This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice ( Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.

“Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment ceremony in May 1842.” (CES Letter)

Temple Rituals Pre-Date Joining Masons– This is not really true. The first promise of an “endowment” of priesthood power dates to 1831, long before Joseph Smith had anything to do with free-masonry. The church was instructed in 1831 to build a temple: “to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high.” The first temple ceremony that we know of was held in January 1836, which included annointings with oil and priesthood blessings. In March 1836, the Saints performed a mass washing and sealing ceremony in the Kirtland temple.

In April, 1836, Moses, Elias, and Elijah, restored sealing keys for baptisms for the dead. And then in January 1841, after the church had been expelled from Kirtland, the church was instructed to build a temple in Nauvoo so that the Lord could “come to and restore again that which was lost unto you… that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people.”

As well as this endowment of priesthood power, washings, sealings, and annointings, many other similarities between the LDS temple endowment and free-masonry were introduced to Joseph Smith before he became a Mason in March 1842.

  • The Book of Abraham (1831) mentioned: “the grand key-words of the Holy Priesthood,” “the sign of the Holy Ghost,” and other elements which were “to be had in the Holy Temple of God.”
  • D&C 124 (1841) mentioned: “keys of the priesthood,” “your annointings and your washings,” ” your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations,” “ordinances of baptizing for the dead,” “keys whereby he may… be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of my priesthood.”
  • D&C 84 (1832) mentioned initiation into the two priesthoods, Aaronic and Melchizedek.
  • William Appleby (1841) said Joseph Smith mentioned: “the Lord revealing the Grand key words of the Holy Priesthood, to Adam in the garden of Eden.”

Similar Wording? – There is no ignoring that some of the specific wording in the temple ceremony resembles the Free-masonry ceremonies. CES Letter asks:

“If Masonry had the original temple ceremony but became distorted over time, why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry, which would be more correct rather than the exact version that Joseph Smith was exposed to in his March 1 842 Nauvoo, Illinois initiation?” (CES Letter)

I don’t know if that is true–CES Letter fails to provide any evidence of this–but I don’t see why it shouldn’t resemble 19th century wording. Joseph Smith was not aware of earlier Mason ceremonies and was not around in ancient times to hear the exact wording of the ancient temples. How was Joseph Smith supposed to restore the ancient temples ceremony out of thin air? He wasn’t a wizard. He needed some kind of basis. Joseph Smith said the policies behind tht temple and its ceremonies”are always governed by the principle of revelation.” “In this [temple] council was instituted the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days.”

He made no claim to receive the exact same wording that they had in ancient times, just that it was the same ancient order of things. He very well could have just borrowed from the Masons.

Nobody ever claimed that earlier Masonic rituals were less apostatized than 18th century Masonic rituals. Why assume this? If the Masonic rituals date back to 970 BC, why would the difference between the 18th century and 19th century versions be significant? Any important apostatizing happened a long, long time ago, which we don’t have records for. For all we know, the 19th century version Joseph Smith experienced was more authentic than whatever earlier version CES Letter is talking about.

Freemasonry Did Not Have Endowment – The LDS temple ceremony presents the endowment of priesthood power, but the ceremony itself is not the endowment. Skeptics like to equate the LDS endowment with Free-masons, but this is incorrect. CES Letter claims Mormons believed that “Freemasonry passed down parts of the endowment over the centuries from Solomon’s temple.” This is false.

The promises and blessings in the LDS ceremony was the endowment, and that does not show up at all in Freemasonry. The only similarity is in the ritualistic presentation. Some wording and actions may be similar, but that’s it. The purpose of the ceremonies are totally different, the themes are different, and the stories and drama are different.

The question is why is there some similar wording and similar behavior in these totally different contexts?

Freemasonry Originates From Ancient Temple – The easiest explanation is that the Freemasonry rituals were loosely based on the ancient temple. But CES Letter denies that Freemasonry could possibly trace back to the Jerusalem temple. They say this is just a myth started by Mormons:

“Freemasonry has zero links to Solomon’s temple. Although more a Church folklore, with origins from comments made by early Mormon Masons such as Heber C. Kimball, than being Church doctrine, it’s a myth that the endowment ceremony has its origins from Solomon’s temple or that Freemasonry passed down parts of the endowment over the centuries from Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple was all about animal sacrifice. Freemasonry has its origins to stone tradesmen in medieval Europe – not in 950 BC Jerusalem.” (CES Letter)

Yes, Freemasonry does trace back to the Hebrew temple, and it is based “partly on the Jewish ceremonies.” The stone tradesmen in midieval Europe introduced a new Gothic style with architectural elements which all scholars agree came from the Middle East, both through the Saracenic style from the Moors in Africa and through travels to Byzantine Lands. The Crac des Chevalier refectory in France, for example, used vault construction that clearly came out of the Middle East. Historians agree that “the Crusaders in Byzantine” brought back construction knowledge and kick-started this style of art and architecture. “Gothic architecture has been traced to Eastern influences.” European Freemasons like Robert Kerr studied and wrote about the architecture of the Jerusalem Temple in great detail.

Early European architecture is rather predictable. The early crusader Monastery of the Cross at Jerusalem used an ashlar construction for its framing and mortared rubble for its vaults. But later we start seeing crusader structures with Middle Eastern, Byzantine, and Islamic styles characterized by elegant tracery and thin un-bonded ribs for the vaults. The stone tradesmen carried this knowledge back to Europe, where we see the same kind of construction. So we know that the European masons who built the soaring Gothic cathedrals were taught in the Middle East during the crusades.

This 10th-12th century Middle Eastern cross-over to Europe is how Freemasonry was born. The Freemasons claim to originate from a band of Dionysiac workmen assembled to build Jerusalem’s temple under a leader named Hiram. This is not a Mormon myth, but what Freemasons themselves have always claimed. I don’t know if it is true or not, but at the very least, we have evidence that European tradesmen were influenced by builders at Jerusalem in the crusades. The crusades being a Holy war for the temple, it would make most sense that they were most interested in the temple.

Crusade Tradesmen Learned From Besieged Hebrews – The Crusaders organized a group called The Poor Soldiers of Jesus in 1118 AD to protect the pilgrimage road to Jerusalem from robbers and invaders. This group was given a building on the site of the Jerusalem temple site, at Mosk-el-Aksa, as a home base. These “Poor Soldiers of Jesus” acted as “a kind of police force in the Crusader states, protecting the pilgrims, who were unarmed, from marauding Muslims” from their headquarters at the Temple site.

The stone tradesmen who built the fortifications for these knights at the Temple site came in direct contact with the Jerusalem temple and native Jewish builders, which contributed to Europe’s Gothic style. Freemasons believe the European tradesmen learned from the Hebrews and were also observing and learning pieces and parts of the Jewish temple ceremonies, perhaps going back to the days when the Temple was first built:

“Israelite and Tyrian toiled side by side, until by the united skill and industry of more than one hundred and fifty thousand workmen the Grand Design was completed- Think you a close and fraternal intimacy had grown up between these workmen? In their hours of ‘rest and refreshment’ they doubtless talked over the history, customs and religions of their respective nations, with the nature and resulting benefits of a closer union; and though the sons of Abraham could not, perhaps, formally unite with their co-workers, the Tyrians, nor embrace their peculiar dogmas in their entirety, they could unite in some of them. The Israelites, perhaps, would commend the doctrines and duties taught by the Prophets, and instructed their Tyrian associates in relation to the claims and promises–the privileges and blessings vouchsafed to them by the God of Abraham… The Temple, in which the solemn and imposing worship of Jehovah was to be publicly instituted and stately celebrated, was dedicated with the most imposing ceremonies that earth had ever witnessed… what they saw and heard on that memorable occasion must have made a deep impression upon their minds and served to confirm them in the truths about which they had heard so much… The ancient Rites and ceremonies of the older Builders, adapted to the religious dogmas and ceremonies of the Hebrews, wedded to the moral truths taught in the Sacred Law, and baptized at the Altar of Jehovah… and these later associations of builders constituted the germ out of which grew the Freemasonry of the present.” (The Freemason’s Chronicle, 1880)

The temple ceremonies that they observed were adopted to the “Soldiers of Jesus” and their builders, and this became the initiation ceremonies into their guilds. While the Dionysiac workmen who supposedly worked on the temple were indentured servants (Hebrew law forbade making fellow Hebrews slaves), these Christian workmen in the time of the Crusades were free. Hence, they received the title: “Free Masons.”

The 19th century fraternal orders that Joseph Smith observed were modern derivatives of these Crusader guilds. This is why elements of their rituals were similar to the ancient temple, perhaps even similar wording.

LDS Ceremony Restores Ancient Rituals – LDS scholars, such as Hugh Nibley, have exhaustively researched how Joseph Smith’s endowment restored elements of the ancient endowment–parts that are not found in the Freemason rituals. The Egyptian Endowment, for example (as told in the Book of Abraham scroll that accompanied the Book of Abraham scroll) included an eternal marriage sealing ceremony for the temple much like the Mormon marriage. The Hopi Native Americans also used similar rituals, which Joseph Smith could not have known about. How did these elements end up in the Mormon endowment ceremony?

It is curious that CES Letter assumes the Freemason ritual must be an entirely modern creation. Why, then, the similarities to Egyptian, Hebrew, Hopi, and Babylonian rituals? It reminds me of the fundamentalist Christian argument against human evolution, ironically enough. Here we have recently-discovered documents of ancient rituals from so many ancient cultures that display parallels to the Freemason rituals, and an evidence-based narrative for how the Freemasons derived their rituals from the Temple. But like the chain of human evolution, we are missing every single piece of the puzzle. There is no “smoking gun” physical link every step of the way, therefore skeptics assume the whole thing must be false! CES Letter assumes it must all be made up in modern times.

We are talking about a highly secretive society. Of course we don’t have smoking gun documents for what they did! There are no originative documents existing for any of it, so so we can’t know for sure either way. But Freemason literature explains it in detail, and the similarities and history support their story.

Even if it turns out the Freemasons didn’t get it directly from the temple, the parts of their rituals that are similar to the LDS endowment ceremony are also similar to the bible. For example, sacred apron clothing is used by Masons as well as Mormons, but for Mormons it goes back to Adam and Eve’s fig leaves rather than the Masonic lambskin apron. Many perceived similarities are simply both Masons and Mormons deriving elements from the bible. The bible is the common thread between the two, so why would it be outrageous for Joseph Smith to adopt bible-based drama to present the priesthood endowment?

CES Letter Logical Fallacies

FalsehoodThe Freemason rituals contain many references to Solomon’s temple, and many Freemason intensely studied Solomon’s temple. CES Letter‘s claim that “Freemasonry has zero links to Solomon’s temple” is false. CES Letter‘s incorrectly claims that the “myth” that “Freemasony passed down parts of the endowment over the century from Solomon’s temple” had its “origins from comments made by early Mormon Masons.” No, Freemasons believed this. CES Letter naively and incorrectly claims “Solomon’s temple was all about animal sacrifice.”
Argument From IgnoranceCES Letter fails to back up their claim that the LDS ceremony more closely resembles the 1842 version rather than any earlier version. While it is true Joseph Smith introduced the full endowment ceremony in 1842, elements of it were introduced long before. There is no proof that Freemason rituals were either based on Solomon’s temple or are modern inventions. We don’t have founding Freemason documents to know for sure where the rituals came from. CES Letter ignores history and evidence for where they came from.
Shifting GoalpostsIn previous arguments, CES Letter made sweeping deductive conclusions based on scant historical evidence, like that some Book of Mormon names are based on local New England towns because they sound kinda similar. The evidence for this opinion is extremely flimsy, but now CES Letter says there is no link between Freemasonry and Solomon’s temple, despite plentiful evidence.
Appeal To Mystery“…a man-made medieval European secret fraternity and its rituals”
Guilt By AssociationCES Letter builds association between Mormons and Freemasons. They ignore and deny the medieval builders’ associations with Jerusalem.
Non SequiturCES Letter quotes Mormon President Heber C. Kimball: “The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon.” If this is true, then it wouldn’t matter if the LDS ceremony resembles 19th century versions of Freemason rituals closer than earlier versions, because the “apostasy” already happened a long time ago.
Big Lie Tactic – Anyone who actually knows history knows CES Letter is wrong, but real value of this argument is that it builds association between Mormons and secret societies. The point of this argument is not to convince us that Joseph Smith ripped off the temple ceremony, but to associate Joseph Smith with shadowy secret groups. That is what really makes this argument effective. Thus, CES Letter reinforces their Big Lie that Mormons are dangerous.

This is how CES Letter operates: through innuendo. They push the Big Lies, they wrap them in a veneer of science, and this convinces the weak-minded members of their audience that science is a superior alternative truth to Mormonism, and that science proves that Joseph Smith was dangerous. This is what is known as superstition. Not science. This is like saying Joseph Smith was visited by an ancient alien in his First Vision at Cumorah, rather than God and angels. It is unscientific, goofy, and erases all faith.

CES Letter uses two classic propaganda tactics to set up this Big Lie: sharpshooter fallacy and glittering words. They cherry-pick few pieces of evidence out of context to make a sweeping conspiracy theory, and then they reinforce their allegation with emotional language.

Using the same tactic as in previous arguments, CES Letter builds a narrative for how Joseph Smith got the language, style, themes, and story-line for the Book of Mormon. One of the Book of Mormon’s strengths is its consistent originality of themes, stories, theology, and geography. By constraining the context of the argument, swinging back and forth between too much contradiction to too little contradiction, CES Letter made their clownish argument sound almost reasonable, almost scientific.

CES Letter gets to cherry-picks a few loose parallels to some other random book to attack Mormons. But now CES Letter demands that Mormons validate every single step of Freemasonry’s relationship to Jerusalem’s temple, or our narrative must be false. Well, why shouldn’t CES Letter have to validate every single comparison? Wouldn’t that be scientific?

Contradiction StrategyCES Letter goes back and forth between too much similarity and too much difference between other sources.

A requirement of the strategy being used by anti-Mormons is that each part of the Mormon belief system needs a ‘particular essence.’ Followers of Satan can never say: “Well, we just don’t know.” They need an answer for every part, so that they can deconstruct every part, belief by belief.

This is easier to accomplish when the answer are constantly shifting and you don’t have to settle on one single truth, like Mormons have to. One day, Joseph Smith got his geography names from upstate New York. In a couple years, if we look at anti-Mormon websites they might tell us he actually got them from some book he read, or a map of Mongolia that a family friend possessed. As for Freemasonry, if tomorrow a document surfaces that unmistakably connects Freemason rituals to Jerusalem’s temple, anti-Mormons will just shift the narrative to something else–probably shift to inconsistencies.

When it comes to history, there is so much we don’t know and will never know. This argument is ridiculous because there are zero records to confirm where the rituals came from, and CES Letter asserts their claim from thin air. Fools jump to conclusions. Followers of Satan are easily tricked when it comes to their pareidolia and history, because they are lazy and do not care to use critical thought. It is especially easy when it comes to the Mormon temple because Mormons are reticent about what happens in the temple and anti-Mormons can say pretty much whatever they want. They spread all kinds of falsehoods about these sacred buildings and sully the temple unopposed. If there is vague evidence for something but we mostly don’t know what really happened because it is ancient history, followers of Satan will jump to lazy conclusions, whatever narrative is hyped on in the media and dressed up in emotional language.

It is easy to manipulate Satan’s followers when it comes to history because they rely only on what they can see and put no true faith in anything.

What does CES Letter believe in? What tenant of faith do hold that we can verify or discredit with archaeology? Global warming? Human evolution? Give us something! Why don’t they discuss an alternative belief to the beliefs of the Book of Mormon and bible, and talk about physical evidences? Instead, they nit-pick and tear down an entire belief system with unscientific appeals to fake science. They construct flimsy narratives to tear down Christian beliefs and replace it with a “general essence” that focuses only their ideology.

Categories: Apologetics