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The Cornerstone

Since 1833 at Kirtland, the ceremonial laying of a cornerstone has been an integral part of Mormon Temple construction and dedication. Cornerstone ceremonies are also important to Freemasons, and the building of public structures in general. These construction rituals go back to Solomon, and beyond--to the Sumerians and the Egyptians. Often they are accompanied by much fanfare and jubilation, as in the laying of the foundation of the Second Temple:

"And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid." (Ezra 3: 11)

Such sentiments reach back to the foundation of the earth. In biblical thought, the earth was conceived as a building set on foundations, built according to plans and specifications. God asks Job where he was, "when I laid the foundation of the earth...[when I] laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and the heavenly beings shouted for joy"? (Job 38: 4-7)

Because of the New Testament, we are used to thinking of Jesus as the cornerstone of the household of God, the foundation of Zion (see Ephesians 2: 20). This passage in Job (caveats aside--see On being a Mormon biblicist) becomes for me a beautiful statement on the centrality of Christ in the universe, and our own joy as his atonement was established for the earth. Our Temple cornerstones, then, should be a salient reminder of whose House it is. Jesus is at the centre of the Mormon Temple experience, both in the symbolic design of the building, and in the sign of his sacrifice that draws us through the Veil and binds families together. Something worth "shouting for joy" for.

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 08, 2004 1:37 PM) 

Yes this is something we should shout for joy at. It is often said that the Book of Mormon is the cornerstone (and keystone) of our religion. I don't deny its importance, but for me, Christ is, and should be the cornerstone. He is the most important part of why we are at church on a Sunday, and should be the centre of our lives.  

Posted by Rebecca


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 08, 2004 1:45 PM) 

We generally make a distinction between corner and key, Jesus and the BoM. But even so, I would contend that the BoM is the most Christ-centred book on the planet, so it's the same thing really. In fact, a case could be made that the BoM is more Christ-centred than the Church is at times. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 08, 2004 5:45 PM) 

I hope someone will correct me if it I am wrong, but I thought that the usual saying was that Christ was the cornerstone, and the Book of Mormon the CAPSTONE?
Anyway, it was a wonderful post, and made me feel like shouting for joy!!! Thanks! 

Posted by Peggy Snow Cahill


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 08, 2004 6:16 PM) 

I checked, and President Hinckley in Feb 2004 Ensign described the BoM as one of the 4 CORNERSTONES of our religion (Christ was also cited as one). I remember in seminary being taught that the BoM was the cornerstone and keystone of our religion, and the difference between the two being explained.
Anyway, the fact that Pres. Hinckley put Christ first is a great comfort to me, as I often sit in a Sacrament Meeting and the only time Jesus is mentioned is during prayers! 

Posted by Rebecca


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (December 09, 2004 3:01 AM) 

Here's what I was referring to (I garbled it a bit, sorry!)

Ezra Taft Benson said:
The Book of Mormon is the “keystone” of our religion, and the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone, with continuing latter-day revelation. The Lord has placed His stamp of approval on both the keystone and the capstone. (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 83)

The analogy has to do with an arch, I think?

President Hinckley was using a different analogy..the foundation of a building, I guess?

I tend to think of Christ as The Foundation. 

Posted by Peggy Snow Cahill


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