Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872-1952)
Occasionally you encounter a talk or book or article that is a classic. Elder John A. Widtsoe‘s talk on “Temple Worship” given at a meeting of the Genealogical Society of Utah at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake on October 12, 1920, is one of those talks. There are portions of this talk that many will recognize that are still frequently quoted today in connection with the temple. His treatment of the temple is fairly basic, yet it is powerful in its plainness and insight. Elder Widtsoe has given us a lot to ponder here.
Thank you, Steve, for sharing this talk with us! – Bryce
My brethren and sisters, when those in charge of this work were planning the program, I urged upon them that they do not call this meeting for the Assembly Hall. I felt sure the congregation would be so small that we would all be unhappy. I am happily disappointed; and I am quite sure that neither the drawing power of Joseph Fielding Smith nor myself is the cause of this large attendance, but that the conviction in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints that all that pertains to temples and to temple work, to the salvation for the dead, is of tremendous worth. I regret, of course, that Elder Joseph Fielding Smith is not here tonight. I am sorry for those of you who came to hear him speak, for you will have to come again, because he speaks tomorrow. He is filling an important engagement, and we simply exchanged evenings. I regret, however, for my own sake, that he is not here, because what I have to say needs as a background the splendid talk that he has for us. He will deal with the spirit and the mission of Elijah. I was asked to speak about temple worship. He was to take up the great generalization, the great body of principles upon which this work rests; and I was to take one small part of the application of the work, for my theme. I feel just a little embarrassed to speak on temple worship without the background of Elder Smith’s discourse. I am embarrassed also because I realize how utterly impossible it is to deal with so vast and comprehensive a subject in the few moments that I can take tonight, especially in the presence of so many of you who have spent your lives in temple service and who understand the subject so well. But, like you I am willing to obey orders and to do the best I can; and with the assistance of your faith and your prayers, I shall try to discuss with you some of the high points pertaining to temple worship which all should understand, whether we have received the blessings of the temple or whether we are candidates for temple blessings. It is to be an elementary, non-technical discussion. [Read more…]