|Was Joseph Influenced by Masonry ....||Tim Canfield and Bob Moore|
On Saturday, April 20, 1974, Reed C. Durham, immediate past-president of the Mormon Historical Association and director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, delivered an address entitled Is There No Help For The Widow's Son at the association's annual meeting held at Nauvoo. Perhaps at the same time (for no date is given) Jack Adamson wrote a paper entitled The Treasure Of The Widow's Son. While not the first studies of Masonic influences on the Restoration, these two treatises formed the basis of the modern accusation that Joseph incorporated Masonic stories and ideas into the Restoration gospel.
Dr. Durham found a remarkable resemblance between the central hope of the Restoration and a proposed Masonic legend, which purportedly came from "cabalistic lore and mythology."(1) He adds that this "legend was in American Masonic print by 1802; and by Joseph Smith's time many publications had made the legend popularly well disseminated."(2) The implication is that Joseph heard the story, or better still, read it, and incorporated it into the latter-day work. One critic went so far as to say that Joseph could easily have purchased a book containing this information at the local bookstore in Palmyra.(3)
Durham relates the legend in these words. "The legend is: that up in the pre-existence, there was a Secret Doctrine that was given by Deity, and it was given down to earth first to Adam. Adam then was to carefully guard this Secret Doctrine because it contained all the Mysteries. It contained all the knowledge of God, and the name it contained was the sacred name of God. Adam then bestowed it upon his son Seth, who guarded it very carefully -- only among the inner circle of believers -- and then it was handed down until it came to Enoch. And, Enoch is the central figure in the legend. It is with Enoch that the remarkable resemblances with Joseph and Mormon history become disconcertingly clear. The major details of the legend are outlined as follows:
1. Enoch, seventh in the line of Patriarchs from Adam, was 25 years old when he received his call and vision.
2. He was taken up in vision onto a hill called Moriah.
3. In vision he saw a cavern in a hill, a sacred vault in the bowels of the earth. The cavity was symbolized as being a container for sacred treasures, like a holy ark, and it had a lid on it.
4. In vision, Enoch perceived a shiny gold plate containing unknown engravings and symbols.
5. He recognized the letter "M" upon the gold plate, which designated the name of the hill.
6. He further saw the sacred name of God, which had been lost to all mankind, and he was commissioned by Deity to preserve this knowledge.
7. He foresaw the sacred name of God, which had been lost to all mankind. Therefore, he felt it was his duty to preserve the Sacred Mystery.
8. He placed two pillars inside the hill:
a. One of marble upon which, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, were found the historical events connected with the tower of Babel, and
b. One of brass, which contained the history of creation and the Secret Mysteries. These records were placed in the hill along with the gold plate.
9. The brass pillar had a metal ball on its top, within which were contained maps, and directions of the world and of the universe, and also which acted as a sort of oracle.
10. Enoch placed a stone lid, or slab, over the cavity into the hill.
11. Enoch predicted that on the other side of the flood, an Israelite descendant would discover anew the sacred buried treasure."(4)
The implication is that Joseph heard the Masonic legend about Enoch and, fascinated by it, incorporated its mysterious elements into the fabric of his teachings, which made him the latter-day Seer who was divinely appointed to reveal the ancient secrets. Some of the legend's components that seem similar to early church history are the discovery of the Book of Mormon under a stone lid, the Book of Mormon being written in an unknown language and inscribed on golden plates, the sealed portion that "reveal all things from the foundation of the world" (2 N 11:130), other records engraved on brass plates, the return of the golden plates to Moroni, which the Utah church claims re turned to other sacred treasures in hill Cumorah; the resemblance of the names of the hills -- Enoch's Moriah and Joseph's Cumorah; and the importance of age of 25 for both Enoch and Joseph -- Joseph was 25 when the church was organized in 1830.
Other critics have found additional similarities between aspects of Masonry and the Restoration. One implied that Joseph could have taken the idea of finding golden plates from Masonic lore. They wrote, "It is even more likely, however, that he got the idea from Masonry or magic."(5) Another claims that Joseph lifted the idea of two priesthoods (Melchisedec and Aaronic) from Masonry, writing, "Masonry also had/has two priesthoods, one higher than the other, and they are named Melchisedec and Aaronic."(6) Later he implies that the three glories comprising the resurrected state has Masonic origins. He says, "It is important to note that the word "Enoch" does not exist in the Book of Mormon. Neither do the words "glories", "celestial", nor "terrestrial", but they are an important part of the vocabulary and religion of the masons."(7)
Joseph was not a Mason at the time that he introduced the Restoration to the world. This poses an almost insurmountable obstacle to the critics' claim that Joseph transferred Masonic secrets into the Restoration message. They try to create a tie by showing that Joseph had access to Masonic information in the following ways:
1. They draw attention to the publication of a book entitled The Freemason's Monitor; or, Illustrations of Masonry, written by Thomas S. Webb, past master of Temple Lodge in Albany, New York, and published by Southwick and Crooker of New York City in 1802.
2. They show that Hyrum Smith joined the Masons about the same time that Joseph viewed the plates. Durham writes, "It commenced in Joseph's home when his older brother became a Mason. Hyrum received the first degrees of Masonry in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 of Palmyra, New York, at about the same time that Joseph was being initiated into the presence of God and angels and was being entrusted with the sacred gold plates."(8) Heber C. Kimball recorded that "Hyrum Smith received the first three degrees of masonry in Ontario County, New York."(9)
3. Joseph was one of 10 signers to a petition published in the Seneca Farmer and Waterloo Advertiser that made an impassioned plea of aid for William Morgan's wife. In August 1826, "Captain" William Morgan announced that he was publishing an exposť on Masonry. Morgan was reportedly born in Culpepper, Virginia, on August 7, 1774. He moved to Rochester, New York in 1824 and became a member of the Western Star Chapter No. 35 at LeRoy, New York, being exalted to the Royal Arch Degree on May 31, 1825.(10) He revealed some Masonic secrets in his book Masonry Exposed. On September 11, 1826, he was arrested and jailed for a debt of $2.68, but because an unknown benefactor paid the amount, he was released the next morning. Immediately upon his release, he entered a carriage that conveyed him to Fort Niagara where he was confined, presumably by Masons. On September 19th he disappeared forever. Most Americans believed that he was murdered by Masons for his betrayal of the Masonic oath of secrecy, thereby spurring the anti-Masonic movement of that time. One anti-Masonic pamphlet reported, "He was seized by a gang of Masonic desperadoes, who came 60 miles after him, in the morning about sunrise, Sept. 11, 1826."(11) Some critics maintain that Morgan met Joseph. Rob Morris, a biographer of Morgan wrote that Morgan "had been a half way convert of Joe Smith, the Mormon, and had learned from him to see visions and dreams."(12) The implication is that Joseph's signature on the petition not only shows his sympathy for Morgan's distressed wife, but his access through Morgan to Masonic lore and secrets.
4. W. W. Phelps, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Newel K. Whitney were Masons either before or after they joined the church. Critics suggest that those involved in Masonry influenced Joseph once they entered the church or joined the craft.
5. Joseph and his family lived in the home of George and Lucinda Harris during part of their stay in Far West. Durham explains the tie: "He [George] had been a practicing Mason in Batavia, New York, as well as a Worshipful Master Mason in Virginia. In addition to this, Harris was also personally acquainted with William Morgan; the Morgans having lived in an apartment above his (Harris') silversmith shop in Canandaigua (should be Batavia. M. B. H.), New York. Lucinda Harris was formerly the wife and later the widow of William Morgan. It seems highly significant to note that this same woman, whom Joseph (Smith) had befriended years before, became a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith."(13)
6. John C. Bennett, who joined the church at Nauvoo and won the affection of Joseph, was a Mason in Ohio. Under his influence Masonry began growing among the saints.
7. Joseph Smith became a Mason on March 15, 1842. The Grand Master Mason of the state of Illinois was in Nauvoo at the time and met Joseph on the street. Normally, a person must be inducted into Masonry through a formal initiation ceremony, but the Grand Master Mason has power to make anyone he chooses a Mason on sight. Joseph became a Mason on sight. Durham explains, "Joseph and Sidney (Rigdon) were inducted into formal Masonry at Sight, on the same day upon which the Illinois Grand Mason -- and politically ambitious -- Abraham Jones officially installed the Nauvoo Lodge. It was on March 15, 1842. On the next day, both Sidney and Joseph advanced to the Master Mason Degree."(14)
8. Joseph reportedly had in his pocket a Jupiter Talisman on
the day that he was murdered. According the Bidamon family, the talisman was
"Joseph's Masonic jewel."(15)
Without doubt Joseph became a Mason, but his induction into that society was far too late for Masonic lore to influence the foundation of the church or the content of latter-day scriptures. While the historical record clearly shows that the saints, particularly church leaders, readily embraced Masonry at Nauvoo and wove those rites and values in it that appealed to their desires with the gospel, the changes that they introduced occurred in the 1840s and were never accepted by the Reorganized Church as divine and legitimate teachings. The Reorganization has always maintained that the latter-day apostasy overtook the church in Nauvoo. The fact that Masonry played a role in altering church teachings at Nauvoo does not imply that it served as the fountain from which the Restoration sprang. Critics who realize this difference try to prove that Joseph learned Masonic secrets and legends early enough to incorporate them into the foundation of Restoration beliefs and government. Their proof relies on circumstantial evidence that is completely inadequate. Consider the grounds for each link that the accusers try to make.
1. Webb's book, The Freemason's Monitor; or, Illustrations of Masonry, was written for Masons, but not every Mason. The cover of his book identifies him as H. P. of the Providence Royal Arch Chapter.(16) Royal Arch Masonry is a more secretive order of Masonry that has its own initiation. The type of book written by Webb is for Masons practicing the rites of "the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch."(17) It was intended to explain the ceremony and secrets of the Royal Arch Order to the respective leaders of its various chapters. Two Masonic researchers who were also Masons explained, "In the pages of this book was nothing less than the complete and unaltered story of the unearthing of the Temple scrolls. It told us that the candidate for this degree is first tested on the questions of the first three 'craft' degrees before he is admitted to the Lodge room."(18) The book to which they referred is a 1915 edition printed in London, in all probability by a different author than Webb. According to them, finding such books is extremely difficult because Masonic oaths prohibit those who have them to share the book with anyone except those Masons admitted into the Royal Arch order.(19) This prohibition makes the probability that Webb's book circulated outside Royal Arch society highly unlikely.
Durham claims that Webb's book found wide circulation, but he does not indicate the circle in which it circulated. He provided no evidence that it was available to Joseph. Palmyra did not have a local bookstore where a copy could be purchased. Its publication in New York by a publisher of Masonic literature does not mean that pioneers on the American frontier had the book twenty years after its publication. Critics try to avoid this weakness by asserting that anti-Masonic publishers anxious to unveil the society as a public menace published all the secrets that they could uncover. However, they identify no publications written for non-Masons that circulated the Royal Arch secrets. The facts tend to show that members of the Royal Arch who became inactive, or later opposed the craft, kept their Masonic oath of secrecy. Durham provides no evidence to show that the story of Enoch was discussed in Palmyra when Moroni showed Joseph the plates. All his supposition does is show the possibility, however remote it may be, that Joseph could have heard the legend.
Let us assume that Joseph used the legend of Enoch as recorded in Webb's book. While the similarities to the history surrounding the Book of Mormon's discovery are striking in places, consider the differences. The legend says that Enoch saw the letter M on the gold plate (singular) and that it contained the sacred name of God, which had been lost to mankind. The Book of Mormon, composed of many plates, some of which were sealed, contains no mention of Mount Moriah or any activity associated with that sacred hill. Neither does it refer to Enoch, nor some sacred name of God that was supposedly lost in antediluvian times. While it reveals that the Jaredites and Nephites both fell because "secret combinations" emanating from the devil ravaged their society, it does not try to reveal any ancient secret. If the Masonic legend of Enoch influenced Joseph enough that it formed the basis of the claimed discovery of the book, then it seems more plausible that a book springing from such a background would attempt to reveal the secrets that Enoch supposedly recorded. The fact that the Book of Mormon does not reflect the Masonic legend provides sufficient evidence to show that Joseph, even if he heard the lore, did not incorporate it in the work.
Most academic critics conclude that the Book of Mormon is anti-Masonic. Their analysis advocates that Joseph wrote the book after being influenced by the growing anti-Masonic movement of his times. Western New York became a hot-bed against the secret order caused in part by the disappearance of William Morgan in 1826. He wrote an exposť on the craft and was taken by Masons to Fort Niagra and then Canada. The Mason said that they released him, but he was never found. Most Americans believed that the Masons killed him for revealing secrets. Numerous anti-Mason rallies were held in the Palymra area between 1826 and 1830. W. W. Phelps, George Harris and Lucinda Morgan, wife of William Morgan, all people who would later join the church and come in close contact to Joseph, attended the same rally in Batavia, New York, a town about 60 miles to the west of Palmyra.(20)
The reason that the academics conclude that the Book of Mormon mimics the anti-Masonic tenor of Joseph's Palmyra environment is because it condemns secret combinations. It declares that the Jaradite nation fell into oblivion because "Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given them of old, who sought power, which had been handed down from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. And they were kept by the power of the devil (Eth 3:89-90). It chronicles the rise of the Gadianton robbers, who obtained "secret oaths and covenants" (Hel 2:150) from the Jaradite record, and reports that these robbers "did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi" (Hel 1:51). It even predicts that the secret combinations it denounces will exist among the Gentiles inhabiting America and threaten their freedom (Ether 3:98-99). If Masonic secrets and lore fascinated Joseph enough that he sowed them into the fabric of the church, then the Book of Mormon would have praised secret societies instead of condemning them. It would have revealed that Enoch, not Cain, was the origin of the secret oaths. It would have recorded that the Jaradite and Nephites were enlightened by the secret societies existing in their respective cultures. The accusation that Joseph heard Masonic legends and used them to fabricated his spiritual experiences and the records that he translated is false. It cannot be substantiated.
2. While Hyrum apparently joined the Masons during the time that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, his Masonic indoctrination was not enough to make him the conduit for the Enoch legend. Kimball says that Hyrum only rose to the third degree while in New York, but Durham teaches that the secret of the Enoch legend was reserved for the 13th, 14th, and 21st degrees.(21) Hyrum's most advanced position among the Masons in Palmyra prohibited him from knowledge of or access to the Enoch lore. The 13th degree of Masonry is called the Royal Arch of Solomon.(22) Many lodges, particularly on the frontier, did not have a member who had attained the 13th degree. Those lodges with Masons at the 13th degree or higher were termed a Royal Arch Lodge. The lodge at Palmyra was not a Royal Arch Lodge. Candidates for induction into the Royal Arch must complete the first three degrees of the 'craft,' for every inductee into the Royal Arch must be a Master Mason who successful answers question about the first three degrees of Masonry.(23) Hyrum may have become a Master Mason, but he rose no further while in New York, or maybe in his life. He certainly was not inducted into the Royal Arch. He had no access to the legend before Nauvoo and could not have provided Joseph with the information.
After Hyrum left New York, he had no contact with Masonry until the establishment of the Nauvoo Lodge. One critic noted, "His brother Hyrum transferred his membership from Palmyra, New York, to Nauvoo Lodge."(24) One Mormon historian noted that Hyrum "had not been active since the 1826 murder of anti-Masonic crusader William Morgan."(25) If Hyrum told Joseph Masonic secrets and Joseph used them as inspiration for his religious claims, then one would think that either Hyrum would continue as an active Mason, or, if he viewed Masonry as inferior to the Restoration, would have remained forever inactive in the craft. Hyrum's lack of participation until Nauvoo shows that he regarded the Restoration, at least in the days before Nauvoo, as something distinct and separate from Masonry.
History does not record that Hyrum provided much influence on Joseph during the formative years of the Restoration. Alvin, another brother, exhibited the most excitement about Joseph's spiritual experiences.(26) If Hyrum served as Joseph's link to Masonic lore, then reason dictates that he should have played a principle role in the coming forth of the Restoration. Hyrum never served as a scribe during the translation of the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdrey, and David Whitmer (the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon) supported the work and influenced Joseph more than Hyrum. None of these witnesses had Masonic ties. If the story of the Book of Mormon's discovery and translation was a ruse steeped in Masonry, then the witnesses participated in the sordid scheme. Since they were not Masons and at a later time fell out of favor with the church, creating a period when each had no interest in either Masonry or Mormonism, then they would have disclosed the tie. David Witmer became a critic of Joseph, accusing him of changing the revelations and creating a priesthood office that never existed.(27) Oliver Cowdrey criticized the seer for a "nasty and dirty affair" with a young lady.(28) Neither ever accused Joseph of introducing Masonic lore or secrets into Restoration teachings. The steadfast testimony of the three witness to the Book of Mormon and the divine manifestations surrounding its translation show that the work was of God and not Masonically inspired. Hyrum's membership in the local Masonic Lodge is the only verifiable fact that critics can use to connect Joseph's early years to Masonry, but the link that they want established fails in the light of a thorough investigation.
3. Joseph's signature on a petition inviting people to aid William Morgan's widow provides no evidence that he knew either Morgan, his widow, or Masonic secrets at the time of the petition. William Morgan moved to Rochester, New York, in 1823 and Batavia, New York, in 1824.(29) Rochester is about 20 miles from Palmyra and Batavia is about 60. While this places Morgan in close proximity to Joseph Smith, it provides no evidence that they knew each other. Morgan's history is filled with convoluted and contradictory claims from opponents and proponents, so that his whereabouts are generally uncertain.(30) No history records that the two met, let alone that they shared secrets. This is another unsubstantiated innuendo designed to inflame the reader, but adds no information to discussion. Some may assume it provides another source for Joseph to receive the Masonic account of Enoch. Even if Morgan instructed Joseph, the Masonic legend is not reflected in the Book of Mormon or the tenets of the Restoration., making the possibility of their meeting irrelevant.
The critics claim that Joseph's account of Moroni's visit and his discovery of the golden plates under a stone lid in hill Cumorah were fabricated by Joseph as he applied aspects of the Enoch legend. Moroni visited Joseph and showed him the plates in 1823. The earliest that Joseph could have met Morgan was 1824, meaning that if Joseph made up the story about the angelic visit, Morgan could not have not been its source. Morris' claim that Morgan was a "half way convert" of Joseph reflects that conclusion, showing that Joseph was already testifying of divine manifestations before he met Morgan.
Morgan engaged in Masonic and anti-Masonic activities during his stay in Rochester and Batavia. Depending on the time, a dialogue between Morgan and Joseph on Masonry, if it occurred at all, would have reflected either view. Here is the dilemma of the critics. In their attempt to discover a channel by which Joseph learned Masonic secrets, they try to show that Joseph met Masons and anti-Masons. That would have been true of almost any person living at that time. If both groups of people influenced the latter-day work, then Joseph must have been of unsound mind and his writings an incoherent concoction. Neither is true. Joseph's acquaintance with Masons or anti-Masons has nothing to do with the origin of the Restoration and provides evidence against its divinity for only those already willing to disbelieve.
4. Apparently W. W. Phelps and Heber Kimball were Masons prior to joining the church. Their association, and the involvement of other church leaders in Masonry either before or after they obeyed the gospel has little to do with the assertion that the early Restoration teachings were influenced by Masonry. Joseph received the revelation about Enoch (D&C 36) in December 1830. According to church history, sometime in June 1831 "W. W. Phelps arrived in Kirtland with his family. He desired to know the will of God concerning himself, and in answer to his petition received instruction directing him that he was called to the ministry, and also to assist in literary concerns."(31) The revelation given him is Section 55 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Since Brother Phelps first met Joseph Smith six months after the revelation concerning Enoch was received, he had no possible influence over its content. Heber Kimball joined the church in April 1832.(32) His earliest contact with the Palmyra Prophet was about a year later than Phelps'. The fact that these converts were Masons before entering the church had no influence on the revelation Joseph received about Enoch.
While Phelps was a Mason, he later opposed the craft. At the time that he joined the church, he was a publisher of anti-Masonic literature.(33) For those critics who claim that Joseph adored Masonic lore and secrets, Phelps' relationship to the latter-day prophet seems a contradiction. If Joseph was engaged in weaving Masonic secrets into the Restoration, men like W. W. Phelps would have quickly detected his efforts. Their anti-Masonic stance would have required them to reveal the Masonic origins. Phelps' close relationship with Joseph Smith and his enthusiastic support for the work is sufficient evidence that he detected no Masonic origin for the latter-day work.
5. Joseph's association with George and Lucinda Harris had no impact on the teachings of the church, at least until the Nauvoo period, if it ever did at all. Only Sections 106 and 107 were given after Joseph came to Far West. By 1838, the teachings of the church, at least as observed and practiced in the Reorganization, were well defined and established. The rapid growth of the church, which baptized nearly 200,000 converts from 1830 to 1844 would certainly have gathered Masons and ex-Masons. Their introduction to and association with Joseph should be expected. It does not mean that these people discussed Masonic topics with Joseph before he joined the society. Likewise, Joseph's stay in the Harris home does not imply that he learned Masonic secrets there nor began to introduce them into the church afterwards. None of Joseph's correspondence from Liberty Jail mentions new principles that can be connected in any way with Masonry. Besides, by the time that George Harris came to Far West he was opposed to Masonry, as his marriage to Lucinda might suggest. One investigator reported, "It is interesting to note that George W. Harris had briefly been a Mason in Batavia, New York. He was reportedly expelled from the Craft just a few days before Morgan's disappearance. He never again had anything to do with the order. Even when Mormons were rushing to join the Lodge in Nauvoo in 1842, Harris steered clear."(34) The accusation that Joseph took Lucinda as a plural wife is inflammatory and the assertion that she was the widow of William Morgan is a startling coincidence, but the Reorganization adequately refutes all who advocate that Joseph practiced polygamy. Perhaps the critics provide this information because it can further bias people who make no investigation into the accusations. Joseph's association with George and Lucinda Harris is nothing more than an attempt to slander Joseph's name in hopes that readers prejudiced against the prophet will accept the critics' conclusions.
6. Little evidence exists to imply, let alone prove, that Masonry flourished among church members before the saints settled Nauvoo. No records have come to light showing that very many saints participated in Masonic lodges in either Kirtland, Independence, or Far West. One significant reason for the rise of Masonry among the saints at Nauvoo was John C. Bennett. During the summer of 1840, John Bennett, Quartermaster General of the State of Illinois, "began a series of letters of a friendly and complimentary character, which finally resulted in his uniting with the church."(35) He helped the saints negotiate the Nauvoo city charter and won respect for his efforts, serving as an officer in its Legion and mayor of the city. After his expulsion, Bennett claimed that he joined the church simply "to get behind the curtain, and behold, at my leisure, the secret wires of the fabric, and likewise those who moved them."(36) Bennett was expelled from the church for immoral conduct in May 1842. Joseph explained that although Bennett was the husband of one wife and father of two or three children, all living in McConnelsville, Ohio, "he went to some of the females in the city, who knew nothing of him but as an honorable man, and began to teach them that promiscuous intercourse between the sexes was a doctrine believed in by the Latter Day Saints, and that there was no harm in it."(37) Besides teaching polygamy, Bennett encouraged the saints to participate in Masonic rituals. One researcher concluded, "Leading Mormons established Freemasonry in Nauvoo, apparently through the urging of John C. Bennett."(38)
Whatever influence Bennett had on the saints living in Nauvoo, after his expulsion, both Masonry and polygamy flourished in the city. The Nauvoo Lodge was formally established on March 15, 1842, by Grand Marshal Abraham Jones, less than two months before Bennett's expulsion. The saints preferred Masonry over the gospel, for they finished the Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo, but never completed the Temple. Likewise, they incorporated Masonic rites and oaths into temple ceremonies in contradiction to the rules of Masonry. The violations led to the rejection of their Masonic charter six months after the lodged formed.(39) The fact that the Nauvoo saints wove Masonic principles into church practices does not mean that the saints in other places throughout the world observed those changes, nor does it imply that Joseph accepted or authorized them. The Reorganization, which gathered many saints not part of the Nauvoo apostasy, never accepted the additions made to the church. The changes employed there did not alter the gospel as preached and practiced in the Reorganization.
7. The initial growth of Masonry at Nauvoo occurred without the involvement of Joseph Smith. He was not a Mason before the Nauvoo Lodge formed and did not request its organization. One Masonic historian explains, "The Masons among Smith's followers petitioned the Grand Lodge of Illinois for a dispensation for a lodge."(40) Their request was made some time in the fall of 1841. The Grand Master responded by first granted permission in October 1841 for Masons at Nauvoo to hold lodge meetings.(41) The next spring he personally visited the city and officially installed the Lodge. Both the request for the right to meet as lodge meetings and the scheduling of the Grand Master Mason to form a Lodge occurred before Joseph joined the society. In fact, Joseph's induction took place because the Grand Master Mason came to Nauvoo. If he had not come, perhaps Joseph would never have joined the Masons.
Joseph attended the formal organization of the Nauvoo Lodge, a ceremony opened to only Masons. His own records show that he attended a Masonic meeting the next night. Some claim he attended five more meetings, but the evidence is insufficient to firmly establish it as fact. By the time of his death, Joseph was no longer active in Masonry.
If Joseph was a life-long believer in Masonic mysticism, enough to weave its rites and lore into Restoration teachings, then reason suggests that he would have actively participated in the society once he was inducted, particularly after it became popular at Nauvoo. One would think that he would have led the saints as they entwined Masonic and Restoration practices into a secretive fraternity. His failure to continue in the craft shortly after his induction is strong evidence that whatever enthusiasm he may have enjoyed for Masonry waned. Since his enthusiasm for the gospel did not fade, his dissatisfaction with the craft shows that no real tie existed, at least in his mind, between Masonry and the Restoration.
8. If Joseph carried a talisman, it provides no evidence that he favored the occult or cherished Masonic secrets. If he carried it for good luck, all it shows is that he may have been superstitious. Then why do critics continually castigate the character or conduct of the Palmyra Prophet? Since they have insufficient evidence to substantiate their accusations, perhaps they hope their insinuations against his integrity will created enough prejudice that their hearers will overlook their inability to prove their point. Joseph was a man who endured the emotions and temptations common to all people. James revealed that Elijah "was a man subject to like passions as we are" (Jam:5:17). Yet, when he prayed, the heavens withheld their rain for three and one-half years. The human weaknesses inherent in the prophets do not make their prophesies false. Moses refused to circumcise his son (Ex 4:24-25). His disobedience does not mean that he fabricated his revelations or used devils to work miracles. Abraham fathered a son by a woman who was not his wife, but God still spoke to him and granted him blessings. Jacob tolerated idols in his household; David killed Uriah because the king lusted after Bethsheba; Solomon practiced polygamy and served false gods in his old age; Peter denied Jesus. The transgressions of all these men do not invalidate the good service that they gave the Lord or the wonderful works that he accomplished through them. If Jacob saw God, David prophesied of Jesus, Solomon built the Temple of the Lord, and Peter, obeying the vision, preached the gospel to Cornelius, then God can restore his church through Joseph Smith and bring forth the Book of Mormon by his hand.
The facts among the sundry cries from critics who try to link
Joseph with Masonic secrets are so sparse and circumstantial that they appeal to
only those who want a reason to disbelieve. The only provable incident is
Hyrum's induction into the Masonic Lodge at Palmyra. Even then, it does not show
that Joseph learned any secret information from his brother. The fact that
anti-Masons embraced the gospel and were so closely associated with the prophet
that they would have detected any Masonic origin for the latter-day work if it
existed provides additional evidence that the craft's lore and secrets did not
serve as its fountain. Reasonable evidence that Joseph learned Masonic lore in
time to place it in Restoration tenets as taught in the Reorganization simply
does not exist.
The critics not only try to degrade the Restoration message by claiming its founder was influenced by Masonry, but they assert that some specific teachings are Masonic. The faultfinders list four teachings that they believe have Masonic origins.
1. One accusation maintains that the Restoration account of Enoch sprang of Masonic lore. Durham refers to the teachings of the Royal Arch Order, implying that the revelation about Enoch and the hope of establishing Zion, which are so central to the purpose of the Restoration, came from Masonic lore and not God. The Royal Arch rite does not center on the history of Enoch or the content of his secrets. Instead, it celebrates the discovery of treasure hidden on Mount Moriah and re-enacts how the scrolls unearthed by the Knights Templar under Solomon's Temple were retrieved.(42) The content of the scrolls, although particularly valuable to the knights who found them, revealed little about Enoch. He is mentioned only as the source for the secrets contained in the scrolls. The scrolls revealed the ancient king-making ceremony begun in Egypt, which observance became the heart of their society's rites. Regular Masonic Lodges observe the king-making ceremony described in the discovered scrolls. An historical review of the development of that ceremony helps the investigator understand the central secret of Masonry and the more likely content of any disclosure a Mason might make about the craft..
Masonic investigators conclude that Masonic rites have their roots in the events of ancient Egypt. According to them, Egypt began with the unification of two lands, which the ancients symbolized with two pillars. They wrote, "The Egyptian hieroglyph for the Two Lands, called 'taui', was what could be described as two east-ward facing pillars with dots to indicate the direction of the rising sun. Facing this doorway from the east, the right hand pillar was the one in Lower Egypt, corresponding with the Masonic right-hand pillar Jachin, which represents 'to establish'. . . For the Egyptians the left-hand pillar marked the connection with Heaven for upper Egypt and in Masonic ritual it is identified as Boaz, said to mean 'strength or in it is strength'. . . Freemasonry states that the unification of the two pillars represent 'stability'. . . As long as both pillars were intact, the kingdom of the Two Lands would prosper."(43) Egypt fell to Nimrod who placed his father, Cush, on its throne, but this arrangement lasted only briefly. Shem, known as Set in Egyptian, convinced the Egyptians, who maintained some autonomy, to arrest, try, and execute Nimrod on his return to Egypt.(44) Afterwards, Shem's descendants ruled Egypt, one of whom may have been Melchesidec.(45) This is the Hyskos period in Egyptian history. Egyptian hieroglyphics reveal that Set constructed two pillars to record God's law and purposes. Josephus records, "They made two pillars, the one of brick and the other of stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed, the pillar of stone might remain and exhibit those discoveries to mankind. Now this remains in that land of Siriad [Egypt] to this day."(46) While Josephus ascribed the construction of these two pillars to Seth, more modern investigators ascribe it to Shem. Both Shem and Seth, which mean the appointed one in Hebrew, are rendered Set in Egyptian.(47) Some archeologists believe that Set built the Great Pyramid,(48) it being the pillar that Josephus said remained in Egypt in his day. Since the flood and the great upheaval created by the fracturing of the earth's crust and the destruction of the firmament would have destroyed both pillars if Seth had built them, the one to which Josephus referred must have been built after the flood.
During the Hyskos period the ousted line of Egyptian kings continued to appoint the individual whom they believed was the rightful heir to the throne in secret king-making ceremonies, steeped in astrological and pagan devices and using drug-induced hallucinated states. Representatives met to induct each new king for their deposed throne. They must have been incensed that Set had erected two pillars dedicated to divine principles in the land of two pillars.
The Masonic investigators concluded that Joseph, during the time that he ruled as vizier of Egypt, discovered the identity of the secretly installed king and tried to arrest both him and his priests, for they were opponents to the ruling Pharaoh. Joseph confronted the pagan-made king, named Seqenenre Tao II. Both he and his priests tried to flee. Not only did they want to avoid capture, but they refused to divulge any information about their secret order. The contenders all died during the confrontation, Seqenenre being struck on the head and in the eye with Reuben's sword.(49) With their deaths, the secrets to the drug-induced king-making ceremony died, too.
The ousted kingly line invented a new king-making ceremony. The scrolls that the Templars found described the second ceremony. Its rite centers on the raising of Hiram Abif. "Hiram meant 'noble' or 'kingly' in Hebrew, while Abif has been identified as old French for 'lost one', giving a literal description of 'the king that was lost.'"(50) This ceremony appealed to the Templars, for they were descendants of Dagobert II, the disposed king of the Gauls, presumably killed by Papal orders in 679 with a lance through the eye.(51) Like the ancient Egyptians, they were anxious to regain their throne and saw a way to transfer their kingly title through time until a descendent could be crowned.
Modern Masonry teaches that Hiram Abif served as chief mason when Solomon built the Temple on Moriah and died in a confrontation in which he was required to divulge where the secret chambers were in the building that held the king's treasures. The high degrees of Masonry reveal the source of those secrets. The Royal Arch claims that they came from two pillars built by Enoch, thereby corrupting the truth that Shem built them in Egypt after the flood. That order teaches that the secret name of God is Jahbulon, a combination of Jah, the Hebrew name of God, Baal, a Canaanite god, and On, the Egyptian sun-god.(52) If Joseph Smith was really influenced by Masonry, he would have tried to restore the secrets surrounding Solomon's Temple. These are the teachings that Hyrum would have learned when he was inducted into Masonry. If Joseph had learned any Masonic mysteries from his brother, he would have learned secrets about Hiram Abif and Solomon's Temple. If Joseph used those Masonic rites as a basis for early Restoration teachings, then the Book of Mormon and the early revelations of the church would have been filled with references to Solomon's Temple and the treasure it contained. Even if Joseph had been influence by the Royal Arch lore, he would have laid a foundation for the secrets given Enoch by revealing other, more basic Masonic mysteries. The secrets reportedly deposited by Enoch were only part of the scrolls supposedly found by the Knights Templar. The other documents apparently disclose the principles by which a society's stability is achieved and an environment maintained in which the ancient secrets can be revealed and honored. Yet, the early Restoration teachings do not recite the more basic and preliminary Masonic principles. They do not mention Solomon's Temple or any secrets deposited The absence of any reference to Solomon's construction of the Temple or the death of Hiram Abif in either the Book of Mormon or latter-day revelation clearly shows that Joseph was not influenced by Masonic rites, teachings or lore, nor did he weave its secrets into Restoration teachings.
Records ascribed to Enoch existed during the lives of the apostles. Jude quotes one passage from the account. It says "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude:14-15). Several early Christian writers quote other passages. Tertullian recites one passage: "The demons, and the spirits of the angelic apostates, would turn into idolatry all the elements, all the garniture of the universe, all things contained in the heaven, in the sea, in the earth, that they might be consecrated as God, in opposition to God."(53) Origen quotes Enoch, "I beheld the whole of the matter." Such verses show that the early Christians believed that Enoch observed divine things and recorded prophecies in scripture. If the Restoration restored the original teachings of the Christian church, then it would have returned at least some of the record of Enoch. The revelation about Enoch and the content of his vision is not Masonic in origin, but divine, a restoration of what the early Christian considered true and sacred.
2. The critics also assert that Joseph took the legendary story of secrets inscribed in an unknown language on golden plates from the Arch Royal lore to fabricate his claim of finding the golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. Their accusation is without merit. Metal plates were anciently used, particularly when its writers wanted to guarantee the preservation of their writings. Numerous references to the ancient practice of writing on metal plates or tablets exist today. The Apocrypha says, "The senate wrote back again in tables of brass."(54) Elsewhere, it records, "They wrote unto him in tables of brass."(55) Later, it adds, "They wrote it in tables of brass."(56) Finally, it says, "They commanded that this writing should be put in tables of brass."(57) Other investigators have recorded cases where the ancients used plates of gold or brass to preserve their writings. Roy Weldon reports that several excavations unearthed metal plates containing ancient writings. Roles of gold sheets as thin as typing paper and inscribed with letters were found in South America and are now on display in the Bank of the Republic in Bogata, Columbia. A stone box containing gold and silver inscribed talents was found in the ruins at Persepolis, Persia.(58) In fact, one of the records that the Templars' found is the Copper Scroll, composed, like its name implies, of copper.(59) Since the ancients wrote on metals, it is more probable that the plates from which Joseph translated the Book of Mormon really were written by the ancients than that Joseph lifted the idea from Masonic lore.
3. Critics maintain that Joseph transferred the concept of two preisthoods, one named named Melchesidec and the other Aaronic, from Masonry. Masonry venerates two pillars. They formed the foundation for ancient Egypt's unification and undergird the purpose of the Masonic ritual. The left hand pillar, called Boaz, named after the great-grandfather of King David, represents the kingly office,(60) while the right hand pillar, Jachin, named after the high priest who assisted at the dedication of Solomon's Temple, represents the prophetic function.(61) Divine government, according to this symbolism, is stabilized by the proper operation of both the kingly and prophetic duties. A nation is sturdiest when its rightful king and authorized prophet work together. These two pillars are the only Masonic emblems that could possibly be used by critics to conclude that Joseph extracted the idea for two priesthoods from Masonry.
While Masonry never associates the two pillars with either Melchesidec or Aaron, Melchesidec can be associated with the kingly pillar, for he reigned in Jerusalem, and perhaps in Egypt before then, being a descendent of Shem. Aaron could be affiliated with the prophetic pillar, for he was a high priest. If critics maintain that Joseph Smith used the two Masonic pillars as models for the Melchesidec and Aaronic priesthoods, something that the accusers do not do, then they misapply the symbols. Neither priesthood has a kingly function and one is subservient to the other. The Melchesidec and Aaronic priesthoods are part of the prophetic function and, cannot be made into two pillars. All they do is divide the prophetic pillar. No mason places a lintel on only one pillar, lest it fall. Dividing one pillar into two parts contradicts Masonic ideals. No Mason, neither someone influenced by Masonic concepts, would make this mistake. If Joseph had been influenced by the Masonic pillars, he would have made a kingly order and a prophetic order. Since the critics are ill-informed about Masonry, their accusations make sense to only those equally ignorant.
The first revelation, at least according to the critics, that refers to the Melchisedec priesthood was received in November 1831. It says, "They shall be high priests who are worthy, and they shall be appointed by the First Presidency of the Melchisedec priesthood" (D&C 68:2c). However, the concept of two priesthood existed before the organization of the church. According to Joseph's account, John the Baptist told Joseph and Oliver, "I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion, for the remission of sins. . . He said this Aaronic priesthood had not the power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter."(62) Critics maintain that Joseph wrote his account years after the event and described it in the terminology introduced afterwards, but history supports Joseph's testimony. While John the Baptist ordained Joseph and Oliver so that they had authority to baptize for a remission of sins, they did not lay on hands for granting the gift of the Holy Ghost. The authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost was received from heaven on April 6, 1830, at the organization of the church. Joseph recorded, ""I then laid my hands on Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an elder of the 'Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,' after which he ordained me also to the office of an elder of said church. . . We then laid our hands on each individual member of the church present that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree."(63) The fact that Joseph and Oliver held a priesthood that could not lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and later received a priesthood that could lay on hands shows that two distinct priesthood existed in the church at its inception and were divinely revealed before then.
While Masonry often refers to high priests, it does not speak of an Aaronic priesthood. Critics provide two references to Melchisedec. One says, "During the ritual for the Masonic 19th degree of the Grand Pontiff, the initiate swears oaths of secrecy and total obedience, and is anointed with oil. Then these words are spoken to him: 'Be thou a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.'"(64) Another noticed that the Masonic 24 inch gauge, which symbol is placed over the navel in the Utah Mormon Temple garments, "is sacred to the 'Melchizedek priesthood' sphere of the tree, Tiferet."(65) Neither of these references show the presence of a Melchisedec priesthood in Masonry. The craft only mentions a name of a person recorded in the Bible. It is far more probable that a crafty person would use the Biblical references to Melchisedec to formulate a priesthood than the Masonic references. If the critics maintain that Joseph invented two priesthoods, the evidence shows that he had more material in the Bible on which to draw than in Masonry.
The secret pertaining to Melchisedec is reserved for Masons advancing to the 19th degree. No one whom Joseph knew in the early days of the Reorganization, particularly before the church was organized, had attained such a high rank. Hyrum only acquired the 3rd degree. Critics are unable to show any link between Joseph and a Mason achieving the 19th degree. Their claim that Joseph used Masonry as the source for creating the Melchisedec priesthood cannot be substantiated. Since Christianity and Masonry draw on the same historical events, it is not coincidental that each mentions the same people or events. Masonry speaks, among others, of Adam, Enoch, Melchisedec, Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus, but that does not make the Bible Masonic. The fact that the Restoration scriptures mentions Biblical characters does not make it Masonic either.
The Bible describes two kinds of priests. It says, "What further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchizedec and not after the order of Aaron? (Heb 7:11). This passage shows that the apostles taught that two orders of priests existed. One was after the order of Aaron and the other after the order of Melchisedec. Since the Bible mentions an Aaronic priesthood and a Melchisedec priesthood, the presence of the Aaronic and Melchisedec priesthoods in the Restoration is Biblically sound, not a teaching derived from Masonry.
4. The last accusation leveled by critics is that the concept of three glories in the resurrection has Masonic origins. Since three glories in the resurrection were taught by the early Christians, it is accurate to say that the precept is Christian. Clement of Alexandria writes, "There are various abodes, according to the worth of those who have believed. These chosen abodes, which are three, are indicated by the numbers in the Gospel -- the thirty, the sixty, the hundred."(66) Pipias had already explained, "Those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendor of the city. But that there is a distinction between the habitation of those who produced an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and those who produce thirty-fold; for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in paradise, and the last will inhabit the city."(67) Irenaeus taught that the temple in Jerusalem, designed by God and divided into three parts, "set forth the glories of God."(68) He also wrote, "The presbyters say, Then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city. [They say moreover] that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty fold: for the first shall be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and that it was on this account the Lord declared, 'In My Father's house are many mansions.'"(69) Tertullian recorded, "Our Lord . . . descending from the third heaven."(70) Gregory Thaumaturgas testified, "There are three several glories."(71) Methodius wrote, "The Lord does not profess to give the same honours to all; but to some He promises that they should be numbered in the kingdom of heaven, to others the inheritance of the earth, and to others to see the Father."(72) The abundant testimonies of early Christian writers proves that the concept of three glories in the resurrection was a principle in the early Christian church and a teaching of the Savior. Since the Restoration maintains that God restored the original teachings of the church that Jesus built while personally on earth, the presence of this tenet in the latter-day gospel confirms that the restored church is divine.
The critics who assert that Restoration beliefs were derived
in some fashion from Masonry cannot prove their allegations. The foregoing
analysis shows that Joseph had little or no access to Masonic secrets and lore,
particularly Masonry's account of Enoch, until the church's basic teachings were
well established. Any similarity between the lore of Masonry and the records or
teachings of the Restoration is coincidental. They both draw on the same
history, making some similarities probable. The absence of basic Masonic
principles, secrets, legends, and teachings in the latter-day gospel shows that
no real tie existed. Rapid church growth gathered both Masons and anti-Masons
into the church. Their presence should be expected and their close association
with the prophet would have allowed them to detect either an anti-Masonic or
Masonic origin for Restoration tenets. Even the most avid critics in those days
failed to accuse Joseph of being influenced by Masonry. Any honest investigation
disarms the allegations and shows that the disputed tenets really have Christian
origins. Every specific teaching that critics assert came from Masonry has
Biblical roots. The testimony of the Bible, archeological discoveries , and the
writings of early Christians all confirm that Joseph restored the church of
Jesus Christ in its ancient and pristine beauty.
The Effects of Masonry on the Church
If the critics' accusations against Joseph Smith are so glaringly wrong, one might rightfully ask, "Why do they find support, particularly among some Mormon critics?" While the Reorganization observes the Restoration tenets known to have been introduced by the Palmyra prophet, the Utah church observes the rites, practices, and teachings introduced at Nauvoo. Many of those principles contain diverse and sundry similarities with Masonry. Consider the Masonic legend of Enoch. Durham records, "The legend is: that up in the pre-existence, there was a Secret Doctrine that was given by Deity, and it was given down to earth first to Adam. Adam then was to carefully guard this Secret Doctrine because it contained all the Mysteries. It contained all the knowledge of God, and the name it contained was the sacred name of God. Adam then bestowed it upon his son Seth, who guarded it very carefully -- only among the inner circle of believers -- and then it was handed down until it came to Enoch."(73) Compare that with a portion of one of Brigham Young's discourses. He said, "It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum.(74) Elsewhere he added, "When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize the world. He is Michael. . . He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do."(75) Utah Mormonism taught that Adam was part of a council of gods who organized the world and that he came to earth, bore children and passed the secret of the god head and the practice of polygamy to his offspring, which secret was restored by Brigham in the above discourse. Joseph never taught such a tenet. This is just one example exposing the masonic roots of Utah Mormonism.
One of the most obvious resemblance Utah Mormonism has with Masonry, at least for the Temple initiated, is the similarity between the Masonic rites and the Temple endowment ceremony. One Mormon critic reprints William Morgan's Mormonism Exposed to show that the early endowment ceremony as originally practiced in the Temple at Salt Lake almost exactly copies the penalties, signs, grips, and five points of fellowship of Masonry as recorded by Morgan.(76) Heber Kimball helped Brigham Young write the endowment ceremony. His daughter testified , "I remember once when I was but a young girl, of getting a glimpse of the outside of Morgan's book, exposing Masonry, but which my father always kept locked up."(77) Since Temple ceremonies duplicate Masonic observances, many Brighamites quickly perceive the tie. This means that some accusations of the critics are true about the Utah church, but that does not mean that those allegations apply to the church prior to Nauvoo. Neither does it mean that Joseph authored or condoned the change. The critics simply assume that after Joseph joined the Masons he helped weave Masonic rites, secrets, and teachings into the latter-day gospel.
Many church leaders at Nauvoo joined Masonry, Joseph Smith being one of them. Already representing the church of Jesus Christ restored in these last days and teaching the Savior's doctrine in its apostolic purity, some hoped to return Masonry to its original, presumably pristine, form. Heber Kimball wrote Parley Pratt, "Brother Joseph says Masonry was taken from the Priesthood, but has become degenerated."(78) Joseph Fielding recorded in his diary, "Many have joined the Masonic Institution. This seems to have been a stepping stone for preparation for something else, the true origin of Masonry. . . I have seen him [Joseph] after giving, as he said before, the origin of Masonry, the Kingdom of God on earth, and am a member of it."(79) Jesse C. Little reported, "The Angel of the Lord brought to Mr. Joseph Smith the lost key words of several degrees, which caused him, when he appeared among the brotherhood of Illinois, to work right ahead of the highest and to show them their ignorance of the greatest truth and benefits of Masonry."(80) Kimball added, "We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing."(81)
These witnesses testify that Joseph believed that Masonry was corrupt as practiced in the meetings that he attended and that with God's direction he hoped to return it to its former purity. Durham concludes, "My assumption is that Joseph Smith believed he was restoring Masonry's original pristine brilliancy, and that he was re-creating the Mysteries of the ancient Priesthood."(82) While the witnesses maintain that Joseph received divine assistance so that he could improve the craft, their testimony is suspect. The alterations made to the church after the death of the prophet were so great and disjunctive when compared to its early positions, that supporters of the changes stooped to slander and perjury in justifying their new tenets. The Utah church republished letters written by Joseph, altering passages to make it appear that the prophet introduced the deviations that they practiced.(83) They falsified journals and diaries so that modern-day researchers seeking primary sources and assuming they have discovered the truth in them really read from altered accounts. Charles Wandell records that he personally witnesses changes being made to the history written by Joseph. He wrote, "I noticed these interpolations because having been employed (myself) in the Historian's office at Nauvoo by Doctor Richards, and employed, too, in 1845, in compiling this very autobiography, I know that after Joseph's death his memoir was 'doctored' to suit the new order of things, and this, too, by the direct order of Brigham Young to Doctor Richards and systematically by Richards."(84) Witnesses say that Joseph brought a revelation that restored Masonry, but a copy of it has never surfaced. Joseph never claimed to receive it either. The only fact the witnesses provide is that they believed that the kind of Masonry they practiced after weaving the rites of the craft with the principles of the gospel was more enlightened and authentic.
The critics maintain that Joseph helped incorporate some Masonic concepts and performances into church activities. They point to his participation in the Council of Fifty as proof. Durham maintains that the council was a quasi-masonic organization. He says, "I suggest that enough presently exists to declare that the entire institution of the political kingdom of God, including the Council of Fifty, the living constitution, the proposed flag of the kingdom, and the anointing and coronation of the king, had its genesis in connection with Masonic thought and ceremonies."(85) Quinn agrees, adding, "Nearly every member of Smith's Council of Fifty was apparently already a Freemason."(86) The purposes of the Council of Fifty seemed to center on politics. It authorized ambassadors to Washington DC, Britain, France, Russia and the Republic of Texas, the later being the most successful. According to George Miller, Lucien Woodworth negotiated with Sam Houston "for a district of country to colonize the beforenamed saints upon, which had been ratified at the meeting of the Texan Congress the ensuing fall."(87) According to John D. Lee, one of the council's original members, it was the "municipal department of the Kingdom of God set upon the earth, and from which all law emanates, for the rule, government & controle [sic] of all Nations Kingdoms & toungs [sic] and People under the whole Heavens."(88) Benjamin F. Johnson, another member of the Council, said that it was the "outer wall or government around the inner temple of priesthood."(89) The aspirations of the Council of Fifty are summed up by Quinn. He wrote, "The 'constitution' in the council's initiation ceremony was a constitution for the Kingdom of God based on the U.S. Constitution."(90)
The Council of Fifty cannot be properly understood when separated from Joseph Smith's presidential bid. Joseph declared his candidacy for President of the United States on January 29, 1844. One reason that he sought this office was to correct the wrongs suffered by the saints and condoned by the state. Church leaders had petitioned all three branches of the Federal Government to redress the losses that it endured in Missouri, but to no avail. Joseph had interviewed possible presidential candidates about their position regarding the plight of the church, only to be disappointed in their response. Yet, Joseph held other political goals, among which was his desire to end all totalitarian governments. Durham quotes a letter that Joseph wrote from Nauvoo in which the prophet speaks about his hope. He wrote, "That a Republican form of Government take the place of Monarchy that the people have their free right of Suffrage & that Religious worship be put out of reach of Sivil [sic] Law."(91) That same letter represents the world as a Masonic Lodge and expresses hope about the future activities of nations. Joseph not only sought the presidency to obtain justice for the saints, but he pursued it to further the kingdom of God on earth. The Council of Fifty was a political association set aside to help achieve these goals. This conclusion is confirmed by the composition of the Council. Although many assume that it was composed of fifty high priests, the group had up to 53 members,(92) some of whom were not even members of the church.(93) The presence of nonmembers is a clear indication that Joseph viewed the Council as a group of political, not spiritual, advisors.
On April 11, 1844, Joseph was apparently "ordained" as "King, Priest and Ruler over Israel on the earth."(94) Critics assert that his acceptance of this title reveals his sinister lust for fame and power, implying that Joseph concocted the entire story of the Restoration to attract subservient believers. Joseph may have accepted this title because he hoped a successful presidential bid would give him the political position necessary to complete the security of the kingdom of God. Such a concept carries Masonic overtones. Masons believe that a stable government is built on two firmly established pillars, one being the kingly post and the other the prophetic. The church established the prophetic pillar when the priesthood was restored, but, at least until Joseph's presidential campaign, it had never considered erecting the kingly post. Now aware of Masonic principles, perhaps Joseph viewed his presidential campaign as an opportunity to build the two pillars upon which the Kingdom of God could be established in stability. Sidney Rigdon described the goal in a speech given to the saints. He said, "When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government; . . a government that shall rule over temporal and spiritual affairs."(95) The critics' allegation that the Council of Fifty had Masonic roots helps confirm the idea that one reason Joseph entered the Presidential Campaign was to establish the Kingdom of God.
Although Joseph actively sought the Presidency and may have organized the Council of Fifty to help achieve that end, he failed to participate in Masonic activities before and during his Presidential bid. His neglect of the craft, particularly in light of the principles that he seemed to espouse regarding the establishment of a just and stable government, indicates that he viewed the society as too corrupt to correct. His failure to produce the proposed revelation disclosing how the saints could restore Masonry to its pristine nobility also indicates that he concluded that the society was beyond repair or restoration. If Joseph truly "appeared among the brotherhood of Illinois, to work right ahead of the highest and to show them their ignorance of the greatest truth and benefits of Masonry," his abandonment of his wonderfully obtained position reveals that he regarded the craft as too polluted to produce the righteous nation that he sought. Instead of using Masonry, Joseph planned to build the Kingdom of God through politics. Joseph's abandonment of the craft, his failure to bring any revelation designed to restore Masonry to its original form, and his pursuit of the presidency to establish the kingdom all contradict the critic's accusation that Joseph adored Masonic secrets and sowed them into the church.
While Masonry may have been dismissed by Joseph, it had a chilling effect on the church. The saints readily embraced it. Quinn reports, "When Joseph Smith established Nauvoo there were barely 100 Freemasons in the entire state. By the time he organized the Council of Fifty, nearly 700 Mormons were Freemasons."(96) Most church leaders at Nauvoo embraced the secret society. Heber Kimball wrote, "We have organized a Lodge here of Masons since we obtained a charter. That was in March. Since that there have near 200 been made Masons. Brother Joseph and Sidney were the first that were received into the Lodge. All of the Twelve have become members except Orson P."(97) These individuals remained active in the craft, even after their charter was rescinded, and incorporated its rites in the Temple performances after the death of the Palmyra Seer. The endowments, oaths, and secrets that became part of the Nauvoo Temple ceremonies were never part of the observances performed in the Kirtland Temple. Since the ceremonies in the Kirtland Temple had no similarities to Masonic rites, the accusation that Joseph sowed Masonic lore into the foundation of the Restoration is obviously false. If Joseph wanted to incorporate Masonic secrets into the Restoration from its inception, he would have placed some of its ceremonies into the worship observed at the Kirtland Temple. The difference between the ordinances practiced in Kirtland and the rites performed in Nauvoo and later in Salt Lake illustrates the change that Masonry brought to the church after the saints moved to Nauvoo. It also shows that Joseph did not use Masonic secrets for the basis of the Restoration work.
If Joseph decided against Masonry and wanted to set his hand to order the church, particularly by stopping the practice of polygamy, perhaps he intended on exposing Masonry for what it was. Joseph read a revelation on marriage before the High Council "that was in answer to a question concerning things in former days."(98) William Law reported in the Nauvoo Expositor that the revelation authorized a multiplicity of wives. Joseph denied the accusation, saying the Expositor was "where the truth of God was made into a lie concerning this thing."(99) Some members in the Reorganization assume the revelation on marriage condemns polygamy. That revelation was taken to Utah with other official church papers. It was never published, Brigham Young substituting a forgery in its place. Perhaps the revelation on marriage, while denouncing polygamy, also condemned Masonry. The forged revelation printed by Brigham Young contains the following: "All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise . . . are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead."(100) While the context makes the verse refer to the marriage vow, it may be an alteration of a divine condemnation of oaths, vows, and performances practiced in Masonry. The original revelation may have denounced the secret covenants.
If Joseph decided to speak against Masonry and the debilitating effect it was having on the church, whether through revelation or by his own decree, then devout Masons would have considered Joseph their enemy. They would have regarded him like William Morgan and sought his life. One critic revealed, "In Mormon country it is still said, sometimes, that there were Masonic rings on fingers that triggered some of the muskets."(101) If Joseph saw those rings, then his cry from the jail's window makes sense. He said, "O Lord my God" (D&C 113:1c) which are the first four words of a Mason's distress cry. E. Cecil McGavin explains, "This was not the beginning of a prayer, because Joseph Smith did not pray in that manner. This brave, young man who knew that death was near, started to repeat the distress signal of the Masons, expecting thereby to gain the protection its members are pledged to give a brother in distress."(102) This same sentiment may be implied in the description of the murder printed at Nauvoo. It said, "With uplifted hands they gave such signs of distress as would have commanded the interposition and benevolence of Savages or Pagans. They were both Masons. Ye brethren of 'the mystic tie' what think ye!"(103) If Joseph intended to criticize Masonry, perhaps by bringing a revelation that condemned the society and, maybe, even revealed its pagan and seditious origins, he surely realized his dangerous predicament. After all, he signed a petition begging aid for Morgan's widow. Perhaps that is why Joseph knew he was a dead man when he left for Carthage. He said, "I am going as a lamb to the slaughter. . . I shall die innocent" (D&C 113:4b).
The digressions made at Nauvoo drew the church into apostasy and disorganization. Struggles over church leadership and perversions of gospel principles spread throughout the church, confusing and scattering the saints. Many ambitious leaders cloaked their counterfeit claims and disguised their deviant teachings with the pretended mantle of Joseph's sanction. They forged documents and falsified histories to create the appearance that the martyred prophet selected them and approved their precepts. Just like some distorted or fabricated Joseph's position on polygamy or his appointment of a successor, they also misrepresented his involvement in and use of Masonry. They may have misunderstood the events that they recorded and some intentionally falsified their accounts. The historical record is too diverse and contradictory to serve as a reliable source for investigators who want to accurately determine Joseph's view of Masonry at the time of his death. He may have investigated and entertained Masonic concepts before abandoning them. He may have used its language to express his hopes, but discarded its rites, teachings, and secrets. He may have been too overwhelmed by the growth of Masonic practices and rhetoric among the saints, especially among those occupying high offices, that he failed to act as quickly and decisively as some might like. Joseph's involvement in Masonry and the effect it may have had on Joseph's candidacy for the Presidency is not deniable. Masonry certainly effected Joseph after he moved to Nauvoo, but the accusation that he incorporated its secrets and lore into the original tenets of the Restoration is absolutely false.
The saints at Nauvoo intertwined Masonic and Restoration principles, altering the church in the process. It is the effect that Masonry had on the church at Nauvoo that incites honest critics. The immorality and abuses that oozed from that apostasy are abominable. Because the critics rely on Brighamite accounts, they assume that Joseph authored or condoned these changes. The Reorganization disagrees. It maintains that Joseph set his hand to steady the church, dying in the process, and that his son secured the church afterwards. The portion of the church at Nauvoo that was perverted, in part by Masonry, went to Utah. It is the church that the Lord rejected along with its dead (D&C 107:11a).
While Masonry helped changed the church at Nauvoo, it seemed nonexistent before then. None of its precepts appear in the Book of Mormon or latter-day revelations. Its rites are completely foreign to the ordinances and duties performed in the Kirtland Temple. The saints formed no lodges in their previous gathering sites: Kirtland, Independence, or Far West. The critics' provide no evidence that Joseph learned any Masonic lore prior to his induction into the society. All they do is slander his reputation with vague and inflammatory accusations so that the circumstances that place him in the proximity of Masonic activity seem too improbable to ignore. Those condemning Joseph for using Masonic secrets as the basis for the latter-day gospel cannot prove their allegations to even the most casual investigator. They simply provide a reason for those who insist that Joseph was a liar and charlatan to further entrench themselves in their rejection of the truth.
1. Jack Adamson and Reed C. Durham; No Help For The Widow's Son; Martin Publishing Co; Nauvoo; 1980; P 25
3. Jerald and Sandra Tanner; Mormonism, Magic and Masonry; Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Salt Lake City; 1988; P 50
4. Adamson & Durham; P 25-26
5. Tanner; P 46
6. Richard W. Bauman; What Happened to the Church; Self-Published; 1987; P 15
8. Adamson & Durham; P 15
9. Mervin Hogan; The Cryptic Cable Tow Between Mormonism and Freemasonry, Paper 22; February 24, 1970; RLDS Archives; P 2
10. Allen E. Roberts; Freemasonry in America; Macoy Publishing; Richmond; 1985; P 228
11. Edward Giddins; An Account of the Savage Treatment of Captain William Morgan, in Fort Niagara; Anti-masonic Bookstore, Boston; 1829, P 1
12. Adamson & Durham; P 15
13. Ibid.; P 16
14. Ibid.; P 17
15. Ibid.; P 25
16. Tanner; App B
17. Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas; The Hiram Key; Element Books: Rockport: 1997; P 261
18. Ibid., P 260
21. Adamson & Durham, P 25
22. F. Albert Pike; Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry; L. H. Jenkins; Richmond; 1906; P 204
23. Knight & Lomas; P 261
24. John E. Thompson; The Mormon Baptism of William Morgan; lds-morgan.com; 1985
25. D. Michael Quinn; The Mormon Hierarchy, Origins of Power; Signature Books; Salt Lake; 1994; P 622
26. Lucy Nack Smith; Joseph Smith and His Progenitors; Herald House; 1969; P 100
27. David Whitmer; An Address to All Believers In Christ; 1887; P 35
28. Richard S. Van Wagoner; Sidney Rigdon, A Portrait of Religious Excess; Signature Books; Salt Lake; 1994; P 219 and A Letter, William McClellan to Joseph Smith III; July, 8 1872; RLDS Archives
29. Roberts; P 227
31. Church History. Vol 1; P 198
32. Roy Cheville, They Made a Difference; Herald House; 1970; P 94
35. Church History, Vol 2; P 460
37. Ibid.; P 586
38. Robert Flanders: Nauvoo, Kingdom on the Mississippi; University of Indiana Press; Urbana; 1965; P 247
39. Roberts, P 253
40. Roberts; P 253
41. Jerald & Sandra Tanner; The Changing World of Mormonism; Moody Press; Chicago; 1981: P 535
42. Knight & Lomas; P 261-262
43. Ibid.; P 102
44. Colonel J. Garnier: The Worship of the Dead; Cahpman & Hall: London; 1904; P 259-262
45. Ibid., P 297
46. Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews, Bk 1, Ch 2
47. Garnier: P 251
48. Ibid., P 300
49. Knight & Lomas; P 132-137
50. Ibid., 121
51. Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Linclon; Holy Blood, Holy Grail; Dell Publishing; New York; 1983; P 251-252
52. John Ankerberg & John Wedon; The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge; Moody Press; Chicago; 1990; P 119-120
53. Tertullian; On Idolatry; Ch 4
54. 1 Mac 8:22
55. 1 Mac 14:18
56. 1 Mac 14:27
57. 1 Mac 14:48
58. Roy Weldon; The Book of Mormon Evidences Joseph Smith a Prophet; Herald House; Independence; 1970; P 27
59. Knight & Lomas; P 252
60. Ibid.; P 7
61. Ibid., P 8
62. Church History, Vol 1: P 36
63. Ibid.; P 77
64. Ed Decker & Dave Hunt; The God Makers; Harvest House; Eugene; 1984; P 201
65. Bill Schnoebeln; Joseph Smith and the Temple of Doom; www.saintsalive.com/masonry.htm
66. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Bk 6, Ch 14
67. Papias, Fragments of Papias, Ch 5
68. Irenaeus, Iranaeus Against Heresies, Bk 4, Ch 26
69. Ibid. Bk 5, Ch 36
70. Tertullian: Tertullian Against Marcion: Bk 1, Ch 14
71. Gregory Thaumaturgus, A Sectional Confession of Faith; Ch 5
72. Methodius, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 7, Ch 3
73. Adamson & Durham; P 25
74. Millennial Star, Vol 15, No 48: November 26, 1853; P 770
75. Ibid., P 769
76. William Morgan; Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity; www.utlm.org
77. Stanley Kimball; Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer; University of Illinois Press; 1986; P 12
78. Adamson & Durham; P 21
82. Ibid., P 22
83. Saints Herald, Vol 109; P 443
84. Church History, Vol 4; P 97
85. Adamson & Durham; P 19
86. D. Michael Quinn; The Mormon Hierarchy; Origins of Power; Signature Books; Salt Lake: 1994; P 129
87. Ibid; P 132-133
88. Lisle G Brown; The Holy Order in Nauvoo; lds-mormon.com; 1995
90. Quinn; P 131
91. Ibid., P 30
92. Quinn; P 125
93. Ibid.; P 127
94. Quinn; P 128
95. Times & Seasons, Vol 5, No 9; May 1, 1844; P 524
96. Quinn; P 130
97. Adamson & Durham; P 21
98. Nauvoo Neighbor; June 19, 1844; P 2
99. Ibid.; P 3
100. Utah Doctrine and Covenants 132:7
101. Adamson & Durham, P 11
103. Times & Seasons, Vol 5, No 13; July 15, 1844; P 585