Archive for August, 2009

In Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we read of the condemnation that ‘resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.’ We also have the words of President Ezra Taft Benson reminding us that this condemnation has not been lifted in this day. I have had some concern that I didn’t completely understand what was being said in these verses. This is my feeble attempt to better represent what the Spirit is telling me on this topic.

Starting in verse 47 of D&C 84 we read:

47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.

48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.

The process of ‘coming unto God’ is facilitated by listening to the voice of the Spirit. The result of this liaison with the Spirit is that we are taught of the covenant that Lord expects us to make when we have come unto Him. Each of us have the opportunity to seek the Spirit, hear the words, and participate in this covenant individually. The comment regarding the covenant has been ‘renewed’ suggests that it was offered before to those who were called by His name.

49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.

52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

I find it interesting that those who don’t come unto God are bound by sin. Conversely, those who come unto God have received a remission of their sins. I equate this process of coming unto God to the process of being sanctified through the remission of our sins. This remission of sins is achieved through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:17).

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—

Vanity can be defined as ‘excessive pride in one’s abilities and achievements (dictionary.com). At the time when this revelation was given, it was vanity that pushed the members of the church in that day to set themselves upon the land of Zion without adequate preparation. As a result, they were put under condemnation and we remain under that condemnation today according to President Benson.

One of my concerns is that this condemnation may have been incorrectly applied in this generation. Does the current church organization truly represent Zion either geographically or spiritually? We are not located where God defined Zion to be nor are we collectively ‘the pure in heart’ that the Lord requires. We call ourselves ‘Zion’ but it is vanity to assume that our abilities and achievements are sufficient to warrant the title.

Another concern is that the admonition of President Benson was turned into a drive to read the Book of Mormon. It is ironic that the Lord included the warning ‘not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.’ I would equate our focus on reading the Book of Mormon with only saying the words. Have we collectively or individually DONE what that Lord has asked us to do?

But what is this ‘new covenant even the Book of Mormon?’ One aspect is that we are told the everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel (D&C 66:2). We also know the Lord speaks of the Book of Mormon stating the ‘fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants’ (Joseph Smith – History, verse 34). One good reason to read the chapters dealing with the visit of Jesus Christ is to understand what the ‘fulness’ of the gospel is and what it is not.

Perhaps what this covenant means is that we are to embrace the covenants found in the Book of Mormon. Of the more than 150 references to covenant in the Book of Mormon, most of them refer to the original covenant the Lord made with the house of Israel. There are references to the covenants of the Gadiantons which we will ignore. There are also covenants made by groups, such as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies regarding the use of weapons to protect themselves (Alma 24).

There are references to two covenants that I think are pertinent to this discussion. Those souls that gathered with Alma at the waters of Mormon were participants of a covenant prior to their baptism as we read in Mosial 18:10:

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

This covenant, or two-way promise, was that the people would be baptized and serve him and keep his commandments. The Lord’s obligation was to bless them with an outpouring of His Spirit. I would suggest that this pre-baptismal covenant is fulfilled when we receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

The second covenant I would like to highlight is found in Mosiah, chapter 5. After the people of King Benjamin collectively received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost and received a remission of their sins, they expressed a willingness to enter into a new covenant as we read here:

5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

6 And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant.

7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

Again, the people covenanted to do the will of God and be obedient to his commandments for the rest of their lives. The other half of the covenant, the Lord’s half, is that they became His sons and daughters; they have been spiritually born of Christ. In becoming sons and daughters of Christ, we become heirs also. I speak of this not in a material sense but of a spiritual sense. We become recipients of the knowledge and wisdom of God which is more precious than any kingdoms or principalities.

The Lord also tells us that it does not matter what lineage we belong to; what matters is what is in our heart individually:

For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel. (2 Nephi 30:2)

Whether you consider yourself a Gentile, a Jew, or a member of the house of Israel, you have an equal opportunity to enter into this covenant.

In summary, those who seek to be called by the name of Christ are to be bound by covenants. Our baptismal covenant can be fulfilled by the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost which is a component of the fulness of the gospel or the everlasting covenant. If we are diligent in keeping the commandments of God, we are presented with an opportunity to have the bondage of sin removed from us and with it, the condemnation of God; hopefully, an opportunity to build Zion in the mode that God intends.

What think ye?

As you read this blog, you are likely in one of two camps. The first camp is the group that dutifully follows that direction of the brethren and avoids the mysteries. Conversations that move too far off the mainstream are met with a cautionary comment that we should avoid the mysteries and stick to the gospel. The other camp is composed of the group that has actually ‘read’ the scriptures and understands that the mysteries of God, as alluded to in the scriptures, are vital to our salvation. If you are a member of the first group, be warned that this is an attempt to move you to the latter perspective – the mysteries of God are to be sought after.

First, consider the following. In Alma, chapters 11 and 12, we read of the confrontation between Zeezrom, an ‘expert in the devices of the devil’ and the missionaries Amulek and Alma. Following a rather sound defeat at the hands of the good guys, Zeezrom begins to sincerely ask questions that ‘he might know more concerning the kingdom of God.’ He asks the following:

What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works? (Alma 12:8)

Alma’s response is enlightening, not only from a doctrinal perspective, but also from a definitional point of view. Before Alma answer’s Zeezrom’s question regarding the resurrection, I believe he first clarifies the content of the discussion. The answer that he is going to give Zeezrom is considered to be a mystery of God and should be treated carefully. Here is Alma’s response found in Alma 12:9-11:

And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma’s point here is to us as well as Zeezrom. We should not harden our hearts to the word of God (which I take to be personal revelation). In so doing we will be given to know the mysteries of God in full. A key understanding here is that Alma’s answer to Zeezrom regarding the resurrection and judgment is considered to a mystery of God.

Now let’s take a look at Section 76 of Doctrine and Covenants, a marvelous composition reciting the vision of the three degrees of glory experienced by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Here is how the Lord introduces the topic found in verses 5 through 7:

For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

Here the Lord speaks of the blessings promised to those who fear Him and serve Him in righteousness and truth, enduring to the end. They are to be the recipients of ALL the mysteries of His kingdom. This, I believe, was not directed solely to Joseph and Sidney, but is a signal to all those who seek to serve God. We can be the recipients of all that God considers a mystery. What a tremendous blessing to those who understand and seek to receive His mysteries.

After presenting the information contained in section 76 regarding the three kingdoms and the benefits and liabilities of each, the vision is extinguished. Joseph records the following in verses which close out the section:

This is the end of the vision which we saw, which we were commanded to write while we were yet in the Spirit.

But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;

Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;

Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;

To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;

That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.

And to God and the Lamb be glory, and honor, and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here Joseph reaffirms that the contents of this section are considered a mystery of the kingdom of God. However, the content recorded in the section is only a small portion of what God gave to Joseph and Sidney. The broader knowledge was not to be given out freely but was only to be bestowed ‘on those who love him, and purify themselves before Him.’ I believe that the Lord is giving us an understanding that these things can be made known to us individually if we will prepare ourselves. It is edifying to me to see that the two scriptures dealing with the mysteries of the kingdom of God are consistent.

We can indeed be given personal access to this knowledge if we seek Him and sanctify ourselves. The key is the knowledge that these things are available. If we do not consider it important to seek after the mysteries of God or have a misguided understanding of the purpose of mysteries, how are we to receive these things from God? If we are not willing to pay the price that God asks, why should we think we should receive of these things? People! In these scriptures, God has promised us personal revelation pertaining to all the mysteries of God, if we will prepare ourselves to receive them. Think of it!

As a closing thought, I would like to again quote from Alma. First, consider that Alma was the recipient of the sanctifying baptism of fire when he was cleansed of all his sin and guilt. Secondly, simply passing through such an event does not give him nor us carte blanche to the knowledge of the kingdom of God. He actually had to work and strive to receive of the mysteries. Here is what he said, found in Alma 5:45-47:

… Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.

I marvel at the diligence that men such as Alma and Joseph and Sidney exhibited in seeking to know the mysteries of God. I marvel that God has extended that promise to each of us to follow the same path; to receive all that He has reserved for those that serve Him in righteousness and truth.

For those who shied away from the mysteries, have I convinced you to consider an alternative path?

What think ye?

After the death of Lehi and before two sides of the family went different directions, Nephi presents ‘the things of his soul.’ No longer constrained by their father Lehi, the older brothers now began to talk of death instead of their earlier abuse of Nephi. The righteous portion of the family would shortly flee for their lives, beginning the centuries of struggle between Nephites and Lamanites.

Found in 2 Nephi, chapter 4, the younger brother of Laman and Lemuel seeks to share his thoughts in what must have been a very stressful time. This psalm provides an insight into the heart and thoughts of Nephi and provides guidance to all of us in times of testing.

The following contains some of my thoughts as one reads through this fourth chapter of the second book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

15 And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

The scriptures represent a source of wisdom and understanding unequaled by any other physical object around us. For many years, I dutifully read the scriptures, both individually and as a family. I was proficient in responding with the pat answers and scriptures to the quadrennial questions in Sunday School. But, as a spiritual crisis mounted around me, I could no longer be satisfied with the pat answer. I first began by seeking out the books of the thoughts of man. My library of Mormon theology and Christian History expanded to hundreds of items. I spent much time reading and pondering these works assuming the I could find another person who could give me the answers I was looking for.

Slowly I realized that I had been looking in the wrong places. Much like the drunk who looks for his keys under the lamppost because the light is better, I sought to rely on the sometimes errant thoughts of others as my source for second hand spiritual knowledge. Today, my sizable collection of books is for sale and I have learned that the scriptures contain more of what I was looking for than I had ever conceived. Nephi got it right; I delight in the scriptures and my heart ponders the deeper meaning that had eluded me for many years.

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

The culture of the church requires that we put on a good face and present ourselves as pristine pillars of piety, unmarred by the stains of the world around us. Our leaders do not, as Nephi did, speak of their weaknesses and temptations, and we are not disposed either. Instead, we carry on as resolute as the pioneers, a stern face and a distain for those who show weakness or reek of their addictions. What would the church be like if Nephi’s example were carried forward? Would we be willing to express our fears and weaknesses to the body of the church? Would we, as Nephi, be willing to admit our temptations and failures? Humility would be the gain, and pride would flee.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

How great was the faith of Nephi? I marvel at his story when, as a young man, he had the audacity to seek the same vision as his father. In 1 Nephi 10:17-19, one reads: ‘I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently see him… for he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them…’ Could we exhibit the same kind of faith and reliance on the Lord in this day? Are we not promised that we can receive the same things that Nephi received?

23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

Are ‘visions of the night-time’ anything other than our dreams? How do we treat our dreams in this age of sophistication? Lehi’s encounter with the tree of life took place in a dream. Are we losing a valuable source of knowledge when we dismiss our dreams as products of our diet or environment? As for me, I have found certain dreams to be filled with information and insight. By carefully recording and pondering the symbolism found in our dreams, would our knowledge of God and his plans be enriched? I believe the answer is ‘yes.’

Prayer represents our desire to communicate with our Father. If there is anything, in my mind, that is our task in this mortality, it is to come to know and love our Father in Heaven. Raising our voice in solemn prayer represents a conduit to this understanding. Could it be that through prayer, mighty and meaningful, we would be able to call down the ministering angels to us?

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

One of the hardest obstacles in my life has been to move away from allowing events around me to trigger a yielding to neglect of duty or sin. It can be so easy to let my ‘strength slacken’ when confronted with today’s afflictions. The message to me in this part is that true happiness comes only from reliance on God. We cannot control the events around us but we can control how we react to them. I must continually remind myself not to ‘slacken my strength because of my perceived afflictions.’

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

Have you experienced the all-consuming joy that comes through the power of the Holy Ghost? It is not just a burning in the bosom but a complete spiritual makeover. It brings with it the power to sanctify and cleanse and leaves you with no desire to do evil. I speak of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost promised to those who diligently seek God. One of the prerequisites is a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

I believe that Nephi’s warning regarding the arm of flesh pertains to any reliance on another human for our spiritual structure. The warning here is that we must seek and achieve a relationship with God, solely upon our own efforts, to acquire this state of happiness. No stake president, apostle, or prophet can sanctify us. It is only found in the relationship we build with God.

What think ye?

One of the primary markers of a true Zion community is the sharing of both spiritual and physical resources. As the title of this post suggests, the church of Christ founded after the visit of the Messiah to the Nephites treated the material possessions of the members as ‘common property.’ We read in Fourth Nephi of the establishment of this community:

…behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.

And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. (4 Nephi 1:1-3)

This community, more than any other in the scriptures, enjoyed the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ and the bounty of the Lords blessings. In the description of their ‘continued peace in the land’ we read of the following attributes:

  • All manner of miracles…among the children of men (verse 5)
  • Rebuilt the great cities that were burned (verse 7)
  • No longer followed the law of Moses (verse 12)
  • Continued fasting and prayer (verse 12)
  • Meeting together often to pray and hear the word of the Lord (verse 12)
  • No contentions among all the people (verse 16)

Perhaps the best summary of their lifestyle is found in the following verses:

And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. (4 Nephi 1:15-17)

As we read here, Nephi attributed the success of the church to the ‘love of God’ found in the ‘hearts of the people.’ This idyllic community lasted about 165 years. Its end was marked with the return of ‘mine and yours;’ as pride enveloped the community:

And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

Once the people no longer kept on things in common, the true church of Christ found it was competing with another ‘church’ which apparently was very attractive to the people. These new churches were built to get gain and grew very strong even to the point of persecuting the true church.

Other examples are found in the scriptures of this people called Zion. We can read in Acts of this type of community following the Lords ministry in the land of Jerusalem:

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

These people were able to achieve and sustain their community. We do not know how long it lasted but we do know they were able to achieve the goal while embedded in the larger community.

Here is what we find in Moses 7:17-19 regarding the society of Enoch:

The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even ZION.

Here we find more attributes necessary to establish a community of the Lord called ZION. If we are to become a ZION, we need to be of ‘one heart’ which I suggest means that we must see the value in each individual and have the godly love mentioned earlier. We need to be of ‘one mind’ suggesting that we must be unified in the doctrines of the kingdom. We must dwell in righteousness meaning we cannot be distracted by pastimes which bring no value. We, finally, must find a way to share our bounty with those who are in need. This requires an absence of pride and selfishness. From these above examples, we can now determine some glimmer of what we are required to do before we call ourselves ZION.

So… how do we stack up? In this last dispensation, the Lord once again called upon those who profess His name to establish Zion. The early saints were called to go to Independence and establish Zion through the law of consecration. For a variety of reasons, this early attempt failed.

Brigham Young attempted to establish communities following prescriptions of the United Order. Orderville, Brigham City and other communities made valiant attempts to live as ‘one’ but achieved limited success over a short period. By the time of his death in 1877, it could be said that Brigham Young had done all that he could to ‘reform’ and ‘sanctify’ the people of the church to prepare them as a Zion people but with no lasting success.

I had an acquaintance who would regularly end their correspondence with “next year in Zion.” This phrase was meant to signify the goal that we should all have in becoming the people of God. Do we still have this goal prominent among us or have we redefined ‘Zion’ to mean something more comfortable to our materialistic and prideful society of saints? Do we have the right to call ourselves ‘Zion’ when we do not meet the criteria established by the Lord to use that name?

What think ye?