Ad Te Levávi Ánimam Meam

To Thee have I lifted up my soul (Introit – 1st Sunday of Advent)

A Visit To The Kirtland Temple

Posted by james0235 on March 29, 2008

I returned to work this week after having taken Holy Week off. I don’t have any pictures from Holy Week. But, I did remember that I took a few pictures this past summer during a day trip that I took with my roommate when we realized that we had both randomly selected the same week for vacation.

We both have a fascination with Mormonism. And not just from an apologetics perspective. Knowledge of Mormon history and belief sure comes in handy when the missionaries knock on your door. But, it goes beyond that. We both share a love of reading about Mormonism just for the fun of it.

Anyway, when we realized that we had the opportunity we decided to head up to Kirtland, Ohio – to the site of the first Mormon Temple. The Temple was constructed in the 1830s. It is currently owned and maintained by the Community of Christ, a Mormon splinter group formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). The Community of Christ had just opened up a brand new visitor center next to the Temple a few weeks before we visited.

It was an impressive place. There is a gift shop and even a movie theater. The tour guide plays a short movie on the history of the temple at the start of the tour. After the movie is over the screen is raised revealing a window which looks out on the Temple itself. And then the group heads over to begin the actual tour.

I took a few pictures outside of the Temple (photographs are not permitted inside). Unfortunately I did not bring a camera. So, these were taken with my phone. Click on them for larger images.

temple1.jpg

temple2.jpg

temple3.jpg

temple4.jpg

temple5.jpg

The inscription is a little difficult to make out in these pictures. It reads:


HOUSE OF THE LORD
BUILT BY THE CHURCH OF THE
LATTER DAY SAINTS A.D. 1834

Pictures of the inside of the Temple are available on the Kirtland Temple Historic Center website and a short video featuring images of the Temple is available on the Community of Christ website.

It is an impressive building with an impressive history. I would like to tour it again some day. But, the Temple itself isn’t really the reason I am writing this. It just serves as a backdrop to the events of that day.

Our tour guide that day was a young woman, a member of the Community of Christ, who had a great deal of knowledge about the history of the Temple and the people who built it. Her passion for the topic was quite obvious. On the tour the religious affiliation of everyone there came up. I think there were a couple of people who were members of the Community of Christ, A Catholic (myself), a lapsed Lutheran, (my roommate), and a dozen or more people who belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). But, she did not ask our religious affiliation in order to try and convert anyone that day. It was in order to help her to explain the services that were conducted in the Temple in terms we could understand. She compared and contrasted the Temple services to modern day Catholic, Protestant, LDS, and Community of Christ services. It was all very non-confrontational and I believe that it helped each of us better understand what happened in the Temple.

But, then we left the Temple itself and things changed.

We drove just a couple of miles away to the Historic Kirtland Village. Here, the Mormons (and it must be emphasized here that they are LDS and not Community of Christ) have recreated many of the buildings as they existed in Kirtland at the time of the construction of the Temple. There is a short movie (much like before the Temple tour) and then a guided tour of the buildings.

We ended up on a tour with an LDS family that had met on the Temple tour. Our tour guide was a young LDS woman who was full of enthusiasm and little knowledge. After asking the religious affiliation of everyone on the tour, proceeded to use the information in an attempt to evangelize my roommate and I. Every single bit of actual useful information that she gave us seemed to be followed with something along the lines of “and I testify to you that I know in my heart that Joseph Smith is a prophet and…” It got annoying very quickly.

Towards the end of the tour I was walking alone with the tour guide. Everyone else was a short distance behind us. She asked me for my opinion of Joseph Smith. I politely declined to share it as I did not wish to offend her. She kept pressing the issue. So, I finally told her that I believe that he is one of the greatest frauds this world has ever seen. She, of course, wanted to know why I felt that way. And so I shared my reasons.

She seemed stunned for a few moments. When she finally spoke she said “I testify to you that I know in my heart that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true Church of God on earth”.

You should have seen the look on her face when I responded I testify to you that I know in my heart that Joseph Smith was a fraud, the Book of Mormon is false but is an interesting read, and the Catholic Church is the true Church of God founded by Jesus Christ on the Rock of Peter.”

She stuttered for a few moments, searching for something to say. And then, before she could respond, I explained to her that my testimony about the truth of something doesn’t make that thing true any more than her testimony does. What you need are facts. She agreed with that and then said that it is “a fact the book of Mormon is true.” I told her that I disagreed and then proceeded to ask her a few questions about the origin of the Book.

When she could not answer any of these questions she waved over a few Mormon missionaries who were standing around talking. I now repeated my questions about the origins of the Book of Mormon – this time to 5 missionaries instead of one. I received no answers other than “I testify to you that…”

Eventually, rather than answer my questions they decided to turn the tables around and ask me questions about Catholic doctrine and history. But, when it became apparent to them that I actually had answers to their questions they very quickly ended the conversation and went inside.

My experience with the LDS missionaries that day could not have been more different than my experience with the Community of Christ missionary. They were pushy, rude, and ignorant whereas the woman with the Community of Christ was helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. My experience at the Temple was the kind of experience that makes you want to go back. I can’t say that about my experience at the Historic Kirtland Village – although I will most likely return there when visiting the Temple again just because I found the recreated village to be fascinating.

And a note to any Mormon missionaries who might be reading:

In my experience this seems to be the way all Mormon missionaries operate. And that is not the way to “win converts”. I am not saying that there is any chance that I will ever convert to Mormonism. But, my experiences have left me with a great deal of respect for the way the members of the Community of Christ handle themselves in religious discussions and with absolutely no respect for the way LDS missionaries handle themselves. The experiences of others may, of course, be different but from my perspective I think that maybe you should consider taking a page or two on evangelization from the Community of Christ.

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9 Responses to “A Visit To The Kirtland Temple”

  1. Jay said

    You should have seen the look on her face when I responded “I testify to you that I know in my heart that Joseph Smith was a fraud, the Book of Mormon is false but is an interesting read, and the Catholic Church is the true Church of God founded by Jesus Christ on the Rock of Peter.”

    I wish I could have seen her face when you testified that the Catholic Church was the one true Church founded by Christ.

    When she could not answer any of these questions she waved over a few Mormon missionaries who were standing around talking. I now repeated my questions about the origins of the Book of Mormon – this time to 5 missionaries instead of one. I received no answers other than “I testify to you that…”

    This is what members are taught to do when they don’t know what to say. It is supposed to make you feel the Spirit testifying of the truth of their words. what it really does is make them feel good for fulfilling their duty of sharing the “truth” and ends the conversation because you feel like they are not going to be reasonable.

    Most Mormons are very knowledgeble about the faith promoting history of the LDS faith but when it comes to polyandry, Book of Mormon origins, Joseph’s translating methods, and “non-faith promoting history” the vast majority are as you say “ignorant”. It is really a shame that as LDS members we do not know our own history.

    In my experience this seems to be the way all Mormon missionaries operate. And that is not the way to “win converts”…But, my experiences have left me with a great deal of respect for the way the members of the Community of Christ handle themselves in religious discussions and with absolutely no respect for the way LDS missionaries handle themselves.

    Not all Mormons handle themselves this way, but I do agree that the majority do, unfortunately.

  2. james0235 said

    Jay,

    Thank you for your comments.

    While my experience with missionaries has always been fairly negative I understand that that might not be typical. I will say that I have met some very friendly and knowledgeable LDS members over the years.

    One of them was a guy I worked with. We used to have the most interesting discussions. One day he said he had an extra ticket to a hockey game and invited me to go with him. When I showed up I was introduced to about 30 of his friends from his Ward.

    One girl admitted to me later that night that they were all there to try and convert me. 🙂
    Maybe I’ll post the story some time. It was still a fun night.

    And I have certainly met more than my share of Catholics who were ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches. I guess that ignorance does not know denominational boundaries.

    God bless,

    James

  3. […] recently read an interesting post by a non-member couple and their visit to Kirtland.  IMO, their contrast of the Kirtland temple […]

  4. McDevin said

    As a member of the LDS church, I want to appologize for your experiences in Kirtland. Our missionaries are young and inexperienced in many things. Perhaps the Missionary Training Center should teach “Tact 101.” I suppose they just get too caught up in their microcosms to fully understand and appreciate others’ beliefs.

  5. Name said

    “but when it comes to polyandry…”

    Did I just miss something?!

  6. Jay said

    Joseph Smith was married to women that already had husbands. They were not divorced from their first husbands. Since they had more than one husband this is a form of polyandry.

  7. Dear Brothers in Christ,

    As a Priest in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I would like to post a comment or two.

    #1. Since you’re in the business of getting the low down on ” Mormonism” I think you should visit my blog site. http://rldsincourt.blogspot.com/

    If you think Salt Lake Mormonism is weird, read the United States Court and Congressional Investigative evidence Joseph Smith never was a Polygamist.

    #2. I figure being a Christian means we tell the truth! Right? I’m doing my best to tell you the truth. It is my hope you take this knowledge and use it responsibly.

    #3. If you know the Mormon church already teaches false doctrine according to the biblical teaching, then you know the Salt Lake Mormon church lies in front of God and Man. Why then do you persist in believing men who would lie or mistakenly teach a terribly warped doctrine ( not of God ). Why would you believe LDS tails about the RLDS church of Joseph Smith?

    Have not the Salt Lake LDS Church proved themselves liars enough?
    Why do you continue to believe the tales?

    #4. Evidences prove the RLDS church is not a Salt Lake Mormon splinter group. Rather the True legal heir and Successor to the Original Joseph Smith led LDS church.

    Please don’t be deceived. All is not as it appears.

    sincerely

    James Brian Marshall

    P.S. Anyone who claims to have read the Book of Mormon and claims it false, has very little biblical knowledge. And even less knowledge of the Book of Mormon. Meaning they haven’t read the Book of Mormon.

    Book of Daniel, Isaiah 29:10- 24, Ezekiel chapter 37, whole book of Revelations, Psalms 85 and many more I can find for you.

    Jesus Christ said in Mathew chapter 21, ” the Kingdom shall be given to another nation bearing the fruits thereof”.

    For those of you who say gentile were the other nation, understand that gentile only means not Jew. The Apostle Paul was both Jew and Gentile. Gentile is another word for the lost tribes of Israel.

    those of you who want to really dig can email me.
    James@storybookglen.com

  8. Dear Brothers in Christ,

    As a Priest in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I would like to post a comment or two.

    #1. Since you’re in the business of getting the low down on ” Mormonism” I think you should visit my blog site. http://rldsincourt.blogspot.com/

    If you think Salt Lake Mormonism is weird, read the United States Court and Congressional Investigative evidence declaring Joseph Smith never was a Polygamist, even in secret as Brigham Young and whitnesses claimed.

    #2. I figure being a Christian means we tell the truth! Right? I’m doing my best to tell you the truth. It is my hope you take this knowledge and use it responsibly.

    #3. If you know the Mormon church already teaches false doctrine according to the biblical teaching, then you know the Salt Lake Mormon church lies in front of God and Man. Why then do you persist in believing men who would lie or mistakenly teach a terribly warped doctrine ( not of God ). Why would you believe LDS tails about the RLDS church of Joseph Smith?

    Have not the Salt Lake LDS Church proved themselves liars enough?
    Why do you continue to believe the tales?

    #4. Evidences prove the RLDS church is not a Salt Lake Mormon splinter group. Rather the True legal heir and Successor to the Original Joseph Smith led LDS church.

    Please don’t be deceived. All is not as it appears.

    sincerely

    James Brian Marshall

    P.S. Anyone who claims to have read the Book of Mormon and claims it false, has very little biblical or Ancient document knowledge. And even less knowledge of the Book of Mormon. Meaning they haven’t read the Book of Mormon enough to know if it’s true.

    Book of Daniel, Isaiah 29:10- 24, Ezekiel chapter 37, whole book of Revelations, Psalms 85 and many more I can find for you. For those who have read the BOM, it would behoove you to note a wealthy man named Lehi fled Jurusalem about 650 B.C.

    Those of you with a Concordance and the will to use it will note the name Lehi can be found in I believe 1st Kings. Lehi was a place where Samson performed a might work. While Lehi may not have been directly related to Lehi the man in the Book of Mormon, you should note the name Lehi is a Hebrew name.

    Jesus Christ said in Mathew chapter 21, ” the Kingdom shall be given to another nation bearing the fruits thereof”.

    It should also be noted, John the Beloved bids us that any who come to us in the name of Jesus Christ we should pay attention to. The Book of Mormon certainly does that.

    For those of you who say gentiles were the other nation, you’re certainly correct! But understand that gentile only means “non Jew”. The Apostle Paul was both Jew and Gentile. Gentile is another word for the lost tribes of Israel.

    those of you who want to really dig can email me.
    James@storybookglen.com

  9. Greg said

    Sorry to hear of your experience in Kirtland. In any case, I thought you and your readers might be interested in my related post Kirtland Temple Pentecost. It is the start of a series of posts about the events surrounding the dedication of the temple.

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