The Mormons - The Plan


According to doctrine of the Latter Day Saint movement, the plan of salvation is a plan that God created to save, redeem, and exalt humankind.
The elements of this plan are drawn from various scriptural sources, including The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and numerous statements made by the leadership of the LDS Church.

Pre-mortal Existence

The concept of pre-mortal existence is an early and fundamental doctrine of Mormonism.

Joseph Smith Jr.
In 1833, early in the Latter Day Saint movement, its founder Joseph Smith, Jr. taught that human souls are co-eternal with God the Father just as Jesus is co-eternal with God the Father, "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be."
In 1844, Smith elaborated on this idea in his King Follett discourse:
"...the soul—the mind of man—the immortal spirit.
Where did it come from ?
All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation...
We say that God Himself is a self-existing being...
Man does exist upon the same principles...
The Bible does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man.
It says, "God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam's spirit, and so became a living body."
The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself..
Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning ?
The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end.
That is good logic.
That which has a beginning may have an end.
There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven."
After Smith's death, the doctrine of pre-mortal existence was elaborated by some other Latter Day Saint leaders within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Although the "mind" and "intelligence" of humanity were still considered to be co-eternal with God, and not created, Brigham Young introduced the idea that the "spirit", which he distinguished from the "mind" or "intelligence", was indeed created and not co-eternal with God.

Brigham Young
Brigham Young postulated that we each had a pre-spirit "intelligence" that later became part of a spirit "body", which then eventually entered a physical body and was born on earth.
In 1857, Young stated that every person was "a son or a daughter of God. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here."
Among Latter-day Saints the idea of "spirit birth" was described in its modern doctrinal form in 1909, when the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement:
Jesus, however, is the first-born among all the sons of God—the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh.
He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God.
All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.
This description is widely accepted by modern Latter-day Saints as fundamental to the plan of salvation.
The LDS Church teaches that during the pre-mortal existence, there was a learning process which eventually led to the next necessary step in the pre-mortal spirits' opportunity to progress.
This next step included the need to gain a physical body that could experience pain, sorrow and joy and "walk by faith."
According to this belief, these purposes were explained and discussed in "councils in heaven," followed by the 'War in Heaven' where Satan rebelled against the plan.
In the 1840s, Joseph Smith Jr. stated that the human spirit existed with God before the creation of Earth. Thus, Latter-day Saints believe in a pre-mortal existence, in which people are literally the spirit children of God.
This teaching is primarily based however upon revealed doctrine by Joseph Smith and others in the early years of the Church.

The Plan

During this pre-mortal existence, the Gods prepared a Plan.
Human beings would be born on Earth.

The Council in Heaven
There they would receive a physical body necessary to exaltation and a fullness of joy.
On earth, they would be tested through trials of their faith, and be subject to mortality.
A "veil" would be set in place to obscure humankind's memory of its divine origins, thus allowing for "walking by faith" and for greater freedom of choice by enabling individuals to make their own decisions.
Latter-day Saints believe that only those who live good lives, prove themselves obedient to God's commandments, receive the ordinances of salvation, and repent of their sins will be exalted.
However, because each human being's experiences in mortality are unique to them, every individual will be judged in accordance with the opportunities they had while living on Earth.
Integral to this Plan was freedom of choice, which God considered an inviolable right of all his children; every individual would have opportunities to make certain choices that would determine the course of their life on Earth and in the Hereafter.
No human would ever have their agency taken away in an attempt to force righteous behaviour.
People would be free to do evil and good, both to themselves and to those around them.
Because such freedom would make it possible for people to break commandments and sin, a Saviour would be needed to offer them freedom from the just consequences of their sins and allow them to Repent: this figure would have to overcome both sin and death.
The pre-mortal Jesus Christ, then known as 'Jehovah', volunteered to be this Saviour  agreeing to take upon himself infinite suffering for every sin, mistake, and all pain and suffering ever to be experienced by mankind.
He also agreed to die and be resurrected, thus making it possible for all individuals (obedient or not) to be resurrected.
The Holy Spirit would be sent to encourage righteous behaviour and guide human beings towards Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, but would never interfere with the free exercise of human agency.
Also part of the plan was a fore-ordination of prophets and teachers who would have gifts and callings among men to teach and re-teach correct principles so that agency could be used wisely.
In the plan it was stressed that the important role parents would have would be to teach their children the path of righteousness, and the blessing of the holy scriptures that would give a foundation of gospel knowledge, including the knowledge of the saving role of Jesus, and the importance of 'ordinances' and 'covenants' in the gospel.
As the plan was explained, the Gods also understood that full gospel truth could be lost on the earth as men and women could choose against living by the truth at any point, and could devise other beliefs and ways to live that would be appealing to the natural mind.
Yet they also understood that there would be opportunities before the final judgement for every spirit child  to hear of Jesus and to either accept him or reject him.
Latter-day Saints believe that this plan was not contrived arbitrarily, but was designed based on eternal truths to allow for the greatest possible progress toward a fullness of joy and love for the greatest number of spirit children.

The War in Heaven

After this plan was proposed, Lucifer volunteered to save mankind by taking away man's agency.
Nobody would be able to fail the test and so, Lucifer claimed, everyone would be able to return to the celestial realm.
As recompense for the implementation of his plan, Lucifer demanded that the power and the glory which  his father possessed be transferred to him, effectively making him God, however, as Lucifer alone would have complete freedom of choice under his plan, no other spirit could achieve exaltation.

God countered that this would make the test worthless, and knew Lucifer sought only power and glory for himself - as a result he rejected Lucifer's plan.
Enraged, Lucifer chose to rebel and rallied to him "a third part" of the company of heaven, who also preferred Lucifer's plan.
The two factions warred, and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of Heaven; Lucifer became Satan, and those who followed him became fallen and his servants.
They were denied the right to have their own physical bodies (and, consequently, the ability to procreate) but were not affected by the "veil".
Latter-Day Saints believe that Satan and his servants have since sought to undo or counteract the plan by tempting mortal individuals to evil actions, gaining power over them and their bodies, and by attempting to restrict their freedom of choice by whatever means possible.

Spirit World

Latter-day Saint beliefs include the belief in a 'Spirit World' between death and the resurrection.
They believe that they will pass through the "veil of forgetfulness" again before they are judged thereafter, therefore gaining a remembrance of their pre-mortal existence, and that the spirits of all of mankind continue to prepare for judgement day, and their eventual resurrection, where they will receive a reward according to their faith and works.
They believe that righteous individuals continue to proclaim the gospel in the Spirit World, teaching others and offering them the opportunity to follow the plan.

Degrees of Glory

In Mormon theology, there are three degrees of glory which are the ultimate, eternal dwelling place for nearly all who lived on earth after the Spirit world.

Doctrine and Covenants
Joseph Smith Jr.
Joseph Smith, Jr. described the afterlife based primarily upon a vision he claimed to have received together with Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832, and recorded as 'Doctrine and Covenants Section 76'.
According to this section of Mormon scripture, the afterlife consists of three degrees of glory, called the Celestial, the Terrestrial, and the Telestial.
The few who do not inherit any degree of glory (though they are resurrected) reside in a state called outer darkness, which, though not a degree of glory, is often discussed in this context.
The ones who go there are known as "Sons of Perdition".

In the preface to Section 76 in the LDS edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants', the following explanatory text is given:
A vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing his record of this vision the Prophet wrote: "Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term 'Heaven,' as intended for the Saints' eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, while translating St. John's Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision."
It was after the Prophet had translated John 5:29 that this vision was given.
Assignment to a particular kingdom in the resurrection is contingent upon the faith and works exhibited during mortal life.
The Mormon Church teaches that these different kingdoms are what Jesus was referring to when he said "in my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2).
Additionally, the Mormon Church teaches that 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 (40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory) speaks of these three degrees of glory, comparing them with the glory of the sun, moon, and stars.
The LDS doctrine of the three degrees of glory is also seemingly consistent with a particular reading of Revelation 22:10-11, where John says:
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still (telestial kingdom): and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still (outer darkness): and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still (terrestrial kingdom): and he that is holy, let him be holy still (celestial kingdom).

Celestial Kingdom

The celestial kingdom is the highest of three levels of exaltation and it is said by Latter-day Saints to correspond to the "celestial bodies" and "glory of the sun" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:40-41.
The celestial kingdom will be the residence of those who have been righteous, accepted the teachings of Jesus, and made and lived up to all of the required ordinances and covenants during their mortal lives.
It will also be the residence of those individuals that accepted and received the ordinances and covenants in the post-mortal spirit world.
All children who die before the age of eight automatically inherit the celestial kingdom.
Joseph Smith taught that "a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it."
This white stone will become a Urim and Thummim (or seer stone) to the recipient.
Joseph Smith taught that the celestial kingdom itself is subdivided into three "heavens or degrees".
Only those individuals who are sealed in celestial marriage to a spouse in a temple while alive (or after death by proxy) will be permitted to enter into the highest degree of celestial kingdom.
These individuals will eventually become "fully exalted", and will be permitted to live as literal gods and goddesses, as 'Doctrine and Covenants' 132 explains.(see Plurality of Gods)
The nature of the other two degrees within the Celestial Kingdom have not been described, except to say that the people who go there will become "angelic spirits".
Joseph Smith taught that the earth will also receive a celestial glory.
Some Latter-day Saints believe that the earth will be the celestial kingdom, or at least a celestial world within the celestial kingdom for humans who lived on the earth and qualified for the celestial kingdom.

Terrestrial Kingdom

The terrestrial kingdom is the middle of what are believed to be three heavens or heavenly kingdoms.
It is said by Latter-day Saints to correspond to the "bodies terrestrial" and "glory of the moon" mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the King James Version translation of 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 15:40-41.
The word terrestrial derives from a Latin word meaning "earthly".
According to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terrestrial kingdom is the eternal destination in the afterlife to which some portion of humankind will be assigned following resurrection and the judgement day.
The primary source of this doctrine is a vision recounted by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832, and recorded as 'Doctrine and Covenants' Section 76.
According to 'Doctrine and Covenants' section 76, those who will inhabit the terrestrial kingdom include those who lived respectably but "were blinded by the craftiness of men" and thus rejected the fullness of the gospel of Jesus when it was presented to them during their mortal lives.
It also includes persons who rejected the "testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it" in the spirit world and those who "are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" after having received it.
Ultimately, the kingdom of glory (either the celestial or the terrestrial) received by those who accept the testimony of Jesus will be based on God's knowledge of whether they "would have received it with all their hearts" as manifested by their works and the "desire of their hearts".
Joseph Smith taught that translated beings abide in the terrestrial kingdom until they are resurrected and enter the celestial kingdom.

Telestial Kingdom

The telestial kingdom is the lowest of what are believed to be three heavens or heavenly kingdoms.
It is said by Latter-day Saints to correspond to the "glory of the stars" mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the King James Version translation of 1 Corinthians 15:41.
There are no known uses of the word prior to Joseph Smith's prophecies.
According to the LDS scripture, 'Doctrine and Covenants', Section 76, those who will inhabit the telestial kingdom include those "who received not the gospel of Christ, nor the testimony of Jesus."
It also includes "liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie."
Because of their refusal to accept Jesus as their Savior, these individuals will remain in Spirit prison for 1000 years during the millennial reign of Christ.
After the 1000 years, the individuals will be resurrected and receive an immortal physical body and be assigned to the telestial kingdom.
Joseph Smith taught that individuals in the telestial kingdom will be servants of God, but "where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end"; however, they will receive the ministration of the Holy Ghost and beings from the terrestrial kingdom.
Despite these limitations, in LDS theology being resident in the telestial kingdom is not an unpleasant experience: "the glory of the telestial ... surpasses all understanding".
Joseph Smith also taught that just as there are different degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom (D&C 131:1-4), there are different degrees of glory within the telestial kingdom.
He stated that "as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in the telestial world."
Each person's glory will vary depending on their works while on the earth.
Smith and Rigdon stated "we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore".
One Latter-day Saint commentator has suggested that by implication this means that "most of the adult people who have lived from the day of Adam to the present time will go to the telestial kingdom."

The Mormons - The Plurality of Gods


In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "God" means Elohim (the Father), whereas "Godhead" means a council of three distinct gods; Elohim, Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies
The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit is a spirit and does not have a body.
This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered to be physically separate beings, or personages, but united in will and purpose.
As such, the term "Godhead" differs from how it is used in traditional Christianity.
This description of God represents the orthodoxy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), established early in the 19th century. However, the Mormon concept of God has expanded since the faith's founding in the late 1820s. Joseph Smith said after his 'First Vision' that God and Jesus both have physical bodies.
Being non-trinitarian, the teachings of the LDS Church differ from other Christian churches' theologies as established, for example, in the First Council of Constantinople.
Mormon cosmology teaches the existence of other "gods" such as is exhibited in the concept of the Godhead being three, separate, distinct beings.

Early Theological Concepts of Divinity

Most early Latter Day Saints came from a Protestant background, believing in the doctrine of Trinity that had been developed during the early centuries of Christianity.

Doctrine and Covenants
Joseph Smith Jr.
Before about 1835, Mormon theological teachings were similar to that established view, however, Smith's teachings regarding the nature of the Godhead developed during his lifetime, becoming most fully elaborated in the few years prior to his murder in 1844.
Beginning as an un-elaborated description of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as being "One", Smith taught that the Father and the Son were distinct personal members of the Godhead as early as 1832 (See Doctrine and Covenants 76:12-24).
Smith's public teachings later described the Father and Son as possessing distinct physical bodies, being one together with the Holy Ghost, not in material substance, but instead united in spirit, glory, and purpose - a view sometimes called 'social trinitarianism'.

Teachings in the 1820s and Early 1830s

The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon describes God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as being "one", with Jesus appearing with a body of spirit before his birth, and with a tangible body after his resurrection. The book describes the "Spirit of the Lord" as capable of appearing "in the form of a man" and speaking as a man would speak. (1 Ne. 11:11).
Prior to Jesus's birth, the book depicts Jesus as a spirit "without flesh and blood", although with a spirit "body" that looked the same as Jesus would appear during his physical life. (Ether 3).
Moreover, Jesus described himself as follows: "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters." (Ether 3:14).
In another passage of The Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi stated,
"I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth." (Mosiah 15:1-4).
After Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, The Book of Mormon states that he visited a small group of people in the Americas, who saw that he had a resurrected, tangible body.
During his visit, he was announced by the voice of God the Father, and those present felt the Holy Spirit, but only the Son was seen. Jesus is quoted,
"Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one." (3 Nephi 19:22-23).
The Book of Mormon states that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are "one" (See 3 Nephi 11:36).
The Mormon Church interprets this "oneness" as a metaphorical oneness in spirit, purpose, and glory, rather than a physical or bodily unity.

Teachings in the Mid-to-Late-1830s

In 1835, Joseph Smith, Jr. (with the involvement of Sidney Rigdon), publicly taught the idea that Jesus Christ and God the Father were two separate beings.
In the 'Lectures on Faith', which had been taught in 1834 to the 'School of the Prophets', the following doctrines were presented:
That the Godhead consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (5:1c);
That there are two "personages", the Father and the Son, that constitute the "supreme power over all things" (5:2a, Q&A section);
That the Father is a "personage of spirit, glory, and power" (5:2c);
That the Son is a "personage of tabernacle" (5:2d) who "possess[es] the same mind with the Father; which Mind is the Holy Spirit" (5:2j,k);
That the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the "supreme power over all things" (5:2l);
That "[T]hese three constitute the Godhead and are one: the Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness;" (5:2m);
That the Son is "filled with the fullness of the Mind of the Father, or in other words, the Spirit of the Father." (5:2o).
Though never part of the official Mormon canon, 'Lectures on Faith' were included as part of the 1835 'Doctrine and Covenants'.
In 1838, Smith published a narrative of his 'First Vision', in which he described seeing both God the Father and a separate Jesus Christ in a vision, both of them appearing identical.

Teachings in the 1840s

In public sermons later in Smith's life, he began to describe what he thought was the true nature of the Godhead in much greater detail.
In 1843, Smith provided his final public description of the Godhead before his death, in which he described God the Father as having a physical body, and the Holy Spirit, also, as a distinct personage: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."
During this period, Smith also introduced a theology that could support the existence of a 'Heavenly Mother'. The primary source for this theology is the sermon he delivered at the funeral of King Follett (commonly called the 'King Follett Discourse').
The Mormon Church believes that a 'Heavenly Mother' exists, but very little is acknowledged or known beyond Her existence.
Lorenzo Snow succinctly summarized another portion of the doctrine explained in the King Follett Discourse using a couplet:
'As man now is, God once was:
As God now is, man may be.'

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds Joseph Smith's explanation of the Godhead as official doctrine, which is to say that the Father and the Son have glorified physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost has only a body of spirit.
The differences between the Mormon doctrine of the Godhead and that of Trinitarianism have set Mormonism apart, with the result that some Christian denominations reject Mormonism as being a branch of the Christian Faith.
Leaders and scriptural texts of the Mormon Church actually affirm a belief in the Holy Trinity but use the word "Godhead" (a term used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9) as a means to set apart their belief that the unity of the three persons of the Trinity includes unity in all things, except a physical unity of beings.
The Latter-day Saints believe that "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."
According to LDS teachings, this theology is consistent with Smith's 1838 and subsequent accounts of the 'First Vision'.
These accounts state that Smith saw a vision of "two personages" that included the Father and the Son.
The church also teaches that its theology is consistent with the Biblical account of the baptism of Jesus which referred to signs from the Father and the Holy Spirit, which the denomination interprets as an indication that these two persons have distinct substance from Jesus.
Smith taught that there is one Godhead and that humans can have a place, as joint-heirs with Christ, if they follow the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
This process of exaltation means literally that humans can become full, complete, joint-heirs with Jesus and can, if proven worthy, inherit all that he inherits.
In this way humanity has the ability to become 'gods' through the Atonement of Jesus.
Among the resurrected, the righteous souls receive great glory, being made perfect through the atonement of Christ.
LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley offered a declaration of belief wherein he reaffirmed the teachings of the LDS Church regarding the distinct individuality and perfect unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
He affirmed that God the Father is "the Father of the spirits of all men,".

Plurality of Gods

Latter-day Saints believe in an eternal cycle where God's children may progress to become "joint-heirs" (Romans 8:17) of Jesus Christ and thus become 'Gods'.
This is commonly called 'Exaltation' within the LDS church.
Previous prophets or leaders of the church have made statements about their personal beliefs about exaltation.
Joseph Smith taught, and the Bible also states, that all people are children of God.
Smith further stated in the King Follett Discourse that God was the son of a Father, and that the cycle continues for eternity.

Quotations on the Plurality of Gods

"I wish to declare I have always an in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods.”

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 6, p. 306

“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and created a plan to create the world and people it.”

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 6, pp. 307, 308

"Hence, the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible . . . Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many . . . but to us there is but one God--that is pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all,"

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 474).

“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity.
I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple.
It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible” 

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-346.

“If we should take a million of worlds like this and number their particles, we should find that there are more Gods than there are particles of matter in those worlds.”

Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, v. 2, p. 345, February 18, 1855

“Each God, through his wife or wives, raises up a numerous family of sons and daughters.... Each father and mother will be in a condition to multiply forever.
As soon as each God has begotten many millions of male and female spirits... he, in connection with his sons, organizes a new world... where he sends both the male and female spirits to inhabit tabernacles of flesh and bones.... The inhabitants of each world are required to reverence, adore, and worship their own personal father who dwells in the Heaven which they formerly inhabited.”

Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, v. 1, p. 37

“Intelligent beings are organized to become Gods, to dwell in the presence of the Gods, and become associated with the highest intelligences that dwell in eternity.”

Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 8, p. 160, September 2, 1860

"New light is occasionally burst into our minds, of the sacred scriptures, for which I am truly thankful.
We shall by and by learn that we were with God in another world, before the foundation of the world, and had our agency; that we came into this world and have our agency, in order that we may prepare ourselves for a kingdom of glory; become archangels, even the sons of God where the man is neither without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord: A consummation of glory, and happiness, and perfection so greatly to be wished, that I would not miss of it for the fame of ten worlds."

W.W. Phelps, Latter-day Saint Messenger and Advocate, v. 1, no. 9, p. 130, June 1835

"I will preach on the plurality of Gods.
"Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It read first, "In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods," or, as others have translated it, "The head of the Gods called the Gods together."
"The head God organized the heavens and the earth. In the beginning the heads of the Gods organized the heavens and the earth.
The head one of the Gods said, Let us make a man in our own image.
"In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation.
The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take that view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfections of the Gods."

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 370-372, June 16, 1844

"Women are queens and priestesses but not gods."

Rodney Turner, retired BYU religion professor, Sunstone Panel Discussion, September 7, 1991.

“We don't hear about Heavenly Mother because she is only one of many wives of god.”

Sister Maxine Hanks, Women and Authority, Ch.11, p.251

The Mormons - Mormon Temples


Kaysville Tabernacle 
Mormon Stake House
There are two distinct forms of Mormonism co-existing, and only weakly related.
The first form of Mormonism is the form that is generally known to non-Mormons.
It is the religion practised in Mormon Chapels, Stake Houses and Tabernacles, and involves prayers meetings, hymn singing and Sacrament Services, and in most ways is indistinguishable from most forms of Adventist Christianity.
The second form of Mormonism, which some would suggest is the true form of Mormonism, is 'Temple Mormonism'.
This form of Mormonism involves various activities which are not available to non-Mormons, or even many Mormons.

Salt Lake City Temple
Mormon Chapel
It is an essentially non-Christian, Gnostic Mystery religion.
In the Mormon Church, a temple is a building reserved for special forms of worship.
A temple differs from a church meetinghouse (Mormon Tabernacle, Chapel or Stakehouse), which is used for weekly worship services.
Temples have been a significant part of the Latter Day Saint movement since early in its inception.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 139 operating temples worldwide to perform 'Endowment Ceremonies', marriages, and other services for both the living, and by proxy, on behalf of dead ancestors, with 29 more undergoing renovation, under construction or announced and in some stage of planning as of 26 November 2012.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was conceived as a 'restoration' of practices believed to have been lost in a 'Great Apostasy' from the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith Jr - 1843
On December 27, 1832 - two years after the foundation of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., reported receiving a revelation that called upon church members to restore the practice of temple worship.
The Latter Day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio were commanded to:
"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 1835 VII:36, LDS 88:119, RLDS 85:36b)
More importantly, Latter Day Saints see temples as the fulfilment of a prophecy found in Malachi 3:1 (KJV):
"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."
This is believed to emphasize that when the Lord comes again, he will come "to his temple."
As plans were drawn up to construct a temple in Kirtland, the decision was made to simultaneously begin work on a second temple at the church's colony in Jackson County, Missouri.
Surviving plans indicate that both temples would have the same dimensions and approximately the same appearance, and both were to be at the "centre-places" of cities designed according to Smith's plan for the 'City of Zion'.
Conflict in Missouri led to the expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County, preventing any possibility of building a temple there, but work on the temple in Kirtland continued.
At great cost and after great sacrifice, the Latter Day Saints finished the Kirtland Temple in early 1836.
On March 27, they held a lengthy dedication ceremony, and numerous spiritual experiences and visitations were reported.
Conflict relating to the failure of the church's Kirtland Safety Society Bank, caused the church presidency to leave Kirtland and move the church's headquarters to the Mormon settlement of Far West, Missouri.
Far West was also planned along the lines of the 'City of Zion' plan and in 1838 the church began construction of a new, larger temple in the centre of the town.
They may also have dedicated a temple site in the neighbouring Mormon settlement of 'Adam-ondi-Ahman'. The events of the 1838 Mormon War, and the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri left these attempts at temple-building no further progressed than excavating foundations.
In 1839, the Mormons regrouped at a new headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois.
They were again commanded to build a "House of the Lord" - this one even larger and greater than those that went before.

Death of Joseph Smith Jr
Plans for the temple in Nauvoo followed the earlier models in Kirtland and Independence, with lower and upper courts, but the scale was much increased.
New conflicts arose that caused Joseph Smith, the Prophet and President of the Church, to be murdered, along with his brother Hyrum the Patriarch, at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.
The Nauvoo Temple stood only half finished.
Eventually, this temple was finished and dedicated.
Some temple ordinances were performed before most of the saints followed Brigham Young west across the Mississippi River.


Temples have held numerous purposes in the Latter Day Saint.
These purposes include:

Kirtland Temple
A House of the Lord - Joseph Smith, Jr. reported a revelation in 1836 explaining that the recently-dedicated Kirtland Temple was built "that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people." (Doctrine and Covenants LDS 109:5).

A House of Learning - The Kirtland Temple housed the "School of the Prophets."
Nauvoo Temple
Centre of the City of Zion - Latter Day Saints often view temples as central to the establishment of Zionic communities.
Examples include: the Kirtland Temple, the original (unfinished) Independence Temple, the (unfinished) Far West Temple, the (unfinished) Adam-ondi-Ahman Temple, the original Nauvoo Temple, the Salt Lake Temple, the St. George Utah Temple, the Mesa Arizona Temple, the Laie Hawaii Temple, and others.
Headquarters of the church - the Kirtland Temple served as the headquarters of the early church from its completion in 1836 through the end of 1837.
Sacred spaces for special ordinances - Beginning in Nauvoo, temples were spaces in which to perform special ordinances such as the 'Endowment' and 'Baptism for the Dead.

Salt Lake Temple Baptistry
Temples are not only a 'House of the Lord', but are also where members of the Church make 'Covenants', receive instructions, and perform sacred ordinances, such as: 'Baptism for the Dead', 'Washing and Anointing' (or "initiatory" ordinances), the 'Endowment', and 'Eternal Marriage Sealings'.
Ordinances are a vital part of the theology of the church, which teaches that they were practised by the Lord's covenant people in all dispensations.
Additionally, members consider the temple a place to commune with God, seek God’s aid, understand the will of God, and receive personal revelation.

Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time.
During this period the church conducts tours of the temple, with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public.
The temple is then dedicated as a "House of the Lord," after which only members in good standing are permitted entrance, thus they are not churches but rather places of worship.


Kirtland Temple Interior
In 1832, shortly after the formation of the Church, Joseph Smith, Jr. said that the Lord desired the saints build a temple; and they completed the Kirtland Temple in 1836.
Mormons feel that the first 'endowment' ceremonies were performed in Kirtland, Ohio, although the endowment performed in Kirtland differed significantly from the 'endowment' performed by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.
The construction of the Nauvoo Temple, and the teaching of the full endowment by Smith are seen as the final steps in restoring the Church founded by Jesus Christ following the great apostasy.
Because it is an integral part of their worship, members, upon arriving in Salt Lake City, began plans to build temples there, and built the 'Endowment House' to allow members to receive the endowment until the temples were completed.

Ordiance Room

Provo Temple - Celestial Room
In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an 'Ordinance Room' is a room where the ceremony known as the 'Endowment' is administered, as well as other rituals called 'Sealings'.
Some temples perform a progressive-style ordinance where worshipers move from room to room, each room representing a progression of mankind: the 'Creation Room', representing the Genesis creation story; the 'Garden Room' represents the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived prior to the fall of man; the 'World Room', where Adam and Eve lived after the fall; the Terrestrial room; and the 'Celestial Room' representing the Celestial Kingdom of God.
There is also an additional ordinance room, the 'Sealing Room', and at least one temple (Salt Lake City) has a 'Holy of Holies'.
These two rooms are reserved for the administration of ordinances beyond the Endowment.

Development of Ordinance Rooms

Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store
The first building to have ordinance rooms, designed to conduct the 'Endowment', was Joseph Smith's store in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842.
Using canvas, Smith divided the store's large, second-floor room into sections, which represented "the interior of a temple as much as circumstances would permit".
The sections included a 'garden' with potted plants and a 'veil'.
After conducting the endowment services, Smith told Brigham Young, "This is not arranged right but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed." Smith concluded that he wanted Young to "organize and systemize all these ceremonies."
After Smith's assassination in 1844, Young also used canvas to divide the large attic room in the Nauvoo Temple in the sections.
Participants in the Nauvoo Temple ceremonies used the same names for these sections as the ordinance rooms in later temples: 'Garden Room', 'World Room', 'Terrestrial Room', 'Celestial Room', and 'Sealing Room', which was also called the 'Holy of Holies'.
With the resumption of temple ordinances in Salt Lake City in the 1850s, Young followed the same method of using canvas to divide an upper floor of the Council House into the ordinance rooms.
The above arrangement for administering the 'Endowment' consisted of only temporary modifications to a building's interior rooms; obviously canvas partitions were not meant to be permanent.

Salt Lake City Endowment House
The first building to be designed specifically with actual progressive-style ordinance rooms for presentation of the 'Endowment' was the Endowment House built in 1855 on Temple Square.
This structure had the same rooms as the Nauvoo Temple and Council House, including a Garden Room with murals and potted evergreen plants, but the Sealing Room was not called the Holy of Holies (Tingen, 10). However, when the St. George Utah Temple, was completed in 1877, Young followed the Nauvoo Temple pattern of using "frame partitions with the curtains and doors" for Endowment rooms.
Apparently, the rooms were later made more permanent in 1881, when a group of Utah artists painted murals on the walls.

St George Temple
Logan Temple - Utah
Perhaps, using the precedent of the rooms in Endowment House and St. George, architect Truman O. Angell, Jr., specifically designed the Logan Utah Temple interior with progressive ordinance rooms; the first temple so designed, which was dedicated in 1884. Manti Utah Temple architect, William Folsom, followed the same arrangement for that temple, which was dedicated in 1888.
Based on his experience with the Logan Temple, Angell petitioned Church president John Taylor to override Brigham Young's original design for the Salt Lake Temple's interior with progressive ordinance rooms, which Taylor enthusiastically approved.
The following description of the various rooms is typical of  Mormon temples.
These ordinance rooms reflect the overall temple ceremonies, which is an overview of God's plan for humanity.
Beginning with the creation, the endowment reviews man's mortal existence, and what one must do in order to return to God's presence as husband and wife with their children.

Creation Room

Salt Lake City Creation Room
NauvooTemple Creation Room 
This room generally has "murals on the walls which are subdued in tones, and depict scenes representative of the creation of the earth" as recorded in Genesis. It has no altar, only comfortable theater seating (Talmage, 204). In this room temple patrons "learn about the creation of the world".

Garden Room

Salt Lake Temple - Garden Room
NauvooTemple Garden Room
This room has murals "showing landscape of rare beauty."
The murals depict scenes such as "sylvan grottos and mossy dells, lakes and brooks, waterfalls and rivulets, trees, vines and flowers, insects, birds and beats, in short, the earth beautiful, as it was before the Fall of Adam and Eve.
It may be called the Garden of Eden Room.
It has an altar and theatre seating.
In this room temple patrons learn "about our first parents being placed in the Garden of Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and how they were cast out of the garden and out of the presence of God into our world".

World Room

Manti Temple World Room
This room's murals stand "in strong contrast to with those of the Garden Room."
The "rocks are rent and riven" with "gnarled trees, misshapen, and blasted; shrubs maintain a precarious roothold in rocky clefts; thorns, thistles, cacti, and noxious weeds abound," and the animals depicted "are living under the ever-present menace of death".
The scenes depicts the "lone and dreary world," where Adam and Eve "have been driven out to meet contention, to struggle with difficulties, and to live by strife and sweat" in a "fallen world."
It has an altar and theatre seating.
In this room temple patrons "learn about the joys as well as the discomforts of life,...where they are taught the gospel and enter into covenants of obedience with God".

Terrestrial Room

Salt Lake Temple Terrestial Room
This room has no murals, but is "restful in its soft colouring and air of comfort."
Its appointments "combine richness and simplicity," often including elaborately framed mirrors and paintings, and crystal chandeliers. "For convenience this room is designated the Terrestrial Room." In this room "lectures are given pertaining to the endowments".

Celestial Room

Salt Lake Temple Celestial Room
The 'veil' separates this room from the 'Terrestrial Room'.
Again, this room has no murals, but "in finish and furnishings it is the grandest of all the large [ordinance] rooms within the walls" of the temple.
Like the 'Terrestrial Room' it has large mirrors, paintings, and chandeliers, but it is more "suggestive of conditions yet more exalted."
Instead of theatre style seating for instruction it has tables with floral arrangements as well as comfortable sofas and chairs.
The 'Celestial Room' "symbolizes life as eternal families", and represents the glory of the highest degree of heaven.
The 'Celestial Room' is so called because it is symbolic of the Celestial Kingdom in Mormon theology.
Thus, the 'Celestial Room' is a profoundly quiet and reverent place, where individuals may pause to pray, meditate, and discuss amongst themselves.
In most Mormon temples, 'Celestial Rooms' are elegant, beautiful, and brighter in d├ęcor than other parts of the temple.

Sealing Room

St Paul Temple Sealing Room
Salt Lake Temple Sealing Room
All temples have at least one 'Sealing Room', and most temples have two or more.
'Sealing Rooms' come in a variety of sizes. from small to large. to accommodate varying numbers of people. Each room is dominated by a large "richly upholstered altar."
Around the room are comfortable chairs and sofas.
The "walls are of light tint," and generally on two of the walls are large mirrors, opposite each other.
In this room "is solemnized the sacred ordinance of marriage between the parties who come to plight their vows of marital fidelity for time and eternity".

Holy of Holies

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 'Holy of Holies' is a room in the Salt Lake Temple wherein the church's president - acting as the Presiding High Priest of the church - enters to act as High Priest of Israel in direct relationship with God, in accordance with the Mormon interpretation of the Book of Exodus.
Hence, this 'Holy of Holies' in the Mormon Church temple is considered a modern cognate to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem.

Salt Lake Temple Holy of Holies
Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has stated that “hidden away in the central part of the temple is the Holy of Holies, where the President of the Church may retire when burdened down with heavy decisions to seek an interview with Him whose Church it is. The prophet holds the keys, the spiritual keys and the very literal key to this one door in that sacred edifice”.
James E. Talmage stated that "this room is reserved for the higher ordinances in the Priesthood relating to the exaltation of both living and dead".
Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, stated that "no one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be done in the Holiest of Holies".

The Holy of Holies is the central of the three small apartments connected with the Celestial Room.
It is raised above the other two rooms, and is reached by an additional flight of six steps inside the sliding doors.
The short staircase is bordered by hand-carved balustrades, which terminate in a pair of newel-posts bearing bronze figures symbolical of innocent childhood; these support flower clusters, each jewelled blossom enclosing an electric bulb.
On the landing at the head of the steps is another archway, beneath which are sliding doors; these doors  "corresponds to the inner curtain or veil that shielded from public view the most sacred precincts" of earlier temples.
Opposite the doorway is a large stain glass window depicting Joseph Smith's 'First Vision'.
The room has an altar, chairs and sofas.
The room is practically without natural light, but it is brilliantly illumined by a large chandelier and eight side clusters of lamps.
The ceiling is a dome, in which are set circular and semi-circular windows of jewelled glass, and on the outer side of these, therefore above the ceiling, are electric globes whose light penetrates into the room in countless hues of subdued intensity.
Of all the rooms in the Salt Lake Temple, this circular room is "by far the most beautiful" with "splendid simplicity rather than of sumptuous splendour".

Temple Construction

Initially, the Church constructed temples in areas where there were large concentrations of members: Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Hawai'i (all in the USA), and Alberta (Canada).
In the mid 20th century, because of the importance of temples in the theology, the Church tried to balance density with the travel requirements that attending the temple imposed upon members - thus, temples were built in Europe (Switzerland-1955 and England-1958); the Pacific Islands (New Zealand-1958); and Washington, D.C. (1974-first American temple East of Utah since Nauvoo in 1846) when membership alone might not have justified the effort.
Temple growth continued in the 1980s, Spencer W. Kimball directed the Church to build smaller temples with similar designs.
Before this time, all but the Switzerland temple were at least 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2), and the average size of the first 20 temples was 103,000 square feet (9,570 m2).
The new temples varied in size but were generally less than 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) allowing temples to be built where there were fewer members.

The Mormons - Temple Endowment


In Mormonism 'endowment' is an ordinance (ritual ceremony) designed to prepare participants to become 'Exalted' in the afterlife.
Mormon Temple Endowment Room
As part of the ceremony, participants take part in a re-enactment of the Biblical creation and fall of Adam and Eve.
They also are taught highly symbolic gestures and passwords, thought to be needed to pass by angels guarding the way to the heavens, and are instructed not to reveal these gestures and passwords.
The ceremony also includes a washing and anointing, and receipt of a "new name" which they are not to reveal to others except at a certain part in the ceremony, and the receipt of the temple garments, which Mormons then are expected to wear under their clothing day and night throughout their life.

Salt Lake Temple Utah
The endowment was instituted by founder Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1840s with further contributions by Brigham Young and his successors.
Salt Lake City Endowment House
There was a brief period during the construction of the Salt Lake Temple where a small building referred to as the Endowment House was used to perform the ritual.
A distinct endowment ceremony was also performed in the 1830s in the Kirtland Temple, the first temple of the broader Latter Day Saint movement, which includes non-Mormon faiths such as the Community of Christ. The term endowment has various meanings historically, and within the other branches of that movement.

Temple Endowment

In the theology of the Latter Day Saints, an endowment refers to a gift of "power from on high", typically associated with Latter Day Saint temples.

Joseph Smith Jr. (1843)
The purpose and meaning of the endowment varied during the life of movement founder Joseph Smith, Jr. The term has referred to many such gifts of heavenly power, including the confirmation ritual, the institution of the High Priesthood in 1831, events and rituals occurring in the Kirtland Temple in the mid-1830s, and an elaborate ritual performed in the Nauvoo Temple in the 1840s.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church),  practices a form of the Nauvoo endowment.
Nauvoo Temple - Celestial Room
The Nauvoo endowment ceremony, introduced by Joseph Smith, Jr. and codified by Mormon leader Brigham Young, consisted of symbolic acts and covenants designed to prepare participants to officiate in priesthood ordinances, and to give them the key words and tokens they need to pass by angels guarding the way to the heavens.
In the Mormon Church's modern practices, the endowment ceremony directs new participants to take a number of solemn oaths or covenants such as an oath of consecration to the LDS Church.
Also in the Mormon Church's modern practices, completing the endowment ceremony is a prerequisite to both full-time missionary service and temple marriage.

1830 Endowments: Endowment of the Holy Spirit and Confirmation

Although it was not generally referred to as an endowment at the time, in retrospect, Latter Day Saints have viewed the confirmation, first performed on April 6, 1830, and attendant outpourings of the spiritual gifts, as an early type of endowment.
The term derives from the Authorized King James Version, referring to the spiritual gifts given the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost, in which they were "endowed with power from on high,"
Subsequent to these early confirmations, Mormons exhibited what they viewed as spiritual gifts such as having visions, prophecy, gift of healing, gift of knowledge, gift of tongues.
Unlike the other Latter Day Saint endowments, confirmation has continued to coexist with later endowments as a separate Latter Day Saint ritual.

1831 Kirtland Endowment: Conferral of the High Priesthood

Kirtland Temple
The first reference to an endowment by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was in early 1831, some days after Smith was joined in his ministry by Sidney Rigdon, a newly-converted Campbellite minister from Ohio.
Rigdon's congregation also was converted to Smith's Church of Christ.
Rigdon had apparently disagreed with the Campbellites in that he believed in a Pentecostal endowment of power beyond the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit endowed upon confirmation.
While Rigdon believed the teachings of the early Mormon missionaries who converted him, he thought the missionaries were lacking in heavenly power.
In January 1831, Smith issued a revelation where he wrote that after Mormons relocated to Kirtland, Ohio, they would "be endowed with power from on high" and "sent forth".
Smith reiterated this in February 1831, stating that the faithful members would "be taught from on high" and "endowed with power", and that God would call the elders of the church together in Kirtland in a General Conference and "pour out his Spirit upon them in that day they assemble themselves together".
In a revelation given to an individual, Smith assured the man that "at the conference meeting he would be ordained unto power from on high".
This General Conference of the church was held on June 3 to June 6, 1831, in which a number of men were ordained to the "High" or "Melchizedek" Priesthood for the first time, which ordination "consisted of the endowment - it being a new order - and bestowed authority".
Later that year, an early convert who had left the church claimed that many of the Saints "have been ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchizedek; and profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient apostles were".

The Melchizedek Priesthood

The 'Melchizedek' priesthood is the greater of the two orders of priesthood recognized in Mormonism.

The other is the 'Aaronic' priesthood.
The Patriarchal priesthood which is sometimes confused as a separate priesthood is explained by Boyd K. Packer, Apostle of the LDS Church as: "The patriarchal order is not a third, separate priesthood. Whatever relates to the patriarchal order is embraced in the Melchizedek Priesthood. 'All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to the Melchizedek priesthood.' (D&C 107:5.) The patriarchal order is a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood which enables endowed and worthy men to preside over their posterity in time and eternity.".
The Melchizedek priesthood is also referred to as the high priesthood of the 'Holy order of God and the Holy Priesthood', after the 'Order of the Son of God', or simply as the 'high priesthood'.
In Mormonism, unlike most other Christian denominations, the Melchizedek priesthood is thought to be held by un-extraordinary mortals, and not solely by either pre-Aaronic priests such as Melchizedek, or Jesus alone, as most Christians interpret the 'Epistle to the Hebrews'.
According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the name of this priesthood became Melchizedek "because Melchizedek was such a great high priest" and "to avoid the too frequent repetition" of the "name of the Supreme Being".
Smith taught that this priesthood was on the earth since Adam received it and conferred it upon his sons Abel and Seth, and it was conferred successively upon the early biblical patriarchs.
Through it Enoch led his people to become so righteous and obedient that they qualified to be translated as the City of Enoch.
Noah held this priesthood, as did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it remained on earth until the time of Moses, who received it "under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro" and it would have been given to the Israelites if they had been worthy of it and had not "hardened their hearts".

Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery said they were visited by John the Baptist, who laid his hands on their head and gave them the Aaronic priesthood.
Unlike this restoration, however, which Smith described in detail and gave an exact date when it happened, Smith never gave a description of any vision in which he saw an angel separately confer the Melchizedek priesthood, however, by the turn of the 20th century, Latter Day Saint theologians believed that such a separate ordination by angels had occurred prior to the organization of the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830.
This was largely because the early church organization contained the office of elder, which at least by 1835 was considered an office of the Melchizedek priesthood.
As evidence for such a pre-organization 'angellic' conferral, writers referred to a revelation in which Smith said he heard "The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times !"
Thus, most Mormons suppose that Smith and Cowdery were visited by the three angels in 1829 and that they conferred the Melchizedek priesthood in the same way John the Baptist had conferred the Aaronic priesthood.
However, the official church history, supervised or written by Smith, states that "the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders" during a General Conference in early June 1831.
When Smith's official history was first published in 1902, the compiler B.H. Roberts thought that this was a mistake, because it would not be consistent with the common Mormon belief that the priesthood had been conferred prior to the church's founding in 1830, however, some recent Mormon historians accept Smith's history as correct and consistent with other historical records showing that other Mormons present at the conference dated the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood to 1831.(see above)
In 1835, the historical record was muddled a bit when the first edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' altered pre-1831 revelations to make a distinction between the 'Aaronic' and 'Melchizedek' priesthoods, and to classify the offices of elder and apostle as part of the 'Melchizedek' priesthood.

The Melchizedek Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) the Melchizedek priesthood is one of two governing priesthoods, which is typically given as a matter of course to worthy male members 18 years and older.
Though typically adult men do not receive this priesthood until they have belonged to the church for at least one year, this is not a hard and fast rule and a man may be given this priesthood as soon as local church leaders feel that he is prepared.
Ordination is based on the recipient's age and worthiness and does not require any specific training or aptitude.
A candidate for this ordination is interviewed and often counselled to study the 84th, 107th, and 121st sections of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' to begin to understand the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the covenant a person makes with God when he receives the Melchizedek priesthood.
The candidate is also usually asked to stand in a gathering of the members of the church to be publicly accepted as being worthy of ordination.
For male Latter-day Saints, receiving the Melchizedek priesthood is considered to be a 'saving ordinance' of the gospel.
An important purpose of giving the Melchizedek priesthood to every adult Latter-day Saint man is to allow fathers and husbands to be able to give priesthood blessings of healing, comfort, counsel, and strength to their children and wives, and to preside over the family unit in a righteous manner.
Many LDS fathers give a priesthood blessing to their children before the start of each new school year or before an important life event such as marriage.
Each Melchizedek priesthood bearer, regardless of priesthood office, is encouraged to give priesthood blessings when called upon by others.

The School of the Prophets

In the early Latter Day Saint movement, the School of the Prophets (also called the "school of the elders" or "school for the Prophets") was a select group of early leaders who began meeting on January 23, 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio under the direction of Joseph Smith for both theological and secular learning.
The first meeting of the school was held at the home-based store owned by Newel K. Whitney.
The school provided a setting for spiritual experiences and in-depth discussions of gospel principles.
A series of seven lectures presented at the school were published as part of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' in 1835, and later came to be known as the "Lectures on Faith."
Another branch of this school existed under the direction of Parley P. Pratt in Independence, Missouri for a short while.
Though the school went into a sort of recess, it is apparent Joseph Smith planned to revive it after the completion of the temple at Kirtland, Ohio.
Brigham Young began several schools of the Prophets during his tenure as church president, beginning in 1868 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and spreading to Provo, Logan, Brigham City, Spanish Fork, Nephi, Ephraim, American Fork, and Ogden.
His successor, John Taylor, also organized such schools in Salt Lake City and St. George in 1883.
Although the events at the school at Kirtland were never specifically called an "endowment", it has been classified as such by scholars because of similarities with the 1831 and 1836 endowments, and the fact that part of the school's stated intention was so that the church's elders could be "endowed with power from on high."
At the beginning, the school was "accompanied by a pentecostal outpouring, including speaking in tongues, prophesying and 'many manifestations of the holy spirit'".
It included a new Latter Day Saint ordinance of foot washing.

The 1836 Kirtland Endowment

Kirtland Temple Interior
A year and a half after the June 1831 endowment, Smith said he received a revelation in December 1832 to prepare to build a "house of God" or a 'temple'.
A revelation soon followed identifying the location of the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, and another revelation affirmed that in this building the Lord "designed to endow those he had chosen with power on high".
In a later revelation the Lord indicated that the elders were to be "endowed with power from on high; for he had prepared a greater endowment" than the 1831 endowment.
Upon the completion of the Kirtland Temple after three years of construction (1833–1836), the elders of the church gathered for this second promised endowment in early 1836.
The Kirtland Temple endowment ceremonies were patterned after Old Testament sacerdotal practices.
They consisted of preparatory washings, administered in private homes, in which men washed and purified their bodies with water and alcohol.
After this, they gathered in the temple where they were anointed with specially consecrated oil and with blessings pronounced upon their heads by Smith and other church leaders.
The men's anointings were sealed with uplifted hands.
Following these ceremonies many men reported participating in extraordinary spiritual experiences, such as seeing visions, speaking prophecies or receiving revelations.
The culmination of the endowment was a solemn assembly, held on March 30, in which the men partook of the Sacrament and then washed each other's feet.
Those present spent the rest of the day and night prophesying, speaking in tongues, testifying and exhorting each other.
To those present it was a "day of Pentecost.", indeed, Smith told the solemn assembly that they could now "go forth and build up the kingdom of God".
On April 3, 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery recounted the appearance of Jesus to them in the Kirtland Temple, and his acceptance of the building as his house.
This was followed by the appearance of three Old Testament prophets: Moses, Elias, and Elijah, each of whom bestowed additional temple-related authority on the two men.
Initially, Smith intended the Kirtland endowment to become an annual affair; he administered the same ceremonies again in 1837, however, because of persecution the Mormons largely abandoned Kirtland and its temple in 1838–1839 and moved west.
As Smith's theology expanded during the 1840s, the 'Kirtland Endowment' was superseded by the 'Nauvoo Endowment'.
Mormons looked back upon the Kirtland Temple rituals with the authority bestowed by the three prophets as preparatory to the greater endowment revealed at Nauvoo.
This was certainly the view of Brigham Young, who said:
And those first Elders who helped to build the Kirtland Temple, received a portion of their first endowments, or we might say more clearly, some of the first, or introductory, or initiatory ordinances, preparatory to an endowment. The preparatory ordinances there administered, though accompanied the ministration of angels, and the presence of the Lord Jesus, were but a faint similitude of the ordinances of the House of the Lord in their fulness."

The Kirtland Temple

Kirtland Temple - Architectural Drawing
Beginning in 1831, members of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) under the direction of c Joseph Smith Jr., began to gather in the Kirtland area.
In December 1832 Smith reported to have received a revelation that called for the construction of a house of worship, education, and order.
On May 6, 1833, Smith reported that he had received a revelation from God, directing members of the church to construct "a house... wholly dedicated unto the Lord for the work of the presidency," "dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the priesthood."
Directions were given to build a "lower court and a higher court," and a promise given that the Lord's "glory shall be there, and his presence shall be there." (LDS Doctrine & Covenants D&C 94:3-9 RLDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 91:3).
This building which would have sat next to the Kirtland Temple was never started, nor the third building which was to be a house for the printing operations of the church.
Instead the functions of this office building ended up in the attic of the Kirtland Temple.
The first structure of its kind to be built by the Latter Day Saint movement, the Kirtland Temple is different in purpose from the Nauvoo temple built in the 1840s.
It is different in both design and purpose of the temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in latter years, as they embraced and grew from Nauvoo Temple theology.
The lower inner court is used primarily for various worship services.
It has two sets of pulpits, one set on either end, and the pews featured an adjustable design which allowed the audience to face either end.
Kirtland Temple - Interior
The second floor was designed for education, and was to house a school for church leaders known as the "School of Mine Apostles".
Use of the third floor alternated use between general academic classes during the day, Church quorum meetings in the evenings, the Kirtland Theological Institution, the School of the Elders (possibly an enlargement of the school of the prophets, and may have been destined to become the school of mine apostles), Church offices, including that of Smith, were also located on the third floor.
At the time of construction, none of the ordinances associated with LDS temple worship, such as baptism by proxy, had been instituted.
The completed temple had cost $40,000.
Temples of nearly identical design were planned at about the same time period in Missouri at Temple Lot (in Independence), Far West, and Adam-ondi-Ahman. However, none were built because of the 1838 Mormon War which evicted the members from the state.

The Nauvoo Endowment

Red Brick Store - Nauvoo
On May 3, 1842 Joseph Smith, Jr. prepared the second floor of his Red Brick Store, in Nauvoo, Illinois, to represent "the interior of a temple as circumstances would permit".

The Red Brick Store in Nauvoo, Illinois, was a building that was constructed and owned by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.
Smith constructed the Red Brick Store in 1841.
The building became a centre of economic, political, religious, and social activity among the Latter Day Saints.
In addition to being a mercantile store, the second floor of the building also served as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for a period of time.
Members would visit the store to pay their tithing and other offerings to the church.
The building was the site of the first performance of the Nauvoo Endowment ordinance, on May 4, 1842.

The next day, May 4, he introduced the 'Nauvoo Endowment' ceremony to nine associates: Associate President and Patriarch to the Church, Smith's brother Hyrum; first counselor in the First Presidency, William Law; three of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards; Nauvoo stake president, William Marks; two bishops, Newel K. Whitney and George Miller, and a close friend, Judge James Adams of Springfield, Illinois.
Nauvoo Temple
Throughout 1843 and 1844 Smith continued to initiate other men, as well as women, into the endowment ceremony.
By the time of his death on June 27, 1844 more than 50 persons had been admitted into the Anointed Quorum, the name by which this group called themselves.
The Nauvoo endowment consists of two phases: (1) an initiation, and (2) an instructional and testing phase. The initiation consists of a washing and anointing, culminating in the clothing of the patron in a "Garment of the Holy Priesthood", which is thereafter worn as an undergarment.
The instructional and testing phase of the endowment consists of a scripted re-enactment of Adam and Eve's experience in the Garden of Eden.
The instruction is punctuated with personal covenants, gestures, and a prayer circle around an altar.
At the end of instruction, the initiate's knowledge of symbolic gestures and key-words is tested at a "veil", a symbolic final frontier for the initiate to face the judgement of Jesus, before entering the presence of God in the Celestial Kingdom.

Concerning the day's activities, Smith recorded:
...the communications I made to this council were of things spiritual, and to be received only by the spiritual minded: and there was nothing made known to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last days, so soon as they are prepared to receive, and a proper place is prepared to communicate them, even to the weakest of Saints: therefore let the Saints be diligent in building the Temple."

The Nauvoo Endowment and Freemasonry

There are many similarities between Smith's endowment ceremony and certain rituals of Freemasonry, particularly the Royal Arch degree.
These specific similarities included instruction in various signs, tokens, and passwords, and the imposition of various forms of the penalties for revealing them.
The original wording of the penalties, for example, closely followed the wording of the Masonic penalties.
According to the predominant view by historians, Smith used and adapted material from the Masonic rituals in creating the endowment ceremony.
All of those first initiated by Smith on May 4, 1842, were long-standing or recent Masons: Adams was the Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Illinois; Whitney, Miller and Kimball had previously been Lodge Masters; Smith's brother, Hyrum, had been a Mason since 1827, and the remaining five participants (Law, Marks, Young, Richards, and Smith himself) had been initiated as Freemasons just weeks before the meeting, however, none of these Masons ever charged Smith with breaking any of Masonry's oaths or revealing its secrets.
As a matter of fact, one Mormon historian has noted that these Masonic parallels confirmed to these men "the breath of the restoration impulse and was evidence of Smith's divine calling".
The LDS Church has never commented officially on these similarities, although certain features of the two rituals have been called "analogous" by one official Church Historian.
The LDS Church apostle John A. Widtsoe downplayed the similarities, arguing that they "do not deal with the basic matters the endowment but rather with the mechanism of the ritual."
Some within the LDS Church, particularly Smith's contemporaries, have expressed the view that the endowment was given anciently by God in its original form at the Temple of Solomon, but that the form of the ritual degenerated into the form used by Freemasons.
Heber C. Kimball clearly supported this position, "We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing".

Salt Lake City Endowment House

Salt Lake City Endowment House
The Endowment House was an early building used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to administer temple ordinances in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.
From the construction of the Council House in 1852, Salt Lake City's first public building, until the construction of the Endowment House, the Mormons used the top floor of the Council House for administering temple rituals.
When this arrangement proved impractical, Brigham Young directed Truman O. Angell, architect of the Salt Lake Temple, to design a temporary temple.
Completed in 1855, the building was dedicated by Heber C. Kimball and came to be called the Endowment House.
The Endowment House stood on the northwest corner of Temple Square.
Initially, it was a two-story adobe building, 44 feet by 34 feet, with a single-story 20-foot extension on its north side.
In 1856 another extension was added on its south side and a baptistry on its west side.
Inside, it was the first building designed specifically for administering temple rituals.
Earlier buildings used for such purposes, Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store in Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Temple and the Council House, only had temporary canvas partitions.
It had the typical ordinance rooms found in some later Mormon temples: creation room, garden room, world room, celestial room, as well as a sealing room.
In 1856 William Ward painted the walls of the creation room to represented the Garden of Eden, the first such temple mural.
It was one of the first buildings in Utah to have indoor bathrooms.
The building was used primarily for performing temple ordinances.
From 1857 to 1876 the baptismal font was used to perform 134,053 baptisms for the dead. Between 1855 and 1884 54,170 persons received their washings and anointings and endowments.
Between 1855 and 1889 68,767 couples were sealed in marriage—31,052 for the living and 37,715 for the dead.
Mormons did not consider the Endowment House a temple, so they did not perform all temple ordinances in it.
Brigham Young explained, “We can, at the present time [1874], go into the Endowment House and be baptized for our dead, receive our washings and anointings, etc....We also have the privilege of sealing women to men without a Temple....but when we come to other sealing ordinances, ordinances pertaining to the holy Priesthood, to connect the chain of the Priesthood from father Adam until now, by sealing children to their parents, being sealed for our forefathers, etc., they cannot be done without a temple” (Journal of Discourses, 16:185).
Hence, there were no sealing of children nor endowments for the dead performed in the Endowment House. These ordinances were first administered in Utah’s first temple, in St. George, in 1877.
It was also used for other purposes, including prayer circles, setting apart and instructing missionaries before their departure, as well as meetings of the various church leaders, such as the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Modifications by the LDS Church of Endowment

After Smith officiated in Brigham Young's endowment in 1842 Smith told him, "Brother Brigham, this is not arranged perfectly; however we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed. I wish you to take this matter in hand: organize and systematize all these ceremonies".
Young did as Smith directed, and under Young's direction the 'Nauvoo Endowment' ceremony was introduced to the Church at large in the Nauvoo Temple during the winter of 1845–1846.
A spacious hall in the temple's attic was arranged into appropriate ordinance "rooms" using canvas partitions. Potted plants were used in areas representing the Garden of Eden, and other areas were furnished appropriately, including a room representing the Celestial Kingdom.
Over 5,500 persons received their endowments in this temple.
Young introduced the same ceremony in the Utah Territory in the 1850s, first in the Endowment House and then in the St. George Temple.
During this period the ceremony had never been written down, but was passed orally from temple worker to worker.
Shortly after the dedication of the St. George Temple, and before his death in 1877, Young became concerned about the possibility of variations in the ceremony within the church's temples and so directed the majority of the text of the endowment to be written down.
This document became the standard for the ceremony thereafter.
Also in 1877, the first Endowments for the Dead were performed in the St. George Temple.
In 1893 minor alterations in the text were made in an attempt to bring uniformity to the ceremony as administered in the temples.

Requirements for Participation in Endowment

All temple ceremonies, including the endowment, are open only to worthy Mormons who have a valid "temple recommend".
To be eligible to receive a temple recommend that will allow one to participate in the Endowment, one must have been converted to the LDS Church and been baptised for at least one year; if born into the faith, the member must generally be at least 18 years old.
A male member of the church must hold the Melchizedek priesthood to participate in the endowment.
A temple recommend is signed by a member of the person's bishopric and a member of the stake presidency, who each perform a personal, one-on-one worthiness interview.
Persons seeking a recommend to attend the temple for the first time and receive their endowment will generally meet with their bishop and stake president.
These interviews cover what the church believes to be the most important factors of personal morality and worthiness, including whether the person has a basic belief in key church doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus and the restoration; whether the person attends church meetings and supports the leadership of the LDS Church; whether the person affiliates with Mormon fundamentalists or other people considered by the church to be apostate; whether the person is honest and lives the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom; whether the person abuses family members; whether the person pays tithing and any applicable child support; and whether the person has confessed to serious past sins.
Prior to participating in the endowment, members of the LDS Church frequently participate in a six-part temple preparation class which discusses temple-related topics but does not directly discuss the details of the ceremony.