The Church and Freemasonry

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latterdaytemplar
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The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 16 Apr 2021, 06:52

I was recently interviewed on Saints Unscripted to resolve doubts that some Latter-day Saints may have relative to the relationship between the Church and Freemasonry. Consequentially, we did touch upon the topic of the temple endowment ceremony; however, I believe that we did well in respecting its sacred nature.

Not in the Interview
One reason for joining Freemasonry that was not mentioned in the interview is that I had heard rumors concerning Joseph Smith stealing Masonic ceremonies and passing them off as revelation; with doubts growing, I decided to become a Freemason to see for myself if those rumors were true. My doubts on this matter were resolved and my faith strengthened due to the information presented in the interview.

Here is the link to that interview, in case anyone is interested in seeing it.
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.

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On Own Now
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by On Own Now » 16 Apr 2021, 09:27

ldt,

Thanks for the link. Very informative and respectful of Church and FM. I appreciated the point that JS seemed to use it as a model for ritual, rather than as a source of content... how to teach it...

FM/Temple was one area of conflict for me during my FC that I can say now is significantly reduced in my mind. I certainly can see why it would be an issue for many, but I think I was overly concerned with it at the time. In retrospect, I think JS was an imaginative tinkerer. Since I work in the Software Engineering trade, I see those attributes often; sometimes to an annoying degree. For example, it's extremely common for a software engineer to see a problem, look at how it was solved, come up with an alternative and then actively fight for their way as the right way. Funny thing is that if the problem had originally been solved their way, they would have come up with an alternate to that and pressed for adoption of that new alternative. Often, these engineers will say 'better' when they really just mean 'different'. Anyway, it doesn't make JS a liar or thief (in and of itself).

I have also come to think of the Endowment as so metaphorical that I have been able to abstract it into a general idea/concept and I no longer think of it in the same way as BY, who once said we'd have to give the signs and tokens to angel sentinels to enter the Celestial Kingdom. That was a hyper-literal view of the endowment, which I no longer think of as relevant or even as what was originally intended.
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latterdaytemplar
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 16 Apr 2021, 10:59

oon,

You're very welcome. It was my pleasure (although I must say that, in the weeks leading up to the video being posted, my stomach was twisted in knots; perhaps a virtual form of stage fright?). I'm glad that my differentiation between ceremonial elements and subject matter was clear; it's typically far easier for me to write than it is to speak.

I appreciate your comparison to software engineering. My brother just recently became an engineer and he loves talking about it, so it was nice for me personally to see something here related to that field.

I personally have somewhat more of a literal opinion of the endowment. Although I do believe that we'll at least need to have been given the signs/tokens of the endowment, I do not believe that these in and of themselves will be what gets us past sentinel angels; instead, it will be the faithful keeping of covenants that allow us to dwell the presence of God. Something else that I did not get to expand upon in the interview was that tokens are everywhere. A driver's license in the US is a token of authority from the state allowing us to drive on public roads as well as a token of identity. A signature is also a token of authority and identity. Misusing, stealing, or counterfeiting such tokens typically do not bode well in this life, and to fake the spiritual components of covenants with God would not be sufficient to get one past sentinel angels and into the presence of God in the next life. That stated, this is merely my subjective view and understanding of what's taught in the temple; for all I know, the view and understanding that you have expressed here could be wholly accurate.

Thank you for your thoughts and feedback.
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Apr 2021, 04:33

Thanks for sharing. You do have a unique perspective as a Mason and a church member. Joseph Smith and/or history generally were not my faith crisis issues but they certainly are for many people. I appreciate Joseph's humanness.

My belief in Joseph Smith is more nuanced than most, of course. I do believe he was trying to do what was right and that he was trying to re-establish the Biblical church (which was apparently a fairly common interest in his day). I'm not sure everything he did was via revelation or inspiration, but he believed that, so there's that. I believe he often understood what he was supposed to do or wanted to do but not necessarily how. Thus, he used resources he had at hand, including ideas gained from his involvement with the Masons.

Directly related to the temple, my beliefs are much more like OON - very symbolic, very much not literal. That doesn't mean you and I can't have a conversation about it, just like a literal believer and I could have a conversation about Jonah - just because we see things differently doesn't mean we don't get the same or similar meaning from it.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2021, 10:13

Thank you for sharing this. I found it very interesting.
I do have some follow-up clarifying questions. They may be personal and I would respect your right to decline to answer any and all of them.
latterdaytemplar wrote:
16 Apr 2021, 10:59
I'm glad that my differentiation between ceremonial elements and subject matter was clear;
To clarify, this theory posits that JS used the format of the freemason ceremony as a delivery/teaching method to give knowledge/revelation to the saints? Right?
latterdaytemplar wrote:
16 Apr 2021, 10:59
I personally have somewhat more of a literal opinion of the endowment. Although I do believe that we'll at least need to have been given the signs/tokens of the endowment, I do not believe that these in and of themselves will be what gets us past sentinel angels; instead, it will be the faithful keeping of covenants that allow us to dwell the presence of God.
Lots of follow-up questions related to this:
Do you believe in a literal Adam & Eve as presented in the bible story?
Do you believe in the story as presented in the endowment is literal history, metaphor, allegory, or some other combination? (you could for example believe that Adam and Eve were literal without believing in a literal visit from Peter, James, & John)
Do you believe in a literal aspect of the masonic story (Hiram Abiff)? Are there differences in how you interpret the literalness of the content from the endowment and masonic ceremonies? Does being a mason alter your perspective of the temple endowment ceremony? How so?
I am intrigued by your statement that we might need to be given the signs/tokens but that they are not what will get us past the sentinel angels. Are you meaning that you believe we will be asked to produce the signs/tokens but that individuals that know the correct form but are otherwise unworthy will be denied admittance still? Another possible interpretation of what you said could be that the signs and tokens are symbols of our covenants but that it is ultimately the fact that we made and kept covenants that is important (and that potentially, other religious individuals might use different symbols to represent their covenants and still gain admittance). Can you clarify?
You mentioned in the interview that masons would give the tokens to others to identify themselves in their level of craft? Like an apprentice or journeyman? Was that a practice for actual stonemasons? Like a training certificate? or are the sign/tokens used in Freemasonry unrelated to the historical practices of stonemasons?

I very much appreciate your efforts to help me better understand your perspective.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by SamBee » 20 Apr 2021, 04:55

A good friend of mine is an inactive mason and he has had a lot of candid conversations with me about it, so I know what goes on in the three degrees. We both think these represent a kind of preparation for death (as does LDS endowment).

Many Masons used to believe their ceremonies went back to Solomon's temple.

As for occult accusations with Masonry, they aren't without some merit. Occult means something done in secret and most Masonic ceremonies are held behind closed doors. There are also quasi-religious/mystical elements and the use of symbols with meanings not apparent to non-Masons, which strengthen that charge. In some cases, those symbols have meanings that you do not learn until you are "promoted". I do not think Masons are Luciferians - I don't know about the 33° etc - at least at the lower levels. The secretiveness in Mormonism and Masonry has allowed opponents to spin all kinds of stories.

One Masonic cliché I can't stand is, "We're a society of secrets, not a secret society." To me that is as much of a fudge as "sacred not secret". If you're not open about what you do with outsiders, then it is a secret. Freemasonry is not a secret society in the sense it exists openly with signposted buildings etc. But even that is not entirely true since there have been underground lodges, and ones which do not advertise their existence like Propaganda Due (P2) in Italy.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by nibbler » 20 Apr 2021, 05:59

On the subject of secrecy...

At roughly the 11:50 mark in the video you mention that one of the purposes of masonry/tokens is to measure our integrity and ability to keep a secret. I remember arriving at a similar conclusion years ago, the supporting scripture in my mind was:
Luke 16:10 wrote:He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
In other words, if I could do something as simple as keep a secret then that was my mustard seed of faith I needed to tackle larger challenges.

On the other hand, humans using secrets to test the loyalty of other humans can be a form of grooming and can lead to abuse.
Luke 12:3 wrote:Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
Maybe it's like with anything, a tool can be used for good or bad, but I do wonder out loud whether god would need to test my integrity. I'd probably answer that any test of my integrity is more for my benefit than god's benefit, but I also wonder whether there are better ways of measuring integrity than one's ability to keep a secret.

I guess it depends on the secret, whether the secret is mundane (my favorite color is _____) or whether it's an attempt to hide behavior.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 20 Apr 2021, 10:44

Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
Thank you for sharing this. I found it very interesting.
You're very welcome. I am glad that you found it to be of interest and I hope that it was also to your benefit. My apologies for the following novel in response to your excellent questions; I tried not to be too wordy.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
I do have some follow-up clarifying questions. They may be personal and I would respect your right to decline to answer any and all of them.
No worries at all. If I encounter any questions that I am not comfortable answering, I will flat-out state as much and will even explain why if necessary.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
latterdaytemplar wrote: ↑16 Apr 2021, 11:59
I'm glad that my differentiation between ceremonial elements and subject matter was clear;
To clarify, this theory posits that JS used the format of the freemason ceremony as a delivery/teaching method to give knowledge/revelation to the saints? Right?
Mostly correct. I say "mostly" here for this reason: I never thought of the format as a tool or catalyst for revelation. I think that the subject matter taught to the endowment candidates (as well as the correlating context and purposes) can certainly evoke revelation, but I do not think that the teaching method does. That stated, my experience is not universal; someone else may find revelation somehow in the teaching model that I have not found. I simply have never thought about that.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
latterdaytemplar wrote: ↑16 Apr 2021, 11:59
I personally have somewhat more of a literal opinion of the endowment. Although I do believe that we'll at least need to have been given the signs/tokens of the endowment, I do not believe that these in and of themselves will be what gets us past sentinel angels; instead, it will be the faithful keeping of covenants that allow us to dwell the presence of God.
Lots of follow-up questions related to this:
Do you believe in a literal Adam & Eve as presented in the bible story?
I do personally believe in a literal Adam & Eve; however, that personal belief incorporates the theory of the Promethean Adam.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
Do you believe in the story as presented in the endowment is literal history, metaphor, allegory, or some other combination? (you could for example believe that Adam and Eve were literal without believing in a literal visit from Peter, James, & John)
I believe that the story as presented in the endowment is an allegory based on literal history. I believe that Adam & Eve were literal people, and the Garden of Eden was a literal place. I am neutral on whether Peter, James, & John literally visited them. I do not believe, however, that Adam & Eve were endowed as we are today. My basis for this comes from D&C 124.

In this section, Christ commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo so that they could perform washings, anointings, and vicarious ordinances therein; then, in verses 40-41, Christ stated that He deigned to reveal ordinances that had been hid from before the foundation of the world. The only ordinances that were revealed after this revelation was received were the endowment, sealings, and the second anointing.

For this reason, I do not believe that Adam & Eve were endowed as shown in the temple; for that reason also, I believe that the presentation itself is merely an allegory based on a historical setting. People say that such ordinances were restored, but I believe that they were only restored in the sense that they were principles that we knew of when first presented with the Plan of Salvation in pre-mortality and that those principles have been given to us again.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
Do you believe in a literal aspect of the masonic story (Hiram Abiff)?
In regard to this, I only believe that the Masonic legend is an allegory to illustrate self-improvement. There are quite a few details that have been taken straight from the Old Testament to give a structure for that allegorical setting, and the character of Hiram Abiff is certainly based upon a personage mentioned in the Old Testament; however, the specific storyline given about Hiram Abiff, I believe, is nothing more than an allegorical tale.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
Are there differences in how you interpret the literalness of the content from the endowment and masonic ceremonies?
Insofar as literalness is concerned, I approach my interpretation of each in the same way.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
I am intrigued by your statement that we might need to be given the signs/tokens but that they are not what will get us past the sentinel angels. Are you meaning that you believe we will be asked to produce the signs/tokens but that individuals that know the correct form but are otherwise unworthy will be denied admittance still? Another possible interpretation of what you said could be that the signs and tokens are symbols of our covenants but that it is ultimately the fact that we made and kept covenants that is important (and that potentially, other religious individuals might use different symbols to represent their covenants and still gain admittance). Can you clarify?
I think that sentinel angels will already be able to tell whether we have them or not. If we have them, then I have no doubt that we will certainly know. However, just as a baptism can be:
  • automatically invalid if copied without authority or
  • rendered invalid if one decides to break his baptismal covenants without repentance,
so too would it be useless to know the tokens of the endowment without
  • having properly received them or
  • without having been faithful to one's covenants with God.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
You mentioned in the interview that masons would give the tokens to others to identify themselves in their level of craft? Like an apprentice or journeyman? Was that a practice for actual stonemasons? Like a training certificate? or are the sign/tokens used in Freemasonry unrelated to the historical practices of stonemasons?
Yes, I accidentally left out a small detail in this explanation. Historically, most stonemasons in medieval times were illiterate, so written credentials would not have been of much use to them; physical signs, grips, and key words were used in lieu thereof. It was important to keep these secret because of rival guilds and, frankly, scam artists who wanted to get paid for the work despite not being proficient in stonemasonry.

Although I doubt that the signs, tokens, and words used in Masonry today are exactly the same, the same concepts for credentialing were certainly put into practice in medieval times.
Roy wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 10:13
I very much appreciate your efforts to help me better understand your perspective.
My pleasure. Please reach out to me if you have any other questions. :smile:
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.

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DarkJedi
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by DarkJedi » 20 Apr 2021, 11:08

I failed to mention previously that I appreciated your analogy with the Boy Scouts and Masons as "civil fraternity that promotes morals, self improvement, personal integrity, and service to others." That's actually how I see the church itself.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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latterdaytemplar
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 20 Apr 2021, 11:19

SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
Many Masons used to believe their ceremonies went back to Solomon's temple.
Very true; most Masons in Joseph Smith's day certainly believed this to be the case. Nowadays, that hypothesis is only held by a minority of Masons.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
As for occult accusations with Masonry, they aren't without some merit. Occult means something done in secret and most Masonic ceremonies are held behind closed doors.
Also true, although "occult" in its literal, original sense is more about something being hidden rather than secret. Although we in Masonry certainly have private meetings, they are not secret; after all, we publish our meeting times/places on public-accessible websites and social media; before, they were commonly published in phone books and newspapers.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
I do not think Masons are Luciferians - I don't know about the 33° etc - at least at the lower levels.
Nothing in Freemasonry nor in any of its appendant/concordant bodies (for example, the Scottish Rite, which offers 4°-33° that you mentioned) has to do with Luciferianism/Satanism. Those accusations trace back to the Taxil Hoax.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
The secretiveness in Mormonism and Masonry has allowed opponents to spin all kinds of stories.
Yes, gossip/rumor of the worst ideas do tend to be circulated when any religious or fraternal group does anything in private; for some reason, however, this does not apply to families or to most private businesses.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
One Masonic cliché I can't stand is, "We're a society of secrets, not a secret society."
I personally agree with you here, especially given that, according to the definition provided by Merriam-Webster, Freemasonry is absolutely a secret society:
secretsociety.png
secretsociety.png (75.68 KiB) Viewed 426 times
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
To me that is as much of a fudge as "sacred not secret".
I do agree with the use of this explanation given by members of the Church for this reason: in an ideal world for the Church, everyone would be of the disposition and means to prepare themselves to enjoy the blessings of the temple. If one chooses not to so prepare themselves to go through the temple, that's fine, but that doesn't amount to secrecy on the Church's part. Just the same, if one chooses not to pursue a law degree, that does not mean that the finer points of the law are being hidden from them; the same applies to most fields of knowledge.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
If you're not open about what you do with outsiders, then it is a secret.
As is obvious in the interview, I'm personally open to people regarding both the Church's temple ceremony and Freemasonry. Sure, there are some few points that I don't expound upon for obvious reasons, but that does not make the whole thing secret. Private, sure.
SamBee wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 04:55
Freemasonry is not a secret society in the sense it exists openly with signposted buildings etc. But even that is not entirely true since there have been underground lodges, and ones which do not advertise their existence like Propaganda Due (P2) in Italy.
The only "underground lodges" that I can think of are those that secretly operated amongst Holocaust prisoners in Nazi Germany, and this solely because being a Mason openly would have resulted in further persecution (it is estimated that up to 200,000 Freemasons were Holocaust victims). P2's Masonic charter was forcibly withdrawn by the Grand Lodge of Italy years before it was caught because it was not in-line with the ancient landmarks (or basic standards) of Masonry; it therefore no longer qualified as a Masonic lodge at that point.
"… Behold, we will end the conflict."
—Captain Moroni (Alma 44:10)

Whatever conflicts that you come across in life, they can be beaten. Adopt Captain Moroni's attitude: be of the disposition to end the conflict, and then act on that disposition.

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