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  #1  
Old 01-31-2007, 06:45 AM
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Question Why did Joseph Smith become a freemason?

Why did Jospeh Smith become a free mason after condeming secret societies as did moroni?

After Joseph Smith went to Nauvoo, he again took an interest in secret societies. In fact, it was in Nauvoo that Joseph Smith became a Mason, formed the Council of 50, and established the secret Temple ceremony. Many of the converts to the Mormon Church were Masons or had been Masons in the past. The Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe stated: "Many members of secret societies have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 Volumes in 1, page 113) On pages 357-358 of the same book, Dr. Widtsoe stated:
"Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph's brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett. . . .
"With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo. In answer they were granted permission, in October, 1841, to hold lodge meetings; but it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. JOSEPH SMITH BECAME A MEMBER."

ether 8v 19 For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.

"We further, caution our brethren, against the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant, oaths, penalties, or secresies, . . . pure friendship, always becomes weakened, the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy." (Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, page 133)

"We have passed a resolution that men who are identified with these secret organizations shall NOT be preferred as bishops, or sought for as counselors; the same when it comes to selecting M.I.A. officers. The men who have done this have disqualified themselves and are NOT FIT to hold these offices." (Provo Enquiror, November 12, 1900, as quoted in Mormonism and Masonry, by S.H. Goodwin, page 76)

I followed this link (from which all the quotes are from) from a wikipedia article not from any anti mormon website.
http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/...NG%20QUESTIONS
  #2  
Old 01-31-2007, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
I followed this link (from which all the quotes are from) from a wikipedia article not from any anti mormon website.
http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/...NG%20QUESTIONS
Just a quick note before I head off to school - UTLM, is a highly anti-mormon site. They goal is to 'minister to Mormons to bring them back to Christianity.' (my words, but it's basically what they do). You wouldn't have known that, so don't worry about it.

I'm sure the others will address this topic while I'm gone.
  #3  
Old 01-31-2007, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
Why did Jospeh Smith become a free mason after condeming secret societies as did moroni?


After Joseph Smith went to Nauvoo, he again took an interest in secret societies. In fact, it was in Nauvoo that Joseph Smith became a Mason, formed the Council of 50, and established the secret Temple ceremony. Many of the converts to the Mormon Church were Masons or had been Masons in the past. The Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe stated: "Many members of secret societies have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 Volumes in 1, page 113) On pages 357-358 of the same book, Dr. Widtsoe stated:
"Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph's brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett. . . .
"With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo. In answer they were granted permission, in October, 1841, to hold lodge meetings; but it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. JOSEPH SMITH BECAME A MEMBER."

ether 8v 19 For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.

"We further, caution our brethren, against the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant, oaths, penalties, or secresies, . . . pure friendship, always becomes weakened, the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy." (Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, page 133)

"We have passed a resolution that men who are identified with these secret organizations shall NOT be preferred as bishops, or sought for as counselors; the same when it comes to selecting M.I.A. officers. The men who have done this have disqualified themselves and are NOT FIT to hold these offices." (Provo Enquiror, November 12, 1900, as quoted in Mormonism and Masonry, by S.H. Goodwin, page 76)

I followed this link (from which all the quotes are from) from a wikipedia article not from any anti mormon website.
http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/...NG%20QUESTIONS

I don't have my resources with me right now, so I can't do the research I would like to. If this thread hasn't self-destructed by this evening, I'll see what I can find.
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  #4  
Old 01-31-2007, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
Why did Jospeh Smith become a free mason after condeming secret societies as did moroni?
First off, there is a big difference between the secret society documented in the Book of Mormon (the Gadianton robbers) and that of the Freemasons. The Gadianton robbers were a wicked band of men who secretly sought and planned the overthrow of the established government through murderous and evil means. Their membership, their plots, and their very existance was intended to be kept secret. They were a wicked and dangerous society. Freemasonry is not a secret society in that sense. From what I know of it, it is a service and charity oriented fraternity that only keeps a few certain rituals and practices private among its members. There is a big difference.

Certain leaders have discouraged joining Freemasonry mainly because we believe we have what we need within our own organization: a strong fraternal priesthood organization, and divinely inspired saving ordinances. Freemasonry requires a certain amount of time and dedication and some church leaders believe that decidation would be better off focused on the building of God's Kingdom through Christ's church. The church however, has no official statement against its members becoming Masons.

Now to answer your question...

This is not official LDS belief (I don't know that the church has taken a confirmed and detailed position on this issue), but I personally believe that Joseph Smith became a Freemason for two purposes:

1. He was attracted to the strong faithful fraternal nature within Freemasonry and joined as an attempt to gain influential support against the persecution of the Mormon people.

2. Parts of our temple ordinances include inspired adaptations of Masonic ceremonies and rituals. I believe parts of the Masonic ceremonies contain adaptations of certain ancient elements and I believe that some of those may very well have come from authentically divine sources. I believe Joseph became a Freemason in part to help restore some of those authentic elements.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
I followed this link (from which all the quotes are from) from a wikipedia article not from any anti mormon website.
I hope you're not that naive to think that wikipedia is completely immune from anti-mormon content
  #5  
Old 01-31-2007, 03:52 PM
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I have no idea why Joseph joined the Freemasons. Don't worry though, it's number 14 on my list of questions for when I meet him in the afterlife or resurrection (whichever comes first).
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  #6  
Old 01-31-2007, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by XAAX
WoW...I would recommend you researching that again.
What are you referring to?

I simply stated that Freemasonry is very different from the secret society that is documented in the Book of Mormon. The Gadianton robbers were a secret society in every sense of the word and were a dangerous threat to those who weren't part of that society. Freemasons are not a secret society in that sense: they have publically identifiable meeting places (lodges), in many cases they don't try to keep their membership secret, and I sincerely doubt they are secretly planning a violent overthrow of the government. Call me naive, but the few Masons that I know seem to be good and reasonable people. Sure, there may be some dark spots in Masonic history, and there may be some truth concerning their intentions to establish influential connections among their members, but there are definitely plenty of lies about their "secret" intentions.
  #7  
Old 01-31-2007, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
I followed this link (from which all the quotes are from) from a wikipedia article not from any anti mormon website.
http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/...NG%20QUESTIONS


It kind of makes you wonder, though, why the last part of the link contains the words "EMBARRASSING QUESTIONS."

I haven't read Polaris' answer yet. I'll see what he had to say and see if I can in any way add to it.
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  #8  
Old 01-31-2007, 07:04 PM
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*** MOD POST ***

Okay, I'm going to nip this one in the bud. A lot of people have strong feelings about Freemasonry. That's fine. The DIR on Mormonism is not the place to discuss them. I believe the OP has been answered. If any other Latter-day Saints have anything to add in response to Sola's question, please feel free. But let's NOT turn this into a debate over the perceived merits or evils of Masonry. Thank you all!
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Last edited by Katzpur; 01-31-2007 at 07:10 PM..
  #9  
Old 01-31-2007, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
Why did Jospeh Smith become a free mason after condeming secret societies as did moroni?

The Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe stated: "Many members of secret societies have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 Volumes in 1, page 113)

This is a perfect example of why reading second hand garbage rather than the primary source will get you in trouble. The link you gave says that Masonry somehow influenced our temple ceremony, coincidentally, the quote you have provided is from a section in Widstoe's book that was expressly written to disprove what you are attempting to prove. He actually predicts your argument here:

John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.111
Whence Came the Temple Endowments?

It was inevitable that those who have sought to destroy the truth of the Prophet Joseph Smith's message would misinterpret the temple endowment. They have set up the theory that Joseph Smith merely adapted the temple conception and ritual from the rituals of fraternal, secret organizations.

Here is a little more of the text you provided out of context:

John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.113
Many members of secret societies have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have been faithful to their covenants. But as they have come to the temple of the Lord, they have said, in the words of one former member, "Secret societies have nothing to teach the Latter-day Saints."

Carefully and intelligently studied, the proposition that the Mormon endowment was built upon secret fraternal rituals cannot be accepted by any thoughtful person.

Joseph Smith received the temple endowment and its ritual, as all else that he promulgated, by revelation from God. \\\


This would actually indicate the opposite of what you are trying to imply, namely that the temple ceremony did not come from masonry.


Quote:
On pages 357-358 of the same book, Dr. Widtsoe stated:
"Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph's brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett. . . .
"With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo. In answer they were granted permission, in October, 1841, to hold lodge meetings; but it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. JOSEPH SMITH BECAME A MEMBER."


Here you again have provided a quote that is taken out of context. If you had only bothered to check original sources, you would have actually answered your own question. If you want to know why Joseph Smith became a mason, it would be a good idea to read the section you took the quote from, since it is titled "Why Joseph Smith became a Mason"

Here it is:

Quote:
John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.357

Why Did Joseph Smith Become a Mason?


Nauvoo, the city beautiful, was founded by the Latter-day Saints in 1839, nearly ten years after the Church had been organized. The decade had been one of unreasoning persecution of the members of the Church. The forces of evil seemed to be combined against the restoration of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Prophet, to save his life, was obliged to flee from Kirtland, Ohio, headquarters of the Church where a lovely temple and many progressive enterprises had been built. The Saints as a body were expelled from Missouri, under an "exterminating" order by the governor of the state, despite several successful settlements by the Church within the state. In seeking a city of refuge, Nauvoo, then a squalid village called Commerce, was founded.

The settlement in Nauvoo was effected in the hope that the people might now live in peace to worship the God of heaven in their own way. There they built well, for soon Nauvoo was the most populous and thriving city in Illinois. But soon after their arrival there, neighbors began to question the doctrines of the Church, notably revelation. The prosperity of the industrious Saints also incited jealousy on the part of those who would not pay the price of toil for success, or who were speculating in lands and other properties. Persecution began to rise there as in other places. Political differences and hopes also entered into the picture.

The Saints knew well enough the sufferings from mob persecution. Joseph Smith, the leader, looked for means to quell the rising tide of opposition.

Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph's brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett. These members called attention to the spirit of brotherhood and brotherly love which are the foundations of Masonic fraternity and which characterize Masonic activities: -- as, for example, from this writer,

On the rolls of Masonry, those lodges will stand highest in which not some few, but each and every member cheerfully gives of his time and labors to make the others happier, not some of the time but all of the time.

This ideal agreed well with the high ideals of the Prophet. Moreover, it was conceded that many of the prominent and influential men of the state were Masons who could be friends when needed. Association with such a fraternity might help to lessen the mob persecutions to which the Church had been subjected in Ohio and Missouri, so reasoned the Prophet's advisors.

The people of the Church needed friends. The work in Nauvoo would be hindered if opposition to the Church were allowed to grow. The Prophet and his brethren and sisters of the Church had suffered much without cause. They wanted peace. Perhaps Masonry would help. So, in the light of history, ran the thoughts of the people.

With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo. In answer they were granted permission, in October, 1841, to hold lodge meetings; but it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members. Joseph Smith became a member. At the time of the lodge organization, Joseph Smith received some of the degrees in Masonry. He was never an active Mason. His other work consumed his time and energy. His history shows that he was extremely busy at this time with a multitude of Church problems. Lodge matters would have to be left in other hands.

Meanwhile, large numbers of Nauvoo citizens were inducted into the fraternity. Soon the Nauvoo lodge had more members than all the other Illinois lodges together. It became the largest in the state. In this rapid growth, some lodge errors appear to have been made. These however could easily have been corrected.

However, Joseph's Masonic membership did not lessen the persecution. The religious claims of the Mormons were ridiculed; their political power seemed a threat; and their prosperity nettled the less successful neighbors.

The attempt to win sufficient friends through Masonry to stop persecution failed. The Masons after all were only a small fraction of the people of the territory surrounding Nauvoo. And no one knows with certainty whether any of them took part in the "Mormon" persecutions. The whole terrible affair leading to the assassination of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum was a local affair within the Nauvoo territory, where lived people of many faiths and allegiances.
Looks like the persecution is still going on today...



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Last edited by comprehend; 02-02-2007 at 03:47 AM..
  #10  
Old 01-31-2007, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sola*5
"We further, caution our brethren, against the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant, oaths, penalties, or secresies, . . . pure friendship, always becomes weakened, the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy." (Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, page 133)
The quote above is also chopped up to give a different impression, here is the full quote:

"We further, caution our brethren, against the impropriety of the organization of bands or companios, by covenants, oaths, penalties, or secresies, but let the time past of our experience and sufferings by the wickedness of Docter Avard suffice, and let our covenants, be that of the everlasting covenant, as it is contained in the holy writ, and the things which God has revealed unto us; pure friendship, always becomes weakened, the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy. Your humble servants intend from henceforth to disapprobate every thing that is not in accordance with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and which is not of a bold, frank, and upright nature; "

The letter is obviously talking about Dr. Avard and the Danites who formed a secret society in 1838 and decided to take the law into their own hands and caused a lot of problems in the LDS community, not the masons, of which Hyrum Smith, one of the signers of the letter above was already a member when he signed...

More evidence:

Quote:
Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon, p.200
Quote:

"What is more, a proclamation Joseph Smith issued on 25 March 1843 in his capacity as mayor of Nauvoo clearly shows that the Prophet, who had by now been a Mason for somewhat over a year and who had introduced the full endowment ceremony on 4 May 1842, was still entirely capable of denouncing "secret combinations," and without any reference to Freemasonry whatsoever:

Whereas it is reported that there now exists a band of desperadoes, bound by oaths of secrecy, under severe penalties in case any member of the combination divulges their plans of stealing and conveying properties from station to station, up and down the Mississippi and other routes: And whereas it is reported that the fear of the execution of the pains and penalties of their secret oath on their persons prevents some members of said secret association (who have, through falsehood and deceit, been drawn into their snares,) from divulging the same to the legally constituted authorities of the land: Know ye, therefore, that I, Joseph Smith, mayor of the city of Nauvoo, will grant and insure protection against all personal mob violence to each and every citizen of this city who will freely and voluntarily come before me and truly make known the names of all such abominable characters as are engaged in said secret combination for stealing, or are accessory thereto, in any manner.

This document is of the deepest interest, for it shows Joseph Smith using the term "secret combination"-he later declared that his intention was "to ferret out a band of thievish outlaws from our midst" (emphasis mine; the word "band" is frequently used in the Book of Mormon with reference to the Gadianton movement)-many years after the anti-Masonic agitation of the 1820s and in a context that clearly has nothing to do with the Masons. Furthermore, Joseph Smith the practicing Mason is the one who here decried the secret oaths of the thieves that bound them to one another in wickedness, and he did so on the basis of intelligence his long-time Mason brother, Hyrum, supplied: "In the office at eight, a. m.; heard a report from Hyrum Smith concerning thieves; whereupon I issued the following Proclamation."
any questions?
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