Friday, April 30, 2004

The Church prospers

President Hinckley tends, generally, to project a very positive outlook regarding the state of the Church and how we are perceived by the world. This was particularly evident around the time of the Olympics, but has been a consistent theme during his presidency.

This seems intended to reassure the Saints, but seems to stand in sharp contrast to quotes such as this one from Brigham Young:

I am satisfied that it will not do for the Lord to make this people popular. Why? Because all hell would want to be in the church. The people must be kept where the finger of scorn can be pointed at them. Although it is admitted that we are honest, industrious, truthful, virtuous, self-denying, and, as a community, possess every moral excellence, yet we must be looked upon as ignorant and unworthy, and as the offscouring of society, and be hated by the world. What is the reason of this? Christ and Baal can not become friends. When I see this people grow and spread and prosper, I feel that there is more danger than when they are in poverty. Being driven from city to city or into the mountains is nothing compared to the danger of our becoming rich and being hailed by outsiders as a first-class community.

(Journal of Discourses, 12: 272-273.)

Are Brigham Young's and Gordon Hinckley's views reconcilable? Is one of them preferable? What is the view the world has of Mormonism? Does it more closely match the positive message articulated by President Hinckley or the way President Young said it must always be? What is the effect of relative prosperity on the Church in the U.S.?


  1. While we may be more and more "accepted", that doesn't mean that people don't look at us funny. Last month there were a number of interesting conversations I was in regarding baptism for the dead. The end result was the conclusion that we are welcome as long as we keep our beliefs to ourselves - something that I think we should find inherently difficult for us to do. Relative prosperity? Maybe. Acceptance? Not really.

      [Comment originally posted by: Zach | Homepage | 05.02.04 - 9:08 pm]

  2. If you think about it, there's a large number of people out there who like the Church, but can't get past [some doctrine X]...such as the Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, Tithing, etc... 'Dumping' one or more of those doctrines would cause a lot more people to join the Church...but would that be a good thing? I remember hearing from other Christians that they'd be fine with our church if we'd just abandon the 'silly' ideas like the divine nature of the Book of Mormon, or Joseph Smith seeing God. I think B.Young is saying the Church cannot and will not lower its standards to become more 'acceptable' to a greater number of people or society at large. The Church will always be a 'select' people, not that we don't wish more people would join--even everyone--but that we won't compromise the standards in order to do so.

      [Comment originally posted by: KMB | Homepage | 05.03.04 - 4:10 pm]

  3. Perhaps President Hinckley is encouraging us to enjoy the good times because more troubled times are due to come sometime in the next few decades.

      [Comment originally posted by: BDemosthenes | Homepage | 05.08.04 - 11:46 pm]

  4. I agree with BDemo. I mean, when I think of how society is headed, at some point, we start saying "no" an awful lot. Eventually, we'll probably have to start our own schools to educate our children and wrap ourselves in our own culture again. Indeed, we and the world aren't friends; I think it just so happens there's a cease-fire for the time being.

      [Comment originally posted by: Nick | 05.10.04 - 1:05 pm]