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7 hours ago, rongo said:

It isn't flatlining, its purpose has changed. The primary purpose is keeping young people occupied and hopefully help them remain active when they get home (with mixed results). Not finding, teaching, and baptizing. Those are all icing on the cake now, not the cake itself. 

The focus on Facebook and Instagram missionary work worldwide is partially due to Covid, but it pre-dates it as well. I can't imagine spending all that time making missionary videos. Did you see the one that is garnering praise for its production values? 

https://www.facebook.com/100009574879155/videos/2781956295466839/

I tried to figure out how much time and man-hours was put into planning, screenwriting, directing, rehearsing, making props, etc. for what looks like an entire zone re-enacting the final scene from Rogue One. Months in the making. While fun to make, and well done, I don't think it even yields bang for the buck in terms of interesting investigators. We are occupying missionaries with devices, for the most part. 

That's interesting, The few times I did see LDS missionaries about pre covid i'd almost never got a wave out of them.  Seemed like their main focus was on the ward, not looking for potential converts. 

Not to detract from the OP but why is this?  Has the church done research into areas where it's easier to get converts?  I've read that as hard as it is here it's even tougher in a lot of Europe.  If they're just focusing on their own membership and retaining youth, can't say I blame them, that makes sense.  You get most of your power, both financial, political and just raw manpower from capable families, not flaky people with issues.  No offense intended here but that's kind of how most successful orgs here are run, adapt or perish like a lot of other mainline denominations are doing right now. 

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3 hours ago, pogi said:

I was rather disappointed that the author used 9/10ths of the 9,000 word article for his own personal musings about the direction of the church, and squandered the opportunity he had to sit down in an hour long face to face with the president and prophet of the church and report on that interview.

You should stick with the Church News if that's what you're after. This was a feature story written for a national magazine about the Church. It wasn't about President Nelson.

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I wonder how President Nelson feels about the article/interview after reading it and finding out that the whole interview was a big waste of time and literally nothing out of the entire hour long interview, other than one LGBTQ question, was used in the piece.

I suspect he's fine with it. The Church News seems pretty enthusiastic about the article, actually: https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2020-12-16/president-nelson-interview-atlantic-mckay-coppins-president-ballard-200092

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8 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Uh oh @mfbukowski, President Nelson (quoted from the article), says the doctrine is more important than the action (sounds like orthodoxy wins over orthopraxy). Does this undermine your pragmatic approach?

 

Not at all- in fact it strengthens my position and shows that I am in alignment with the prophet.   I don't know why people cannot see this it drives me crazy!

This applies as much to you as to us!

What is doctrine?

Statements of what we believe written in.... wait for it!!............................................................................................................................................WORDS.

The words create the reality of the belief.   You believe the words!!!   They become real to you!!   You accept them as "true"

You accept that doctrine due to feelings in your heart. And in the context of of what gives meaning in your life- that is precisely the only rational way one CAN find a meaning in life

The meaning in life you assign for yourself is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Does what?

GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING!

Meaning in your life is"Yes, I think I will try this- I have a feeling it will have a good effect for me".   So what then comes AFTER the idea, the words, the "Doctrine"?

ACTION!

"Yes I believe that God has a body of flesh and bones.   I believe the Book of Mormon, Abraham etc- and all the teachings of the church and so I will take action on these teachings and.... (do my ministering visits, visit the sick, pay my tithing, go on a mission, etc etc)

First comes the words, second comes believing the doctrine, third is taking action on those words/doctrine

And then Alma 32 kicks in.  As you perform the actions, they produce "sweet fruit" in your life and your testimony grows.

I flipped out when I saw that Nelson said that!   VALIDATION!

Orthopraxis?   Yes that is exactly right- and IS Alma 32.   We do not worry about how the Trinity is three people in One God- we make it simple.  They are one in purpose- no mystery there.   That is no more complex than a painting crew or a bunch of landscapers showing up at my house to take care of the garden and trees etc- they are one in PURPOSE- making the garden pretty.

Without doctrine there is nothing to act upon!

As President Nelson said in the article

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President Nelson told him, Coppins wrote, the Church exists to “make life better for people.”

 

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9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Not at all- in fact it strengthens my position and shows that I am in alignment with the prophet.   I don't know why people cannot see this it drives me crazy!

If action came before doctrine, we would be automatons.

Romans 10:14-17 is about hearing doctrine, putting faith in it, and acting on that faith (in that order).

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14 hours ago, Nevo said:

This was a feature story written for a national magazine about the Church. It wasn't about President Nelson.

That's a fair point.  I still think it was a squandered opportunity.  The prophet is a central feature of our church and his perspective of our church is of interest to members and non-members alike.  I think a little more than one to two sentences given to President Nelson would have been welcomed by all.  Imagine if a reporter was given exclusive access to the Pope for an hour long interview and only reported on one question - people would be let down. 

14 hours ago, Nevo said:

I suspect he's fine with it. The Church News seems pretty enthusiastic about the article, actually: https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2020-12-16/president-nelson-interview-atlantic-mckay-coppins-president-ballard-200092

Kind of, sort of.

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Drawing on both original reporting and Coppins’ own experiences in the faith, the article will undoubtedly provoke a variety of reactions. But, apart from how readers feel about the substance of the piece, The Atlantic deserves credit for its process in approaching the subject matter.

https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2020/12/16/22176796/the-atlantic-mormons-church-of-jesus-christ-prophet-russell-m-nelson-mckay-coppins

They seem to be more pleased with the fact that the church was given attention in a feature article and how the Atlantic approached the subject.  They seem to be ambivalent about the actual substance.  I am pretty confident that President Nelson is not fine with the regular use of the word "Mormon" in a major magazine by a member, no less.  President Nelson has moved mountains in trying to rebrand the church away from "Mormon", I am sure he feels very disappointed that one of our own so disrespectfully mocked the effort in a national magazine and made absolutely no attempt.   I am also fairly confident that he is not pleased with much of the content. 

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22 hours ago, jkwilliams said:


Great article in The Atlantic by McKay Coppins about LDS assimilation into American culture.

“When I talk with my fellow Mormons about what our faith’s third century might look like, one common fear is that the Church, desperate for allies, will end up following the religious right into endless culture war. That would indeed be grim. But just as worrisome to me—and perhaps more likely—is the prospect of a fully diluted Mormonism.

Taken too far, the Latter-day Saint longing for mainstream approval could turn the Church into just another mainline sect—drained of vitality, devoid of tension, not making any real demands of its members. It’s not hard to imagine a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is “respectable” in the way of the Rotary Club, because it’s bland, and benign, and easy to ignore. Kathleen Flake, a Mormon historian at the University of Virginia, told me many of the Church’s concessions to modernity have been healthy and necessary. “But it’s like a game of strip poker,” she said. “How far will you go?”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/01/the-most-american-religion/617263/

I thought he did well.  Made me long for the some of what I don't now have due to my lack of participation....

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50 minutes ago, pogi said:

That's a fair point.  I still think it was a squandered opportunity.  The prophet is a central feature of our church and his perspective of our church is of interest to members and non-members alike.  I think a little more than one to two sentences given to President Nelson would have been welcomed by all.

Kind of, sort of.

They seem to be more pleased with the fact that the church was given attention in a feature article and how the Atlantic approached the subject.  They seem to be ambivalent about the actual substance.  I am pretty confident that President Nelson is not fine with the regular use of the word "Mormon" in a major magazine by a member, no less.  President Nelson has moved mountains in trying to rebrand the church away from "Mormon", I am sure he feels very disappointed that one of our own so disrespectfully mocked the effort in a national magazine and made absolutely no attempt.   I am also fairly confident that he is not pleased with much of the content. 

It makes me wonder if the author was using the article as an opportunity to speak to the Prophet and Apostles about what concerns the members have, more so than relate the prophet's thoughts on things.

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20 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Uh oh @mfbukowski, President Nelson (quoted from the article), says the doctrine is more important than the action (sounds like orthodoxy wins over orthopraxy). Does this undermine your pragmatic approach?

 

"Nelson attributes these qualities to the power of the Church’s teachings. “I don’t think you can separate the good things we do from the doctrine,” he tells me. “It’s not what we do; it’s why we do it.”

 

Understanding how you interpret scripture always helps me to understand why you are Catholic.  Now if only you would understand why we interpret scripture the way God tells us to understand it.

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3 hours ago, CV75 said:

If action came before doctrine, we would be automatons.

Romans 10:14-17 is about hearing doctrine, putting faith in it, and acting on that faith (in that order).

Sounds like Alma 32- thanks for the reference.  I have probably read it a dozen times and not noticed that.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Sounds like Alma 32- thanks for the reference.  I have probably read it a dozen times and not noticed that.

I think Alma 32 is better because it shows that while the dynamic begins with the seed (knowledge of doctrine) and the recipient's desire to believe in such a way as to act on it, the application generates expanded seed, stimulating additional faith for additional application, and so on it continues until we have perfect knowledge and perfect faith. This is why I think knowledge and faith are different manifestations of the same thing (which we don't have a name for). Perhaps 'truth" is a good word for it after all: truth being knowledge of things as the were (applied faith in retrospect), knowledge of things as they are (current experience), and knowledge of things as they are to come (faith yet to be fulfilled, or prospect).

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4 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think Alma 32 is better because it shows that while the dynamic begins with the seed (knowledge of doctrine) and the recipient's desire to believe in such a way as to act on it, the application generates expanded seed, stimulating additional faith for additional application, and so on it continues until we have perfect knowledge and perfect faith. This is why I think knowledge and faith are different manifestations of the same thing (which we don't have a name for). Perhaps 'truth" is a good word for it after all: truth being knowledge of things as the were (applied faith in retrospect), knowledge of things as they are (current experience), and knowledge of things as they are to come (faith yet to be fulfilled, or prospect).

Sounds good to me.

"Truth" is a tough word to define in a world in which we "see through a glass darkly".  It's hard to tell colors when we all are implanted with "sunglasses" permanently tinted-by-human-perception!   We can't get outside of these bodies to see things "as they are".   The best we can do, I think is to go with what works best 

Our bodies are designed to keep us alive in this dangerous world but I believe we have one channel available to us to keep us alive spiritually as well ;)

And that is through personal revelation.   We have the survival channel and the spiritual channel-  the challenge is not confusing the two!

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3 hours ago, Ahab said:

Understanding how you interpret scripture always helps me to understand why you are Catholic.  Now if only you would understand why we interpret scripture the way God tells us to understand it.

Huh? I wasn't interpreting scripture. I was asking Mark about a quote from President Nelson and how it fits into his paradigm.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Sounds good to me.

"Truth" is a tough word to define in a world in which we "see through a glass darkly".  It's hard to tell colors when we all are implanted with "sunglasses" permanently tinted-by-human-perception!   We can't get outside of these bodies to see things "as they are".   The best we can do, I think is to go with what works best 

Our bodies are designed to keep us alive in this dangerous world but I believe we have one channel available to us to keep us alive spiritually as well ;)

And that is through personal revelation.   We have the survival channel and the spiritual channel-  the challenge is not confusing the two!

I am in the middle of an interesting book called "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt which shows how even certain moral foundations, similarly to the five types of taste, are "pre-wired" or organized in our brains, but become much further fine-tuned by experience throughout our lifetime after birth. Morality then can be viewed as a sense, just  as taste is, coordinating various morality receptors found in human nature, just as taste coordinates the five taste receptors in every human brain. 

My aside from this theory: like faith and knowledge, we are accustomed to thinking of the body and spirit as two different things, but we do that from the perspective of having become the same thing (a soul), which is completely different than either. The bodily receptors and spirt receptors involved in their respective transduction, integration, perception and cognition (channels as you put them) operate quite differently once they become a soul.

Edited by CV75
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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Sounds good to me.

"Truth" is a tough word to define in a world in which we "see through a glass darkly".  It's hard to tell colors when we all are implanted with "sunglasses" permanently tinted-by-human-perception!   We can't get outside of these bodies to see things "as they are".   The best we can do, I think is to go with what works best 

Our bodies are designed to keep us alive in this dangerous world but I believe we have one channel available to us to keep us alive spiritually as well ;)

And that is through personal revelation.   We have the survival channel and the spiritual channel-  the challenge is not confusing the two!

My reception of your words helped to recall a memory I had of something recently as I noticed a fly in my house try to get away from me with my fly swatter.  I sensed that that thing had some type of sense to try to survive.

I thought about that a lot as it happened.  As I watched the so-called survival instinct while it was in action.  And a thought occurred to me that I had not thought of before.  Things that are alive try to stay alive simply because they are alive.

Life is not death, and the desire to die is the exact opposite of the desire to stay alive, so things that are alive should not want to die and will actually try to avoid death simply because that would go against the entire idea of being alive.

Makes sense, right. Shouldn't take a high degree of intelligence to figure that out.  So anyone should be able to see that anyone who actually wants to die has some kind of a problem with the whole idea of what living is all about.

Anyway, I don't know if my words are sufficient for you to be able to receive what I am talking about and thought about but for me it was very profound.

It's not like the fly needed to have a mind capable of reasoning the pros and cons of death to be able to determine that it would be best to try to stay alive.  The simple fact that it was alive was all that was needed to have an aversion to death.

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On 12/17/2020 at 6:40 AM, rongo said:

It isn't flatlining, its purpose has changed ... Not finding, teaching, and baptizing ...

The focus on Facebook and Instagram missionary work worldwide is partially due to Covid, but it pre-dates it as well.

The most recent convert in our stake, baptised nearly three weeks ago, saw a boosted Facebook post in her first language from missionaries in our mission. She liked what she saw and so reached out to them. They started teaching her and then engaged the Elders here, who finished preparing her for baptism.

I know you hold your personal missionary service from decades ago as the gold standard, but I'm far more pragmatic, I fear. I like anything and everything that allows us to find, teach and baptise -- including Facebook posts.

Our mission, by the way, set a monthly record for most convert baptisms ever back in October. Not too shabby for an effort that has apparently 'flatlined'.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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Seems like McKay's article is garnering interest from our Jewish friends and neighbors: 

Why McKay Coppins’ article on Mormons in America resonates with Jewish readers

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On Wednesday, The Atlantic published an essay by McKay Coppins for the magazine’s January/February issue on “The Most American Religion,” exploring what the third century of Mormonism could look like. The article quickly generated immense interest on Twitter, especially from Jewish journalists (Yoni, Yair, Rosie, Emma, Jeff, Bethany) and others. Jewish Insider asked Coppins, himself a practicing Mormon, to expound on why his article may have particularly resonated with Jewish readers.

Jewish Insider: There are a number of similarities between the Jewish and Mormon communities in America. In fact in the article, you recall an awkward incident where the CEO of the company you worked at explained internet virality by giving a presentation comparing Judaism with Mormonism and how Mormonism was growing faster because its members knew how to “spread it.” That episode aside, what do you think these two communities of ‘outsiders’ who’ve achieved a good measure of success in America have in common and what can they learn from the other? What do you think Jewish readers should take away from the article?

McKay Coppins: It’s funny, Jeff Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, predicted that this piece would resonate with Jewish readers for some of the reasons you allude to. I think both faiths are rooted in a certain outsiderness, which is a source of both pride and anxiety. I can’t speak to the Jewish experience specifically, but I do think the stuff I write about is not limited to Mormonism — the craving for external validation, the drive to succeed, the tension between wanting to fit in and clinging to the distinctiveness of your identity and traditions. Jewish writers and thinkers have been chewing on these questions for a lot longer than Mormons have, of course. If there’s one area I’d like to see my faith follow the example of Judaism, it would be in developing a richer intellectual and literary tradition.

Thanks,

-Smac

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8 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Seems like McKay's article is garnering interest from our Jewish friends and neighbors: 

Why McKay Coppins’ article on Mormons in America resonates with Jewish readers

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks for posting that. I grew up LDS in a Jewish neighborhood, and I'm not sure I ever would have made that connection. Where I grew up Jews were not outsiders, but we Mormons were.

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22 hours ago, Teancum said:

I thought he did well.  Made me long for the some of what I don't now have due to my lack of participation....

I long for the things you don't have due to your lack of participation, right along with you. ;)

I wish you well. :)

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Pretty good podcast with the author of the opening post topic.

https://www.sltrib.com/podcasts/mormonland/

The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins on the LDS Church’s quest for approval and its future | Episode 161

In a lengthy essay in The Atlantic posted online Wednesday, reporter McKay Coppins explores The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its history as “The Most American Religion.”In a subtitle, the article states: “Perpetual outsiders, Mormons spent 200 years assimilating to a certain national ideal — only to find their country is in an identity crisis. What will the third century of the faith look like?”Coppins’ piece looks backward and forward, not as a dispassionate observer, but through his own lens as a practicing Latter-day Saint. He talks with scholars and politicians, insiders and outsiders, leaders and laypeople, even church President Russell M. Nelson.In this week’s podcast, Coppins talks about the path Mormonism has followed and what steps the Utah-based faith could — and should — take as it treads into its next hundred years.

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On 12/16/2020 at 12:34 PM, mrmarklin said:

Things are certainly headed in the wrong direction, particularly in the US where the leadership feels a need to address US political problems, albeit obliquely, in  General Conference.  Most of the speeches in this world wide forum are simply Pablum for the membership.

A general dumbing down of the overall time commitment asked of church members is also indicative.  Something needs to replace this.

The Church should be more proactive in education below the college level.  The missionary program is flatlining and needs to be seriously looked at.

Far too long complacency has permeated through some congregations in the US. For most practical purposes, the wards that I have attended for the last 8 years are dead. A frightful reminder of the scripture in Revelation 3:1 to the congregation in Sardis" "....that you have a name, that you are alive but you are dead..." We pad our selves in the back and talk about "missionary moments" as if it was anything of any substance. It is like walking out into a field, kicking the rocks around and holding a clump of dirt for a couple of minutes and said you had a "farming moment". I sat in a ward for 5 years and there was not one baptism. People are insular, drawn inward and there is absolutely nothing in them that the watching wold can say that is meaningful, wonderful, attractive or inviting. Nothing. And when you bring a friend they push them out with their disdain, apathy and "holier than thou" attitude. They are vineyards that bare no fruit. They are attached to the vine, the appearance of foliage but no fruit. At the end, to be taken away to be burned, to their shock and disbelief, like the scripture says. That is the state of affairs in Middle America.  

My youngest is 12. We'll be heading south as soon as she heads out to college. I worked and lived outside of the US for 20 years and the future of the Church is out there, in my opinion. I am nobody, the least of my brethren, so I have no answers. Just observations.

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11 hours ago, Islander said:

Far too long complacency has permeated through some congregations in the US. For most practical purposes, the wards that I have attended for the last 8 years are dead. A frightful reminder of the scripture in Revelation 3:1 to the congregation in Sardis" "....that you have a name, that you are alive but you are dead..." We pad our selves in the back and talk about "missionary moments" as if it was anything of any substance. It is like walking out into a field, kicking the rocks around and holding a clump of dirt for a couple of minutes and said you had a "farming moment". I sat in a ward for 5 years and there was not one baptism. People are insular, drawn inward and there is absolutely nothing in them that the watching wold can say that is meaningful, wonderful, attractive or inviting. Nothing. And when you bring a friend they push them out with their disdain, apathy and "holier than thou" attitude. They are vineyards that bare no fruit. They are attached to the vine, the appearance of foliage but no fruit. At the end, to be taken away to be burned, to their shock and disbelief, like the scripture says. That is the state of affairs in Middle America.  

My youngest is 12. We'll be heading south as soon as she heads out to college. I worked and lived outside of the US for 20 years and the future of the Church is out there, in my opinion. I am nobody, the least of my brethren, so I have no answers. Just observations.

While I agree the strength of the church is migrating outside the US, I think this assessment of US wards is a little too negative. The wards I've been a part of in the US don't have a lot of baptisms, but it's not due to any insularity or "holier than thou" attitudes. Most members I've seen have tried very hard to be welcoming and have worked hard to share the gospel. There's just not much interest in what's being offered.

I know there are bad wards out there. I just don't believe it's the majority, or even a large minority, even in the US.

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11 hours ago, Islander said:

Far too long complacency has permeated through some congregations in the US. For most practical purposes, the wards that I have attended for the last 8 years are dead. A frightful reminder of the scripture in Revelation 3:1 to the congregation in Sardis" "....that you have a name, that you are alive but you are dead..." We pad our selves in the back and talk about "missionary moments" as if it was anything of any substance. It is like walking out into a field, kicking the rocks around and holding a clump of dirt for a couple of minutes and said you had a "farming moment". I sat in a ward for 5 years and there was not one baptism. People are insular, drawn inward and there is absolutely nothing in them that the watching wold can say that is meaningful, wonderful, attractive or inviting. Nothing. And when you bring a friend they push them out with their disdain, apathy and "holier than thou" attitude. They are vineyards that bare no fruit. They are attached to the vine, the appearance of foliage but no fruit. At the end, to be taken away to be burned, to their shock and disbelief, like the scripture says. That is the state of affairs in Middle America.  

My youngest is 12. We'll be heading south as soon as she heads out to college. I worked and lived outside of the US for 20 years and the future of the Church is out there, in my opinion. I am nobody, the least of my brethren, so I have no answers. Just observations.

So how could the ward have not even one baptism for five years with you out spreading the good news all the time?

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

So how could the ward have not even one baptism for five years with you out spreading the good news all the time?

I won't answer your question, which I take as largely rhetorical.  But something needs to be done with the missionary program.  It's missing something.

Two hundred years into the first Christian era, ca. 233CE, the Christian religion had made significant inroads with the people of the Roman Empire.  Less than one hundred years after that, in 325CE, Christianity dominated the Empire that once persecuted it, and became the "official" religion of the Empire.  This preaching to a nation that was pagan!  After 325, the Christian movement kept expanding into Northern Europe, Africa, and even as far as China.  By 1000CE it was a significant political force in Europe, Asia and Northern Africa as well as religious.

After two hundred years of the Restoration, it's hard to see anything like this happening in the US, much less worldwide.  The Church membership is statistically insignificant, and apparently growth is slowing.

 

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