What Is the Difference between Churches and Temples?
Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) worship both in chapels (also called “meetinghouses”) and temples. Chapels are for Sunday worship. A Mormon meetinghouse will contain the chapel, plus classrooms, kitchen, multipurpose rooms, and a cultural hall. Artwork depicting the life of Christ may be found in classrooms and in hallways, but otherwise, Mormon meetinghouses are very plain. There is no statuary or other artwork in Mormon chapels. Mormons use no icons in their worship.
Mormons go to church on Sundays for three hours, during which they participate in several types of meetings. The first lasts for one hour and ten minutes and is called “Sacrament Meeting.” True to its title, the most important part of this meeting, which takes place in the chapel, is the partaking of the Sacrament, the emblems of the body and blood of Christ. By partaking of the Sacrament worthily, Mormons promise to remember Christ, to keep His commandments, and to take upon themselves His name. In return, Christ promises that His spirit will always be with the honest supplicant. The rest of the meeting includes prayers, the singing of hymns, and sermons delivered by various members who have been assigned to speak to the congregation. After Sacrament Meeting, there are classes for various age groups.
Mormon temples are something else entirely. The gift of the Holy Ghost,” entitling worthy members to personal revelation. Temples are the houses of the Lord; as in antiquity, they are places where the Lord can enter. These are holy, pure, dedicated edifices that act as connection points between heaven and earth. Some people who are not members of the Church complain that Mormon temple worship is secretive and therefore must be evil. This notion is false. Since temples are houses of God, they must not be defiled or used for unholy purposes. Only the righteous may enter. Therefore, not even all Mormons are able to enter Mormon temples. Worthiness is determined in an interview with one’s bishop (the leader of one’s congregation). Also, Mormons do not discuss the temple ritual outside the temple, not even with other Mormons who have attended the temple.is led by prophets through revelation directly from Jesus Christ. Lay members also have the “
To be worthy to enter a temple, a Mormon must have a sincere “testimony” (belief/knowledge) that Jesus is the Christ and that God lives. The person must keep the strict health laws of the Church, and pay a full tithe. If single, the person must be chaste; if married, he or she must be faithful. There must be nothing amiss in the person’s family life, and he or she must be honest in business and social relationships. The person must have repented of past transgressions, and must be actively engaged in attending church services and serving in the Church. Mormons invite all to live these standards and enter the temples of God.
Temples are usually open Tuesdays through Saturdays from early in the morning until late at night, and patrons can enter the temple whenever they are able. Many “higher” ordinances are performed in Mormon temples. They are often performed for the dead. Work for the dead is unique to Mormonism right now, but it was practiced in the early Christian church, too.
God judges us on our motives, intentions, feelings, and works. However, we are only held responsible for what we know. A person who has never heard of Jesus Christ is not held accountable for keeping Christ’s commandments. Nor can he be left behind in his progress towards eternal life, because he has never had access to saving ordinances, such as baptism. When we die, our bodies stay in the ground, but our spirits advance to a place called the Spirit World. In the Spirit World, we still have the same personalities and free will that we had on earth. There, those who have never heard the gospel of Christ will have that opportunity. However, without bodies, they cannot participate in saving ordinances. We mortals perform those ordinances by proxy in temples. The dead may accept them or reject them as they will. Late Mormon Prophet Joseph F. Smith experienced a vision of Christ organizing missionary work in the Spirit World. To read the account, see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138.