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Five Solas

Sounding the Retreat?

Has Mormonism Peaked?  

51 members have voted

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

    • I'm LDS and I think Mormonism has peaked
      16
    • I'm LDS and I do not think Mormonism has peaked
      28
    • I'm not LDS and I think Mormonism has peaked
      5
    • I'm not LDS and I do not think Mormism has peaked
      2


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On 5/18/2017 at 8:51 AM, 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

Yes - I think that Mormonism has peaked in terms of influence.  And I think we are in a period of retrenchment as well.  Dan Wotherspoon made a similar observation in his recent Mormon Matters podcast on the subject of the BSA termination.  He pointed out that over the last few years we've done a few things that somewhat pull us back and pull us out of the "world":

  • Ending our involvement with BSA's Varsity and Venture programs
  • The Nov 2015 policy that excludes gay couples and their children from full participation with us
  • The missionary age change that has encouraged many young men to go straight from home into the mission field without a year at college

As for influence... I think our best opportunity was during the "Mormon Moment" years.  They're over and I think we largely squandered them.

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7 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Yes - I think that Mormonism has peaked in terms of influence.  And I think we are in a period of retrenchment as well.  Dan Wotherspoon made a similar observation in his recent Mormon Matters podcast on the subject of the BSA termination.  He pointed out that over the last few years we've done a few things that somewhat pull us back and pull us out of the "world":

  • Ending our involvement with BSA's Varsity and Venture programs
  • The Nov 2015 policy that excludes gay couples and their children from full participation with us
  • The missionary age change that has encouraged many young men to go straight from home into the mission field without a year at college

As for influence... I think our best opportunity was during the "Mormon Moment" years.  They're over and I think we largely squandered them.

I found the Mormon Moment a bit exaggerated. Although maybe people just had unrealistic expectations of what the media focusing on us could accomplish. Much of the Mormon Moment was discovering people had weird views of us.

In any case I'm not sure those count as pulling out of the world. Particularly the third one. While I've been critical of the age change, I doubt it leads to less engagement with the world. There are still as many incentives to go to college as there ever were. 

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19 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

For those with eyes to see.

Like me?  I got 'em tested the other day.  Doc says 20/20 still. 

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5 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I found the Mormon Moment a bit exaggerated. Although maybe people just had unrealistic expectations of what the media focusing on us could accomplish. Much of the Mormon Moment was discovering people had weird views of us.

In any case I'm not sure those count as pulling out of the world. Particularly the third one. While I've been critical of the age change, I doubt it leads to less engagement with the world. There are still as many incentives to go to college as there ever were. 

I wasn't suggesting that fewer young LDS men will go to college because of the age change.  If anything, I'd guess that more will end up in college.

What the age change does is get more young men into the mission field BEFORE going out and experiencing the world out from under the "umbrella".  It could be argued, accurately, that serving a mission is -by definition- getting out into the world.  True.  But they are doing it in a way that is still heavily influenced and controlled by the church.

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2 hours ago, rongo said:

I'll get back on this at some point, probably next week. We're off to go camping.

Have fun. 

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32 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Yes - I think that Mormonism has peaked in terms of influence.  And I think we are in a period of retrenchment as well.  Dan Wotherspoon made a similar observation in his recent Mormon Matters podcast on the subject of the BSA termination.  He pointed out that over the last few years we've done a few things that somewhat pull us back and pull us out of the "world":

  • Ending our involvement with BSA's Varsity and Venture programs
  • The Nov 2015 policy that excludes gay couples and their children from full participation with us
  • The missionary age change that has encouraged many young men to go straight from home into the mission field without a year at college

As for influence... I think our best opportunity was during the "Mormon Moment" years.  They're over and I think we largely squandered them.

Certainly the perception of the church by non-members has drastically changed in the last 10 years.  At one time the first thing people expressed was how much they respected the church in the support for families and the teaching being centered around families.  Now, other issues come to the forefront of first impressions of the church.  I don't think that the church has changed in being centered on families, but other issues have overshadowed that viewpoint.  Perceptions may not have changed much in Utah, but they certainly have in California. The reputation of the church has become much more divisive.  Everyone agrees that strong families are a good thing.  Fewer support the action the church has taken against gays as being a good thing.  It is much more difficult for some people to have a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Mormons.  Perhaps that was the intent of church leadership.  

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25 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I wasn't suggesting that fewer young LDS men will go to college because of the age change.  If anything, I'd guess that more will end up in college.

What the age change does is get more young men into the mission field BEFORE going out and experiencing the world out from under the "umbrella".  It could be argued, accurately, that serving a mission is -by definition- getting out into the world.  True.  But they are doing it in a way that is still heavily influenced and controlled by the church.

But I don't see how going to college before or after a mission is somehow tied to pulling back from the world. You're still doing exactly the same thing: going to college. The idea that RMs are "controlled by the church" seems ridiculous on the face of it.

Edited by clarkgoble

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3 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

But I don't see how going to college before or after a mission is somehow tied to pulling back from the world. You're doing the same thing. The idea that RMs are "controlled by the church" seems ridiculous on the face of it.

I didn't say that RM's are controlled by the church.

I'm saying the missionary age takes a lot of young men right out of the home and straight into the mission field.  They'll still go to college but that experience (being out in the world, away from parents, away from the home ward, etc) comes after the mission, rather than before.

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30 minutes ago, california boy said:

Certainly the perception of the church by non-members has drastically changed in the last 10 years.  At one time the first thing people expressed was how much they respected the church in the support for families and the teaching being centered around families.  Now, other issues come to the forefront of first impressions of the church.  I don't think that the church has changed in being centered on families, but other issues have overshadowed that viewpoint.  Perceptions may not have changed much in Utah, but they certainly have in California. The reputation of the church has become much more divisive.  Everyone agrees that strong families are a good thing.  Fewer support the action the church has taken against gays as being a good thing.  It is much more difficult for some people to have a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Mormons.  Perhaps that was the intent of church leadership.  

Note that how these are viewed will vary by group. The country is still very much divided over these issues. Certainly among the "elites" of the more intellectual college crowd Mormons are viewed askew. But let's be honest. They were before too. They just changed what they're upset over. Likewise among other Christians we're not seen as Christian still. According to the 2012 Pew study only 51% said Mormons were Christian. I doubt that's changed much. Pew also finds we're viewed fairly neutrally - again likely in part due to more secular views of Mormons but also due to Evangelical views. 

Again to say the Mormon Moment was squandered requires expectations that I think were never very realistic.

Edited by clarkgoble

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17 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I didn't say that RM's are controlled by the church.

I'm saying the missionary age takes a lot of young men right out of the home and straight into the mission field.  They'll still go to college but that experience (being out in the world, away from parents, away from the home ward, etc) comes after the mission, rather than before.

But again, so what? How on earth does that relating to pulling back from the world when you're doing exactly the same thing still?

Edited by clarkgoble

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7 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

But again, so what? How on earth does that relating to pulling back from the world when you're doing exactly the same thing still?

Because the church gets two more years of primary influence first.

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11 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Again to say the Mormon Moment was squandered requires expectations that I think were never very realistic.

I was the one that claimed we squandered the Mormon Moment.  But my conclusion on that didn't have to do with any expectations I had going into it.  I think we squandered it because I don't think we took the opportunity to represent ourselves very well.  As you pointed out in your other post, we're viewed neutrally.  The true and living church of Jesus Christ on the earth is viewed "neutrally".  I think it's fair to ask why?  Perhaps that's the way it is supposed to be.  But it seemed to me that we came out of the Mormon Moment years needing to publish essays explaining our challenging history and being best known for what we are against:  gay couples being able to be legally married.  Media reports on us seemed dominated by quotes from Joanna Brooks and John Dehlin rather than people with the title of Elder.

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14 minutes ago, rockpond said:

But it seemed to me that we came out of the Mormon Moment years needing to publish essays explaining our challenging history and being best known for what we are against:  gay couples being able to be legally married.  Media reports on us seemed dominated by quotes from Joanna Brooks and John Dehlin rather than people with the title of Elder.

Yes, the place of Dehlin and Brooks was problematic to say the least. So I'll agree with you there. It makes me wonder what a media savvy figure like Pres. Hinkley would have done with the moment. I just think that given the incentives to media, you'll always have focus on controversy. But I truly wish we had different people trying to explain Mormonism to the secular world.

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26 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Because the church gets two more years of primary influence first.

So? Also you are on your own most of that time with only your companion there. In some ways there's far less influence than if you stayed at home and did a freshman year of college.

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13 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

So? Also you are on your own most of that time with only your companion there. In some ways there's far less influence than if you stayed at home and did a freshman year of college.

"On your own most of that time with only your companion there" -- WITH your companion.  WHEN you are alone vs. when you are working and in church meetings, mission meetings, studying, teaching, etc.

You don't have to agree with me.   But if your argument is that the mission is just as world-focused as college and that college is just as church-focused as the mission, I'm gonna have to strongly disagree.

I think the three points I outlined are good examples of a church retrenchment.  I'll also add the intense focus on temple work.  Is "retrenchment" the motivation behind each of those four, certainly not.  The motivations are sincere and gospel oriented.  But for me, it represents a bit of a retrenchment.

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27 minutes ago, rockpond said:

But if your argument is that the mission is just as world-focused as college and that college is just as church-focused as the mission, I'm gonna have to strongly disagree.

That's not my argument. My argument is people went on missions before and do now. People went to college before and do now. I don't think much has changed other than the option of going earlier. 

A second weaker point is that being a Freshman at college while living at home is less in the world than being a Freshman living away from home after being away on your own for two years.

Quote

I think the three points I outlined are good examples of a church retrenchment.  I'll also add the intense focus on temple work.  Is "retrenchment" the motivation behind each of those four, certainly not.  The motivations are sincere and gospel oriented.  But for me, it represents a bit of a retrenchment.

I just don't see it - and even you acknowledge it's not the goal. Even if I acknowledge you'd have a point with the three they are pretty minor - particularly the BSA one. 

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On 5/18/2017 at 10:11 AM, 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.

I see now where you've learned your english:)

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4 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I don't think 1978 fits his criteria too well although that's usually what people point to as a business meeting with everyone feeling confirmation. 

The problem I have with this view is that the #1 example of revelation in the Church are priesthood blessings which are explicitly textual in nature. Not just healing blessings or giving a name blessings but apostolic blessings members of the 12 will occasionally give when prompted by the spirit.

You might want to read up carefully on the 1978 revelation.  That was the reason why I specified that we need to cover "all aspects of it," since it does not appear to be a "'church business meeting' with a strong dose of group think."  Quite the contrary.

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33 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You might want to read up carefully on the 1978 revelation.  That was the reason why I specified that we need to cover "all aspects of it," since it does not appear to be a "'church business meeting' with a strong dose of group think."  Quite the contrary.

My point was that it wasn't textual, not that I believed it was groupthink. 

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

My point was that it wasn't textual, not that I believed it was groupthink. 

I take the long view:  All authentic revelations can be put into the class "revelation," which entails (1) textual, narrative description, (2) first person speech of Deity or sub-deities as recorded by humans, and (3) ineffable experiences which can only be described after the fact as ineffable (through poetry, song, and artistic symbols, or through a non-description masquerading as a description).

My point was that church business meetings are not revelation, not that they must evince group think.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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8 hours ago, Gray said:

I think in the early day revelation was often couched in terms of discrete, verbal messages from God. Now we often talk about revelation as things like councils coming together and agreeing on something.  Essentially a church business meeting that ends eith everyone agreeing is revelation now. I don't offer that as criticism, just observation.

 

7 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I don't think that is true, and it doesn't make any sense.  Perhaps you could address actual rather than purported "revelations."  That might help clarify the issue. Maybr start with the 1978 revelation.  In covering all aspects of it, does it appear to be a "church business meeting" with a strong dose of group think?  Or is something else arguably going on?

 

7 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

I don't think 1978 fits his criteria too well although that's usually what people point to as a business meeting with everyone feeling confirmation. 

The problem I have with this view is that the #1 example of revelation in the Church are priesthood blessings which are explicitly textual in nature. Not just healing blessings or giving a name blessings but apostolic blessings members of the 12 will occasionally give when prompted by the spirit.

Verbal messages announced by the Voice of God as thunder or written by God's Finger across the sky in lightning would certainly be hard to miss or to mistake, but would such phenomena accord with 1 Kings 19:11-12 or with Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9 (counseling with our councils certainly could be considered a form of "studying it out in [our] mind(s)?  As I recall, there were at least 1-2 recalcitrant Brethren who were resistant to the idea of extending the Priesthood to all worthy males before the Revelation was received.  President Kimball asked each of them to study the matter individual before they met collectively, and was only once that individual study and collective deliberation occurred that the revelation was received. That notion certainly goes against the idea that the extension of the Priesthood to all worthy males simply involved "a business meeting which ended with everyone in agreement." 

Edited by Kenngo1969

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5 hours ago, stemelbow said:

Like me?  I got 'em tested the other day.  Doc says 20/20 still. 

Harsh, since you know that is not what he meant, and that he was quoting scripture. Why do so many seek to be offended, or imagine they are being offended and seek reasons to be angry. 

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The Church is doing just fine.  One should not expect constant growth in the Church.  We should see the Book of Mormon as a pattern.  The Church goes through periods of growth and retraction.  Right now we are in the prosperity part of the pride cycle.  Society has all the comforts it needs.  People don't need God as much as they need Facebook or their phones.  That will change at some point in the 21st century.  The wars, natural disasters, and other things that are coming will push people back to God.  George Albert Smith said after WW2 that the Great Depression and WW2 was nothing in comparison to what is coming.  The time will come with the people of the earth with have just 2 choices.  Flee to Zion or take up the sword.  Most of the modern day secularists will have to come to Zion or be swept off the earth.  So no the Church has not peaked.  It has barely got off the ground.  It is one reason I actually like the whole Climate change thing.  I have never really concerned about the global warming/climate change debate but if what they say is even half correct, it fits very nicely on what we have been told will happen.  So no reason to dread about the coming decades but its actually lots of reasons to be excited.

Edited by carbon dioxide

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29 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

The Church is doing just fine.  One should not expect constant growth in the Church.  We should see the Book of Mormon as a pattern.  The Church goes through periods of growth and retraction.  Right now we are in the prosperity part of the pride cycle.  Society has all the comforts it needs.  People don't need God as much as they need Facebook or their phones.  That will change at some point in the 21st century.  The wars, natural disasters, and other things that are coming will push people back to God.  George Albert Smith said after WW2 that the Great Depression and WW2 was nothing in comparison to what is coming.  The time will come with the people of the earth with have just 2 choices.  Flee to Zion or take up the sword.  Most of the modern day secularists will have to come to Zion or be swept off the earth.  So no the Church has not peaked.  It has barely got off the ground.  It is one reason I actually like the whole Climate change thing.  I have never really concerned about the global warming/climate change debate but if what they say is even half correct, it fits very nicely on what we have been told will happen.  So no reason to dread about the coming decades but its actually lots of reasons to be excited.

I wonder what Zion people will flee to. 

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I take the long view:  All authentic revelations can be put into the class "revelation," which entails (1) textual, narrative description, (2) first person speech of Deity or sub-deities as recorded by humans, and (3) ineffable experiences which can only be described after the fact as ineffable (through poetry, song, and artistic symbols, or through a non-description masquerading as a description).

My point was that church business meetings are not revelation, not that they must evince group think.

Do you mean "or" between those terms or "and" as you wrote?

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