Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the aname of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day; and whoso taketh upon him my name, and aendureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
And how be it amy bchurch save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; and if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.
But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are ahewn down and cast into the bfire, from whence there is no return.
Saving ordinances are those rituals that are a requirement for exaltation. They are performed only once for each individual. However, if a person is excommunicated or removes his or her name from the church membership rolls, all saving ordinances are revoked; if the individual wishes to re-join the church, he or she must receive the saving ordinances again, beginning with baptism. According to LDS theology, ordinances can be performed vicariously (i.e. post mortem) on behalf of any person who would desire to accept the ordinance but was not able to receive it. The following constitute the saving ordinances of the LDS Church; the minimum requirements that must be met in order for the ordinance to be performed are included in parenthesis:
- Baptism: Performed by immersion after the age of accountability (normally age 8), and Rebaptism of excommunicated or disfellowshipped members.
- Confirmation and reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost: Performed by laying hands on the head of a newly baptized member.
- Ordination to the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods: To qualify, male candidates must be baptized and confirmed. They must be over the age of 12 to receive the Aaronic priesthood, and over the age of 18 to receive the Melchizedek priesthood, and must hold the Aaronic priesthood before receiving the Melchizedek priesthood.
- Endowment (including washing and anointing): Candidates must be baptized and confirmed; males must hold the Melchizedek priesthood.
- Marriage and sealing to a spouse: Candidates must be of legal marriageable age, and must have received the Endowment.
- Sealing to parents: There is no minimum age, and no pre-existing ordinance requirements. Live sealings require that members hold a valid temple recommend.
- Ritual of the Law of Adoption: An ordinance whereby individuals are sealed by adoption to non-biological fathers. This ordinance is no longer practiced in the mainstream LDS church, though it is in some fundamentalist groups.
- Second anointing: An ordinance performed on a sealed couple, sealing them up to eternal life, and anointing them as kings and queens, priests, and priestesses. The ordinance was originally taught as a requirement for salvation. The LDS Church has discontinued performing the ordinance, and it is not routinely performed by proxy.
Significance of ordinances
To Latter-day Saints, the saving ordinances are seen as necessary for salvation, but they are not sufficient in and of themselves. For example, baptism is required for exaltation, but simply having been baptized does not guarantee any eternal reward. The baptized person is expected to be obedient to God’s commandments, to repent of any sinful conduct subsequent to baptism, and to receive the other saving ordinances.
An ordinance may be viewed as a physical act signifying a spiritual commitment, or a covenant. Failure to honor that commitment results in the ordinance having no effect. However, sincere repentance can restore the blessings associated with the ordinance.
The emphasis on the physical aspect of the ordinance is the basis for the Mormon practice of performing ordinances vicariously for the dead. Since deceased persons no longer have an earthly existence, they are unable to directly participate in these “saving” ordinances themselves. The physical performance of these ordinances by proxy is seen as fulfillment of the requirement. As with living ordinances, ordinances for the dead are seen as necessary but not sufficient. It is believed that the spirits in the spirit world are offered the teachings of the full gospel of Jesus Christ and have the opportunity to accept or decline vicarious ordinances done on their behalf. Some Latter-day Saints refer to the reference by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:29 regarding baptism for the dead as evidence that this was a religious practice of ancient tradition that has now been restored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, ‘Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'”
The church goes on to declare:
“It is this principle of consistent and unalterable requirements that gives true meaning to the performance of vicarious ordinances in the temple. The Prophet wrote that baptism for the dead and the recording of such baptisms conform to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel.”
“Through time and apostasy following Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, however, the divine authority of the priesthood and the sacred ordinances were changed or lost, and the associated covenants were broken. The Lord revealed His displeasure over this situation in these words: ‘For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god.’ This situation required a restoration of knowledge pertaining to the importance, significance, and appointed administration of sacred gospel ordinances, both live and vicarious, as well as the divine authority of the priesthood and priesthood keys to administer them.” – “Ordinances and Covenants”, Church Ensign, August 2001, page 23
“Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations…. He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them.” – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208
“No jot, iota, or tittle of the temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God.” – Apostle James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, 1968, p. 84
“As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering.” – W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982
“…God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever… The great mistake made down through the ages by teachers of Christianity, is that they have supposed they could place their own private interpretation upon scriptures, allow their own personal convenience to become a controlling factor, and change the basis of Christian law and practice to suit themselves. This is apostasy.” – Prophet’s Message, Church News, June 5, 1965
“…the endowments have never changed and can never change; as I understand it; it has been so testified, and that Joseph Smith Jr., himself was the founder of the endowments.” – Senator Reed Smoot, Reed Smoot Case, vol. 3, p. 185
“…build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the priesthood…. And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein… For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times. And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.” – Jesus Christ Himself, Doctrine and Covenants 124:27–28, 40-42
“The Gospel cannot possibly be changed…. the saving principles must ever be the same. They can never change…. the Gospel must always be the same in all of its parts…. no one can change the Gospel… if they attempt to do so, they only set up a man-made system which is not the Gospel, but is merely a reflection of their own views…. if we substitute ‘any other Gospel,’ there is no salvation in it…. the Lord and His Gospel remain the same-always.” – Prophet’s Message, Church News, June 5, 1965
Ordinances which are not a requirement for exaltation are referred to as non-saving ordinances. A non-saving ordinance may be performed on behalf of an individual many times; in practice, however, some non-saving ordinances are only performed once per individual. The following constitute the non-saving ordinances of the LDS Church:
- Sacrament: This ordinance is usually performed weekly in every church congregation.
- Naming and blessing a child: Typically this ordinance is performed shortly after a child’s birth; it is usually performed only once for each individual.
- Patriarchal blessing: This ordinance is usually performed only once for an individual.
- Consecrating oil: This ordinance is performed as needed to provide oil for other ordinances.
- Anointing and blessing of the sick and afflicted: These ordinances may be performed on an individual as needed.
- Priesthood blessing (including father’s blessings): This ordinance may be performed on an individual as needed or requested.
- Calling: This ordinance requires that a person having responsibility over a unit or an auxiliary of the church prayerfully seek revelation to determine which individual is to fill particular responsibilities within that organization. If the individual agrees — and many persons wait to receive spiritual confirmation before agreeing — then the individual is “called” to the position.
- Sustaining: Names of individuals called to responsibilities within the organization of the church are proposed to the congregation for a sustaining vote. Members may covenant to sustain, or raise a hand to dispute, or simply abstain from voting. While the vast majority of proposed callings are unanimously sustained, disputants are invited to discuss their concerns privately with the leader extending the calling, who may then withdraw or extend the calling as proposed.
- Setting Apart: Individuals who are called to fulfil positions within the organization of the church are set apart in a priesthood blessing made under the laying on of hands.
- Fellowship: When a church member is newly baptised or moves into the geographic boundaries of a ward or branch, the individual’s name is presented to the congregation. Members of the congregation are invited to raise their right hands in a covenant and token of fellowship to welcome the member into the congregation.
- Dedication of a church building or a temple: This ordinance is performed after the building is completed and paid for; if a building undergoes extensive remodeling, this ordinance may be performed again.
- Dedication of a grave: This ordinance is performed immediately before the body is placed in the grave; it is usually performed only once.
- Dedication of a land or country for the preaching of the gospel: This ordinance is usually performed before or soon after missionaries begin to preach in a particular country; it is usually performed only once (but may be performed again if missionaries have not been in a particular country for an extended period of time); it is typically performed by an Apostle.
- Prayer circle: An antiphonic prayer around an altar, performed as part of the Endowment, and also on other occasions by the LDS Church, such as meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple. Until the early 20th century, the ordinance was performed in local LDS meetinghouses.
- Hosanna Shout: Performed at temple dedications, involving a recitation of praise to God while waving a white handkerchief.
- Shaking the dust from the feet: A cursing ordinance against people who reject the teachings of missionaries, or who fail to provide them with food, money, or shelter. It was commonly and sometimes routinely used by Mormon missionaries in the 19th century, but is now rare.
- Rebaptism of faithful members: This ordinance is no longer performed in the mainstream LDS church, but was a significant ordinance during the Mormon Reformation.