While gathering hundreds of quotes by early LDS apostles and prophets, a very clear and startling picture began to come into focus. I was amazed to discover just how central the building of Zion was to the early Mormon Church. Over the next five installments, we’ll look at a few quotes among 92 that show, in different ways, how building Zion was central to the Gospel.
First, building Zion was a core element of what the early LDS missionaries were teaching to their investigators.
In 1860, speaking from the perspective of a British convert, President Brigham Young made a statement that clearly shows that building Zion was part of the early missionaries’ message. He said, “You came to England and preached the Gospel, and told me not to trust in man, but to seek unto the Lord my God… and receive a witness for myself and know for myself that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that God has set to his hand to gather the house of Israel and build up Zion.”
The next quote, from 1862, shows that the early missionaries were using the Bible to show investigators the prophesies in it about what the Lord would do in the last days, and then testify that the LDS Church was actively working to bring those things about.
President Young said, “While the meek of the earth remain scattered among the wicked, the Elders of this Church can go forth with the Old and New Testament in their hands, and show what the Lord is going to do in the latter days, the great miracles he will perform, the gathering of his people, the saving of his Saints, the building up of Zion, the redeeming of the house of Israel, the establishing of the New Jerusalem, the bringing back of the ten tribes… and this is proclaimed to both Saint and sinner.”
Ten years earlier, Brigham had said, “When you had obeyed the first ordinances of the Gospel, [in other words, when you were first taught it by the missionaries and were baptized] then you discovered that the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel, that Zion might be built up and Israel gathered from the four winds. These doctrines have been taught and re-taught again and again. I think there is not a man here who did not fully understand them while in his native country.”
These quotes and others make it pretty clear that the early LDS missionaries were preaching about building Zion, thus showing it was a central part of the Gospel message.