Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fastest Growing Religion

                According to the U.S. News & World Report, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fasting growing faith group in American history.”  According to the article I read, the Church will have 265 million members worldwide by 2080.  I could not find a date for the article and believe the numbers in it are low.  The article indicated there are “100 temples internationally, serving 11 million Mormons” and “60,000 missionaries in 120 countries, where they won 306,000 converts.”

                The “Statistical Report, 2013given during April 2014 General Conference gave the following statistics:  Total Membership 15,082,028; New Children of Record 115,486; Converts Baptized 282,945; Full-Time Missionaries 83,035; Church-Service Missionaries 24,032; Temples Dedicated during 2013 (Tegucigalpa Honduras) 1; Temples in Operation at Year End 141.

                In the days of the prophet Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream where he saw a great image.  He saw a stone cut from the mountain without hands destroy the image.  He saw the stone grow until it filled the whole earth.  The King was troubled by the dream and called for the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to give him an interpretation of it.  They told the king that they could interpret the dream if the King told them the dream.  The king, however, could not remember the dream, and the men could not interpret a dream without knowing what it was.  The King called for all the “wise men” to be put to death.

                Daniel heard of the decree and asked for an opportunity to give the king an interpretation.  He asked for some time and then went home to speak with his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  The four men discussed the situation and prayed for help from God.  That night Daniel received a “night vision” or dream and the interpretation.  The next day he went to see the King; he told the King the dream and then he gave the following interpretation.
                “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed:  and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
                “Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter:  and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” (Daniel 2:44-45).

                In 1980 President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about Daniel and his interpretation.  “The prophet Daniel described the beginning and remarkable growth of the Church as a small stone which would become a great mountain and fill the entire earth (see Dan. 2:34-35, 44).

                “As men have attempted to assess the Church at a given period of time, in many instances they have not been able to see its forward movement and potential.  The growth of the Church, like the growth of grass or trees, has been almost imperceptible to the eye, but little by little, line by line, precept by precept, the Church has matured.

                “Simultaneous with the early development of the Church was a spirit of opposition and persecution.  Wherever the tiny `mustard seed’ was planted, attempts were made to frustrate its growth.  But notwithstanding all the efforts to destroy the work – even the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother – the Church prospered and grew.  There were those who thought the Church would fail with the deaths of the martyrs Joseph and Hyrum, but they did not perceive, as Daniel foretold, that this latter-day kingdom should `never be destroyed’ (Daniel 2:44).

                “Just before the Prophet’s death, Brigham Young said, `The kingdom is organized; and, although as yet no bigger than a grain of mustard seed, the little plant is in a flourishing condition’ (History of the Church, 6:354).

                “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, as Daniel prophesied, a spiritual kingdom `cut out of the mountain without hands’ (Dan. 2:45), meaning that it was begun through the intervention of God.  It is not just another human institution.  What other organizations or churches ascribe their founding to the declaration that messengers have come to human beings from the God of heaven with authority and power to restore ordinances and keys lost by apostasy?

                “The Church has survived exile from four states, the harassment and persecution of its members, an extermination order from a governor, the execution of its prophet, disenfranchisement by the government, and continuous persecution of its leaders and people.  That is what this church endured and survived in the first sixty years of its history --- and it was through such adversity, persecution, and impoverishment that the Church gained strength and matured.  By the time Joseph F. Smith, the son of the Prophet Joseph’s brother Hyrum, became President, he could say, `We have passed through the stages of infancy … , and are indeed approaching … manhood and womanhood’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1909, p. 2). …

                “The missionary force brought a harvest of converts from all over the world.  Seeds planted abroad as missions became stakes….  When Joseph Fielding Smith, son of President Joseph F. Smith, became President of the Church, he declared:  `We are coming of age as a church and as a people.  We have attained the stature and strength that are enabling us to fulfill the commission given us by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith that we should carry the glad tidings of the restoration to every nation and to all people’ (in Conference Report, Manchester England Area Conference, 1971, p. 5).

                “Two years later, President Smith’s successor, President Harold B. Lee, said:  `Today we are witnessing the demonstration of the Lord’s hand even in the midst of his saints, the members of the Church.  Never in this dispensation, and perhaps never before in any single period, has there been such a feeling of urgency among the members of this church as today.  Her boundaries are being enlarged, her stakes are being strengthened. …
                “`No longer might this church be thought of as the “Utah church,” or as an “American church,” but the membership of the Church is now distributed over the earth’ (Ensign, July 1973, pp. 4, 5).

                “One year ago, President Kimball stood at this pulpit and said:  `Since we last met in general conference …, we have witnessed much growth and expansion of the Lord’s kingdom.  …
                “`We have established new missions covering almost all of the free world, and we are turning our attention more diligently now to one day sharing the gospel with our Father’s children behind the so-called iron and bamboo curtains.  We have need to prepare for that day.  The urgency of that preparation weighs heavily upon us.  That day may come with more swiftness than we realize.

                “`Every year now we are adding approximately a hundred new stakes. …
                “`I rejoice with you, my brothers and sisters, in these statistical evidences of the progress and growth throughout Zion’ (Ensign, May 1979, p. 4).”

                Nearly thirty-five years have passed since President Benson gave this talk in General Conference, and the Church has continued to grow.  It is indeed like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that continues to grow until it becomes a mountain.  There is a very important reason why Mormonism is the fastest growing religion!

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