The LDS Temple Experience

One Mormon's Experience and Perspective by Don R. Hender

    "The Latter-day Saint Temple is a HOUSE OF THE LORD, A HOUSE OF GOD, in every respect. Everything Good and Wholesome, Righteous and Holy Constitutes the Temple. God's Eternal Plan Is Presented therein in Holy Convocations from the Beginning and Creations of the Earth to the Restoration of God's Children Coming Back into GOD OUR FAHTER'S KINGDOM AND PRESENCE. The Very Ordinances of Salvation and the Sealing of God's Children Who have come to Earth Are Performed by and with the Powers of Heaven So Empowering Man to Become One with God in Christ. What Transpires in the Temple of God is Sacred and not Secret, Thus it is Spoken of Only at the Most Appropriate and Holy of Times and in Such a High and Holy Manner. There IS NOTHING Low, Degrading, or Evil about What Occurs in an LDS TEMPLE, which Is Literally a HOUSE OF THE LORD, DEDICATED TO GOD for the WORK OF GOD, which WORK Is 'To Bring to Pass the Immortality and Eternal Life of Man.' Only those of a low and corrupt mind spread rumors and lies about GOD'S HOUSE and TEMPLE. SHAME on ANY WHO DO SO! They Will Come to Stand before GOD and Answer to HIM for Any Such Evil They Have Perpertrated Agaist the GOD of HEAVEN and EARTH, HALLOWED AND HOLY, AND BLESSED BE HIS EVER GREAT AND GRAND NAME! AMEN." ~drh

     The Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are dedicated Houses of the LORD. They are sites dedicated to God, which are the housings of where heavan may become closely associated with earth. They are 'Holy Houses' reserved unto worthy members of the Chruch of Jesus Christ. Particular and special ceremonies and ordiances and in my consideration 'Holy Convocations' of the Lord may be conducted unto God. Many of such ordinances are particularly designed to seal heaven to earth by the authority of God, meaning they are priesthood ordinances. The temple shown at the left is the well recognized Salt Lake City Temple and the one at the right is the more modern Washington D.C. Temple stylized after the Salt Lake Temple. I have been able to attend both of these temples.

A review of the 'rooms' of a fully structured latter day temple reflect much about what is done in the temple. For instance there is a Baptistry room which contains a baptismal font which obviously is used for the Christian baptism of people by the priesthood authority of God. And what has become publically known is that Baptism for the Dead is performed there vicariously by living worthy church memebers for deceased persons, particularly one's own dead ancestors, so that the blessing of baptism and heaven may be accessable to them even as they are to those who live and are baptised today. This means that the LDS Chruch (Mormons) believe in a truly universal gospel available to all mankind who ever have, do now or will live upon the face of the earth. How else is our Lord God the Savior and Redeemer of the whole of all mankind, every nation, kindred, tongue and people? A type of 'servey tour' of the various temple rooms and what may be logically deduced by them as generally publically known will follow later in conjunction with this page.

For now I would like to turn to God's Plan of Salvation or God Plan of Happiness for his children whom he has placed here on this earth. As allready put forth in the Baptistry Room consideration, God's Plan of Eternal Progression is for all of God's children, whom we are, not barring any such worthy participant who ever has lived. And even so, as the Lord's Temple is so established to the end of the sealling fulfillment of that Eternal Plan, even so are all things there in the temple set forth to the fulfillment of that Plan of Exaltation of bring man fully blessed in glory back to God's presence and the Kingdom of God in Heaven. In fact the whole of the earthly experience is so constructed for the very purpose that man may so become eternally associated with God forever. The baptismal font at the right is the Salt Lake Temple font. As a youth I was able to go and be baptised for the dead and particularly some of my ancestral relatives in the Salt Lake Temple font though this picture would be a recent remodeling. Note the traditional 12 oxen upon whose backs the font sets representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Most temple fonts are similar though the Finland temple has also has pine trees added on its sides in addition to the oxen (see at left).

In this relationship I would like to speak both specifically but in a publically and generally known perspective of one of the more telling ceremonial holy convocations and temple sealing ordinal experiences of an LDS Temple. Now not all LDS Temples have the same number of rooms. Some rooms are left out of many of the functionally purposed temples and even the more recent modern temples are a bit diferent still. You see in terms of the 'Endowment Session' of the Temple, a full general 'panoramic view' both mentally and visually from the creation to the events of the final judgement of the earth's purpose in God Plan is presented. In today's ages this type of experience is available to be given in part by the use of a motion picture which readily takes its viewing audience from scene to scene while the audience never leaves the 'theatre's main viewing room'. Thus in a number of the smaller more functionally designed temples, the number of such 'scenic' viewing rooms is effectively reduced by replacing those rooms with a motion picture experience, which takes its participants from place to place by means of the movie film representations rather by moving the whole congregation from one room to another. And in the most resent modern temples, while some of these rooms have reappeared not all the original rooms are in them either.

When one considers the whole of God's Plan for man from Creation to Final Judgment, one can readily precieve of a logical progression especially when considering a particular set of the rooms of a fully 'roomed' temple. These rooms consist of the Creation Room, the Garden [of Eden] Room, the World or Telestial Room the Terrestrial Room, and the Celestial Room. This particular set of rooms are those associated with the 'Endowment Session' where a temple congregation may be given a mental and visual experience of God's Plan for man. In the many functional smaller temples the number of this related set of rooms is reduced to a minimum of just two rooms, a viewing room and the final destination room of the Celestial Room. And in the most resently constructed modern temples they now tend to have three related rooms, those being the Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial Rooms, the other rooms of the Creation, Garden, and in some the Telestial Room and the Terrestrial Room are replaced in visual representation by the movie film experience which represents being is such locations. And in a number of those such structured temples, the functionality is further facilitated by there being a number of such 'viewing rooms' so that multiple 'endowment sessions' may be going on all at the same time at various stages of the 'endowment presentation'. Thus using such a functionally designed temple, more sessions may be completed by stagering start and stop times and not having to move from room to room as often in a relatively equivalent related amount of time than in an older styled temple.

Now a bit more about the 'temple endowment session' which I have considered a 'Holy Convocation' concerning the overview of the Plan of God. One who has studied and become familure with the scriptures may well have achieved a parallel understanding of the Plan of God without really knowing that they have it as it likely has not been so associated in such a compacted and concise presentation form. And a review of the LDS Scriptures will give any reader of such much of the very type temple dialog of the endowment session for it is highly scripturally based and does draw upon such scripture for a large portion of its text. For example, such scripture review of the 'Creation' which Genesis, JST Genesis or the Book of Moses and the creation account in the Book of Abraham, will to an extent give the reader a parallel exposure experience as is had in the 'Creation Room' of the Temple.

At this point it is well to logically point out a truism which can explain why some changes have occured in the endowment presentation. Whenever a professor presents a lecture, it may not needfully be done exactly the same way every time, but the general purpose of the lecture may been of conveying essentially the same contextual information, and the student will have to suppliment through his own textual studies what each lecture may or may not have been void of. Such is the nature of the 'Holy Temple Endowment Convocation'. There are and have been now various set temple 'scripts' which the presentor either in the 'live' or 'movie' presentation have been required to follow to maintain a uniform presentation from performance to performance and from filming to filming. The central purpose all centers about giving a truthful presentation experience of God's Plan of Salvation from Creation to entering into God's Kingdom. In that some changes relative to the nature of the audience and means of presentation (live or by movie) may have seemed purposeful and needed does not change the intent or purpose of the 'Holy Lecture'. The logic of not performing the Convocation the same to an 1840's audience as in the more extensively roomed temple, to a 1970's audience in a two room 'streamlined' structure and even to a 2012's audience in a most modern three endowment session roomed temple ought to be completely understandable as also some similar technical changes and other logistics in the 'live' to 'movie' performances. For instance, in the movie some items may be visually presentable without wordiness and also likewise visa versa back to the 'live' performance. Some 'Mormon' critics like to tear down the temple endowment convocation stating it is not the same or is doctrinally altered due to such 'lectural' changes. This of couse is not true. While the 'lecture' has differed for whatever reason, it changes none of the actual doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or of his Church. And for whatever detailed reasoning behind such changes it is not particularly any of their business. It is the Lord's and the Lord's servants business and not some unafiliated outside person's concern. The Convocation or Endowment presentation is a sacred 'Holy' matter, 'not secret' but as such it is NOT to be particulary repeated and spoken of outside of its 'offically' sanctioned temple presentation where it is most correctly presented without human discussional corruptions, debates, or such other matters entering into the presentation. And in particular there are very holy matters conveyed which are only of eternal interest to the true believing congregation and of no rightful consideration of any outsiders particular perpectives where mocking and defaming of Holy matters may enter in upon that which God has given to be presented in the Holiest of manners relative to his Eternal Plan of Exaltation to his people. Such has alway been the case in terms of God's temple and God's people. In ancient Israel even the Holy Name of God as had in the temple/tabernacal ought not have been spoken outside the Temple structure.

Now I would like to generally consider in line with published publically known levels of understanding the rooms of the endowment convocation and their obvious representation in relation to God's Eternal Plan. Those rooms being once again with the Creation Room, then the Garden Room, then the Telestial Room, then the Terrestrial Room, and then the Celestial Room. A similar visual logistical flow is often visually displayed as a Plan of Salvation graphic as such as depicted here.

Now this is a faily common type graphic depiction of The Plan of Salvation. Some names here are reflective of the names of some of the temple rooms spoken of. Yet those temple rooms are not exactly to be associated with the concept of eventual eternal 'Kingdoms' as this graphic would led on to suspect. The Telestial Kingdom is not the same as the Telestial Room, the Terrestrial Kingdom is not the same as the Terrestrial Room and the Celestial Kingdom is not the same as the Celestial Room. The Plan of Salvation Kingdoms are eternal kingdoms of heaven and eternal kingdoms of God. Perhaps the real correlation between the names of Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial would better been envisioned by an 'enhanced' Plan of Salvation graphic.

In this graphic there is added such as the 1000 years of the Millennium and the earth in a Millennial condition which is said to be a terrestrial condition but not to be considered the same as the Terrestrial Kingdom. In fact beyond the conditions of immortallity and glory the various three rooms of the temple are such as the world in which we now live would be of a telestial condition of the Telestial Room (not to be confused with the Telestial Kingdom), the changed and enhanced world of the Millennium would be of a terrestrial condition of the Terrestrial Room (not to be confused with the Terrestrial Kingdom) and finally the Celestial Room would be representative of a celestial condition (also not to be confused with the Celestial Kingdom directly) and of being in the presence of God. And though the earth itself will eventuate through the stages of telestial in nature, to being terrestrial in nature and even eventually being transformed into being of a Celestial nature and of the Celestial Kingdom, the rooms themselves are only a progressive representation of such phased and staged progression.

Now I'd like to present a number of pictures of the various significant rooms of the temple as have been published and released with a little bit about each temple room and what is done there and how it functions all in a general public informational manner without speaking of the 'sacred' (not secret) material of the actual priesthood and sealing ordinances details performed. I will begin this with the 'Endowment Convocation' rooms just spoken of as that can be related to the Plan of Salvation' and give an informational hanger for those with interest to hang this information from and in relation to.

The Creation Room

The Creation Rooms of those temples, which have Creation Rooms, are adorned with murals which depict 'creation'. This is the Los Angelos Temple Creation Room. In the temple with 'viewing rooms' only, the movie film contains various visual and motion representations of creation. The wisdom of not commonly speaking of the temple presentations outside of the temple is confirmed particularly by the additional types of creation imagery that the motion picture presentatin can and does contain, which could represent all types of creative forces in action and may will lend fertal grown for even the science mind to invision a God of Creation who is an eternal being and has created worlds without numbers over ions of time as revealed in the Book of Moses (Moses 1:31-39). Read the Pearl of Great Price and other scriptural references of the creation for such additional insights which allow any such minded Christian to conceive of God's creation from a 'seven day pattern' of an earth's preparation for life to one which fills the spaces of the heavens and the most scientific of minds. And without having to 'discuss' and 'argue' such as what is presented in the temples of the Lord, one may form a personal perspective of such based upon one's own personal understandings and studies of such creation processes and so believe in God.

The Garden of Eden Room

Commonly referenced merely as the Garden Room, this room as one would expect correlates with the Adam and Eve portion of the Plan of Savaltion. The story of the Fall of Man is a criticaly part of God's Plan of Salvation. The Adam and Eve story is referenced in the books of Genesis, Moses and Abraham and also throughout all scripture including the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. One can have a quite full understanding of the very significants of the position which Adam and Eve played in God's Plan by such scriptural study. The temple 'Holy Convocation' of the endowment presentation merely gives a very simple but concise prestation of this part of God's plan in either a suitable room, the Garden Room, or in a movie form of depiction which is readily relatable and disclosing to its temple audiences. The murals of these walls are really quite beautiful depicting what one would expect in the Garden of Eden even down to and including peaceful and amiable animal life, not to mention such as the trees of fruit so central to the story and understanding of the story of Adam and Eve. Of course for temples without a Garden room, the movie film portrays the same but in my opinion perhaps not so well as does the murals of the actual Garden Rooms, just something about actual painted art viewed in person which is not able to be captured on a projected movie screen picture I guess.

At this point I would like to editorialize just a bit with some of my own personal experience and observations. When I first attended the temple it was the Salt Lake Temple back in the late 1960s and first for my own personal endowment. Back then all the LDS Temples still had the 'live' multi-room endowment presentation. The 'inovation' of the filmed endowment presentation had not come about. When it did certain parts of the 'convocation' as it had been prepared for 'live' presentation were not longer necessary for motion picture presentation. For example, in the 'live' presentation, since the audience had to move from various room to various room, the length of each room's presentation needed to be nearly equal in length so that due to stagered time starts, one group would not have to wait doing nothing for the previous next room group to finish. I suppose in the more olden days of just one session completed at a time that was not so either. Thus between such times and also when the coming of the 'movie presentation' various lengths of presentation could be adjusted. From the very olden days an adjustment would be made to equalize room times to allow for the first inovation of stagered starts which used room simulateously. And when the film was introduced such equalized 'times' were not longer needed as each 'viewing room' group could move almost as readily as it could allowing for most work to be done in less time. Thus I suppose, and this is my supposition, is that like any presenting professor, a review of the 'lecture' or 'convocation' was viewed as to what was really a part of the required ordinance portion of the presentation and what was not and only a part of the presented 'story' of the Plan of Salvation presentation. And like any so intelligently minded professor, with the appropriate approval of the Spirit of God, 'adjustments' were made to the endowments 'Holy Convocation' presentation. Though none of their business, non-Mormon and disenfrancised non-believing Mormon, then sought to find fault with which was none or no longer any of there rightful concern. Anyway, that is a part of my perspective on the matter for what it is worth. Now back to the temple rooms.

The World or Telestial Room

This room represents the world that we are all now in. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. I suppose that is not a sacred or new revelation to anyone. And after the fall of Adam and Eve the rest of mankind came along also and became an acting part of the Plan of Salvation's second estate. And God placed them in this dury mortal world though in many respects this world is really quite nice with a little bit of work and if it had nice people and righteous people and no death about it. As such this world has in one since the perspective of being a 'Telestial' like condition, not to be confused with the Telestial Kingdom which would have all that other nice stuff about it, it being inhabbited by righteous nice people and without any death, that is we would be immortal in it. The newly constucted Brigham City Temple Telestial room is shown at the left. As being the room which depicts the earth/world all of earth's history would be played out upon it. That would be an endless presentation of events even if one would only include the central religous ones. Needless to say a very much abridge and representative of this mortal life's experiences in respect to the true gospel is present which may be so taken to heart in relation to living in this mortal telestial condition world. For the more panoramic version read and study all of the scriptures.

I would like to note here that the Brigham City Temple is one of those most recent temples where in it has a three room endowment 'Convocation' presentation consisting of a Telestial Room, a Terrestrial Room and a Celestial Room. My self, being now physically disabled, have not attended any of the now such arranged most modern temple arragned endowment session rooms structure.

The Terrestrial Room

From my general understanding the Terrestial room is a represention of a terrestrial condition which will come upon the world during its 1000 year Millennial reign. It is a phase of God's Plan of Salvation which will be gone through by those who are worthly seeking God's eternal exaltation. This particular Terrestrial Room is the one which is in the Salt Lake Temple. And it is from this Terrestrial Room or such 'viewing room' structure, from which the temple participating audiance will next move into the Celestial Room representing the Celestial condition and presence of God.

Now if I were to write the temple convocation relative to such as these rooms representing from the earth's creation to the attainment of the Celestial realm, I would certainly be withdrawn from the task for having included too, too much in my own considered depiction even if left to gospel relevance. I thank my Father in Heaven that such as I did not, for the length of it would be over whelming and certainly the things of heaven out weigh the things of this world and God and his latter-day prophets have a better handle upon that! Certainly much of all that is left open to the whole world and such as what is of that the missionaries teach and the church does teach in the public setting of what is required for one's eternal salvation to come unto Christ and become temple worthy anyway.

The Celestial Room

The last room of the endowment session progression of rooms is that of the Celestial Room. It is a representation of the Celestial condition and being in the presence of God, which is the end goal of accomplishment and achievement in God's Eternal Plan for his children. At the left is a picture of the Celestial Room in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. Upon entering the Celestial Room the Holy Convocation and related ordinal work of the endowment session is ended. Here temple participants may sit for a while, relax in holy reverence and even consider such thing relative to the temple and God. To often I think members are on the earthly mortal time table and are soon to leave here and return to their next timed endeavor and back into the world of man.

What is the purpose of the temple is to perform those holy and needful ordiances, anointings, washings (baptism), endowments and sealings which by the priesthood power of God does connect the worthy members and saints of God by God's authority to heaven. The particulars of those performances I will not speak of publically. We are taught in the temple by such as the holy convocation of the temple endowment session of God's Eternal Plan for man. We perform these ordiances and sealings for ourselves and vicariously for the dead as we believe that by this means God does make available his blessings of his plan for all of mankind to eventually partake of. With well over a hundred temples in operation today we are laying a foundational basis for this continued work to progress throughout the Millennian Day until all of God's children will have their agency opportunity to accept or reject God's Plan and to be judged accordingly. No other organization has come forth with any such plan of opperation which will allow Christ's salvation to be administered to the whole of mankind from Adam until the end as does this plan of God so provide. For further information I will present a number of the other rooms of the temple below. I have already presented the Baptismal Room above which may be associated with the Bible scripture, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Corinthians 15:29). Yes, Jesus' Early Church did perform such ordinance work for the dead as we do today. I know the temple work is the true work of our Lord which is an essential part of God's Plan of Salvation for the whole of the children of men, His children of whom we are.

Temple Sealing Rooms

It is in such sealing rooms that sealing ordiances are performed such as 'Celestial Marriage' where a man and a women may be married and sealed to each other not only for this earth's mortal duration but for all time and eternity. Also, I, in a late year, did the sealing of work in the Ogden Temple for a child ancestral relative, my second great uncle Harry Hender born 23 December 1855, East Looe, who died of Scarlatina on 12 October 1858, not being yet three years old. The couple who represented Harry's parents, my second great grandparents Thomas Rowe Hender and Marianna Trout knelt on either side of the altar and I knelt at the end while a priesthood official perform the ordiance of sealing a child to his parents. Yes families can be forever as a part of God's Plan, which is a Father and Mother and Family order of sealing of the souls of God to heaven for time and all eternity as one eternal family of our Father in Heaven forever.

Note the mirror on the wall of the rolls of chairs on the right. Another similar mirror is aligned exactly upon the opposite wall allowing the two mirrors to reflect endlessly the reflections of each other on into each of the two mirrors forever. I have often taught Sunday School and Priest Group lessons wherein I mention these two reflecting mirrors of a sealing room which each depict eternity and our earthly position in the midst of it. I teach them that Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ our Lord, does stand as though at these portholes of eternity. And that it is only by and through him, his gospel and its saving ordiances of the atonement that will be enabled to press on in eternity to come.

Solemn Assembly Room/Hall

On the fifth floor of the Salt Lake Temple there is a Solemn Assembly Room/Hall which takes up the whole of that floor where special meetings of purpose and instruction are held. I've attended two such assemblies, one in conjunction with my missionary preparation while at the mission home which was at that time in Salt Lake City and once when I was a second councelor in a Bishopric.

The first LDS Temple in Kirtland, Ohio had such a Solemn Assembly Room. There appeared such as Jesus Christ, Elias, Moses and Elijah who restored various priesthood keys and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth again. Particularly did Elijah restore the 'sealing' powers and keys which is spoken of in the Bible text of Malachi. The Jewish Israelites of today still await that proclaimed eventual coming of Elijah to the earth again. Our message it that Elijah has come again already and accomplished that which is predicted in the book of Malachi. And he has come to the waiting remnant of the tribe of Ephraim and his companions which is perhaps why our latter day message is so hard for them to accept.

Perhaps this is enough said by me of my temple experiences and such as a summary of what the LDS Temples are about. There are other rooms possible in an LDS temple. There is even a an attached cafateria in many of them so the workers and patrons of the temple need not leave the temple grounds for their meals. It is said that such temples of the Lord will be in operation around the clock during the Millennium to accomplish all of the work of the Lord. Ever consider what will be going on of importance during that thousand year period of God's Plan? For those in the Salt Lake area there is a scale model of the Salt Lake Temple which sits in the South Visitor's Center on Temple Square. None member visitors may visit and tour a temple prior to its dedication to the work of the Lord. After such dedication only those who are envolved with the temple work and who are temple worthy are allowed entrance to the temple. One should not expect that the holy and sacred work of the Lord ought to be interrupted by tour groups. But as the church is in the process of construction of its second hundred of temples around the world and frequently remodel its temples, such opportunities to visit and see the inside of a LDS Temple first hand may come your way and even more than once.

rev. October 13, 2012