Some Latter-day Saints accept that Freemasonry descends from the

builders of King Solomon's Temple, but that's just a myth, says LDS

author Matthew B. Brown. The evidence actually points to early

Christianity.

Some critics claim that Joseph Smith concocted the Mormon temple

ceremonies after becoming a Freemason, but that's also a myth, Brown

says. The history and richness of LDS temple ordinances cannot be

explained away by comparisons to Freemasonry.

"Exploring the Connection Between Mormons and Masons" (Covenant

Communications, 2009) takes on such myths that keep "critic,

bystander

and Saints alike" from seeing the bigger picture. The book and

companion

DVD documentary appeal to history to demonstrate how Masonry can't

account for LDS temple ordinances.

"We can see better parallels in the ancient world in many ways than

we

see in Masonry," LDS scholar Daniel Peterson says on the documentary.

"Masonry does not account for all the parallels to the ancient world.

...

Does it have something to do with the temple? I think undeniably so.

Does it account for it? Absolutely not."

Brown's book details how modern Masonic scholars say the fraternal

order

did not descend from the builders of King Solomon's Temple, as once

stated in Masonic constitutions. They say the claim is "romantic and

wholly fictitious."

Brown quotes one scholar, Dr. Andrew Prescott, as saying that legends

about "ancient charters" were used by 15th century stonemasons "to

protect (them) from the effects of recent labor legislation."

"That's the mythology that you have to get past in order to

understand

the bigger picture here," Brown says. " ... It was done just for the

purpose of getting a prestigious pedigree. And so you have to start

sorting things out from that point."

While there is "no solid consensus on where the Masonic organization

and

its rituals came from," orthodox Christianity is "the place to start

looking," Brown writes. He quotes several sources that link

Freemasonry

with the early Christian church.

One source, Robert Cooper of the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and

Library, said, "Freemasonry adopted much Christian symbolism and

iconography. ... Freemasonry doubtless used other sources and

invented

some, but the majority were adopted from Christianity."

Another, John Hamill of the United Grand Lodge of England, said,

"None

of the symbolism employed in Freemasonry is peculiar to Freemasonry.

It

has all been borrowed."

Brown says many elements of Freemasonry's rites — such as the Tiler

(guard) and dramatization of a legend, among others — are "solidly

grounded in, and very likely drew from, the initiation ceremonies of

the

orthodox Christian church."

"When you're trying to determine where did they get their ritual and

symbolism, you can see that there are some exacting parallels between

what Freemasons do during their ceremonies and what Christian kings

or

priests or monks do during their initiation ceremonies," Brown says

on

the documentary. "And when you put them together, it's unmistakable

that

there's a connection between the two."

LDS Church founder Joseph Smith was a member of the fraternal

organization, becoming a Master Mason in March 1842. Forty-eight days

later, he introduced the temple endowment.

"This is where people think there is controversy," Brown says. "I

don't agree with that particular point of view, because I look

backward

a lot farther into the history to see what is going on before that

point

in time."

According to Brown, "the theory that Joseph Smith took ritual

elements

from the Freemasons in order to create the LDS temple ceremony is

principally founded upon the concept of time. ... But when a much

broader

survey of time is taken by the student of the past and the events of

history are scrutinized in a much more careful manner, then this

theory

takes on the appearance of a movie façade; it is not nearly as sturdy

as

it looks."

Brown argues that the Prophet knew and thought much about the

Nauvoo-era

endowment long before he was introduced to Freemasonry. He references

instructions and teachings given prior to 1842 dealing with the

pattern

for the temple, outlining activities to perform there, and principles

like eternal marriage, baptism for the dead and the three degrees of

glory.

Critics claim that symbols on the Salt Lake Temple were taken from

Masonry, but Brown says they were present in Mormon practice long

before

Joseph Smith became a Freemason. For example, Brown found 20

references

to the "all-seeing eye" and four references to bees in LDS history

occurring before 1842.

References to a more complete endowment, beyond what was introduced

in

the Kirtland Temple, were also made before 1842.

By examining history, "it becomes obvious that the Nauvoo-era temple

ordinances and doctrines did not suspiciously materialize after

Joseph

Smith became a Freemason," Brown writes.

Before joining the fraternity, Joseph Smith had associates who were

Freemasons, including brother Hyrum Smith and apostle Heber C.

Kimball.

Brown, however, says there is no evidence suggesting the Prophet knew

about Masonic secrets before becoming a Freemason himself. In fact,

revealing such secrets would be grounds for punishment, and "there is

no

evidence of any such action being taken against a Mormon Mason for

making improper disclosures to Joseph Smith."

The nine men who first received the Nauvoo ordinances were all

Freemasons.

"And there was no mistaking that there were some resemblances between

the two rituals for, as Heber C. Kimball wrote just a month after

being

endowed, 'There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry,'" Brown

writes. "And yet, no incredulous cry about bootlegging or fraud rang

out

from this group against the Prophet."


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