For the first time in my life after thirty-eight years of existence on this earth, I explored the interior of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) temple. Actually, I have done so twice in 2008. But after dedication day, February 10, 2008, the Rexburg Idaho Temple doors will be closed to the public, even to the cultural Mormons, Jack Mormons, New Order Mormons, Born Again Mormons, Non-active Mormons, and so on. There is only one thing that separates Believing Temple Mormons from others: the bishop-recommend card. Though you might be wearing a suit and looking your finest, without your recommend, no way will you pass the front desk and step into the peaceful symbolism of celestial glory. Only those “worthy” LDS (living a clean life, tithing, and serving fellow man, etc.) can enter. The temple is restricted to everyone else because the top sphere of heaven is exclusive. I wonder how long this idea will hold out for future generations in a postmodern religious America. (Note: Special thanks to Chris Leavell for permission to use his photos.)At my first tour, my sister, Susie, and I were greeted by an army of friendly ushers in the parking lot of the LDS stake center, inside the building, and then later in the Rexburg Temple. As we made our way into a classroom, LDS sister Kowalchuk smiled and warmly welcomed us. LDS elder Bill Parker (I think he was the executive director of LDS temples) shook my hand.
Introductory Video in the Stake Center
Sitting down, we watched a brief introductory movie clip on the temple building in Southeastern Idaho. LDS apostles Boyd Packer and Jeffrey Holland instructed us. LDS apostle Holland relished in his views of heaven (I am paraphrasing): “It would not be heaven for me without my wife, my kids. This is not just good sociology. It is good theology.” But I wondered about the over-seventy-year-old single brother in our church. What about him? Would he never reach his full potential in Christ if he refused to get married? And how many LDS think that Christ must get physically married someday in celestial glory? In all the restoration and symbolism in LDS temples, have LDS friends lost sight of the fact that earthly marriage is symbolic and not the ultimate reality. My wife has Someone eternally who is altogether better and more lovely than I am. Thank God for this precious truth. I am just a picture—and a faulty one at that.
On the video, I caught Ann Madsen speaking of the temple as a metaphor of heaven, the idea that the temple is the closest thing to heaven we will find on this earth. And I learned how LDS think that this temple in Rexburg is a fulfillment of Wilford Woodruff’s prophecy from back in 1884.
According to LDS, the temple is the place for finding the answers to the greatest questions in life. Jesus taught that “baptism is essential for entrance into the kingdom of God.” It is a place where couples are married for eternity. And the celestial kingdom is the sphere where the righteous will live with their loved ones forever.
Before we headed out into the heated walkway leading to the temple, our guide told us, “Open your heart and your mind. Evaluate your feelings.” Second, he mentioned that young people would be putting clear, plastic booties on our shoes. “These booties just protect the carpet. There is no religious significance.”
In the covered walkway, he remarked about the golden angel on top the temple. “We don’t worship Moroni. We worship God and Jesus. Moroni is just the angel in the verse in Revelation 14:6, proclaiming the gospel to all.”
Baptistry, Rexburg Idaho Temple
After passing the recommend desk, we gazed through the glass at the baptismal pool mounted on the backs of 12 oxen on the lower floor. The guide shared with us that this is what we see in 1 Kings 7:23-26, and then he insisted that all must be baptized of water and the Spirit (John 3), which I have discussed more in length here. Since the LDS heavenly father is loving and kind, he gives equal opportunity to everybody, even those who have never heard the gospel and have died. The guide referenced the verse written by Paul—“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29). LDS interpret this single Bible verse for the substantiating of “important redemptive work for the dead.” Gospel work is being done for the dead in continual baptisms by proxy. All that the dead spirits need to do is accept this vicarious work done by their human saviors who are performing these necessary ordinances in LDS temples. Perhaps you can understand how genealogical work is vital to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Yet I like to emphasize a couple of things. John’s Gospel reveals that the giving of the Spirit to Jesus is unique. Do you know in what way? I remember this every time I look at the huge picture hanging over the baptismal font where John the Baptist is about ready to immerse Jesus in the river. Second, Jesus didn’t baptize people. (Unfortunately, Joseph Smith revises this information in the Joseph Smith Translation.)
Waiting Area, Rexburg Idaho Temple
I was impressed by this particular room. The wood trim came from South Africa. You couldn’t see any nails, any gnarly knots—it was all pure wood. And the LDS church imported the floor tile from Israel. Nice.
We were told that all those in the temple wore white clothing. “Church members wear white clothing while inside to symbolize purity, cleanliness, and the setting aside of things of the world.” And our guide added the thought that wearing the same clothing eliminated any distinction. All were looked upon as the same.
But I provide this rejoinder: In LDS understanding, humans and God Almighty are of the same species, thinking of the Athenian poets, “For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).
Ordinance Room, Rexburg Idaho Temple
In these rooms, the wall murals are covered with the outdoor life of nature. The particular room that I sat in made me want to go elk hunting and dream of the new earth. Leon Parson, the local artist here in Idaho, did a great job. Idaho is famous for its Rocky Mountain elk.
The ordinance rooms show videos in which “Latter-Day Saints learn of their premortal and mortal lives and of the blessings they can receive in the next life.” The instruction focuses upon answering the greatest questions of life: “Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here on earth? Where are we going after this life is over?” The LDS gospel is expounded and expanded, assuring us that “all of God’s children will have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ in this life or the next. Thus, the grace of Jesus Christ is extended to everyone, and eternal life in our heavenly home will be given to all who accept that grace through faithful obedience.”
I strongly believe that the full work of obedience for gaining eternal life is believing that Jesus accomplished everything that was necessary. Your “faithful obedience” for full justification and full sanctification before the Father is to believe fully in the sufficient work of His Son (John 6:29). And all this full instruction is found in the Bible, which gives complete answers to life’s philosophical puzzles. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). You don’t even need to go to an American LDS temple to discover this truth.
Sealing Room, Rexburg Idaho Temple
There are many of these sealing rooms on this final floor of worship (the only higher floor is the mechanical room). For believing LDS, everything points to the temple. And everything in the temple points to the ceiling.
Matthew 16:19 is quoted to establish the LDS principle that families sealed together on this earth will be sealed together in heaven. And those men with the proper priestly authority can and should be given the authority to bind.
The eternal temple marriage is lifted up as an all-time prize for any devout LDS. And in accommodating all the conservative BYU-Idaho students, I suspect the sealing rooms for the Rexburg Temple to be some of the most active in the entire world. There is a reason it is called “BYU-I do.” I even heard that the Rexburg Temple carries one of the biggest sealing rooms anywhere.
As a side note, because we were a smaller group, the tour guide took us into the Bride’s Room on the west side. This is a place where the bride in her final preparation can “feel the beauty of who she really is.”
Celestial Room, Rexburg Idaho Temple
Our guide requested that we all remain quiet as we walked into this vaulted three-story room. The central chandelier, created with about 8,000 crystals, cast radiant light throughout all the room. I felt like I was standing in the lobby of a five-star motel.
The celestial room symbolizes the exalted state that all may attain. But all I could think about were the elegant three window panes whispering to me of the Triune God. What can I say? As a Trinitarian Christian, this was my meditation in the celestial room of the Rexburg Temple. I could hardly contain my joy—no, not over the feelings of my own glorification in Christ, but of the eternal glory and endless, loving, relational delight of Yahweh: Father, Son, and Spirit. I bowed my head, full of awe, full of peace (John 14:27).
That’s me, guys. This is the heart of my religion.
It is not proper for me to say I have a yearning to return to heaven, for I did not come from there. But more than anything, I yearn, I hunger, I gasp for heaven in order to see Jesus, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my Brother for the very first time face-to-face. Everything else about heaven is just background music for enhancing the glory of the Holy One.
LDS families are beautiful people; please notice that here, here, here, here, and here. I get much more excited hanging out with precious LDS families than I do staring at the lit-up pile of white quart rock situated high on the Rexburg Hill for all to see from miles around.
Families, far above the buildings they create, are a masterful gift from God. But families are just the creaturely workmanship of the Master. It is the ultimate Designer, the first and only God, who is the heart-pounder for mankind.
Guys, do you see that picture of the celestial room?
I will always remember this room.
The one Yahweh is the light coming in through the big window. One God.
But the one Yahweh is Father, Son, and Spirit.
Do you see those three beautiful stained glass windows in the picture?
Thank you for your respectful review of your tour through the Rexburg Idaho Temple. As a member of the Church, let me help to clarify some things.
The LDS Church believes that in order to gain exaltation in the highest kingdom of God one must be married and sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. In the Father’s mansion there are no single angels. This recalls Paul’s words, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). Those that have not had the opportunity to get sealed in this life will have that chance in the spirit world. That is why we perform sealings vicariously. As far as those who didn’t get married or sealed in their mortal life who would have if they had been given the right opportunity, our Heavenly Father will provide that opportunity to them in the spirit world. There are many active single Latter-day Saints who will get the chance to be so married, as well as other righteous men and women not of our faith, if not in this life then in the spirit world. Sheri L. Dew, former Relief Society General President of the Church, comes to mind.
Christ must get married and sealed someday, yes. Many believe He already has, although it is not official doctrine. We believe that Christ set the example and paved the way for all of us to follow in His footsteps. We believe Christ has participated in all the ordinances of the gospel which are performed in the holy temple, including sealing, and we must do the same if we are to become like Him.
Actually our earthly marriage is symbolic of our marriage with our spouse for eternity, and in the temple we make that a reality. What is bound on earth is sealed in heaven through the priesthood. Yes we are married symbolically to Christ through the gospel covenant, but the sealing of God’s children one to another goes much further than that. I cannot imagine a God who would institute the beautiful relationships of the family organization (which He did in the Garden before the Fall), and spend so much of our earthly endeavors and life to strengthen those loving ties with our spouse and children, only to destroy them in the hereafter. I believe in a more charitable God than that.
Let’s be honest. We do not practice baptism for the dead because of a single verse we found in the Bible. We practice baptism for the dead because we believe that it was a revealed ordinance from God to one of His chosen latter-day prophets on earth. We show the verse in the Bible, as have many other scholars not of our faith, as evidence that the early Christians also practiced this sacred rite.
I only echo the words of the Savior Himself on this point, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
“There is only one thing that separates Believing Temple Mormons from others: the bishop-recommend card.”
Not quite. The card is not arbitrary, but represents standards of behavior and belief.
“The temple is restricted to everyone else because the top sphere of heaven is exclusive.”
The way you phrase this sounds like heaven is an exclusive club which limits its membership. Let’s phrase this biblically, shall we?
The temple is holy, and only those who meet the standards of holiness god has set may enter therein. (Psalm 15, 24, and Isaiah 33 all describe this somewhat.)
Progressing nearer God’s presence (whether real or symbolic) requires stricter and higher degrees of holiness, ie. gradations of holiness.
“Second, Jesus didn’t baptize people.” So? He commanded baptism. What’s the difference?
“But I provide this rejoinder” I don’t understand how your following statement is a “rejoinder” to the previous statement. Can you connect them for me more explicitly?
“The eternal temple marriage is lifted up as an all-time prize for any devout LDS.” I’m not sure it’s “lifted up as a a prize” any more than salvation is for EV’s.
But in general, thanks for the respectful report.
Nitsav, I added this mostly for evangelical readers because this was posted on another blog.
When the guide made the comment about removal of distinctions, I couldn’t help but think of other distinctions that are removed as well in LDS thought.
The one Yahweh is the light coming in through the big window. One God.
But the one Yahweh is Father, Son, and Spirit.
Todd, did you know that Latter-day Saints also believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are One God?
The difference is the Latter-day Saints believe this in biblical terms and not through an extra-biblical gloss that invokes discussions of “substance”. Such perplexities are nowhere to be found in the Bible.
Again . . .
According to the contemporary LDS apostles and clear official authority . . .
Who is Yahweh? (Some say the Father, some say the Son)
Who is being referenced in the LORD’s house? (Would it be correct to say that an LDS temple is Jesus’ dwelling place?)
John f., what are your lists of phrases in the KJV Bible that fall in the category of “extra-biblical gloss”? And do your apostles agree with you on that exhaustive list?
what are your lists of phrases in the KJV Bible that fall in the category of “extra-biblical gloss”? And do your apostles agree with you on that exhaustive list?
Todd, if it’s in the Bible, then it’s not extra-Biblical gloss. Now it’s your turn to show me where the Bible requires a belief that God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are the same substance.
I’m glad you had a good experience by going to the open house. I thought I’d comment on one or two things just for further understanding.
You mentioned a couple places that the guides cited a certain scripture in the Bible for justification of baptism for the dead, eternal marriage, etc. I think we as Mormons point to these scriptures not as justification but more of a ‘look…our doctrine isn’t that far off the deep end” as they could be possible readings of those verses. However those isolated verses in the Bible are not substantial enough to build such extensive doctrines or justify the attention they receive in Mormon practice and theology. Mormon doctrine regarding baptism for the dead and eternal marriage were not established from these verses but from, what we believe are, revelations given to Joseph Smith.
Your comment about hanging out with great families being more exciting than focusing on the temple– in one way I think that statement captures the purpose of the temple but without recognizing the connection. The Mormon temple is all about family: connecting, sealing, binding generations, and understanding the glory and beauty of family. So, I believe, Mormons go to the temple and come out with a greater appreciation, placing a higher value on family and it ultimately leads to those great families you like to hang out with.
John, for defining Yahweh, tell me what you think of Isaiah 6, John 12, and Acts 28 coupled together.
An LDS friend remarked the other day that this was crazy to see the one true Yahweh in all three chapters as Father, Son, and Spirit.
Dave, the importance of families comes out loud and clear. But this concerns me. It is almost like the family as the gift from God is placed on eternal par with the Giver himself.
Which should be more exciting to the Christian: (1) the Christmas presents from heaven and even heaven itself or (2) the eternal God?
I found your blog refreshing. Thank You. I am LDS and for the past month and a half I have traveled all over the United States campaigning for Mitt Romney (and no I don’t support him because he’s a Mormon, I would never vote for Harry Reid . . . ever.) In my travels I have become very, VERY frustrated with baptists and evangelicals. I’ve come accross so many people who were possibly the meanest and most vile people I have ever met, and their ridicule was all in the name of Jesus. After Florida I had personally given up on continually forcing myself to extend that brotherly love to people of those faiths. It is a very emotional thing to feel so much hate from so many people.
I may disagree with your doctrine sir, but thank you for the kind and Christ-like manner which you presented it. It’s great to know there are REAL Christians out there.
Baptists and evangelicals . . . it is quite a motley crew in America.
Some of them are my closest brothers.
And other Baptists and evangelicals out there can’t stand me, Chad.
Yahweh, a transliterated word for Jehovah, is none other than the premortal name for Jesus Christ.
Elder McConkie has said,
Even the respected Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament]” (Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), 1099.). If the formal doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Bible, then why do Christians like yourself go out of your way to try to show that the Trinity is biblical? The Bible clearly speaks of three separate and distinct beings, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is most plainly evident from the accounts of Christ’s baptism.
Bryce, if Yahweh is Jesus, who is the Servant of Yahweh in our great book of Isaiah that you and I read about?
Can you give me a scripture in particular that you are thinking about?
The Servant Songs
Start with the beginning of Isaiah 42. Verses 1-7.
Tremendous portion of scripture.
That is a good scripture. Isaiah is speaking Messianically about the coming and mission of Jesus Christ. The fact that Isaiah wrote it from Jehovah’s voice only goes to show that Jehovah (Jesus Christ) was speaking on behalf of His Father. It is divine investiture of authority. It is the same method by which the Lord’s ordained servants on earth speak for and in the stead of Christ on earth. It is the authority of the priesthood, the authority to act in His name and in His stead.
The only time in all of sacred writ when we have had direct communication from God the Father is when He has introduced His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased. All other communication from the Father has come to us through the Son (Jehovah/Jesus Christ). Oft times Jehovah will speak as if He were God the Father, because the Father has given Him that authority.
So for instance, you would interpret Isaiah 42:6:
“I the LORD (Jesus using the Father’s voice and acting like the Father) have called thee (Jesus) in righteousness, and (I, Jesus using the Father’s voice, etc.) will hold thine hand (Jesus) . . .
Bryce, so everytime you see LORD in Isaiah, you consistently interpret as Jesus?
Todd, yes. Jehovah is Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of the Old and New Testament. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Him. They are all witnesses and testaments of His work, His Atonement, His sacrifice, His love and redemption. The Old Testament wasn’t dealing with a different God. It was a witness of Him who was to come in the flesh. The Word was with God in the beginning. The Word was Jehovah. The Old Testament prophets worshiped Him and made sacrifices in similitude of the ultimate sacrifice of Him who was to come, even Jesus Christ. The Great Jehovah of the Old Testament is our Lord and Master Jesus Christ of the New. It is Him, the Great I AM, the same Lord.
You are right on, Bryce!
The Old Testament wasn’t dealing with a different God.
The Bible points clearly to only one Jehovah, one God.
But you are not making the distinctions of Jehovah . . . Servant of Jehovah . . . and Spirit of Jehovah.
And the Bible never speaks of a Father of Jehovah.
Nice talking, tonight, Bryce.
I am anticipating a great Lord’s Day, beginning with corporate worship in the morning . . . praying, singing, preaching, communion, and watching as a brother and sister step into the waters of baptism. I pray that all said and done will be a sweet aroma to the LORD of hosts.
That’s where we disagree. Jehovah (Jesus Christ) has a Father. And He is our Father too, the Father of spirits (Heb. 12:19). It is under His Father’s direction that Jehovah acts. He submitted to His Father’s will in the Old Testament just as He did in the New. Christ prayed to and referred to His Father many many times in the Bible. It is modern Christianity that has denied Him His Father.
John, for defining Yahweh, tell me what you think of Isaiah 6, John 12, and Acts 28 coupled together.
Todd, I think those scriptures are great and believe them fully. As to whether they necessitate the theory of the “one substance” Trinity, they do not. Those who formulated the idea of “one substance” to resolve what appeared to be a contradiction in the sacred texts (where the OT continually emphasizes one God but the NT pretty clearly discusses the life and mission of the Son of God) were astute and presented a possible, even plausible solution to the conundrum in declaring that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit must be one substance in order to be One God as required by the Old Testament. This particular solution, however, is not the only possible solution to that problem. Latter-day Saints hold to a different solution to the issue and believe that Jesus Christ has spoken on the subject to Joseph Smith, instructing that the other theory was not in fact correct. In doing so, we need not think that Jesus Christ was saying that the theory of one substance was not a possible reading of the Bible, just that it does not accurately reflect his nature.
I admire your devotion to your faith and if you really feel pressed to continue trying to deconvert Latter-day Saints from their devotion to Jesus Christ, I encourage you to keep doing so in a respectful way.
I appreciate the kind comments and respectful manner in which you handled your description of your tour. I know you differ with us in many theological points, but I’ll leave the constructive arguments to others, and just say that I appreciate your primarily positive comments and perspective. I hope you continue to enjoy living amongst the saints.
See you over at BCC.
Dear Fellow Christian,
For 50 some years, I was a Roman Catholic……for the past 7 years I have been a Southern Baptist.
I have had LSD young men come to our house and think they are good, wonderful young people who love their Lord God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. I found no fault with their message.
I am not a person of ritual and that is one reason I left the Catholic Church. I am also not a Sunday school attendee because I do not want to be there unless there is totally open discussion.
I was once an atheist for one year…the most miserable year of my life. I attended a Cursillo movement and when a doctor/priest told and showed and discussed how Jesus died, it broke my heart and I cried for Him and for my sins.
I became born again and I carry Jesus in my heart wherever I go, through trials and suffering, through joys and daily life. I am grateful for the gift of life God gave me and someday my heart knows I will return to my God who owns me.
I wish with all my heart that all Christians, you, I all Christians could just remember that Jesus is the only way…that we would all quit our bickering and being rude or cruel to each other because of trivial items or rituals of our faith.
Faith is believing in God and his Son Jesus and opening your heart and loving Him with all our might…it is not in rituals. I am not condeming rituals…but rather that we should not let them separate us one from another.
I am now nearly 78 years old but have a good life for which I am grateful to God and am happy with.. what ever comes my way because I belong to Him and know in my heart that He wants me back some day because I love him more than anyone or anything in this life.
Please pray for Christian unity and pray that we Christians will survive what might come our way in these troubling times. Sincerely, Lorraine Young
I am that connot enter the temple, and in fact, have lost my membership in the church because of my actions in the past. I don’t look down on the church for not letting me go to the temple in my current spiritual state. What would the most holy of earthly places be like if everyone was able to go, even if the were all members of the LDS church? It would dim the feeling of purity and unity that resides there. I know what it feels like, because I have been in there, when I was worthy and liveing all the gospel standards.
The church leaders don’t shun out the unworthy members and and those who are not of the faith, they simply keep encouraging and helping them to become worthy so they can enter.
Also, God has worked out a way so the the single man and woman will be able to have families after this life. It has been doctorine forever in the gospel.
The good preacher is right, you don’t need to the temple to know the truth, or how else would one know to join the church. But as one becomes worthy and enters the temple, it the just the beginning uof understanding more truth, obtaining truth is an eternal process.
Faith is a wonderful thing, but by faith and believeing alone is not enough, although it is where one starts. Following out of the Epistle of James:
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works, show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble.
But wilth thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by his works, when he hath offered Issac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faithwrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man in justified and not by faith only.”
Faith is not faith until it has been tried and tested. I hope I can make it back soon.
The servant of Christ would be the holy Ghost because he helps Christ and God in their efforts to bring people to the gospel. If you think that there are three beings in one you are calling the Apostle Stephen a liar becasue he saw two seperate beings, God and Christ, before his execution
In answering one of Bryce Hammonds questions, Jesus said I and the Father are one, John 10;30 . Also John 17;11 Jesus Praying that the Father willkeep believers as one as WE are. What Mormons fail to relize is their very own body is a trinity. They have a body, soul, and spirit, this is a picture of what GOD ment in Genesis when He said let US make man in Our image. The word GOD is singular used with a plural pronoun US, and Our. If there were more than one GOD I believe it would have been written gods not GOD. In the book of Isaiah GOD speaking, Before Me there was no GOD formed nor shall there be after Me. chapter 43 vs 10. Chapter 44 vs 6 I am the First and I am the Last; besides me ther is no GOD. Chptr 44 vs 8 Is ther a GOD besides Me? Indeed ther is no other Rock; I know not one.
Chapter 45 vs 5 Iam the Lord there is no other; There is no GOD besides Me. Chptr 45 vs 14 Ther is no other GOD> I could keep going, but I would hope anyone reading this would not just take my word and sit down with the Bible and read it for themselves. more later.
I am an elementary school teacher considering relocating to Idaho from eastern Oregon. While exploring the Sugar-Salem and Madison School Districts, I stumbled upon this website. I must say the article and subsequent discussion regarding the LDS Temple is disturbing to folks considering moving to the area. The obious religious intolerence on both sides of the fence is childish and frankly foolish for a region seeking prosperity in these difficult economic times, by becoming a tourist mecca.
As a classroom teacher the last thing I desire or need are students divided along religious lines, living in fear of one another.
Ladies and gentlemen, step outside. Take a deep breath of your enviably fresh, God given air. Focus your scaled eyes upon the unmatched scenic beauty and wonder God’s hand has placed at your undeserving fingertips. God has given you His greatest gift, Love, in unbridled and undo measure. It flourishes about you, in unsurpassed earthly paradise.
The worldwide web opens Rexburg for the world to behold. It’s heart and soul are dissected and displayed for all. May your display be correct in His eyes.
Jerry, I personally think that Rexburg, Idaho is a great place to live.
I just tripped across this article and site. I would like to simply say thanks to Todd Wood for treating our doctrine and beliefs with respect and reverence. I was amazed at how accurate you actually were on much of our teachings; however missing some points just a little. As you know, most who write about us have such a biased view that they don’t treat what we believe with respect and they don’t care to cover the breadth that you have so carefully done. Thanks for enjoying the temple experience and striving to accurately represent what you saw and heard.
I took that tour through the Rexburg Temple as well. I went through with my widowed mother and with my younger sister. I had been through the temple in Logan, Utah several years ago where my mom and dad were sealed to one another and my sister and I were sealed to them for time and all eternity. Mom always finds a great deal of peace whenever she goes to a Temple whether it is to do work for and behalf of the dead or even if she is going through a tour like the one in Rexburg.
I find unique things that bring me peace and joy there. It is a very personal place while at the same time a place of collective meaning as well. I have always delighted in the power of place. I grew up in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area and like all parts of this amazing planet there is a unique flora and fauna (plants and animals) that denote a specific location. Most (if not all) of the Temples tend to reflect that unique tie to the specific place wherein the temple is built. So in other words are not likely to find a Giraffe in the world room of the Rexburg Idaho Temple just like you won’t find a Grizzly Bear in the world room of one of the Temples in Africa. I was deeply moved by Leon Parson’s work on the walls of the ordinance rooms in the Rexburg, Idaho Temple. He really captured this region of the Rocky Mountains with the Grand Tetons in the distance. I felt like the place I had been born and raised, the place where so many in my family have had so many awesome memories had received a special significance in the Temple.
I thought about what Utah native Terry Tempest Williams had remarked regarding the grandeur and holiness of wilderness. “If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go…. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.” Terry Tempest Williams. One of my greatest prayers is that Latter-day Saints will take the holiness and sanctity of the environment which God has created and never desecrate it or think that it is mankind’s to do with what he or she wishes to do with it with impunity. We can see that with the BP oil disaster the tragic devastation that man can do to the environment, the great creation of our Father in Heaven. All living things are spiritual beings and that includes the plants and the animals. This is a principle that is taught in the restored Gospel and one which the Native Americans totally connect with and understand, yet it is also a principle that too many Latter-day Saints have forgotten and I believe will be brought to their remembrance very powerfully if not in this life then definitely in the next.
I forgot to put my name in the response above wherein I mention my upbringing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I also wanted to mention that the gentleman who posted this blog (Todd Wood) sounds like a wonderful man. My first introduction to Christ was as a child in an Evangelical faith. It doesn’t take much work for me to see through Todd’s eyes and understanding regarding his experience of the Rexburg, Idaho Temple.
I would also add to the person who stated that a person can get married in the Spirit World they have not mentioned the fact that work will be continued and completed during the Millennial/ thousand year Reign of Jesus Christ.
Benjamin, I invite you to visit Berean Baptist Church whenever you might be in Idaho Falls. 🙂
Todd – Thanks for linking this up on Facebook today. I hadn’t seen it back in 2008 when you posted it. Your reflections on touring the Temple were very profound, well-written and sensitive. They made me feel proud that you’re my cousin. Some time soon I hope to have the time to respond in more detail. Some of the other commenters are on the right track and pretty much beat me to it. Notably “Dave” on Feb. 2 mentioned that the families you know are the way they are in part because of the temples and the spirit felt there. There is no point in calling them houses of God if His influence is not also borne out in the people who attend… the “fleshly tabernacles” of whom Paul wrote. Also I’m sure that you felt that influence, as did your 4th great granduncle Daniel Wood — who attended some of the earliest LDS temples. Also I believe that your great great grandfather John Wesley Wood had a witness of the Spirit as he read the Book of Mormon.
Barry, thanks for chiming in. Did great great grandfather have a journal?
No, I wish. He walked everywhere so he traveled light. I know that when he was in his 60s he walked from Monte Vista, Colo. to Grand Junction, or near there, to visit his sisters, and when he was almost 70 he went back to Iowa. Some of that may have been riding the rails rather than walking, but clearly he didn’t bring a lot with him. My source for his thoughts on the Book of Mormon is from the marginal notes in the copy he had with him at the end. Uncle Roy went to Marshalltown to pick up his things and the Book of Mormon was there among the few possessions that he had at the Old Soldier’s Home there. Your Grandfather gave it to me before he died.
As to Uncle Daniel Wood, it’s a near certainty that he didn’t leave a journal, or if he did, that its whereabouts are unknown. A descendant, Nora Wood Carter, prepared a short biography which you can read at http://www.bobcatsworld.com/family/Daniel%20Wood.pdf. She doesn’t cite sources, but if he had left a journal she would have mentioned it or quoted from it.
I’m sure that her information on the family’s life in New Hampshire is based on the book “Generations of Jaffrey,” because the phrases like “Acadian simplicity” are found there. This town history is generally quite good, but it contains some errors stemming from confusion between our ancestor Jonathan Wood (b. 1768), who married Sarah Burpee, and his son Jonathan Jr., who married Betsy Davidson. Fortunately Mrs. Carter did not repeat those mistakes in her writeup.
Love to the Idaho Woods.