Detailed response to CES Letter, Temples & Freemasonry

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Detailed response to CES Letter, Temples & Freemasonry



A FAIR Analysis of: [[../|Letter to a CES Director]], a work by author: Jeremy Runnells
Chart CES Letter temples.png

Response to section "Temples & Freemasonry Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author of the letter asks, "Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles? Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one other and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic temple rituals and a polygamous heaven?" We respond to these questions in this article.


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Response to claim: "Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment ceremony in May 1842.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Some of the endowment was developed and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason, but other elements were developed prior to his association with Freemasonry

Logical Fallacy: False Cause—The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "We have the true Masonry"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

President Heber C. Kimball, a Mason himself and a member of the First Presidency for 21 years, made the following statement: “We have the true Masonry. 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.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Early Church leaders did believe that they had "the true Masonry."


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

If Masonry had the original temple ceremony but became distorted over time, why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry, which would be more correct rather than the exact version that Joseph Smith was exposed to in his March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois initiation?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph Smith used ritual elements known to him and his followers to teach a uniquely restorationist view.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Freemasonry has zero links to the Solomon’s temple"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Freemasonry has zero links to the Solomon’s temple. Although more a Church folklore, with origins from comments made by early Mormon Masons such as Heber C. Kimball, than being Church doctrine, it’s a myth that the endowment ceremony has its origins from Solomon’s temple or that Freemasonry passed down parts of the endowment over the centuries from Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple was all about animal sacrifice. Freemasonry has its origins to stone tradesmen in medieval Europe – not in 950 BC Jerusalem.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct. Some circumstantial and disparate data has been marshaled before by many LDS and Mason scholars to try and link freemasonry to Solomon’s temple and the original church of Christ, though nothing definitive has been put forth to date. The currently available historical data is simply to sparse to put anything plausible together.


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Response to claim: "If there’s no connection to Solomon’s temple, what’s so divine about a man-made medieval Scottish secret fraternity and its rituals?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

If there’s no connection to Solomon’s temple, what’s so divine about a man-made medieval Scottish secret fraternity and its rituals?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The ordinance of the endowment has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Freemasonry has a connection to Solomon's temple. The ritual is simply a teaching tool - a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

The Church does not claim that the divine nature of the endowment is dependent upon a connection to Solomon's temple.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens, handshakes, and signs to get into the Celestial Kingdom?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens, handshakes, and signs to get into the Celestial Kingdom? If so, Masons, former Mormons, anti-Mormons, unworthy Mormons as well as non-Mormons who’ve seen the endowment on YouTube or read about the signs/handshakes/tokens online should pass through the pearly gates with flying colors.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author ignores the spiritual component of the ordinance and focuses only on the physical aspect. A better question to ask is, "Would Masons, former Mormons, anti-Mormons, unworthy Mormons" want to attempt to enter the Celestial Kingdom in this manner, knowing that the God that they no longer believed in was on the other side of the veil?

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

Applying the author's logic to baptism, which is also a highly symbolic ordinance: "Is God really going to require people to be immersed in water to get into the Celestial Kingdom? If so, swimmers who have been immersed in water should pass through the pearly gates with flying colors."


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Response to claim: "Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles? Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one other and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic temple rituals and a polygamous heaven?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Latter-day Saints do not practice "medieval" rituals in "multi-million dollar castles".

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.

The author attempts to make temples and the ordinances performed within them appear ridiculous through the use of emotional trigger words.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored and which would never again be taken away from the earth?
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "The entire endowment ceremony is an ordinance...FAIR knows that Joseph Smith taught that the endowment is not to be altered or changed"

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

There is a difference between the ordinance of the endowment and the mechanism used in the presentation of the ordinance. The mechanism can change without changing the actual ordinance.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The entire endowment ceremony is an ordinance...FAIR knows that Joseph Smith taught that the endowment is not to be altered or changed"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Oh, look here:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.' – Ensign, August 2001, p.22 What does “ordinance” mean? The Church’s own definition: “Sacred rites and ceremonies.” The entire endowment ceremony is an ordinance. It states as such in the beginning of the ceremony. Brigham Young is very clear that the tokens, signs, and keywords is the endowment itself and Joseph Smith was explicitly clear that ordinances “are not to be altered or changed.”

FAIR knows that Joseph Smith taught that the endowment is not to be altered or changed, which is why FAIR keeps using carefully crafted terms like “presentation of the endowment” in their attempt to diminish and justify all the changes made to the endowment itself. They want us to believe that the stuff that changed were just for “special effect” or “teaching tools” which needed to be “adjusted to the needs of the audience.” Their speculation and claim is not supported by the evidence. More importantly, their speculative claim is contradicted and refuted by at least two latter-day prophets along with the Church’s current definition of what an ordinance is.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Joseph Smith taught that the ordinances, not the endowment, were not to be altered or changed. The author continues to mix up the "ordinance" itself with the presentation of the ordinance. The author locked on to the first definition of "ordinances" in the Guide to the Scriptures on LDS.org as "sacred rites and ceremonies" and wishes to impose a fundamentalist view that this means that nothing can be altered in the "ceremony." However, take look at the rest of the definition:

Ordinances

Sacred rites and ceremonies. Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings. Ordinances can also mean God’s laws and statutes.

Ordinances in the Church include administration to the sick (James 5:14–15), blessing the sacrament (D&C 20:77, 79), baptism by immersion (Matt. 3:16; D&C 20:72–74), blessing of children (D&C 20:70), conferring the Holy Ghost (D&C 20:68; 33:15), conferring the priesthood (D&C 84:6–16; 107:41–52), temple ordinances (D&C 124:39), and marriage in the new and everlasting covenant (D&C 132:19–20). [1]

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

"Ordinances" are "acts that have spiritual meanings" and "God's laws and statutes." The ordinances themselves do not change, but the method of presentation of the ordinance can certainly be altered.

We will provide a couple of simpler examples.

Blessing of the sacrament versus administration of the sacrament

The definition on LDS.org (which the author partially quotes) states that the blessing of the sacrament is an ordinance. It uses the exact same prayers each time, with the exception of changing the word "wine" to "water." However, the method of administration and emblems of the sacrament, have changed. When the sacrament was first administered in the early days of the Church, wine was used instead of water. The Lord later revealed that water could be used instead of wine. Originally, a single cup was passed around from which members each sipped. We now use individual cups for the sacrament. The method of presentation of the ordinance has been altered.

The sacrament is no less valid because water is now used instead of wine, or because we use multiple cups instead of a single cup. The method of the administration of the sacrament has changed, but the ordinance of the manner of blessing the sacrament remains the same. By the author's logic, however, the sacrament would be invalid once the method of administration was changed.

Baptism by immersion versus administration of the baptism

The definition on LDS.org states that "baptism by immersion" is an ordinance. During a baptism, two witnesses must verify that the person was completely submerged. However, in the early days of the Church, people did not have to wear white clothing in order to be baptized - they could be baptized in regular clothing. Today, we wear white clothing to be baptized. The ordinance is baptism by immersion. The presentation of the ordinance, however, has been altered over time with the later requirement that we wear white clothing.


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LDS Truth Claims: Temple Ordinances (video)


Notes

  1. "Ordinances," Guide to the Scriptures, LDS.org.


A FAIR Analysis of:
[[../|Letter to a CES Director]]
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells
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