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Five Solas

Sounding the Retreat?

Has Mormonism Peaked?   45 members have voted

  1. 1. Has Mormonism peaked in terms of active membership, influence?

    • I'm LDS and I think Mormonism has peaked
      13
    • I'm LDS and I do not think Mormonism has peaked
      27
    • I'm not LDS and I think Mormonism has peaked
      4
    • I'm not LDS and I do not think Mormism has peaked
      1

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126 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Got back home last Sunday after 8 days in London, England, celebrating my 10-year wedding anniversary with my wife.  Our three kiddos stayed at home with her parents—which was awfully generous of them.  (Other guys may complain about their in-laws, but not I.)  It was a great trip, perfect walking weather, peak tourist season not yet started. 

We stayed at The Grosvenor adjacent to Victoria Station, which meant we had pretty near the whole city within ~ 30 minutes via the Underground (and Buckingham Palace within a six minute walk).  And I’ll share one small observation with the board for any discussion:

Aberrant theology notwithstanding, the Jehovah’s Witnesses work pretty dang hard.  

A number of times we saw them working the street.  And unlike Seattle where they will occasionally occupy a corner & smile gently at passers-by—here they seemed to be anxiously engaged with the vast diversity of humanity that occupies greater London.  Yes, we saw a lot of old churches and even a new one that could have been an Acts 29 plant.  But in all our time, we never once saw any LDS missionaries. 

Recently there was a thread about religious persecution in contemporary Russia.  And this has hit the JW’s hard—because they’ve worked vigorously to establish themselves after the fall of the Soviet Union and have built quite a presence (~100K active worshipers in Russia).   But on that same thread, we couldn’t even figure out how many LDS stakes there are today in Russia (somewhere between zero and three).  Some other stats were tossed about along with an LDS “Locator” app which, among other things, pointed the user to what could have been a boarded-up McDonald's.  After nearly three decades since the fall, LDS here don’t know or seem to care (but a few certainly enjoyed discussing/debating political aspects of Russia).  It’s a stunning contrast to all the fevered speculation when I was growing up (70’s – 80’s) about the missionary/membership opportunity for the LDS Church if Communism were to fall. 

I realize it’s all anecdotal, and with a life-expectancy assumption of 110 for lost members, we can expect the LDS Church to continue to claim modest membership growth into the foreseeable future (loosing track of people makes *much* better numbers than knowing who actually dies or quits). 

The question I have is this: Have we entered a period of retreat and retrenchment for the LDS Church where the focus will shift more to Utah and adjacent states (plus perhaps a few parts of the “third world” where record keeping and independent verification of membership will conveniently not be possible).  Even at the national level, we appear to see an example of retrenchment with BYU’s divorce from USAF ROTC.  And on the front page we have a thread about whether “slowing growth” makes any difference to the LDS Church and its adherents.  And again, the LDS here don’t seem terribly interested or concerned. 

What do you think?  Has Mormonism peaked?  Any will LDS really care if it has?

--Erik

______________________________________________

You left
Your tired family grieving
And you think they're sad because you're leaving
But did you see Jealousy in the eyes
Of the ones who had to stay behind?

--The Smiths "London"

Edited by Five Solas
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13 minutes ago, Five Solas said:

The question I have is this: Have we entered a period of retreat and retrenchment for the LDS Church where the focus will shift more to Utah and adjacent states (plus perhaps a few parts of the “third world” where record keeping and independent verification of membership will conveniently not be possible).  Even at the national level, we appear to see an example of retrenchment with BYU’s divorce from USAF ROTC.  And on the front page we have a thread about whether “slowing growth” makes any difference to the LDS Church and its adherents.  And again, the LDS here don’t seem terribly interested or concerned. 

What do you think?  Has Mormonism peaked?  Any will LDS really care if it has?

--Erik

Perhaps "Mormonism" has peaked, and that is OK with me. However, the LDS Church has not peaked in numbers. It shall burst forth in the 21st century, and for the next several until every knee bends and confesses Yeshua is our Savior.

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And I served my mission in England. JWs were everywhere. In some areas we started out with "Hi, we are not the Jehovah's Witnesses" as that line decreased the number of doors quickly shut in our face by an appreciable margin.

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I may be thinking a little like the Nehor as I read your post.  I'm not sure what you mean by peaked.  In a sense, there's been some peaking already in recent years as the growth rate of the Church has dropped below the growth rate of the world, for the first time in a long time.  Meaning our growth is now slower than the growth all around us.  But I suspect something will change at some point and we'll see a climbing growth rate again.  Things will have to change within the Church and they will. 

I wouldn't doubt if the Church nearly disappears in some areas that it has had some presence for many years.  England may be such a place.  There's a significant base (185,000 but shrinking in recent years) with a couple of temples, so I'd imagine it'd take quite a bit for it to disappear completely, but it appears to be on the decline, not just in numbers of members.

 

Anyway, thanks for the story.  Sounds like a great trip. 

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9 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

And I served my mission in England. JWs were everywhere. In some areas we started out with "Hi, we are not the Jehovah's Witnesses" as that line decreased the number of doors quickly shut in our face by an appreciable margin.

We've seen people going door to door over the past couple of years greet us, at our door, with something like, "hi, we're not selling anything."  Then they go on to try and sell us something.  Little tricksters. 

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Why even ask the question, when God has already decided and predetermined whether Mormonism will decline or prosper, and there's not a thing anyone can do about it. At least according to TULIP Calvinism . . . =@

But then, Eric's asking of the question was also already predetermined . . . :crazy:

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I think we may be close to peaking in the US, I think probably peaked a while ago in Europe, but probably will see continued growth in the developing world, especially if we start to have senior leadership that reflects those demographics. 

But, who knows what unpredictable shifts may happen. We could slow down in the US for a while and then suddenly explode in growth again. Or not!

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3 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

We've seen people going door to door over the past couple of years greet us, at our door, with something like, "hi, we're not selling anything."  Then they go on to try and sell us something.  Little tricksters. 

We found that people liked us better then the JWs and they did not like us much. Speaking generally and not specifically of course.

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43 minutes ago, rongo said:

Why even ask the question, when God has already decided and predetermined whether Mormonism will decline or prosper, and there's not a thing anyone can do about it. At least according to TULIP Calvinism . . . =@

But then, Eric's asking of the question was also already predetermined . . . :crazy:

I don't see any way that he suggested a reduction is predetermined.

He is saying that it appears to him like active membership is reducing and he may very well be right. We don't know, but that's only because the church won't give those numbers.

Based on the other thread about the slowing pace of converts and new congregations it is reasonable to think that the church may have peaked. If you're looking at a graph of steady growth and then that growth levels off, one has to wonder if activity levels are also reducing. If they are, then it would seem that there is a declining trend.

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13 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I don't see any way that he suggested a reduction is predetermined.

I was just playin' with him. He's a "Five Solas" guy --- a TULIP Calvinist. 

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I think we have peaked in the current condition of the world.
With all that is going on, the continued rise of secularism and non-denominational religion (aka, the do what feels good Churches), I don't think we can expect to see exponential conversions and growth again.
The fishers of men period casting the net wide is coming to a stalling point I feel.

But the condition of the world is not stagnant either.
Once the trials and tribulations hit big time, prophecy indicates that many will be fleeing to Zion and the righteous will be gathered by hunters of men.  There will be many who will then find their way.
Dang those foxholes.

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Posted (edited)

In no way am I suggesting that future converts will lack a fervent testimony of the Restoration's key tenets.  However, I think that as time goes on, the increasing "weirdness" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vis-a-vis the rest of the world will be one of its assets.  As unsure as some might be of the "weirder" aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ, many of them also will come to realize that it is those very aspects that set us apart, that make us who we are, and that give the Restoration its very power.  

My $0.02.  Your mileage likely varies.

P.S.: JLHProf's second paragraph, above says it more vividly than I did. ;)  "And it shall come to pass that he who will not take up the sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety."

Edited by Kenngo1969
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Posted (edited)

wrong thread, deleted

Edited by Gray
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22 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I think we have peaked in the current condition of the world.
With all that is going on, the continued rise of secularism and non-denominational religion (aka, the do what feels good Churches), I don't think we can expect to see exponential conversions and growth again.
The fishers of men period casting the net wide is coming to a stalling point I feel.

But the condition of the world is not stagnant either.
Once the trials and tribulations hit big time, prophecy indicates that many will be fleeing to Zion and the righteous will be gathered by hunters of men.  There will be many who will then find their way.
Dang those foxholes.

It's kind of a sad though to think we've peaked and we won't really see our influence getting outside the .1% of the world as we have it now.  I don't know why it's sad though, because in truth God doesn't see the Church as that significant or that important, obviously.  He has far too many other means to inspire and instruct people it seems.  Our goals of reaching out to the world is probably not commensurate with what God intends.  We're likely too stuck in tradition, afraid of change, afraid of others to be much more than a backwater religion influencing next to no one. 

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6 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

It's kind of a sad though to think we've peaked and we won't really see our influence getting outside the .1% of the world as we have it now.  I don't know why it's sad though, because in truth God doesn't see the Church as that significant or that important, obviously.  He has far too many other means to inspire and instruct people it seems.  Our goals of reaching out to the world is probably not commensurate with what God intends.  We're likely too stuck in tradition, afraid of change, afraid of others to be much more than a backwater religion influencing next to no one. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise, really, if we look at the prophecies about the last days. World conditions will deteriorate to a point where it will be a very different world geographically, economically, socially, and morally. One of the prophecies is that people will flock to Zion because it shines as a beacon in such a world, and that the only place of physical safety will be in Zion. So, there will be a contracting and circling of the wagons, and of course, there are the statements of the siftings that will take place within the Church itself (which is arguably under way right now, in the early stages). 

The only people predicting wild geometric growth were Rodney Stark, et. al. (and the Church got caught up in that as well), and people's expectations for what it means for the stone to roll forth and fill the world. In many respects, I think it's very similar to the Jews' expectations for what a Messiah would be like (physical and political rule, overcoming Rome, etc.) vs. the reality of his mission and coming. 

I think the Church will continue to be an increasing light in the dark, even as even the elect and people with a Church background leave it ("will ye also go away?").

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5 minutes ago, rongo said:

there are the statements of the siftings that will take place within the Church itself (which is arguably under way right now, in the early stages).

I don't think that's arguable at all.  We are DEFINITELY in the early stages of a major sifting.  The philosophies of the world have made their way among us, people like and embrace them because that's what they've been taught, and the Church doesn't match them.
The result is undeniable.

18 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I don't know why it's sad though, because in truth God doesn't see the Church as that significant or that important, obviously.  He has far too many other means to inspire and instruct people it seems.  Our goals of reaching out to the world is probably not commensurate with what God intends.  We're likely too stuck in tradition, afraid of change, afraid of others to be much more than a backwater religion influencing next to no one.

I see no evidence to support such a conclusion.  Leaving the Church out of it for a minute the belief that "the world" or most people would accept God's commands and follow the path back to him is without backing.
The idea that because the entire world can't be converted to the Church it must mean the Church doesn't provide God's direction makes no sense.
I know we'd like to believe God wouldn't allow 99% of his children to choose to reject the only way back to him, that in his perfect love and compassion he would allow people from every belief, culture, and religion to return to live with him, but there is no evidence to support such a warm fuzzy belief.  It goes against everything scriptural.  Not everyone will return to God's presence to dwell, and despite what we'd like to think, that was always the case.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, rongo said:

I was just playin' with him. He's a "Five Solas" guy --- a TULIP Calvinist. 

And that's what you get with linear thinking.  Which, by the way, also led to false assumptions about peak oil.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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6 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I don't think that's arguable at all.  We are DEFINITELY in the early stages of a major sifting.  The philosophies of the world have made their way among us, people like and embrace them because that's what they've been taught, and the Church doesn't match them.
The result is undeniable.

I see no evidence to support such a conclusion.  Leaving the Church out of it for a minute the belief that "the world" or most people would accept God's commands and follow the path back to him is without backing.
The idea that because the entire world can't be converted to the Church it must mean the Church doesn't provide God's direction makes no sense.
I know we'd like to believe God wouldn't allow 99% of his children to choose to reject the only way back to him, that in his perfect love and compassion he would allow people from every belief, culture, and religion to return to live with him, but there is no evidence to support such a warm fuzzy belief.  It goes against everything scriptural.  Not everyone will return to God's presence to dwell, and despite what we'd like to think, that was always the case.

The "philosophies of the world" have been a part of the church since the beginning. That's unavoidable. 

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56 minutes ago, rongo said:

It shouldn't come as a surprise, really, if we look at the prophecies about the last days.

Let's look at them. What prophecies?  Are in the last days now?

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

World conditions will deteriorate to a point where it will be a very different world geographically, economically, socially, and morally.

The world conditions haven't deteriorated necessarily. 

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

One of the prophecies is that people will flock to Zion because it shines as a beacon in such a world, and that the only place of physical safety will be in Zion.

As in the stakes of zion?  or in Utah?  or in Missouri?  Jerusalem?  What prophecy do you have in mind here? 

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

So, there will be a contracting and circling of the wagons, and of course, there are the statements of the siftings that will take place within the Church itself (which is arguably under way right now, in the early stages). 

I'd love to have these "prophecies" before us to consider if you know them. 

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

The only people predicting wild geometric growth were Rodney Stark, et. al. (and the Church got caught up in that as well),

Well that was many years ago.  And yes the Church (meaning the people who make up the Church) got wildly excited about growth prospects.  Back then all the stories were, "the Church is going to explode when the wall falls"..."when China opens" and so on.  But of course all the expectations were never realized for the most part.  I think the leaders really try to get the members all excited about growth but for the most part members are getting their heads out of the clouds there. 

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

and people's expectations for what it means for the stone to roll forth and fill the world.

What expectations are those?

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

In many respects, I think it's very similar to the Jews' expectations for what a Messiah would be like (physical and political rule, overcoming Rome, etc.) vs. the reality of his mission and coming. 

Sure.  makes ya wonder how our expectations of the one true Church stuff will soon be melted. 

56 minutes ago, rongo said:

I think the Church will continue to be an increasing light in the dark, even as even the elect and people with a Church background leave it ("will ye also go away?").

There are plenty of lights that God has His hands on.  The Church is but one of His tools.  We can't limit Him. 

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52 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

II see no evidence to support such a conclusion.  Leaving the Church out of it for a minute the belief that "the world" or most people would accept God's commands and follow the path back to him is without backing.

Did I say anything about the world or most people doing this?  Not sure where this has come from JLHProf. 

52 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:


The idea that because the entire world can't be converted to the Church it must mean the Church doesn't provide God's direction makes no sense.

That's certainly not my idea.  Not sure what conclusion you are arguing against.  This would be a strawman. 

52 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:


I know we'd like to believe God wouldn't allow 99% of his children to choose to reject the only way back to him, that in his perfect love and compassion he would allow people from every belief, culture, and religion to return to live with him, but there is no evidence to support such a warm fuzzy belief.  It goes against everything scriptural.  Not everyone will return to God's presence to dwell, and despite what we'd like to think, that was always the case.

ok, sir.  Take care. 

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42 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Did I say anything about the world or most people doing this?  Not sure where this has come from JLHProf. 

That's certainly not my idea.  Not sure what conclusion you are arguing against.  This would be a strawman. 

ok, sir.  Take care. 

You stated:
"I don't know why it's sad though, because in truth God doesn't see the Church as that significant or that important, obviously.  He has far too many other means to inspire and instruct people it seems.  Our goals of reaching out to the world is probably not commensurate with what God intends.  We're likely too stuck in tradition, afraid of change, afraid of others to be much more than a backwater religion influencing next to no one. "

1. The Church is not that significant or important.
2. God has other means to inspire and instruct.
3. Church is stuck in tradition and may not be able to influence anyone.

So I say again, there is only one way back to God's presence.  No other means or new traditions will be efficacious.  This makes the Church supremely significant.
And there is nothing in holy writ that would lead one to believe otherwise.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Gray said:

The "philosophies of the world" have been a part of the church since the beginning. That's unavoidable. 

True of course.  But you know as well as I do that there are many beliefs entering the Church membership today that are societal in nature and have no revelatory backing.  And that members embrace them because of their prevalence in the society.
Has it happened before?  Sure.  Has it cause huge numbers to waver?  Not like it is today.

Edited by JLHPROF
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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

...God doesn't see the Church as that significant or that important, obviously.  He has far too many other means to inspire and instruct people it seems. 

Not significant or important to God?  I hope you are just being facetious.  God bestowed the keys of the kingdom to this church and you think that not significant or obvious that it is important to Him?  This church is important to God for more reasons than just inspiration and instruction.

2 hours ago, stemelbow said:

 Our goals of reaching out to the world is probably not commensurate with what God intends.  We're likely too stuck in tradition, afraid of change, afraid of others to be much more than a backwater religion influencing next to no one. 

If you recognize that our goals and efforts are not commensurate with what God intends, then you acknowledge that this church is significant and important in the eyes of God.  I think you are probably right about this though, that it is man and not God who's perception of the church is less than it should be.  

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23 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

True of course.  But you know as well as I do that there are many beliefs entering the Church membership today that are societal in nature and have no revelatory backing.  And that members embrace them because of their prevalence in the society.
Has it happened before?  Sure.  Has it cause huge numbers to waver?  Not like it is today.

If it was not cultural expectations (in that case resisting changes in the new church rather than pushing for change...simplified summary in both cases, of course) creating contention in the Church that led to early massive apostasies, what do you see as causing them?

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