As some may be aware, there are elements of Freemasonry found in the LDS temple Endowment ordinance (though the degree to which such similarities are found has lessened as changes have been made to the ordinance over time). Do LDS believe that Joseph Smith deliberately used elements from Freemasonry to “flesh out” his own ritual, or do some LDS believe that Freemasonry is an actual ancient system, going back to Solomon?
ETA: Do LDS believe that the ancient Christians were performing these rituals? What is the evidence?
Yes, LDS believe that ancient Christians were performing baptisms for the dead and endowments. Not sure where their “temple” was where they did these rituals. They also believe the ancient Jews performed these ceremonies in the temple of Solomon. Of course, there is no evidence at all.
As a Freemason - I know our degrees are based off of ideas from the 16th and 17th century. I’ve seen the YouTube LDS endowment ceremony and was flabbergasted that any religion based their religious services off of our Masonic morality plays (degrees).
That’s what you hear when you go through the Masonic ritual - but it’s very much understood that the claim is poetic license.
Historically, Masonry is rather young only about 400 years old or so - some of the odd words in Masonry may at the very outside be traced back to the Knights Templars use of French, but even if that were the case, the threads are very tenuous and faint.
I don’t know what LDS think today. Brigham Young believed Freemasonry to go back to King Solomon, going so far to teach that King Solomon built his temple to practice the LDS endowment, but because of the wickedness of the high priests of the temple it never happened.
Heber C. Grant took this idea and elaborated that because of this event (or non-event), the Mormon endowment is a restoration of what should have happened in the temple that Solomon built.
Heber C. Kimball stated, “The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.” The new endowment ceremony, by restoring what had been lost, was a purer form of ancient Israel’s Masonic rites.
“That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture”, David G. Hackett
The mental gymnastics ( that I believe it was Paul alluded to ) is stunning the more and more historical quotes I see from LDS leaders of past.
I never left because of LDS history. I left because the (then) present day doctrines made no sense to me. Had I know of all of this history, including the false prophecies listed by TK, I know I would have never ever joined.
That’s interesting. I’m assuming as a Freemason, you can’t go into details about the degree rituals, right? I was wondering what sorts of similarities you see in Masonic degree work and the LDS Endowment, as you saw in the videos. I’m assuming that we can all agree on the tokens, though I’m not sure if they are direct borrows, or adapted.
From what I understand, some LDS that recognize that speculative Freemasonry originated in the 16th and 17th century also claim that the ideas and practices that were brought together came from more ancient sources. What do you think, as a Freemason?
In an effort to bring the temple discussion from the Conversion to Mormonism thread to this thread, here are posts from evanfaust, LW and myself. Evanfaust, we would love for you to answer these questions on this thread.
As a Freemason - I made a promise not to divulge the degrees. My promise even included to be killed at high-tide. I will however point out that the degrees are available online And I will point out that there haven’t been any high-tide murders for a long time
If you know of a Knight of Columbus - their degrees are a Christian version of the somewhat deist Freemason degrees.
The LDS rituals on Youtube that I’ve seen borrow extensively from the Freemason degrees - they’ve been simplified and they added a few Biblical figures - but really only in name. The phrasing, order, and general tone are direct copies.
Masons understand (or at least should) that our claims to be ancient are poetic license - frankly it absolutely stunning to me that anybody should incorporate them into a religion. They baroque, silly, and very much oriented in 17th century.
Historically - one can mare a somewhat serious claim that a very small portion of the Masonic symbolism could be traced back to the disbanded Kinghts Templar. The theory goes that in Scotland, the Templars needed a way to hide so they pretended to be a masonry guild that had good reason to move from town to town. It kinda makes sense historically, and it does explain the French words masons use and some of the odder symbols. But even then - that would only take us back to the 11th century at the latest, and frankly none of the Masonic degrees reveal anything meaningful that you couldn’t pick up from a few moral self-help books and some bad fiction.
I’ve looked into this a bit myself. According to material I was directed to on FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) which changed its name somewhat recently to FairMormon, the belief is that Masons have a portion of the truth but Joseph Smith restored the ordinance to the fullness of truth (not the exact words but that’s basically it). Do LDS believe ancient Christians performed these rituals? It’s hard to say if they believe ancient Jews performed the rituals, the very earliest ancient Christians, or a little of both. No one knows exactly when the Great Apostasy was, and Mormons are a little fuzzy on their ancient history. I would presume that Peter James and John are believed to have been relevant to this ostensibly ancient practice; they do play such a hugely repetitive role in the ceremony. But the rituals supposedly taught to Peter James and John (not sure if they were taught to anyone earlier) are seen as the fullness of the practice as given by Heavenly Father, while Masonic rituals would be examples of practices that partially re-captured some elements of what was revealed but not the whole thing, and certainly not with the authority of a living prophet.
Joseph Smith Jr. was a high ranking Mason prior to being visited by Moroni (can’t remember what level), so it’s not hard for anyone else to see what was the source of his material- but it had to fit in with the restorationist theme.
I want to point out very quickly that there is a clear and meaningful break between English lodges and French lodges, each kind of lodge is technically Masonic but neither recognizes the other as “regular.” It’s hard for me to say how much of the ritual and literature continues to be the same, but it was the French lodges that were specifically more deistic and more set against the Catholic Church. The track record of the English lodges seems to be a bit less deistic, and I do know that there were several English Catholics who achieved very high rankings (like Grand Master) in England during times when England as a whole was very cruel to Catholics. So I just want to point out, very quickly, that the animus between Masons and Catholics is focused more centrally on the French lodges, while the Masons in England were largely off the Catholic radar during the Enlightenment- but when they had a chance to, as far as I know about it, the English Masons put tolerance and brotherhood consistently on display at times when the rest of the island was behaving very badly.
Wanted to get that in there. Animus for the French lodges is much deserved, but the English lodges deserve distinction and should not be lumped in with the bad behavior that was happening on the other side of the Channel. If I missed the mark on some of this please correct me and add more information; this is the general story as far as I know.
I doubt that Joseph was a mason at the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon. It seems from the LDS church’s own history that it was Joseph’s brother Hyram who sponsored Joseph as a Freemason. That was during the Kirtland period, several years after the Book of Mormon was published.
It is interesting, though, that the Book of Mormon contains a very anti-Masonic passage:
22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.
23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
2 Nephi 26:22-23
If Joseph Smith was a Freemason before the publication of the Book of Mormon, it is further evidence that Joseph did not write it. I still believe that Sidney Rigdon wrote the religious parts of the Book of Mormon. His intellectual and religious fingerprints are all over it.
My wife and I both noticed, in our research into Mormon history and doctrine before we left the LDS church, that Joseph Smith virtually NEVER preached from the Book of Mormon. Yes, he once said it was the most correct book on the Earth, but he almost never taught from it. In fact, most everything Joseph Smith taught from 1831 forward directly contradicted the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a very anti-Mormon book, since none of the distinctly LDS doctrines are in it. Perhaps that is why Joseph almost never taught from it.
Also, it is more evidence that the BoM is a 19th century work of fiction, as it addresses all of the subjects that concerned religious people of 19th-century America, including Freemasonry, which did not exist in Nephi’s time.
Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)
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