest of the young boys and men and all the rest who died at Haun’s Mill, well what’s my answer to this?  What’s the Lord’s answer to this?  I think Joseph was asking the Lord very carefully.  We’re having an H of a time.  What are the answers to this?  I think that’s where you have to see baptism for the dead coming out of a much bigger context.

It should be noted that the Kirtland Temple never had a font.  A previous discussion said it was originally intended to be a school, not a temple, so that may explain some of that.  We talk about the Spirit of Elijah as being a spirit of genealogy work.  Could Elijah’s visit be more properly recognized as sealing dead ancestors through temple work, more so than marriage sealings?  What do you think?

Please consider a donation or purchasing a transcript here or at Amazon so we can put together some documentaries about the progression of temple work.  Please invite your friends and family who have questions about Mormon history to listen to the podcast above, video below so more can find out about this resource to learn more about Mormon history.