Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The HBO TV SERIES BIG LOVE has sparked some controversy over the MORMON ENDOWMENT CEREMONY. For those interested, here is a little information I dug up on what exactly the MORMON ENDOWMENT CEREMONY CONSISTS OF.

Apostle James E. Talmage explains, "The temple endowment, as administered in modern Mormon temples, comprises instruction relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations, and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history. This course of instruction includes a recital of the most prominent events of the creative period, the condition of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, their disobedience and consequent expulsion from that blissful abode, their condition in the lone and dreary world when doomed to live by labor and sweat, the plan of redemption by which the great transgression may be atoned, the period of the great apostasy, the restoration of the gospel with all its ancient powers and privileges, the absolute and indispensable conditions of personal purity and devotion to the right in present life, and a strict compliance with gospel requirements..." (The House of the Lord, 1912 ed., p. 99).

Among other things, the temple endowment answers the "terrible questions," i.e., Where did I come from? Why am I here? And Where will I go when this life is over? These questions are answered by a meaningful, richly symbolic drama, which is presented as a filmed presentation. The setting of the drama begins with the creation of earth by the Gods Elohim (God the Father), Jehovah (Jesus Christ in his pre-mortal form), and Michael (the Archangel, whose spirit is put into a body when he becomes the first man, Adam). By following the Mormon version of the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and their subsequent expulsion, temple patrons discover the "plan of salvation" which may enable them to return to live with God. During the endowment participants are encouraged to view Adam and Eve as representatives of the human race. Thus, their fidelity becomes a model for the faithful Mormon's lifestyle.

Although the endowment is currently presented on film, it was previously acted out in dramatic form, not dissimilar to fraternity rituals. But the ceremony is much more than a modern "morality play," because faithful Mormons believe it has eternal consequences. During the ritual, participants (called "patrons") enjoy brief participation, as they are required to don special robes, and stand up in front of their seats, while assuming certain obligations and receiving the Mormon priesthood secrets (the tokens and signs of the Holy Priesthood).

Initiatory Ordinances.
Prior to receiving the endowment one must be baptized, ordained a member of the LDS Church, receive the Melchizedek Priesthood (if male), and the "Initiatory Ordinances" of the temple. The latter consist of a series of symbolic washings and anointings, the reception of the Garment of the Holy Priesthood and also a new name.

The washings and anointings include a series of ceremonial blessings spoken over various members of the body, and prepare the initiate for the life hereafter.

Following this, the initiate is clothed in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, which is said to be "a shield and a protection" to the wearer throughout life. Mormons sometimes claim escape from bodily harm on account of wearing this Garment.

With the Garment, the initiate receives a "new name" which serves as a "key word" to be used later on in the Mormon Endowment Ceremony. This new name may be almost any Biblical or Book of Mormon name, such as Moses, David, Nephi, etc. If the patron's given name is similar to the new name used that day in the temple, the substitute name of "Adam" is given.

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