Friday, July 10, 2015

Temple prep - Preparing to Enter the House of the Lord

This month's issue of the New Era focuses on getting kids excited about taking out their temple endowment. How informative is this form of temple preparation? Text found here.

Kent F. Richards
Smile when you think of the temple. OK! It is a place of power and blessing. Cool. I hope you explain this power and describe these blessings later on.
At a temple open house, I noticed some girls file behind their parents through the temple. They smiled as they found their reflections in brides’ room mirrors. Thrilled at the thought of fulfilling their role as wives and breeders no doubt. “Remember,” their grandmother whispered, “how special you are and how much Heavenly Father loves you.” Says you, Grandma. Heavenly Father's more of the silent type, if you haven't noticed. Each girl imagined the time when she would return to the temple as a woman of faith, with maturing loveliness and capacity, ready to fulfill her mission on the earth. "Maturing loveliness"? Really? You mean boobs and birthing hips? And "her mission on earth" is sexual reproduction, right? How dare you write so disgustingly about teenage girls? Boys who attended the open house also had glimpses of their future blessings and responsibilities. What blessings? What are you talking about? How did you get in these boys' heads exactly? How do you know they were contemplating their "future responsibilities"? And what are those responsibilities? Tithing? Fatherhood? What are you talking about?

What these children felt in the temple was right. You don't even know what they felt, dude. You assume you do. Heavenly Father wants to bless you. How? And why would the temple make that any easier? You do know he's God, right? God can kind of do what he wants. His greatest blessings come as you enter the temple to receive sacred ordinances and to make and keep sacred covenants. What are those blessings? Where does God ever discuss in scripture the nature of the temple and its blessings in detail? Let me tell you: the Old Testament. Do you know what ancient temple worship was like? I'll tell you: nothing like modern LDS temple worship. There was a lot of buying animals, killing them, putting their blood and guts on an alter, and burning incense to cover the smell of slaughter. You are responsible to prepare and be ready. I sure hope you tell us how to do this.
Washington D.C. Temple
The temple is important in your life, especially when you’re young: “The young man needs his place in the temple even more than his father and his grandfather, who are steadied by a life of experience; and the young girl just entering life, needs the spirit, influence and direction that come from participation in the temple ordinances.”1 Sure, if you say so. Can you explain why it's so much more important to the younger generations? I'm not getting it. If the temple ordinances are essential for everyone, how can they be more important for anyone? Begin now to prepare your heart and mind to be able to fully receive and understand these blessings. You already said this...

Receiving the Fulness of the Gospel  

"Fulness of the Gospel" refers to repentance and baptism (see 3 Ne. 11:40). The Book of Mormon is said to contain the "fulness of the Gospel" and it makes no reference to a dramatized temple play about Adam and Eve. The Book of Mormon also says the Bible contains the "fulness of the Gospel" and the Bible also lacks a description of our current LDS temple endowment. Let's be honest and stop pretending that Christ's gospel includes all the Mormon temple weirdness.

If you will prepare yourself to enter the temple, you will be “ready to receive the fulness of [His] gospel” in the temple (D&C 35:12; emphasis added). That verse says nothing about the temple endowment. The temple is a place of power and blessing. The pull quote from above! Let's see if you explain either the power or the blessings... The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith and the early Saints to gather to Kirtland, Ohio, USA, where they would eventually build a temple. Damn, looks like you preferred to skip the explanation. Oh well. On to the Kirtland temple... Are you insinuating that it was used the same way as today's temples? I hope not. It was more like a stake center and storehouse, and you probably know that. “There you shall be endowed with power from on high” (D&C 38:32; emphasis added). This revelation was given in 1831. When was the endowment introduced? Over a decade later shortly after Joseph Smith had become a Freemason. It's safe to say that the endowment of power mentioned in D&C 38 has nothing to do with the Freemasonry ceremonies the LDS Church later co-opted.

At a recent temple open house, an Apostle gathered his family around the holy altar in a sealing room. He taught them that everything we do in the Church—classes, activities, programs, and meetings—prepares us to come to the temple altar to receive the sealing ordinance. That's so true. Unfortunately for Mormons Jesus never taught it. The temple represents the very essence of your Heavenly Father’s plan for your eternal happiness and progression. If only that plan made any sense.

Preparing to Make Covenants with God

Your preparation to enter the temple and make covenants doesn’t happen quickly. The minimum requirement for an adult convert is a year. That's not very long. It began with your baptism and the confirming gift of the Holy Ghost and then grows with prayer, scripture study, obedience, and service. Actually faith and baptism is really all Jesus ever asked for. If someone does everything you've listed, Jesus would be thrilled. It invites cleanliness weekly as you participate in the sacrament. Partaking of the Lord's supper was about participating in the community of Christians (the body of Christ), not about preparing to dawn a bunch of robes and pretend you're Adam or Eve. It happens as you learn to seek forgiveness through repentance, as you keep standards, and as you worthily carry a limited-use temple recommend. Yes, keeping your Jr. membership card certainly keeps your eye focused on becoming a gold member card carrier. Youth programs will help you, but your preparation is personal; you are developing your worthiness, your testimony, your conversion. How can teens have a testimony of something they've never heard about in their lives? Tell them, please, what happens in the temple! The Savior’s Atonement applies to you personally. Non sequitur.

As you increase your level of spiritual maturity, you will desire to prepare for and enter the temple. Don't confuse maturity for increased gullibility, deeper financial investment and fear of non-conformity, sir. There you will receive ordinances and make covenants, which are necessary steps to draw closer to your Heavenly Father. Which ordinances? Which covenants? Can't you spell them out? Why don't the New Testament and Book of Mormon mention anything besides baptism? Temple ordinances are “the most exalted … ordinances that have been revealed to mankind.”2 You mean revealed to the Freemasons in the late Middle Ages and stolen by Joseph Smith in the 1840s.

As you receive temple ordinances, you make solemn covenants with your Father only one time for yourself, and then you will strive to abide by them throughout your life. Holy cow, you actually kind of said something informative!! Kids, according to Mormon doctrine, you only have to go through once! Each time you enter the temple, you can feel of His Spirit and receive additional revelation and understanding while providing the necessary ordinances for others. What if we don't feel the spirit at all, let alone receive revelation? As for "others", why are we doing the work for people who's names have already gone through the temple many times before? You will understand and receive assurance of your eternal existence and the unending power of your covenants. I didn't. The temple made me feel very unsure of everything and made covenants feel cheap. If we were not eternal beings, the temple would have no significance. You don't know we are eternal. No one does. You may hope and believe we are, but you don't know. If you or anyone else wishes to disagree, please present your evidence. You enter the temple and make covenants because you will exist eternally and want to be with your Heavenly Father and your family in “never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41). Heavenly Father is such a loving dad, right? This assurance grows in your own soul and is confirmed by the Holy Ghost. Unless it doesn't and isn't. What do you have to say to people who made every effort to experience this and didn't?
young woman

Being Worthy

The role of the Holy Ghost is real. He teaches you, purifies you, and conveys the Father’s love (see Romans 5:5). Does he?The Holy Spirit of Promise is the ratifying power of the Holy Ghost, which validates each covenant eternally. How bureaucratic.

In order to receive the Spirit, you must enter the temple clean and pure, free from any unforgiven transgression. Or else what? Your endowment doesn't count? Name one case of an unworthy person's presence being detected. Please explain what happens to the children and grandchildren of a someone who was unworthy at his or her sealing. Do you have answers to these kinds of questions or are you just trying to scare kids into conformity? If the adversary could succeed in any way to overcome you, it would be to keep you from the temple or to entice you to go there unworthily. Satan's very scary like that. What would happen should he succeed? Does the temple cave in on you? Let's lower the stakes now. What happens to the sacrament, for example, when it's blessed by teenage hands that have masturbated only hours before?

For this reason, you will be invited to sit in a personal interview with your bishop or branch president, to consider your worthiness and readiness to receive a recommend to enter the temple. These interviews are the worst, even for kids who have nothing to confess. Not only that, they shouldn't be allowed. Parents, do not let your teens be interviewed alone behind closed doors! Be honest and trust him to help you. Why trust him? He has no professional training. How do we know he's not jerking off like the rest of us? In reality, you are determining your own standing before the Lord (see D&C 109:24). Are you sure you cited the right verse? Yes, it used the word "standing" but that doesn't mean it backs up your point, which wasn't a bad one, by the way. I think it makes a lot of sense to cut out the middle man and take things into your own hands. You will sign your own recommend first. You are witnessing your worthiness before the Lord. 3 No, it's to the bishop and the temple ushers. They say God can see your whole heart and mind, so he wouldn't need to watch you sign your name, would he?

To be worthy does not mean you are perfect yet. It means that your heart is right, that you are living the commandments, and that you desire to be better each day. So if we feel our heart is in the right place (I felt that way), we're living the commandments (I was), and we desire to improve day to day (I certainly did) we can skip the interview? Of course not. God still needs to watch us sign our name for some reason.

Learning from Symbols

In the temple, as in the scriptures, the Lord teaches using symbols. You can find many symbols in the scriptures, such as the rock, the seed, the fruit, the tree of life, and the bread and water of the sacrament (see, for example, 1 Nephi 11; Alma 32; Helaman 5:12). Baptism by immersion symbolizes new life, rebirth, and cleanliness (see Romans 6:3–5). In the temple we all wear white, symbolizing purity, holiness, light, and equality. Wow! You just taught an actual symbol from the temple! Oh wait, that whole white=purity/holiness thing is from baptism (and baby blessings). Nothing new here.

Some symbols in the temple are both physical and spiritual. For example, wearing the garment is a physical daily reminder of the temple covenants and the promised blessings. If respected and honored, the garment protects us from temptations and unrighteous influences. Does it? So it's like a magic Satan shield? Say we're about to steal something, for example, will we suddenly think of our uncomfortable underwear and remember what it means? Never mind, I have a more important question: How is this different from the Gift of the Holy Ghost that we get at confirmation? Isn't he supposed to be prompting us and keeping us from evil all the time? So why in the world do we need garments or an awful script if they're doing the exact same thing?

Each of the temple ordinances is symbolic. And also literal, though. I was physically anointed with oil, brother. A man said the words and touched my naked body. That's literal. I also literally wore some ridiculous clothes on top of my ridiculous garments and was taught about the true robes of the Priesthood and the false Priesthood robes of Satan. It's not just symbolism. “In a sacred ceremony, an individual may be washed and anointed,”4 reminiscent of the kings and priests of ancient Israel being prepared to take their positions (see 1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13). Yeah, but we're also literally being anointed to become kings and priests, queens and priestesses to the most high. That's literal, not symbolic. That's why these ordinances are essential, right? The instruction and covenants in the endowment signify being clothed or invested with additional power and promises from God (see Luke 24:49). Please take a few paragraphs to lay out what we covenant in the temple. Also, this verse has nothing to do with the LDS temple, don't pretend it does. It's dishonest. Perhaps the most beautiful symbol is the sealing ordinance, in which a couple is united in an unbreakable bond which can last through all eternity. So is there a real "unbreakable bond" or is it just symbolic? Most Mormons tend to think they really truly are literally going to be with their families forever when they get sealed.

The promises in the temple are rich and noble. What are they? You still haven't told us. They are the “great favors” and “great blessings” (3 Nephi 10:18) that our Father has reserved for you personally. So I read the verse and it seems like you're implying that we'll personally see Jesus if we go to the temple. Is that what you're saying. You're being extremely vague yet tantalizingly suggestive. So smile when you think of the temple. Smile because we love mystery?

No matter your age, do whatever is necessary to be ready to receive the greatest blessings your Father in Heaven offers to you. And you think that those blessings are found in the enactment of a 2-hour Freemason-inspired dress rehearsal for the Celestial Kingdom? That would be nutty. Oh yeah, how come you haven't mentioned Freemasonry yet?? Trust how it felt when you were a child and sang, “I love to see the temple. I’m going there someday. … I’ll prepare myself while I am young. This is my sacred duty.”5 I felt a lot of things while singing Primary songs. Usually I felt anxious to get home and eat. Later in life I felt uncomfortable hearing children sing those songs. They felt brainwashy, especially "I Love to See the Temple". It can be true for you. Kent, I'm sorry to say this, but you're a shitty salesman. :(

Why Do We Build Temples?

“We must gain some feeling for why we build temples, and why the ordinances are required of us. "Feeling", not understanding? Thereafter we are continually instructed and enlightened on matters of spiritual importance. Do we take classes or have deep discussions in the temple? No, no we do not. It comes line upon line, precept upon precept, until we gain a fullness of light and knowledge. You mean until we see Jesus in the flesh? No, you mean we sit in silence and go through the endowment a bunch of times until we think we have it all figured out. We make up all the addition lines and invent all of the new precepts for ourselves because no one sets us straight. We remain tight-lipped about it all (because it's sacred) and then we die. This becomes a great protection to us—to each of us personally. … What "fullness of light and knowledge" becomes a "great protection"? You haven't explained it, you just insist on it.

“… No work is more spiritually refining. Jesus would very much disagree with you. Try feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for the sick. No work we do gives us more power. This means nothing to your reader because you haven't explained the "power" is or why we need more of it. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Not even parenthood? You can be a parent without being endowed.

“Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection. … More empty words. Please explain yourself.

“… If we will enter into our covenants without reservation or apology, the Lord will protect us. Considering the fact that we almost all enter the temple without any real knowledge of what we'll be doing there, I think it's safe to say that essentially everyone enters without reservation or apology. So what is the Lord protecting us from? We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life. … This is not true. I received no inspiration that was worth a damn in the temple. None. Maybe I'm the exception...

“So come to the temple—come and claim your blessings.” What blessings? You keep making promises without saying what those promises are.
Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple (booklet, 2002), 37.

Key Points

  • In the temple you receive ordinances essential to your salvation. Only baptism is essential. Read your scriptures.
  • You must enter the temple clean and pure, free from any unforgiven transgression. Or else what?
  • As in the scriptures, many of the teachings and ordinances in the temple are symbolic, allowing you to learn more and more each time you return to the temple. What happens when you run out of symbols? Or when all the symbols mean the same thing? What about all the literal stuff? You didn't really discuss that. In fact, you didn't really discuss anything. This whole article was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. May God have mercy on your dishonest soul. 

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