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January 2001

A Visit to the Mormon Temple

by David Maestas

On February 17th, 2000 the Albuquerque Mormon Temple opened its doors to the public for a rare opportunity for Mormons and non-Mormons to tour the various rooms inside. This temple marks the 73rd operating temple worldwide. Throughout its nine-day open house, thousands walked through its doors and saw rooms that will one day be reserved for visits for only those Mormons in good standing who acquire a "temple recommend".

The temple was two years in the making. From the outside it is a beautiful and impressive architectural structure. You are formally welcomed and told that no cameras, recorders etc. will be allowed inside. There was a tremendous line of people slowly inching its way along. Most of these people are Mormons who have traveled from all over the State to get a glimpse inside the place they consider the most Holy place on earth.

To those unfamiliar with Mormonism we must explain that this is not the regular hall for weekly meetings, but rather these temples serve as a place where Mormons perform what they call "endowment ordinances" as well as "sealing marriages and families" for all eternity. One of the main purposes for these temples is to perform "baptisms for the dead".

After waiting in line for about an hour, we entered an outside tent where there were signs along with various paintings depicting Jesus. It was like a history museum of Mormon temples with pictures from temples worldwide displayed. The signs spoke of the "sacredness" of the temple and the "preexistence" we each supposedly had with the "heavenly Father".

Then we were shown a film introducing the temple, along with a message from the current Mormon Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckly. He equated the Mormon temple with the temples in the old testament where sacred ordinances were once performed. He emphasized the work of baptism for the dead, where Mormons are baptized in proxy for their dead relatives and friends so they may hear the Mormon ("restored") gospel on the other side, in case they missed it in this life.

Finally the tour. We were told it was to be a silent tour. Parents were told to watch their children and keep them from talking too loudly. We were told to pay close attention to our feelings once inside the temple.

Plastic coverings were placed over our shoes. We were assured this had no spiritual significance. We entered the reception area, more like entering a grand hotel as opposed to "the house of the Lord".

The rooms were huge, with beautiful gold trim and tremendous glistening chandeliers hanging from almost every room we saw. Mormon ushers were everywhere, waving people to continue and not stop in any one area for too long. The most beautiful furniture accented every room.

Signs along the way identified each room, whether it was an "endowment room" or the "sealing room" where marriages take place, on even the locker room where one removes clothing to put on a special white garment suitable to the various ceremonies.

Almost every room was a bright white, brightly lit, and exquisitely decorated. The baptistery where baptisms for the dead take place was a tremendous white, ornate pool surrounded by figures of twelve oxen representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

One might wonder, "why would the Mormons allow such a tour to a place they consider most sacred?" The answer, I believe, it that it serves a two-fold purpose. One, it's a great public relations event that hopes to introduce the faith of Mormonism to literally thousands in the State like nothing else will. A week before the opening, in the local Albuquerque Journal, the paper included a several-page color insert, giving an introduction to the temple as well as a brief and appealing history of the church.

Secondly, I believe the Mormons want to discount any stories of the "secretness" of what goes on in the temple. The open house, in effect, is a way of saying "we have nothing to hide". Yet, any questions asked during the tour are discouraged.

I'm not sure what I expected as I toured the temple, but I did not get a sense of sacredness or Holiness as I walked by each room. Rather, I was struck with a sense of sadness for the Mormon people that will one day walk the same halls, perform rituals that they believe will draw them and others closer to God, all in vain.

As Christians we can rejoice that God wishes to make His abode within those who are drawn to Him in repentance and humility. We don't have to build a beautiful artificial "house of the Lord", for God lives within each and every child of God.

If you ever have an opportunity to visit an open house of a Mormon temple, you might consider it if you are grounded in the truth of Christ. You never know who you might get an opportunity to witness to, quietly, in line, whether it be a lifelong Mormon, or just a curious person unaware of the spiritual deception inside.

Perhaps some day a Mormon will come to your home, and you can tell them you visited the temple and would like to discuss your visit with them, affording you a great opportunity to witness, using the errors represented in the temple as a springboard for a discussion.

Also, I believe it will remind you to pray for the Mormon people whose numbers continue to grow throughout the world. Yes, the structure and the inside of the temple are beautiful, but the truth that lies beneath the doctrine that builds such temples is not beautiful, but rather a carefully crafted counterfeit of true Christianity.

My friend commented after leaving the temple that he had now a greater appreciation for the freedom in Christ we have as Christians (Galations 5:1). To that, as believers, we can all say "AMEN". (contributed).

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