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
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.
Communications, 2009) takes on such myths that keep "critic,
and Saints alike" from seeing the bigger picture. The book and
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
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
did not descend from the builders of King Solomon's Temple, as once
stated in Masonic constitutions. They say the claim is "romantic and
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
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
its rituals came from," orthodox Christianity is "the place to start
looking," Brown writes. He quotes several sources that link
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
some, but the majority were adopted from Christianity."
Another, John Hamill of the United Grand Lodge of England, said,
of the symbolism employed in Freemasonry is peculiar to Freemasonry.
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
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
priests or monks do during their initiation ceremonies," Brown says
the documentary. "And when you put them together, it's unmistakable
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
a lot farther into the history to see what is going on before that
According to Brown, "the theory that Joseph Smith took ritual
from the Freemasons in order to create the LDS temple ceremony is
principally founded upon the concept of time. ... But when a much
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
takes on the appearance of a movie façade; it is not nearly as sturdy
Brown argues that the Prophet knew and thought much about the
endowment long before he was introduced to Freemasonry. He references
instructions and teachings given prior to 1842 dealing with the
for the temple, outlining activities to perform there, and principles
like eternal marriage, baptism for the dead and the three degrees of
Critics claim that symbols on the Salt Lake Temple were taken from
Masonry, but Brown says they were present in Mormon practice long
Joseph Smith became a Freemason. For example, Brown found 20
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
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
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.
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
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
"And there was no mistaking that there were some resemblances between
the two rituals for, as Heber C. Kimball wrote just a month after
endowed, 'There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry,'" Brown
writes. "And yet, no incredulous cry about bootlegging or fraud rang
from this group against the Prophet."
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