068: Redeeming the Living and the Dead; D&C and Church History 39

“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers”

Previous episodes on the temple have discussed the history of temple work and the theology behind redeeming the dead. This lesson approaches temple work from the perspective of the member performing the vicarious ordinances, and next lesson will cover family history.  We explore the value of temple work, but also raise the question: how do we balance caring for the dead with caring for the living?

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Class Member Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 2; 110:13–16; 138; Joseph Smith—History 1:37–39; Our Heritage, pages 98–99, 101–2, 105–7.

No Additional Teacher Reading.

Listen to a thought-provoking and balanced discussion with Paul, Jerilyn, and Bradley.

You can access the Assigned Reading here.

You can access the Lesson Notes here.


To be added; for now check the Lesson Notes

Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic.

Thanks to James Estrada who is back doing the audio post-production.

Latest Comments

  1. Bryan says:

    More good food for thought. To the discussion on finding the right balance between serving the dead versus the living, I think some of that discussion could have been based on a false assumption, that of a zero sum game. I think time spent serving the dead does not unavoidably result is less time available to serve the living. Temple service and the efforts required to prepare oneself to do it have a purifying effect on the members. It draws me closer to God and to my fellow man. The result is that BECAUSE I serve the dead through temple work, I find myself wanting to also help the living MORE. Temple work makes me a better person, which then manifests itself in ways separate from temple work. Seen this way, this is not a zero sum game and there is no bright line between time spent serving the living and that spent serving the dead.

    Additionally, while the $70 million figure for the Philadelphia is a bit disconcerting for me as well, I also have to wonder how much additional tithing is generated by having a temple in the area? In other words, while it is tempting to just look at the $70 million figure and imagine how many poor are not being fed because the money was spent on this building, we should also consider that perhaps having that building there results in more members in that area being motivated to become temple worthy, which naturally involves paying tithes. I have no idea what the figures are but it would be fascinating to know what the church receives as a return on its investment in temples. If temples in fact end up generating more revenue then they cost to construct and maintain, then it is a win-win, as money spent for their construction is returned in greater quantity by strengthened members.

    I agree there must be balance, and it can be a challenge to find it, but I think there is also a synergy that occurs between the world of living and the dead and service rendered to one does not necessarily equate to a loss for the other. Want more home teaching to get done? Encourage the members to attend the temple.


    • Jared Anderson says:


      I would suggest that increased tithing would not “make up” for the cost of temples, since the question worth exploring is whether that money should be spent on as many temples in the first place, and where our priorities should be.

      That said, the non-zero sum synergy of caring for living and dead is precisely what I was hoping would be the take-home point. Bradley explicitly made that comment during the discussion. Ideally I would love to see temples dot the earth and be close to every member. But given the urgent needs of the living, I think it is worth taking ownership of how we personally find this balance in our own lives. The point of the figures in the lesson was not to discourage temple work, but to explore the issues in a way that members can make more informed decisions when it comes to personal balance.


      • Lyle Beefelt says:

        Bro. Anderson,

        I usually get something very useful out of your class as I prepare my Gospel Doctrine lesson, but I could not find the least hint of this line of discussion and can’t really see how to use it successfully. I’d rather not second guess the same prophet that put that fourth “fold” on our mission and laid directly on the members (an excellent point you make that will be useful in another lesson) when he decides pay spend $70 million on the Philly temple, without better reasons. I am confident that it will yield much more than that for both the living and the dead.


      • Jared Anderson says:

        First, I smiled at the “Brother Anderson” salutation. 🙂

        You have a valid point that in this lesson I explored beyond the focus on the manual. Have you looked at the other lessons we did on the temples? I would also hope that you could gain some benefit from the discussion of what we as living members gain from temple service, which was a focus of the discussion.

        This lesson and discussion was in part a theological reflection on relative investments in the living and dead. Will the Philadelphia be “worth” $70 million to the living and dead? I am open to that, though I don’t know how you would measure it. My issue is justifying that investment when that same amount could accomplish such a staggering amount for the living. And if the 4th mission is laid on the members, should not the institution model it?

        As I said, I am not saying temples have no value. But I did want to take this opportunity to thoughtfully and hopefully faithfully discuss this issue that might be on some listeners’ minds.

        Thanks for the comment.


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