Question: What is the role of the Mormon temple to be built in Independence, Missouri?


Question: What is the role of the Mormon temple to be built in Independence, Missouri?

Regarding the building of a temple in Independence, nobody can predict the timetable of the Lord

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Regarding the building of a temple in Independence, nobody can predict the timetable of the Lord. Perhaps it would be advantageous for one to apply Biblical principles when it comes to understanding the time and seasons of the Lord, and should read the Bible with regards to this matter of "next generation." After all, as it states in the Bible: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Even if we look at the prophecy in D&C 84 as if the term "this generation" does mean a time frame of about 100 - 120 years (just to give M&J the benefit of the doubt), it still does not mean it is a false prophecy by LDS terms. D&C 124:49 states, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of man to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept their offerings." The Latter-Day Saints were driven out of the area by the mobs that violently persecuted them. In light of this scripture, the mobs are responsible for the temple not being built, not the LDS or God. But then, "this generation" could be referring to Latter-Day Saints as a whole, and not only are we still here, but we are growing in number.

Some critics of the Church only quote verses 84:4 and 84:5 of D&C 84 in an attempt to demonstrate a "false prophecy" on the part of Joseph Smith. D&C 84 is a revelation on priesthood, as it pertains to temple ordinances. That being the case, there are a few other verses which are significant in understanding this particular temple as revealed in this section. Since critics are concerned that the temple was not built, and is not even yet built, we need to understand if they, and the Lord, have the same understanding of events that were, and are to happen concerning this temple. These other verses give us a clue as to when this temple needs to be completed. First, however, we need to understand the pattern that the Lord uses in revealing doctrine to mankind. It is important to examine the time line of events to see the pattern the Lord had in mind. The Lord does not reveal things all at one. He does so one step at a time as indicated in Isaiah 28:9-13:

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...

Not only was this the pattern in the Old Testament days, it was the pattern during Christ's time as well, as noted in the following scriptures:

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (1 Corinthians 3:2)

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

The Lord reveals patterns to his prophets

This pattern continues. Thus things were revealed to Joseph Smith one step at a time. So what was the pattern for temple building as revealed to Joseph Smith?

The authority of the priesthood was necessary to perform the ordinances of the temple. Continuing with section 84, we learn that the ordinances are directly connected with priesthood authority.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh. (D&C 84:20-21)

How did the priesthood authority come about for these temple ordinances? If you are familiar with LDS Church history, remember that the gospel, the doctrines and ordinances, were not revealed all at once. They were revealed from 1820 through 1844 to the Prophet Joseph Smith, line upon line, precept upon precept. After Joseph was murdered, other prophets have been given further directions from the Lord. Just as a new member learns of the gospel one step at a time, so did the early Saints. There was a gradual revealing of the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel. And, the doctrines came first, then the ordinances. So let's look at the pattern by which the doctrines and ordinances were revealed. In December 1832 the Lord stated the following in relation to building the Kirtland Temple:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. (D&C 88:119)

A few months later, in May of 1833, the Lord provided specific instructions on the construction of the Kirtland Temple. (D&C 94:3-9, D&C 95:13-17) It is important to understand; that this instruction is in keeping with the pattern the Lord has used throughout all time, as He has instructed His prophets in the building and making of many things. The Lord gave instructions on building Noah's Ark (Genesis 6). The Lord gave instructions on how the Tabernacle was to be built (Exodus 26). The Lord gave instructions on how the Ark of the Covenant was to be built (Exodus 25:). The Lord gave instructions on the making of candlesticks (Numbers 8). The Lord gave instruction in the building of altars (Joshua 22:). The Lord gave instructions for the building of temples (1 Chronicles 28:). The fact that the Lord gave instructions on the building of the Kirtland Temple is strong evidence of the divine call of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.[1]

The Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March 27, 1836; however, it was not built with the same purpose as temples today are. This was a "preparatory" temple. It wasn't until this temple was built that the keys of the priesthood could be restored.

The purpose of the Kirtland Temple

The Kirtland Temple holds a peculiar place in the annals of temple building. It is not like other temples. It was built primarily for the restoration of keys of authority. In the receiving of these keys the fulness of gospel ordinances is revealed. The keys of salvation and exaltation for both the living and the dead were given within its sacred walls. An endowment, such as was necessary at the time, was also given. This was not as complete as the endowment later revealed.

In the Kirtland Temple there was no provision made for the salvation of the dead. It had no baptismal font, for it was only a preparatory temple. It had no provision for the endowment ordinances which were later revealed. It was a temple, however, and fully answered the purpose of its creation.[2]:242

The purpose of the Kirtland Temple was fulfilled on April 3, 1836 when the priesthood keys were restored. (D&C 110:) These keys were restored by Jesus Christ (Keys of Resurrection), Moses (Keys of the Gathering of Israel), Elias (Keys of the Blessings of Abraham), and Elijah (Keys of Sealing).

Line upon line

According to the principle of "line upon line, precept upon precept," construction could now begin on a temple in which these priesthood keys could be used. On April 6, 1841, construction of the Nauvoo Temple began. As most of the Saints left Nauvoo under threat of mob violence in early February 1846, a special crew stayed behind and completed the temple. Three months later the building was considered complete and was publicly dedicated on May 1, 1846. Thus we see the first edifice was for the restoration of priesthood peys, and the second edifice was for the application of those keys for the living. The next temple that was completed was the St. George Temple, in which endowments for the dead began.[3] "The first endowments for the dead in this dispensation were performed in the St. George Temple. Endowments for the living were performed in Nauvoo." [2]:171

The line upon line, and precept upon precept, which the Lord revealed was;

  1. Kirtland Temple for the priesthood keys
  2. Nauvoo Temple for the full ordinances for the living
  3. St. George Temple for the ordinances for the dead

The purpose of the Independence Temple

So we see that the Lord works the same today as He did yesterday. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."[4] So how does this temple in Missouri that Joseph Smith spoke of fit in with the process of temple building? This temple is to be the "chief temple."

The center place! Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fulness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fulness of the ordinances of the Lord's house may be administered. But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when the Second David reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people.[5]

How can this temple be the "chief" temple without others? Since it is to be the chief temple, and since the Lord has revealed construction plans for His tabernacles and temples in the past, it would only be logical to assume that the Lord would reveal the pattern in which this temple is to be built.

This is only a faint outline of some of our views in relation to these things, and hence we talk of returning to Jackson county to build the most magnificent temple that ever was formed on the earth and the most splendid city that was ever erected; yea, cities, if you please. The architectural designs of those splendid edifices, cities, walls, gardens, bowers, streets, &c., will be under the direction of the Lord, who will control and manage all the matters; and the people, from the President down, will all be under the guidance and direction of the Lord in all the pursuits of human life, until eventually they will be enabled to erect cities that will be fit to be caught up--that when Zion descends from above, Zion will also ascend from beneath, and be prepared to associate with those from above.[6]

D&C 84 also mentions a specific purpose for this temple in Missouri.

Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses-for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed. (D&C 84:31)

This offering is a book listing the generations of the human race from Adam down through the centuries until the last person. The keys that Elijah held were the sealing keys. (Malachi 4:5-6) The keys that Elijah gave to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple were for the sealing of families in the eternities. (D&C 110:13-15) This is the acceptable sacrifice, which will be by the Sons of Levi.

Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation. (D&C 128:24)


Notes

  1. Many modern day temples have been seen in vision before their construction. "It may come as a surprise to some that the Manti, Oakland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Provo temples were all seen in vision prior to being built. Even the design of the Idaho Falls Temple is based on the vision of an ancient Nephite temple that was shown to the architect." [Matthew B. Brown and Paul Thomas Smith, Symbols In Stone, Symbolism on the Early Temples of the Restoration (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 1997), 9.] It is even proposed that Moroni in his travels, which led him to upstate New York where he buried the plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, dedicated several temple sites including St. George, Manti, Salt Lake, Nauvoo, and Kirtland. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni (City Unknown: PeaceMakers Publishing, 2000), 213.]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56).
  3. Endowments for the dead were first performed in the St. George Temple on January 11, 1877. The St. George Temple was completed before the Salt Lake Temple.
  4. Hebrews 13:8 The LDS believe Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father are two separate individual beings who work as one. It was Jesus Christ who appeared to Moses and other Old Testament prophets. It was Jesus Christ who revealed to the ancient prophets "line upon line, precept upon precept," and He did so with Joseph Smith as well.
  5. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 595. ISBN 0877478724. ISBN 978-0877478720. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  6. John Taylor, (6 April 1863) [[Journal of Discourses/10/[citation needed]#147|Journal of Discourses 10:147]].