Mormonism and temples/Second anointing
What is the "second anointing"?
FairMormon occasionally receives questions about a temple ordinance called "the second anointing." The questions usually revolve around the following issues:
- "What is the second anointing?"
- "Is this account of the second anointing that I've seen accurate?"
The second anointing is an ordinance performed in the temple. It is not regarded as an essential ordinance which one must receive in this life for exaltation. In the early Utah period, this ordinance was performed more widely than it is today.
Those who receive the second anointing and keep their temple covenants would never discuss the specifics in any public forum. Written accounts that purport to describe the second anointing should be viewed with extreme caution and skepticism.
FairMormon is confident that no faithful Latter-day Saint would want to learn about such a sacred matter from unauthorized sources. Furthermore, no Latter-day Saint would wisely seek such information prematurely, any more than a parent would want a child to read an unauthorized transcript of the temple endowment prior to attending the temple for the first time.
Adequate, reliable, circumspect information can be found in recent Church publications on the subjects of "calling and election made sure," "fullness of the priesthood," and "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise." For an excellent example, see Bruce R. McConkie's article in the June 1978 New Era, a publication sanctioned by the Brethren, entitled "Celestial Marriage":
In order to get a proper marriage one must do this: first, search for and seek out celestial marriage—find the right ordinance; second, look for a legal administrator, someone who holds the sealing power—and that power is exercised only in the temples that the Lord has had built by the tithing and sacrifice of his people in our day; and third, so live in righteousness, uprightness, integrity, virtue, and morality that he is entitled to have the Holy Spirit of God ratify and seal and justify and approve, and in that event his marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and is binding in time and in eternity.
It is worthwhile to study what Joseph Smith and the apostles taught on these subjects while temple ordinances were being restored in Nauvoo. Wilford Woodruff summarized one of Brigham Young's addresses in his journal which is cited in History of the Church (Vol. 5 p. 527):
He also remarked that if any in the Church had the fullness of the Melchisedec Priesthood, he did not know it. For any person to have the fullness of that priesthood, he must be a king and priest. A person may have a portion of that priesthood, the same as governors or judges of England have power from the king to transact business; but that does not make them kings of England. A person may be anointed king and priest long before he receives his kingdom.
We recommend reading respected Mormon historians Ronald K. Esplin, "Joseph, Brigham, and the Twelve: A succession of continuity," Brigham Young University Studies 21 no. 3, 301-342. and Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005). for further exposition and context for this teaching.
Heber C. Kimball noted that even being "sealed up to eternal lives" will do no good if one breaks their covenants,
Some will come with great zeal and anxiety, saying, "I want my endowments; I want my washings and anointings; I want my blessings; I wish to be sealed up to eternal lives; I wish to have my wife sealed and my children sealed to me;" in short, "I desire this and I wish that." What good would all this do you, if you do not live up to your profession and practise your religion? Not as much good as for me to take a bag of sand and baptize it, lay hands upon it for the gift of the Holy Ghost, wash it and anoint, and then seal it up to eternal lives, for the sand will be saved, having filled the measure of its creation, but you will not, except through faith and obedience. Those little pebbles and particles of sand gather themselves together and are engaged, as with one heart and mind, to accomplish a purpose in nature. Do they not keep the mighty ocean in its place by one united exertion? And if we were fully united we could resist and overcome every evil principle there is on earth or in hell (emphasis added).
- Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 3:124.