Reviewing quotes by LDS Church leaders during the Utah Territorial years, one finds that “Zion” meant much more to them than just a spiritual ideal, it had a strong temporal element.
For example, in 1861 Apostle Daniel H. Wells stated, “To build up Zion is a temporal labor; it does not consist simply in teaching: teaching is to instruct us how to properly apply our labor… Bone and sinew is required to build up the kingdom of God in the last days.”
The following year, President Brigham Young said, “The work of building up Zion is in every sense a practical work; it is not a mere theory. A theoretical religion amounts to very little real good or advantage to any person. To possess an inheritance in Zion or in Jerusalem only in theory—only in imagination—would be the same as having no inheritance at all.”
Five years later, Apostle Wilford Woodruff added, “We have to build up Zion, a temporal work here upon the face of the earth, and we have got to establish righteousness and truth. When I say a temporal work, I speak of temporal things. The Zion of our God cannot be built up in the hearts of men alone. We have to build up temples and cities… and to do this we must be united together.”
“Strangers may think this a very strange subject to present in a religious meeting, but we are building up the literal kingdom of God on the earth, and we have temporal duties to perform. We inhabit temporal bodies, we eat temporal food, we build temporal houses, we raise temporal cattle and temporal wheat…. In building up the Zion and kingdom of God in these latter days, our agricultural and manufacturing interests are of the most vital importance….” – Wilford Woodruff, 1872.
“We have it to do, we can’t build up Zion sitting on a hemlock slab singing ourselves away to everlasting bliss; we have to cultivate the earth, to take the rocks and elements out of the mountains and rear Temples to the Most High God; and this temporal work is demanded at our hands by the God of heaven…. This is the great dispensation in which the Zion of God must be built up, and we as Latter-day Saints have it to build.” – Wilford Woodruff, 1873.
The early Utah LDS were actively engaged in building a real live temporal Zion, and not just a spiritual one.
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