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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1958

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1958.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1958.

1958:  25 May:  Exception made for women to attend prayer circle.

“So far as the records of men’s prayer circles exist, there was one occasion in 1958 when Elder Joseph Fielding Smith authorized members of the newly organized Smithfield (Utah) Stake Prayer Circle to include their wives in a prayer circle meeting once a year.”  (D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies 19(1):95, Fall, 1978; quoting from Smithfield Stake Prayer Circle Minutes, 25 May and 1 Nov., 1958, HDC)

16 Jul.:  8 endowment sessions daily in Salt Lake Temple. 

“Presently in the Salt Lake Temple–and I must speak of that since that is the only temple I know anything about–eight sessions for endowments are scheduled each day.  From 1000 to more than 2000 endowments are administered daily.”  (ElRay Christiansen, Address to Seminary and Institute Faculty, BYU, 16 Jul., 1958.  Bergera notes)

16 Jul.:  Running out of names for temple work.

“As of April 1, 1958, microfilming records in at least 14 foreign countries has brought to the Genealogical Library 129,752 rolls containing 100 feet per roll, or a total or 12,975,000 ft. of microfilmed records from Europe alone.  In addition to that, there have been 3,829,600 ft. of microfilm obtained from about 25 states in this country making a total of 168,678 100-foot rolls of microfilm records, or 16,867,800 ft. of filmed records.  This filmed record represents information taken from 253,283,944 pages of written and printed genealogical information.

Even with this vast accumulation, however, it is very difficult to supply enough names for the operation of the various temples.  There is an urgent need today for a greater effort on the part of the individual Latter-day Saint families in genealogical research.  An appeal has gone out from the First Presidency, probably to you, to engage yourselves and to enlist the interest of your students in seeking out their kindred dead, so that information may be supplied during this critical time when the need is so great.  When you consider the fact that more and more temples are to be built and that the names of the dead must be supplied to them if their facilities are to be properly used, it seems to me that there is an opportunity for Seminary and Institute people to create in the minds and lives of these young people one of the grandest experiences and projects and useful activity that there can be conceived.”  (ElRay Christiansen, Address to Seminary and Institute Faculty, BYU, 16 Jul., 1958.  Bergera notes)

Aug.:  Work for the dead done before Christ?

“Question:  In discussing the work for the dead the question was asked: ‘Was temple work done for the dead before the time of Christ?’  It was decided by the majority that no such work was done.  One member took exception to this and asked what was done then in the temples in Old Testament times, if it was not work for the dead?  Will you please clarify for us so that we may all be in full agreement?

Answer:  There was no work done for the dead until after the Savior turned the key when he visited the spirits in prison.  The work that was done in the tabernacle (or temple) Moses built in the wilderness, and in the temple of Solomon and the latter restored temple in Israel, was confined to ordinances for the living.  That they did have ordinances is clear from the writings of Moses in the Pentateuch.  The Lord made that perfectly clear to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the following words, when revealing the need for a house of the Lord where ordinances could be restored:

And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name.

For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was.  (D&C 124:37-38)

The work done in the wilderness and later in the temple in Jerusalem was confined to ordinances for the living, as certain scripture will clearly show in both the Old and the New Testaments.  Many of the ancient prophets held the keys of the priesthood, which enabled them to perform the ordinances and obtain the necessary blessings to entitle them to a place in the celestial kingdom.  And these blessings continued to be given to those who were worthy, and after the resurrection of Christ they came forth to obtain their exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

All ordinances for the dead had to wait until after Jesus Christ had gained the victory over death, and then to Peter and his brethren the authority to officiate in behalf of the dead was revealed.  Unfortunately, there is little written in the New Testament giving the history of such ordinances having been performed.  Paul has given us the clearest insight in his first epistle to the Corinthian saints wherein he spoke of baptism for the dead, implying that this principle was very well understood.  He used it as an argument in favor of the resurrection.  In some of the writings of the ‘early fathers’ there is also some knowledge that such a doctrine was practised.

President Brigham Young has given us a clear statement, fully covering this question.  Said he: 

Jesus was the first man that ever went to preach to the spirits in prison, holding the keys of the Gospel of salvation to them.  Those keys were delivered to him in the day and hour that he went into the spirit world, and with them he opened the door of salvation to the spirits in prison.  (DBY, p. 378)

There are in the Bible many references which have a bearing on this question.  First let us consider the words of the Lord to Isaiah:

I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.  (Isa. 42:6-8)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.  (Isa. 61:1-2)

These references to the opening of the prison and the proclaiming of liberty to the captives evidently have reference to the dead who had been confined in darkness, not knowing their fate.  Shortly after the Savior entered his ministry he visited his home town, Nazareth, and uopn entering the synagogue the scriptures were placed in his hands.  He opened them and read the words of Isaiah, and said to the people: ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’  That is to say, the time had come for the preaching of the gospel and the redemption of both the living and the dead.

The most positive saying of the Lord in relation to the status of the dead before his resurrection is implied in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  This is one of the most familiar of the Lord’s parables.  It is so interesting and pertinent to this question that it is not amiss to quote part of it here:

[Lk. 16:19-26]

This is as far as the parable relates to our question.  There was a great gulf which separated those who had not complied with the laws of the gospel and those who had, and it could not be passed.  It was this great gulf that our Savior bridged when he went to the spirits in prison.  President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead is in perfect harmony with this parable.  Christ did not go to the imprisoned wicked spirits.  He declared his message to those who were worthy.  Then he organized his forces and commissioned his faithful servants to cross the gulf and take the message to those who sat in darkness.

There is further light thrown on this question in the vision given to Enoch when the Lord appeared to him.

[Moses 7:36-39]”

(Joseph Fielding Smith, “Your Question,” IE 61(8):576-577, 602, Aug., 1958)