Being a recent convert, I was very upset to learn on the PBS documentary that the content of the temple endowment has undergone many major revisions over time. I was dismayed today to find that there are, in fact, more changes than were discussed in the documentary. If these ordinances were revealed from God, shouldn’t they have been considered perfect the first time? This is severely shaking the faith of my husband and me – please help.
First, a general statement about that PBS documentary. I would suggest that you access the askgramps.org web site, and scroll down to the article under the question,–What are your views on the documentary, “The Mormons?” That should set that “documentary” in its true light.
Concerning your question about the constancy of the temple endowment, indeed it has been changed a number of times. However, the detractors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were responsible for that “documentary” portrayed the fact there were changes as though they may have been corrections and therefore uninspired, suggesting that the Church is no different from any other man-made religious organization.
Let me tell you something about the changes that have been made in the temple ceremonies. In the early days of the Church there was only one temple. The sacred ceremonies in that temple at that time took on the order of half a day to complete. As the church membership grew and a few more temples were built, it became necessary to conduct those ceremonies in a more efficient manner so as to take less time, and thus make the temple available for the larger number of members that wanted to avail themselves of the saving ordinances that are preformed only in those holy places.
Later, when the Church membership grew even more rapidly, until today when there are over 16 million members world-wide and more than 160 temples in operation, it is necessary to increase even more the efficiency of the temple ceremonies. It would be a mark of extreme foolishness if the Church did not take advantage of all the electronic media designed to make the transfer of information very much more efficient. So there is now electronic reproduction of both sound and pictures that make it so that the ceremonies that in the beginning took about half a day may now be completed in about an hour and a half. These efficiency changes in the presentation of the sacred covenants in the temple has done nothing to change the essential ordinances or the deep meanings of the endowments of the temple. Further, this is the work of God! There have been no changes made in any of the temple ordinances that were not revealed from heaven. Those who criticize this great work, are not criticizing a group of men who would arbitrarily change some religious rite for the sake of convenience, but in reality they are criticizing the very work of the God of Heaven, who specifically directs all that goes on in His kingdom, and those that promote this nefarious concept will yet be held accountable before the bar of God.