1. Yes. The altar is in the sanctuary which is behind the iconostases, and only the clergy are allowed there. Here is a picture with the Holy Doors open in the Church of the Savior on the Blood in St. Petersburg, and you can see the altar in the sanctuary.

  2. I’m not sure I could worship where I could not see the clergy peforming one of the most sacred rites of my religion. I wonder how the congregants deal with this? Is it like the exclusion of the Bible to only clergy before the printing press?

    Secrecy beckons my curiousity and is what drove me to read so much about the temple before I went for my endowment. For my 11th birthday, I asked my parents to buy me “House of the Lord.” I wanted to know what was happening in the temple.

  3. I too have often pondered that. Why not allow the congregation to see what the clergy are doing? Why not allow the congregation to come before God in the Holy Place? I think the answer that would be given is that these things are too holy for the lay people to witness and participate in. There is a qualification to enter there, just as in our temples. Basically, the separation between the sanctuary (temple) and the synagogue (church) in early Christianity was lost, and the two were somewhat combined into one. The front door of the temple was moved to be in front of the congregation, so most of all ordinances of the church were performed behind those doors.

    The restored gospel separates the two again, and allows all members to become priests and priestesses and enter the sanctuary. The LDS temple is wholly within the sanctuary, and every member that enters there has a worthiness recommend. Whereas the chapels are where the world may witness other sacred ordinances appropriate to that location.

  4. […] But first, there are a few other artifacts related to the symbol that I’d like to share.  As I pointed out in Part 2, this seal is most prominently found as displayed in the frescoes and iconography in the basilicas of Ravenna, Italy.  Indeed, this is very likely where Hugh Nibley saw this symbol originally, as perhaps did Michael Lyon, and where he may have coined the name the “seal of Melchizedek.”  The symbol is shown on the altar cloths in these frescoes, shown next to Melchizedek, Abel, and Abraham, in making sacrificial offerings to God.  The altar cloth also shows gammadia in the corners, right-angle marks like the Greek letter gamma, which is also very interesting, and worthy of a study in and of itself. […]

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