Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stepping away from Zion

This is an e-mail from my friend David Christensen. Thought it was eye opening as well as thought provoking. The end references stunning words from Mormon so I thought it would go well with my current study.


Every step in the direction of increasing one’s personal holdings….. is a step away from Zion.” Hugh Nibley

Most of the multi-billion dollar “remodel” and construction project being built by the LDS church around the Salt Lake Temple is complete. Some historic buildings have been preserved like the original Zion’s Bank (below right) located on Main Street. It would seem an important building to preserve not just because the architecture resembles Herod’s Temple (photo left) but because of the long history the bank has with the LDS church.

My friend is currently reading Temples and Cosmos written by Hugh Nibley and sent me the following quote from the book.

“In our day, as in various other times in history, the sanctity and the authority of the temple have been preempted in the religion of mammon. For example, our banks are designed after the manner of ancient temples, with imposing fronts, ceremonial gates and courts, the onyx, the marble, the bronze — all are the substances of ancient temples. The sacred hush that prevails, the air of propriety, decorum, and dedication; the pious inscriptions on Zion Bank's walls are quotations from Brigham Young (the one man who really had it in for business). The massive vault door, through which only the initiated may pass, gleams chastely in immaculate metal. The symbol makes the reality of all that is safe and secure — that is, the Holy of Holies…

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. This is the Lord speaking.”

Since I don’t have an account with Zion’s, I had never been inside this historic building until this week. Above left photo shows the oil paintings of the past bank presidents … the men all look familiar since they all happen to be past Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Each one of them have served as director, president and/or chairman of the Zion’s First National. Above right is the newly remodeled Zion’s Bank (with the ZCMI building in the front (gold building). On the 18th penthouse floor of Zion’s Bank in the executive conference room, also hangs paintings of the prophets portraits.

Today, Zion’s bank seems to be still flourishing today (despite recently of being fined 8 million dollars for money laundering totaling over 12 billion dollars). The desire or wish to get rich and dispose of it to our own advantage is counsel given to us by Brigham Young, the founder of the bank. In large letter inscribed on wall when you first walk into the bank is this quote. It reads:

If you wish to get rich save what you get.

A fool can earn money, but is takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage.”

Brigham Young, Founder.

It is important to note that no longer does the sitting president of the church act as director since the bank is now a publically traded company. However, the past two Presidents of the Church have used their church position to dedicate the newly built Zion’s Banks. (Hinckley dedicated the one in Salt Lake, and Monson the newly built bank in Provo)… In a recent Deseret News article, it was reported that the new Zion’s bank “was part of the vision that President Nathan Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had to ensure the vitality of the downtown area. It's a commitment that the church has continued to uphold, as this Zions Bank Building becomes an anchor for the marvelous new development that will rise up around us.”

“May it ever be a bright and shining star… and may its influence extend and be felt across the nation” are the exact words used by both Hinckley and Monson in their dedicatory prayers referring to Zion’s Bank. Below is the photo of the Brigham Young’s quote inscribed on the wall and the photo on the right is of President Hinckley and Presiding Bishop Burton cheering just after the dedication.

Side note:

From the words of the Prophet Mormon (of whose name we call members of the LDS church):

“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are NONE save a FEW ONLY who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of fine apparel.. . and your churches, yea EVEN EVERY ONE, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love MONEY, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, MORE than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. (Mormon 8: 35-37)

It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself.. and when Christ comes back to rule and reign, Will he unfortunately have to drive out the moneychangers again in and around the temple?

There is always hope though. Despite the Father knowing that we, the Gentiles, WILL sin against and reject the fullness of the gospel due to our pride, he promises us in 3 Nephi 16:13, “But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, said the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people.”

It is time to repent and return.


  1. “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.)

  2. Super interesting post Tay, but by the time I got to it the pictures didn't show up. Sounds like I need to check out another book! Thanks for this.

  3. Oops. Ok, pictures should be fixed now.

  4. I read examples in scriptures of leaders who failed and mislead people. It's prophesied it will happen. In the latter days Nephi says the humble followers of Christ will err due to what they are taught. Why would Christ tell us to beware of false prophets in sheep's clothing if there were never going to be any? There will be both true and false. Otherwise there would be no purpose in his teaching.

    If we apply Christ's words only to everyone else, and we never apply them to ourselves than that just sounds like scriptural malpractice. If our leaders pass the scriptural tests, than awesome! They should! We should do as they say. But unless we want to be mislead; should we ever stop applying the tests Christ gave us?

    Wilford Woodruff's words are fine. It's not his job to discern for us though. That is an individual responsibility. His statement in my mind should never remove from us the obligation to apply Christ's teachings to everyone, including ourselves. They shouldn't be used to assure us our leaders are infallible so we can then rest easy. That sounds foolish and too much like the development of an infallible Mormon Pope. It's our own job to discern and apply all of Christs teachings, not just to spiritual teachers of other faiths, but to our own as well. I've tried to do this, and I'm still a happy member of the Church.

    I love the leaders, and support them. I raise my hand to sustain them. But I also realize that it's my own obligation to apply Christ's teachings about who I follow, not for me to defer this onto someone else and then rest easy that they will never lead me astray.

    My opinion of course.

  5. During the presidencies of the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Brigham Young and President John Taylor, they all spoke against any notion of infallibility of the church's president. President Young was particularly cautionary about trusting church leaders instead of the Holy Spirit as your guide. President Young said too much trust of a church leader would bring the saints to hell.
    President Woodruff was so criticized by members for the Manifesto that he defended himself by claiming that the Lord wouldn't let him make a mistake on that order. He said that the Lord just wouldn't let the church's president lead the saints astray. That comment was what would later be used to buttress the notion popularly believed today that the "prophet is infallible."
    President Heber J. Grant was an unpopular church president. One of the problems with getting the saints to respond to the church president's counsel was solved when the president of the church became the living "Prophet." You can reject or question counsel from an administrative authority. But to question a "Prophet of God" was to invite the damnation of hell. So the change in nomenclature worked a mighty change in the perceptions of the Latter-day Saints. The "cult of personality" was an inevitable result. Everything the president did would be done as "God's Living Prophet." No matter what decisions were made, no matter their wisdom, goodness or undesirability, the result was the same: "They MUST be inspired. We may not have the human capacity to see it, but God's ways are higher than man's after all. To question is to lack in faith."
    The change put the president into a league in which at a minimum criticism was disrespectful. Worse, if you were convinced that he made a mistake, it followed almost as an inevitability that you were absolutely forbidden from saying so because to do so revealed a "weakness in the faith." In fact, there are General Conference talks which speak about criticizing the church president (or "Living Prophet") claiming that the criticism was due to a weak faith, and it would lead to apostasy unless a person repented.
    This cult of personality has grown as a result of internal structural changes, including correlation.

    To read more click here: