The Incredible Shrinking Endowment

My wife and I went to the temple last night. Another change to the endowment ceremony was announced. Due to explicit instructions by the First Presidency in the announcement, I won’t discuss details (though I have registered my frustration with this non-essential secrecy in another post). Safe to say that it is nothing serious, and I am not sure anyone can argue with me on that.

However, it got me thinking about temple ceremony changes in the future. Looking across the ordinances, baptism takes about 30 seconds, confirmation about the same, initiatory takes about 5 minutes, and the sealing takes about 2 minutes (at least when doing vicarious ordinances). But the endowment takes a whopping hour and a half, maybe longer. I have always felt like as temple work accelerated in the Millennium, the ordinance itself would get much shorter. What do you think?

Since we can’t talk about it, I won’t ask what you think the “irreducible core” of the endowment ordinance is, but it is worth thinking about.

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5 thoughts on “The Incredible Shrinking Endowment

  1. I won’t get into specifics, but I think there is plenty of room to streamline the endowment ceremony. I don’t think it needs to be conducted at the breakneck speed of vicarious baptisms, but I imagine that we will continue to see the ordinance stripped of nonessentials (at least for those who are doing vicarious work rather than receiving their own ordinance).Wasn’t the ceremony like 6 hours long back in Brigham Young’s time?

  2. This is one of my pet peeves, so I have to respond…I have heard this from others who thought it would be appropriate to remove the creation narrative. I strongly disagree. I am curious how the Creation become a non-essential? To me, this is the most significant, interesting, and relevant part of the ordinance. Life, the earth, and all of creation are a gift from God (which is what the endowment is as well – a gift from God.) A great deal went into providing a home for us. We should never forget what it took to provide a physical body for each of us. Also, our relationship with this earth is of vital importance both now and in the next life. It is all part of the big picture and could never be removed. To take it out is to remove us from the equation as well.When we casually think that life and the creation have little significance in the gospel is when we lose that gift. Our cities are polluted, our natural resources are dwindling. We are not being the stewards that God has asked us to be. We should be teaching and learning MORE about the Creation, not less.I’ll get off my soapbox now…:)

  3. Steve’s right. I am studiously avoiding the mention of specific elements of the endowment that are non-essential. What’s clear is the endowment was once much, much longer and contained entire sections that no longer have any trace at all in the modern ceremony. Actually, from what I can tell, Joseph made it longer in this time (between the first time it was given in the Red Brick Store and later administrations in the Nauvoo temple). I don’t know about any subsequent developments, although it seems to have progressively shrunk since then.What I am getting at here is that we ought to be extremely humble about what we personally consider to be “essential” parts of the endowment. Therefore, the reticence to discuss my particular views on that point (in addition to my covenant obligation not to). Some things are now missing from the ceremony as administered in Joseph Smith’s day (as well as the time of other prophets) that they would have considered absolutely essential. Incidentally, I agree with GMA’s assertion that more should be taught about the Creation and our stewardship relation to the earth. I am not sure that that instruction ought to take place in the temple, but I would be open to it in other settings nonetheless.

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