It is the end of 2012, and Mitt Romney has lost the presidential race and Barack Obama will shortly be inaugurated. Mormon Mitt Romney’s candidacy created what journalists have called the “Mormon Moment,” leading to a lot of press coverage of Mormons and Mormonism. Sometimes journalists even get their facts right. When they don’t, it hurts Mormons and causes confusion and even anti-Mormon sentiment among friends of other faiths.
I just recently read an article in the press about Mormons, this one about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is poised to grow considerably in the coming years. Often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church,” the Church of Jesus Christ was established in 1830 as the restoration of the primitive church of Christ and His apostles, with a restoration also of lost power and authority from God.
When it was first organized, the Church of Jesus Christ had just 6 members. It now has 14.5 million members (2012), and its missionary force is increasing in numbers, since the age required to serve has recently been lowered. Before the announcement of the lowering of missionary age requirements, there were about 58,000 Mormon missionaries serving at any given time. Just after the announcement, applications for missionary service increased nearly 500%.
The size or rate of growth of the LDS Church is of little importance, except as it touches and changes the lives of those who are baptized and follow the precepts of God. Mormons want all to enjoy the blessings of the gospel. But the size of the Church is otherwise of little concern except as it affects the logistics of running the Church and providing buildings and programs for increasing numbers of Latter-day Saints. (The LDS Church currently builds one meetinghouse each week somewhere in the world. ) A Book of Mormon prophet said this about the current day Church of Jesus Christ:
And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw (1 Nephi 14:12 – emphasis added).
This is the condition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. Though few in number, there are Latter-day Saints all over the world. In the United States, Mormonism is one of few religions still growing, and it is the fourth largest church in America. Still, only a small part of the American population is Mormon, about 2%.
But it is the condition of the Church in the future I wish to discuss, because of something else I read in the mentioned article. The article incorrectly laid out the LDS Church’s future intentions by saying,
“[Joseph Smith, first prophet of the LDS Church,] preached that the Mormons, the chosen people, would usher in the second coming coming of Christ and set up the Kingdom of God in Washington, D.C.”
Balderdash. This kind of mis-reporting hurts Mormons and scares friends of other faiths. First of all, Israel is God’s chosen people, and Mormons do consider themselves part of the tribes of Israel. But there are descendents of the tribes of Israel all over the world, and they are members of many churches. “Chosenness” also has an important ingredient of worthiness. Hence, all sincere followers of Christ are “chosen.”
Regarding the future in America, here is what the prophecies of Latter-day prophets say concerning future Mormon doings.
- Mormons will not usher in the Second Coming. Most Christians understand that no one knows when the Second Coming will occur, except God: “But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 1:40, Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible). God will decide when the Second Coming will occur. In deciding the the day and hour, there is another factor in addition to the establishment of a people prepared to meet the Savior, and that is the wickedness of the general population, for Christ’s coming will utterly destroy the wicked. Mormons are trying to help people to become righteous followers of Christ.
- Mormons, then, are preparing spiritually and trying to help to prepare the earth for the Second Coming. One important work Mormons do is to emphasize the importance of and give help to those who desire to do family history research. The Savior has said that unless the hearts of the fathers are turned to the children, and the children to their fathers, His coming would destroy the earth. Mormons unite their families in eternal covenants to help with the work of Elijah, as prophesied by Malachi. At the time of Joseph Smith, there was not a single genealogical society in the world; now family history research is the world’s number 1 pastime.
- Isaiah said, “…for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). Modern prophets have clarified that in this instance, Isaiah was speaking of two religious capitals that will exist during the millennium — Jerusalem in Israel and Zion (or “New Jerusalem”) on the American continent, centered in Missouri.
- Latter-day Saints tried to settle in Missouri but were driven out. The Lord allowed this to happen, because of the sins of the Latter-day Saints of the time, but promised that someday, the Saints would be able to establish Zion as prophesied. Zion means “the pure in heart,” and whoever settles there must be willing to live purely and charitably. Zion will be established during a time of danger, violence, and wide-spread unrest, and will become a sanctuary to all those who wish to live a life of peace: “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:68, 69).
- The government of Zion will be based upon the Constitution of the United States. This fulfills the prophecy that the Elders of Zion will uphold the precepts of the Constitution. This has nothing to do with whatever will go on in Washington, D.C., and has nothing to do with usurping the U.S. government, which accusation is an insult to Latter-day Saints, who strive always to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.
- The economic system of Zion will be the “United Order,” which has no room for pride, selfishness, or greed. Anyone desiring to live in Zion takes all of his material wealth to the bishop. The person makes a statement of his needs and wants, and that portion is given to him for his sole ownership, governance and discretionary use. If his needs increase, he is given more. Any excess goes to support the poor, and every person is his or her own judge as far as needs and wants are concerned. This system was followed by the primitive Saints in Jerusalem in the time of the original Apostles of Jesus Christ. They had all things in common, so that there were no poor. Note the huge difference between this plan and communism or socialism. The government owns nothing under the United Order, and individuals own outright their property.
- Because of the growth of the LDS Church, and Mormons’ emphasis on education and service, more Latter-day Saints are becoming involved, visibly so, in public life. Beginning in 2013, there will be 17 Mormon members of Congress. Most Mormons are Republicans, but there is a good representation also of Democrats. Those who are Republicans naturally desire to uphold the Constitution as an inspired document, while Democrats tend to see it as a work in progress.
This is a summary of the prophecies of Mormon prophets for the future of the LDS Church in America. There are no plans to displace anyone, nor to uproot or replace American government. Mormons wish simply to establish a city of peace and righteousness on legally-purchased ground that will become a refuge from the storm for all who wish to gather there. This city will be in the mid-west of the United States and will have nothing to do with American governance from Washington, D.C.