Skip to comments.Female Episcopal Priest Visits a Mormon Temple
Posted on 04/24/2012 1:28:27 PM PDT by Jeff Head
As I stood in front of the new Mormon Temple in Liberty, Mo., it struck me as ironic that close to 175 years ago, Mormons were forced out of this same state.
Whereas the Missouri public once urged their governor to force Joseph Smith and his followers out of the area surrounding Kansas City, Mormons began to return to the region in the 1900s, eventually gathering in such large numbers that the Church organization decided the region needed a temple.
Which is why I came to visit.
Latter Day Saints restrict temple access to members of their denomination who have proven themselves to be faithful and dedicated adherents. Because Mormons believe temples are the most sacred places on earth, one needs to be prepared to enter them by being an active member of the Church. (In contrast, chapels, where Mormons hold Sunday worship, are open to everyone. Temples are used only for certain rituals and are not open on Sunday so that Mormons can be at their chapel services.)
When a new temple is built, anyone may enter prior to its dedication. So, always curious to learn about the faith of others, I didn't want to miss an opportunity to see a site normally closed off to an Episcopal priest like myself.
My visit seemed all the more timely because Mormons have been in the news a lot lately, and so have their temples. Elizabeth Smart recently married her husband in a temple in Hawaii during a ceremony called a sealing, in which the couple and close Mormon friends and family gather together to witness God joining the couple together for time and all eternity. In less complimentary news, Elie Wiesel took Mitt Romney to task for his faith's practice of baptisms of the dead, which also take places within temple walls.
These headlines, in addition to my own curiosity, motivated my visit to the new temple in Kansas City, and with my curiosity came some questions:
What does a Mormon temple look like, and what happens inside it?
Would I feel God's presence in this space, even though it's not a space that's sacred for me?
Before I go any further -- and because I know it's the question at the front of your mind, dear reader -- no one tried to convert me. In fact, everyone was very welcoming. Members volunteered en masse, clad in pressed suits and dresses. They offered guided tours, bent down to put protective boots onto my feet so my shoes wouldn't dirty the carpeting, and offered me a chewy snickerdoodle at the end of the tour. They showed me every space from changing rooms to sealing rooms where marriages take place and answered every question I asked, no matter how challenging or controversial.
And in the end, yes, I did have a God moment.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Mormons go to temples to be close to God. Much like the ancient Jewish people believed God lived at the heart of the temple in Jerusalem, Mormons believe that followers can meet God most intimately in the temple. The reasons they visit temples vary: In addition to having their marriages sealed in the temple, Mormons also have sealing ceremonies that unite parents and children for time and all eternity. Others come to participate in baptisms of the dead, which are intended to be used only for deceased family members of active Mormons, though the Church acknowledged in the wake of Elie Wiesel's comments that others -- such as Anne Frank -- have had baptisms performed on their behalf. These baptisms are not intended to convert the deceased but rather to give them a choice in the afterlife to embrace the revelation of Mormonism: Assuming an afterlife exists, the baptized deceased are free to say yes or no as they please. Finally, Mormons come to the temple to receive their endowment, a ritual ceremony where followers make promises to God and receive knowledge about God.
Unlike a cathedral, which is primarily composed of one large worship space, a Mormon temple has a variety of smaller rooms that serve different purposes. There are sealing rooms and rooms for men and women to change into white clothes (every male or female Mormon who enters a dedicated temple wears the same white clothing) and instruction rooms where individuals learn about God in preparation for receiving their endowments.
It was in these rooms, and the final Celestial Room, where I caught a glimpse of God.
You see, as part of our final stop on the tour, our guide took us to a room with a mural of the Missouri countryside painted by a local artist. The room had earthy colors, browns and greens and rows of cushioned seats. This was the first instruction room. From there, we took a step up -- as if ascending closer to heaven -- and entered a second room, similar to the first in shape and size but all white. This was the second instruction room. When we left that room, we took another step up and entered the Celestial Room, a space designed to give those who sit in it a foretaste of heaven.
It was a simple room yet ornate at the same time, all white with sparkling crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, and plump sofas and chairs reminiscent of those that must have existed in Joseph Smith's day. Our guide asked us to be silent and said we were welcome to sit wherever we liked and take a moment to pray. So I sat down on a sofa that seemed to envelop me, folded my hands on my lap and closed my eyes.
Like Dante, who saw God face to face but had no words to describe the encounter, I have few words to describe what I felt in that moment. But I can say this: While it did not convert me, nor did it make me want to be a Mormon, the silence and peace I felt reminded me of the many other times I've felt close to God, whether in an Episcopal cathedral, in a clear, warm ocean or in my ratty old car. And because of that, I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.
And along the lines of Mormons being across the world: As I wrote earlier, Mormons were ironically driven out of Liberty, Missouri and the surrounding region nearly 175 years ago. It cannot be lost on those who visit the new temple that almost two centuries later, Mormons are often still held in suspicion by society, but they are far from being as vulnerable as they were in their early years. They are building stronger foundations every day, and striving, as they do so, to catch a glimpse of heaven.
When Obama says he’d like a hot dog; he MEANS it!
I am truly sorry if you have been mistreated, shunned, or belittled. That is not good coming from anyone, and particularly not family or people who consider and call themselves Christian.
As I have stated, I have been a member now for 42 years this September. In that time I have been to, been involved with, and served in wards and branches in all the following areas:
San Jose, CA
New Delhi, India
Certainly I have seen wrong doing, and cases where people turned away from someone who may have showed up smelling badly of tobacco or alcohol...in all cases I have tried to remind and point out that all God’s children are welcome, that the Church is a hospital for sinners and not a country club of saints, and that folks with ills are what the church and the Gospel is for...for each of us. I have given talks on what might happen if lieing, cheating, immorality, watching bad things on TVs or Movies, or jealousy, envyy, or any other sin had its own distinctive smeell like Tobacco or Alcohol. In each case my sentiment and message was that the whole place would stink so badly that we would all be driven out...so it is best to love people and try and help them when they come, and not shun or turn away from them because, spiritually if we could smell the aroma of our own sins...we would be just as obvious.
So, of course, as humans, and imperfect, we find these types of things everywhere. The best we can do is try and live ourselves, humbly, trying to avoid such attitudes and behavior and help others to do the same...and not point the finger.
As I say, for the most part, the vast majority of members where I have lived and worked try to do this and are good, honorable, decent people. I am sorry that your experiences have clearly run you up against folks who apparently do not try and be Christ-like. The best you can do is to love them, and try and treat and show them how to be Christlike by treating them as you would be treated.
Again, the vast majority of members I have dealt with in all of those places, all over the country and around the world, have been good, Christian people, trying to follow the Savior and live as best they can, thankful for and relying on His grace and atonement to guide their lives.
I ray the people you have had run ins with will turn their lives around and seek you out one day, asking for your forgiveness.
Mormonism is not a Christian faith.
I have to wonder how you believe that posting your resume and testimony is going to convince anyone of mormonism's claim to be "Christian" when there are 52,000 mormon missionaries going out every single day telling Christians that their faith is bogus, and the only way to salvaion is to become baptized mormon and take part in arcane temple rituals that are manmade and do NOT bind God to their promises.
What does it mean that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true Church?
Our first responsibility and purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ to a world that suffers to know of His divine mission. As my response to that great responsibility, I will speak about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only true and living Church. In doing so I know I speak against the powerful tide of what is called political correctness.
The fashionable opinion of this age is that all churches are true. In truth, the idea that all churches are the same is the doctrine of the anti-Christ, illustrated by the Book of Mormon account of Korihor (see Alma 30). That account was given to teach us a vital lesson in our day.
A revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1831, soon after the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke of those who had been given power to lay the foundation of this church. The Lord then referred to the Church as the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased (D&C 1:30).
Because of this declaration of the Lord, we refer to this, His Churchour Churchas the only true Church. Sometimes we do this in a way that gives great offense to people who belong to other churches or who subscribe to other philosophies. But God has not taught us anything that should cause us to feel superior to other people. Certainly all churches and philosophies have elements of truth in them, some more than others. Certainly God loves all of His children. And certainly His gospel plan is for all of His children, all according to His own timetable.
So what does it mean that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true Church?
Three features(1) fulness of doctrine, (2) power of the priesthood, and (3) testimony of Jesus Christexplain why God has declared and why we as His servants maintain that this is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.
Mormonism is anti-Christian.
Ping to #123.
Jeff, as always you state your experiences are not mine or the millions, upon millions who have left lds or deal with it on a daily basis.
My lds family does not and has never referred to themselves as Christians, as they are not. The say they are lds, sometimes they say mormon.
They beleive in the foundation of mormonism, and at its core is anti-Christian. Most of them can trace their line to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
My personal experiences have been going on since 1962, even longer than yours.
In fact Jeff, I have never heard anyone talk about their real experiences with lds as glowingly as you do.
One of my lds cousins says “they are nice to your face, and will cut your spin in two if it benefits them, while they have an “oh I am so good” smile on their faces”.
Link for post #123.
Thats my story.
Since you are bearing your testimony - let me bear mine since it is somewhat similiar to yours.
I was in my mid-20s and doing very well by the world's standards. Life should have been good but there was a discontent in me that I couldn't identify. A Mormon co-worker consistently discuss Mormonism with me and shared a lot of LDS materials with me. Since he was (and still is) a good friend and I wasn't sure about what I was looking for, I listened carefully for a long period of time. He counseled me to pray about Mormonism which I did.
However, the Holy Spirit did not give me the answer my Mormon friend was hoping for. I never got a peace about Mormonism. Fortunately, at the same time, the Holy Spirit brought someone into my life who exhibited that contentment and peace that I longed for. She explained the true Gospel to me and helped me to understand that her source of joy was Jesus Christ. She got me plugged into an evangelical Bible Study with other committed Christians who exhibited this same joy and peace which was totally lacking in my Mormon friends. I know that the Holy Spirit was answering my prayers and I committed my life to Jesus Christ and have never looked back. The Lord has granted me the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
So what does that get us? My subjective experience cancels your subjective experience. So if we are honest about our search, it means that we have to look for objective measures to determine truth. On this front, as shown repeatedly on the so-called "Anti-Mormon" threads, Mormonism fails when objective measures can be used.
The Holy Spirit reaffirmed the truth He revealed during my graduate school experience. Among the Ph.D. students, there were three committed evangelicals and a dozen Mormons including at least, five RMs. We had some spirited discussions but one thing became abundantly clear to us evangelicals: the Mormon students had no spiritual understanding at all. As Walter Martin correctly observed (paraphrasing here): "Discussing spiritual things with a Mormon is like trying to describe a rainbow to a person who was born blind." The illogical twists that these intelligent people would make were sometimes mindblowing. Looking back on the experience, I realized that these Mormon apologists were exhibiting what Reaganaut so succinently stated when she said that 'Mormons don't want truth, they want the Mormon church to be true.'
There is nothing unchristian about a church having it's own marriage policies. So by that reasoning denying communion to a non member or worse one who has not met the requirements stated for such by Christ would be unchristian even though many main stream churches have such policy?
What about a church where women must sit on one side and men the other? What if I want to sit with my wife? Certain Baptist have that rule.
Oh and BTW my wife told me about a school field trip she took as a kid. They were allowed to enter only certain parts of the Temple as long as no services were taking place and no others were present. No it wasn't a Mormon Temple either LOL.
She also for first grade attended a Catholic School. For her to enter the church with the rest of the class every morning where Mass was held she had to cover her head. If she did something wrong in class she had to light a candle and stand before the class and apologize. Nope she wasn't Catholic but the school was ran by the Catholic church.
I have known and interacted with many Mormons in my lifetime from school teachers to my cousin who married into the church after being raised Baptist. We worship the same LORD and Savior. The love of Christ dwells in them. I have also interacted with some Christians so self righteous and legalistic they condemn all views outside their specific denomination as work of the devil.
Watch to whom a Christian gives the glory and watch the fruits of their labors by that you will know them. I can think of a lot of churches I radically disagree with. These are ones attacking such things as prayer in school etc where ones doing so are often members of United Church of Christ. One example is the Director of Americans for Separation of Church and State. Rev Lynn I think is the name the other a friend and former preacher of Obama.
The Mormons as in LDS are not my enemy. I can find a lot I disagree with talking to Catholics, Baptist, Methodist, etc but I understand whom they serve.
One Mormon I know has had nothing short of a medical miracle. He gives Jesus Christ the glory for that and all things in his life and that should be enough proof.
lds jesus - created
Biblical Jesus - eternal
lds god - was once a man
Biblical God - eternal
lds jesus - brother or satan Biblical Jesus - not the brother of satan
lds jesus - not sufficient for salvation. Must work with Joseph Smith to decide if you are worthy. Must work for salvation, with no assurance.
Biblical Jesus - sufficient for Salvation because of Grace
lds men can becaome gods of their own planets
Christians say there is only one God.
The same, not even close.
"fruits" - referrers to false prophets, such as Joseph Smith.
Watch, who lds give glory to - Joseph Smith for restoring something or other.
Just because someone says their watch is a Rolex doesn't make it so. It could be a fake.
The bible warns of false Jesus - yet I'll bet the followers of those false Jesus called themselves Christian too - but they weren't.
It is undeniable Jeff - mormonism staked its claim that they were NOT Christian. They still teach that Christian churches are apostate and that mormonism is the only "TRUE" church. So don't try to spread this falsehood. By every key criteria, mormonism is NOT Christian.
And mormonism's doctrine would repudiate that a woman PRIEST could even exist - let alone give credence to it - except for PR purposes - blurr the lines and begile the unknowing.
svcw, you are clearly emotionally involved and upset over this (obviously) and probably justafiably so. A such some times you make some very wide ranging and generalized statements, IMHO.
You may have had experiences since 1962...but it has been with a relative few members of the church with whom you have these issues, and then with other discontent folks who also have had bad experiences...and that’s most of your world as regards the LDS Church. So the experiences you have had, and the experiences I have had naturally are with completely different populations. I deal, for the most part, with active, engaged members who are glad they are there and wish to share their happiness with others. You deal with people who are upset at the church and have left it for those reasons. Outside of your own relatives and others who have wronged you, you probably do not deal with active, engaged, and content members of the Church very often.
I have been dealing with Wards and Branches and Stakes all over the country and around the world...and have not seen the types of negative things to the extent you have, though there are certainly, as I stated, some experiences. In my own role as a home teacher, in bishoprics, as a quorum president or leader, I have had to deal with people who were dissaffected for one reason or another, usally some member offended them for some reason or another...somtimes even unaware that ehy had done so. and I have been able to, with a lot of prayer and working with both sides, for the most part help them reconcile their differences. But not always.
But regarding “millions and millions” who have left the church. This is, IMHO, somewhat exagerated when there are only just over 14 million members altogether. Millions and millions implies quite a bit more than three or four million and I believe such a number is an exageration, though I certainly do not know an exact number.
No doubt there are many who have left, whatever that number is...as there are with any large denomination. But the church has continued to grow and retains far more than it looses throughout the time period. Otherwise it could not have grown from a couple or three million in 1970 to 14+ million today.
Anyhow, again, so very sorry for your difficult and untoward experiences, and I pray you and those who have treated you badly can reconcile and be caring and helpful to one another.
I may not accept that she is a “Priest” from a doctrinal perspective, but I do recognize her as a child of God, and respect her as such.
IMHO, she did not write this from a doctrinal, Episcopal Priest standpoint as much as she did as an individual who visited our open house...which I felt she made pretty clear. There was no attempt on her part to dwell on or call out the obvious doctrinal differences we have...just to describe pretty much what she experienced and thought of it.
As to our faith being Christian or not...I am grateful it will be Christ Jesus, whom I worship, adore, and who is the author of my Salvation who will make that determination...for He knows the heart and judges us all accordingly as regards our acceptance of His atonement and our discipleship.
You may call it what you wish, but is He whom I profess, and His atonment and sacrifice for my sins...for all of our sins...that I proclaim.
My Wintess for Christ
Thank you for sharing. I do not believe they cancel each other out at all...to the contrary, I believe they show the wonder of God in Heaven’s knowledge of His children, each and every one, and where He would use them best.
I certainly know my brother and so many other good Christian people I know outside of my own faith are used daily by God in Heaven and His Son through the promptings of the Holy Ghost to bring people to Christ...and that is always good, to whatever measure of His atoenment and knowledge they can.
I know from personal experience that the LDS church does like wise...I have seen it and felt it spiritually very deeply on countless occassions.
A statement that in essense says that LDS people cannnot understand or feel spirituality is, I am sorry, very opinionated and very narro on its face...and I can tell you from my own experiences that it is simply wrong. I would not make such a statement about you or any other sincere believer in Christ. He will use them as He will.
Now, we do believe that in due time, Christ will bring all of His sheep to a full knowledge of the entire truth...and you know what we believe in that regard. I know that others, conversel believe that it is another interpretation of doctrine that we will be brought to...and I am fine with that.
In the end, if we sincerely, love, accept, profess, and follow Jesus Christ, hhe will lead us where He needs and wants us to go. Guess what...if He one day appears to me, or comes back and tells me, Jeff, you need to stop attending the temple...if HE bids me do so, I will. I would hope, that in due time, should you stand before Him or as He returns to this earth in great glory and tells you that you should be attending...that you will do so. I know you will if your love for Him is true and it is He doing the bidding.
I am content to leave it there and let us each go about doing good and bringing people to Him...for that is surely what I intend to continue doing according to His witness which I have received through the Holy Ghost.
God bless you in your endeavors to do the same.
In the US, there are fewer than 2% of these "members" (remember, they are reported as such even if they haven't set foot in a mormon church for years.)
"Attendance at sacrament meeting varies substantially. Asia and Latin America have weekly attendance rates of about 25 percent, Europe averages about 35 percent" (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 1992, 4:1527.)
"Canada, the South Pacific, and the United States average between 40 percent and 50 percent." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 1992, 4:1527.)
"The percentage of adults in a temple marriage varies from about 45 percent in Utah to less than 2 percent in Mexico and Central America." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 1992, 4:1531)
"For the U.S. as a whole, only 59% of baptized males ever receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the South Pacific, the figure drops to 35%; in Great Britain, 29%. In Mexico (with almost 850,000 members) the figure is 19%; and in Japan, only 17% of the male members ever make it past the Aaronic Priesthood. (Lowell C. Bennion and Lawrence Young, Dialogue, Spring 1996, p.19.)
Generalized statements which IMO you are prone to make without sourcing to unbiased sources are sure to be challenged as "propaganda".
As to our faith being Christian or not...I am grateful it will be Christ Jesus, whom I worship, adore, and who is the author of my Salvation who will make that determination.
Yes indeed Jeff. Yet Jesus Himself warned us about following false Jesuses. Many will say they did a lot of thing in "his name" and are rejected. So that in itself makes it clear WHO he is is what matters - not just claiming the name of the individual.
Your "Jesus", a junior god of a plethora of gods. Your 'salvation' - based upon your works AFTER ALL YOU CAN DO - contrary to what the bible and even a systematic examination of mormon doctrine states. His 'atonement' - again mormon concept is non-biblical and universal to all - the only difference are the works and ordinances of the individual after all they can do.
You may call it what you wish, but is He whom I profess, and His atonment and sacrifice for my sins...for all of our sins...that I proclaim.
After all you can do Jeff - it is in YOUR doctrine. Your doctrine is not Christianity nor is compatable with Christianity - so it becomes absurd to claim to be Christian when your doctrine denies all the key doctrines of Christianity. Really Jeff.
My Wintess for Christ
Your witness is countered by far more witnesses to the contrary Jeff, and you would be dishonest to deny it. A "witness" based upon subjective experience is a foundation built upon sand - particularly when you have to ignore all the plainly evident falsehoods built into mormonism. You may whitewash it as you wish - but Jesus wasn't too keen on those who whitewashed things either.
Well, Jeff what can I saw, yet again you discount what I have said.
Am I emotionally involved you betcha, I have seen my lds families destroyed, I have seen aunts and uncles weep, yet are terrified to leave.
The tipping point for me was when my cousin put a bullet in her brain because of how she was treated by her “god” “priest” husband, the bishop and stake president.
Your assumption I have experiences with relative few people, is a condescending statement.
I have had personal experiences over many states and hundreds of people since 1962.
I told you most of my lds family traces their beginning to JS and BY, this is not a small group in a tiny area of some mythical state. These people are in the hundreds over many states.
I have friends who are lds in many states and their experiences are what I am reporting to you .
I only have three cousins who have left (yes and they have been shunned, ignored berated by their lds family and former friends), the rest just dutifully follow the rules, hoping for their own planet/godhood, whatever.
Even my uncle who sings in the MTC, has little good to say about lds.
It is not as easy to leave lds, a person has to be willing to give up family, friends, home and harth, maybe a job.
I know of only one lds member who glowingly talks about mormonism and that is you.
You used the word “reconcile” what is there to reconcile? If I chose not to be lds or leave lds, I will be shunned, berated, ignored......a whole host of other things. It sounds almost as if your “counseling” is more of a ‘you better come back” sort of deal.
According to the lds articles of faith, I am free to beleive what I want (apparently only as long at it mormonism).
(As a side note lds is not growing, hence the many articles write by lds publications this year about shrinking membership)
Oh my goodness, Jeff, you seem to be a very nice and thoughtful person. I pray that one day, something that is written here by all these caring people will click and we will hear you tell that you are out of the darkness and into the light. I care.
Like I said, He will be my Judge. And I am content and etermnally grateful for that because I know He knows my heart.
As a result, I will continue doing what I know to be right, and seek and bring as many souls closer to Him as I possibly can.
God’s speed to you as you seek to do the same.
Thanks for the link.
Here’s one for you back that will raise the ire of many on this thread, but nonetheless represents the honest thoughts and feelings of this well known Evangelical: