Papers #1- “The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards” and Temple Recommend Questions

By: The Monk - August 15, 2006

Since I lack the time to post frequently, I’m going to begin calling attention to good papers that I think deserve wider circulation.

The first is Ed Kimball’s “History of LDS Temple Admission Standards” in The Journal of Mormon History, Spring (1998): 135-175. It has recently been made available both on the JMH DVD as well as on-line, from the University of Utah library, where you read it one page at a time from the menu on the left.

Kimball traces the requirements to enter the temple from Brigham Young’s day through today,the history of the Temple Recommend, and Temple Recommend interview questions.

In 1856, the Temple Recommend interview and questions had not yet been standardized to the semi-formal procedure it is today. The First Presidency sent a letter stating that those recommended by local leaders should

be those who pray, who pay their tithing from year to year; who live the lives of saints from day to day; setting good examples before their neighbors. Men and women, boys and girls over 16 years of age who are living the lives of saints, believer in the plurality [plural marriage], and do not speak evil of the authorities of the Church, and possess true integrity towards their friends.

Though the Word of Wisdom would not become a formal requirement to enter the Temple until the late 1920’s, in 1886 the First Presidency instructed, among other things, that it is”inconsistent to carry the smell of whiskey and tobacco into the sacred precincts of the Lord’s House.”

As the church grew, the interviews and requirements were standardized and refined, eventually giving us what we have today. While the specifics have varied, the primary requirements have changed little.

A fascinating and useful article for understanding the history behind Temple recommend interviews, listed in several places on the pages here at the Monastery. 4 thumbs up.

3 Comments »

  1. Very interesting topic indeed. I have always found it a mystery how culture has such an influence on our interpretation of God’s laws. It is like for us humans cultural charecteristics have more of an effect on what we think salvation is rather that our ability to see it how it truly is cutting cultural influence totally out. It is almost as if culture has more to do with carnality than godliness!

    Comment by Rob Osborn — August 15, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

  2. I don’t know how I missed this when you posted. This is a great article and one of the must-reads. The references are great and the appendix at the end is very useful for the Mormon Studies researcher. My only criticism is his treatment of “oath-bound” organizations. There is one critical mistake in there, but Kimaball does trace it back to the trade unions of the era, which is an important development. He doesn’t treat the Women’s oath-bound organizations at all.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 30, 2006 @ 10:12 am

  3. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Makeda Temples — March 1, 2013 @ 5:32 am

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