Mar 17, 2014
1 min read

Most Temples Have a Theme

“According to Keith Stepan (former Managing Director of Temple Construction), many LDS temples are thematic, making use of a single visual motif to unify the exterior architecture and interior design and furnishings. These unifying motifs potentially point to a particular doctrine or concept.  At the Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple, for example, we see an arching motif in the main east and west windows pointing to the theme of Jacob’s Ladder. At the San Diego Temple, 2 interlocking squares are used over 10,000 times throughout the structure, potentially symbolizing the Melchizedek Priesthood. In these and other LDS temples it is the fence design that first reveals their general visual theme.” – Val Brinkerhoff, The Day Star – Reading Sacred Architecture (Book 2), 131

In a recently published book “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” by Gerald E. Hansen and Val Brinkerhoff (photographer), readers are presented with a series of doctrinal themes that are explained using the particular architectural symbolism of various temples.

On the inside cover flap of the book, “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” it states:

Both books and buildings have voices. But rather than the letters of an alphabet, buildings use towers and spires, columns and buttresses, mosaics and paintings, glass and geometric figures, and statues and friezes to speak volumes. However, even though architectural symbolism existed before the written word, the message of a building is often difficult for most of us to recognize.

For Latter-day Saints, temples are the most important and symbolic buildings in existence. Through temples the unique doctrines of the restored gospel are communicated. Although the bulk of this instruction occurs inside the temples, temple exteriors also tell of these profound doctrines — when you understand how to read them.

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Richard J. Nobbe III
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Richard J. Nobbe III

I would say that all temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a theme. Some of them are more elaborate than others. Some of them try to bring out a singular thematic theme more than others. But even down to the small temples, there is specific meaning and originality of architecture that I believe is meant to teach in the same way as the most elaborately designed ones, or the ones which contain things we would recognize as potential symbols. And I believe there is something different about the construction and symbolism of every temple. For… Read more »