The new temple films

Ezra Taft Benson taught in his 1969 address ‘To the humble followers of Christ’:

“Not only are there apostates within our midst, but there are also apostate doctrines that are sometimes taught in our classes and from our pulpits and that appear in our publications.”

While the new temple films are certainly visually beautiful, the first of the new three films clearly showed some of what Ezra Taft Benson was talking about. The temple should represent our best efforts to worship our God. Apparently some individuals took advantage of their position in making the film to slip in bits of apostate liberal thinking. They couldn’t change the text. But in a movie, the words spoken are only a part of what is portrayed.

In this film Adam is remade into an unthinking simpleton and Eve is the one who knows, thinks, and understand things. She makes mistakes, but she is also the one with a head on her shoulders. Adam, the ancient of days, the archangel who led the fight against Satan in the war in heaven, is portrayed as not being the type of person that ponders, considers, understands, or really knows anything. Thinking isn’t for obedient people, apparently. They just obey. That is all they do. They don’t know anything because they are too busing just obeying. The Adam portrayed in the first new film is just a simpleton who looks to Eve for leadership and his only response, if asked in an interview about the Fall, would be too express gratitude for Eve.

Eve is so emotional at one point that her emotions detract from being able to pay attention to and ponder the text.

The Satan in the first of the new films appears to have very little notion of what real good and evil are all about. He seems to be based more on a villain from a video game or an over the top fantasy novel for kids than on any real understanding of good and evil.

And I didn’t know it was humanly possible to enunciate the phrase “Multiply and replenish the earth that they may have joy and rejoicing in their posterity” into a statement preaching environmentalism instead of a commandment to have children in abundance with abundant joy and thanksgiving. But apparently it CAN be done. All you have to do is leave a sufficiently long pause after the word “earth” and the whole meaning of the phrase changes. It becomes “Multiply and replenish the earth” (which now sounds like it is the earth and its living, growing things we are multiplying and replenishing) … long pause .. “that they may have joy and rejoicing in their posterity” (which now sounds like it means that by taking good care of the earth we will have joy in our posterity, because we took care of the earth for them)

The first of the new temple films is still a temple film. The Holy Ghost can still teach what needs to be taught. Those who participate in it are genuinely endowed. But it is sad to see false liberal ideas being slipped in opportunistically. It reverses the role between Adam and Eve, making Eve the real leader among the two, and leaving the archangel Adam as the guy who will just be grateful if he gets Eve out of this whole affair. And it does appear to have a rather bizarre opportunistic recasting of the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth at one point.

The second new endowment film was dramatically better than the first. It does include Eve as the really spiritual one who yearns to follow truth with more interest and desire than Adam. Again, we are talking about Adam, the archangel, who is the head over all dispensations and will rule the earth second only to Christ. So again, ugh, on that point. Putting that unfortunate alteration aside, the rest was beautifully done.

The third new film is a delight. It is beautiful to both the eye and the ear. I don’t believe I have ever heard contrasting voices used to such intriguing and delightful effect. It was an effort fully worthy of what our ancestors did when they worked so hard on the Salt Lake temple. I only wish I could enunciate the sentence “You must eat of the fruit of that tree” in just that way.

You may think members have no right to find anything wrong with a temple film. Whatever. The temples are God’s home on earth. I can be forthright in saying “we could have shown our worship for him better” if it’s brazenly true. And the beauty of the presentation itself is far, far less important than the content of the presentation.


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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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