65: LDS Views on Christ’s Second Coming and the End Times

December 20, 2011
By

Elder Boyd K. Packer’s October 2011 General Conference encouragement to youth to not fear that because of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ they will not have a chance to have a full life, including having children and grandchildren, is the latest in what seems to be a trend among LDS leaders to de-emphasize the kind of apocalyptic thinking that was prevalent among Mormons even just a few decades ago. Yet class discussions during recent lessons in the priesthood and Relief Society manuals on the signs of the Second Coming, what will happen upon Christ’s return, the Millennium, and the Final Judgment all reveal that “we are living in the end times” thinking is still very much alive and well within Mormonism, with those doing most of the talking in classes still seeming to believe Christ’s coming and world’s end is immanent–perhaps even within their own lifetimes. Clearly it’s time for major discussions on this subject!

What are the scriptural roots of the Christian expectation of Christ’s second coming? How do these match up with apocalyptic visions from other traditions? What unique ideas do Mormons bring to end-times thinking? Is the violent vision of the world’s end set in stone, or are there chances for human beings to change the outcome? If someone feels like she or he cannot believe scripture and teachings about the Second Coming literally, are there still positive framings about preparing for the end of the world or the idea of Christ coming that they might be able to adopt?

In this episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Jared Anderson, Charles Randall Paul, and Kenton Karrasch dive deep into all of these issues and many others! It’s a big subject and a long-ish episode, but the recording still only scratches the surface. We hope you will listen and then contribute to a vibrant additional discussion in the comments section below!

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Additional Reading:

“Watching,” by V. Stanley Benfell III. (This is the essay Dan refers to in the podcast relating to watching for Christ in others.)

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42 Responses to 65: LDS Views on Christ’s Second Coming and the End Times

  1. December 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Dan,
    Thank you brotha. 

    The Book of Revelations is a bunch of hullaballoo. Actually, it’s worse than that.  The Book of Revelations presents a narcissistic, violent, and dystopic vision of the future.  That vision creates fear and distrust and divisiveness.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We see others as heathens, unbelievers, infidels who are prophesied to torment and persecute us, so we build our walls, our defenses, and ultimately our gears of war against them, and they against us.

    The saying “In like a lamb, out like a lion” applies to the new testament. The New Testament starts with the lamb of god and ends in The Book of Revelations–a demonic roar.  This is perhaps the most evil book ever written, not because it’s 100% evil, but because the beautiful elements of it—that we are the just, that we will win the war and enjoy God’s favor and his eternal bliss; that the tree of life bears eternal fruit for us; that the waters of salvation shall flow eternally for us; that God will make all things new for us; that he will wipe away our tears—it’s precisely these flattering elements that appeal to our narcissism, hold us in a privileged place in the universe, lift us up above the unbeliever, the heathen, the infidel who will surely be punished, will be destroyed, and will burn in a lake of fire and brimstone.  We are above them, better than them, against them, they against us.  Accordingly, the world should be viewed as we vs. them; better yet, the world should be viewed as we together with God vs. them (the Godless) because God is surely on our side. Like I said, it’s just a bunch of hullaballoo.  Why do people still read this stuff?  This is the book that turned Aquinas into a total asshole.

    Somebody needs to do a really thorough research on religion and narcissism and perhaps even on the topic of religion being a self-soothing mechanism for narcissism.

    • December 22, 2011 at 12:29 am

      Interesting thoughts on narcissism Jonah. It is true that though in some traditions humans are taught they are nothing without God, worms etc, often religion functions to put humanity at the center of the cosmos. I think that has both benefits and costs. 

      • December 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

        Jared,
        Two things: a very thorough job on the overview of second-coming theology.  Thank you! Second, relating to your comment, you’re right, not all uplifting, ego-promoting, soul expanding propositions are narcissistic.  Most are not.

        The problem is not this yearning for a special place in the cosmos.  That alone could be a good thing, so long as we strive to get there together. 

        It’s the warlike component, the enmity, the divisiveness, the denigration and devaluation of those who disagree, those who believe differently, and live differently. It’s the living paradigm of we vs them.  More importantly, it’s the opinion that the violence that comes upon them is deserved and even wished for–the ultimate vindication that comes from creating and destroying enemies.  That specific devaluation of others, that lack of empathy, that hatred is what makes the Book of Revelations so pathologically narcissistic and deplorable. Like I said, it has exerted disastrous consequences on Christianity.

      • March 5, 2012 at 3:14 am

        Here you go:

        Great new article on the scariest book in the Bible (Revelations):

        http://www.salon.com/2012/03/04/revelations_the_bibles_scariest_book/

        Thanks,
        Jonah

  2. KC
    December 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Always been fascinated by second coming and prophesy. Like Jared I took it so seriously that Hinckley’s 1998 talk about a portent of stormy weather and with the ensuing Y2K apocalypse, led to real fear. I got my food storage, studied all the mormon prophesies, signs of the times (which made things even more ominous) and couldn’t shake the millennial fever. Then Y2K was a bust and  so went Hinckley‘s prediction, then  9/11 happened and Hinckley prediction seemed prophetic again, but then prosperity returned, but then the housing bust happened and so the cycle repeats as it has before with or without prophetic warnings.

    I wish I had the perspective of this podcast 10 years ago, would have saved myself so much worry and even made better decisions.  I love the idea of living this life as if this is it, and there is no afterlife.  It has totally changed my perspective.  I appreciate the different perspectives you guys brought to the discussion and trying to find a way to find meaning in a non literalist view of the second coming.  However, we are still left with all these prophetic statements and eminent return of Jesus theology that have failed over and over again. Im with Jared on this one, I think its disempowering.

    I cautiously sway into politics, but mention was made about Bush, his religious outlook and influence on middle east policy. So now the elephant in the room. To what extent does Romney’s Mormon beliefs about the last days, spreading the LDS gospel to every nation,  role of mormon church in those last day events, two witnesses of Revelations preaching in Jerusalem being mormon prophets, destiny of Jews and Israel and how this fits into mormon view of second coming, America as a land of promise, prosper if righteous, destruction if wicked (book of mormon theology), Constitution as a sacred document- and as further reinforcement its founders requesting and being proxy baptized in mormon temples, new Jerusalem in independence, Missouri etc. etc. 

    A stake president I know expressed to me “how great it would be to have a high priest in the white house”  I think this stuff is on everyone’s mind, members and non members alike.  It inescapable that members would at least partially see a Romney presidency through the lens of  “last days” mormon theology. 

    • RJ
      December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am

      I also remember the Hinckley talk very well. At the time I was very believing, but the idea that he was referring to the Second Coming never once entered my mind, not sure why. However, even in my now less faithful state, I believe that that prophesy came true almost 10 years to the day after he gave it. 

    • RJ
      December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am

      I also remember the Hinckley talk very well. At the time I was very believing, but the idea that he was referring to the Second Coming never once entered my mind, not sure why. However, even in my now less faithful state, I believe that that prophesy came true almost 10 years to the day after he gave it. 

  3. RJ
    December 22, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I 100% agree with Jared’s statement that so much of the end-times zeal that you see is tied to a pessimistic, us vs. them, world view. I see that kind of perspective expressed  A LOT at church. It’s one of the things that causes me to chafe the most in my attendance at church. I noticed it especially around the last election as conservatives in the church dealt with the reality that Barack Obama was now the president. To me it exposes the often self serving, “woe is me”,  way people abuse the second coming narrative, which is very narcissistic. On the other hand, when I think back to my own upbringing, the second coming was definitely something that I was taught to believe in and it very much caught my imagination. However, when I think back to those days when I had a literal belief in an imminent Second Coming, my feelings were never fearful, nor did I ever worry about  the doom and gloom side of the story. I’ve heard of people who were terrorized by the fear of the “end times”, but I was always more focused on the wonder of what it would be like at Adam-ondi-Ahman, as Randy described and things like that. 

    • December 22, 2011 at 12:27 am

      My personal experience was similar @414a41bcc7b3ad9d0d3a7b8a734e0997:disqus . I wasn’t so concerned about the wars, etc., though I did think about that often enough. With you, it was pondering Zion and the best “priesthood session” ever at Adam-ondi-Ahman and similar events that really captured my imagination. And of course I was a sucker for the two prophets story.

  4. Adam
    December 22, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Great podcast.  Thanks a lot guys.  This is a gospel subject that I haven’t been very interested in for a long time.  It has always seemed too unreal and pointless to me.  Much like the doctrine of the gathering of the ten tribes.  But you guys managed to make this topic interesting to me again.  I loved the insight from Matthew 25 about watching and waiting for Jesus Christ in the form of our neighbors.  I also loved the idea of us being responsible for the timing of the second coming.    When this subject was taught in my Elder’s quorum, the teacher basically pointed out how vague the signs of the times really are.  He then explained that our lives are as finite as the world so we should always remain prepared for some kind of end.  I’ve often heard people in church say to always  live your life like the second coming is tomorrow.  Maybe we are taught about the second coming to scare us into being righteous. 

    Keep up the great work Dan and company!

  5. tld
    December 23, 2011 at 1:30 am

    There is a tendency (isn’t there?) of ignoring the elephant in the room.  It is my understanding that a necessary component of End Times is a literal resurrection. To me this means a reuniting of the physical body with the spirit. Doesn’t it seem ludicrous to believe in this?  Literally billions of bodies of people who have died have completely disappeared. In order for a literal resurrection to occur it seems that God would have to recreate the bodies of almost every person who has ever lived in order to reunite those bodies with their spirits. This ignores the apparent likelihood (based on Near-Death Experiences) that the spirit seems to do just fine when it is separate from the body (i.e., it does not go into an extended sleep until an expected resurrection). Maybe I am in the minority, but I find it hard to ignore the elephant. 

    • Kenton
      December 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      tld,

      Yes, this could be interesting to discuss and is often set aside. I went to a funeral one week prior to the podcast. It was a family member and they were dressed in the robes of the priesthood. I could not help but be impressed at how expansive our theology is. There are not a lot of traditions out there who lay their dead to rest in special clothing. As I looked out at the cemetery I pondered the exact things you have mentioned. I stood there imagining this family member rising from the dead in the first resurrection next to their spouse. While the spirit may live on as seen in NDE’s I look to this event as the final conquering of the death of the physical body. This is the time where the spirit is in full control of its once mortal master. Will it literally happen as we learn in Alma? I don’t know, but it is sufficient for me to play the myth out in my mind and heart to find comfort and power in the grieving process of death. However, that is not to say that it is not just playing weird. But we teach it and some of us believe it and have for thousands of years. Maybe it is simply a myth that has become so powerful and useful that humanity has never let it go. Just my take.

      Kenton 

      • tld
        December 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

        Kenton,

        Are you implying that the whole plan of salvation is a myth. If so, wow! I guess I fail to see how this myth provides more satisfaction than the possibility that upon death our spirit moves into the afterlife and progresses within that reality without any expectation or need of a future resurrection, which I see as unnecessary. But then, we see things differently. There are, obviously, multiple possibilities. Perhaps we exist in a virtual world, all constructed by some massive computer for our benefit and education. Who knows?

        • Kenton
          December 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm

          tld,

          Regarding my myth statements I would like to clarify its meaning by saying, the realities of a literal resurrection/plan of salvation are unknown to me, I can’t personally prove them to myself or others. However, despite them being unknown to me or even  not even true at all, the power of using this information solely as a myth is sufficient enough to make the teachings useful for me in my life. I think both ways of looking at it 1) literal and 2) myth or equally satisfying on different levels. This is because both of them bring alternative meanings and purposes to the table.

          Like you said who knows? I really like thinking about the existence of living in a virtual world. Like you I would ask the question to our Creator if the literal resurrection is inefficient. Like you said it seems a little unnecessary to become literally resurrected from all of our previous parts.

          I will dig up a quote for you and write some of my thoughts of why I think the resurrection is important and necessary. More later, if not for you benefit it will be for mine to write out some concrete thoughts on the issue.

          Kenton

           

          • tld
            December 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

            Kenton,

            I have to admit that myth can be very satisfying. When my family gets together for Christmas they always have me read the Christmas story from Luke. I know that it probably never happened, but it is a satisfying experience to share it with the family. In a similar fashion, I know that the 3D world, as I experience it, is my own creation, but most of the time it seems like it is real and all of us are experiencing it equally and directly all of the time. I admit that the myth that is Mormonism can be very satisfying to those who want to share and participate in it. Those, like me, who reject the myth exclude ourselves from many of its benefits. What is true? What is reality? I doubt that any of us has, or possibly can ever have, a definitive answer.

            Regarding the resurrection, I look forward to your comments. It appears that you may have a broader perspective on all of this than me and I appreciate your willingness to share that perspective with others.

            Tom 

      • July 8, 2012 at 4:37 am

        Ever sit and wonder how “reincarnation” plays into resurrection?  This is a taboo subject among LDS, usually one of which gets you in trouble, but met plenty behind closed doors that believe it.  Joseph Smith even taught it as “multiple mortal probations.”  The church even teaches it to an extent claiming Jesus was born and died on other worlds but this is the only world that crucified him.  Jesus also has said he has gone by “many names” but eternally he is I Am.  AS we all our the same soul.. we rejoin with physical body.. though you may quote “it is but appointed for a man to die once.”  This is true, our physical bodies do die only once, and either are buried and decay or turned to ash..  Our perfected body is that of who we truly are.  Our spirit body fitted with an eternal physical appearance.  Resurrection, the final is the end of the cycle — in other words can stop reincarnating.  Jesus broke his cycle upon his resurrection he was not recognized at first?  Wonder why?  Because he had a new body.

    • January 4, 2012 at 9:44 am

      I don’t see the “lost bodies” as such a problem for literal resurrection, since our bodies *while we are alive* are made up of different molecules (our skin is replaced, bones are replaced, etc)! It certainly seems within the power to reconstitute perfected bodies using matter, or spirit (more refined matter) or however that works. :) 

      I am not saying I believe in a literal bodily resurrection, but I do not think it has insurmountable problems.

  6. Anonymous
    December 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks all.  Very interesting conversation.  I forgot that the decongestant I took for my head cold keeps me up – so this marathon proved to a good alternative to tossing about most of the night.

    Sidney Rigdon wrote a 14-article series entitled “Millennium” in Kirtland between December 1833 and May 1835. These articles began in “The Evening and Morning Star” and finished in “Latter Day Saint Messenger and Advocate.”  (http://sidneyrigdon.com/RigWrit/RigWrit3.htm).

    His teaching gives priority to John’s Revelation Chapter 20 and from there his exegesis proceeds to squeeze support from all over the Bible. The Book of Mormon is not referenced at all.  Indeed, Mormonism is mentioned only once in the same sentence as Shakerism. This is when Rigdon indignantly responds the Campbell referring to them both as impositions.

    It is interesting how Rigdon begins.  In the first three articles he lambasts Alexander Campbell and a guy named M’Corkle for their inadequate treatment of the Millennium in their magazine The Millennial Harbinger.   Throughout Rigdon stresses the literalism of Christ’s second coming and all the attendant miracles.  He also stresses how the righteous throughout history will be part of the first resurrection and how they, with Jesus, will reign over the rest.  He brings up lions that graze on straw and clapping trees more than once.

    It seems clear that Rigdon is using his special and deep understanding of the Millennium as a proselytizing tool in a climate of stiff local competition (the Campbellites).  Rigdon seems to appeal particularly to biblical literalism and the prospect of great miracles as what sets his truth apart from apostate sects.  He does not mention the revelatory powers or authority of Joseph Smith. (Smith is not mentioned)

    I would be interested to know how great a force for conversion this spectacular vision of the Second Coming was in the early Church  - relative to the Book of Mormon.  I can imagine the minds of people scraping meager lives our of ground, poorly educated, with Bible stories told by faint candlelight on cold dark nights encouraging tremendous flights of fancy where they could would be given prominent roles.  Heady stuff.

    I’d also be interested to know more about Sidney Rigdon’s contribution to the genesis Mormon doctrine … and scripture.   Was his later apostasy the only reason his early role in the Church is all but erased by Correlation?

    For instance, a lot of D&C was written around this same period.  It would seem to me possible that some good higher criticism could find evidence for whether information was being passed from D&C to Rigdon or vise versa.

    JT

    • KC
      December 26, 2011 at 4:02 am

      You should read Sydney Rigdon, portrait of religious excess, by Richard Van Wagner

      Rigdon was intimately involved in all aspects of the early church

      • Anonymous
        December 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

        KC,

        Thanks.  I have read it.  It obviously provided no “smoking gun” with respect to this question – just some suspicious episode(s).

        In particular, the sequence of events surrounding the August 27-29 (1830) Mahoning Baptist Association meeting (pp. 52- 55) in which Rigdon got “shot down” by Campbell after promoting communitarianism.  Van Wagoner says it was surprising that Rigdon brought it up – perhaps Rigdon was intentionally provoking a split because he knew Mormonism lay in the near future..

        Consider the fact that Parley Pratt was absent from this meeting, having already set off on his fateful trip to Canaan NY during which a “whispering of the spirit” prompted a detour that put him on a collision course with the Book of Mormon and the Smiths.  Pratt was baptized on September 1 and was off on a mission to the Lamanites with Cowdery by mid-October.  

        Van Wagoner says that it was Pratt’s idea for them all to take detour to Mentor to meet his mentor (☺) Rigdon, who converted about a week later.   van Wagoner says that Cowdery and Pratt separated from the other missionaries when they went to see Rigdon.  Hmmm.

        Van Wagoner goes into some detail about how Rigdon knew about the Book of Mormon in advance from newspaper reports.  Pratt would most likely have also.  Did Pratt give people the impression that the Book of Mormon was new to him?  

        The role of miracles (gifts of the spirit) was a big topic in Rigdon’s “The Millenium” articles.  Authority is a big topic in his “The Gospel” articles.  Communitarianism shows up in neither, perhaps because his hope or accomplishing this was faltering by the time these articles were written.

        In any case, this is a job for someone with far more historical depth and time than I have – and perhaps these facts have already been hammered to an inconclusive dead-end already.

        JT

  7. Brad
    December 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the podcast — Dan mentioned linking to the article he read from about watching for the second coming. Does anyone have that link?

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      December 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      Sorry! Thanks for reminder! Just put it up there. Gotta run now, but I will put up a couple of other links to things when I get back later today.

  8. Jacob Brown
    December 25, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I went to church today with my family just for Christmas. My wife was in charge of the ward choir. I sat there in the pews with my kids trying to keep them calm and entertained. The bishop had come up with a musical program that consisted of reading Spencer W. Kimball’s First Presidency Message from the December 1981 Ensign interrupted by musical numbers. Most of the music sung was not Christmas music. He purposefully used non-Christmas hymns to emphasize that Christmas is not just about Jesus’ birth.

    The bishop got up at the end to give his talk. It was all about the Second Coming. He reminded us of the murmurings in the media about how Christians should stop looking for Christ to return. It has been thousands of years already. He went on to say that he always wondered if Jesus would come before we expect him or after we expect him. Basing his discourse on 3rd Nephi, he declared that Jesus wouldn’t come until the unfaithful had a chance to decide that Jesus wasn’t coming. He also said that the Second Coming wouldn’t be a great and triumphal return. It would be quiet and subtle. The righteous must be paying attention or they would miss it.

    He reminded the congregation that the most important thing they could do would be to prepare for his immanent return. He lived under eight different prophets and each one had earnestly warned the saints to prepare for the Second Coming. Repent and prepare now because there is no chance to do so after He comes again.

  9. Anonymous
    December 31, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I just wanted to say thanks for this podcast. Over the last few months I’ve been experiencing a rocky transition into the new ward I’m living in. Gospel Doctrine was challenging when I tried to assert non-correlated readings of certain passages of New Testament scriptures. Gospel Principles turned out not to be the better option I thought it would be because while I went to try and reify my faith, I found that I had questions that I wanted to ask but the structure of the class simply did not encourage such questions. Everything kinda came to a head when I was sitting in a priesthood lesson on the Millennium and I just flat out asked, “what does believing in this principle do for any of us? Can anyone here describe how believing in and talking about a time of peace in the future actually helps them or informs the decisions they make now?” I expressed that I could understand that my ancestor who believed in the Millennium picked up his life and moved to Utah; but for me, it just doesn’t do anything for me. So Dan, I really appreciated that you brought up that there’s a lot of stuff that we don’t believe or teach or emphasize that Mormons in the 19th century did; so why has this principle stuck around? or rather what has allowed it to remain in the shape that it’s in?

    It was around the time that I experienced this frustration in the priesthood class that I came across the episode of “On Being” where Krista Tippett interviewed Joanna Brooks. Eventually I found my way to Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters. And I mean this with complete and full sincerity, everyone involved with each of these projects and the work that you all do are answers to my prayers. In these matters, it is nice to not feel alone anymore. Thank you. And thank you for making this podcast episode specifically.

    One thing that I thought was interesting, was that while I got a lot out of the podcast, I was still surprised that there was so much of a focus on the advent of the second coming rather than the millennial period. I’m not sure why that surprised me, but it did. And you all certainly discussed the Millennium, but in getting to the inquiry  “why is this a principle we believe in?” or “what is it that has allowed this idea to remain in the shape or in the imagination as it has?” I wonder why, even though Mormons might have a comparatively positive outlook on the Second Coming, does the tribulation period still get more play than that whole paradisaical glory thing? And what might it mean for that privileged binary (Second Coming over Millennium) to still be the case even as we’re analyzing what the Second Coming means to a Mormon “theology?” 

    This is probably just all entirely self-centered and coming from a person who already wanted someone to come along and answer his question about why we teach the concept of a Millennium and so not really caring about the Second Coming. I suppose that I just wonder if it is possible for us to conceive of the Millennium as distinct from the Second Coming rather than as an addendum to it? Because, at least to me, it seems that in the narratives we build around the Millennium, it is rarely told without connection to the destructive cleansing that usually gets top billing. Is it possible to think about the Millennium as something other than a happy ending (a prospect which is ironic to begin with since according to what I consider Mormon orthodoxy, the Millennium is not the cosmological ending/finish line)? 

    Just some thoughts that I had in response to what you were saying. I think that the ideas expressed in the Dialogue article about seeing Christ in others hits on this. I was wondering if there might be other thoughts.

    On another note, I thought it’d be funny to share the fact that a couple of weeks ago I was invited to teach the priesthood lesson on Exaltation–a principle I’ve had my own doubts and questions about recently. Since I didn’t feel comfortable making the lesson a testimony about the principle of exaltation, I focused on the idea that we are a community that has this belief which informs our interactions with others: family members, friends, and other Mormons, but also individuals from other belief systems that possess strong (often negative) feelings about this idea of exaltation. I wanted to explore the question, “How can we see ourselves in community with all of these groups?” Because for me, that’s an idea of exaltation I feel comfortable with.

    I’m a graduate student in theatre, so I decided to make use of my education and training. I formed the lesson around community building activities as theorized by Augusto Boal in Theatre of the Oppressed. Boal built on notions of body-centric pedagogy. His idea was that you could talk all day long about things conceptually, but when it came time for action, action requires bodies. Cognition, for all its benefits, is not actions. So for Boal, the point of his exercises was to shape bodies which would shape society. Or as he so eloquently put it, he was “rehearsing the revolution.” I use to use Boal’s ideas and games a lot when I taught Sunday School in my old ward. This time, I made everyone move their chairs into a giant circle. And then we stood in front of them and passed a tennis ball around. It was a way to engage our bodies as a community. And by building a community, like a genuine one that was fun and at times uncoordinated, I hoped people would feel welcome to share their feelings and beliefs about the idea of exaltation. Including when I expressed my ambivalence. It was interesting.

    Anyway, sorry for making such a large post, just felt like sharing. Again, thank you.

    • January 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

      So glad you found the podcast helpful @Allan_Davis:disqus . I too love the idea of embodied learning, to which I would add embodied worship–something sorely lacking in far too many denominations. We have just a hint of this in the temple, but it could be so much more full and exuberant! 

    • youknowit
      December 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      D&C 45 : 39-44

  10. how-now-brown-cow
    January 4, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Thanks for the podcast – enjoyed everyone’s thoughts. Stanley Benfell is the bishop in my parents ward – great essay by him.

    I believe in the second coming – hope for it – and believe in the humanist imperative to make it happen (within us first). lot’s of political ramifications that come with such a belief…

    Regarding the imminence (“time is at hand”) of literal millenialism:

    I’ve been critical as some of the podcasters here seem to be of this literal belief in an imminent second coming and yet I’ve come to think that it can be a very good thing to practice faith that “the time is at hand,” “now is the time,” etc (though a modified version of this)

    It’s one thing to take the physical 2nd coming of Jesus literally in so far as there all these socio-political conditions that are met at some point in the future.

    I think it’s a different thing to take the immediacy of these utopian like conditions on a literally imminent and even more personal level: “kingdom of God is within you,” (as Jared mentioned).

    We need to learn some from Buddhists regarding the power of now so to speak and how to incorporate mindfulness and embodied awareness and radical acceptance into our notion of becoming. what if “now is the time” is super literal and in a way that most of us Mormon’s haven’t considered. NOW – meaning the Taoist and Buddhist version of now that teaches us that future and past are illusions and there is no existence that is meaningful outside of the experience of now. The now includes the past only in now-remembrance and future only in now-preparation. both are experiences in which meaning is made and performed in the present now. what if experiencing a compound of contraries mercy, justice, acceptance, change, empathy, and assertiveness in the now is the second coming for each individual and for families, communities, and humanity and perhaps it has occurred to people in the now of their lives.

    just some rambling thoughts.

    also 

  11. January 12, 2012 at 5:59 am

    A bit of info about Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet.  Margaret Barker, a methodist scholar, has put forth a theory that Revelation is in fact Jesus’ apocalyptic vision and not John’s.  Rev 1:1:

    1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;

    She makes a case that Jesus had an apocalyptic vision at his baptism and that the central elements of Revelation are for the most from the vision that Jesus received.  Very interesting book for anyone that is interested.

    http://www.amazon.com/Revelation-Jesus-Christ-Which-Servants/dp/0567087166/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326347447&sr=8-1

  12. January 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I have enjoyed listening to your podcast.  I have a hunger for this topic insomuch that I did an intense, almost doctrinaire study of the signs of the times 3 years ago and wrote a journal about it.  Some comments:

    First, I want to disagree a little with Jared Anderson on the imminence of the Second Coming through the ages. In the beginning it is true that there is this sense, as with Mormonism, that the Second Coming was imminent.  However, you some of these phrases which makes you think that perhaps the Apostles knew this was long off.

    Thessalonians 2:1-3 “1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

    This is a very familiar scripture to the LDS as evidence of a Great Apostasy.  Perhaps this falling away would be short, Paul doesn’t specify, but there seems to be an equivocation as to how imminent the Second Coming was.

    When you have the creeds and Roman Church coming to power and consolidating, the historical or preterist understanding of Daniel or Matthew 24 or later Revelation was the most common interpretation, because the Church saw itself as the embodiment of the millennium.  As the power structure of Christendom, how could it be any other way?  The literalness that we see is a fairly recent restoration.  Even Luther and the first reformers were amillennialists or humanist millennialists.  You don’t start to see modern Christian pre-millennialism as we recognize it until the Calvinists and Presbyterians come along.  This is a key to understanding the not unique aspect of America as the New Jerusalem.  The shining city on a hill, the escape of the remnant, a restoration of Israel, was something in the narrative of the Puritan experience.  Mormonism is hardly unique in this, although since Joseph Smith, Native Americans being the Lost Tribes, or the sense of America being the New Jerusalem have become uniquely Mormon, but it was not always so.  You see this in a View of the Hebrews or the Spanish chroniclers.

    So, I’m not sure I agree with Jared on how imminent people have always perceived this event.  Certain elements of this doctrine, including the symbolic or humanist perspective espoused by many on this panel is also not new.  Different aspects come and go, are out of vogue, often depending on the socio-economic circumstances of different Christian communities.

    I think it’s also helpful to point out that millennialism, or utopianism, is evidenced in secularism, economics, and political and philosophical tradition.  Plato was constantly seeking to create the good city, Hegel had his Utopian dialectic, and Marx built upon the Hegelian framework.  Today you have the New Age and Transcendentalism with the coming Age of Aquarius, Ekart Tolle’s New Earth, and Benjamin Creme with his Maitreya messiah.  European technocrats have their New World Order.  There is also this trans-humanism movement with Ray Kurtzweil and the singularity movement where science cures age and machines take over–a hopefully enlightened version of SkyNet.  This doctrine of utopia is not just one that old fashioned religions follow.  New traditions as well as secular and atheist traditions have theirs as well.  Everyone, it seems, is seeking for a “Second Coming.”

    There is also this tradition of cleansing.  New Age has their transition moment when the earth as a whole evolves and those that refuse to change will have to be mercifully “dealt with.”  Marxists have re-education camps.  Muslims convert by the sword.  Conversely, in the Christian tradition, you have this sense that the judgments are God’s, which also seems to line up with a scientific cleansing of an asteroid or an environmental catastrophe or nuclear holocaust.  Interestingly, only with our scientific advances could we conceive of some of the destruction that do seem so science fiction in apocalyptic literature, such as the earth being cleansed by fire.  It is because of scientific advances, not despite them, that literalness is still so in vogue and has been for the past 200 years.

    The Gregorian calendar also helps foster literalism because of dispensational thinking and that we are 2,000 years from Christs birth and ministry.

    The socio-political development on the ground add to this as well.  The earth is so inter-connected that only now can we see the possibility of the entire earth being subjected to one king or one religion.  I mean it’s not so far a reach when we have Walmart and McDonald’s dominating every country.  Zionism has also made literal-ism more relevant, with the return of Jews and the establishment of Israel in 1948.  the present political climate with Iran, the wars in the Middle East, are also very biblical, as opposed to the Euro-centric vision of history that we are taught in school.  If WWIII were to occur, at this present time, it would look very similar to Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog, Joel’s vision of the north armies and Armageddon, or John’s Beast.  I think we have to deal with this realities if we are deal confront literal-ism, otherwise, it maybe shortsighted to ascribe a purely symbolic relevance to apocalyptic literature.

    I think the negativity associated with such apocalyptic thinking can be handicapping and the panel does such a great job at confronting this type of thinking.  I fell prey to it for a year or so when I was convinced that some of the bad signs that would lead up to the Second Coming were imminent.  The isolation, not planting the cherry trees, so to speak, can be a real problem.  I think if you do believe it’s imminent, you need to practice a sort of cognitive dissonance, believing that you may be wrong, and we always need to work for a better world.  You can’t handicap your own successes and opportunities because you’re afraid.  That’s not the point.  I think the solution, however, is to get prepared.  Get your food storage, which is helpful whether Jesus or Katrina come, and take some steps to help deal with destructive emergencies.  Then let it go.

    One of the best things people can do is actually study the signs.  Do research in your scripture study.  In doing so, I find that negativity and the destruction has context.  Survive and thrive.  Create Zion.  Whether we make Zion or Christ makes us make Zion, we should make Zion nonetheless.  Zion is being thrifty, sharing with others, creating economic equality, loving your neighbor, living in Christian virtue, etc.  If we can do it on our own or if we have to be shaken to do it, it doesn’t  really matter.  The signs are nuanced enough to provide for either circumstance or both circumstances.  It really does depend on the attitude of our society.  I find that the worldview of an approach to Zion is highly framed by the political.  If one is liberal or progressive, the world looks better, fairer, more ecumenical, more advanced.  This framework makes it very depressing to think that as a structure, it is compared to the Great and Abominable Church, or the Babylon types we see in apocalyptic literature.  If you are conservative or libertarian, the apocalyptic literature helps to satisfy this worldview because progress in an illusion, or its been exacted at a high price for humanity, that corruption is everywhere, human freedom is at stake, there are international conspiracies to destroy freedom and create a false utopia with a false christ.  The world is complicated enough that it’s difficult to know who is right, if they are both right, or wrong, or of these worldview descriptions are even accurate.  Conservative thinking has always been associated with the pitfalls of progress, whereas progressive thinking has always been overly optimistic about the future.  I think the solution lies somewhere in the middle.  Progress and hope are important, lets just make sure we are going in the right direction.  Sometimes that even warrants going back to an earlier baseline because the current tangent is too corrupt.  Being conservative or cautious about the future can help avoid poor directives, but shouldn’t limit the fact that we want to move forward in a way that preserves foundational principles but helps us achieve a better world.  I think we really must confront the drawbacks to our worldview before we place hopes in dreams in what we can or God can achieve as we create a better world, whether that world is Enoch’s or MLK’s.  I think when we do we can look at both the yin and yang of world change, grit our teeth for the tough moments, and roll up our sleeves to build up the good ones.

    The Mormon equation in the apocalypse can also be quite comforting.  The end or change of the world is both great AND terrible.  It is also a process.  Christ comes no less than four times in a public way (one of which would be described as already to have occurred at Kirtland), one at Adam Ondi Ahman, one at the New Jerusalem, one at the Mount of Olives, and one in final glory to the entire world.  Destructions are punctuated with moments to reflect and repent.  There is no room in Mormonism to help bring about the apocalypse.  It is the Lord’s judgment only.  The wicked eat their own while the righteous build a better world.  While there are moments of tribulation, they are described as mercifully short and meant to help bring about the kind of transcendental change to bring about that good society.  The Book of Revelation’s explanation of destruction occur in polar opposite to the brilliance of Zion on the opposite side of the world.  People are given a chance to escape the world!  Like many times in history, there will be evil in the world and there will be a place to go for peace.  By the time the hammer finally falls, there will have been several times to make personal adjustments.  There will be places to go to escape judgments.  It isn’t a quick and painless rapture, it takes work and sweat and pain, but as with our pioneer ancestors, it will build a people who can inherit the Zion they want to build.

    Finally, I think while literlism is still prevalent, skepticism and science are chipping away.  Some really grab onto the symbolic aspects because it is safe to their critical thinking.  However, there is a place for the science-minded agnostic and the literal to coincide.  We may be surprised when Christ comes that he is from Vulcan and comes in a spaceship and that the Bible and scripture and religion has been a vehicle for an advanced race to bring us into the galactic races of the universe.  And all that does of course, is set us up for a Carl Sagan type of discovery for the gods of the gods.  I don’t think that because one is intellectual or scientific-minded that literlism has to be lost.

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  16. StorminMormon
    March 17, 2012 at 5:09 am

    I would like to clarify that elder packer is spot on in his doctrine of not fearing. As I would also agree with the recent lessons telling of the second coming. I would say to anyone who questions either of these, to learn the doctrine of the second coming and seek the spirit. Instead of wondering why this or that, I would recommend taking action. Either you’re on the lords side or you’re not, if you’re not for it K.C then quit dipping in when it’s convenient and just leave already.

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  21. Foolish Hermit
    June 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    What if….most of the world’s religions were not truly spiritual, but instead functioned as social lubrication, businesses, and/or political movements? What is the end result for humanity and the planet in each of their world-views? What if it were possible for humanity to edit such “prophecies?”

    I offer this for discussion:

    1. There is a “Higher Power” or other fields or forces that are present beyond our capacity to label/analyze/comprehend or even imagine possible.

    2. Attempting to label or analyze or even intellectualize about “Divinity” or these forces/fields/what have you is a sort of idolatry and/or negates the ability to truly understand  what “God” or these fields/forces are and how humanity can benefit from this understanding.

    3. Various people across time and the planet have made contact and come to an understanding of the aforesaid “Tao/God/Buddha” or these subtler energies/forces/fields and have become something “more than human.” The hypothesis is that we ALL can potentially achieve this.

    4. Pitch to atheists: Einstein said that in order to achieve the absurd in order to achieve the impossible. SO what if there really this “other something.” One can choose to acknowledge this possibility and roll with it like it really is there or choose to believe that it is absolutely nonsense. And let us also assume that the whole afterlife really is bullshit. But if you DID choose to acknowledge the existence of the other and practiced a prescribed curriculum from one of these people who have “made contact,” you could benefit in THIS life.

    5. Conclusion: Humans are a test subject and the world is the lab slide. There IS a “Higher Power” or “something” and via belief and a Guide comes understanding. Through understanding one becomes “more than human.” Is it not said that “ye are gods”? Suppose humanity’s greatest potential is that of co-creators, helpers who are striving for maximum spread of life and consciousness, and that it is possible to write our own future. The trick is to overcome our collective neuroses as a species and come to a global consensus on “how much is enough?” and “how then shall we live?”  I am sure that its possible to create a better future than what is presented in the various apocalypses of the world’s religions. At least it would be current for the times, no?

  22. Richard Gabriel Padilla
    July 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, can give people clues about the Second Coming of Christ. Before the Second Coming of Christ starts.

  23. Ben Britton
    June 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I was really disappointed by this podcast. There was so much dwelling on the negative effects of 2nd coming doctrine. Wasn’t it in Howard Storm’s NDE experience where he was told if you look for contradictions in the Bible that’s what you’ll find, however the Bible is true! If you want to point out a problem, and offer solutions, great, but a significant portion of the podcast was spent dwelling on the negative and really soured the whole discussion for me. Please consider that you’re affecting the faith of every listener. I’m not saying it’s inappropriate to acknowledge your doubts or quibbles with doctrine, but I think it is your responsibility to your Mormon audience to dwell more on solutions.