People I know give some push-back on this idea and insist the Church is ever moving closer to Zion. My question is can you move closer to something you don't talk about? What if we're moving closer to Zion's bank than Zion?
For example this is how frequently Zion is spoken of in General Conference (1835- date of this writing). Notice any overall trends? This is 160 years worth of data, 10,000 talks, and over 25 millions words. At no time in the recorded history of LDS General Conference has Zion been spoken of LESS during the General Conference than it is right now. The LDS vocabulary and knowledge base about Zion is shrinking. I can hardly find the subject in the manuals any more.
Mention of Zion has gone down.... down..... down.... And if you pay attention to the news, I would think this would be a bit of a wake up call because what we see in the wider religious news matches these trends! The quest and even ability to build Zion, like the graph, is going the wrong direction. The trend line makes it even more visible if you look at this same exact data as a line graph.
Why would I post such a negative statistic? Anger? Bone to pick? No. I'm not being angry or cynical or critical. I'm just looking at a graph. Then looking at my own experience, the present day religious news, and I see a match between them all. It's concerning. It's alarming to me. I post this for the same reason you'd ring an alarm bell. Which is so myself and anyone in hearing distance can maybe do something about it if they so choose.
What happens if you covenant all your time and talents etc... to a Church for the establishment of Zion yet that Church does nothing to build Zion? How then can you keep your covenant?
While mentions of both Zion and Revelation are down, Priesthood Keys and Living Prophets are decidedly on the rise. It's a most interesting moment in time right now in 2019. Could these graphs change? Well yeah. But right now Priesthood Keys and Living Prophets are skyrocketing but Zion is declining. Are these trends perhaps related?
The LDS Church (regardless of the style guide mandated name) isn't building Zion despite the financial resources to do so. And in some people's view they can't build it. I believe if any of us want to have any hope of seeing Zion we'll all need to repent and turn away from idols (IE expecting and waiting for The President of the Church to announce some program or give a call to move to Missouri). We'll all need to turn back to God immediately, and see what God is up to now. See link below. This is positive, this is edifying, turning back to God is uplifting. My hope is to be positive.
https://www.learnofchrist.org/ (this is not another church FYI)
Here's a zoomed in section of this decade and mention of Priesthood Keys. An eye catching jump in 2 places. 2014 was the highest frequency Priesthood Keys had ever been mentioned in General Conference since 1851. 2016 set another outlying new record. Roughly 90% of all mentions of this phrase were by members of the Quorum of the 12 and or First Presidency. The top two key holding bodies ironically.
Makes me wonder if anything else happened or was said in 2014 (then again during or before 2016) regarding the Church's Priesthood Keys. Because as we looked at last post these jumps in word frequency during LDS General conference aren’t always random. One correlation to consider on these jumps in 2014 and 2016 is below. I’ve included an excerpt from a talk given Sept 2014. PDF here: pages 6-8.
Of note also is a book containing this same material was published in late 2015 "Preserving the Restoration".
"Joseph Smith cautioned the saints about violating God’s trust. As Joseph put it: “His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath.”18 We should expect God’s house to be ordered around only one principle: repentance. When the pride of a great organization replaces repentance, the heavens withdraw, and when they do, “Amen” to that portion of God’s house. But the restoration through Joseph will always remain, even if God chooses to order it differently before His return. It is His to do with as He determines best.
At the time I was excommunicated, I was in good standing with the Lord. I had nothing amiss in my personal life. There was no sin warranting church discipline. As a former member of the High Council for years, every church disciplinary proceeding I attended that resulted in excommunication, always involved serious moral transgression, betrayal of marriage covenants, and in some cases criminal wrongdoing. In contrast, the reason for my discipline was a book I had written about church history, in which I attempted to align the events of the Restoration to the prophecies of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The stake president admitted to me and my wife before the Council began, that I was then worthy of a temple recommend.19 By any standard of moral conduct, I was an innocent man, whose only offense was believing the scriptures revealed our condition before God. On the evening of May 1, 2014, the Lord gave me further light and knowledge about His work in His vineyard. The Lord is in control over the church, men, and all things. When He undertakes to accomplish something, “there is nothing that the Lord God shall take in His heart to do, but what He will do it.” (Abr. 3: 17.) Often the means used by the Lord to accomplish His “strange act,” and to perform His “strange work”(D&C 101: 95), are very small indeed. "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37: 6-7.)
It is almost always the case that the Lord uses simple things to confound the mighty. I can think of nothing smaller or simpler or less important than myself. Inside the great church to which I once belonged, I was obscure. However, I lived my religion, attended faithfully, served to the best of my ability, upheld church leaders with my prayers, paid tithes, fasted, observed the Word of Wisdom, and helped answer questions for those needing assistance with troubling issues. There was no reason to regard me as a rebel who should be singled out for discipline. Nevertheless, the Lord chose to use a faithful and believing member to accomplish His design. Only someone who is devoted to His will could accomplish what the Lord had in His heart. Now He has accomplished it.
The Church has Doctrine and Covenants 121, verses 36 to 40, to warn it about abusing His authority. There is an "amen" or end to authority when control, compulsion, and dominion are exercised in any degree of unrighteousness. Therefore, when using authority, great care must be taken. In any case, the church was careless. Therefore, those involved, are now left to kick against the pricks, to persecute the Saints and to fight against God.
Section 121 is a warning to church leaders. It is addressing the powerful, not the powerless. It is addressing those who occupy the seats of authority over others. Only those who claim the right to control, compel, and exercise dominion, are warned against persecuting the saints, who believe the religion and practice it as I did from the time of my conversion. My excommunication was an abuse of authority. Therefore, as soon as the decision was made, the Lord terminated the priesthood authority of the stake presidency and every member of the High Council who sustained this decision, which was unanimous. Thereafter, I appealed to the First Presidency, outlining the involvement of the 12 and the 70. The appeal gave notice to them all.20 The appeal was summarily denied.
Last general conference, the entire First Presidency, the 12, the 70, and all other general authorities and auxiliaries, voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting me out of the church. At that moment, the Lord ended all claims of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to claim it is led by the priesthood. 21 They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord has brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along. He has chosen to use small means to accomplish it, but He always uses the smallest of means to fulfill His purposes.
None of this was my doing. The Lord's strange act, was not, could not, be planned by me. Was not, could not, have been controlled by me. It was not anticipated by me, or even understood by me, until after the Lord had accomplished His will, and made it apparent to me on the evening of May 1, 2014. He alone has done this. He is the author of all of this.22
Just because something is true at one moment does not mean it is true at another moment. Things change, decisions matter, what we do always matters. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the same thing as it was when I joined in 1973. At this moment it is not even the same thing it was in 2012. It is in the process of changing rapidly, and will be something very different again in just a few more years. The Lord, knowing the direction the LDS Church is now headed, has acted to preserve the Restoration itself. This change does not affect the leadership’s legal right to preside.23 They are upheld by common consent, and therefore have the right still to control the direction of the organization. But it cannot be fixed, either. Any new authority will have to sustain the senior leaders now in position. I belonged for forty years to the church, and President Monson, President Packer and Elder Perry were in leadership when I joined and they are among the senior most leaders today. Adding new authorities that were not in the leadership when the Lord took these steps cannot remedy the Lord’s decision."24__________________________________________________________
18 TPJS, p. 18. To the same effect, during the Mormon Reformation Heber C. Kimball said: “We receive the priesthood and power and authority. If we make a bad use of the priesthood, so you not see that the day will come when God will reckon with us, and he will take it from us and give it to those who will make better use of it? (JD 6: 125.) George A. Smith said, “God has set his hand at the present time to establish his kingdom. But unless the Saints will so live and so exert themselves that they can preserve the purity of the holy Priesthood among them, the work will be left to other people.” (JD 6: 161.) Even Brigham Young commented on the possibility that only an LDS remnant would remain to carry forward the work: “God will preserve a portion of the meek and the humble of this people to bear off the Kingdom to the inhabitants of the earth, and will defend His Priesthood; for it is the last time, the last gathering time; and He will not suffer the Priesthood to be again driven from the earth.” (JD 2: 184.)
19 I had a current temple recommend at the time of the disciplinary council. I was not asked to return it before the council, nor asked to return it even after the council’s decision. It expired in March, 2014, six months after excommunication.
20 A transcript of the Appeal Letter is attached as an Appendix to this paper.
21 Meaning the leaders who exercised control, compulsion and dominion, and not the powerless who had no part in the affair.
22 Transcribed from Journal of Denver Snuffer, Vol. 8, entry of May 2, 2014, pp. 29-33.
23 The entire corporate church is organized as a “corporation sole.” There is one owner: the LDS Church President. As The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he owns everything from the copyrights to chapels, from temples to business entities, from websites to artwork, the entire “church” belongs to one man. Even if voted out by common consent, he, and not church members, would own all the property. In a very real legal sense, there is only one Mormon in the LDS organization.
24 It would require such a radical and unprecedented change from history and tradition that it will not be possible. Every one of the leadership positions would have to be replaced at a single moment, which in LDS practice, although actually possible for them to do, is impossible for them to even contemplate.
Continued next post....