Written by John Carson
In 1990, I visited
the Toronto Mormon Temple located in Brampton Ontario, Canada. This was an event when the public had the rare opportunity to receive tours inside a Mormon temple prior to its dedication. Before entering, tourists were given white shoe coverings. When I asked
what they were for, one of the greeters told me they were to help preserve the new carpeting throughout the temple. I learned afterward the carpeting was replaced right after the tours were over. I was told this was not because of wear, but because heathen
feet contaminated the temple; that the actual purpose for the shoe coverings, was to prevent anything unworthy to come in contact with anything inside the temple. The strictness of worthiness is such that nothing unworthy is permitted to enter a dedicated
Mormons Must Be Worthy Before Going to the Temple
I've had Mormon Missionaries invite
me to their Mormon churches, but never to their temple. Now if you think that the Mormon temple is where all Mormons go, you're wrong. Only worthy Mormons who receive a "temple recommend", after certifying their worthiness from a priesthood leader through
interviews, are permitted to enter. With such strictness of worthiness, why do Mormons have the desire to enter these exquisite buildings? Mormon youth are taught:
- "Temples are literally the houses of
the Lord, where He may visit. If you come to the temple worthily and spiritually prepared, you will feel His presence and receive personal revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost. In order to enter the
temple, you must be living the Lord’s standards and keeping your baptismal covenants. After you certify your worthiness in interviews with priesthood leaders, you may receive a recommend to enter the temple."
In their LDS website, it is taught:
- "We must be worthy before we
go to the temple. There are restrictions and conditions set.... If an applicant is not keeping the commandments or there is something unsettled about his or her life that needs putting in order, it will be necessary for that individual to demonstrate true
repentance before a temple recommend is issued."
How Important Are Mormon Temples to Mormons?
The dedicated Mormon could never look upon the temple with contempt, but with awe. There is also a feeling of obligation to go to the temple, for that is where they believe their necessary work is done in order for them to return to
God. The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith said about temple work:
- "The question is frequently asked, 'Can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances, etc.?'
I would answer, No, not the fullness of salvation."
Mormons are taught that gaining eternal exaltation and the opportunity to return to God the Father,
is possible through sealing ordinances performed inside these temple walls. They believe the keys to those 'sealing powers' were lost shortly after the first century apostles were martyred. On March 27, 1836, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. In Doctrine
and Covenants 110 (hereafter D&C, considered Mormon scripture), it is recorded that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were visited by Jesus Christ in the newly built temple on April 3rd and said he "accepted this house." Other Old Testament Saints were said
to have visited Joseph and Oliver as well, ending with Elijah arriving to commit to them the keys of sealing—the power to bind and validate in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth. Mormon President Boyd Packer said:
sacred sealing power is with the Church now. Nothing is regarded with more sacred contemplation by those who know the significance of this authority. Nothing is more closely held.... No one can get (the sealing power) except from the prophet, seer,
and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or from those he has delegated to give it to others.... No authorization transcends it in value."
Could a Person Enter the Presence of God Without These Temple Ordinances?
Mormon President Brigham Young
- "Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which
are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels,
being able to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." (Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book
Co., 1971], page 416.)
Mormons believe the current President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "is the one man alive who is responsible for the keys that seal families and all those
priesthood ordinances necessary to attain eternal life...."
The ordinances performed in Mormon temples are deemed
so important, that Mormons believe God revealed such work to Joseph Smith as a new and everlasting covenant:
- "For behold, I reveal unto you a
new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory. For all who will have a blessing at my hands
shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world." (D&C
The Mormon church declares their members who do works in their temples as 'Covenant Keepers':
the Lord is pleased when we are worthy of the title: A keeper of the covenants.... It is in the ordinances of the temple that we are placed under covenant to
Him—it is there we become the covenant people."
What Can We Conclude From Mormon Teachings?
- Only worthy Mormons are permitted to enter a dedicated Mormon temple
- Works performed inside Mormon temples are necessary for salvation
- No one can enter into God's holy presence without Mormon temple works
- God gave these works as an
everlasting covenant; those who do not abide are damned; those who abide are 'Covenant Keepers'