Here is a quote from an Ezra Taft Benson talk I read this morning:
“[The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants] are bound together as revelations from Israel’s God for the purpose of gathering and preparing His people for the second coming of the Lord.” (Ensign, November 1986, 78)
Do you ever get the feeling that we, as a people, are not millenarian enough?
12 Replies to “Where is our sense of urgency?”
Do you remember that missionary quote from Pres. Kimball that said if he had the energy of a young man he would run through the streets? Well, unfortunately my mission took that very literally. During my first year each missionary was judged by how fast they walked in the streets of Guatemala (a country not known for its urgency). The AP’s would even run through the streets. This eventually developed into full fledged hypocracy. Maybe urgency is good in small doses. Posted by Jeffrey Giliam
Jeff, That story has an aura of both hilarity and pathos. In other words, I love it!Really, the point of the post is to ask how often do we really consider the purpose of the church to be to prepare people for the Second Coming. If that is one of the primary purposes of revealed scripture, why don’t we talk about it more?
I think that this definitely was the purpose of the church in the 19th century where they couldn’t stop talking about. But as the time has silently past the millennial expectation of those early Mormons such emphasis has (wisely) faded. Posted by Jeffrey Giliam
I don’t know Jeff. I fully expect to see the 2nd coming in my lifetime — even if I will be an old man. I’ve been threatening to post on my predictions for the timing of the 2nd coming for months now… maybe this is the week! Posted by Geoff Johnston
Interesting question. I’m an senior citizen now, but when I was much younger, I absorbed a good deal of Millennial fervor from some teachers of religion. I remember my wise mother tempering my sense of urgency about the Second Coming with the remark that although many people in her Utah ward as a child had interpreted their patriarchal blessings to mean that they would be alive as mortals when the Millennium arrived, they had all since passed on. We were living in the East when they announced that the Church would soon have a multi-storey building across from Lincoln Center. My first thought was, “Why bother! The end is so near, and then we’ll all gather to Missouri!” That building served a stake and several wards for many years, and now contains the Manhattan temple; and it was acquired when real-estate was a good deal cheaper than it is now. I now realise that although timetables are interesting and intriguing (I would love to see Geoff’s), they can often slow down or speed up significently due to factors that we mortals really can’t always predict. It may seem quaint now, but at one time a lot of members thought that missionaries would only preach in the Soviet Union after Russia was defeated in a Third World War. Perhaps part of the reason why we don’t hear a lot of fiery sermons on the subject is that we don’t want to be identified as a wierd sect (anymore than we already are, that is). I found it significant, however, that Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a powerful talk in April 2004 General Conference entitled “Preparation for the Second Coming.” Posted by Anonymous
Nice to find you.For each of us, no matter when it comes for other people, at our deaths the second coming and judgment are upon us.So, in a way, the final judgment comes for each almost within their lifetime, and suddenly, when least expected for many. Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)
I tend to be more than a little skeptical about any talk of the 2nd coming. People have been expecting it to be just around the corner based on their understanding of prophetic revelation for 2,500 years now. Those reading Isaiah thought it was soon. Jesus thought it was soon. Paul thought it was soon. Joseph thought it was soon. Willford Woodruff and Brigham both thought that it was going to be really soon (1890 or 1880). What makes us think that NOW we finally have a better perspective? Posted by Jeffrey Giliam
Geoff, shame on you! You know you aren’t supposed to be guessing at that! Anon, Thanks for posting. I think you have perfectly described why people seem to think that the church is backing away from a millenarian outlook.Jeff, I don’t think it matters terribly when it comes. I have a patriarchal blessing that leads me to believe that I won’t be alive to see it happen and I plan to be kicking around for as long as I am able. But the issue of perspective is what I think is important, which leads me to Stephen’s comment.Stephen, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Whenever the second coming is for the world, it will happen for us when we die. Is the urgency of a millenarian outlook necessary to get us to prepare ourselves while we’re alive? Is it a bit like temple recommends, wherein you should have one even if you can’t get to a temple? So, should we be preparing ourselves for the 2nd coming, even if we don’t think that (or don’t care if) we’ll be around for it? Posted by John C.
I always interpreted the 2nd Coming as Death theory as a nice way to save face by believing in the 2nd coming without having to believe in the 2nd coming. Posted by Jeffrey Giliam
Nice pull on that link John! Posted by Geoff Johnston
I’ve always thought more in terms of preparing for my own death, which I know will happen at the end of my lifetime, than preparing for the Second Coming, which may well happen after my life, and my looking forward to it foolish.But lately, I’ve realized such a mindset has an individualistic focus. Expectancy about the Second Coming is also about being invested in the triumph for the us collectively as the Body of Christ, and hoping for the promises and redemption, not just of oneself alone, but of his kingdom. Posted by just Johnna
I have been thinking about this to Johnna. In particular, I think it is interesting in relation to the Lord’s prayer (our model) and the “Thy kingdom come” line. What are we doing to prepare the world for the 2nd coming? Is that what ETB was getting at? Posted by John C.