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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mormons, Masons & Romney

Masonic Symbols and the LDS Temple

By Sandra Tanner

In the Spring of 2002 the LDS Church completed its reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois. It was originally built in the 1840's but was destroyed after the Mormons abandoned the town. Due to the publicity and photos regarding this new temple many people have asked about the symbols on the building.

To understand the symbols one must first know something of Joseph Smith's involvement with Freemasonry. Joseph's brother, Hyrum, had been a Mason since the 1820's. Many other members of the LDS church, like Brigham Young, were Masons before they joined Mormonism. LDS historian Reed Durham observed:
"By 1840, John Cook Bennett, a former active leader in Masonry had arrived in Commerce [Nauvoo] and rapidly exerted his persuasive leadership in all facets of the Church, including Mormon Masonry. ... Joseph and Sidney [Rigdon] were inducted into formal Masonry...on the same day..." ("Is There No Help for the Widow's Son?" by Dr. Reed C. Durham, Jr., as printed in Joseph Smith and Masonry: No Help for the Widow's Son, Martin Pub. Co., Nauvoo, Ill., 1980, p. 17.)
Reed Durham further commented:
"I have attempted thus far to demonstrate that Masonic influences upon Joseph in the early Church history, preceding his formal membership in Masonry, were significant....In fact, I believe that there are few significant developments in the Church, that occurred after March 15, 1842, which did not have some Masonic interdependence." (Joseph Smith and Masonry: No Help for the Widow's Son, p.17)
The History of the Church records Smith's entrance into the Masonic lodge in 1842:
"Tuesday, 15.—I officiated as grand chaplain at the installation of the Nauvoo Lodge of Free Masons, at the Grove near the Temple. Grand Master Jonas, of Columbus, being present, a large number of people assembled on the occasion. The day was exceedingly fine; all things were done in order, and universal satisfaction was manifested. In the evening I received the first degree in Free Masonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assembled in my general business office." (History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, 1978, Vol.4, Ch.32, p.550-1)
The next day Smith recorded:
"Wednesday, March 16.—I was with the Masonic Lodge and rose to the sublime degree." (History of the Church, Vol.4, Ch.32, p.552)
The Mormon involvement in Freemasonry reached its heights during the early 1840's in Nauvoo. In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism we read:
"The introduction of Freemasonry in NAUVOO had both political and religious implications....Eventually nearly 1,500 LDS men became associated with Illinois Freemasonry, including many members of the Church's governing priesthood bodies—this at a time when the total number of non-LDS Masons in Illinois lodges barely reached 150." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol.2, p.527)
The Salt Lake Tribune (May 4, 2002, p.C3) printed a picture of the original Nauvoo temple weather vane, which shows the Masonic symbol of the compass and square above the angel. Reporter Peggy Stack wrote:
"Every detail of the historic Nauvoo Temple was reconstructed [in the new Nauvoo temple] meticulously with one exception: the flying angel weather vane that graced the top of the 19th century Mormon edifice.
"In its place is the gold-leafed Angel Moroni, first used on the Salt Lake Temple,...
"Some speculate that the horizontal angel, with its compass and square, may be too closely associated with Masonic rituals for modern Mormons." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 4, 2002, p.C3)

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[Original architect's drawing of the Nauvoo Temple weather vane.
Notice the compass and square above the angel.]
Reed Durham observed:
"There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons initially, just a little over one month after he became a Mason, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry....

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[Architect's drawing of the stars for the Nauvoo Temple.]
"It is also obvious that the Nauvoo Temple architecture was in part, at least Masonically influenced. Indeed, it appears that there was an intentional attempt to utilize Masonic symbols and motifs. The sun stones, and the moon and star stones, were examples. An additional example was the angel used on the weather vane on the top of the Temple. [Above the angel] is a beautiful compass and square, in the typical Masonic fashion." (Joseph Smith and Masonry: No Help for the Widow's Son, p.18)

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[The compass and square as used in Masonry.]
Additional details of the Nauvoo temple symbols and pictures of the building are in the Deseret News 2001-2002 Church Almanac (see pp.120-141). On page 135 of the Almanac is a photograph of one of the original sunstones that were placed at the top of the columns around the outside of the temple. A photo of a sunstone is also in Fawn Brodie's book, No Man Knows My History, p.298(b).

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[One of the original sunstones from the Nauvoo Temple.]
The Nauvoo sunstone, with its human face, is similar to the Masonic depictions of the sun. Below is an illustration from the Masonic book, The Craft and Its Symbols, p.75:
Masonic symbols have been pictured and discussed in a number of books. Albert Pike, in his book, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, discusses the various Masonic symbols and their meaning.
In the book The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism, by Allen E. Roberts, p.11, is a drawing of the Masonic apron presented to President George Washington by Lafayette The symbols on the apron, which were later used by the Mormons, include a beehive, all-seeing eye, compass and square, and the sun, moon and stars.
The Masonic Monitor, in 1820, had an illustration of the symbols of Freemasonry. This drawing is very similar to Washington's apron.
Many Masonic symbols (the sun, moon, stars, all-seeing eye, beehive, hand grip, and the beehive) were also placed on the Salt Lake Temple.
  (click on each image to enlarge)
[Symbols on the front of the Salt Lake Temple.]
One of the more familiar symbols of Mormonism is the beehive. Examples of pioneer use of the hive can be seen on Brigham Young's home (known as the Beehive House) in Salt Lake City.

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[Top of Beehive House]

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[Beehive House with Eagle Gate next to it.]
The beehive is also displayed on the doorknobs of the Salt Lake temple.

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[One of the brass doorknobs in the
Salt Lake Temple displaying the beehive.]
However, most people are not aware that the beehive was a symbol of Masonry years before Joseph Smith started his church. Masonic historian Allen E. Roberts explains:
"The Bee Hive, Masonically, is an emblem of Industry....When and why the hive of the bee entered Freemasonry as a symbol no one knows....In the book, The Early Masonic Catechisms, the bee in Masonry is mentioned as early as 1724..." (The Craft and Its Symbols, by Allen E. Roberts, Macoy Pub., 1974, p.73)
While many people are aware of the symbols used on the Salt Lake temple, they were also used on other LDS buildings in Utah (see "Where Are All The All-Seeing Eyes?", Sunstone Magazine, vol.10, no.5, May 1985).
LDS researcher Michael Homer discussed the Mormon use of Masonic symbols:
"Even after the turn of the century and the abandonment of polygamy, the same comparison [to Masonry] was made. The First Presidency stated in a message on October 15, 1911, that '[b]ecause of their Masonic characters, the ceremonies of the temple are sacred and not for the public.'
"Mormon use of Masonic symbols has also been publicly acknowledged. Mormons were hardly discreet in their depictions of symbols long associated with Freemasonry...including the square, the compass, the sun, moon, and stars, the beehive, the all-seeing eye, ritualistic hand grips, two interlaced triangles forming a six-pointed star...and a number of other Masonic symbols on endowment houses, temples, cooperatives, grave markers, tabernacles, church meetinghouses, newspaper mastheads, hotels, residences, money, logos, and seals." ("Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry": The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism, by Michael W. Homer, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol.27, no.3, Fall 1994, p.73)

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[Even after the Mormons came to Utah,
Brigham Young continued to wear his Masonic pin
displaying the compass and square.]
In addition to these symbols, the LDS Church continues to use the up-side-down, five pointed star. The newly completed Nauvoo Temple has numerous windows using it. For pictures see (off-site links):
The inverted star was also used on the Salt Lake temple above the front doors,
above the upper arched windows on the north and south sides, on the Eagle Gate monument (over State Street and South Temple in Salt Lake City),
on the planter boxes in front of the statue of Christ in the Salt Lake Visitors Center,
and on the front entrance, upper left-hand corner, of the LDS Historical Museum (west of temple square).
While the upside-down star is used in Masonry, it is also used by Satanists.
Also, on the LDS temple undergarment (worn daily by LDS faithful) are embroidered the compass and square. This would look like small zigzag stitching to form a "V" on the left breast and a "L" on the right breast of the garment. There is also a small stitched line at the bellybutton and the right knee. These are on both the men's and the women's underwear. The garment is to be worn daily to remind the Mormon of the covenants made in the temple.
Since the LDS Church rejects the use of the cross as a religious symbol, one is left to wonder why they would adopt symbols used by the Masons and Satanists?
When trying to explain the similarities between Mormonism and Masonry, one LDS author wrote:
"Masons who visit the Temple Block in Salt Lake City are impressed by what they call the Masonic emblems displayed on the outside of the Mormon Temple.
"Yes, the 'Masonic emblems' are displayed on the walls of the Temple—the sun, moon and stars, 'Holiness to the Lord,' the two right hands clasped in fellowship, the All-seeing eye, Alpha and Omega, and the beehive. Masonic writers tell us that the Mormon Temple ritual and their own are slightly similar in some respects.
"Without any apologies we frankly admit that there may be some truth in these statements." (Mormonism and Masonry, Introduction, by E. Cecil McGavin, Bookcraft, 1956)
Later in the same book, Mr. McGavin stated:
"In the diary of Benjamin F. Johnson, an intimate friend and associate of Joseph Smith, it is recorded that 'Joseph told me that Freemasonry was the apostate endowment, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion.' Elder Heber C. Kimball, who had been a Mason for many years, related that after Joseph Smith became a Mason, he explained to his brethren that Masonry had been taken from the priesthood." (Mormonism and Masonry, p.199)
The problem with Mr. McGavin's position is that neither the Masonic or Mormon rituals can be shown to date to King Solomon's temple. In fact, most historians place the beginning of Freemasonry in the 1700's. LDS author Michael Homer wrote:
"Prior to 1860 most Masonic writers accepted the legends of Freemasonry with claimed that it originated in antiquity. Although these claims were challenged by most anti-Masonic writers in the United States,...most Masonic writers refused to discount these claims until 'a school of English investigators' began to evaluate lodge minutes, ancient rituals, and municipal records. Eventually this movement...debunked the notion that the rituals practiced in Speculative Freemasonry originated before the sixteenth century. Gould and others argued that the best evidence indicated that Operative Freemasonry originated with trade guilds in the Middle Ages and that the development of Speculative Freemasonry, with ceremonies and rituals similar to those practiced today, began in the seventeenth century....the rituals of Freemasonry have never been static, but have evolved both in time and place. For example, only post-1760 rituals included separate obligations for degrees in conjunction with signs, penalties, tokens, and words, the form found in most subsequent rituals and the same format followed in the Mormon temple endowment." ("Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol.27, no.3, Fall 1994, pp.103-104)
Since Freemasonry dates to the 1700's and Joseph Smith was a Mason before he introduced the LDS temple rituals and built the Nauvoo temple, one is forced to conclude that the similarities between the two groups are due to Smith borrowing elements from Masonry.
For more information see our page: Captain Morgan and the Masonic Influence in Mormonism.
Also see these off-site links:
n recent years, critics have charged that early LDS contacts with Masonry provided the source for LDS teachings and practices relative to the Temple. There are a number of common symbols and elements, but they are superficial and hardly account for the core content of LDS practices and teachings relative to the Temple. A particular symbol or detail may match, sometimes even exactly, but those few common elements represent only a tiny fraction of what is found in the temple and hardly qualify as a major source for its ceremonies and teachings. Several direct parallels can be easily explained in terms of related ancient origins going back to Bible times. More significant sources of temple material are obviously the Bible, the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses, all available long before Joseph Smith investigated Masonry. However, I believe that Joseph Smith did borrow a few outward things from Masonry if they fit a revealed purpose (or they may have matched an ancient and revealed detail) or if they were helpful in teaching revealed concepts. Insight into possible reasons for borrowing elements from Masonry comes from an LDS Mason, George Kearney, who has posted a variety of helpful comments on an LDS discussion group at Here is an excerpt from one of his comments:
But while both rituals [the LDS Temple and Masonry] teach great truths, the truths they teach are different. Masonry teaches the truth of brotherly love and tolerance by means of the legend of Hiram Abiff the master builder of Solomon's Temple. The endowment teaches of God relationship to mankind and the plan of salvation through the allegory of Adam and Eve.
The question then becomes why would Joseph use the Masonic ritual? Joseph Smith served as chaplain of the lodge in Nauvoo (Rising Sun Lodge, U.D.) and as such had occasion to see the remarkable way that the Masonic ritual is used to teach complex ideas by means of ritualist repetition of information. It is useful to note here that Nauvoo was being populated by thousands of people many of whom did not read English well and may have had only a passing familiarity with it. In New York City in the 1840's the biggest newspapers were still published in Dutch for example.
So Joseph, faced with the task of teaching a new and somewhat complex set of ideas to a population made up on uneducated farmers and tradesmen turns to the Masonic ritual as the means of instruction. He did so I believe because it was already a ritual which the men of his community was familiar with. They would, therefore, focus on what was being taught, the message, not on how it was being taught, the messenger or the ritual, which they knew already.
As the Saints moved west they lost the tie to the Masonic institution and as they did the ritual of the temple came to take on greater and greater importance to them. In effect the very reason that Joseph had chosen the ritual in the first place was lost with the loss of Masonry among the saints. Over the years the brethren have noticed this trend to focus on the ritual at the exclusion of what the ritual is teaching and have, from time to time, simplified the endowment ritual, removing various Masonic portions which had, as the years went by, become meaningless to all but a handful of LDS Freemason who knew of their origins.
In the end it is important to remember that no one ever was made a Mason in an LDS Temple and no one has ever received their endowment in a Masonic Lodge.
I believe that there may be several core, essential items in the Mormon temple ceremony that can be taught and achieved in only one exact way, but that other parts are rather fluid and can be adapted, modified, reworded or expressed in a variety of ways, as the leaders of the Church see fit. Yes, there have been some changes in the Mormon temple over the years - changes which I see as minor. For example, in the older versions of the temple ceremony, details of "penalties," which are often said to be Masonic in nature, have been replaced with a more general verbal warning embodying the same concept but in an "improved" form. The use of such "penalties" in covenant making can be shown to be an authentic, ancient practice from Biblical times, but their removal from the Temple poses no real problem because they were not part of the core of the Endowment. In the Journal of Discourses 2:31, Brigham Young explained that the Endowment constituted "the key words, the signs and tokens" - but made no mention of the penalties. Brigham Young's definition of the Endowment is cited in the modern LDS Temple.
It should be obvious to members that details of how the creation story is presented is an area where many modes of expression are possible, e.g., using live actors and narrative or using a beautiful film, as long as the message is conveyed. I believe that the revealed temple ceremony comprised many principles which had to be embodied in a modern vessel of some form. If Joseph did borrow from a very few elements from 19th century America (e.g., a modern minister representing the mingling of scripture with human teachings) or even from Masonry as part of that embodiment, we should not be shocked. If a few Masonic-like elements were not really essential and have been replaced with more generic forms, I cannot object. If 20th century technology is now used to portray the creation story, we should only rejoice at the added beauty and richness. But at the heart of the temple experience is an impressively ancient, inspired, and unchanging core that cannot be explained by its common elements with Masonry or modern sources.
The temple puts an emphasis on Christ as Savior and teaches that this life is a battle between good and evil in which Satan must be cast out and rejected. These themes are essentially absent in Masonry. Key temple practices such as baptism for the dead, marriage for time and eternity, and the sealing of families have no apparent connection to fraternal Mason practices. The focus on a personal, loving God is absent in Masonry. The equal partnership between man and woman in the Temple is also absent in Masonry, where women are excluded from Masonic ritual. Further, in stark contrast to the many ranks and levels among Masons, there is total equality and an absence of ranks for participants in the Temple. The LDS Endowment ceremony, which offers sacred covenants to follow God and Christ and provides instruction to prepare faithful members for the next life, does employ some symbols also found in Masonry, but the meaning and usage is different.
While some elements related to Masonry may have been borrowed simply as a vehicle to assist with the instruction, some apparent parallels are probably not derived from Masonry. The Christian cross is remarkably similar to the ancient Egyptian ankh symbol, which represented life and eternity. Some Christians may have noted and enjoyed the shared meaning in the symbol, but it hardly means that Christianity was derived from pagan religion. (And does the common use of the swastika symbol mean that Nazism is derived from the Hindu religion, where the swastika is still used as a symbol of the sun?) Likewise many ancient practices other than Masonry employ rituals to teach men about their duties. Similarities of two separate system need not imply plagiarism, but may raise the possibility of common ancestry. This concept is illustrated in the following excerpt taken from Vol. 2 of The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, from an article entitled "Freemasonry and the Temple" by Kenneth Godfrey:
Many sacred ceremonies existed in the ancient world. Modified over centuries, these rituals existed in some form among ancient Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Israelites, and Masons, and in the Catholic and Protestant liturgies. Common elements include the wearing of special clothing, ritualistic speech, the dramatization of archetypal themes, instruction, and the use of symbolic gestures. One theme common to many--found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Egyptian pyramid texts, and Coptic prayer circles, for example--is man's journey through life and his quest, following death, to successfully pass the sentinels guarding the entrance to eternal bliss with the gods. Though these ceremonies vary greatly, significant common points raise the possibility of a common remote source.
The Egyptian pyramid texts, for example, feature six main themes: (1) emphasis on a primordial written document behind the rites; (2) purification (including anointing, lustration, and clothing); (3) the Creation (resurrection and awakening texts); (4) the garden (including tree and ritual meal motifs); (5) travel (protection, a ferryman, and Osirian texts); and (6) ascension (including victory, coronation, admission to heavenly company, and Horus texts). Like such ancient ceremonies, the LDS temple Endowment presents aspects of these themes in figurative terms. It, too, presents, not a picture of immediate reality, but a model setting forth the pattern of human life on earth and the divine plan of which it is part.
Masonic ceremonies are also allegorical, depicting life's states--youth, manhood, and old age--each with its associated burdens and challenges, followed by death and hoped-for immortality. There is no universal agreement concerning when Freemasonry began. Some historians trace the order's origin to Solomon, Enoch, or even Adam. Others argue that while some Masonic symbolism may be ancient, as an institution it began in the Middle Ages or later.
Though in this dispensation the LDS Endowment dates from Kirtland and Nauvoo (see Kirtland Temple; Nauvoo Temple), Latter-day Saints believe that temple ordinances are as old as man and that the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including its necessary ritual and teachings, were first revealed to Adam. These saving principles and ordinances were subsequently revealed to Seth; Noah; Melchizedek; Abraham, and each prophet to whom the priesthood was given, including Peter. Latter-day Saints believe that the ordinances performed in LDS temples today replicate rituals that were part of God's teachings from the beginning.
Those who know the Temple and the LDS scriptures should realize that there are abundant Temple-related concepts in the works of Joseph Smith predating Joseph's introduction to Masonry in 1842. In particular, the Pearl of Great Price, with the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses, are richly endowed with temple concepts and symbols for those that have ears to hear. Masonry is not the core source for the Endowment.
For those interested in understanding the basics of Masonry, the classic work on the topic is the nineteenth century work, Duncan's Ritual and Monitor of Freemasonry (Malcolm C. Duncan, McKay Publishing, New York, 1865), which covers the York rite of Masonry to which Joseph Smith was exposed. In examining this text and its many illustrations, I found a number of items that can be found in the temple. But I also noticed that these parallel represent a very small fraction of Masonry. It is significant how many concepts and symbols of importance to Masonry are not part of the LDS Endowment. For example, Masonry is full of lore about Hiram Abiff and the masons of Solomon's time, all totally absent in the Temple. The use of special foot positions, of ropes, blindfolds (covers for the head), spelling out of names, the 24-inch gauge, the significance of directions, jewels, mosaic pavement, etc., etc. - all of which is absent from the Temple. Whatever the relationship between Masonry and the Temple, the majority of Temple material is not found in Masonry and visa versa. Further, many of the parallels to Masonry are found in the Bible or other ancient sources, including the concepts of priesthood, of anointing with oil, elders, high priests, curses and blessings, etc. Again, plagiarism from Masonry is an inadequate explanation for the marvelous LDS Temple, in spite of several close parallels.

Details of the Masonic Connection

There is no question that many early LDS people found Masonry interesting and positive as a fraternal organization. Joseph Smith himself became a Mason in 1842 - clearly after the Church was reorganized (1830) and most LDS doctrine had been established (including the Books of Abraham and Moses, with many temple-related concepts). It is true that the LDS Endowment ceremony was officially introduced two months after Joseph became a Mason, but the essence of the Temple concept and practice had been revealed or foreshadowed in the 1830s. Temple construction among Latter-day Saints began in the early 1830s. The fullness of temple worship was restored over a period of years, culminating in the 1840s, but "[a]lmost from the organization of the Church [in 1830], Joseph promised the people a higher endowment, a continuation of that received in baptism. . . . At the dedication [of the Kirtland temple in 1836], some ordinances were given preparatory to the fuller endowment to come. There was nothing new about temple work when it came in its greater completeness. It was expected" (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations , 1960, p. 111).
Section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants offers noteworthy evidence that the LDS temple was not derived from Masonry. This revelation was written on Jan. 19, 1841, over one year before Joseph became a Mason, yet makes mention of many key elements that would be found in the Nauvoo temple. This list, taken from Matthew B. Brown ("Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise," FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1998, pp. 97-131, with the citation from pp. 125-126), includes:
  • baptisms for the dead (v. 32,33,39)
  • washings (v. 39)
  • anointings (v. 39)
  • the keys of the Holy Priesthood (v. 34,95,97)
  • memorials of Levitical sacrifices (v. 39)
  • solemn assemblies (v. 39)
  • oracles, conversations, statues and judgments (v. 39)
  • ordinances that have been kept hidden (v. 40-41)
  • the fullness of the priesthood (v. 28).
Joseph's personal involvement with Masonry was extremely limited. Critics often say that he became "a master Mason" or make much of the fact that Joseph and his peer, Sidney Rigdon, achieved the "sublime degree" (equivalent to the rank of Master) in Masonry, as if that represents serious and lifelong involvement in the organization. The fact is that both Joseph and Sidney attended three meetingsover a period of two days in a Masonic lodge under the leadership of non-LDS Grand Master Abraham Jonas. That exposure, however, would have introduced Joseph to elements that are found in both Masonry and the Temple - but those common elements also have common ancient sources, and many of the most significant elements of the Temple are not found in those degrees of Masonry. Nevertheless, it is possible that some elements of Masonry that fit the revealed Temple concept were used as a vessel or framework, or even that some things were found to be appropriate vehicles for conveying revealed concepts - but that is a long ways from explaining the origins of the LDS Temple. James L. Carroll , an LDS person familiar with Masonry, sent me the following comment (used with permission):
I am working on a comparison of common elements between the Masons, Mormons, Greko-Romans, Egyptians, and Gnostics. How anyone could deny an ancient origin to the Endowment is beyond me. The question is always asked "Why is the Endowment similar to Free Masonry?" The question that is never asked is "What elements are similar, and do those elements have a more ancient source?" What is staggering to me is the consistency with which Joseph removed those things in Masonry that had no ancient origin, and kept only those elements that did! Joseph was amazing. If he was not inspired he was the best guesser ever!
Some have argued that advancing rapidly in Masonry in just three days implies that Joseph was already been familiar with Masonry through contact with family members or friends who were Masons. Indeed, it is possible that Joseph's contact with Masonry may have been much greater than I have recognized. But my basic position would remain unchanged: elements from Masonry may have been used or adapted as a reasonable framework in which to present revealed Temple concepts, but even borrowing such elements does not account for the core aspects of the Temple, which go far beyond anything unique to Masonry, but are remarkably at home with more ancient concepts from Jewish and Christian worship in ways that point to authentic revealed origins - part of the Restoration of the fullness of the Gospel.
Correction of a previous error: Previously on this page, I wrote that Joseph and Sidney "received only the first three of over 30 degrees in Masonry. Both Joseph and Sidney were raised to the "sublime degree," but this made them mere novices." I have been corrected by a Mason, Art de Hoyos, whose name and words I use with permission:
It is a mistake to suggest that Joseph and Sidney received "only the first three of over 30 degrees in Masonry," or that the additional Scottish Rite degrees (the other 30), confer anything above the degree of Master Mason. I will briefly explain. Grand Master Abraham Jonas only had the authority to administer the three degrees of "Ancient Craft Masonry" (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason). He did not have the authority to confer the 30 degrees of the Scottish Rite.
In fact, the Scottish Rite was not established in Illinois until after the martyrdom. (See Alphonse Cerza, A History of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in Illinois, 1846-1965 [Bloomington, IL: Pantagraph, 1966]).
Non-Masons frequently--and incorrectly--assume that the degrees of the Scottish Rite are "higher" than those of the Grand Lodge, but this is incorrect. In other words, a Master Mason is as "high" as a 33d degree. All appendent bodies of Masonry (such as the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, the C.B.C.S., the A.M.D., the Royal Order of Scotland, etc.) are subordinate to the Grand Lodge, and only attempt to explain the teachings of the three Craft degrees.
Joseph and Sidney had all the "Masonry" they needed to make them as "high" as any Mason living.
Another LDS Mason also informed me that the Master Mason degree actually is the highest level that a Mason may attain, even if it could be obtained after such a brief involvement in Masonry. This person notes that while "there are 29 more degrees after the Master Mason degree in the Scottish Rite, . . . those degrees and the Scottish Rite itself are appendent orders and nothing more. One may become a Master Mason and not chose to participate in either the Scottish Rite or the York Rite and never feel slighted, since those orders, again, or only appendent in designation.")
I appreciate the correction. Achieving the rank of Master may actually have been as high as Joseph could go, but it still does not make Joseph a highly experienced, lifelong Mason. His advancement from outsider to Master began and ended in just three days.
As E. Cecil McGavin explains in Mormonism and Masonry (Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City, 1956, p. 66):
"The Prophet was so busy with Church matters that he never took an active part in lodge work. It seems from the meager records that are extant, that Joseph Smith attended as many meetings on those two days as he did during the rest of his lifetime [about 6 total]. Initiated in haste and hurriedly promoted through three degrees, he learned scarcely nothing about the secret practices and elaborate ritual of the Masons. In the months that followed, he left the lodge work in the hands of others, never attending more than three subsequent meetings and never receiving a higher degree. . . .
"On the third day of the protracted meeting the Grand master was kept busy instructing the lodge, yet Joseph Smith did not attend a single meeting of the fraternity that day. It was not his plan to neglect Church business in order to promote the lodge. The morning of March 17 [1842], he attended a meeting of the high council. . . . Later on that historic day, he organized the Relief Society. From the moment, he never took an active part in Masonry."
Some critics say that Joseph made mention of ranks and degrees when he organized the Relief Society that day. Perhaps he did and perhaps he was impressed with the organization of Masonry. But the Relief Society organization (the LDS women's organization, now said to be the largest and oldest continually operating women's organization in the world) does not display obvious Masonic themes, in my opinion, and certainly has nothing secret or even very symbolic about it. From the beginning, it has been a public organization aimed to foster charity, service, education, and Christlike living.
Several months later, we learn that Joseph was still a novice. In writing about the circumstances of Joseph's remarkable prophecy about the Saints going to the Rocky Mountains, B.H. Roberts indirectly reveals that Joseph had not become much of a leader in Masonry (B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 2, Ch. 51, p.181 - p.182):
On the 6th of August, 1842, with quite a number of his brethren, he [Joseph Smith] crossed the Mississippi river to the town of Montrose, to be present at the installation of the Masonic Lodge of the Rising Sun. A block schoolhouse had been prepared with shade in front, under which was a barrel of ice water, Judge James Adams was the highest Masonic authority in the state of Illinois, and had been sent there to organize this lodge. He [Judge Adams] and Hyrum Smith, being high Masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith, remained under the bowery. Joseph, as he was tasting the cold water, warned the brethren not to be too free with it. With the tumbler still in his hand he prophesied that the saints would yet go to the Rocky Mountains; and, said he, this water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow-capped mountains. . . . [The rest of this prophecy is given on the Prophecies of Joseph Smith  page].
There is no evidence that anyone revealed secrets of Masonry to Joseph Smith prior to his initiation in 1842. Such a breach of secrecy would have been grounds for expulsion from Masonry. In fact, it appears that Joseph joined the Masons to learn about ancient things that he did not yet know. Franklin D. Richards said that "Joseph, the Prophet, was aware that there were some things about Masonry which had come down from the beginning and he desired to know what they were, hence the lodge" (as cited by Brown, pp. 122-123).
Joseph's limited and late involvement with Masonry does not hinder some critics from finding strong Masonic influence in things revealed through Joseph Smith long before he became a Mason. Sidney Rigdon is often cited as a possible source of Masonic influence on Joseph, but he also became a Mason in the 1840s, too late to pass on any Mason lore to young Joseph (see Thomas J. Gregory, "Sidney Rigdon: Post Nauvoo," BYU Studies, Vol. 21, Winter 1981, p. 59, as cited by Hamblin, Peterson and Mitton in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1994). However, Heber C. Kimball, an early apostle, joined the Masons in 1825 before the Church was founded. Joseph's brother, Hyrum, joined the Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 in Palmyra, New York in the 1820s (Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois, 1986, p. 83). In the 1840s, Masonry became fairly popular among the members of the Church. A Masonic lodge was organized in Nauvoo in March of 1842 by Abraham Jonas, a Jewish Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois (Kimball, p. 84). The lodges in the Nauvoo area soon had 1,492 members, including the First Presidency and most Apostles. The Mormon Masons were criticized for being unorthodox and allowing most anybody to join, appearing to a "degree mill." Why the interest? Perhaps because of the similarities they saw between restored teachings and the ancient remnants in Masonry. Heber C. Kimball expressed his feelings on this issue in a letter to Parley P. Pratt on June 17, 1842:
We have received some precious things through the Prophet on the priesthood that would cause your soul to rejoice. I can not give them to you on paper for they are not to be written. So you must come and get them for your self. We have organized a lodge here of Masons since we obtained a charter. That was in March. Since that there was near two hundred been made masons. Br. Joseph and Sidney [Rigdon] was the first that was received into the lodge. All of the twelve apostles have become members except Orson Pratt. He hangs back. He will wake up soon, there is a similarity of priesthood in Masonry. Bro. Joseph says Masonry was taken from priesthood but has become degenerated. But many things are perfect." (quoted in Kimball, p. 85)
Later in 1858, he said, "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" (Kimball, p. 85).

Did LDS Masons Suspect Plagiarism by Joseph in the Mormon Temple?

Based on the quotes given immediately above, Heber C. Kimball's experience in Masonry seems to have helped him to appreciate the temple ceremony rather than raise doubts about Joseph's inspiration and integrity. He did not see the temple as something that the Joseph the novice had stolen from Masonry, but as a divine restoration from God.
Charles Charvatt, who was acquainted with Joseph in Nauvoo, is quoted as saying that "there were some signs and tokens with their meanings and significance which we [Freemasons] did not have. Joseph restored them and explained them to us" (Manuscripts of Samuel C. Young, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, as cited by Matthew B. Brown, FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1998, p. 130). Likewise, James Cummings, a Mason who was present when Joseph was initiated, is quoted as saying that "the Prophet explained many things about the rites that even Masons do not pretend to understand but which he made most clear and beautiful" (Horace H. Cummings, "True Stories from My Journal," Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 64, No. 8, Aug. 1929, p. 441, as cited by Brown, p. 130). Joseph was seen as a restorer, not a plagiarizer, and obviously had more to offer than could be derived from Masonry alone.
Of course, one could argue that faithful Latter-day Saints like Heber C. Kimball would strive to interpret Joseph's actions favorably. What about LDS Masons who later fell away from the Church or became enemies to Joseph? There were several. Importantly, they, too, did not suggest that the temple was plagiarized, even though they attacked the Church on many other issues. A review of such cases in offered by E.C. McGavin in Mormonism and Masonry, 1956, pp. 140-143.
One prominent LDS Mason who was familiar with the Temple and then later rebelled against the Church was John C. Bennett. (As with several other bitter anti-Mormon critics who were once LDS, he had been excommunicated for adultery.) Bennett was also expelled from the Masonic lodge and there many public notices to keep him out of Masonry (McGavin, p. 140). Bennett turned against the Church and said much against Joseph, but never suggested that the Temple was plagiarized from Masonry. In one pamphlet, he did write about the Temple and called it the "Order Lodge" (perhaps after the United Order system of consecration) and offered drawings showing the appearance of rooms and the long robes worn by people in the Temple. He spoke of "mysterious rites" that were claimed to from "a special revelation from heaven," and said that only the elite could go in and that there was an oath of secrecy. He described some of the ceremonies, but did not suggest that Joseph borrowed from Masonry. If he could have made an argument out of Masonry and the LDS temple to discredit Joseph Smith, he probably would have done so.
Likewise, Increase Van Deusen wrote the anti-LDS publication, Spiritual Delusions in 1847, wherein he discussed temple ceremonies at length (60 pages), but never referenced Masonry. He was a Mason, but did not argue that the LDS temple was based on Masonry.
George W. Harris was another Mason who became an LDS leader and later rejected the Church, as did his wife. Neither ever accused Joseph of having used Masonry to create LDS temple ceremonies. Harris did write against the Church and spoke of the signs and tokens of the temple, but said they were "peculiar to this secret organization" (the temple).
An entry in the Nauvoo journal of Joseph Fielding seems to summarize the attitude of many LDS members about the relationship between the Temple and Masonry:
Many have joined the Masonic Institution this seems to have been a Stepping Stone or Preparation for something else, the true Origin of Masonry, this I have also seen and rejoice in it....
(As cited by Andrew F. Ehat, "'They Might Have Known That He Was Not a Fallen Prophet' - The Nauvoo Journal of Joseph Fielding," BYU Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter 1979, pp. 133-166, citation on p. 145.)
What about non-LDS Masons? Many Masons in Illinois were suspicious of the Latter-day Saints and opposed LDS involvement in Masonry. Indeed, there was significant conflict between non-LDS Masons and the LDS Masons, and many non-LDS folks were outraged that Grandmaster Jonas had allowed the vile Mormons into Masonry. Surely some non-LDS Masons had heard of details of the temple ceremonies from anti-LDS critics. However, Masonic officials at the time of the controversy surrounding Mormons and the Nauvoo Lodge did not complain that Joseph had stolen or misappropriated secret rites from Masonry (McGavin, pp. 140-141). Those false charges only came much later.
Please remember that when Joseph taught other LDS men about the Temple and the Endowment - before he ever became a Mason - some of those men included active Masons. If he then borrowed from Masonry to create the Endowment or other ceremonies, surely those who knew Masonry would have objected. Those who later did leave the Church surely would have announced the theft to the world. However, "the men who knew Masonry best were the ones who realized the true source of [Joseph's] wisdom" (McGavin, p. 135).
In our day, there are some Mormons who are Masons. I've heard from several of them and they affirm that the relationships do not explain the LDS temple ceremony. Some think he borrowed various elements, but there is not consensus on how much was borrowed. Here, for example, is one comment from D. Charles Pyle, a LDS member with extensive expertise in Masonry, from correspondence in Jan. 2005:
Whether Masonry formed the impetus of revelation concerning the origins of the temple ceremony is open to question, in my view. I know that there is a tendency on the part of some to look for similarities in places where they may not be. For instance, one "high-ranking" Mormon Mason I know is of the opinion that Joseph Smith got the idea of prayer circles from the Most Excellent Master Degree and that the use of a veil came from Royal Arch Masonry. But, not only was Joseph Smith NEVER a Royal Arch Mason and he NEVER actually saw or participated either Chapter Degree, Royal Arch Masonry in America uses four veils, blue, purple, scarlet, and white, and none of these ever existed in the form and usage of Mormon temple veils, so far as I could tell.
The "prayer circle" of the Most Excellent Master Degree is nothing like that found in the temple, and is not referred to as the true order of prayer. [He then refers to details of the prayer circle that are profoundly absent in Masonry.] In addition, those who adhere to such a theory of origins are hard pressed to show where Joseph Smith would have adapted such an idea or where Joseph Smith would have had his brother, Hyrum, or his father, betray their obligations as Royal Arch Masons to tell Joseph Smith anything relative to these Degrees. And, if he had been aware of these, why did not he use this information much earlier, such as in Kirtland or Far West? Even if he had went on open exposures of the ritual that were published by his time, such as Morgan, these were not enough of use to him to formulate these portions of the temple ceremony.
LDS people familiar with Masonry in Joseph's day and ours don't see how Masonry could account for the LDS Temple. An accurate knowledge of Masonry will not devastate a Latter-day Saint's belief in Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God.

The Significance of Common Elements

Most LDS people that I know who are familiar with Masonry and the Temple can't accept the theory that Masonry was the source of Temple ceremonies, in spite of some common elements. For example, I recently received the following e-mail, used with permission, from a Latter-day Saint who joined the Masons:
Almost immediately upon becoming an Apprentice people in the Lodge began (not all the people, a few actually) telling me that Joseph Smith stole Masonic tradition, etc. As I passed from Apprentice, to Fellowcraft, to Master Mason, I kept expecting to see these great consistencies between Lodge and the Temple. Finally one evening when the fellow who was usually the most annoying approached me . . . and once again started in on me about Joseph and Masonic tradition I told him that there [were] very [few] significant similarities between the two ceremonies and that there really was little to be talking about on the subject, he got angry, basically called me a liar, and walked away. I guess the crux of all this is I am still trying to figure out what important information Joseph stole, or used. There are likenesses - so what?
Do several common elements or "likenesses" in ceremonies really imply plagiarism or derivation? What can we infer when common elements are present? A study of comparative religion (e.g., the wonderful works of Mircea Eliade) shows that many themes and symbols have been around for a long time. I suspect that part of the explanation is that many truths were revealed anciently, beginning at the time of Adam, and forms of those truths were handed down and corrupted through the ages, with periodic times of restitution and renewal. We must be cautious, therefore, in claiming one culture or religion as the source for another with similar concepts, when both may have common ancient roots. This is true of Masonry and Mormonism. Both claim to have ancient roots, with the latter claiming to be a divine restoration of what once existed among the early Christians and the early prophets of old. Critics often look to Masonry or other modern sources for things found in LDS doctrine, even when a much more plausible and ancient source is obviously the Bible. This is an important point which calls for several examples.
One of the most interesting examples of errant claims of Masonic origins is found in a book by Professor John L. Brooke, The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), which is reviewed by Hamblin, Peterson and Mitton in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1994, pp. 3-58 (the review article is available online ). In many cases, Brooke claims to find a common element between the two systems, and concludes that Masonry is the source of LDS practice, while overlooking obvious Biblical origins. On page 101, for example, Brooke writes: "In words replicated in Mormon doctrine, the high priest in the Royal Arch [Masonry] was to be 'a priest forever after the order of Melchizedec.'" What Brooke fails to disclose is that Hebrews 5:6 is the obvious source for this very phrase. Later in the book, it is clear that Brooke is aware of Hebrews as the source for the Masonic material (p. 194), but he still claims that Mormons took the idea from Masonry. It looks like a deliberately misleading argument.
In the same manner, Brooke says that our "baptism for the dead [is based on] Spiritualist doctrine" (p. 28) and on the "radical heritage" of "the German pietist mystics at Ephrata" (p. 243). He makes no reference to an obvious Biblical source for the practice in 1 Corinthians 15:29.
Brooke also claims Masonic influence on Joseph while he translated the Book of Mormon, nearly fifteen years before he became a Mason. Brooke looks to Sidney Rigdon as the source of Masonic influence in the Book of Mormon, but he did not become a Mason until the 1840s, as noted above. According to Hamblin et al., p.52:
Professor Brooke also notes that a John Rigdon and a Thomas Rigdon were Masons in 1829, but fails to demonstrate that these Rigdons had any relationship, beyond name, to Sidney. And Brooke indulges in another ante hoc fallacy by claiming that the Mormon temple ceremony could have been influenced at its origin by "the European Lodges of Adoption" (p. 250), despite the fact that "the Rite of Adoption . . . has never been introduced into America." [Albert Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry(Chicago: Masonic History Co., 1921), 1:29. Brooke cites Mackey as the source for his information on the Lodge of Adoption (388 n. 45), but, for some reason, fails to inform his readers that this lodge, which supposedly influenced the LDS temple endowment, did not exist in the United States in Joseph's day. Elsewhere Brooke holds that Mormon ritual relationships are with "American Freemasonry" (p. 236).] (A failed attempt was first made in 1855.). . . .
Brooke sees significance in the fact that "the first Masonic degree, the Entered Apprentice, included a recitation of the first three verses of the Creation Story in Genesis" (p. 249), which he sees as a "very specific parallel [to] the ritual drama of Creation and the Fall from the Garden of Eden" (p. 249) in the LDS temple ceremony. Yet the significance of this brief citation from Genesis diminishes dramatically when we note that ten pages from Webb's Freemason's Monitor include lengthy quotes from Exodus (pp. 147, 150, 153), 2 Chronicles (p. 145), Psalms (pp. 131-32, 147-48), 2 Thessalonians (p. 140), Haggai (p. 151), Zechariah (p. 152) John (p. 153), Deuteronomy (p. 153), Numbers (p. 154), Hebrews (p. 154), and Amos (p. 154) in relation to Masonic ceremonies. Considering the frequent use of quotations from the Bible in connection with early Masonic ceremonies, why should we presume that Joseph was decisively influenced in the development of the LDS temple creation drama by three verses from Genesis in a Masonic manual, verses which he had already read many times in the Bible? The Masonic rites as a whole have absolutely nothing to do with the preexistence, the creation, or the Garden of Eden.
Brooke's "overwhelming evidence" that the temple ceremonies are derived from Masonry (p. 249) is limited to only a few motifs, which actually differ in meaning relative to their claimed Masonic counterparts. If the Temple ceremonies had more than a superficial and occasional resemblance to Masonry, then we would have expected those early Mormons who knew Masonry well to have been disturbed by the parallels. Especially from those who left and turned against the Church, we would have expected attacks stating that Joseph obviously plagiarized the ceremonies he claimed to have been given by revelation. I am unaware of any such attacks having been made. Those who knew Masonry well could see that there may have been some common roots, but the idea that the Temple was derived from Masonry simply doesn't stand up to inspection. The roots are more clearly in Christianity and the Gospel rather than in Masonry.
Hamblin et al. expound on the strong differences between Masonry and LDS Temple practice (pp. 54-55):
Neither Brooke's nor any other environmentalist explanation has ever attempted to account for the vast number of striking differences between Mormon ideas and symbolism and those of the Masons. For example, Webb's Freemason's Monitor - a source Brooke claims influenced Joseph (pp. 157, 365 n. 26) . . . mentions many ideas and symbols that have absolutely no parallel in Mormonism. Where in Mormonism will we find the symbolic significance of the Royal Arch (pp. 201-2); Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian architectural styles (pp. 57-59); the five senses (pp. 60-65); the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences (pp. 67-69); a sword pointing to a naked heart (p. 79); the anchor (p. 79); the forty-seventh problem of Euclid (pp. 79-80); the hour-glass (p. 80); scythe (pp. 80-81); chisel and mallet (p. 85); lodge, Grand Master, and Deputy Grand Master (p. 92); the Junior Warden (p. 107); Orders of Knighthood (p. 165); Knights of the Red Cross (p. 166); Knights Templar and Knights of Malta (pp. 179-95); the Knights of Calatrava (p. 196); and the Knights of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (p. 196)? If Joseph really borrowed his ideas from Masonry, why are the similarities limited to only a few items, many of which have known parallels to more ancient mysteries? [In general, see Truman G. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984); Hugh W. Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment ((Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975); idem., Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1992); Donald W. Parry, ed., Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1994).
Brooke also alleges that George Oliver's The Antiquities of Freemasonry was a source for the Temple and the Book of Abraham. But Oliver relies on numerous ancient sources which have no manifestation at all in Joseph's works (Herodotus, Berosus, Ammianus Marcellinus, Rabbi Gedaliah ben Joseph, Jamblichus, Palladius, Augustine, etc.) If the Book of Abraham is derived from Oliver's work, Hamblin et al. properly ask "why do we find no reference to the Egyptian places, people, or gods cited by Oliver, such as Thoth, Horus, Hermes, Amenophis, Tanis, Thusimares, Janias, and even Trismegistus himself?" (p. 55). Hamblin et al. offer this concluding thought (p.56):
What, then, is the significance of the alleged similarities between Masonry and LDS doctrine and the temple endowment? In reality, the fact that early Latter-day Saints might have borrowed and transformed a few symbols from the Masons, even were it conceded, would no more explain Mormon origins or the temple endowment than the fact that early Christians borrowed the crux ansata from the pagan Egyptian ankh explains the origins of early Christianity. . . . On the contrary, there is a large body of work which indicates that the closest analogues are to the rituals and esoteric doctrines of early Christianity and Judaism in the eastern Mediterranean in the first two or three centuries before and after Christ. [See, for instance, besides the items mentioned in footnote 95, Keith E. Norman, "Deification: The Content of Athanasian Soteriology" (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1980); idem., "Divinization: The Forgotten Teaching of Early Christianity," Sunstone 1 (Winter 1975): 14-19. Numerous other parallels are covered in cursory fashion, with considerable bibliography, in Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1992).]
Melvin J. Ballard also spoke about the alleged Masonic connection in a General Conference address in 1913 (Conference Report, October 1913, p.126):
When the Prophet Joseph declared that Elijah delivered to him the keys of the salvation of the living and the dead he asserted a wonderful truth. Was Elijah possessed of the same knowledge and intelligence he had while he dwelt upon the earth? It has been asserted by some that the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained from masonry some or most all of the ceremonies had by us in our temples. Recently I have had an opportunity to investigate most thoroughly the history and connection of the membership of the Church with masonry, when certain lodges were organized in the city of Nauvoo and other places; and I satisfied myself, and without giving you the detailed evidence, I assert to you that the evidence given by masons themselves proves conclusively that Joseph Smith never knew the first thing of masonry until years after he had received the visit of Elijah, and had delivered to men the keys of the holy priesthood, and the ceremonies and ordinances had by us in these sacred temples, and had given the endowments to men long before he knew the first thing pertaining to the ordinances and the ceremonies of masonry. What is masonry? Why, a fragment of the old truth coming down perhaps from Solomon's temple of ancient days, and but a fragment, as Christianity is but a fragment of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was only to be had and enjoyed by those who hold the holy priesthood. The prophet Elijah revealed these truths; he possessed them anciently and he gave them in their perfectness, and simplicity and purity to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
When critics point to common elements between the Temple and Masonry, they often allege that common ancient origins cannot be the source because Masonry is said to be a recent development. For example, Edward Ashment claims that the origins of Masonry are known to be medieval Europe, not the ancient temple of Solomon ("The LDS Temple Ceremony: Historical Origins and Religious Value," Dialogue, Vol. 27, No. 3, 1994, pp. 289-298, as cited by Matthew B. Brown, FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1998, pp. 97-131). But this notion has long been discredited. The best scholars of Masonry are still unable to identify its origins (see John Hamil, The Craft: A History of English Freemasonry, Wellingborough, England: Crucible, 1986, pp. 15, 24, as cited by Brown, p. 114; and Fred L. Pick and G. Norman Knight, The Pocket History of Freemasonry, rev. ed., London, Muller, 1977, p. 13, as cited by Brown, p. 114). But even identifying the origins of the organization of Masonry would do nothing to identify the sources of its ritual elements, which could easily be more ancient that the organization. In fact, it appears that Masonic rites and symbols were borrowed from previously existing symbols. It is highly unjustified to say that such symbols and rites date no earlier than the Medieval Era, especially when many of them can be found in much more ancient sources such as the Bible and ancient Egyptian scrolls (including Facsimile No. 2 in the Book of Abraham, where two important Masonic symbols - the compass and the square - are readily visible in the lower right hand portion of the Facsimile).

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