Monday, December 6, 2010

Mormons and Fatalism

I was struck again yesterday with this question:  Knowing what we know about future prophecy as members of the Church, why aren't we more fatalistic?

The Gospel Doctrine lesson was about Daniel's interpretation of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Here's the image:

King Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Image

The stone was cut out of the mountain "without hands" and rolls forth into the last days until it destroys all the governments left on earth.  In the end there will be only one government, the one to fulfill all the ancient prophecies that gave voice to Isaiah's prophecy in Handel's majestic "Messiah" oratorio -- ". . . and the government shall rest upon his shoulders," speaking of the Promised Messiah.  (See Isaiah 9:6).

The stone, of course, is the kingdom of God on the earth and will someday be merged with the kingdom of heaven yet to come down from above:

Hearken, and lo, a voice as of one sent down from on high, who is mighty and powerful, whose going forth is unto the ends of the earth, yea, whose voice is unto men — Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.
Yea, a voice crying — Prepare ye the way of the Lord, prepare ye the supper of the Lamb, make ready for the Bridegroom.
Pray unto the Lord, call upon his holy name, make known his wonderful works among the people.
Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.
Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen.  (D&C 65).

In an inspired declaration by a living prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball gave the definitive interpretation of Daniel's dream in 1976:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830. . .  This is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth”  (Ensign, May 1976, 8–9).

From its small beginnings in that room in a log cabin in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, the Church has indeed rolled forth into every nation.  Rather than a military campaign, however, the Church continues to prepare the way for the Lord's Second Coming by building temples where all God's children may claim their promised blessings.  All that we do in the Church points to the temples, now approximately 150 either fully operational or under construction.  They dot the globe, and will continue to be announced and built.

The effect of those preparations will be to replace all the governments (and yes, corporations) built by men's hands, not through subversive activities but as the natural consequence of men making and perpetuating their feeble attempts at power and domination.  Freedom will prevail, though the struggle will be long and never ending until Christ comes. 

We seek peace in this world.  We will find it, however, only in our hearts and souls. 

On a Christmas Day, December 25th, 1832, this chilly verse from the Prince of Peace:

And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations.  (D&C 87:6).

And one further insight about how the preparations are being made for that day:

. . . have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.  (Moroni 7:29-32).

Every day somewhere in the world, because the sun never sets on the kingdom of God upon the earth today, the work of preparing the children of God for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ continues.

President Gordon B. Hinckley
President Gordon B. Hinckley declared:
“This Church is true. It will weather every storm that beats against it. It will outlast every critic who rises to mock it. It was established by God our Eternal Father for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations. It carries the name of Him who stands as its head, even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. It is governed and moves by the power of the priesthood. It sends forth to the world another witness of the divinity of the Lord. Be faithful, my friends. Be true. Be loyal to the great things of God which have been revealed in this dispensation.”  (“Keep the Faith,” Ensign, September 1985, 6).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: “Our Lord and Savior stands at the head of this church and directs it through his servants. This is the Lord’s church; it is not a church of men.”  (Ensign, November 1993, 5).

President Spencer W. Kimball
President Spencer W. Kimball concludes:
In the meridian of time, the Son of God, the Light of the World, came and opened the curtains of heaven, and earth and heaven were again in communion.
But when the light of that century went out, the darkness was again impenetrable; the heavens were sealed and the “dark ages” moved in. 

I bear witness to the world today that more than a century and a half ago the iron ceiling was shattered; the heavens were once again opened, and since that time revelations have been continuous. 

That new day dawned when another soul with passionate yearning prayed for divine guidance. A spot of hidden solitude was found, knees were bent, a heart was humbled, pleadings were voiced, and a light brighter than the noonday sun illuminated the world — the curtain never to be closed again. 

A young lad spoken of by some of our brethren today, Joseph Smith, of incomparable faith, broke the spell, shattered the “heavens of iron” and reestablished communication. Heaven kissed the earth, light dissipated the darkness, and God again spoke to man, revealing anew “his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7.) A new prophet was in the land and through him God set up his kingdom, never to be destroyed nor left to another people — a kingdom that will stand forever.

The foreverness of this kingdom and the revelations which it brought into existence are absolute realities. Never again will the sun go down; never again will all men prove totally unworthy of communication with their Maker. Never again will God be hidden from his children on the earth. Revelation is here to remain. 

In the early years of his newly established dispensation, the Lord set his divine law of succession, and prophets have followed each other and will continue to follow each other in never-ending, divinely appointed succession, and the secrets of the Lord will be revealed without measure.

By the power of God other books of scripture have come into being. Vital and priceless records of ancient America, with teachings of Christ, another testimony of his divinity, form the Book of Mormon, which we declare to be divine scripture, contemporary with and sustaining the Bible.

Since that momentous day in 1820, additional scripture has continued to come, including the numerous and vital revelations flowing in a never-ending stream from God to his prophets on the earth. Many of these revelations are recorded in another scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants. Completing our Latter-day Saint scriptures is the Pearl of Great Price, another record of revelation and translated writings of both ancient and modern prophets. 

There are those who would assume that with the printing and binding of these sacred records, that would be the “end of the prophets.” But again we testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord.

Now, a word of warning: Let us not make the error of the ancients. Numerous modern sectarians believe in the Abrahams, the Moseses, and the Pauls, but resist believing in today’s prophets. The ancients also could accept the prophets of an earlier day, but denounced and cursed the ones who were their contemporaries.

In our day, as in times past, many people expect that if there be revelation it will come with awe-inspiring, earth-shaking display. For many it is hard to accept as revelation those numerous ones in Moses’ time, in Joseph’s time, and in our own year — those revelations which come to prophets as deep, unassailable impressions settling down on the prophet’s mind and heart as dew from heaven or as the dawn dissipates the darkness of night.

Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, and light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption.

Man never needs to stand alone. Every faithful person may have the inspiration for his own limited kingdom. But the Lord definitely calls prophets today and reveals his secrets unto them as he did yesterday, he does today, and will do tomorrow: that is the way it is.

As we sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” earlier in the afternoon, a thought ran through my mind which I have expressed before. I hope you were all thinking of Joseph Smith, of Brigham Young, of John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and all the other Presidents. I hope you were thinking of President David O. McKay and President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Harold B. Lee and all of those who have filled this position in these days.

They have contributed a great service. They have done a great work for the people of this world. They have organized the Church and continued to develop it, and it has grown tremendously under their care.

I hope we will always remember that and not let it all be centered in the living person who currently serves, because the works of God continue in all these areas.  ("Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets," Ensign, May 1977, 76).

* * *

So, why aren't Mormons more fatalistic in light of these prophecies about governments giving way to the kingdom of God rolling forth to crush them?  Because even though these eventualities will be painful beyond belief, we know what comes next.  There is nothing to fear.  All that is necessary is adequate preparation, and those preparations are well entrenched and ongoing in spite of all the opposition the world can muster.

And that should make us all more optimistic.


  1. Gods word is true,and does not need subtraction or addiction,God is to set up His kingdom when Jesus shall come to take those who have done his will,study the word of God prayerfully and all the mysteries of Heaven would be unlocked to you

  2. Thank you a nicely researched post. I appreciate your efforts and thank you for reminding me of things as they are. Cliff