8 Comments

  1. Reed Russell

    Hey Bryce – good looking site!

    John Welch has identified The Sermon at the Temple in 3 Nephi as a temple text.

    He’s identified two triadic elements from that text:

    A thrice-repeated announcement from above. The Sermon at the Temple begins with a soft, small, piercing voice speaking out of heaven (see 3 Nephi 11:3–5). At first the people could not understand it, but the voice repeated exactly the same announcement three times, and the words were better comprehended each time they were repeated. At first, this small piercing voice may have sounded faint and broken; something like this perhaps: “Behold . . . Son, . . . well pleased, in whom I have glorified . . . hear . . .” (3 Nephi 11:7), but the words increased in clarity each time they were repeated . . .

    A three-fold petition. Finally, the listeners are ready to approach the Father. They are told that if they will one at a time ask, seek, and knock (in other words, when a threefold petition is made), “it shall be opened unto you” (3 Nephi 14:7). This offer is open to all people (cf. Alma 12:9–11). Everyone that asks, having been brought to this point of entry, will receive and be received (see 3 Nephi 14:8). In my mind, it makes the best sense of Matthew 7:7 to understand it in a ceremonial context. Actual experience among Christians generally shows that the promise articulated here should not be understood as an absolute one: Many people ask, and seek, and knock; yet, in fact many of them do not find. Moreover, there is reason to believe that Jesus expected his true followers to seek for something out of the ordinary: An early saying from Oxyrhynchus attributed to Jesus reads, “Let him who seeks not cease seeking until he finds, and when he finds, he will be astounded, and having been astounded, he will reign, and having reigned, he will rest.” It is crucial that a person come to the Father correctly (see 3 Nephi 14:21), and for all who seek and ask at this point in their progression—after believing and accepting the requirements in the Sermon that precede this invitation—for them it will be opened.

  2. Thanks. Excellent commentary! I have been wanting to read John Welch’s book The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount. It looks like these quotes come from chapter 3 of that book, “Toward an Understanding of the Sermon as a Temple Text.” This book is even available for reading online at The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship website.

    I’m sure there are many more good temple insights from Welch’s book. The temple symbolism spreads much deeper in the text of the Book of Mormon than we initially think.

  3. tiredmormon

    You should include knocking in the Masonic rites…since that is where the temple ordinances came from.

  4. Yes, and that would explain where the ancient Egyptians and Catholics also got the knocking practice. It was clearly from the Masons. ;)

    That reminds me of something Hugh Nibley once said:

    Off-hand, one may say that Joseph Smith could have gotten his ideas from any or many of a great number of sources, ancient and modern. Here is an illustration. On Easter Day in 1954 at about noon, the writer was standing with Brother Virgil Bushman, that doughty missionary to the Hopis, before the house of the celebrated Tewaquetewa in Old Oraibi, when a small delegation of leading men from the village came up and informed us that they had just learned from the local Protestant missionaries how the Mormons got a lot of their stuff. It seems that when the famous chief Tuba became a Mormon, Jacob Hamblin took him to Salt Lake City to marry his wives in the temple there. While the chief was in town, Joseph Smith, none other, got him aside and interrogated him very closely, prying the tribal secrets out of him; from what Chief Tuba told Smith, he proceeded to write the Book of Mormon, establish the temple ordinances, and found the Church. And that, sir, is why the Hopi traditions are so much like the Mormon.

    The point is, that would be quite a plausible explanation had the two men been contemporary, or had either ever been in Salt Lake; Joseph Smith just might have gotten his knowledge that way. There are in fact countless tribes, sects, societies, and orders from which he might have picked up this and that, had he known of their existence. The Near East in particular is littered with the archaeological and living survivals of practices and teachings which an observant Mormon may find suggestively familiar. The Druzes would have been a goldmine for Smith. He has actually been charged with plundering some of the baggage brought to the West by certain fraternal orders during the Middle Ages—as if the Prophet must rummage in a magpie’s nest to stock a king’s treasury! There are countless parallels, many of them very instructive, among the customs and religious of mankind, to what the Mormons do. But there is a world of difference between Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews and the book of Isaiah, or between the Infancy Gospels and the real Gospels, no matter how many points of contact one may detect between them. The LDS endowment was not built up of elements brought together by chance, custom, or long research; it is a single, perfectly consistent organic whole, conveying its message without the aid of rationalizing, spiritualizing, allegorizing, or moralizing interpretations. (The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, intro)

  5. Amanda

    John Welch also gives a talk about the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple in the Our Savior collection of CDs, available from Deseret Book. In this talk he ties many features of the Sermon at the Temple to the Endowment.

  6. Steve

    I know that it is joked about sometimes, but it would be interesting to know about the idea that Peter stands at the ‘pearly gates’ and where that line of though originated and if it is doctrine. It’s interesting that most people already have an idea that there are gates to heaven and you must past a ‘sentinel’ to gain entrance. The fact that the Mormons believe that they have information about that process from God and the ability to disseminate that information to all who prepare themselves to receive them in the temple, should be of great interest to general Christianity instead of something to be snubbed off; especially when there is so much evidence in early Christian history that these things were taught.

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