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Monday, October 11, 2010

October 2010 "Temples"

Temples
by Connie Raddon
The October 2010 issue of the Ensign was a special edition about temples.  The articles focused on these three topics the most:
ORDINANCES: What they are and how crucial they are for salvation (exaltation).
WORK FOR THE DEAD: After doing your own work, how important it is to perform these ordinances for the dead.
WORTHINESS: What it takes to be worthy to go to the temple
The leaders of the LDS church deny what the Bible teaches and lead their members away from Christ in all three of these areas.
TEMPLE ORDINANCES:
Quotes from the Ensign articles:
“All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple.  This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them.”  (Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of the LDS Church)
 “Ordinances of the temple provide for reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever.  Obedience to the sacred covenants made in temples qualifies us for eternal life – the greatest gift of God to man.” (Russel M. Nelson)
“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into God’s presence.” (Russel M. Nelson, quoting President Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)

What the Bible says:
Christ said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him who sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.”  John 5:24
Notice the Bible does NOT say we must hear, believe, have washings and annointings done, be baptized, take out our endowments, get married and sealed, and obey commandments and covenants to have everlasting life.  It says that the only thing we need to do is BELIEVE GOD'S WORD. 
John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  This means that our way to eternal life is Jesus Christ, and ONLY Jesus Christ.  To make Hunter’s and Nelson’s comments biblically accurate, we need to replace the word “temple” with “Jesus Christ” ‘Jesus Christ is absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without HimJesus Christ provides for reconciliation with the Lord…Jesus Christ becomes our credential for admission into God’s presence.’

RESTORATION?
The LDS Church claims that the “restoration” of Christ’s gospel through Joseph Smith includes the building of temples and performing temple ordinances. 
This is impossible for four reasons.
1.      The purpose of the temple in the Old Testament is for atonement of sin and worshipping God.  Only priests were allowed in the temple sanctuary, and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies.  People brought their animals to offer as a sacrifice to atone for their sin.  The high priest would pass through a tall, very thick curtain, or veil to enter the holy of holies.  There, he would intercede for the people and offer their sacrifice to God.  When Christ died, this huge, thick veil was torn from top to bottom.  God literally opened up the holy of holies to everyone.  Christ was the FINAL blood sacrifice.  He was also the FINAL high priest, offering that sacrifice to God on our behalf.  (Hebrews 4, 9, &10)  By reinstating priests, high priests, and temple ordinances, the LDS church is metaphorically “sewing back up the veil”.  They are placing the temple between God and the people again. 

2.      On the day of Pentecost, God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside all believers.  Our bodies are the temple that the Holy Spirit lives in now.  Collectively, all believers form a “temple” or “church”.  Christ does not have a temple of bricks or stone.  It is a body of believers, and made of people.  “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  1 Cor. 3:16.  Peter describes Christians as “living stones” that God is using to build “a spiritual house”.  1 Peter 2:5

3.      The ordinances in the Old Testament temples were to atone for sins.  In other words, the temple was for sinners.  The atoning sacrifices were a foreshadowing of Christ.  The LDS church has this completely backwards, and requires members to first be righteous and worthy in order to attend the temple.

4.      The ordinances in Mormon temples have nothing to do with Biblical temples.  There were no endowments, sealings, or work for the dead in God’s temple.  The Mormon temples even have baptismal fonts in them.  Baptism is a New Testament ordinance.  The purpose of these fonts in the Old Testament temple was for ceremonial washing, which was required of the priests and high priests.
On pg. 26, Gordon Hinckley, 15th President of the LDS Church said that “Temples are houses of instruction”.  From personal experience, I know that this is true.  Members receive ordinances and instructions.  There is no sacrifice for sin, and no worship.
For these reasons, temples cannot possibly be part of a “restored” gospel of Christ. 
In fact, it contradicts the gospel of Christ. 

People are married in the temple so they can be “sealed” for eternity as a family.  This goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Sadducees were questioning Jesus. They posed a hypothetical situation about a woman who married each of seven brothers after the previous one died.  They asked who she would be married to after she was resurrected.  “Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Mark 12:24-25

However, the LDS church teaches that marriages performed in the temple will last for eternity.
“When a man and a woman are married in [the] house of the Lord, they are joined not only for the period of their mortal lives, but for all eternity.  The couple so married has the assurance of divine revelation that their relationship and that of their children will not end with death but will continue in eternity provided they live worthy of that blessing.”  (Gordon Hinckley, 15th President of the LDS Church)

WORK FOR THE DEAD:
There is only one reference in the Bible to performing ordinances for the dead.  It is when Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians about resurrection.  They are having a hard time understanding it, and asking all kinds of questions about it.  He responds by referring to another group of people (not Christian believers) who can obviously understand that there is a resurrection – or else why would they do baptisms for their dead? 1 Cor. 15:29.   This is NOT teaching that it is a doctrine, or allowed by God in any way.  It was merely an illustration for Paul to make his point about resurrection.
In fact, the Bible teaches that we should not be dealing with the dead.  In Leviticus and Numbers, Moses explains that even touching a dead person makes one unclean.  In Deuteronomy 18:10-11, Moses denounces all sorts of acts that involve dealing with the dead.
Doing work for the dead involves incredibly lengthy genealogies.  1 Tim 1:4 has this to say about genealogies, “nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.”  
Yet Hinckley has this to say about work for the dead and genealogies:  “Through living proxies who stand in behalf of the dead, the same ordinances are available to those who have passed from mortality… It makes necessary a vast undertaking of family history research to find and identify those who have gone before.”

WORTHINESS
The LDS church claims that the ordinances performed in the temple are crucial for eternal life.  In other words, no one can get to heaven (the “Celestial Kingdom”) without having these ordinances performed.  Yet only the most righteous Mormons can go into the temple. You have to show a card called a “recommend”.  You get this recommend by passing through interviews with your local Mormon leaders.  Based on your answers to their questions, they determine if you are worthy to go to the temple. 
They ask about your personal conduct, worthiness (keeping the ten commandments), loyalty to the Church, loyalty to the officers of the Church, your moral cleanliness, whether you keep the Word of Wisdom, pay a full tithing, live in complete harmony with the teachings of the Church, and whether you maintain any affiliation or sympathy with apostate groups.  If you can appropriately answer all of the questions in the interview, these men will deem you “worthy” and give you a temple recommend.
(The word “worthy” was used 36 times in the October 2010 Ensign.  There were another 19 references being worthy using synonyms like “qualified, ready, obedient, keeping the commandments, in good standing, and eligible.”  That’s a total of FIFTY FOUR references to the requirement of being worthy.)
This places incredible and unnecessary pressure on the Mormon people!

How does the Bible tell us we are saved? 
In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says, “For it is by GRACE that we are saved, through FAITH.  And that NOT OF OURSELVES.  It is a gift from God, NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.”  (Capitals added for emphasis)

I am embarrassed to admit it, but during the years I held a temple recommend, I also held arrogance in my heart.  Having a recommend proved that I was righteous, special, and WORTHY to be part of an elite group with access to secrets that those who were unworthy, and somehow lesser than me could not have access to.  I also believed that I had a ticket to eternal life that others were just not good enough to get.  I’m not saying everyone feels that way, but having associated in those circles, I can guarantee it wasn’t just me.
It’s even more embarrassing to realize how much the experience resembles Dr. Seuss’s book about the “star-bellied Sneetches”.  The stars were completely meaningless, but some character convinced the Sneeteches that they would be more important if they had one.  So they paid him money to print a star on their belly – then they walked around thinking they were much better than the Sneetches without stars on their bellies.  The story ends up in a big mess, and the only one who gained anything was the character who made all the money from the Sneetches.  I feel like having a temple recommend is just like buying a star for your belly.

The leaders of the LDS church replace Jesus Christ with the temple (among other things). 
Pg. 13, current president, Monson: “The temple lifts us, exalts us…” - Not Jesus.
Pg. 13, current president, Monson: “The temple provides purpose for our lives.”  - Not Jesus.
Pg. 15, Monson:  “The temple brings peace to our souls.”  - Not Jesus.
Pg. 30, Packer: (recommend interview questions) “… loyalty to the Church, and its officers” – Not to Jesus.
Pg. 35, Packer: “Temples are the very center of the spiritual strength of the Church.” – Not Jesus!
Pg. 35, Packer: “[the temple] is a good place to take our cares.”  - Not Jesus.
Pg. 36, Packer: “our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and protection.”  - Not Jesus.
Pg. 37. Hunter, 14th President: “All of our efforts in the Church lead to the holy temple.”  - Not Jesus.
Pg. 41, Nelson: “The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, and every progressive step in the Church.” 
- NOT JESUS.

On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the October 2010 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion fails this test.