In preparation for the upcoming General Conference to be held 19-21 April 2019 in Colorado, I have been studying the subject of the temple in great depth and detail. In some ways, this is a continuation of a dialog with a reader found in the comment section of the post on the excommunication of Mike Stroud. My personal focus and desire in sharing this post is to be able to understand and answer questions about the sealing power, and in particular, the three forms of sealing power and who possesses them.
To me, knowing the answers to these questions is of extreme importance in the eternal scheme of things. So much of the LDS culture is based on the temple and the sealing authority that is exercised there, especially in the sealing of spouses and of children to parents. The hopes of millions who have participated in the sacred sealing ordinances there rest on assurances that such authority exercised on their behalf is valid and efficacious beyond the veil. This issue should be of paramount importance to all.
Discussing the Temple
I hope to treat this subject with respect. I am writing as a former member of the LDS Church, thus I don’t adhere to the taboo of not discussing the temple in any way outside of the temple. Most everyone knows you can read the entire endowment ceremony on the Internet, including past versions. The other ordinances have been reported word for word as well. I haven’t been to the temple since 2014 so I can only rely on what others have reported of the latest changes, although I’m not sure they will come up in this post.
Borrowing from Hawkgrrrl, perhaps “the LDS Church perceives itself as an Owl. It’s large, powerful, wise, all-seeing. The Church sees itself as the one true church of Jesus Christ, restored by modern prophets. It sees itself as authoritative, a living entity under a living God, and the sole proprietor of ordinances that can save humanity.” That’s the issue I hope to address in this post – the validity of that claim to be the sole proprietor of the ordinances of salvation. Every assertion of the LDS Church hinges on this one claim.
A Dispensation Head
There is in the LDS Church a vaguely taught and even more vaguely understood doctrine about dispensations and dispensation heads. When we speak of gospel dispensations, we generally have in mind those given to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses. Among Latter-day Saints,there is also some understanding that John the Baptist and Elijah may have been dispensation heads and that Joseph Smith definitely qualified. Those who accept the Book of Mormon also refer to Lehi and Nephi as being in this category.
Even among those who have accepted Denver Snuffer as a teacher, I’m not sure many have paid attention to his statement in Orem on 2 November 2013. As I read it and have prayed about it, Denver has declared that he also has a dispensation, directly associated with Joseph Smith: “Now you tell me, you declare to me, what are your dispensations? (I have one, and Joseph had one, but do you have one also?) Tell me what your rights are. Can you even tell me what your keys are?” Source: Lecture 5 on Priesthood
The Right to Ascend
In order to prepare for what I hope will be additional instruction about the temple to be built in our day, I’ve pulled a lot of quotes on the subject from as many of Denver’s talks and writings as I felt were relevant to the proposed temple. I felt it important to review what we have already been given. I have reflected on these things again and again. As I did so, the Lord brought selected phrases and quotes to my mind. I have shared them in this post and tried to arrange them in some semblance or order. I hope it proves helpful.
Perhaps the key takeaways from this post will be the following: 1) In spite of the fact that there are now 162 LDS Temples, we need a temple to which the Lord can come and in which the Lord’s servants can administer authorized ordinances of salvation anew. 2) The ordinances administered in the LDS Temples are no longer valid because they have changed the ordinances and therefore broken the covenant. There is no place on the earth today where we can receive the ordinance established by the Lord through Joseph.
Different Forms of Sealing Power
The first form of sealing power is that given to dispensation heads such as Moses, Lehi, Joseph Smith: “Dispensation heads are given the power, the sealing power, the authority, the ability to use the power to seal up, by embodying the covenant that is given to them by God, into an ordinance.” Source: Ordinances.
The second form of sealing power is “not dependent upon the persistent presence of a dispensation head. It is only dependent upon keeping faithfully the ordinance that has been established and handed down by God through covenant. Go to the temple, get your ordinances, and then work to have the Holy Spirit of Promise because the keeper of that gate is the Holy One of Israel, and there is no employee there.”
The Spirit of Elijah
“… the Spirit of Elijah holds the revelations, ordinances, endowments, and sealings necessary to accomplish turning the hearts of the Fathers to the children by securing an unbroken thread between the living and the Fathers in heaven. This can only be done in a temple prepared for that purpose.”
“The Community of Christ and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are both being led down to destruction and are bound in the chains of hell because of their studied ignorance. ‘Apostasy’ means a deliberate rebellion against God. They are in apostasy because they are deliberately changing the ordinances, have broken the covenant, and are rejecting Joseph Smith’s teachings and revelations. They have been deliberately walking away from the Restoration…” Source: Ordinances.
Sealing Power Clarified
“…there are generally three kinds of sealing authority which are given.
“The first kind of sealing power is that kind which is given to someone when there is a dispensation of the gospel being founded. … as a dispensation head, a form of sealing power is given to that person, which establishes a covenant that was intended to go beyond that individual alone. Dispensation heads are given the power, the sealing power, the authority, the ability to use the power to seal up by embodying the covenant that is given to them by God, by establishing an ordinance to perpetuate the covenant.
Sealing Power in the LDS Church
“The second kind is a sealing power [that] is embodied within authoritative ordinances. All dispensations of the gospel follow the covenant giver’s ordinances; or preserve the ordinance established through the dispensation head. For so long as the ordinances that were handed to mankind through the dispensation head are kept intact, the covenant is kept intact. Therefore the second form of sealing power is a sealing power which is not dependent upon the persistent presence of a dispensation head. It is only dependent upon keeping the ordinances which were established and handed down by God through covenant.
“This second form of sealing power is the sealing authority which the Church claims to possess. It is the sealing authority that was referred to by Henry B. Eyring in the General Conference talk given in April 2012, Families under Covenant. In it he proclaimed that the Church has the authority to seal families together by using the ordinances that have been handed down. I’m quoting from this talk:
“‘The Holy Spirit of Promise through our obedience and sacrifice, must seal our temple covenants in order to be realized in the world to come. The Holy Ghost is one who reads the thoughts and hearts of men and gives his sealing approval to the blessing pronounced upon their heads. Then it is binding, efficacious and of full force.’
“I agree with what he has said. I believe that is a correct way to explain the limited authority to seal enjoyed by the Church. The condition remains, even in the ordinance, which requires the faithfulness and the subsequent sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise in order for those ordinances to endure. Nevertheless, the Church claims to possess only that second form of sealing authority and uses it in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Third Kind of Sealing Power
“There is a third kind of sealing power. And this third kind of sealing power goes beyond either of the first two. It has absolutely unique application, and is given only in rare circumstances, and for highly specific purposes. That third form involves giving the authority to control the elements. This was authority possessed by Enoch. This was authority possessed by Melchizedek. This was the authority possessed by Christ. This was the authority Christ had to suspend or not employ, in order to permit those who would kill Him, to kill Him. This is the kind of authority which, in the case of every such individual, they must give their lives up willingly. Their lives cannot be taken.
As to these three kinds of authority, the first authority given to a head of a dispensation, only God can pass that to man. Man cannot pass that to man. The second kind of sealing authority we talked about can be passed from man-to-man, from generation to generation, and remains in full force and effect for so long as the covenant is not broken. But to remain unbroken the ordinance cannot be changed. The third kind not only cannot be given by man-to-man, but is given as a consequence of that extraordinary combination of mortality and immortality, in which you find a person on the earth that God has faith and confidence in. You all should become this kind of person.”
The Purpose of a Temple
“The purpose of a temple (meaning an actual temple commissioned, ordered, blessed, accepted and visited with His presence) is to substitute for the temporary ascent of a mortal into God’s presence. A real temple becomes ‘Holy Ground’ and the means for making available to faithful people in every state of belief and hope the opportunity to receive, by authorized means, the same covenant, obligation, association, expectation and sealing through an authorized and binding arrangement in sacred space. This is the same thing they can receive from God directly if they enter into His presence while still in the flesh. In effect, the temple becomes an extension of heaven.”
Holy Spirit of Promise
“We are practicing in the Temple to receive the real thing. We are not receiving the real thing there. We are told that directly as part of the ceremony. We are cautioned that if we are true and faithful to the covenants we enter into, the time will come when we will be called up, chosen and anointed, whereas now we are only anointed to BECOME such.
“The realization of these blessings is dependent upon our faithfulness, not upon our holding a recommend and getting our names enrolled in preparatory, practice ordinances. The ordinances are a revelation about the real process. They are symbols. They point the way. But we have to follow the way and receive the blessings, promises, etc. from heaven. The Holy Spirit of Promise, as explained in Section 132 is involved. I’ve explained this in The Second Comforter.” Source: The Sealing Power (comment)
LDS Temple Rites Insufficient
“The LDS version of temple rites is insufficient to allow anyone to obtain the right to ascend to God’s presence in eternity. The Lord will fix this, as He intends to establish an Ensign to which all nations (meaning scattered covenant Israel) will return in the last days and there receive their crowns at the hands of servants who will minister covenants for this purpose (D&C 133:31-34).” Source: Why a Temple?
Law of Adoption
“Joseph’s original instruction about sealing dealt with connecting the living faithful to the ‘fathers’ in heaven—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The connection was to be accomplished through adoption sealings, not genealogy. Joseph was connected to the Fathers through his priesthood. He and his brother Hyrum were to become ‘fathers’ of all who would live after them. Just read Abraham 1:2.
“Families were originally organized under Joseph as the Father of the righteous in this dispensation. Accordingly, men were sealed to Joseph Smith as their Father, and they as his sons. This was referred to as ‘adoption’ because the family organization was not biological, but priestly, according to the law of God. As soon as Joseph died, the doctrine began to erode, ultimately replaced by the substitute practice of sealing genealogical lines together.
“In between the original adoptive sealing to Joseph and the current practice of tracking genealogical or biological lines, there was an intermediate step when families were tracked back as far as research permitted, then the line was sealed to Joseph Smith. That practice is now forgotten, and certainly no longer practiced, by any denomination within Mormonism. When Joseph died, any understanding of the practice of ‘adoption’ was quickly lost.” Source: The Temple, Part 4
The Fathers in Heaven
In the LDS Church the term “our kindred dead” is used interchangeably with our “fathers who are in heaven.” This is wrong. Those are two different sets of people. Our kindred dead are like us, in need of redemption. We need to connect ourselves to our fathers who are in heaven. The fathers are the patriarchs, Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Peter, James John, and Joseph Smith. We need to rise up and be connected to them.
“The hearts of the fathers who are in heaven — that’s the mission of Elijah. If you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah: That we redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our ‘fathers which are in heaven’ — our dead through us, us to our ‘fathers in heaven.’ Who are our ‘fathers in heaven?’ Who are our ‘father’s in heaven’ to whom we are to be connected?
“We want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those which dwell in heaven. Those who are in the spirit world, our dead, the ones that need redemption from us, are not redeemed. They cannot be in heaven because they need us to be redeemed. We need to be redeemed by our connecting to the ‘fathers who are in heaven.’ The dead have to be redeemed. The Fathers are in heaven. Joseph understood this doctrine.”
“‘Unto your fathers in eternal glory.’ That is not your kindred dead— they are relying upon you to be redeemed. The connection that needs to be formed is between you and the Fathers who dwell in glory.” Source: Temple, Part 2
A Few Resources on the Temple
Podcast 49: Ordinances – 26 Dec 2018
Podcast 32: The Temple, Part 1 – 1 Sep 2018
Podcast 33: The Temple, Part 2 – 4 Sep 2018
Podcast 35: The Temple, Part 3 – 16 Sep 2018
Podcast 36: The Temple, Part 4 – 19 Sep 2018
Podcast 37: The Temple, Part 5 – 23 Sep 2018
Podcast 38: The Temple: Part 6 – 26 Sep 2018
Marriage and Family – 26 Feb 2014
144,000 – Part 2 – 7 Nov 2012
The Temple Fireside – YouTube – 28 Oct 2012
The Temple – PDF Transcript – 28 Oct 2012
Responses to Various Comments – 4 May 2012
Criticism of the Church, Part 3 – 26 Apr 2012
Question on Sealing – 29 Feb 2012
Fullness of Priesthood – 2 Jan 2012
The Power of God’s Word – 27 Oct 2011
An Email Response – 21 Oct 2011
Reply to Questions – 20 Oct 2011
The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered – 14 Oct 2011
Joseph Smith’s Limited Plural Marriage Sealings – 17 Sep 2011
Remnant, Part VII – 14 Sep 2010
3 Ne 20:25-27 – 10 Sep 2010
2 Ne 21:31 – 30 Aug 2010
1 Ne 13:33-34 – 30 Jun 2010
The Sealing Power – 20 May 2010
Awake and Arise – 26 Apr 2010
First Three Words – 23 Jan 2010
Previous topics reviewed in this series, A Time of Reflection:
Part one – The Davidic Servant – 13 Jan 2019
Part two – Scripture – New and Recovered – 28 Jan 2019
Part three – Work of the Scripture Committee – 4 Feb 2019
Part four – Baptism and Rebaptism – 12 Feb 2019
Part five – The New Covenant Offered – 16 Feb 2019
Part six – Establishing Zion – 27 Feb 2019
Part seven – Fellowships – 5 Mar 2019