Response to Benjamin McGuire
Reviewed by Lane A. Thuet
Editor’s Note: Bible verses quoted are from the New International Version; the author’s exact words are in bold and italics; and comments in squared brackets [ ] are the authors’ clarifications – unless otherwise stated. Generally, bold-facing in the quotes are my emphasis.
In his review of Chapter 15 from Mormonism 101 (The Temple), Benjamin McGuire states:
“It is necessary that the reader understands that the topics of the temple and the ordinances and ceremonies which are performed inside it are sacred and special to members of the LDS Church. Faithful members of the church do not discuss these topics publicly. This means that there are portions of Mormonism 101 which, while incorrect, would be inappropriate for me to disclose exactly how McKeever and Johnson have misrepresented LDS practices.”
We certainly respect McGuire’s personal desire to refrain from discussing issues that he deems to be too sacred to discuss. However, since he makes the allegation that portions of McKeever and Johnson’s book are “incorrect” or “misrepresented,” then it is inappropriate for him to make such a claim but then refuse to prove his case. How convenient to just say there are errors but then excuse yourself from explaining how or why the errors are there! It amounts to nothing more than name-calling. If McGuire truly wishes to remain silent about the LDS temple ceremony and its ordinances, then he is certainly welcome to do so. But he should also remain silent about this chapter if that really is his wish.
McKeever and Johnson encourage discussion and questioning about the material they have published. Even critical evaluations are not unwelcome. But those who wish to accuse Mormonism 101 of containing errors or misrepresentations need to prove their case.
For this reason, I have chosen to look over McGuire’s comments that he does wish to discuss. I have personally been through the LDS temple ceremony many times. I am fully aware of what goes on, what is represented there, and what doctrines are taught. I can say with full assurance that nothing whatsoever in this chapter of Mormonism 101 has been incorrect or misrepresented. Furthermore, I am not afraid to discuss what goes on inside of a Mormon temple since I do not believe it is either sacred or special.
Only the Worthy
As we look over McGuire’s response, we find quite a few misrepresentations and even outright false statements. For instance, after quoting a paragraph from McKeever and Johnson’s book, McGuire then claims that they “distort the nature of temple worthiness.” He says, “First, having a ‘temple recommend’ does not make a member worthy. It is possible to have a ‘temple recommend’ and yet not be worthy to participate in the ordinances of the temple.” We are in absolute, full agreement.
It seems that others in the LDS Church, however, do not agree. For example, page 1772 in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism defines a temple recommend as follows: “Temple Recommend. A certificate of worthiness to participate in temple ordinances.” And consider this statement by LDS Apostle David B. Haight: “The temple recommend affirms one’s worthiness, both at the bishop’s interview when it is received as well as each time it is used.”
In spite of the fact that even an LDS apostle says the temple recommend affirms a person’s worthiness, we recognize that not all LDS members are totally honest, and some can even lie to obtain a recommend unworthily, just as McGuire wanted to clarify. The problem with McGuire’s point here is that McKeever and Johnson never said that having a temple recommend makes a person worthy. What they said, and McGuire quoted it himself, is that “a member is considered worthy if he or she holds a current ‘temple recommend.'” These members need only present a current recommend to be admitted into an LDS temple; they need not prove their worthiness to anyone at the temple entrance. The temple worker who admits them considers these patrons worthy by virtue of the fact that they hold a recommend. This is the first instance that McGuire misrepresented the true statement written by McKeever and Johnson.
Next, he makes it appear that McKeever and Johnson made another error concerning the recommend interviews. McGuire states, “The process to get a recommend involves two interviews (not one).” Yet once again, McKeever and Johnson never said it only took one interview. They merely stated that the temple recommend “is renewed annually by the individual’s bishop.” They never even mentioned any interviews.
An LDS member’s bishop is the person who makes the temple recommend renewal each year, or beginning in 2003, every other year. That is true. It is also true that the process requires two interviews, one with the local leader (most often their bishop) and one with a regional leader. However, since McKeever and Johnson never said it only takes one interview, McGuire is misrepresenting them for the second time by making it seem as if they were mistaken on this point.
McGuire continues his comments by claiming that the same standard exists for baptism into membership of the LDS Church as does admittance to the LDS temple. After giving both lists of questions, he claims, “Effectively, the questions amount to the same standard.” This is yet another misrepresentation on McGuire’s part. While both lists of questions begin with the same base level of belief and commitment, the questioning for the temple recommend contains six additional questions that, of necessity, raise the standard for those who desire to hold temple recommends. Consider this: LDS members are usually only baptized into the LDS Church once.
Therefore, they are only subjected to answering the questions for the baptism ordinance once. If, as McGuire contends, the standard is the same for baptism and for a temple recommend, then all LDS members should automatically be given temple recommends along with their baptismal certificates. Either that or their membership should be subjected to renewal and the member forced to be evaluated every year, automatically. We know that McGuire does not set LDS policy or practice any more than he sets church doctrine. But common sense tells us that there are two different standards here, not just one.
One of the most outrageous claims that McGuire made in his critique is his claim that “it is also relevant to note that for the most part, these requirements are based on the members understanding of the gospel, and not a pre-determined list of rules regarding compliance to these questions.” McGuire twice states that it is not compliance to rules, but more correctly “a members (sic) understanding” that determines worthiness to hold a temple recommend.
But what about the LDS member whose personal understanding says that drinking coffee on a very irregular basis is OK? Or the member whose personal understanding is that tithing is optional? Or members whose personal understanding is that they need not attend their regular meetings? According to McGuire’s broad interpretation, these people should still be considered worthy. They are all living according to their own personal understanding of gospel principles.
Yet this is another misrepresentation by McGuire. Let’s just look at one example, the occasional coffee drinker. Elder
David Broadbent, former president of the LDS North Central States Mission, spoke in the LDS General Conference in April of 1941. In his comments, Broadbent said the following: “We are just now in the midst of what our people are considering rather a tightening up on the question of recommendations to get into the Temple. I have no disposition to speak at length to that particular point, but to illustrate with an incident that occurred only a few weeks ago when a member from a very worthy family came and said: ‘Are you going to keep me out of the Temple for the sake of a cup of coffee?’ The attendant who met that sister replied, ‘Are you going to let a cup of coffee keep you out of the Temple?’ I think that is the position we must take in our testimony, as I find myself fully in accord with all that has been said at this Conference thus far.” President Gordon B. Hinckley repeated that same story in a conference speech he gave when he was a counselor in the First Presidency.
In that same speech, Hinckley gave two specific examples of requirements to obtain a temple recommend: paying tithing and obeying the Word of Wisdom. He said in part, “Of course, one is expected to be a full-tithe payer.” His remarks were that paying tithing was an indication of faithfulness.
While we agree with the observation about faithfulness, Hinckley gave no indication that this requirement would be satisfied merely by the members’ understanding of tithing. They had to be full tithe payers to get their recommend, no matter what their understanding of the principle was. The same was true of his remarks concerning the Word of Wisdom. He said, “Is observance of the Word of Wisdom necessary? The Brethren have long felt that it certainly must be.” According to a man who has served as apostle, first counselor and later prophet of the church, getting a temple recommend was not based on a member’s understanding of the principle of tithing and the Word of Wisdom that was at stake. Rather, it was the member’s “observance” of the practice.
Clearly President Hinckley’s teachings on the subject – especially from the conference pulpit – are of more authority than McGuire’s written opinion on the matter. And since this speech by Hinckley was given from the pulpit at an LDS semi-annual General Conference, it falls under the definition of divinely inspired teachings, not mere opinion. According to an unofficial report on LDS membership statistics, “The percentage of Latter-day Saints paying a full tithe is not officially reported. Estimates vary widely, but generally agree that less than half of LDS actives pay a full tithe.” This same report noted that “no data is published about the percentage of LDS adults holding temple recommends.”
While the current data is unavailable, we can get a general idea of how many LDS members are going to the temple. For instance, the LDS statistical report in the May 1984 issue of Ensign showed that there were 189,419 new converts to the LDS Church during 1983. While not all of these converts would be of adult age, it would be safe to assume that at least a third of them would have been. These new members would be eligible for temple recommends in 1984. In addition, there would be a great number of current LDS members eligible for recommends during the year. A good number of missionaries would have gone through for their own endowments that year.
Therefore, it is fairly safe to estimate that about a quarter of those living endowments were by missionaries preparing to leave on their missions. This means that not even half the estimated number of new adult converts from the year before went to the temple for their own endowments just that year. The trend is similar during the last five years that these statistics were reported. Less than half of the LDS membership is even eligible for a recommend based on tithing statistics alone. We can clearly see, then, that the LDS Church leaders are obviously holding a higher standard for temple recommends than what is required for church membership.
McGuire can say as much as he wants to about the LDS members’ understanding of gospel principles. The fact is that members can be wrong in their personal understanding; if they are, they are not meeting the actual requirements for a temple recommend. It is obedience to the principles as the LDS leaders interpret them, not as the member understands them, that counts when seeking a temple recommend.
I was very pleased to see McGuire frankly admit the following in his remarks: “The LDS approach to temple worship is certainly a change from ancient Israel….” While McGuire was speaking specifically of requirements for temple participation, the fact is that the ordinances taking place inside LDS temples are not at all like those of the Jewish temple either.
Any honest temple Mormon who even cursorily reads over the temple ordinances of Israel in the Bible has to admit that the two are nothing alike. The temple layout of the Bible is different than the LDS temples. The ordinances are completely different. The requirements for participation are different. The clothing is different. The point is this: the LDS temple ordinances and ceremonies are not a “restoration,” as is so often proclaimed by LDS missionaries, members, and leaders. It is a replacement, plain and simple.
The Inside Works of the LDS Temple
When mentioning the garments received during a temple endowment ceremony, McKeever and Johnson stated that the garment is “placed upon” the patron in the ceremony. After quoting this portion of their book, McGuire then frankly says, “This never happens in the temple ceremony.”
McGuire must not have paid very close attention when he was endowed. When I received my endowments in the Mormon temple, the garments were very specifically “placed upon” me. I took my endowments in the Salt Lake City LDS temple on the afternoon of September 21, 1988. While still wearing nothing but a thin “shield,” the temple worker held open the bottom part of my garments for me to step into. I was then told to remove my shield, and he held the tops of the garments for me to put my arms and head into. I found the experience to be very disconcerting. Even so, I knew for a fact that my garment was intentionally “placed upon” me by the worker.
To try and make it appear that McKeever and Johnson do not know what they were talking about, McGuire then quotes from another article on the MRM web site in which Bill McKeever had said, “The patron then puts on a special piece of clothing known as the ‘Garment of the Holy Priesthood.'” McGuire’s conclusion is that McKeever and Johnson are not being honest or accurate in their portrayal. This is quite a reach. Is it accurate to say that I had put on the garments in the temple? I did some of the work, and it would neither be inaccurate nor dishonest to say that I had put them on.
What is specifically dishonest (or, at best, completely ignorant) is when McGuire says, “This never happens in the temple ceremony.” McGuire does not wish to discuss it, but I will. Let me quote directly from a transcript of the LDS temple ceremony for the portion where the garments are presented:
The officiator says, “Brother _____, having authority, I place this garment upon you which you must wear throughout your life…” As the temple ceremony is about to begin after this ordinance, two short lectures are given before the account of the creation is portrayed. The first lecturer says, “Brethren and sisters, we welcome you to the temple, and hope
you will find joy in serving in the house of the Lord this day. Those of you who are here to receive your own Endowment should have been washed, anointed, and clothed in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood….” Each of these ordinances mentioned are things that have been done TO the patron. But in case that is not clear enough to make the point, the second lecturer then goes on in his remarks to say, “You have had a Garment placed upon you, which you were informed represents the garment given to Adam and Eve when they were found naked….”
Now there are many LDS temples around the world in operation manned by many different temple workers officiating in the ceremony to numerous patrons. I am not afraid to admit that it is possible that there are many occasions when the garment may be simply given to the members to put on by themselves. Perhaps this was McGuire’s experience in the temple. However, the LDS Church strives to keep all the temple ceremonies as uniform as much as possible; the intention clearly was for the garment to be put upon the patron. My own personal experience and the experience of a great many others as well as the specific wording of the ordinance and the lectures proves that the intent with regard to the garment is that it is placed upon the patron.
Former temple Mormon Chuck Sackett transcribed the temple ceremony from a recording he made in the Los Angeles temple. He then published a booklet titled What’s Going On In There? On page 19 of the 1982 edition, we read the following: “The temple worker removes the garment from the towel rod and holds it open for the patron, who is still wearing the shield, to step into. He then helps the patron pull the garment up and put his arms in as the worker is giving instructions and the New Name.” Obviously the garment mentioned in this account was of the one-piece variety. But once again, it verifies that, for all intents and purposes, the garment is “placed upon” the patron as much as is possible. The patrons then finish dressing themselves.
The Salt Lake Tribune printed an exposé of the temple endowment ceremony on February 12, 1906 that stated: “This being done, the candidate leaves the tub, is hurriedly wiped dry, and then mounts a stool, where he is anointed with oil poured from a rams horn, the same parts being anointed that were washed just previously. He then stands while a man places his garments over his shoulders, telling him that these garments are a pattern of those which the Lord gave to Adam…”
Even President Brigham Young stated on Feb. 7, 1877 that when he received his endowments, the garment was placed upon him. His comments were faithfully documented by L. John Nuttall, the official recorder for the St. George Temple, in his journal. Nuttall records Young as having said the following: “When we got our washings and anointings under the hands of the Prophet at Nauvoo, we had only one room to work in, with the exception of a little side room or office where we were washed and anointed, had our garment placed upon us and received our new name.”
McGuire obviously missed the significance of this part of the ceremony. I recommend that he go through the temple again to refresh his memory. I would then challenge him to tell us point blank whether the wording of the ordinance and the lecture state that the garment is “placed upon” the person. He could answer that with a yes or no without discussing the ceremony in detail. In all honesty, I doubt that he will actually comment upon this point and may claim that it is too “sacred” to talk about. But McGuire knows that he is not being honest or accurate when he claims that placing the garment upon temple patrons “never happens.” Perhaps he should remember that being dishonest makes him unworthy to attend the ceremony himself, whether he holds a valid recommend or not.
McGuire goes on to discuss the issue of the resurrection. McKeever and Johnson casually mention in Mormonism 101 that the LDS husband is to call forth his wife from the grave on resurrection day. This is why he is told her secret temple name, though she is never to know his. He is supposedly to call her forth from the dead by using this temple name. McGuire’s comment about this is that “this is also not the case. A husband has nothing to do with the resurrection of his wife.”
McKeever and Johnson had quoted two LDS apostles on this point. Regarding these two citations, McGuire wrote, “I find it somewhat suspect that the two citations provided in Mormonism 101 which are supposed to defend McKeever and Johnson’s proposition never once mention the resurrection.” Really? Let me quote the very first citation from page 210 of Mormonism 101: “In the resurrection, they stand side by side and hold dominion together. Every man who overcomes all things and is thereby entitled to inherit all things, receives power to bring up his wife to join him in the possession and enjoyment thereof.”
It looks to me like that citation does mention the resurrection. McGuire wants to interpret the statement to mean that the husband raises his wife up to exaltation in the celestial kingdom, not that he actually raises her from the dead. His proof? He quotes LDS leaders where they say that everyone will be eventually resurrected. Now, McKeever and Johnson never said that everyone would not be raised. They simply stated what LDS temple Mormons have learned all along – that the LDS husband will raise his wife from the grave on resurrection day. That has nothing to do with the resurrection of the rest of the world. It is simply focusing on the LDS man and his wife.
When a woman goes through the temple ceremony for her own endowments, she is presented, like all other patrons, at the veil of the temple. This veil represents the separation between earthly life and the eternal life in the celestial kingdom of Mormonism. If her fiancé or husband is there, he is the one who takes her through the veil and into the celestial kingdom. She must give him her secret temple name in order to obtain entrance, and then he leads her through after the ceremony is complete. It is explained to them that this represents the husband calling his wife forth from her grave in the resurrection.
When I went through the temple ceremony with my fiancé, Shawna Burchard, a temple worker at the veil explained the same thing to her privately. When Shawna asked the temple worker why she had to give me her secret temple name through the veil, “they said that so in the ‘here after’ or their version of ‘the resurrection’ only you [Lane] would be able to call me up from my ‘slumber.’“ This is the explanation given to most women who go through the ceremony.
For example, in the introduction to The Journals of William Clayton (who was the secretary to Joseph Smith) we read that “Clayton described the temple endowment…In this ceremony, each husband escorted his wife through a veil, calling her by a ‘new temple name.’ The woman’s salvation would depend upon her husband’s priesthood authority. Clayton reported Brigham Young saying that ‘the man must love his God and the woman must love her husband,’ adding that ‘woman will never get back, unless she follows the man back.'”
Mormon Apostle Orson Hyde counseled Mary Ettie Smith not to divorce her husband, but he then made her the following offer: “You may, if you wish, be ‘sealed’ to me, and then you know there would be no risk to run, in case you should die. Otherwise, if by chance you should drop away, having no husband to raise you at the last day, you could not be ‘resurrected’ as a saint,…”
Ann-Eliza Young, a former polygamous wife of Brigham Young, was taught the same principle. Writing in 1876, she said, “It is believed as the husband has to ‘resurrect’ his wife by her endowment name, so it is rather necessary that he should know it. Consequently, when he is sealed to her, she is permitted to whisper her name to him through the veil, and after that it must be spoken no more between them until he shall call her by it on the morning of the first resurrection.”
H.H. Bancroft wrote in History of Utah, 1840-1886 that “all good Mormons are buried in their endowment robes, and the veil worn by the women covers their faces when they are consigned to the grave. In the morning of the resurrection, this veil is to be lifted by the husband; otherwise no woman can see the face of the almighty in the next world.”
At the end of the 1881 book “Mormonism Unveiled; the Life and Confessions of John D. Lee, there appears a copy of a letter sent to John Taylor, the president of the twelve apostles and acting head of the LDS Church. The letter contains information from the second wife of Brigham Y. Hampton when she was seeking a legal divorce from her husband.
In the letter we read, “The endowment robe consists of several garments. One of these is a white headgear for the women, which has a flowing cape falling down from the back. During the ceremony this cape is thrown over the woman’s face…When the woman dies she is buried in her endowment robes, with this cape on her head, and when she is laid in her coffin the cape is thrown over her face. The teachings of the mormon leaders are that she cannot be resurrected until the husband raises this cape from her face; that if he pleases and is satisfied that she has been a faithful and obedient wife and true to him, he will raise this cape and she may be resurrected, but if he is not satisfied of this, then he refuses to do this, and she cannot be resurrected. One of the most common threats Mrs. Hampton said, by which Brig. Hampton used to compel her to obedience, was that if she didn’t obey him ‘she would never be resurrected,’ that he would not raise the cape from her head on the morning of the resurrection.”
When marrying her husband Dennis in the Salt Lake City temple, former Mormon Rauni Higley (who had been through the endowment ceremony previously) was taken to the veil of the temple and asked to give her husband the “first token of the Aaronic Priesthood,” including her secret temple name. She stated that the reason for this was that “…I did not need to repeat any other parts of the ‘veil-test’ to him – just my new name so that he could ‘call me forth in the morning of the first resurrection’, as it is explained.”
Higley was very familiar with the temple ceremony since she was commissioned by the LDS Church to translate the temple ceremony into Finnish. She spent a great deal of time in the Salt Lake City LDS temple, observing the ceremony, asking questions, and having various elements and their meanings explained in great detail to her by LDS general authorities.
Patricia Stewart, a Mormon friend of Rauni’s, had a grandfather who had been a Mormon polygamist. She said that “he used to threaten one of his wives all the time that he was going to leave her in the grave because she was a bit rebellious…”
Who has the authority to raise someone else from the dead? Brigham Young answered that question on August 28, 1852, saying, “But has he (Joseph Smith) the power to resurrect that body? He has not. Who has this power? Those that have already passed through the resurrection – who have been resurrected in their time and season by some person else, and have been appointed to that authority just as you Elders have with regard to your authority to baptise (sic). You have not the power to baptise yourselves, neither have you power to resurrect yourselves; and you could not legally baptise a second person for the remission of sins until some person first baptised you and ordained you to this authority. So with those that hold the keys of the resurrection to resurrect the Saints.”
Mormon scholar Robert J. Matthews learned from LDS leaders about the resurrection. He wrote: “The procedure is that as one cannot baptize himself, nor can he baptize others until he himself is baptized and ordained, so one cannot resurrect himself, but will be called forth by someone in authority. Men will be given the keys of this ordinance after they are resurrected, and then they can resurrect others…Any doctrine or ordinance as fundamental to man’s eternal salvation as the resurrection of the dead is of necessity regulated and performed by the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is also part of the patriarchal order of the family. So far as the celestial kingdom is concerned, the resurrection is a family event.” (Behold the Messiah, 282.) In a later collection of his writings, Matthews concluded, “The procedure is that…one cannot resurrect himself but will be called forth by someone in authority. Men will be given the keys of this ordinance after they are resurrected, and then they can resurrect others. Although these brethren do not say it, I expect that a man with the keys will resurrect members of his family; it is a patriarchal thing.“
Obviously many temple Mormons have come away from the ceremony with exactly the same understanding, whether or not they remained faithful to their church afterward. Why would so many people from the past 130+ years just make up such a strange teaching? There would be no purpose for so many different people to claim the exact same obscure principle. The only explanation for it is that the doctrine is taught (or at the very least explained) inside LDS temples.
Continuing on about the temple garments, McGuire makes the claim “that McKeever and Johnson, in trying to sensationalize their account, are much more interested in the ‘physical protection’…we see that they have little interest in accurately portraying Mormon beliefs.” Yet McKeever and Johnson did give an accurate portrayal. Obviously, McGuire seems to be embarrassed about the LDS belief that the garments offer a “physical protection.” He chooses to minimize that aspect in favor of highlighting the “spiritual protection,” which does not make them sound so esoteric.
He needs to listen more closely to the words of Spencer W. Kimball, who wrote: “Though generally I think our protection is a mental, spiritual, moral one, yet I am convinced that there could be and undoubtedly have been many cases where there has been, through faith, an actual physical protection, so we must not minimize that possibility.” In fact, this was the very first quotation that McKeever and Johnson used before ever mentioning the LDS belief in physical protection from the garments. Since an LDS apostle (who would later become the 12th prophet, seer, and revelator of the Mormon Church) did not wish this aspe
ct to be minimized, then why should we?
McGuire tries to relegate this writing of Kimball’s to “a personal opinion and not a doctrinal statement.” His proof is that this comment of Kimball’s was originally made in a personal letter. Yet McKeever and Johnson retrieved it from the LDS published book Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. This book is published by Bookcraft, an official Mormon publisher. The title page declares: “About this Book. An Apostle for thirty years and then Church President since 1973, Spencer W. Kimball has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to far more people than any other Church leader, past or contemporary. His teachings are collected here.”
Notice the book claims that the contents are Spencer Kimball’s teachings, not his opinions. It has become more and more common for LDS apologists to try and brush off the embarrassing teachings of their apostles and prophets by claiming these were nothing more than “opinions.” Yet the current leadership of the Mormon Church holds that these are the inspired teachings of these men, not mere opinions, and they are used time and time again in LDS teaching manuals and materials. What is obvious is that McGuire does not believe in the inspired guidance and teachings of the leaders of his church – at least not once they are dead. I have to wonder if he feels that way about the living leaders. Time will tell if McGuire will relegate their current “inspired” teachings in the future to mere “opinion” once they have died.
Back when I was 20 years old, I attended a singles ward in the Salt Lake Valley. I heard at least three different Mormons speak about their garments in different sacrament meetings, each of them telling how their garments had given them actual physical protection from harm. Even McGuire later writes how “some [LDS members] believe that there is a physical protection as well [as a spiritual one].” That was the whole point, and McGuire is admitting it. McGuire simply objects that McKeever and Johnson have publicly pointed it out.
The belief that the garments offer actual physical as well as spiritual protection is very common among Mormons, contrary to what McGuire has asserted. By trying to minimize this principle, McGuire is guilty of misrepresenting LDS belief in regard to the temple garments. Perhaps this is just his personal opinion, but even so it has certainly not pervaded the hearts and minds of the rest of the Mormon membership. That being the case, this point made about the garments by McKeever and Johnson is more in line with actual LDS practice and belief than is McGuire’s comment.
Also in this section, McGuire takes quite a bit of space ranting about something completely insignificant. McKeever and Johnson quoted Spencer Kimball, identifying him as President Spencer W. Kimball. McGuire was upset about this because, at the time, Kimball’s comments were made he was only an apostle, and therefore should have only been given the title Elder Spencer Kimball. His assertion was that the error was done on purpose in an effort to “portray some of the comment s (sic)…as being more authoritative than they were ever meant to be.”
In all honesty, I find this argument a complete waste of time to address. No matter what title the speaker of the citation is given, the fact remains that the statement was still made by the person credited. The principles espoused are still current LDS belief. Does the “incorrect” title, though certainly a correct title during his tenure as an LDS leader, make the statement any less true? Not at all. And, on this point in particular, it has been well documented that the teaching in question is correctly presented. Perhaps McKeever and Johnson should leave off the LDS titles altogether – then McGuire could complain about that in his rebuttal. Nevertheless, I will address this concern of McGuire’s at the end of this response, since he once again brings up this same point there to argue about in greater detail.
McGuire also made it an issue that McKeever and Johnson used the phrase “President Spencer W. Kimball said,” though the comments quoted had originally been written in a letter. What exactly is McGuire’s contention here? He says, “McKeever and Johnson suggest that this was spoken by Kimball, in fact, this is excerpted from a personal letter written by Kimball.” Now, honestly, how juvenile can McGuire really be here? In the common English language, one will often ask what a sign or letter “says.” It does not mean they believe the item speaks verbally. The New Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word say to mean “to express in words.” Going by this definition, McKeever and Johnson were completely correct when they wrote that Kimball said those remarks since he had expressed them in words.
Next, McGuire takes issue of the fact that McKeever and Johnson wrote that the garment falls into the same category as “the proverbial rabbit’s foot or talisman.” McGuire says, “The garment cannot be compared to a ‘lucky talisman’.” Obviously, McGuire just wants to be excessively petty about the issues – probably to try and distract the reader from the fact that he has no doctrinal mistakes to point out. Since he wants to make an issue of this, then I feel compelled to point out that McKeever and Johnson never said the word lucky. Perhaps McGuire was just trying to sensationalize McKeever and Johnson’s account.
Maybe what is needed is a study on the English language to clear everything up. According to the New Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a talisman is defined as “an object thought to act as a charm.” A charm is defined as “to protect by or as if by charms.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a rabbit’s foot as “used superstitiously as a talisman or good-luck charm.” A talisman is defined as “something bearing engraved figures or symbols thought to bring good luck, keep away evil, etc.”
Let me state very clearly that the LDS temple garments are not “engraved.” However, they are embroidered with four symbols – a square and compass (one over each breast), a navel mark, and a knee mark. The garment is thought to bring protection and repel evil and temptation. They not only fall into the same category as a talisman, but they are the very definition of it according to a recognized authority for defining English words.
McGuire goes on to try and draw biblical support for the practice of wearing temple garments. He has two main assertions. First, the garment represents the coats of skins that God gave to Adam and Eve after the fall. Second, the priests in the tabernacle and temple wore special garments.
The account in Genesis 3:7-21 of God giving coats of skins to Adam and Eve is an interesting one. For one thing, Adam and Eve had worn no clothing until that point. They were always naked (Genesis 2:25). Once they sinned, they realized they were naked and were ashamed. To cover their nakedness, they originally sewed together fig leaves to cover their loins (Genesis 3:7). God apparently felt that this fig-leaf covering was not sufficient. He rejected it and clothed them with the skins of animals instead (Genesis 3:21). This act underscored the fact that Adam’s sin brought death into the world since animals had to die in order to give their skins as clothing for the man and his wife.
While McGuire never mentions this part, the fig lea
fs worn by Adam and Eve have their representation in the temple ceremony as well. During the first half of the ceremony, portions of the Genesis account of creation are reenacted along with additional teachings not found anywhere in the Bible. After Adam and Eve put on their fig leaves in the reenactment, the temple audience is then instructed to do the same. Prior to this point, temple patrons are wearing their temple garments as underwear as well as all-white temple clothing over the top of them. At this point, they each take a green apron embroidered with fig leaves and tie it around their waist over the temple clothing.
A few minutes later in the ceremony, the actor representing God rejects the fig leaves worn by Adam and Eve, giving them clothing of animal skins to wear instead. (Even though God rejected the fig leafs worn by Adam and Eve in the Bible, temple patrons continue to defiantly wear their fig leaf aprons for the rest of their temple stay.) The temple patrons are reminded at this point that the temple garments they wear are supposed to represent these animal skins given by God.
Is there a similarity between them? Can the temple garments really be representative of the Biblical skins? Let’s look at the similarities and differences between the two.
Firstly, the garments are given to the patron well before this point in the ceremony. But we could concede the need for this for propriety sake. After all, both men and women are present in the room during the temple ceremony, so it would be very inappropriate to have patrons wait naked, or even in the thin “shield,” until this point to put on the garments.
Secondly, the temple garment is made of lightweight, white material. It was not always this way, but it has always been made out of linen of some kind or another. The clothing given to Adam and Eve was made of animal skins.
Thirdly, the temple garment is marked with four symbols: the square, the compass, the navel mark, and the knee mark. The skins given to Adam and Eve have no such markings mentioned on them, not even in the temple ceremony transcript.
Fourthly, the temple garment is said to be a shield and a protection to the wearers as long as they remain faithful to temple covenants. The skins given to Adam were nothing more than to cover his nakedness.
Finally, only those who have been through the temple are given these garments to wear. But in the Bible, after Adam and Eve, all mankind wore clothing to cover their nakedness. The Biblical account tells of how clothing and not sacred or holy garments came to be necessary. While many more differences could be listed, it is obvious that there really is very little similarity between the skins given to Adam and Eve and the LDS temple garments.
What about all mention of the word garments found through the Old and New Testaments? There are many different Hebrew and Greek words translated as garment or garments in the King James Bible. In context, it is clear that these always represent clothing, not special underwear. In fact, special priestly underwear is mentioned only four times in the Bible. McGuire even quotes one of these verses. Let’s look at the description of them in Exodus 28:42: “And thou shalt make for them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even to the thighs they shall reach.”
Here we finally see linen used in garments as directed by God. But notice that it is just a pantaloon type of article. The LDS garment also includes a top portion that covers the chest, belly, shoulders, and arms. And currently they use just an abbreviated version of the garments. The original design revealed to Joseph Smith went right to the neck, down to the wrists, and all the way to the ankles. The two garments can hardly be said to be similar beyond the fact that they are both made of linen.
Why did God command these linen undergarments to be worn? Was it to be a “spiritual and physical protection”? We find the reason in Exodus 20:26 where God said, “And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it” (NIV). Back in the time of Moses, men did not wear pants like we do today. They wore a robe that came down to about the knee. Underwear was unknown. So if the priest were to climb steps to get to an altar of God, with every step he would be exposing his nakedness. In the ceremonies required of the tabernacle and Jewish temple, the priests would be required to do a number of physical activities, greatly increasing the chances of exposing themselves. For this reason, God commanded the linen breeches be worn by the priests.
In Exodus 28:43, God says they “…must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.” Does this mean these breeches were a “spiritual and physical protection“? I suppose you could really stretch the part about incurring guilt to mean some sort of a spiritual protection, but the fact is that even these priests were guilty of sin. All men have sinned, including these priests, so they were not really being protected in this way. The primary protection was that they would not expose themselves in a holy place and therefore be stricken dead. So we see that this physical protection was actually the main purpose for these garments – and yet a physical protection is exactly what McGuire wishes to downplay about the LDS garments.
Let me point out two other items concerning these biblical linen breeches. First, the priests were not commanded to wear them all the time but only when they were to enter the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle. The LDS members are told to wear them at all times, day and night, and not seek opportunities to remove them. Second, the priests were not to expose their nakedness at all in the temple or they would die. In Mormon temples, patrons walk from the lockers to the showers wearing only a thin “shield” that is completely open to the sides. It is very difficult to hold the sides closed while walking through the temple corridors; they are exposed when patrons sit down to have their washing and anointing done, then they are exposed again when they step into the garments the temple worker is holding for them. Yet it is rare, and probably has never actually happened, for any of these patrons to be stricken dead for being exposed in the LDS temple. Also to be considered is that the linen breeches in the Bible were only to be worn by Aaron and his descendants. Most LDS members are said to be descendants of Ephraim, who do not qualify to administer temple ordinances.
We see, then, that the temple garments worn by Mormons, though said to represent the skins given to Adam and Eve by God, really do not resemble them at all. The item they most closely resemble is the linen breech of the priests, but even then the similarities are extremely few and the differences are many.
The Endowment Ceremony
Proceeding to the next section of his rebuttal, McGuire chooses to play a game of semantics in an attempt to prove McKeever and Johnson wrong. He says, “The main argument put forward by McKeever and Johnson in this section [on the Endowment Ceremony] is that the temple ceremonies, which had supposedly been revealed directly by God, have been changed repeatedly.” He then goes on to say that there is “a distinct difference between the ordinance and the ceremony.”
His argument is that the ordinances have always remained the same while the ceremony surrounding it has been understandably changed. It is true that McKeever and Johnson made no distinction between the two in Mormonism 101. But even so, is their contention that essential elements have been changed correct? McGuire says no, so let’s examine it more closely to see the truth.
How does McGuire define the ceremony and the ordinances? He writes, “The ceremony and the ritual is the teaching mechanism that surrounds the ordinance.” And what, exactly is the ordinance? “The ordinance, on the other hand, or the covenantal aspects of the temple ceremonies have not changed.”
We are to understand, then, that the ceremony is just the presentation of the ordinances in a logical and connected manner. The ordinances, which McGuire claims have not changed, are those items related to temple covenants made during the ceremony. It is the items necessary to the covenants and the covenants themselves that McGuire believes Joseph Smith was referring to when he said that God “set the ordinances to be the same forever and ever.”
How do we know which items are a part of the ordinances and which are part of the ceremony? Under the heading of “Church Ordinances” in the index to the Journal of Discourses, the entire “endowment” is listed as an ordinance. Brigham Young agreed and even defined it further in a sermon dated April 6, 1853. He said, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.”
Young further expounded upon the necessary ordinances in comments made at the St. George temple. He said, “He [Joseph Smith] gave the key-words, signs, tokens and penalties….Joseph Smith divided up the room the best that he could, hung up the veil, marked it, gave us our instructions as we passed along from one department to another, giving us signs, tokens, penalties, with key-words pertaining to those signs.” Young went on to quote Joseph Smith as having said, “I want you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies with the signs, tokens, penalties, and key-words.” Notice that Joseph Smith specifically separated the “signs, tokens, penalties and key-words” from the “ceremony” in that last statement.
During the temple ceremony itself, temple officiators also connected these items prior to April 10, 1990. For example, during the “First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood,” the actor representing God said, “We will now give unto you the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign and penalty.” The “name, sign and penalty” were also mentioned as necessarily accompanying the next two tokens given in the temple endowment. The last token given, the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, has only a name and sign, with no penalty mentioned.
These necessary ordinances are defined, then, as the “keywords,” “signs,” “tokens,” and “penalties” given in the endowment. McGuire added that the ordinances also include the “covenantal aspects,” or the covenants made during the endowment. While he admits that the ceremony would logically and of necessity change, McGuire states that these covenants and ordinances have not changed. To reiterate his words, McGuire said, “My response is, despite the ceremony having changed, the ordinances have not.”
The most significant changes made to the temple ceremony were instituted on April 10, 1990. This was widely publicized and discussed in the media. President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a stern warning not to talk about the temple ceremonies during his talk at the semi-annual General Conference that year, just a few days before the changes were implemented. The First Presidency of the LDS Church even issued a statement read to all temple patrons before they began the ceremony once the changes went into effect. In that statement, they seemed to agree with McGuire’s assertion when they wrote, “Those of you who are familiar with the ceremony will recognize these changes which do not affect the substance of the teachings of the Endowment, nor the covenants associated therewith.”
Have the covenants been changed? I will frankly admit that there are no differences between the four tokens and their associated names. The first three signs have remained the same as well. But there is a difference in these ordinances beginning with the sign of the fourth token given called the “Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, The Patriarchal Grip, or Sure Sign of the Nail.” When I went through the ceremony, the sign for this token was given by raising our hands above our head and, while lowering them, repeating “Pay Lay Ale” three times.
We were told that the interpretation of these words was “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth.” However, we were not instructed to say those words but rather repeat “Pay Lay Ale” instead. These words have been removed, and today’s patrons instead chant “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth” three times while lowering their hands. Temple patrons today are taught nothing about the words “Pay Lay Ale,” which thousands of temple Mormons like myself were taught this as a necessary ordinance to enter the celestial kingdom. This ordinance has clearly changed.
The next change I see that is readily apparent is that the penalties associated with all four tokens have been entirely removed. These penalties, as I have already shown, were mentioned as being inextricably connected with the tokens. Yet all of the penalties have been completely removed. Obviously this ordinance has been changed. How about the covenants themselves? They have changed over the years as well.
On April 10, 1990, the covenant known as the Law of Obedience was changed. Prior to this date, women going through the temple covenanted to obey the law of their husbands, while the men covenanted to obey the law of God. This has entirely changed now so that women covenant to obey the law of the Lord while only agreeing to “hearken to” the counsel of their husbands. Clearly, this covenant has been changed.
In years past, the LDS temple ceremony included a covenant called the “Oath of Vengeance.” Former temple Mormon Increase McGee VanDusen gave an account of his temple endowment and said, “We are required to kneel at this altar, where we have an oath administered to us to the effect, that we will henceforth and for ever use all our influence to destroy this nation, and teach it to our posterity and all that we have influence over, in return for their killing the Prophet Joseph.”
Mormon John D. Lee also mentioned this oath. He said, “Furthermore, every one who had passed through their endowments, in the Temple, were placed under the most sacred obligations to avenge the blood of the Prophet, whenever an opportunity offered, and to teach their children to do the same, thus making the entire Mormon people sworn and avowed enemies of the American Nation.”
When The Salt Lake Tribune ran an exposé of the temple endowment on February 12, 1906, it was documented that temple patrons swore to a “law of vengeance” against the United States for killing Joseph Smith. When the Hand-Book on Mormonism was printed in 1882, it also printed the account of the “oath of vengeance” on page 29. During the Reed Smoot investigations, numerous temple Mormons witnessed that they had covenanted to keep the oath of vengeance. In fact, volume 4, page 497 of the Reed Smooth Case records the following: “The fact that an oath of vengeance is part of the endowment ce
remonies and the nature and character of such oath was judicially determined in the third judicial court of Utah in the year 1889….”
Perhaps McGuire will take issue with the fact that this document calls the “oath of vengeance” a part of the “ceremonies.” But in reality, all the witnesses testified that they were administered this oath as a covenant. Since this oath has been removed from the endowment, clearly the “covenantal” part of the ordinance has been changed. Clearly McGuire is once again misleading by stating that the ordinances of the temple have not changed. According to his definition of what the ordinances are, we find that they truly have changed along with the ceremony that surrounds them.
Baptism for the Dead
In relation to the topic of baptism for the dead, McGuire lists three points that he wants to examine. Before he does, however, he decides to talk about an article written by Mormon Jay Todd on the subject. McGuire expresses his feeling that McKeever and Johnson should have addressed all the points in Todd’s article in Mormonism 101. While McKeever and Johnson did quote from Todd’s article, their presentation was written to be an overview of significant LDS doctrines and practices. It was not written to be a response to Todd’s article. For McGuire to think the book should have included a detailed rebuttal to the article is ludicrous.
McGuire assumes a great deal when he writes: “It seems to me safe to say that McKeever and Johnson do not express a belief in a final judgment.” Yet McKeever and Johnson state specifically that “the Bible is very clear in Hebrews 9:27 that judgment follows this life.” They did not say that judgment was limited to immediately upon death or whether this would be a final judgment. All they wrote was that the time to obtain forgiveness and salvation is during this life. Once dead, a person will be judged whenever God feels it is appropriate. If McGuire wishes to know exactly what McKeever and Johnson believe in relation to the judgment of God, he should ask them rather than incorrectly assume what their beliefs are.
McGuire goes on to say, “It is clearly arguable (and this is LDS doctrine) that this judgment, while it follows this life, does not need to occur immediately upon death.” [Bracketed comments in this line just quoted are McGuire’s] McKeever and Johnson never said that it did. They simply pointed out that, according to Bible teaching, the fate of all people is sealed at death. They will not have an opportunity after that point to change their minds or “choose sides” with another religion. What you believe and accept about God before you die is the basis for how God will judge you…whenever He chooses to judge you.
In answering the “now” portion of 2 Corinthians 6:2, McGuire says, “Where is it (the “now” of that verse) limited to the end of the mortal life?” I would ask to what else could it refer? Why would the writers of the Bible place so much emphasis on believing now if there would simply be another chance after death? There would not be such an emphasis. In Hebrews we see this urgency once again. In 3:7-8, the writer urges “today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” This emphasis on believing “today” is also mentioned in 3:13 and 15. He gives an even stronger urging in 4:7-11.
And let’s not discount Luke 16:19-31, the story that Jesus told about Lazarus and the rich man. Most Bible scholars believe this is not a parable because Jesus never named anyone in any of his parables, yet He clearly names Lazarus here. But whether or not it is actually a parable, the point of the story is the same. The rich unbeliever goes to a place of torment while the poor believer goes to a place of comfort and rest after death. The rich man sees that he is on the wrong side and begs for comfort. According to Luke 16:25-26, Jesus says, “But Abraham replied, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” Obviously, there is no changing of sides after death, even though there clearly will be a change of minds. An immediate judgment of one kind separates believers from unbelievers. Nobody can change his or her mind once that is done. A final judgment is certain.
But then look at the next five verses. The rich man begs for Abraham to send someone back to warn his living brothers so they will not make the wrong choice before death. What was Abraham’s reply? According to Luke 16:27-31, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them…If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Abraham never said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. Once they die they will be preached to and can make their decision here. Then someone living will do the required ordinances on their behalf and they will be saved.” The emphasis was on the fact that the choice must be made while living. Once a person is dead, the decision is final.
Let me emphasize that we are not trying to make light of those Mormons who are doing work for the dead. They honestly believe that what they are doing is for a noble purpose. The problem is that no matter how sincere they are in their belief, they are sincerely wrong. Millions of people believing a lie do not make that lie become truth.
I also wish to point out that, aside from the biblical teachings, McGuire and other LDS members need to consider the teachings of their own Book of Mormon. While we at MRM do not believe the Book of Mormon is inspired scripture, the Mormon Church does. Therefore, the teachings found therein need to be considered by all LDS members.
- 2 Nephi 9:38 teaches, “And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.”
- Alma 5:27-30 speaks of various unrepentant sins a person can commit, then we see in verse 31: “Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!“ That certainly does not speak of a second chance after death.
- Alma goes on to say in 34:31-33, “…for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yeah, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors….I beseech of you that you do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”
- To underscore the seriousness of the point, verse 35 of that chapter states, “For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.” The LDS doctrine of baptism for the dead contradicts thes
e Book of Mormon teachings by claiming that labor can be performed after people die and that the dead have the chance to accept salvation after this life. But if they did not believe before they died, they are sealed the devil’s!
- Finally, Mosiah 26:25-27 teaches, “And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed. And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Not only does the Bible teach this principle, then, but so does the Book of Mormon. Both are in opposition to what McGuire is claiming. Those who die lose their opportunity to believe in the saving sacrifice of Jesus. Their fate is then sealed. There will be no second chance. But about those who never heard the gospel preached at all during their lives?
Paul addresses this possibility in Romans 1:18-20 when he wrote: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Even people who have never been exposed to the Bible or its teachings can see creation all around them (Psalm 19:1-6). God is evident in nature and has revealed Himself to all men everywhere. All people are without an excuse. If they do not respond to God before they die, then their choice is made and final. Baptizing on behalf of them is an exercise in futility; it will have no effect. If baptism for the dead truly is “one of the most glorious doctrines revealed,” then we ask why would it only be mentioned once in the Bible in a very ambiguous manner and not at all in the Book of Mormon, a book that is supposed to contain, as the Book of Mormon introduction puts it, “the fulness of the everlasting gospel”?
First Peter 4:6 is used by McGuire in defense of the possibility of salvation after death. It says, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (KJV). Most Bible scholars are agreed that when Peter wrote this, he had in mind those believers who had died by the time the letter was written. The gospel had been preached to them while they were yet alive but were not alive at the time this letter was written.
The New International Version makes this clear in its translation of the verse: “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” Understood correctly, this verse does not contradict the biblical teaching that salvation must be secured by man’s beliefs while yet alive. If it means what McGuire wants us to believe, then he will find it impossible to reconcile that misinterpretation of the verse with the teachings of the rest of the Bible and his own revered Book of Mormon.
On his third point, McGuire criticizes McKeever and Johnson for pointing out that Paul switched from inclusive pronoun terms in the book of 1 Corinthians to the non-inclusive third-party term “they.” He writes, “Using this same interpretive practice, we might conclude for example that Paul was referring to himself personally, when he announces that he would not die, but would still be living at the resurrection.”
He then quotes 1 Cor. 15:51-52, which says, “We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (KJV). The word “we” has been most commonly known as a pronoun inclusive of others. The only exception I am aware of is when it was used in the Elizabethan era by royalty. Paul did not write this letter in Elizabethan Royalty English but in Koine Greek. Verse 51 does not even use the word “we” but implies it. A direct translation of that verse would be “Behold, I show you a mystery; not all sleep, but all are changed.”
When he said “we” in verse 52, he was using the Greek word hemeis, which is always a word indicative of a plurality of persons with the speaker included (i.e.: us, we, ourselves). This verse cannot be misinterpreted in the manner that McGuire suggests while holding to the same hermeneutical principles explained by McKeever and Johnson on the earlier 1 Corinthians verse. It seems in making his proposed misinterpretation against the hermeneutical principle, McGuire was relying on the “translation of an original text and not the text itself” – something he accuses McKeever and Johnson of in his very next paragraph.
McGuire goes on to claim that “the Greek oi baptizomenoi is a present passive participle. It can only refer to Christian baptism, unless otherwise defined.” But Paul had not been speaking on the subject of Christian baptism. This whole section dealt with the resurrection from the dead, so there is no way this verse can be correctly interpreted to have to refer to Christian baptism. The last time baptism was even mentioned by Paul before this passage in 1 Corinthians was in chapter 12 verse 3, and that clearly was not referring to the Christian practice of baptism either. It was referring to the work of the Holy Spirit.
An earlier reference to baptism occurred in 1 Corinthians 10:2. However, this is not a reference to Christian baptism but of the passage of Israel through the parted Red Sea. You have to go clear back to 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 to find a reference to Christian baptism by Paul, and in that passage Paul was not speaking in favorable terms about the practices of the Corinthians.
Nevertheless, it must be admitted that there are some Bible scholars who disagree over whether or not this was an actual practice of the Corinthian church. The only thing that can be claimed for certain is that there were some people engaged in the practice of baptizing on behalf of dead people. Paul refers to the practice in passing; he neither endorses nor condemns it. He uses it only as a point to show that such an action is meaningless if there will not be a resurrection. Since the practice is mentioned only once, in neutral terms at best, this does not make baptism for the dead any more of a valid biblical practice than Paul’s mention of worshipping at an altar set up to “an unknown God” in Acts 17:23.
Finally, at the end of this section, McGuire concedes to the point McKeever and Johnson were making. Mormonism 101 was elucidating that the practice of baptizing for the dead had no biblical basis. McGuire concedes that “it is not Paul’s brief reference in the New Testament on which the LDS faith bases this doctrine.” Thank you, McGuire. That was McKeever and Johnson’s whole point.
Marriage for Time and Eternity
In the section dealing with eternal marriage, it is difficult to ascertain what McGuire’s contention is. It seems to me that McGuire is claiming that it does not really matter whether or not people get “sealed” because there will be a second chance for them after this life. That is how his rebuttal reads. McKeever and Johnson quoted LDS leaders who said under inspiration from the Holy Ghost that the sealing ceremony (also known as eternal marriage or temple marriage) must be obtained by LDS members in this life.
Those quoted were quite clear on this point, including Joseph Smith, Jr. and Spencer W. Kimball. The quote from Smith left no alternative or possibility of second chances. He said, “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die…” Spencer Kimball was even more specific when he wrote, “…it bears heavily upon us that this time, this life, this mortality is the time to prepare to meet God. How lonely and barren will be the so-called single blessedness throughout eternity!”
Yet it is also true that McGuire quotes other LDS prophets in opposition, including Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee. The only question left to ask on this point, then, is this – who was telling the truth? And who was lying? Obviously both points cannot be true. We find this example of teaching contradictory doctrines quite often throughout LDS history. Some Mormon prophets and apostles teach one thing under inspiration while other prophets and apostles teach something completely different.
McGuire writes that “LDS doctrine…states that worthiness is more important than an ordinance…” If this is true, then what is the purpose of the ordinance? Yet at the very least, the worthiness is equal to the ordinance because a member must be declared worthy in order to receive the ordinance. But it is the receiving of the ordinance under LDS authority that is of the utmost importance. Consider the following quotations:
- Joseph Fielding Smith: “There will be a great multitude, so great that you cannot count them, who will not receive the ordinances of the house of the Lord which would place them in the celestial kingdom and give them the blessings of exaltation. These will take their places in the terrestrial and telestial worlds.” Nothing there says Mormons merely have to be worthy or that worthiness is what is most important. There are many “worthy” LDS members who have not yet had their temple work done. But it is expressly stated here that the ordinance is what is required for exaltation.
- Bruce R. McConkie: “God’s decrees, his laws and commandments, the statutes and judgments that issue from him, are called his ordinances…the whole world shall be judged by their conformity, or lack of it, to the laws of the Lord…Apostasy is the result when men stray from the Lord’s ordinances.” According to McConkie, a person who does not receive the ordinances will be judged. This says nothing about worthiness being more important than the ordinance.
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism: “Latter-day scriptures give ample evidence that God has established unchangeable, eternal ordinances as essential elements of the Plan of Salvation and redemption…Some ordinances are prerequisite for entering celestial glory (Baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost) and for exaltation (priesthood ordination, temple endowment, celestial marriage).” The ordinances are required for salvation and exaltation, not simple worthiness. And we see that the “celestial marriage” (i.e. temple marriage, sealing, marriage for time and eternity) is expressly and specifically listed as one of those required ordinances, not worthiness.
Jesus and the Sadducees
When discussing Jesus and the Sadducees, McGuire goes to great lengths to talk about the Jewish religious laws and the expansions upon them by the Talmudic law. It is a very good background and history of information regarding this practice, which McGuire correctly points out was based on Mosaic Law.
So what was the point? McGuire is trying to condemn the mention of it in Mormonism 101 for calling it a “custom.” By calling it a custom, McGuire contends that “McKeever and Johnson do not represent correctly this practice.” Yet we find that they very accurately represented the practice. They simply did not go into as great a detail of the origins as McGuire did. A “custom,” as defined by The New Merriam- Webster Dictionary, is “a habitual course of action.“
Whether this custom was begun by the Mosaic Law or not was irrelevant. If McGuire is so concerned about nailing down every little event to its command in the scriptures, then he will have a difficult time reconciling why most of the LDS practices mentioned in this chapter of Mormonism 101 do not have a basis in Scripture, either biblical or LDS.
McGuire then contends that the quotations McKeever and Johnson gave were not “reading between the lines” to arrive at their interpretation of the verse in support of eternal marriage. But he never shows where eternal marriage is clearly mentioned or supported in the Bible. The reason is clear. It just isn’t there. Jesus never once says that there would be anyone in heaven whose marriages would be in force. McGuire’s entire argument is from silence. Just because McGuire wishes to interpret something into this verse that Jesus never said will never make it so. It can only be speculation because Jesus never said anything of the sort.
McGuire then once more revisits the hermeneutical principles mentioned earlier in regard to baptism for the dead and says that by using this principle of interpretation, “it could easily be argued that Jesus separated himself from such as these when he said, ‘in the resurrection they neither marry…’.” This is an excellent point. Since Jesus was not a Sadducee and was never married, He clearly was separating Himself from the group he was speaking about. This is just another clear example. The hermeneutical principle remains the same in both cases. McGuire’s point is therefore unclear.
McGuire then brings up the point McKeever and Johnson made when they said, “When something is mentioned only once, there is more likelihood of misinterpreting it, whereas matters repeatedly discussed are clarified by their repetition in various contexts.” Since the comment on marriage is only mentioned once, it cannot be a vital principle. Yet LDS Church leaders make their concept of eternal marriage into a crowning point and one of the most vital of all their religious principles.
In conclusion of this portion, McGuire quotes an English novelist and clergyman named Charles Kingsley, who spoke about how he loves his wife. His comment included the remark that if he does not love her as much after this life as he does during this life, then there is no resurrection. To McGuire, this seemed to prove the whole point of his belief that marriage can be eternal. I have to wonder why McGuire bases his religious beliefs on comments made by a man rather than basing them on comments made by God in the Scriptures.
Nevertheless, McKeever and Johnson never claimed or even suggested that a man and woman who were married on earth would not love each other just as much in the afterlife. They simply pointed out that there would not be a marriage between them. The love would remain until, as Revelation 21:4 puts it, “the old order of things has passed away.” After that point, only God knows what earthly feelings we might retain.
But I have to wonder further about Kingsley’s comments. Undoubtedly, there have been innumerable cases of men who have expressed undying love for their wives, then years later find themselves the most fiery of enemies af
ter a bitter divorce. To be sure, this is not always the case, and I’m not suggesting in the least that this was the case with Kingsley, for I have no idea. But if that had ended up the case, and Kingsley had gone to his grave bitterly hating his wife, would this have proven that there would be no resurrection?
It seems that is the kind of weight McGuire gives to the man’s personal expressions of love for his wife. This is not exactly the greatest form of proof for McGuire’s argument. In reality, it is nothing but a matching sentiment with no Biblical authority whatsoever. And, ultimately, Kingsley’s comments do not mention anything about marriage for eternity either. His comments only mention an enduring love for his wife.
The Masonic and Occultic Background of the Ceremony
Here we see McGuire using the same tired LDS argument that the temple ceremony is “sacred” but not “secret.” After listing the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary definition for the word sacred, McGuire points out that “clearly, the term ‘sacred’ can mean a number of different things.” Absolutely, we are in full agreement. But one thing that McGuire fails to recognize is that none of the various definitions of the word sacred means to keep secret or hidden.
The 1989 Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for the word secret is “Hidden, concealed; Covert, stealthy; Kept from general knowledge. Mystery; Something kept from the knowledge of others.” Let’s see if what LDS leaders have taught about the temple ceremony lines up with these definitions:
Joseph Fielding Smith, speaking about the city of Nauvoo, wrote: “A temple was under construction in which the Lord designed to reveal unto the Church things hidden from the world…” Leaun G. Otten and C. Max Caldwell wrote, “The ordinances [of the temple] are sacred and are not performed nor displayed in the presence nor before the eyes of the world.”
Kept from general knowledge:
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says, “The knowledge alluded to in the phrases ‘mysteries of God’ or ‘Mysteries of Godliness’ may be received in ways other than exclusively verbal…Such is the case in the temples of the Latter-day Saints.” Parley P. Pratt said, “Who instructed [Joseph Smith] in the mysteries of the Kingdom…sacred architecture, ordinances, sealings, anointings, baptism for the dead, an in the mysteries of the first, second, and third heavens many of which are unlawful to utter?”
Something kept from the knowledge of others:
Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “…the Lord has withheld them [temple endowments] from the knowledge of the world and disclosed them only to the faithful saints…” Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I remind you of the absolute obligation to not discuss outside the temple that which occurs within the temple.”
Although temple Mormons have continuously denied that their temple ceremony is secret, it can be clearly seen that the LDS temple ceremony fits this description.
The Old Testament temple
It is definitely true that LDS leaders have continually pleaded for all members of the LDS Church to go to the temple. Mormonism 101 never claimed they have not. While the leaders say that they want everyone in the church to have the ordinances, the fact is that they are keeping most members from getting them by setting the requirements and restrictions on the temple recommend. In the meantime, the fact of the matter is that they do keep the ceremony a secret – even from their own members – all the while excusing their action by saying they are just trying to keep it “sacred.”
Next, McGuire says, “…we have no idea what went on in the Jewish temple other than sacrifices….” Yet in the Bible, all the ceremonies and temple objects have been described in minute detail. In Exodus chapters 25-31 and 35-40, everything about the tabernacle and the future temple was clearly described. The entire book of Leviticus reads like an ‘operations manual’ of how to run the temple and the practices of the priests. Innumerable places throughout the Old and New Testaments describe the many offerings, sacrifices, rites, and activities of the Jewish temple. The main purpose for the temple was to represent how man can get back to God, which was through the blood sacrifice of the high priest to come, the Messiah.
When McGuire says, “We also find little information [about the Jewish temple and its ordinances] outside the Bible,” he shows an incredible lack of research into the matter. The historian Josephus mentioned the Jewish temple and its practices many times, agreeing with the biblical account in great detail. Philo wrote of the temple and its practices as well. The Mishna, the Gemara, the Cyclopaedias of Winer, Herzog, Ersch and Gruber, and Kitto all mention early writings about the practices of the Jewish temple. Lightfoot used many early sources to write Horae Hebraicae et Tyalmudicae and De Ministerio Templi. Innumerable other extra-biblical sources detailing the Jewish temple and its ordinances can be found.
What McGuire wants us to believe is that temple endowment practices were kept secret since nothing closely related to current LDS practices is mentioned in the Bible. This is yet another argument from complete silence. If McGuire cannot prove that the ancient Jewish temples or tabernacle had such ordinances, then how can he honestly expect anyone to believe that they were really practiced? Over the years, the tightly guarded ceremonies of various groups and religions have been exposed and published. Even the LDS endowment ceremony, secret as it is, was revealed almost immediately after being instituted, thereafter being published to the world. Today anyone with a computer can read the entire endowment ceremony as currently recited in LDS temples. For example, consider
If such practices as the LDS endowment ceremony were actually a part of the Jewish temple rites, then there would undoubtedly be evidence of such a claim. There is none, which is why McGuire doesn’t cite any proof. As McGuire himself told us, “The LDS approach to temple worship is certainly a change from ancient Israel…” It is not just a
change but a complete replacement, a fact that McGuire states himself when he says, “All of these types of requirements no longer exist, and have been replaced…”
McGuire also wants us to believe that the symbolism of the temple and other LDS buildings does not come from Masonry but from other “common” sources. For instance, he refers to the U.S. National Seal or the symbols on the U.S. dollar bill. He wonders how we can pinpoint whether Joseph Smith borrowed his ideas from Freemasonry or from other sources such as these.
First, I would like to point out that the “all-seeing eye” symbol in the United States National Seal was not taken from Freemasonry. This symbol – the eye inside a triangle – was new when introduced by Charles Thompson in the third draft of the National Seal. It did not become a symbol in Freemasonry until after that time (1782). But that symbol is not what McKeever and Johnson were referring to in Mormonism 101. Instead they were referring to the usage of the all-seeing eye on the Salt Lake Temple.
Of the three usages on the Salt Lake temple that I am aware of (central windows of middle east and west towers plus over the alcove at the south end of the Garden of Eden room inside), none of the eyes is in a triangle. The ones on the towers are inside circles with a veil in front of them. The one in the garden room is simply the eye with rays shining forth from it. This symbol is from Freemasonry and is called the “Eye of Providence.” The usage of this symbol goes back to the earliest known times of Freemasonry. But aside from this symbol, there are numerous other symbols on the Salt Lake temple as well as other LDS temples, which are a part of Masonry as well.
Still, McGuire brings up a good point. How do we know that Joseph Smith borrowed these symbols from the Masons rather than from another source? Joseph made no specific statement that the symbols were from Freemasonry, but his activities and building projects give us the strongest indication of their source. These symbols were not used in any LDS buildings until immediately after Joseph Smith became a Freemason.
For instance, consider the Kirtland Temple that was built in 1834. While there is quite a bit of symbolism on this building, most of the symbols were merely geometric patterns. There are no symbols found there that are commonly used in Freemasonry. In their book Symbols in Stone, Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith discuss the architecture of early LDS temples in great detail. Chapter three is entirely dedicated to the design and symbolism of the Kirtland, Ohio temple. In that chapter, they frankly state, “Most of the symbols found inside the Kirtland Temple are geometric emblems that were used in ancient cultures.” While they go on to describe many symbols that do not have, as they say, “ancient parallels,” the symbols mentioned still do not find common usage in Freemasonry. But a great change is seen when the next LDS temple is constructed.
While the Nauvoo Temple cornerstones were laid on April 6, 1841, the design for the temple was only a general one. Joseph Smith claimed in February of 1844 that he had a vision revealing to him the final design and symbolism for the building. William Weeks, the Nauvoo temple architect, was summoned to meet with Smith on February 5 of that year (1844). Joseph explained the new design modifications to him according to his “vision.” Though this vision was never recorded anywhere, this meeting with Elder Weeks was recorded. During the meeting, Joseph Smith remarked, “I wish you to carry out my designs. I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me.”
When completed, the building was covered with symbolism, a great deal of which was common to Freemasonry. Joseph Smith had become a Mason on March 15, 1842. Prior to becoming a Mason, there were no Masonic symbols employed in LDS buildings. After Joseph Smith became a Mason, they were used in great abundance. There certainly must be a connection.
In addition to his comments about the symbols, McGuire points out that Joseph Smith did not attend very many Masonic Lodge meetings. The implication is that he could not have had enough time to learn of these symbols from the meetings. But even attending the handful of meetings, Joseph could have easily picked up these symbols. He was installed by the Illinois Masonic Grand Master Jonas and was intricately involved in setting up the Nauvoo Lodge.
It is very likely there was a lodge manual of some kind used in the preparation and running of this lodge. Most Masonic fraternities have a “Manual of the Lodge” prepared to set forth the correct setup and operation of the rituals. In addition, Joseph used the lodge room for a great many of his meetings, and he would have been extremely familiar with the symbolism used therein.
McGuire also claims that most of the temple ceremony was described in Doctrine and Covenants section 124, which was revealed to Joseph more than a year before he became a Mason. This revelation did include baptism for the dead, washing and anointing, and a few other elements of the endowment, but none of these items were ever said to be the Masonic elements.
The secret handshakes (tokens), their names, signs and penalties, along with a few other elements (such as the five points of fellowship), were what did strongly parallel the first three degrees of Masonry (which Joseph received). But more than that, they were first given to the leading elders of the church on May 4, 1842, just 49 days after Joseph Smith had been raised to the third degree in Freemasonry. None of these Masonic elements had been a part of the ceremony prior to that point.
Having not really proven anything in his rebuttal, McGuire then finally admits that the similarities are there. He says, “…there are in fact parallels between certain elements of the LDS temple ceremonies and some of the ceremonies in freemasonry…” However, he then gives the matter a general brush-off by saying, “I have come to the conclusion that the [Masonic] parallels largely occur within the form of the ceremony, and not in the content of the ceremony or in the ordinances themselves.”
But previously, we looked at the difference between the ceremony and the ordinances and found that Brigham Young said the ordinances were comprised of “the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood…” These are the very elements that were first introduced on May 4, 1842, and which comprise the part of the endowment that was most obviously borrowed from Freemasonry. They are not the “form,” nor the “ceremony,” but the “ordinance” portion of the ceremony. McGuire, then, has obviously come to the wrong conclusion.
In Mormonism 101, McKeever and Johnson went on to point out the occultic nature of contact with the dead, citing various reports of this event having happened in LDS temples. McGuire does not contest that the reports cited are valid or that such events happen in the temples from time to time. This was the whole point that McKeever and Johnson were making. McGuire does try to downplay these events, however, by calling them nothing more than “visions.” In actuality, McKeever and Johnson proved beyond any doubt that they were not merely visions but actual contacts with the dead. But McGuire, anxious to try and shed some doubt on Mormonism 101 in any way possible, states, “Their premise…implies that LDS as a whole look forward to these experiences, and that such a (sic) occurrence smacks of necromancy.”
It is certainly true that a great many LDS
members have claimed to have had some sort of contact with the dead in LDS temples. A great deal more have claimed to “feel” the presence of family or loved ones when doing work for the dead. Members of my own family have told me they had these kinds of contacts as well. But McKeever and Johnson never said that such experiences are expected of LDS members. Nevertheless, Mormon leaders historically have never discouraged contact with the dead in LDS temples.
Contact with the spirits of the dead has always been held to be an occultic practice and has never had a part in Christianity. German psychologist Rudolph Tischner observed, “Spiritism presents a spiritual activity, grounded on the persuasion that people can via certain persons, certain mediums, make contact with the deceased, and so acquire revelations from beyond.” Dr. Kurt Koch goes on after citing Tischner to say, “Many people desire to experience something about the beyond or to make contact with their deceased relatives or friends.” This desire is not limited to LDS members, by any means. There may even be some Christians who have such a desire. The difference is that the Christian realizes that contact with the dead, whether sought after or not, is forbidden by God.
In Mormonism, however, the leaders do not discourage such practices as long as they are sought after in the temple. Wilford Woodruff, who was the fourth president of the LDS Church, said, “The dead will be after you, they will seek after you as they have after us in St. George. They called upon us, knowing that we held the keys and power to redeem them.” Melvin J. Ballard taught, “The spirit and influence of your dead will guide those who are interested in finding those records. If there is anywhere on the earth anything concerning them, you will find it.”
Parley P. Pratt said, “So with communications from the spirit world, if we once credit the philosophy or fact of an existing medium of communication. If, on the other hand, we deny the philosophy or the fact of spiritual communication between the living and those who have died, we deny the very fountain from which emanated the great truths or principles which were the foundation of both the ancient and modern Church…The spiritual philosophy of the present age was introduced to the modern world by Joseph Smith. The people of the United States abandoned him to martyrdom, and his followers to fire, and sword, and plunder, and imprisonment, and final banishment to these far-off mountains and deserts, simply because a medium of communication with the invisible world had been found, whereby the living could hear from the dead…This spiritual philosophy of converse with the dead, once established by the labors, toils, sufferings, and martyrdom of its modern founders, and now embraced by a large portion of the learned world, shows a triumph more rapid and complete—a victory more extensive, than has ever achieved in the same length of time in our world…An important point is gained, a victory won, and a countless host of opposing powers vanquished, on one of the leading or fundamental truths of ‘Mormon’ philosophy, viz.—’That the living may hear from the dead.’… And again—The Lord has ordained that all the most holy things pertaining to the salvation of the dead, and all the most holy conversations and correspondence with God, angels, and spirits, shall be had only in the sanctuary of His holy Temple on the earth, when prepared for that purpose by His Saints;…Ye Latter-day Saint! Ye thousands of the hosts of Israel! Ye are assembled here to-day, and have laid these Corner Stones, for the express purpose that the living might hear from the dead, and that we may prepare a holy sanctuary, where ‘the people may seek unto their God, for the living to hear from the dead,’ and that heaven and earth, and the world of spirits may commune together…”
President Woodruff often talked about communicating with the dead. Consider these statements he made: “After the death of Joseph Smith I saw and conversed with him many times in my dreams in the night season…I have had interviews with Brother Joseph until the last 15 or 20 years of my life; I have not seen him for that length of time. But during my travels in the southern country last winter I had many interviews with President Young, and with Heber C. Kimball, and Geo. A. Smith, and Jedediah M. Grant, and many others who are dead.”
Years later, he reiterated these comments, saying, “Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles…Joseph and Hyrum visited me, and the Prophet laid before me a great many things…Brigham Young also visited me after his death. On one accasion (sic) he and Brother Heber C. Kimball came in a splendid chariot…”
Mormon Apostle Charles W. Penrose (later a member of the First Presidency) made the following point in regard to communication with the dead: “The temple where the ordinances can be administered for the dead is the place to hear from the dead. The Priesthood in the flesh, when it is necessary, will receive communications from the Priesthood behind the vail (sic).”
It is true that none of these statements speak of the spirits being conjured or being asked to reveal or affect the future. Necromancy, then, was the wrong word for this practice. Spiritism would have been the better word for McKeever and Johnson to have used. At the very least, the LDS belief in conversing with the dead certainly is the definition of the word spiritualism. Yet McGuire claims, “These accounts do not seem to reflect any kind of occultic behavior at all.”
The Dictionary of Satanism, the Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, and The Black Arts all classify communication with the dead as practices that are an integral part of the magical and black arts world. Indeed, Deuteronomy 18:15-20 calls such practices “sorcery.” While McGuire is right that these LDS practices should not be classified as “necromancy,” they certainly should be classified as occultic practices.
McGuire now devotes time and energy to completely frivolous matters. His most serious accusation in this section was that McKeever and Johnson “give to the author [of a citation] the title of their highest position within the church, even though it might be 50 years after the date of the citation that they attained that position.” His assertion is that Mormonism 101 is trying to give more authority to the statements quoted than is due them. By making this claim, McGuire is demonstrating how little “authority” he places in the teachings of the leaders of the LDS Church.
The fact is that when McKeever and Johnson wrote the book Mormonism 101, each of the men cited had held the positions described by the titles used in Mormonism 101. For example, in the quotation dealing with Spencer W. Kimball on pages 210-211, Kimball had been acting President of the 12 Apostles, then ordained President of the 12 Apostles, and finally ordained President of the entire church for a combined total of nearly 16 years, all well before McKeever and Johnson wrote their book. McKeever and Johnson were giving him the credit he deserves for having been President for such a great deal of time. McGuire wants to take issue with the credibility of McKeever and Johnson simply because the title was what he considers inappropriate for the date of the quotation used.
While this may be an LDS protocol, McKeever and Johnson are not LDS and therefore are not subject to the etiquette – written or otherwise – of the LDS Church. Nevertheless, even LDS written, printed and published materials have made the exact sa
me error. For example, consider the official 1992 LDS Sunday School teaching and study manual Gospel Principles. On pages 289-290, Ezra Taft Benson is quoted and identified as “President Ezra Taft Benson.”
The quoted remarks were from his conference speech from April of 1971. But Benson was not ordained President of the 12 Apostles until 1973; he did not become President of the Church until 1985. Clearly he should have been referenced as “Elder,” according to McGuire’s complaint. Does that make the citation in the manual any less credible? Perhaps McGuire would care to officially accuse the LDS leaders of “laziness” or of “perhaps using derivative works instead of original source material” – the same as he accuses McKeever and Johnson?
Not only that, but in the Mormonism 201 project, five of the authors from FAIR make the same error in crediting presidents of the LDS Church. For a detailed listing of these errors from the FAIR writers, see my response to Mormonism 201 chapter 8. Obviously, then, this is not just an LDS protocol but one of McGuire’s inventions. However, Michael Ash makes the same argument in his rebuttal to chapter 8, so perhaps it is Ash’s contrived argument. To their credit, none of the other FAIR writers for the Mormonism 201 project saw this as a topic worthy of discussion.
Since McGuire found this particular citation “particularly appalling,” let’s take a further look at it. Referring to the Mormonism 101 quotation of Spencer Kimball, McGuire states, “The quotation however was taken from the work (published after his death in 1982) Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball edited by Edward L. Kimball.” Now, let me just say that Spencer W. Kimball did not die until November 5, 1985. Not only is this clearly and abundantly documented, but also I know for a fact since I attended President Kimball’s viewing as he lay in state
Does this mean, then, that because of McGuire’s negligent misidentification of Kimball’s death that McGuire’s entire point is invalid? Does it mean that McGuire was showing “either a bit of laziness or perhaps the use of derivative works instead of original source material”? We would not go so far as to say such things, but McGuire is guilty of implying them about the authors of Mormonism 101. We would simply point out the error, but McGuire goes further and wants to take issue with it. Very well, McGuire, we now have issue with you misidentifying your own church president’s demise.
That having been said, let me now point out that the book cited by McKeever and Johnson – Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball – was published in 1982, while Spencer Kimball WAS STILL president of the LDS Church. He remained president for another three years afterward as well. Yet no correction or alteration of these comments from the book were stated publicly, printed, or even made to the book. Clearly President Spencer W. Kimball approved of everything written in the book. That certainly gives the book the weight of Kimball’s presidency, does it not?
So how about the other items McGuire mentions in this section as title errors? Let’s look at each:
1) George Q. Cannon quote from page 207. McGuire states that “…in 1877, George Q. Cannon was an apostle, but not a member of the First Presidency.” But the fact is that he had been a member of the First Presidency for the previous four years. George Q. Cannon was sustained as counselor to President Brigham Young on April 8, 1873, then as assistant counselor in the First Presidency to Brigham Young on May 9, 1874, which is a position he held until President Young’s death in 1877. While the First Presidency has usually and even officially been recognized as just the president and his two counselors, this has not historically been the case. Assistant counselors in the First Presidency have occasionally been sustained throughout the LDS Church’s history. Brigham Young had five assistant counselors; David O. McKay had four; and Spencer W. Kimball had one. The Deseret News 2001-2002 Church Almanac lists the position of assistant counselor as being included in the First Presidency.
It is correct that Brigham Young died on August 29, 1877, an event which automatically disolved that First Presidency of the church. The cornerstone dedication referred to took place a scant 16 days later. Technically, then, McGuire was right that George Q. Cannon was no longer a member of the First Presidency at the time the quote was given. But to want to split hairs on such a trivial matter as a title difference of only 16 days is extremely trivial.
At this point, let me admit that the quote given on page 207 of Mormonism 101 was mistakenly identified as being from the Logan Temple Dedication, when in fact it was from the Logan Temple Cornerstone Dedication. McKeever and Johnson are grateful to McGuire for pointing this minor error out for correction.
2) Spencer W. Kimball quote from pages 210-211. This was the quote by Spencer W. Kimball, already addressed above in this section.
3) Joseph Fielding Smith quote from page 208. McGuire states that “Joseph Fielding Smith was not the President of the Church when Doctrines of Salvation was published.” This is true. There are three volumes in the set titled Doctrines of Salvation. They were published in 1954, 1955, and 1956, successively. But while Joseph Fielding Smith was not ordained president until 1970, he was president of the 12 apostles when the books were published (ordained to that office on April 9, 1951). Certainly his approval was upon the subject matter of those books. He is even referred to in the preface of those books as “President Smith” a total of three times. That being the case, he is correctly identified by McKeever and Johnson as “President Joseph Fielding Smith.”
4) Joseph Fielding Smith quote from page 214. McGuire points out that The Way to Perfection was written in 1931 when Joseph Fielding Smith was, in McGuire’s words, “a junior apostle.” First, let me point out that Smith had been ordained an apostle clear back in April of 1910. At the time this book was published, there were at least five apostles junior to Smith in the quorum, possibly six (depending on when during the year the book was published since Joseph F. Merrill was ordained an apostle on October 8, 1931). I hardly think that qualifies Smith as a junior apostle. Additionally, he is credited on the title page of that book as “President of the Genealogical Society of Utah.”
5) John Taylor quote from page 214. McGuire is correct that Taylor was only an elder at the time the quotation was originally given. The quotation was from 1858. Taylor did not become president of the 12 apostles until 1877. He then became president in 1880.
6) “Hypothetical conversation.” McKeever and Johnson gave several “Witnessing Tips” in Mormonism 101 at the end
of each major division in their book. McGuire states that someone “following that script” would be lost talking with him and that most LDS members are not as dogmatic as in the portrayal. The fact that this is not exactly as the dialogue would go in every circumstance is obvious, or should be to any reader with even moderate intelligence.
Nevertheless, McKeever and Johnson even specifically state in the very first such tip of the book, “Remember that this is a sample dialogue, so a Mormon will not necessarily answer in the manner given below.” McKeever and Johnson even remind the reader at the end of the very dialogue that McGuire is criticizing that “…this conversation can go a number of different ways…” McGuire is once more trying to misrepresent the authors of Mormonism 101 with yet another petty and insignificant argument.
Concerning the minor errors of the LDS leaders’ titles as found occasionally in Mormonism 101, McGuire states, “…it serves to make my point that with a little additional research – the better half of an afternoon at most, these errors could have been taken care of and footnoted appropriately.” While we agree that every effort should be taken to avoid errors, mistakes do get made, such as when McGuire said that Spencer W. Kimball had died prior to 1982 when he really died on Nov. 5, 1985; or when McGuire overlooked the fact that Joseph Fielding Smith was President of the Quorum of 12 Apostles when the volumes of Doctrines of Salvation were published; or when the LDS Church itself made the error of identifying Ezra Taft Benson as a president in their own Sunday School manual before the fact. Insignificant and petty errors such as these do not nullify the message being given or the citations being made.
McGuire really needs to learn to dispense with the petty nonsense and stick to the real issues, which are LDS teachings and beliefs. Otherwise he gets caught in the same kinds of petty errors with which he bogs his readers down. And why spend so much time on items that McGuire himself calls “not a gross error” and which are patently trivial? Obviously to try and discredit the authors of Mormonism 101 by heaping such trivial misidentifications upon them as if they were glaring and obvious errors. McGuire would have to do this since errors in the LDS doctrines and teachings discussed in the book could not be proven.
David Stewart; LDS Church Growth Today; published at www.cumorah.com/report.html – web site active as of February 7, 2003.