The Church and Freemasonry

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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latterdaytemplar
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 20 Apr 2021, 11:26

nibbler wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 05:59
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.
In Masonry, fortunately, any and all of one's respective duties to God, family, neighbor, country, or self come first; in fact, it would be considered unmasonic conduct to put Masonry before any of those things.

Insofar as the Church is concerned, however, such covenants are made with God and not with man.
nibbler wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 05:59
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 agree that anything can be used for good or for bad; it all depends on intent. I also agree that the need for our integrity is not for God, but rather for us as His children. Frankly, I'm sure that there are better ways to measure integrity; for example, magnifying our callings, doing good works, staying faithful, and so on. However, I don't see these as potential replacements as tests of integrity, but rather as additional concepts added; when all are taken together, one's integrity would show to be pretty strong, no?
nibbler wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 05:59
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.
That's a good thought and I completely agree.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by Roy » 20 Apr 2021, 16:43

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions.
Would you speculate that JS had received the endowment "principles that we knew of when first presented with the Plan of Salvation in pre-mortality " some time prior to becoming associated with masonry and was searching for a vehicle/teaching method? Or could experiencing the masonic ceremony have been the catalyst for receiving revelation on those endowment principles more or less at the same time? (I have observed what I believe to be a pattern of JS taking inspiration from his environment and using that as a launch point to further revelation) We do have a number of D&C scriptures that talk about a coming endowment of power but I am not sure if JS knew what exactly that would entail.
latterdaytemplar wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 10:44
I do personally believe in a literal Adam & Eve; however, that personal belief incorporates the theory of the Promethean Adam.
Fascinating! I had not heard of the Promethean Adam theory. That is a very handy integration of creationism and the genesis narrative with the theory of evolution.
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I had heard a theory that JS was attempting to signal a masonic sign of distress in the moments right before the martyrdom. Had you heard of this?
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I also recently was reading about LDS prayer circles in the early Utah period. There were prayer circles that met as a specific church governing body (stake high council) but then there were also others that were not dependent on church callings or priesthood office. For this second group of prayer circle, new members (males only) would need to be invited/sponsored by an existing member. This reminds me somewhat of joining a group such as a masonic lodge. These prayer circle groups were discontinued after the church grew to such a point that fewer and fewer members could realistically be a member of these groups - making it more and more exclusionary. Do you have any thoughts on these early Utah prayer groups and any similarities to Freemasons?
latterdaytemplar wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 11:19
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.
I believe that there is pretty good support to believe that JS believed that the masonic ceremony went back to the days of Solomon. Do you have any concerns with JS believing that something that later turned out to be wrong? Why or why not?

Thanks again!
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 21 Apr 2021, 05:59

Roy wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 16:43
Would you speculate that JS had received the endowment "principles that we knew of when first presented with the Plan of Salvation in pre-mortality " some time prior to becoming associated with masonry and was searching for a vehicle/teaching method? Or could experiencing the masonic ceremony have been the catalyst for receiving revelation on those endowment principles more or less at the same time? (I have observed what I believe to be a pattern of JS taking inspiration from his environment and using that as a launch point to further revelation) We do have a number of D&C scriptures that talk about a coming endowment of power but I am not sure if JS knew what exactly that would entail.
My speculation is more in-line with the first option: that of Joseph having received most or all of the principles of the endowment prior to becoming associated with Masonry; perhaps a better way to word my position would be that he received all of those principles independent of his participation in Masonry, as he may have received the last bit sometime after his Masonic initiation. I'm not sure exactly whether he was actively searching for a vehicle/teaching method or whether it just clicked for him when he was initiated (in the lodge) that such would be the best way to teach.

That stated, I acknowledge that I could easily be wrong; Masonry could have indeed somehow been a catalyst for revelation. For me in particular, it is somewhat difficult to wrap my mind around that, but my inability to understand does not equate to impossibility for it to have occurred that way.
Roy wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 16:43
Fascinating! I had not heard of the Promethean Adam theory. That is a very handy integration of creationism and the genesis narrative with the theory of evolution.
Yes, I was quite impressed when I first came across it. Unfortunately, I don't quite do it justice when explaining it orally, which naturally results in people looking at me like I'm some kind of nutcase lol
Roy wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 16:43
I had heard a theory that JS was attempting to signal a masonic sign of distress in the moments right before the martyrdom. Had you heard of this?
I have heard this; the evidence supporting it is somewhat circumstantial. There is no primary or authoritative account indicating that he was making any specific sign. His last words that we know of were "O Lord, my God," according to D&C 135:1. These words in and of themselves do not constitute the words that would accompany such a sign. In addition, the mob that martyred him and Hyrum were covered in blackface; this combined with the facts that bullets were flying every which way and that they had barricaded themselves into the upper chambers of the jail for most of the encounter leads me to believe that Joseph would not have had the opportunity to study which disguised faces he knew or didn't know, and therefore would not have recognized any Masons among the mob. It is also unproven that any Masons took part in the martyrdom.

On the other hand, it's not necessarily needed for him to have recognized anybody before making such a sign or before reciting such words for aid from Masons; he could very well have attempted to give the Masonic sign of distress or to recite the words accompanying it before he died. John Taylor and Heber C. Kimball certainly thought that this was what Joseph was trying to do.

I personally believe that he was starting to pray, having already been shot; but that is nothing more than my own subjective opinion.
Roy wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 16:43
I also recently was reading about LDS prayer circles in the early Utah period. There were prayer circles that met as a specific church governing body (stake high council) but then there were also others that were not dependent on church callings or priesthood office. For this second group of prayer circle, new members (males only) would need to be invited/sponsored by an existing member. This reminds me somewhat of joining a group such as a masonic lodge. These prayer circle groups were discontinued after the church grew to such a point that fewer and fewer members could realistically be a member of these groups - making it more and more exclusionary. Do you have any thoughts on these early Utah prayer groups and any similarities to Freemasons?
I was not aware of this and it intrigues me, so I appreciate you teaching me something new here. However, right off the bat I think that the concept of the prayer circle was more likely adopted from Protestant practices rather than Masonic ones. However, I'll have to read more on the subject.
Roy wrote:
20 Apr 2021, 16:43
I believe that there is pretty good support to believe that JS believed that the masonic ceremony went back to the days of Solomon. Do you have any concerns with JS believing that something that later turned out to be wrong? Why or why not?
I personally do not have any concerns. I see this as Joseph having had and expressed his opinions, but nothing more. His thoughts on Masonry being literally descended from the times of King Solomon's Temple were never canonized as doctrine in the Church; had this been otherwise, then I might have had concerns.

That stated, although Freemasonry historically only traces back to 1598 Edinburgh, Scotland and likely came from medieval stonemason guilds that started to lose business as gothic architecture went out of style (therefore transitioning to philosophy and charging people of other professions for the honor/privilege of being given high honorary status in their guilds), it is still possible (however incredibly improbable) that it does literally descend from King Solomon's Temple.

Even if Masonry does literally descend from King Solomon's Temple, however, we know that:
  • the content of the temple endowment wholly differs from those of the degrees of Masonry.
  • the temple endowment was "hid from before the foundation of the world" before it was revealed to Joseph, and therefore could not have been practiced in King Solomon's Temple anyway.
Excellent questions. Please don't hesitate if you have any others.
Last edited by latterdaytemplar on 21 Apr 2021, 07:14, edited 1 time in total.
"… 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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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by nibbler » 21 Apr 2021, 06:38

My frame of reference could be off-base but I find it interesting how the Book of Mormon includes some themes that run parallel to the concerns of the Anti-Masonic Party; a party formed shortly after the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan from a town about 50 miles from Palmyra. Then just 12 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon Joseph founds a Freemason lodge in Nauvoo.

That's quite a turnaround.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Apr 2021, 09:55

The thing that I have understood about the evolution of the endowment is that Joseph did not necessarily receive it in the same order as we know it today. For instance, the initiatory was probably one of the later things received or revealed by Joseph even though today it is the beginning part of the temple rites. Keeping in mind that the early ceremonies were much longer (a "session" was an entire day), while the pieces were all given they weren't necessarily given in the cohesive order we currently use and they were given over a period of time piece by piece (though not necessarily line upon line).

I think I can pretty easily accept the idea that Joseph used the Masonic rites as a model for teaching the temple rites.

As a side note, while I don't discount the possibility of the Promethean Adam, I disagree with the premise. It's a bit too apologetic for me, and there are a couple leaps (mental gymnastics) that have to be made to make it work for me. That might be worthy of its own discussion at some point. The concept itself was not new to me, but I didn't know it had a name before.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 25 Apr 2021, 10:22

nibbler wrote:
21 Apr 2021, 06:38
My frame of reference could be off-base but I find it interesting how the Book of Mormon includes some themes that run parallel to the concerns of the Anti-Masonic Party; a party formed shortly after the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan from a town about 50 miles from Palmyra. Then just 12 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon Joseph founds a Freemason lodge in Nauvoo.

That's quite a turnaround.
The Lodge in Nauvoo was actually chartered/founded by Grand Master Abraham Jonas of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Illinois. Joseph was not one of the petitioners who asked to have a Lodge in Nauvoo; those recorded to have petitioned the Grand Lodge to allow Nauvoo to have a lodge were:
  • George Miller
  • Hyrum Smith
  • William [Tannausdale?]
  • Joshua Smith
  • N. K. Whitney
  • William [Fellham?]
  • Austin Cowles
  • L. N. Scovil
  • Charles Allen
  • John Smith
  • Lyman Leonard
  • Hiram Clark
  • Samuel Rolfe
  • David Pettegreen
  • Christopher Williams
  • John Patten
  • John C. Bennet, and
  • Heber C. Kimball
In fact, Joseph couldn't have petitioned for Nauvoo Lodge UD because it was established before he became a Mason, and only Masons can petition for a lodge to be established.
"… 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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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by SamBee » 26 Apr 2021, 02:32

nibbler wrote:
21 Apr 2021, 06:38
My frame of reference could be off-base but I find it interesting how the Book of Mormon includes some themes that run parallel to the concerns of the Anti-Masonic Party; a party formed shortly after the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan from a town about 50 miles from Palmyra. Then just 12 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon Joseph founds a Freemason lodge in Nauvoo.

That's quite a turnaround.
Well, the original Book of Mormon condemns polygamy and priestcraft, while apparently teaching about the Trinity and a more traditional understanding of Heaven & Hell (without degrees of glory.)

Actually, come to think of it, were the Three Degrees - Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial influenced by Masonry as well?
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 26 Apr 2021, 09:35

SamBee wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 02:32
Actually, come to think of it, were the Three Degrees - Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial influenced by Masonry as well?
No. Joseph received revelations concerning the three degrees of glory as early as February 1832, just a little over a decade before he became a Mason.

In addition, Freemasonry does not have a theology and therefore does not teach anything regarding the nature of Heaven.
"… 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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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by On Own Now » 26 Apr 2021, 10:20

ldt,

One thing I wonder about is that D&C76, that you referenced, does not use the term "Degrees of Glory"... rather, it talks about the "Glory of the Telestial" and the "Telestial World", etc.

I've wondered if the terminology of "degrees" might have come from Freemasonry, but of course, that's just terminology, not theology. So I wouldn't find it faith-shattering to find that JS used terms from FM to describe what he was trying to say.

One interesting tidbit (interesting to me, anyway) is that the D&C76 preface info, which was a 20th Century addition, uses the phrase, "degree of salvation", even though D&C76 does not.
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Re: The Church and Freemasonry

Post by latterdaytemplar » 26 Apr 2021, 11:24

On Own Now wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 10:20
One thing I wonder about is that D&C76, that you referenced, does not use the term "Degrees of Glory"... rather, it talks about the "Glory of the Telestial" and the "Telestial World", etc.
Sure enough, you are right. It looks like the term degree was not used in any canonized scripture to refer to the Kingdoms of Heaven until D&C 131 was received in May 1843, over a year after Joseph became a Mason. I also cannot find any primary sources of Joseph using the term degree outside of the Church's doctrinal canon prior to his Masonic initiation.

After he became a Mason, he likely would have heard the term degree far more often after being made a Mason than before; it's possible, then, that, being more accustomed to this term, he decided to use it to refer to the different Kingdoms of Heaven.
SamBee wrote:
26 Apr 2021, 02:32
Actually, come to think of it, were the Three Degrees - Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial influenced by Masonry as well?
In the context of the term degree being used, it appears that you may have been right. I lounge corrected. :smile:

However, the concept itself of the different levels or Kingdoms of Heaven does not come from Masonry.
"… 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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