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Second Anointings

Many LDS members who have received their Endowment and have been sealed to their spouse in the temple may think that they’ve received the summum bonum of LDS ritual. Not so.

I just stumbled across an account of receiving the ordinance of the Second Anointing (or Second Endowment) in 2002. It is apparently still practiced quite regularly despite being discontinued in the middle of the last century.

A compilation of my mother’s family history casually mentions that one of my ancestors received this ordinance. I thought it odd at the time to see the casual reference because it is not talked about much in the church now. I imagine most members have only heard whispered rumors about this ritual if they’ve heard about it at all.

Reading this account and the comments that followed reminded me of The Inner Ring by C.S. Lewis. The recipients of this LDS ritual are charged to tell no one that they’ve received it lest others in the church envy the privilege. They are promised exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom on only one condition: that they never deny the Holy Ghost. The officiator in the ritual grants them the “[power] to be a member of a Godhead”. In other words, unless they blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, they’ve made it. They have endured to the end and made their calling and election sure.

It must feel pretty spiffy to be a member of such a special club, the inner cabal of an already exclusive church. It must feel even better to believe that you have the power to decide who makes it into heaven. This is yet another way LDS ritual separates “us” from “them”.

[Edited 2012/08/27: The person who gave this account has since come out as Tom Phillips, father of current stake president Alan Phillips. He gave an interview with John Dehlin.]

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  1. dpc said,

    February 25, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

    I read the same account, but I’m a little skeptical of it and here’s why:

    1. The Church has invested millions (if not billions) in temples, yet it appears that temple attendance is abysmally low. If your rank-and-file member was told about the opportunity to receive a “Second Annointing”, you can rest assured that they would be beating down the doors of the temple to get it, especially if it meant that you were guaranteed a place in heaven and the ability to choose when you die. Hell, I bet some ex-members would want to rejoin just to see what it was all about.

    2. I think that Benjamin Franklin said that the only way to keep a secret shared between three men was if two of the men were dead. The fact that no one in recent history has talked about it anywhere (in either the Bloggernacle or the exmo spheres) tends to show that it isn’t really occurring. The Internet just about guarantees that any practice anywhere is going to get some air time.

    3. The history of the Second Annointing is readily available to anyone with Internet access and a basic understanding of Mormonism. It wasn’t much of a secret back when it was practiced in earnest, and the general content is known. It wouldn’t be difficult to read a few history books, plug in the names of a few GAs and Voila! The Second Annointing comes to life.

    4. There simply isn’t any evidence besides this person’s statement. I need more corroboration than an anonymous poster on a website hostile to the Mormon church. Parts of his story (unrelated to the Second Annointing) seem to ring untrue, like the part about how he was going to choose to be a Mission President, but just wanted to learn more about a certain aspect of Mormonism before accepting. It seems atypical of the experiences of other mission presidents that I have known. It doesn’t make the account untrue; however, it does raise some questions in my mind.

    On the other hand, I could be totally wrong. It could very well be happening in temples around the world. I could have received it myself and, hoping to deflect criticism and obfuscate the truth, I raise weak arguments against someone else’s creditability.

    But I get the feeling that the Second Annointing has gone the way of the dynastic sealing.

  2. Jonathan Blake said,

    February 25, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

    You raise valid objections. The most suspicious to me is the source’s anonymity. Regarding some of your points:

    1. I knew about the Second Anointing as a member but figured that I wasn’t worthy of it so I wasn’t going to demand it. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I think most members would accept that only the highest ranking members would receive this ordinance.

    Also, the spike in temple attendance would probably only be temporary since it’s a one-shot deal. Aside from that, what real benefit is there to the church if people attend more often? The real concern of the church is that people hold temple recommends which means that people are actively participating and that they pay their tithing. Whether or not they use their temple recommend doesn’t matter as much, except perhaps to promote loyalty.

    2. I don’t run across a lot of former stake, mission, and temple presidents in the ex-mo crowd, so perhaps accounts of the Second Anointing would be more common if stake presidents left the church more often. Granted I don’t hang out in a lot of ex-mo crowds.

    4. The bit about studying more in preparation for a future responsibility paralleled my studying in preparation for fatherhood. A lot of people seem drawn to further study for one reason or another and learn more than they bargained for. This isn’t as suspicious to me as to you.

    I obviously think the account could be true. I don’t have solid evidence that it is, so I really can’t rely on it too heavily. Something about it rang true to me. It felt like how the church would handle it to me. I’m probably biased to think it is true.

    In any case, the Second Anointing is an interesting and obscure chapter in Mormon history (and perhaps in its present) that members should know more about.

  3. Seth R. said,

    February 25, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

    I don’t find anything inherently wrong with group affiliation and identification.

  4. Jonathan Blake said,

    February 25, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

    Birds of a feather flocking together is one thing. I’m thinking about people who like stamp collecting who hang out together because they share a common interest. This even includes people who go to the same church because they believe similar things. That’s mostly benign (except when we cloister ourselves away from meeting people who don’t share common interests or beliefs).

    Taking the next step and creating an inner ring, as C.S. Lewis called it, is entirely different. When the stamp collectors start thinking that they are better than coin collectors, that’s a problem. I characterize this malignant kind of group by the belief that group members are smarter, better, worthier, etc. simply because outsiders “look different”, “don’t know our secrets”, “don’t act like we do”, “don’t think like we do”, “are a different race/gender/ethnicity”, “are less than human”, etc.

    The second kind of group is a big problem, and it’s common in the LDS church to believe that the Saints are better than the Ain’ts. Similar to some segments of Judaism, some Mormons believe they are God’s chosen. I have been told from my youth that God foreordained me to be Mormon because of my valiance before I was born. In other words, I am Mormon because I was better than non-Mormons in the pre-existence. Further, temple attending Mormons often believe that they have proven more worthy of God’s blessing than those who haven’t “gone to the temple”. I think it’s pretty clear that for some members the LDS church is a big ego trip whose inner circles are delineated by rituals.

    Inasmuch as people can make the LDS church the first kind of group, that’s great, but they have an uphill battle to ignore a lot of that culture and doctrine of exclusivity in the church.

  5. mel said,

    February 25, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

    Part of the oddness of the Second A, I think, is that it may not be something the average member would really want for self (why would you want to be so holy — most probably intuit that it wouldn’t be that fun and maybe quite scary) but all the while adds significantly to the average member’s perception of profound mystery and meaning in the one true church.

    I for one was aware of the Second A but really didn’t want it for myself … at least not yet.

  6. Jonathan Blake said,

    February 26, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    Interesting. I don’t think I ever thought that the Second Anointing would place me under a greater obligation, just that I wasn’t worthy of it.

  7. mel said,

    February 26, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

    Heh, yeah well … to those whom much is given, much is required. For backsliders like me this means also shirking as many of the “gifts” as possible … even denying that a gift was ever given.

    Now you’ve seen into my soul and found what may be my oldest and most basic failure of faith. Yes, Mormonism scares the shit out of me even with its promises.

  8. Anointed One said,

    April 17, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

    Certain doubts were expressed because of my anonymity. The reasons for not using my real name were (1) to protect my family and (2) to focus on the ordinance as the issue rather than myself.

    If anyone wants to check out the validity of my account they only need ask the apostle and seventy present where they were and what they were doing on the date mentioned. They can either confirm (that would be the honest but unlikely response), deny (let me know and I will call them out as liars), say they don’t know (they can check with their secretaries), say they are not at liberty to divulge such details, or not respond at all (most likely).

    The ordinance took place as I stated.

  9. Jonathan Blake said,

    April 17, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

    Anointed One,

    Thank you for coming to defend your story. Let me preface this by saying that I truly want to believe that this is happening. I hope you can understand the skepticism.

    I can imagine some of the social repercussions if you were to use your real name. Mormons don’t always treat apostates kindly, especially those who divulge secrets. Without your name, however, it would be inappropriate to give a lot of trust to your claims.

    I don’t know how much good asking the GAs would do. No answer from them aside from confirmation that they performed the ceremonies described would get us very far.

    Perhaps you could get a blogger in a position of trust to verify your real identity and your story, kind of like those anonymous sources in the government that some journalists use. It’s not as good as full disclosure, but it’s something.

    If I can help investigate your claims, let me know. Thank you for bringing your story to light even though, as it stands, it must only be accepted tentatively.

  10. ephphtha said,

    September 5, 2008 @ 10:05 pm

    annointed one?…..i’m sorry, but all the ‘facts’ in your account can be found in historical info on subject…while i would like to assign credibility to your account….if you we and anti-mormon..(gasp!…you are)…this would be an insidious and predictable approach…..

  11. Anonymous said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

    Anointed One: I do not believe your account for the following reasons:
    1) The steps to the ordinance that you list are practically a “cut and paste” from what is available elsewhere on the Internet regarding this sacred rite.

    2) One very noticeable mistake you made in your story was stating that your wife’s feet were washed. Only men have their feet washed, and are pronounced clean. Women have previously been washed and pronounced clean long prior to receiving the higher blessings.

  12. Jonathan said,

    April 3, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    I’m not sure that I entirely believe it either, but I don’t see anywhere that he states that his wife’s feet were washed. The closest that he comes is to say something about “our feet were washed” which I took to refer to him and the other man who was receiving the ordinance that day.

    Also, I’m unaware of anywhere that women are pronounced clean. As far as I know, their initiatory ordinance also promises that they “may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation”. Both have to wait for that future blessing.

  13. Anonymous said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

    Also, I’m unaware of anywhere that women are pronounced clean. As far as I know, their initiatory ordinance also promises that they “may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation”.

    It’s different for men and women. Women are pronounced clean from the blood and sins of this generation.

  14. Jonathan said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

    Interesting. I checked into it and found a more complete version of the initiatory that includes the ritual for women:

    Sister _______, having authority, I wash you preparatory to your receiving your anointings [for and in behalf of _______, who is dead], and whereas you have obeyed the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a true and honest heart, and have been faithful in keeping your covenants, your sins are forgiven and you are clean every whit. I wash your head…

    I stand corrected.

  15. Anonymous said,

    July 27, 2009 @ 2:31 am

    This ordinance happens to normal, God fearing people all over the world today. It is not a club for the elite. All who make covenants with god are promised his blessings based on their faithfulness. Some simply receive their judgement and promised blessings early, while still in this life. I pray that all seek after Christ and seek his blessings.

  16. Jonathan said,

    July 27, 2009 @ 7:56 am

    Care to give evidence that it happens to lots of people?

  17. HiJolly said,

    August 12, 2009 @ 9:14 am


    I agree with anonymous, to an extent. I find the fact that it is an ‘outer’ ordinance of a ‘inner’ confirmation which must still be confirmed by an ‘inner’ confirmation of its own, to be quite ironic, in an amusing way.

    If God wants someone to have their calling & election made sure, then it is done, whether they’re received a S.A. or not.

    The Church of the Firstborn is open to any and all, if they seek truth and receive it when it is offered. And I agree with Mel — it DOES get scary. Love gives the strength to endure, though, for those who choose to receive the love.


  18. Jonathan said,

    August 12, 2009 @ 11:41 am

    That’s a rather un-Mormon way to look at things. :)

    Mormonism teaches that everyone must receive the ordinance of baptism in order to inherit the Celestial Kingdom. If they die before they could be baptized a Mormon, then Mormons perform the ordinance on their behalf.

    So, if Second Anointing is requisite for Exaltation, then the Mormon pattern would tell us that it must be performed for someone sooner or later.

    And for those who begged to feel God’s love and received only ambiguity?

  19. outclassed said,

    August 14, 2009 @ 8:08 am

    This whole “members-only” for certain members and these ordinances is really starting to bug me. The comment regarding being taught that we were more valiant spirits before this life – this type of teaching drives me up a wall.
    I recall having thoughts on my mission that perhaps I was not as valiant in the pre-mortal existence and thus the reason for struggling so much as a missionary. What a ridiculous notion and blatant abuse of LDS Church teachings manipulating a young man’s image of self-worth. It is no wonder that missionaries are sometimes referred to as robots or mindless sheep.
    Breaking you down to build you up, I guess that is Christlike?

    How about ‘members-only’ for certain higher callings within the Church… :roll:

  20. Jonathan said,

    August 14, 2009 @ 8:18 am

    Yeah, I’ll confess to pinning a bit of my self-worth to my position in the church. For example, when I never made District Leader as a missionary (I barely made senior companion and for only a few months) I was disappointed. I rationalized and deflected. I may never know why, but it stung a little. It was very difficult for me to resist getting sucked into the culture where rituals and leadership positions were status symbols.

    It’s still hard to avoid that mindset at work, for another example, but I’m glad that I don’t have the church to make things worse. Now if only I could stop feeling superior for having escaped. :)

  21. Chris said,

    October 14, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

    The Anointed One is a complete bogus. You don’t drop something like that on a blog. You actually come forward and take ownership for what you say happened and why you disagree.

    He didn’t even bother telling us what great piece of scientific evidence “shook” his testimony. What was so new that you hadn’t heard before. Please share.

    I suspect it is a lie. Congrats, you made a bunch of people feel justified.

  22. Brandon said,

    January 31, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

    I agree that Anointed One is bogus… I read through his story very carefully and then read through every single response to his post. His description of the ordinance is very detailed, but as was mentioned previously, this information is readily available to anyone who looks for it. His story starts to come apart at the end, when he claims some “facts” caused him to leave the church. I counted at least 20 different posts asking Anointed One over and over again to share the rest of the story… Which he never has. He has posted several responses, which basically thank everyone for their support and whatnot. He has never addressed what happened to make him believe that the church was false, and since he obviously WILL NOT answer this question, I have very good reason to beleive that he doesn’t want to respond because the whole story is simply made up. Hell, I could have made a story just as convincing as this one given the proper motivation. You talk about “taking down Romney,” and other political motivations… PLEASE, enlighten us and fill in the questions and gaps in your story that your “fans” have asked you.

  23. Jonathan said,

    February 3, 2010 @ 6:11 am

    I have reasons to doubt the authenticity of the story (chiefly the anonymity), but not giving the reasons he left the church doesn’t seem like a legitimate one. If he were confabulating, it would be simple to pick a couple problems in the church. Here you go: DNA shows Native Americans didn’t come from the Middle East and Joseph Smith married the wives of other living men. I guess I don’t see what hearing that part of the story would do to verify his story.

    If he broke his anonymity—

  24. Justice said,

    September 6, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    Why we tried to justified ourselves? The promise of the second Comforter is for everyone lets work hard to obtain this blesing and the The Lord Himself will perform the ordinance for us.
    Annoited one why you complain so much? it is done and you know that the buffetings in the flesh are upon you Satan is having a feast with you giving you a miserable life be grateful the the Lord considered you worthy and extended you promised to you and why He wasn’t that day with you.. you already know it was because He knew about you breaking Alma 12:9 nevertheless you still have time to repair what you have done.
    Jhonatan and anonysmous are wise.

  25. Jonathan said,

    September 6, 2010 @ 7:09 pm


    You’re making a lot of assumptions about Anointed One that you have no justification for. (Unless you know him personally?)

  26. Justice said,

    September 7, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    I read his testimony in another site i think everyone knows the annoited one, but like everybody else still waiting the infalible evidences about the church

  27. Jonathan said,

    September 8, 2010 @ 3:14 am

    you know that the buffetings in the flesh are upon you Satan is having a feast with you giving you a miserable life

    This is what I’m referring to. You know this because…

  28. Justice said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    Therefore, you are sealed up to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom unconditionally. Any sins committed afterward may render you liable to the “buffetings in the flesh” but they will not prevent you from attaining your exaltation. The only sin that is unpardonable is denying the Holy Ghost (or in some passages the shedding of innocent blood).

    These is just a part of his testimony.

  29. Jonathan said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

    How do you know that’s true in the case of Anointed One? What evidence do you have? You seem to be assuming that D&C 132:26 is true, but what reason do you have to believe this?

  30. Justice said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 6:57 pm

    Because I know The Savior is not an impostor and the promise is for everybody John 14: 12-23 assuming you believe in the Bible.

  31. Jonathan said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    :) Sorry, I don’t believe the Bible to be a reliable source of truth. How do you know it is?

  32. Justice said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    If not what is your source of truth? then???

  33. Jonathan said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

    Evidence and logic, more or less the scientific method. It’s proven itself to be the most reliable source of truth that we have.

  34. Justice said,

    September 9, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    Ok I’m listening explain…

  35. Jonathan said,

    September 10, 2010 @ 10:28 am

    I’d be happy to though I’m not sure what you would like me to explain about science and truth.

    I’m still curious how you know the Bible or other scriptures are reliable sources of truth.

  36. Justice said,

    September 10, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    Well i would like to explain me how we come to be??? using your science and truth.

    Well if you understand the doctrine of revelation you will know all things.

  37. Jonathan said,

    September 10, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

    Regarding how we came to be, you’re in for a treat because it’s an awesome story. I really enjoyed The Ancestor’s Tale. There’s also a much shorter telling of the Great Story. I’m also in the middle of writing my own telling of the story.

    I understand the Mormon concept of revelation. How do you know that revelation is a reliable source of truth?

  38. Justice said,

    September 10, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

    Humm… What a treat I didn’t know that a few conjetures and a buch of theories formulated in hypotheses were your reliable source of truth.

    See here is the big challenge for the big bang and evolution with this true law

    Matter cannot be created nor destroyed.

    So Big Bang and evolution never happened, but hey still a fun story.

    How i do know? well i know because it has been revealed to me thats why is a reliable source of truth.

  39. Jonathan said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 5:41 am

    The Big Bang and Evolution both have a wealth of evidence to support them, so the impression that they’re just “a few conjectures” is misinformed. You may be unaware that BYU teaches its students evolution. One professor said:

    “We spend time dispelling the myth that evolution and religion are incompatible,” Johnson said. “We try to unburden students from the idea of either-or. That’s baggage they don’t have to carry.”

    A faithful Mormon can accept evolution with a clear conscience.

    We need to be careful not to think that we understand everything, both from a science and religious perspective,” Johnson said. “It’s OK not to have all the answers.”

    If you’re really asking why the universe exists, then I will freely admit that science doesn’t have all the answers, just like religion doesn’t. Science doesn’t say what started the Big Bang or what came before it. Mormonism doesn’t say how the very first god came into existence and where the matter came from for him to form his universe.

    (BTW, matter can be changed into energy and vice versa as stated in Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, so the Big Bang isn’t a contradiction since it theorizes that all of the matter in the universe started as a pinpoint of energy.)

    Regarding revelation, if I understand correctly, you say that you know that revelation is a reliable source of truth because it has been revealed to you, which is circular. How can you rely on the revelation that revelation is reliable?

  40. Justice said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 7:52 am

    Look i do not denied science truths for example we know that our Earth is about 4.55 billion years the oldest rock found is 3.9 billions that include some minerals which are themselves as old as 4.2 billion years and i do not have any problems with this truth. The problem i have with science that is not complete because they do not include Metaphysics. Can you accept that our GOD is the best Scientist of the organized universe? Our Father possesses knowledge and thecnology man can only dream on do you really think Maxwell invented the equation of light? I already know who implemented the equation with out human error ofcourse thats why science can not be compatible with Our God because a new science innovation taday is just another error tomorrow what becomes a theory not proved, and that is why i do not rely on human science God inspired man like Einstein to understand things differently sad the way he used such knowledge for destruction but we know if this knowledge is used correctly is for our benefit, but this technology is used in an selfish manner by our goverment and you already know that we do not need petroleum or coal no more when we already have another source of energy. Another example H2O it is true and as a member of the Church i do not denied truths But i do not accept conjetures and a buch of theories formulated in hypotheses as reliable source of truth.

  41. Jonathan said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 8:22 am

    I’m glad to hear that you accept the truth that science offers. Evolution is the foundation of biology and we would be ignorant of so many things without it.

    It’s true that science makes mistakes in its search for truth. When scientists find evidence that a previous theory was incomplete or untrue, then they change the theory to match the evidence. Isn’t that wonderful?! So honest and humble!

    One problem that I have with religion is that once it teaches something that is mistaken, it may never change its mind even when faced with evidence of its mistake. Creationism is a good example. Because some people believe that their god revealed the Bible story of the creation, they refuse to admit that the biblical creation story is a religious myth, not a literal account of how the world was created. They can’t admit their mistakes.

    Which is another reason I don’t trust revelation as a reliable source of truth. There are so many people claiming to receive revelation, yet their revelations contradict each other. For example, Muhammad claimed to be a prophet who received a book from an angel sent by God, which is very similar to the claims that Joseph Smith made later.

    How do I know which is the truth? My answer is that I look for evidence that will either support or contradict the revelation. So I never trust a revelation by itself. It needs supporting evidence before I’ll trust revelation at all.

    So I’m still not clear how you know that revelation is a reliable source of truth.

  42. Justice said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    Because revelation comes from the source, this afternoon i will answer your post just i would like to ponder in this the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are not those people who do not accept simply truths science can offer or the ones that the devil placed the bones of the dynosaurous etc. latter i explain.

  43. Justice said,

    September 12, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    Well biology mi favorite subject and school… once again evolution is not the foundation of our lives, scientists are not humble to accept tha the missing link it is found in the Metaphysic even those cells are alive because the spirit in them even the flowers and animals with out is just another dead body.
    About the Qur’an is not ordained By GOD all the true prophets ordained by Him testified in the Son of God and his expiation.
    For your information there are 12 tribes of Israel and 2 of those you know The tribe of Judah =The Bible and the tribe of Joseph= The Book of Mormon and 10 more to come because the God of Israel is ALIVE.

  44. Justice said,

    September 12, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    The fruits of the Qur’an…

    The protesters burned U.S. flags and chanted “Death to Christians.”

    At least 11 people were reported injured across the country during the demonstrations.

    Police said four demonstrators and five police officers were injured in clashes in the northern province of Badakhshan after protesters attacked a NATO base.

  45. Jonathan said,

    September 12, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    Justice, none of what you’ve said answers the question: how do you know that revelation is a reliable source of truth?

    You’re assuming that what you believe is true (e.g. “all the true prophets ordained by [God] testified in the Son of God and his expiation”) without telling me why you know this is true. You’ve given me no reason to accept what you believe.

    BTW, some of the fruits of Christianity/Mormonism:

    · murderous Crusades in the Middle East

    · wholesale slaughter of millions of Native Americans when Columbus led Europeans to the New World

    · murder of men, women, and children at Mountain Meadows

    · murder of former Mormons in early Utah

    · bigotry against African Americans, women, and homosexuals

    So every religion has its own dark past, including Mormonism.

  46. Justice said,

    September 12, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    good luck jonathan.

  47. Jonathan said,

    September 12, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    Thanks. Live long and prosper. :)

    P.S. I want to make it clear that I’ve been where you’re at, so I understand where you’re coming from and I sympathize. If anything, I just want to convince you that things aren’t black and white.

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