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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE TEMPLE

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE TEMPLE

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Published by Robert F. Smith
The esoterica of the Mormon temple encompass the entire Gospel, i.e., the Plan of Salvation. At the same time that Plan of Salvation is encompassed by the temple and its rich symbolism.

This short description of what takes place in Mormon temples demonstrates just how much it is truly biblical in essential nature, and the degree to which great biblical scholars admire its basic authenticity.
The esoterica of the Mormon temple encompass the entire Gospel, i.e., the Plan of Salvation. At the same time that Plan of Salvation is encompassed by the temple and its rich symbolism.

This short description of what takes place in Mormon temples demonstrates just how much it is truly biblical in essential nature, and the degree to which great biblical scholars admire its basic authenticity.

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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: Robert F. Smith on Jan 29, 2014
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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE TEMPLEby Robert F. SmithJan 26, 2014The bishopric has kindly allowed me to speak on any doctrine of my choosing. So I decided tospeak on the temple, partly because it is my favorite subject, but also because it encompassesall the doctrines of our religion and is at the same time encompassed by them. What I mean by that is that the
entire
 Gospel Plan of Salvation is encompassed by the templeand is the whole reason for the existence of the temple. That is what the temple is all about: The blessings of the Plan of Salvation for all of humanity are secured by temple work.That temple work begins with Baptism for the Dead by proxy – at the very base of every templeis a large baptismal font set on the backs of 12 oxen. You have all either seen it in person, orhave seen photos of it.The design and construction of that font reminds us of the great Bronze Sea set on the backs of 12 oxen in the Temple of Solomon. Hyrum of Tyre in Phoenicia designed it. Hugh Nibley saw“cosmic symbolism” in the oxen underneath the Brazen Sea of the Temple, the 12 oxen beingrepresentative of “the circle of the year,” and the Sea itself as “the Gates of Salvation,” which
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we also read about in Psalm 24. That same Bronze Sea was set on the backs of 12 great lions in the Temple of Zerubbabel (builtwhen the Jews returned from the Babylonian Captivity) – which was called the “Temple of Herod” in the time of Jesus, because King Herod the Great had completely rebuilt the wholeedifice. In fact, if you visit Jerusalem itself today, you can see many of the massive Herodianstones which were used to shore up the Temple Mount – still in place. Each weighs from 2 to 5metric tons, and one even weighs around 570 tons.On any given early morning at the Provo Temple, you will find the large waiting room or galleryfacing the Baptismal Font filled with BYU students quietly waiting their turn to do severalbaptisms and confirmations before heading off to their classes. A beautiful sight. As some of you young people know (who have participated with special use recommends), the temple staff efficiently marshals these volunteers without skipping a beat.The Gospel principle at work there (for the dear departed) is baptism by immersion for theremission of sins, quickly followed by the laying on of hands for baptism by fire and the Holy
 Nibley, “The Idea of the Temple in History,”
Millennial Star 
, 120/8 (Aug 1958):232,236, citing
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Albright; cf.
Encyclopaedia Judaica
, 15:950, on oxen representing the four seasons; Othmar Keel,
TheSymbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms
, 136,preferring to emphasize the seasonal fertility function of the oxen/bulls.
 
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Ghost, also known as “confirmation” of membership in the Kingdom of God on Earth, theChurch.The symbolism of performing baptism below ground, as it is done in our temples, is that that itshould be “in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves,”i.e., “as a similitude of the grave” (D&C 128:12-13; cf. Rom 6:4, Col 2:12). Indeed, Deuteronomy30:13 is quoted by Paul in Romans 10:7, where he changes “sea” to the “depths” (depths of theUnderworld), so that he can speak of Christ being brought back from death in the depths of theUnderworld – represented in our temples by a copy of that huge Brazen Sea = the cosmicwatery abyss (cf. Jonah 2:3-7), or Hell.Elder John A. Widtsoe said of such temple symbolism:Naturally, the very essence of these fundamental truths is not known to man, norindeed can be. We know things only so far as our senses permit. Whatever isknown, is known through symbols. The letters on the written page are butsymbols of mighty thoughts that are easily transferred from mind to mind bythese symbols. Man lives under a great system of symbolism. Clearly, the mighty,eternal truths encompassing all that man is or may be, cannot be expressedliterally, nor is there in the temple any attempt to do this. On the contrary, thegreat and wonderful temple service is one of mighty symbolism. By the use of symbols of speech, of action, of color, of form, the great truths connected withthe story of man are made evident to the mind.
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Just to be abundantly clear about this, let me quote President David O. McKay, who was theProphet when I was young:There are two things in every Temple:
mechanics
, to set forth certain ideals, and
symbolism
, what those mechanics symbolize. I saw only the mechanics when Ifirst went through the Temple. I did not see the spiritual. I did not see thesymbolism of spirituality. * * * I was blind to the great lesson of purity behindthe mechanics. I did not hear the message of the Lord, . . . * * * How many of usyoung men saw that? We thought we were big enough and with intelligencesufficient to criticize the mechanics of it and we were blind to the symbolism, themessage of the spirit. And then that great ordinance, the endowment. The whole
 
Widtsoe,
 A Rational Theology: As Taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, for
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Use by the Melchizedek Priesthood (SLC: General Priesthood Committee/Deseret News, 1915), 120,online at https://archive.org/details/arationaltheolog35562gut .
 
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thing is simple in the mechanical part of it, but sublime and eternal in itssignificance.
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This is, after all, the Restoration, and about that the late, great Professor Frank Moore Cross of Harvard had to say:I am both interested and delighted to see so much of ancient religious tradition,particularly Biblical tradition, taken up into the religious structures and rituals of the Mormons.
4
Professor Cross also said:Someone who does not know much about temples, and Mormons buildingtemples, should be directed to the Bible.
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Our Church is well-known (even infamous) for this Baptism for the Dead, and we often referinvestigators to Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:29,Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why arethey then baptized for the dead?Paul is asking the rhetorical question: Why is there baptism for the dead, if there is noResurrection? From which we conclude that, since there is a Resurrection to come, thenbaptism for the dead is essential in order to fulfill all righteousness.According to the late British scholar James Barr (a non-Mormon), what Paul was saying here wasnot a novel principle at all, and was based on the pre-Christian practice of proxy sacrifice for thedead conducted at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem: Even using the same reasoning from anevent in II Maccabees 12 (in the Apocrypha), in which some dead Jewish warriors were found
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to have pagan idols hidden in their clothing, apparently for good luck. Their comrades-in-armswere horrified and immediately took up a collection of 2,000 silver drachmas to pay for an
 Quoted in Gregory Prince and William Robert Wright,
David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern
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Mormonism
 (SLC: University of Utah Press, 2005), 277, citing address at Mesa, Arizona, Temple, Dec 30,1956
.
 Frank Moore Cross, Professor, Harvard University, spoken in the LDS video, “Between Heaven
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and Earth” (Intellectual Reserve, 2002), online at http://ancient-wisdom-lds-temple.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-post_6193.html . Cross, “Between Heaven and Earth,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, full-length
5
DVD (Intellectual Reserve, 2002/2005), at 35:28. James Barr,
Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism
 (Westminster, 1983), 40-43, n. 19.
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