Ancestor Worship or Temple Worship?

30 January

Genealogy Conference PanelToday we’re looking at the definition of worship in three different settings. The reason for this stems from the repeated articles on LDS websites directing members to be diligent in their temple work. Two examples can be seen in the seminars they hold, and directives telling bishops to install teenagers as ‘family history consultants’ for their local wards – see Church News February 2015. defines worship as ‘reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage’. Keep that in mind as we look at our examples today.

Our three items of interest are Mormonism, Christianity, and Ancestor Worship, respectively. I know, it sounds a bit odd, but hang with me and you’ll see the method to my madness! Our questions for the day will be listed at the end, but first, let’s look at who Mormons worship in their temples, and whom or what, they’re worshiping.


For Mormons, ‘temple worship’ is ‘serving as proxies’ in the redemptive work for both the living, and the dead.

In 2009, LDS Apostle Ronald Rasband, then a member of the Seventy, gave a speech at BYU on the importance of making temple worship the center of your life. Temples, he said, are where the ‘Savior’s teachings are reaffirmed through sacred ordinances such as marriage, which unites families for all eternity’. He also said with the increasing number of Mormon temples dotting the earth, the power of Satan is lessened, and the power of God is increased.

Making Temple Worship a Pattern in Your Life; “…Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed . . . lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God…Now I ask you all, my dear brothers and sisters, to what end and to what purpose is all of this focus and emphasis on temple building? How does it apply to you at this stage of your life?…” –Ronald A. Rasband Feb 10, 2009


R.C. Sproul, Jr., from Ligonier Ministries defined temple worship this way –

‘…a bloodless reflection of temple worship. What we want is to renew covenant, which is just what they did in the temple. We want to confess our sins, as our Hebrew fathers did. We want to hear God’s forgiveness, as our Hebrew fathers did. We want to sing Psalms, as our Hebrew fathers did. We want to pray, as our Hebrew fathers did—their prayers symbolized in the burning of incense. And we want to feast with our Lord, as our Hebrew fathers did, at the Lord’s Table. Covenant renewal worship is like temple worship sacrificial through and through. But it is bloodless through—for Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.’

Ancestor Worship

Holman Bible Dictionary gave the following definition for Ancestor Worship –

‘Ancestor worship is the adoration or payment of homage to a deceased parent or ancestor. Such worship was usually reserved for deities. Among ancient Israel’s neighbors, there are several instances of deification of ancestors (Mesopotamian mythology and Egyptian kings). …This practice of ancestor worship was condemned and forbidden.’

‘Cult of The Dead … Much like ancestor worship, the cult of the dead involves adoration of the deceased. The cult of the dead goes a step beyond adoration, however, seeking to maintain or manage a relationship with the dead. The cult of the dead involves the beliefs that certain departed spirits must be fed or honored and that they can be channels of information with the spiritual world. … Though Israel was forbidden to practice the cult of the dead, she often departed from God’s injunctions… Wayward Israelites were also guilty of practicing the cult of the dead (1 Sam. 28). Israel was specifically warned not to offer to the dead (Deut. 26:14). God warned them through the prophets not to consult the dead in an effort to learn the future (Isa. 8:19; 65:4). Such acts were considered by the prophets to be dangerously at odds with God’s will (1 Sam. 28:7).’

Our questions for today are as follows –

Specifically, how do more LDS temples decrease Satan’s power and increase God’s power?

After reading what God has to say about consulting the dead, why would it be okay for Mormons to actively encourage seeking out, and baptizing dead people?

Wilford Woodruff, Mormonism’s 4th prophet/president, stated if you don’t baptize the dead, they’ll be ‘after you’. Where does it say this in the Bible?

At the opening of the San Diego Temple in 1993, it’s been reported by several sources the Church handed out written materials containing stories of temple patrons who were visited by dead relatives. I personally was told this by a Christian friend and his Mormon girlfriend who attended the temple opening, and the same story was told by other Christian ministries who were in attendance.

Where in the Bible does it say you should seek out visitations of dead people?

Why would the LDS Church denounce the model of worship encouraged by Dr. Sproul at Ligonier’s Ministry? This seems to be a perfectly sound, and biblical way to worship!

LDS temple ceremonies are bereft of any confessions of sin, or partaking of the Lord’s Supper to remember His sacrifice. Moreover, they’re introducing blood oaths into their routine,00 instead of it being a bloodless ceremony!

In answer to Mr. Rasband’s question: the purpose of their activities is to draw attention away from God, and to Satan’s plan.

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