An Appreciation for the Temple

The Provo Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Notice the representation of the primeval waters, a very fitting temple motif.)

Tonight I was set apart as a veil worker at the Provo Temple.

I am both humbled and excited by this opportunity to serve in the temple, and can only hope that I am able to serve my Heavenly Father and my brothers and sisters in the Church to the best of my ability.

I am especially excited at the prospect of becoming intimately familiar with the ordinances of the temple, especially the Endowment. Having studied the liturgies and ordinances of both ancient and contemporary religions, I have found the Endowment, that rich, bold, invigorating, and inspiring cosmology and myth (in the classical sense of the term) revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, to be one of the grandest liturgies practiced by contemporary religionists. I say that as one who has worshiped with Jews, Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims; as one who was brought to tears during a beautiful Mass in the Augustinerkirche in Vienna while the music of Mozart’s Krönungsmesse filled the room. That’s pretty hard to beat. And, yet, while I find great beauty in these other liturgies, they largely pale in comparison to the Endowment, which glorifies God while simultaneously giving man and woman an ennobling glimpse of his and her divine potential in the glories to come.

I am likewise convinced that Joseph Smith’s restoration of these ordinances for our deceased loved ones powerfully answers what is perhaps the greatest thorn in the side of theists–––the problem of evil, especially the soteriological problem of evil. I have said on a number of occasions that I would likely be an agnostic if it weren’t for two things. First, the Book of Mormon, which is convincing evidence to me that Jesus is the Christ and the God of Israel, and, as such that Yahweh is not just another Iron Age deity conjured up in the imaginations of ancient Semites. Second, Joseph Smith’s answer to the problem of evil, which, with one swift slice, cuts the Gordian knot that classical theists have struggled to untangle for centuries. That answer comes directly from what happens inside the temple. (For more on this, see here, here, here, and here.)

But besides all of that, I have had sacred experiences in the temple that confirm to me that the work done therein is ordained of God.

So, in that spirit, here is a nice video produced by the Church.

My absolutely favorite line from this clip comes from the legendary biblical scholar Frank Moore Cross. 

I am both interested and delighted to see so much of ancient religious tradition, particularly biblical tradition, taken up into the religious structures and rituals of the Mormons. Someone who does not know much about temples and Mormons building temples should be directed to the Bible.

Preach it, brother!