Mormon Temples Ordinance Changes





The latest changes to unchangeable gospel ordinances

"We explained briefly the Apostasy and the Restoration: that there is vast evidence and history of an apostasy from the doctrine taught by Jesus and his Apostles, that the organization of the original Church became corrupted, and sacred ordinances were changed to suit the convenience of men..."
- Apostle David B. Haight, “Joseph Smith the Prophet,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 22

Based on information from faithful LDS temple workers, on January 18th, 2005 the initiatory ordinance in the temple underwent a makeover.

In summary, here's what changed in the temple initiatory ordinance:

1. Before, temple patrons had to get naked and then put on a poncho (called a "shield") that was completely open on the sides, then walk to the initiatory area to begin the ordinance

Now, temple patrons must put on garments (one-piece style) in the locker area before even starting the initiatory ordinance.

2. The poncho "shield" has been changed into a dress-like piece of clothing that is sewn shut on both sides all the way down to the ankles. Patrons must put this new dress-like shield over the garments before beginning the initiatory ordinance.

3. A new part has been added to the initiatory ordinance, which quotes Exodus 40:12-13 "And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him..." Then, temple patrons are told that "in our day" you are washed and anointed "only symbolically."

4. Before, the ordinance required temple patrons to be touched with water on each part of their body mentioned in the washing ordinance, including the forehead, an ear, an eye, the nose, the lips, the neck, the shoulders, the back, a breast, the stomach, an arm, a hand, the hip, a leg and a foot.

Now, the priesthood ordinance giver only touches the forehead, then places his/her hands on the head to pronounce the ordinance words.

5. Before, the anointing ordinance also required anointing with oil the parts mentioned in the ordinance, including the forehead, an ear, an eye, the nose, the lips, the neck, the shoulders, the back, a breast, the stomach, an arm, a hand, the hip, a leg and a foot.

Now, the priesthood ordinance giver only places a little oil on the head as he/she speaks the words of the ordinance.

6. Before, temple patrons were not allowed to wear garments until the very end of the initiatory ordinance. As part of the ordinance, the patron stepped into their garments, assisted by the ordinance giver, while only being covered (barely) by the open shield.

Now, since temple patrons are already wearing their garments before the ordinance begins, the priesthood ordinance giver ends the ordinance by telling the patron that their garments are now "authorized" and must be worn for the rest of his/her life.

Keep in mind that this is not the first time the initiatory ordinance has changed. Descriptions of the early initiatory ordinance in the Nauvoo Temple include references to a bathtub where the temple patron was literally washed, as described in Exodus 40:12-13. In the excellent book "The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship author David John Buerger writes:

"The earliest accounts of the Nauvoo temple endowment indicate that initiatory washings followed a literal Old Testament model of actual bathing. Large tubs of water are specified in the separate men's and women's rooms. The anointing was performed by liberally pouring consecrated oil from a horn over the head and allowing it to run over the whole body."
- The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, page 81

Mormon Temple Ordinance

Salt Lake Temple Layout

The Salt Lake Temple also used to have large tubs for the washing part of the ordinance. A 1893 article in Engineering Magazine titled "Architecture," on page 100 referred to the "largest bath-tub ever made," exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 by the Standard Manufacturing Company, which had manufactured twelve of them on special order for the LDS church, for use in the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City.
- The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Appendix 2

Those who would say these are not changes to the ordinance, should consider how the church defines changes to other gospel ordinances. As just one example, here's what a church prophet taught in regards to priests not kneeling while blessing the sacrament:

"...those who administer the sacrament will kneel when asking the blessing. It is not that this form is absolutely essential to the acceptance of this ordinance by the Lord; but it is in accordance with the word of the Lord which was given for our guidance; and where it is possible to follow the written word, in the spirit in which it is given, it is always better to do so. Indeed, by doing so we will avoid a serious wrong, that might eventually grow out of a disregard for the rules that the Lord has established, for it might lead to a changing, to some extent, of the ordinances of the house of God. It is necessary that we should pay proper attention and care to carrying out the purposes of the Lord in the manner which He has already revealed. And this may be extended to other matters of our religion. One of the charges brought against the children of Israel, and mentioned by the prophets in the latter times, was that 'they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.' That is really the complaint against the world today, and it is not meet that we should indulge in any such things."
- The Prophet Joseph F.Smith, Collected Discourses Vol.3, p. 308-309

The changes made to the initiatory ordinance are akin to changing baptism from total immersion to a light sprinkle - a change that the Mormon Church uses to accuse other churches of apostasy:

"[Apostate Churches] have changed many of the ordinances. For instance, they no longer baptize as Jesus was baptized when he went to John to be baptized of him."
- Apostle LeGrand Richards, “The Things of God and Man,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 21

"[Jesus Christ] instituted baptism to set forth this glorious thing unto men. But by degrees, yielding, as was supposed, to necessity, men depart from this manner of administering the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins, until water sprinkled or poured upon the candidate was held to be sufficient for baptism. Whenever they did that, wherever they did it, they departed from the order established by the Son of God, they changed an ordinance of the Gospel."
- Apostle B. H. Roberts, Collected Discourses Vol. 5, p.385

"The Prophet Isaiah saw the period of time when the earth should reel to and fro like a drunken man; and he saw that glorious day when the Lord of Hosts shall be about to reign in Zion and Jerusalem. And among other things he saw in vision was that the earth became defiled under the inhabitants thereof; "because," says the Prophet, "they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." Plainly showing that they were to be a corrupt, people; a people who, for instance, would change the ordinance of baptism, from immersion to sprinkling or pouring, or doing it away altogether, and in the same manner changing the various ordinances of the Gospel from the original form in which the Lord revealed them. He says, through the mouth of His Prophet, that the people who should be guilty of this great wickedness should be visited with fire."
- The Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p.11-12

"For a century we have tried to show to the world from the scriptures that baptism is necessary to man's salvation; that baptism signifies immersion and that immersion was the only form of baptism known and practiced in the primitive Church until several centuries A. D., and that the changing of the mode of baptism from immersion to pouring or sprinkling is apostasy and fulfils the prediction of Isaiah with respect to the last times, "The earth, also, is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."
- Apostle George F. Richards, Conference Report, April 1930, p.76

"The law of baptism was instituted as the means by which men were to gain admission into the Church of God our Father in the earth. The mode is indicated by the word from which "baptism" is derived, and when this ordinance is administered in any other way we know it is incorrect. There is no other way than by immersion for the remission of sins. We may be challenged on this point, but the language itself concerning the mode of baptism clearly defines the way by which men are to be brought into the Church, and no other way could be considered. So we stand, as a church, absolutely sure of our ground. Men have changed the ordinance, but our Eternal Father's plan never changes. His language pointed out the mode in the beginning. It will be so in the end."
- Apostle Samuel O. Bennion, Conference Report, October 1934, p.18

"Now, what have the Christians got that the Latter-day Saints have not got? Has the holy Catholic Church got faith in Jesus that we have not got? Not a particle that is true and pure. But as for the ordinances of the House of God, we say, and we say it boldly, and here is the standard of our faith—the Old and New Testament—that the mother church and all her daughters have transgressed the laws, every one of them; they have changed almost every ordinance of the House of God; and not only so, but like the children of Israel in olden days, they have broken the covenants made with the fathers. We are bold to say this and we will take this book—the Bible in which Jews and Gentiles believe for our standard and proof."

"Has the holy Catholic Church the ordinance of baptism? So they say. What do you say Latter-day Saints? We say they have not. There is but one mode of baptism and that is by being immersed in the water that the subject may come forth out of the water, in comparison like a child at its birth—struggling for breath—emerging into another element. This is the figure that Jesus gave us. Jesus and others were baptized of John, and the disciples of Jesus baptized more; but none of them were baptized by pouring, sprinkling, kneeling, or face foremost, but they were immersed in the water and came forth out of the water."

"Have they the Sacrament? Yes, so they say. "Jesus took bread and blessed it and brake it and gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat, this is my body.' And he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, 'Drink ye all of it.'" Now, I leave it to all whether they carry out this ordinance or not."
- Brigham Young, The Essential Brigham Young, p.196

Let us not forget, the Restoration of the church includes the promise that ordinances will not change:

From the church's official publication, August 2001 Ensign (page 22), in big bold print above a large colorful portrait of Joseph Smith:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'"

The church goes on to declare:

"It is this principle of consistent and unalterable requirements that gives true meaning to the performance of vicarious ordinances in the temple. The Prophet wrote that baptism for the dead and the recording of such baptisms conform to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel."

"Through time and apostasy following Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, however, the divine authority of the priesthood and the sacred ordinances were changed or lost, and the associated covenants were broken. The Lord revealed His displeasure over this situation in these words: 'For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god.' This situation required a restoration of knowledge pertaining to the importance, significance, and appointed administration of sacred gospel ordinances, both live and vicarious, as well as the divine authority of the priesthood and priesthood keys to administer them."
- "Ordinances and Covenants", Church Ensign, August 2001, page 23

To confirm what the church declared in their official publication:

"Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations.... He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them."
- The Prophet Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208

" a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.... And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein... For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times. And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built."
- Jesus Christ Himself, Doctrine and Covenants 124:27-28, 40-42

"...the endowments have never changed and can never change; as I understand it; it has been so testified, and that Joseph Smith Jr., himself was the founder of the endowments."
- Senator Reed Smoot, Reed Smoot Case, vol. 3, p. 185

"...God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever... The great mistake made down through the ages by teachers of Christianity, is that they have supposed they could place their own private interpretation upon scriptures, allow their own personal convenience to become a controlling factor, and change the basis of Christian law and practice to suit themselves. This is apostacy."
- The Prophet's Message, Church News, June 5, 1965

"As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering."
- W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982

"No jot, iota, or tittle of the temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God."
- Apostle James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, 1968, p. 84

"The Gospel can not possibly be changed.... the saving principles must ever be the same. They can never change.... the Gospel must always be the same in all of its parts.... no one can change the Gospel... if they attempt to do so, they only set up a man-made system which is not the Gospel, but is merely a reflection of their own views.... if we substitute 'any other Gospel,' there is no salvation in it.... the Lord and His Gospel remain the same--always."
- The Prophet's Message, Church News, June 5, 1965

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