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Manual Sacred Places, Vol. 2: New York and Pennsylvania: A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites

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Several months later, we learn that Joseph was still a novice. In writing about the circumstances of Joseph's remarkable prophecy about the Saints going to the Rocky Mountains, B. Roberts indirectly reveals that Joseph had not become much of a leader in Masonry B. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church , Vol. There is no evidence that anyone revealed secrets of Masonry to Joseph Smith prior to his initiation in Such a breach of secrecy would have been grounds for expulsion from Masonry.

In fact, it appears that Joseph joined the Masons to learn about ancient things that he did not yet know. Franklin D. Richards said that "Joseph, the Prophet, was aware that there were some things about Masonry which had come down from the beginning and he desired to know what they were, hence the lodge" as cited by Brown, pp. Joseph's limited and late involvement with Masonry does not hinder some critics from finding strong Masonic influence in things revealed through Joseph Smith long before he became a Mason.

Sidney Rigdon is often cited as a possible source of Masonic influence on Joseph, but he also became a Mason in the s, too late to pass on any Mason lore to young Joseph see Thomas J. However, Heber C. Kimball, an early apostle, joined the Masons in before the Church was founded. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer , Univ. In the s, Masonry became fairly popular among the members of the Church. The lodges in the Nauvoo area soon had 1, members, including the First Presidency and most Apostles. The Mormon Masons were criticized for being unorthodox and allowing most anybody to join, appearing to a "degree mill.

Perhaps because of the similarities they saw between restored teachings and the ancient remnants in Masonry.

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Heber C. Kimball expressed his feelings on this issue in a letter to Parley P. Pratt on June 17, Later in , he said, "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" Kimball, p. Based on the quotes given immediately above, Heber C.

Kimball's experience in Masonry seems to have helped him to appreciate the temple ceremony rather than raise doubts about Joseph's inspiration and integrity. He did not see the temple as something that the Joseph the novice had stolen from Masonry, but as a divine restoration from God.

Charles Charvatt, who was acquainted with Joseph in Nauvoo, is quoted as saying that "there were some signs and tokens with their meanings and significance which we [Freemasons] did not have. Joseph restored them and explained them to us" Manuscripts of Samuel C. Likewise, James Cummings, a Mason who was present when Joseph was initiated, is quoted as saying that "the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful" Horace H.

Joseph was seen as a restorer, not a plagiarizer, and obviously had more to offer than could be derived from Masonry alone. Of course, one could argue that faithful Latter-day Saints like Heber C.

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Kimball would strive to interpret Joseph's actions favorably. There were several.


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Importantly, they, too, did not suggest that the temple was plagiarized, even though they attacked the Church on many other issues. A review of such cases in offered by E. McGavin in Mormonism and Masonry , , pp. As with several other bitter anti-Mormon critics who were once LDS, he had been excommunicated for adultery. Bennett was also expelled from the Masonic lodge and there many public notices to keep him out of Masonry McGavin, p. Bennett turned against the Church and said much against Joseph, but never suggested that the Temple was plagiarized from Masonry.

In one pamphlet, he did write about the Temple and called it the "Order Lodge" perhaps after the United Order system of consecration and offered drawings showing the appearance of rooms and the long robes worn by people in the Temple. He spoke of "mysterious rites" that were claimed to from "a special revelation from heaven," and said that only the elite could go in and that there was an oath of secrecy.

He described some of the ceremonies, but did not suggest that Joseph borrowed from Masonry. If he could have made an argument out of Masonry and the LDS temple to discredit Joseph Smith, he probably would have done so. Likewise, Increase Van Deusen wrote the anti-LDS publication, Spiritual Delusions in , wherein he discussed temple ceremonies at length 60 pages , but never referenced Masonry.

George W. Harris did write against the Church and spoke of the signs and tokens of the temple, but said they were "peculiar to this secret organization" the temple. An entry in the Nauvoo journal of Joseph Fielding seems to summarize the attitude of many LDS members about the relationship between the Temple and Masonry: Many have joined the Masonic Institution this seems to have been a Stepping Stone or Preparation for something else, the true Origin of Masonry, this I have also seen and rejoice in it As cited by Andrew F.

What about non-LDS Masons? However, Masonic officials at the time of the controversy surrounding Mormons and the Nauvoo Lodge did not complain that Joseph had stolen or misappropriated secret rites from Masonry McGavin, pp. Those false charges only came much later.

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Please remember that when Joseph taught other LDS men about the Temple and the Endowment - before he ever became a Mason - some of those men included active Masons. If he then borrowed from Masonry to create the Endowment or other ceremonies, surely those who knew Masonry would have objected. Those who later did leave the Church surely would have announced the theft to the world.

However, "the men who knew Masonry best were the ones who realized the true source of [Joseph's] wisdom" McGavin, p. In our day, there are some Mormons who are Masons. I've heard from several of them and they affirm that the relationships do not explain the LDS temple ceremony. Some think he borrowed various elements, but there is not consensus on how much was borrowed. Here, for example, is one comment from D. Whether Masonry formed the impetus of revelation concerning the origins of the temple ceremony is open to question, in my view.

I know that there is a tendency on the part of some to look for similarities in places where they may not be. The "prayer circle" of the Most Excellent Master Degree is nothing like that found in the temple, and is not referred to as the true order of prayer. And, if he had been aware of these, why did not he use this information much earlier, such as in Kirtland or Far West? Even if he had went on open exposures of the ritual that were published by his time, such as Morgan, these were not enough of use to him to formulate these portions of the temple ceremony.

An accurate knowledge of Masonry will not devastate a Latter-day Saint's belief in Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God. Most LDS people that I know who are familiar with Masonry and the Temple can't accept the theory that Masonry was the source of Temple ceremonies, in spite of some common elements. For example, I recently received the following e-mail, used with permission, from a Latter-day Saint who joined the Masons:.

Do several common elements or "likenesses" in ceremonies really imply plagiarism or derivation? What can we infer when common elements are present?


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  • A study of comparative religion e. I suspect that part of the explanation is that many truths were revealed anciently, beginning at the time of Adam, and forms of those truths were handed down and corrupted through the ages, with periodic times of restitution and renewal. We must be cautious, therefore, in claiming one culture or religion as the source for another with similar concepts, when both may have common ancient roots.

    This is true of Masonry and Mormonism. Both claim to have ancient roots, with the latter claiming to be a divine restoration of what once existed among the early Christians and the early prophets of old. Critics often look to Masonry or other modern sources for things found in LDS doctrine, even when a much more plausible and ancient source is obviously the Bible. This is an important point which calls for several examples. An example of errant claims of Masonic origins is found in a book by Professor John L. In many cases, Brooke claims to find a common element between the two systems, and concludes that Masonry is the source of LDS practice, while overlooking obvious Biblical origins.

    On page , for example, Brooke writes: "In words replicated in Mormon doctrine, the high priest in the Royal Arch [Masonry] was to be 'a priest forever after the order of Melchizedec. Later in the book, it is clear that Brooke is aware of Hebrews as the source for the Masonic material p. It looks like a deliberately misleading argument.

    In the same manner, Brooke says that our "baptism for the dead [is based on] Spiritualist doctrine" p.

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    He makes no reference to an obvious Biblical source for the practice in 1 Corinthians Brooke also claims Masonic influence on Joseph while he translated the Book of Mormon, nearly fifteen years before he became a Mason. Brooke looks to Sidney Rigdon as the source of Masonic influence in the Book of Mormon, but he did not become a Mason until the s, as noted above. According to Hamblin et al. Professor Brooke also notes that a John Rigdon and a Thomas Rigdon were Masons in , but fails to demonstrate that these Rigdons had any relationship, beyond name, to Sidney.

    And Brooke indulges in another ante hoc fallacy by claiming that the Mormon temple ceremony could have been influenced at its origin by "the European Lodges of Adoption" p. Brooke cites Mackey as the source for his information on the Lodge of Adoption n. Elsewhere Brooke holds that Mormon ritual relationships are with "American Freemasonry" p. Brooke sees significance in the fact that "the first Masonic degree, the Entered Apprentice, included a recitation of the first three verses of the Creation Story in Genesis" p.

    Yet the significance of this brief citation from Genesis diminishes dramatically when we note that ten pages from Webb's Freemason's Monitor include lengthy quotes from Exodus pp.