The other article that impressed me from the latest Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 16/2 (2007), was Donald W. Parry’s “Service and Temple in King Benjamin’s Speech.” Why did it impress me? Because it related subjects in the Book of Mormon to the temple, something that we haven’t seen a lot of yet, but is becoming more common in recent days. Some of our detractors like to criticize the fact that the Book of Mormon appears to have little content related to the temple, while on the other hand the Church emphasizes the importance of the temple and the ordinances that occur therein. It is articles such as this one in the JBMS that clearly show otherwise. The temple plays a central role in the gospel, even in the text of the Book of Mormon, but we must be willing to look for it, and search a little deeper. I can attest that once you have this focus, the temple appears everywhere in this book of scripture as it does in all scripture. [Read more…]
Last night a reader referenced me to what appears to be a new blog by Bill Hamblin, a well-known LDS scholar and Associate Professor of History at BYU, and particularly about a post of his of a couple week ago. Dr. Hamblin talks about early Byzantine veils, and especially one that he has photographs of in an old church, the Agios Eleftherios, in Athens.
We have examined the iconostasis on this blog previously, an icon wall which stemmed from an earlier chancel screen or templon, a barrier or partition which separated the holy area where only the priests could go from the area of the laity.
This ancient Athens church retains its original chancel screen, including a curtain or veil. This veil is particularly interesting in that it includes the original gammadia marks, right-angled symbols like the Greek letter gamma (Γ), which we’ve also mentioned before. As Dr. Hamblin notes, these gammadia were often used to mark veils, altar cloths, and priestly robes in early Byzantine Christianity. Almost all of these veils have now been replaced by iconostases in modern churches.
Read the whole post at Bill Hamblin’s Things Unutterable. Thanks Reed!
Today in priesthood we talked about chapter 7 in the Joseph Smith manual. It is about “Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.” One thing that struck me as I read the chapter is the number of times that Joseph referred to baptism and some of the other principles and ordinances as signs:
God has set many signs on the earth, as well as in the heavens…
Upon the same principle do I contend that baptism is a sign ordained of God, for the believer in Christ to take upon himself in order to enter into the kingdom of God…
It is a sign and a commandment which God has set for man to enter into His kingdom. Those who seek to enter in any other way will seek in vain; for God will not receive them, neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not obeyed the ordinances, nor attended to the signs which God ordained for the salvation of man, to prepare him for, and give him a title to, a celestial glory…
Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved…
The Lord says do so and so, and I will bless you. There are certain key words and signs belonging to the Priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing. The sign [taught by] Peter was to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost…
…but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.
I think this is enlightening. All of the ordinances and covenants of the gospel include (and are) signs. Signs are physical actions which demonstrate to God that we have, indeed, entered into the covenants that we say we have. We can’t just say we’ve made a covenant with God with our lips (which is what God said in the First Vision was occurring in the world – “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (JS-H 1:19). Whenever true covenants are made with God, established physical signs have accompanied them.
The sign of baptism is the physical action of being immersed in the water. The sign of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the laying on of hands, as is ordination to the priesthood. The sign of the sacrament is the blessing, administering, and partaking of the emblems or symbols of Christ’s flesh and blood. The sign of blessing the sick or afflicted is the anointing with consecrated oil and the laying on of hands. The sign of the sealing ordinance in the temple is kneeling at the altar with your spouse and other sacred actions. The signs of the covenants of the endowment are likewise recognizable to those who have participated in them.
Because these signs always are physical, perhaps that is one of the reasons that a disembodied spirit cannot perform them alone. They must be done vicariously, or by proxy, by a living person, one who can perform these signs with a physical body in behalf of the dead.
The sacred ceremonies in which new monarchs are crowned kings and queens in the United Kingdom have significant parallels to the LDS Mormon endowment. These traditions stem from ancient times in English history, and have remained relatively unchanged in form throughout ages. The most recent coronation ceremony was on June 2, 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. This ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey, a well-known ancient church in London, England, signifying that this was a religious ritual.
The reason for the parallels to the temple ordinances is clear. The LDS endowment is, likewise, a coronation ceremony in which members of the House of Israel (Church members) are promised to become kings and queens, priests and priestesses, and are given all the rights, privileges, knowledge, and wisdom necessary in order to make that promise a reality. By doing so, members of the House of Israel become one with Christ (John 17), and therefore receive all that Christ has been given, including a crown, a robe of righteousness, and a throne (Rev. 1:6; Rev. 2:10; Rev. 3:21). The endowment is ancient, being given to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Since that time it has gone through many stages of apostasy, corruption, assimilation, and adoption into many different forms and by many different people. But glimpses of the temple ordinances can still be seen in these practices.
There are several points of interest to take note of in the ceremony, summarized and listed below, when Queen Elizabeth II was initiated, anointed, and consecrated as the sovereign of the United Kingdom: ((The full ceremony can be read at http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/coronation/cor1953b.html)) [Read more…]
One of the criticisms leveled at the LDS (Mormon) practice of temple worship is the seemingly dissimilar forms of the ordinances when compared with those found practiced by ancient Israelites in the Bible. It is true that the forms of the ordinances and sacrifices are different, but their meaning and symbolism remain the same. Let us consider why the forms are different.
From Adam down to Moses, the Melchizedek priesthood, with its accompanying higher ordinances, were practiced by the covenant people of the Lord. These were similar in form to LDS temple worship today. Unfortunately, since most of the accounting from the Old Testament takes place from the time period of Moses to Christ, from the Bible we become most familiar with the lower ordinances that the Israelites practiced in the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, Zerubbabel’s Temple, and Herod’s Temple. This is because when Moses desired to give the higher law of the gospel and the ordinances of the Melchizedek priesthood to his people they rebelled against him and the Lord withdrew these higher ordinances and instituted the lower Aaronic priesthood (including the Levitical priesthood) with its accompanying outwardly observances and performances. The Israelites were not worthy to come into the presence of the Lord as a whole; only the high priest was allowed into the most holy place in the Tabernacle, and only on certain prescribed days. These practices continued for 1200-1300 years, and the Israelites’ writings during this time fill a large measure of the Bible.
When Christ came to earth, he restored the Melchizedek priesthood with its accompanying higher ordinances. The Mosaic law was also fulfilled in Christ at that time, and the type of sacrifices performed in temples were consequently changed. Blood sacrifices were no longer required. Intermediary animals were also now not required. All of the Lord’s covenant people were able to approach the Lord directly and offer a self-sacrifice of their time, talents, and everything that they had, including the only true sacrifice we can give God, our individual will. The form of the sacrifice changed, but the meaning and symbolism remained exactly the same.
Yesterday and today, the ordinances and sacrifices offered in the Lord’s temples have always pointed to Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice and atonement. The following table helps compare the types and forms of sacrifice offered in the temple of the Lord since Adam to the present day: ((Most of this information was gathered from Andrew Skinner’s Temple Worship, 121-125, 181-189)) [Read more…]