QUESTIONS TO ASK ON YOUR TEMPLE TOUR
In the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter, Backpacks and Briefcases, our feature article addressed questions that might be good to ask on your temple tour. Since the article appeared in our newsletter, we have had an opportunity to tour the temple twice. Those opportunities brought to mind other questions that could be raised when the opportunity presents itself. This article will include our new questions followed by our previous ones.
Your tour will begin with a short video that interviews Mormons who explain how grateful they are to finally have a temple in San Antonio. The video briefly introduces the significance of temples within Mormon theology.
There is one place in the video that shows a picture of the Old Testament tabernacle and mentions that, “sacred covenants must be performed in temples that are essential for salvation.” If this is true, then the obvious question is, “What are those essential covenants and where can I read about them in the Bible?”
You may get an answer that First Kings 7:23-25 or Second Chronicles 4:2-6 mentions these covenants. These passages only mention the “Sea” in Solomon’s temple where the priests would wash. There is no mention of essential covenants.
Another possible answer is First Corinthians 15:29 which mentions baptism for the dead. “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?” Notice in this verse that Paul uses the personal pronoun “they” as a description of those who are baptized for the dead. In verse 30 he switches to “we.” If he was speaking of a Christian practice, he would have said that “we” are baptized for the dead. Notice also that there is nothing in this passage that mentions covenants that are “essential” for salvation.
At this point it may be a good idea to ask, “Since you cannot find a passage in the Bible that speaks of these essential covenants, can you show me a passage in the Book of Mormon that mentions them? Once the Mormon realizes that there is nothing in either book that mentions these “essential” covenants, an obvious question comes to mind. “If these covenants are essential, why can’t I read about them in the Bible or the Book of Mormon?
Heaven without your spouse
There is another section of the video that provides us with a question to ask. Mormon Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland shares an emotional moment and says something like, “I can’t picture heaven without my wife. It just wouldn’t be the same.” Mr. Holland does not quite come to tears, but the impression is, that he is trying to imagine being in heaven without his wife and is having difficulty with the thought. The difficulty is so great that one wonders if Mr. Holland would be satisfied in heaven with only God, if his wife did not qualify.
An appropriate question for a missionary would be, “If your spouse did not make it to heaven, whom would you choose to live with for eternity; God or your spouse?”
Regardless of the answer given, the Mormon is caught between two conflicting ideas. If the Mormon answers that they would choose to live with God, then that totally defeats the idea of being exalted as a family unit. Living with God as an exalted being is impossible without your spouse.
If they answer that they would choose their mate instead of God, then they are in violation of Matthew 10:37- “He that loveth Father of Mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” If we choose our family members above God, then we are not worthy of Him. Placing anything before God is idolatry. Idolaters will be outside of the presence of God throughout eternity (Revelation 22:14-15)- “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
Where is the Cross?
As you begin the tour, your tour guide will point out the imagery of the temple. The decorations of the temple are ornate and extremely symbolic. Meticulous thought has gone into almost every detail of the temple. The elevation rises slightly as you go from one room to another. Even the color of the wood stain lightens as your tour progresses closer to the Celestial room.
The first room on the tour is the baptismal room where baptisms for the dead are performed. As you stand in front of the baptismal font, which rests on the back of 12 oxen, you will notice a picture on the right side of the room of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Mormonism teaches that Jesus atoned for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane and not just on the cross. In recent years acknowledgment of the crucifixion as part of the atonement has increased within Mormon doctrine, but Mormonism is still adamant about the idea that Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world in the garden of Gethsemane. This fact is demonstrated in this room by the picture of Jesus in Gethsemane. There are many pictures of the life of Christ in the temple, but no crosses or pictures of the cross are to be found anywhere in the temple.
An appropriate question would be, “Why are there no crosses in the temple?” The typical answer is that Mormons choose to focus on Jesus being alive instead of dead. That may seem like a satisfactory answer, but in the light of Galatians 6:14, another question comes to mind. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.” Ask, “If the Apostle Paul thinks it is proper to brag about the cross, why should Christians avoid using it?”
Paul also said in 1st Corinthians 1:18- “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” A follow-up question would be, “Since the temple uses so much symbolism, and the cross symbolizes the power of God, why wouldn’t God want the symbol of His power in or on His house?”
In one of the “instruction rooms” three walls look normal, but in the front of the room there is a curtain. Ask what the curtain is. Answers sometime vary, but if the tour guide tells you that it is symbolic of the veil that separated the Holy room from the Holy of Holies, remind the tour guide that the veil was torn in two after the death of Christ. An appropriate question is, “If God tore down the veil in the temple, why did your Church sew it back up and re-hang it?”
Your tour will conclude with a visit to the hospitality tent. There is an endless supply of punch and cookies. In the center of the tables there are comment cards to fill out and some literature made available for reading at your leisure.
One of the publications is a 16 page brochure that explains some of the beliefs of the Mormons Church. On page seven is an article titled, “The Family—A Proclamation To The World. The second paragraph reads, “All Human Beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”
Ask, “What does it mean to have a divine nature and destiny?” Mormonism teaches that “Men are Gods in Embryo,” “Man is… capable…of evolving into a God,” and that, “You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves.” (Achieving A Celestial Marriage- Student Manual, P. 130)
Experience has shown that workers in the hospitality tent are taught to give less than forthright answers. An example of this was at the Houston, Texas, temple opening in the year 2000. One sister missionary replied, “We aren’t suppose to get into the doctrinal stuff. We were told to be vague and smile a lot.”
If the answer you are given is not satisfactory, ask the hospitality volunteer a direct question. “Do you believe that it is possible to become a God?” They may reply that they hope to be more like Christ or more like Heavenly Father, but that does not answer the question. If, at this point, they refuse to answer you directly, ask if they are ashamed of their answer.
Original article in April 2005 Backpack & Briefcases
As the open house of the San Antonio Mormon Temple approaches, we would like to devote this month’s article specifically to equip our readers with a few ideas about what to expect upon taking the tour of the temple and suggest some ways to be an effective seed-planter for the Lord Jesus Christ.
In all of our training sessions, we advise Christians to use questions when witnessing for a few distinct reasons. First, Jesus taught by asking questions. Questions cause us to have to formulate an answer in our mind to answer those who are asking. This is the process we want Mormons to have to go through…thinking. Even if they don’t verbalize their answer, they are thinking about their answer and this can plant permanent seeds of doubt in their mind. If I volunteer the answer and don’t wait patiently for them to formulate one, they can easily dismiss my answer. It’s harder for them to dismiss an answer that they themselves have thought. As one former JW elder put it, “Question marks are shaped like hooks, with which we can draw out an answer.”
At most Mormon temple openings, the typical routine includes viewing a video about the LDS church, walking through a guided-tour of the building, and then a time for refreshments and mingling with LDS members and missionaries. Some tour guides may solicit questions throughout the tour as they discuss various rooms; while other tour guides may host a silent tour and ask for questions afterwards.
The most important part of your preparation for this event is prayer. Do not expect to be able to visit this stronghold in our community and witness for the Lord Jesus unless you have petitioned the God of miracles to open the eyes of the blinded. As a suggestion, a few passages of scripture to meditate on include: II Corinthians 4:1-6, II Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-20, Acts 26:18.
Questions to cause the Mormon people to think about their religion don’t always have to be “deep” or even theological in nature.
- During the beginning of the tour, visitors will be shown a front desk where members show their temple recommend to the temple worker in order to gain admittance into the temple. The tour guide explains that not all church members receive a temple recommend; They have to be “worthy” members, who are living the standards of the LDS church. Then you will be shown a locker room where temple patrons store their personal belongings during their time in the temple. Ask the tour guide or missionary why they need locks on the lockers if everyone inside is such a “worthy” member.
- Ask a church representative “Who the golden man blowing his horn at the top of the temple?” After they explain that this is the angel Moroni and that he was a valiant character from the Book of Mormon who later appeared as an angel to Joseph Smith to herald the restoration of the gospel, then clarify a few things with them. Make sure they have told you that he was a man who died and became an angel. Then ask them, “Is our goal after death to become an angel?” Mormonism teaches that men have the potential to become Gods.
- An easy way to get an LDS member to question what they’ve been taught is to ask them to teach you. After your tour is complete and you are in the refreshment area, ask a church member, “Can you show me in the Bible or the Book of Mormon where baptisms or weddings are done in a temple?” This will be quite a struggle, as this information is absent from both of these books. If they attempt to take you to another source, ask why their most important book, the Book of Mormon does not contain this essential information.
These questions are not that complex, but there are many that can be asked that get more involved. Here are a few suggestions:
- One of the main teachings of the LDS church is that families can be together forever. This idea begins with the teaching of celestial marriage. A man and woman are married in the temple to have their marriage sealed “for time and all eternity.” This ceremony guarantees that they will remain married even if the hereafter. This doctrine is usually touched on in the temple tour, so it will be easy to talk about with a Mormon after the tour is completed. Simply ask the church member, “If marriages performed in the temple are eternal, can one partner re-marry after their spouse dies?” The Mormon will assure you that the surviving spouse is permitted to re-marry. The question is, “How is that not considered adultery?” When you ask that question, focus on the wife outliving her husband. Men can be sealed to more than one woman in heaven, but women are to be with only one man. If the woman is married for eternity to her dead husband, how can she marry someone else when she is still married to her dead husband? Even if it is only temporal wouldn’t that be considered an affair?
- A final idea for a question to ask deals with the most important topic for anyone in this world; where they will spend eternity. After your tour, ask the Mormon “Is this temple necessary for you to live with God?” The answer to this question will be ’Yes’. Then ask the question, “Where in the Book of Mormon (BOM) does it state this?” Be sure to ask this question in a manner that does not come across like a challenge, but a real probing question. The BOM says nothing about this doctrine at all, so our hope is that this fact will really bother the person you are speaking with as they struggle to find the reference.
Upon taking your temple tour, please remember you are an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ who has been given the responsibility of representing Him to a lost world, including the extremely lost world of Mormonism. At all times, conduct yourselves in a kind, loving, respectful and compassionate way. Mormons are frequently told by their leaders that Evidence Ministries and others who witness to Mormons are full of hate for the Mormon people. We want our conduct toward them to make our love for them glaringly obvious. Our goal and our prayer for you, our readership, as you enter this stronghold of Satan, is that you will be able to lovingly challenge the claims of Mormonism.