LDS Temples and Biblical Temples Compared
Temples and temple work hold a prominent place in Mormonism. Presently the LDS Church has 141 temples (UPDATE: As of March 2018, there are 159 temples) in operation worldwide with a number of others being built (LDS temples are not to be equated with their chapels or stake houses. Only temple-worthy Mormons can enter the temple). As the LDS Church talks about its temples, it often links them with the temple in the Bible. Therefore it is proper to compare the two.
The first comparison deals with whether or not the Lord is present. The LDS manual, "True to the Faith", states: “They are holy places of worship where the Lord may visit” (p.170, my emphasis).
The Bible, however, says that the temple was where the Lord dwelt. First, in regard to the tabernacle, we read: “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (Exodus 29:45-56, my emphasis). Then, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwellforever” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2, my emphasis).
What is even more striking is what the New Testament says. Peter, in his first letter, identifies the temple with the assembly of believers. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). But that’s not all. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (1 Corinthians 6:16-17, my emphasis). In a similar way, Jesus said: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23, my emphasis). Not only are all believers taken together with the temple of God, but also individual believers are temples!
Two points emerge from this comparison. The first is that the Bible emphasizes that temples are places where God dwells. Mormonism, however, sees God only visiting the temple. That coincides with its belief that God has a body of flesh and bones and thus can’t dwell in numerous temples at the same time.
More importantly, the New Testament teaching on believers being the temple of God is so glorious and exhilarating. This becomes even more exciting when we see that the Greek word Paul used in I Corinthians was one used for the holy of holies. In essence, Paul says that believers are the holy of holies. That should leave us awe-struck – because, in the Old Testament only one man, the high priest, could enter the holy of holies. And he could only do it on one day each year, the Day of Atonement. But now, because Jesus has removed the sin that separates us from God (signified dramatically with the temple veil being torn at his death) believers have now become the holy of holies. Believers don’t just have the privilege of entering the holy of holies once a year like the Old Testament high priest. No, we are the holy of holies! God dwells within us! The more you think about it, the more thrilling it becomes.
And there are not some believers who are worthy to be temples and some who aren’t. All believers are God’s temples. God, in his love, bestows this honor on each and every person who trusts that they are acceptable to God solely because of what Jesus has done for them. To Jesus be ALL praise and glory.
I continue this comparison in another blog post by focusing on the work performed in the respective temples. You can read that here: