The LDS Temple Endowment Site

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Early Kirtland Endowment

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The purpose of this article is to point out that the LDS "endowment" conducted in the Kirtland Temple was significantly different than the "endowment" conducted in the Nauvoo Temple. Surprisingly, many of the changes in the two "endowments" are from the incorporation of borrowed/stolen Masonic Rites. Before the endowments in the Nauvoo Temple were given, Joseph Smith became a Mason on March 15, 1842 in his upper business office or Masonic lodge room (History of the Church, vol. 4, pg. 550-551). Only a couple of weeks after Joseph Smith's initiation into Masonry, he taught the other LDS Church leaders in the same Masonic lodge room. He gave instructions on the "...principles and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, annointings, endowments, and the communication of keys" (May 4, 1842, History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 2). Joseph Smith's own temple records indicate his endowment took place on May 4, 1842 weeks after his Masonic initiation. Again, the purpose of this post is to show that the "endowments" given in Kirtland were far different than the ones given in the Nauvoo Temple.

In showing the differences I will use the Kirtland Elder's Quorum Record 1836-1841, which is from the RLDS Church Archives and edited by Lyndon W. Cook and Milton V. Backman, Jr., Provo, Utah, Grandin Book Co., 1985.

Backman & Cook eds. Kirtland Elders' Quorum Record (1985), p.25 - p.26:
"6th Joseph Smith Jr made Some remarks [These minutes contain information concerning the Prophet's activities in Kirtland not included in his published History.] and Notified the Elders that the Solemn assembly was to be Called on the 6[th] of April & also that those Elders who were Not anointed must be anointed before that time [Footnote: The Prophet's remarks refer to a second solemn assembly planned for the 6th of April, 1837. Worthy brethren who were unable to attend the solemn assembly the previous year were invited to participate in certain purifying ordinances preparatory to receiving a spiritual endowment of power. These ordinances consisted of (1) washing "head to foot" in soap and water, (2) washing in clear water and perfumed whiskey, (3) having one's head anointed with consecrated oil and receiving a blessing by the spirit of prophesy, (4) having the anointing blessing sealed with uplifted hands (solemn prayer, a sealing prayer, and the hosanna shout), and (5) washing of faces and feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper.] Also prophesied that unless the church acts in perfect greater union than they had for the winter past it Should be Scourged until they Should feel it four fold to that of the dispersion of Zion."

Account by Joseph Smith:
"At about 3. oclock P.M. I dismissed the school and the presidency, retired to the loft of the printing office, where we attended the ordinance of washing our bodies in pure water, we also perfumed our bodies and our heads, in the name of the Lord at early candlelight, I meet with the presid=ency, at the west school room in the Chapel to attend to the ordinance of annointing our heads with holy oil— also the councils of {Zion} Kirtland and Zion, meet in the two ad=joining rooms, who waited in prayer while we attended to the ordinance,—I took the oil in my {right} hand, father Smith being seated before me and the rest of the pre=sidency encircled him round about.—we then streched our right hands to heaven and blessed the oil and consecrated it in the name of Jesus Christ— we then laid our hands on our aged fath[er] Smith, and invoked, the blessings of heaven,—I then annointed his head with the consecrated oil, and sealed many blessings upon him, {head} he presidency then in turn, laid their hands upon his head, beginning at the eldest, untill they had all laid their hands on him, and pronounced such blessings, upon his head as the Lord put in their hearts— all blessing him to be our patraark [Patriarch], {and} annoint our heads, and attend to all duties that pertain to that office.— I then took the seat, and father annoint[ed] me head, and sealed upon me the blessings, of Moses, to lead Israel in the latter days, even as moses led him in days of old,—also the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.—all of the presidency laid their hands upon me and pronounced upon my head many prophecies, and blessings...."
(Note: Deleted words are in braces "{ }", interpoations are in angeled brackets, "[ ]".)

(Source: Joseph Smith’s Diary, 21 January 1836, as recorded in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984), pp. 145-146.)

In summary the Kirtland ceremony included:

  • Washing with soap and water.
  • Washing with water and perfumed whiskey (Using whiskey for washing is supported by Doctrine and Covenants 89:7).
  • Consecration with oil and receiving blessing.
  • Blessing sealed.
  • Washing of faces and feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper.

Notice no oaths, penal signs, apron, grips, keynames, five-points of fellowship or any ot Masonic similarities. Furthermore, anyone familiar with the current LDS endowment or even the pre-1990 version would realize that the "endowments" were different in both the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples. The LDS Temple ceremonies (post Nauvoo) and the three versions of the LDS endowment (1931, 1984, and 1990) are described at this web site.

Last updated: December 27, 2008 3:00 PM EST

 

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