18. “Establish…a House of God”

The Saints were commanded to build the Kirtland Temple in 1832 but work did not begin until 1833. It was completed in 1837 after much sacrifice. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams received a vision showing what the temple should look like. When the temple was completed, there was an outpouring of spiritual manifestations on many Saints.
The Purpose of the Kirtland Temple

“Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple, 1836,” Steven C. Harper, Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer
The backstory of Section 88: “In response to section 88’s command for the Saints to build a house of God, call a solemn assembly in it, and present themselves there sanctified in order to enter the Lord’s presence, the Saints were obedient. They built the Kirtland Temple, the first in this last dispensation, and entered, both symbolically and literally, into the presence of the Lord.”

“A School and an Endowment,” Nathan Waite, Revelations in Context
The School of the Prophets prepared leaders to seek out the blessings of the temple.

“A House for Our God,” Lisa Olsen Tait, Brent Rogers, Revelations in Context
Building the Kirtland Temple consumed the Saints’ financial and time resources, but they did it because of the Lord’s commandments to build Zion.

“Six Things to Remember about the Kirtland Temple,” history.lds.org
The temple fulfilled specific purposes outlined in D&C 88.

Kirtland Temple Architecture

“Kirtland Temple,” Mapping Mormonism, ed. Brandon Plewe, p. 31
This cutaway shows the interior of the Kirtland Temple’s two levels.

“Kirtland Temple Pulpits,” Kip Sperry, Kirtland, Ohio: A Guide to Family History and Historical Sources
Photos of the pulpits with an interpretation of the initials on the pulpits.

The Kirtland Temple Dedication

“‘An Angel or Rather the Savior’ at the Kirtland Temple Dedication: The Vision of Frederick G. Williams,” Frederick G. Williams, BYU Studies, Vol. 56, no. 1
At the Kirtland Temple dedication on March 27, 1836, President Frederick G. Williams testified that he saw a “holy angel” enter the temple during the opening prayer. Nine witnesses wrote about the event, and even though details in their records conflict, it is evident that the angel Williams had seen was the Savior. The vision fulfilled prophecy about the members of the First Presidency each becoming a witness of the Savior.

“Pentecost Continued: a Contemporaneous Account of the Kirtland Temple Dedication,” Stephen C. Harper, BYU Studies, Vol. 42, no. 2
A letter by Benjamin Brown tells of the spiritual experiences at the Kirtland Temple dedication.

Additional resource:

The above article, “Pentecost Continued: A Contemporaneous Account of the Kirtland Temple,” was expanded with other accounts of the Kirtland Temple dedication and published as:

“Opening the Heavens: The Restoration of Temple Keys and Powers (Chapter Only),” (2nd edition, 2017) Steven C. Harper, can be purchased as a PDF for $5.00 or an ebook for $4.99. The print book is available for $21.95 and as an ebook (full book) at Deseret Bookshelf ($19.95) or Amazon Kindle ($11.99).

In this chapter, Steven C. Harper reproduces the richest historical documents associated with the dedication of the Kirtland Temple—the contemporary writings of several eyewitnesses. They are published here together as a collective testimony of the fulfillment of divine promises to reward righteousness and sacrifice by the bestowal of spiritual gifts, ministering angels, and restoration of priesthood keys to endow the faithful with power.

Scriptural Commands against Laughter (D&C 88:121)

“On Mormon Laughter,” Shawn R. Tucker, BYU Studies, Vol. 51, no. 4
Scriptural commands against laughter warn against negative laughter (for example, spiteful or proud mocking), but positive laughter can build relationships and faith.

“Light-Mindedness versus Lightheartedness: Conflicting Conceptions of Laughter among Latter-day Saints,” Diana L. Mahony, Marla D. Corson, BYU Studies, Vol. 42, no. 2
The authors show that when prohibitions against laughter are taken in the context of their scriptural settings (Sunday worship, temple, and School of the Prophets, for example), church members can see that the Lord does not prohibit all levity.

On Art and Architecture of the Manti and Hawaii Temples

“Minerva Teichert’s Manti Temple Murals,” Doris R. Dant, BYU Studies, Vol. 38, no. 3
In April 1947, a slight, white-haired grandmother installed herself in a Manti, Utah, motel. At fifty-nine years of age, Minerva Teichert could still keep pace with any Scandinavian farmer in Sanpete County and probably outwork many. After all, she was a rancher’s wife who toiled long hours to meet the demands of garden, flocks, dairy, and family. Now for one month, all her drive would be devoted to an undertaking that daunted even her—painting enormous murals for the world room of the Manti Temple. Sustained by prayer and a sole assistant, she covered four walls several times her height with scenes whose conception is at once unique and spiritually profound.

“A Jewel in the Gardens of Paradise: The Art and Architecture of the Hawai’i Temple,” Paul L. Anderson, BYU Studies, Vol. 39, no. 4