Speculation

July 12, 2009 | 29 comments
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Questions without solid answers, from teaching Elders’ Quorum today:

1. Did Jesus get His endowments during life? If so, how and where? If not, why not (and what does that say)?

Possible evidence for: Lesson manual quotes Joseph Smith that “If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. …”

Theory 1: He went to the temple at Jerusalem and took out His endowment there.

Problems: 1. There’s no good evidence that the temple at Jerusalem was set up to perform (or did perform) anything like our modern temple ceremony. 2. Do we really think that Jewish leaders at the time were operating with the Melchizedek Priesthood?

So, probably a no on Theory 1.

Theory 2: He didn’t take out an endowment during life.

Problems: What about the Joseph Smith quote, above? (But, does it really say that? It says that he “obeyed all of the ordinances of the house of the Lord” — maybe that means that he obeyed the substance of the covenants, without having to formally receive the endowment).

Also, why wouldn’t He? Is an endowment not necessary for Jesus? (If so, why is baptism necessary?) If it is necessary, and He didn’t get it during life, then does He have to have it done by proxy? (Wouldn’t that be an interesting temple session!)

Theory 3: It happened in some other location. In particular, maybe it happened at the Mount of Transfiguration. Temple ceremonies can happen outside of a dedicated temple (see, e.g., the use of the Red Brick Store). The Mount, with God, seems like a reasonable location for receiving the endowment.

Bonus question: Did the Twelve Apostles ever receive an endowment? If so, where and how?

Bonus question two: Did Jesus have to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, or did he intrinsically have the Priesthood (especially the Melchizedek — which was originally known as the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God), since it was His power to begin with?

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29 Responses to Speculation

  1. Mark B. on July 13, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Why not speculate on something about which something can be done? Such as, where on earth did that horrid phrase “take out” come to be applied to the receiving of a gift? And, in a church that has almost completely done away with the use of “free agency,” why is it so difficult to get rid of “take out” endowments?

  2. David Clark on July 13, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Kaimi,

    Which endowment? The pre-1990 endowment or the post 1990 endowment? The St. George Temple endowment with Adam-God? Which washing and annointing the pre-2005 one or the post-2005 one? Or maybe the Kirtland one involving whiskey and cinnamon baths? By the way that’s the one I would have wanted. How cool would it have been if the pre temple attendance instructions would have included, “Please bring 5 ounces of cinnamon and 4 bottles of Jack Daniels to help offset temple maintenance costs.” You’ve got to be specific on these things.

  3. Bro. Jones on July 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

    #2 You’ve got a point. Did Jesus have to sit through a 2-3.5 hour retelling of whatever version of the creation story in order to achieve the fulness of the priesthood? If not (and I don’t think He did), maybe the core function and effect of the endowment is something much narrower and faster than we tend to think.

  4. Last Lemming on July 13, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Consider that the current initiatory ordinances are explicitly preparatory for another ordinance that we are promised will be performed at some future date if we are true and faithful. My own opinion is that Jesus received that second ordinance, (possibly on the Mount of Transfiguration, but not necessarily), and that that renders speculation about whether and when he received something resembling the current endowment irrelevant.

  5. TOR on July 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I’ve always taken to the Endowment on the Mount of Transfiguration belief too.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/matt/17/2

  6. Jacob J on July 13, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Joseph Smith said he got the fulness of the priesthood on the Mount of Transfiguration (The Words of Joseph Smith, pg. 246).

  7. Kristine on July 13, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I hope you also devoted an appropriate amount of time to the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!

  8. Brent Hartman on July 13, 2009 at 10:21 am

    There is evidence in the Bible of Christ receiving the ordinances of the second anointing. You have to know what the second anointing entails in order to recognize it. Here’s a description given by Heber C. Kimball and his wife.

    Journal of Heber C. Kimball, “Book 91″, CHO; April 1, 1844;
    Typed w/o sic.

    Apriel the first day 1844 I Heber C Kimball received the
    washing of my feet, and was annointed by my wife Vilate fore my burial. that is my feet head Stomach. Even as Mary did Jesus, that She mite have a claim on him in the Reserrection.

    In 1845 I received the washing of my feet by [left blank in
    the original; Heber C. Kimball's handwriting stops here and Vilate
    Kimball's begins:]

    I Vilate Kimball do hereby certify that on the first day of
    April 1844 I attended to washing and anointing the head Stomach and feet of my dear companion Heber C Kimball, that I may have claim upon him in the morning of the first resurrection.

    /s/ Vilate Kimball

    Christ received all the ordinances of the temple. We must do the same if we are to be joint-heirs with Christ. There is no other way. Here’s what the prophet Joseph Smith had to say on the matter.

    History of the Church, Vol. 5:423-24; Sunday, June 11, 1843;
    Discourse by Joseph Smith on the Gathering.

    If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God, he has to
    get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord. * * *
    All men who become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus
    Christ will have to receive the fulness of the ordinances of his
    kingdom; and those who will not receive all the ordinances will
    come short of the fullness of that glory, if they do not lose the
    whole.

  9. Bruce Crow on July 13, 2009 at 11:55 am

    If we receive the variance temple ordinances that we may be washed clean from the blood and sins of this generation, why do we assume Christ needed to do so?

    Christ was baptised as an example for us to follow and not for the remission of sins or to enter his church. But if the same is true for the temple ceremonies then we would know about it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a very useful example.

    Christ received the Holy Ghost without the laying on of hands; an example of how in at least this one way His application of the ordinances was difference than ours.

  10. rameumptom on July 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    The Mount of Transfiguration was an endowment. The purpose of the endowment is to give priesthood power and revelation of God. There at the MoT, Jesus probably received priesthood keys from Moses, Elias and Elijah (see D&C 110), and heard the voice of God, being in His presence.

    This is as much an endowment as the endowments in the Book of Mormon, including Lehi’s endowment in 1 Ne 1, the Vision of the Tree of Life, Jacob teaching at the temple, Benjamin teaching at the temple, Alma 9-13, 3 Ne 11-27, and Ether 3.

    Not all endowments look exactly as ours do today. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received AN endowment in the Kirtland Temple, wherein they received priesthood keys (D&C 110). Christ easily could have received his endowment anytime along the way, with the Mount of Transfiguration noted as one possible endowment event.

  11. Geoff B on July 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with #10. Thanks rameumpton.

  12. Tom on July 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I’ve heard the theory, by a Seventy if I remember correctly, that Peter, James, and John received the endowment on the Mount of Transfiguration. I suppose it’s possible that Jesus first received His.

    And, yes, the proper terminology is “receive one’s endowment” not “take out one’s endowment.”

    Just sayin’

  13. Dave on July 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Well, “Speculation” is certainly an apt title for the post and comments. Look, if Jesus Christ is really the Son of God and (as that implies and as our doctrine teaches) possessed the power and authority of divinity while in the flesh, then he didn’t need keys and he didn’t need an endowment of divine power or instruction.

    To suggest Jesus needed keys or the contemporary equivalent of Mormon temple rites in order to fulfill his earthly mission is to depict Jesus as just some guy from Nazareth in the same way that Amos was just some guy from Tekoa. Just because some Seventy thinks otherwise is irrelevant.

    Here’s from Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 249 (bolding added):

    A striking characteristic of Christ’s ministry was the entire absence of any claim of human authorization for His words and deeds; the commission He professed to have was that of the Father who sent Him. … His authoritative “I say unto you” took the place of invocation of authority and exceeded any possible array of precedent commandment or deduction. … Throughout His ministry, inherent power and authority were manifest over matter and the forces of nature, over men and demons, over life and death.

  14. Brent Hartman on July 13, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Dave,

    I’m more comfortable with Joseph Smith’s speculation than I am with the speculation of James Talmage, but that’s just me.

  15. Dave on July 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Brent, material from the History of the Church (or what is sometimes called the Journal History of the Church) is generally what someone said Joseph said (hearsay), with that report based not on a recording but on someone’s pre-electronic age notes or recollection of what Joseph said. That’s different from an actual statement of Joseph Smith. So I wouldn’t call the material you cited “Joseph Smith’s speculation.”

  16. Brent Hartman on July 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Dave, if this source from the History of the Church was the only place this perspective existed, and if Joseph was the only one to ever give that perspective, then you might have a point.

  17. Doug Evans on July 13, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    There is a blessed reason that these higher ordinances are not described in the bible – mainly to preserve the necessary ambiguity and focus on basic doctrines while saving the higher teachings for future prophetic guidance and care. Even the basic teachings are unfortunately described at times in twisted and torturous ways. What would the sacred nature of the endowment become as presented to us by many of the early “Roman Scholars”. Sometimes God preserves His pearls from the swine of the so-called learned and enlightened folk of the “world”.

  18. Wm Jas on July 13, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    “Why not speculate on something about which something can be done? Such as, where on earth did that horrid phrase ‘take out’ come to be applied to the receiving of a gift?”

    This one’s always annoyed me, too. Makes the temple sound too much like a Chinese restaurant.

  19. Mark D. on July 13, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Supposing that Jesus Christ probably did do all those things, as a simple matter of example, I don’t see why those rules should be considered to be “written in the stars” to the degree that God the Father couldn’t grant some sort of temporary dispensation from them.

    In other words, it just doesn’t matter. God the Father could give the gifts, rights, privileges, whatever associated with the temple to anyone vaguely worthy to hold them by issuing a memo. No formal ordinance required, except of course as a formality.

  20. Mark N. on July 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    7.I hope you also devoted an appropriate amount of time to the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!

    As one of my mission Zone Leaders once said, “The answer to that can be found in ‘Answers to Gospel Mysteries’, Volume 6, right after the article on the geography of Kolob.”

    I tend to get irritated with speculative threads, but then sometimes I have to wonder if we’d have anything to blog about at all if all speculation was done away with.

  21. Mark N. on July 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    And, yes, the proper terminology is “receive one’s endowment” not “take out one’s endowment.”

    I’m waiting for temples with drive-up windows. I’ll bet I can “take out” my endowment then.

  22. Alex Valencic on July 14, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    My mother has always speculated that the phrase “taking out” one’s endowment is derived from the Catholic notion of taking vows. But then, that may be just because she was raised Catholic and had considered becoming a nun at some point in her childhood.

    Concerning the other speculation, I find myself torn between the notion of Christ receiving keys during his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration and the notion that, being the great Jehovah, the authority was inherent.

  23. Mark B. on July 14, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Of course, if we were in Britain, we’d have endowments to “take away.”

  24. R. U Kiddingme? on July 14, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    wow. I want what they (the mormons) are smoking. I used to be one and things have gotten way weirder.

  25. Raymond Takashi Swenson on July 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    We know that Christ received baptism as an example to all of us, “to fulfill all righteousness.” It is possible that he would undergo other ordinances for the same reason, perhaps in the presence of the apostles (such as on the Mount of transfiguration). Hugh Nibley suggested that the original apostles received all the temple ordinances during the Savior’s 40-day ministry with them before his final ascension into heaven, as indicated in his article on the early Christian stories about the apostles and the prayer circle.

    Brigham Young said (in public) that the endowment is to receive the tokens and keys so that, as we ascend to the Celestial Kingdom, we can demonstrate to the angels posted along the way that we have received the proper instruction and performed the proper ordinances and made the proper covenants. Surely no angel is going to stop the Savior.

    The endowment we receive consists of a narrative and covenants, culminating in prayer and entry through the veil into the Celestial Kingdom. When we participate in this ordinance, we are assuming the roles of Adam and Eve in creation, the Fall, mortal life and its confrontation with Satan, and redemption through the Atonement. Did Adam have to perform an endowment ordinance to recapitulate his real life experiences? I doubt it. And by the same token, Christ was also a personal participant in all of the events depicted. As he achieved a full understanding of his identity, largely during his 40 day sojourn in the wilderness after his baptism, surely the veil was pierced and he recalled his own actions, which we depict in the endowment. We are told in the Gospels that he had a direct confrontation with Lucifer.

    In particular, when he performed the Atonement, Christ assumed the burden of the experiences of Adam and Eve, and fulfilled in reality the things which we only simulate in the ordinance, including his descent into the Spirit World and his ascension into the presence of the Father.

    I would argue that, regardless of whether Christ ever formally performed such ordinances, his life as Creator, Messiah, Redeemer, and Son of God enacted in reality all of the things which are symbolized in the modern Endowment.

    In any case, I don’t think we need to worry about him qualifying for exaltation. The desire to know the details of how and when he fulfilled the purpose of the endowment, or other ordinances we participate in, amounts to a kind of spiritual voyeurism. We should be content with knowing that everything we do in the temples is in an effort to follow him and go where he is. Every temple is his house.

  26. JAT on July 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Can someone explain AND CITE the cinnamon and whiskey thing?

  27. Kaimi Wenger on July 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    It was part of the early washing and annointing ceremony. (A “purification” stage).

    For sources, check Rough Stone Rolling, the Kirtland Temple chapter.

  28. JAT on July 16, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks Kaimi Wenger! I’ll read about it.

  29. Ed Britton on July 26, 2009 at 8:36 am

    This is boring. Let’s talk about something else.

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