Fundamentalists and the Gathering of Israel
One religious topic which has been included by Fundamentalists
in their constant critique of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints concerns the final gathering of Israel which has been prophesied.
In 1831 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith
Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.
And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.
Yea, let the cry go forth among
all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold
and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves
for the great day of the Lord. (D&C 133:7-10.)
It appears that Fundamentalists demand a very literal, physical gathering, disallowing converts to remain in their own lands after baptism:
There came a time when perhaps through
partial apostasy of the Saints here, or their grudging help to newcomers,
the policy of gathering was changed. "Stay where you are", the word went
out in Europe and the different states of the Union, "build up the churches
where you are and all will be well with you". Or in other words, stay in
Babylon, which is falling, and there be tempted to "partake of their sins
and receive of her plagues...." (Truth 11:431.)
The commandment of the Church -not the Lord- today is to disperse, not to gather. Stay where you are and we will come and build temples in Babylon.
Those who are acquainted with the
prophecies concerning the last days can only fear and tremble for those
who have been deceived into remaining in Babylon. (Ibid. 21:113.)
[T]oday, and such has been the case of many years, Israel is scattering rather than gathering. The Saints are not only encouraged to leave the mountains, but those born abroad are being instructed to remain in their native lands, both in America and in other parts of the earth, described by the Revelator as the "habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
Of course the brethren will explain that times have changed; emigration laws, etc., render it necessary for the Saints to remain in Babylon. But by what force of circumstances have conditions change? As long as the Saints in the mountains were living their religion, there was little trouble from emigration laws; the honest in heart gathered to Zion.....
When the Saints rejected the law
[of plural marriage], God ceased to protect them from their enemies, and
many of them, once filled with light, are now in gross darkness. And so
here in this part of the mountains, the Saints having rejected the law
have lost the distinctiveness formerly characterizing them, and the land
is fast ceasing to be a Zion unto them. It may be argued that the Saints
are better off in their native Babylon than they could be in this "Babylon,"
once known as Zion. (Ibid. 3:146, 149.)
The Latter Day Saints claim divine authority and right to participate in the gathering together of the "dispersed of Israel, and all who will, by obedience unto the word of God, become the children of Abraham," by right of the fact that "after this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us, and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth" (D&C 110:11).
After this authority and the keys of the gathering of Israel were given to Joseph Smith and associates, they vigorously proclaimed the "gathering of Israel," saying the appointed time of the Lord foretold of the prophets of old was not at hand (D&C 29:7-10). The voice declared, "Ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect, for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts." "Behold it is my will that that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel should gather together, and stand in holy places" (D&C 101:22).
As will be understood, this last command is made to embrace all who will accept the gospel teachings of God's authorized servants who received the sacred commission, directly or indirectly, from this holy messenger, Moses. The Latter-Day Saints Church must have found what appears to them to be a better plan than that given of God, for they have superseded His and substituted on of their own.
They now instruct their missionaries
and converts that all they who call on God's name, and worship Him according
to the revised teachings of the Mormon Church, should remain in their
own lands and build up local organizations and fine church buildings
in convenient places... (B. Harvey Allred, A Leaf in Review, pp.
GATHERING TO THE STAKES OF ZION
Let us investigate the revelations and the record and
see if there is a disparity in the present course of the Church with that
of the early Church. The gathering of Israel is a basic tenet of the Church
holding a prominent place as one of the thirteen articles of faith. It
We believe in the literal gathering
of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New
Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will
reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and
receive its paradisiacal glory. (Tenth Article of Faith.)
This gathering will be at a time when Zion will be built
on this continent to which Ephraim will assemble. The location of Zion
was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith soon after the Church was organized.
In July, 1831, the Lord said:
Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the Saints.
Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
And thus saith the Lord your God,
if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now
called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying
westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse. (D&C 57:1-3.)
Although Jackson County, Missouri was appointed as the center gathering place, the Prophet and many of the Saints remained in Kirtland, Ohio, which was the previous gathering center for the Saints. Thus we had two gathering places 1500 miles apart. Kirtland was then declared "for a stake of Zion." (D&C 82:13, also 94:1; 96:1; 104:40.)
The term "stake" requires an explanation. The concept
of a central gathering place with subordinate gathering places called stakes
comes from a simile in the Book of Isaiah. Elder McConkie has explained:
In prophetic imagery, Zion is pictured as a great tent upheld by cords fastened securely to stakes. Thus Isaiah, envisioning the latter-day glory of Israel, gathered to her restored Zion, proclaimed: "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left. ... For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." (Isa. 54:2-7.) And of the millennial Zion, Isaiah exulted: "Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities... a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken." (Isa. 33:20.)
In keeping with this symbolism,
the great areas of church population and strength, which sustain and uphold
the restored Zion, are called stakes. They are the rallying points and
the gathering centers for the remnants of scattered Israel. (D. & C.
68:25-26; 82:13-14; 101:17-21; 115:6, 18; 124:134; 133:9.) (Mormon Doctrine,
Thus there is to be a great network of stakes supplementary to the center gathering place of Zion. With the expulsion of the Saints from the central gathering place in 1838, the gathering of the Saints will necessarily be to the stakes until Zion in Jackson County, Missouri is redeemed in the Lord's own due time. The gathering of the Saints to the stakes of Zion wherever they are throughout the earth is for the purpose of teaching those who come into the Church the principles and ordinances of heaven, that they may be blessed by the commandments of God. After this gathering fulfills its purpose the center place will be redeemed and the Saints will flee to escape the tribulations prophesied on the ungodly. We will thus have a day of preparation and a day of judgement and there will be separate gatherings during each period.(1)
As the early restored Church grew in numbers, it was found
the stakes of Zion must be multiplied to provide a haven for the increasing
numbers of Saints. Additional stakes were therefore contemplated. In September,
1837, the Prophet's history records:
The same evening the Elders assembled in conference in the House of the Lord when I addressed them on the subject of the gathering of the Saints in the last days, and the duties of the different quorums in relation thereto.
It appeared manifest to the conference
that the places appointed for the gathering of the Saints were at this
time crowded to overflowing, and that it was necessary that there be more
stakes of Zion appointed in order that the poor might have a place to gather
to, "wherefore it was moved, seconded and voted unanimously that President
Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon be requested by this conference to
go and appoint other stakes, or places of gathering... (HC 2:513-514. See
also Milton V. Backman and Lyndon W. Cook eds. Kirtland Elders' Quorum
Record, Provo, Utah: Grandin Book, 1985 pp. 29-30.)
Pursuant to this direction, the bishopric in Kirtland
sent out a memorial on September 18, 1837, to all the Saints. Portions
The Church at Kirtland has, therefore,
required at the hand of our beloved brethren, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney
Rigdon, that they should go forth and lay off other stakes of Zion, or
places of gathering, so that the poor may have a place of refuge, or places
of refuge, in the day of tribulation which is coming swiftly on the earth.
The salvation of the Saints one and all depends on the building up of Zion,
for without this there is no salvation, for deliverance in the last days
is found in Zion and in Jerusalem, and in the remnant whom the Lord our
God shall call, or in other words, in the stakes which He shall appoint
(Joel ii: 32). (HC 2:516. See also Andrew Jensen, Historical Record,
In July 1839, in an important explanation of Priesthood
and related items the Prophet stated:
There will be here and there a Stake [of Zion] for the gathering of the Saints. Some may have cried peace, but the Saints and the world will have little peace from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stakes; for God has told us to flee, not dallying, or we shall be scattered, one here, and another there. There your children shall be blessed, and you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. The Gospel net gathers of every kind.
I prophesy, that that man who tarries
after he has an opportunity of going, will be afflicted by the devil. Wars
are at hand; we must not delay; but are not required to sacrifice. We ought
to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. When wars come,
we shall have to flee to Zion. The cry is to make haste. The last revelation
says, Ye shall not have time to have gone over the earth, until these things
come. (HC 3:390.)
At October General Conference, 1840, in Nauvoo, the minutes
record the following:
The president then arose and stated that it was necessary that something should be done with regard to Kirtland, so that it might be built up; and gave it as his opinion, that the brethren from the east might gather there, and also that it was necessary that some one should be appointed from this conference to preside over that stake. On motion, Resolved: That Elder Almon W. Babbitt be appointed to preside over the Church in Kirtland, and that he choose his own counselors... An opportunity was given to the brethren who had any remarks to make on suitable locations for stakes of Zion. Elder H. W. Miller stated that it was the desire of a number of the brethren residing in Adams county, to have a stake appointed at Mount Ephraim in that county, and stated the advantages of the place for agricultural purposes.
On motion, Resolved: That a stake be appointed at Mount Ephraim, in Adams county.
There being several applications
for the appointment of stakes, it was Resolved: That a committee be appointed
to organize stakes between this place and Kirtland, and that Hyrum Smith,
Lyman Wight, and Almon W. Babbitt, compose said committee. (HC: 4:204-205.)
Additional stakes were organized in Lima, Quincy, Mount Hope and Freedom.(2)
As the Church continued to grow, there was a need for
more gathering places. At April Conference, 1844, the last General Conference
which the Prophet was to attend, a new revelation on the scope of Zion
was presented to the Saints. It considerably expanded the concept on Zion
and the gathering. The Prophet revealed:
You know there has been great discussion in relation to Zion--where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land. When Elders shall take up and examine the old Prophecies in the Bible, they will see it.
I have received instructions from
the Lord that from henceforth wherever the Elders of Israel shall build
up churches and branches unto the Lord throughout the States, there shall
be a stake of Zion. In the great cities, as Boston, New York, &c.,
there shall be stakes. It is a glorious proclamation, and I reserved it
to the last, and designed it to be understood that this work shall commence
after the washings, anointings and endowments have been performed here.
Brigham Young followed this great proclamation with the
It was a perfect sweepstakes when the Prophet called North and South America Zion. Let us go to and build the Temple with all our might, that we may build up the kingdom when established and her cords lengthened. It is a perfect knock-down to the devil's kingdom. There is not a faithful Elder who cannot, if he is humble and diligent, build up the Church. There are many men who will give you large sums to build a Stake of Zion where they live. It proves the words of the Prophet of the last days.
The Priesthood is fitted to every
capacity in the world. There are blessings and conditions in that Priesthood
that suit every man. This will suit the condition of thousands, because
it is as broad as the heavens, deep as hell, and wide as eternity. (HC
Hyrum Smith repeated this same instruction:
Patriarch Hyrum Smith said: I never
knew a proclamation to be understood at once. President Brigham Young wished
to draw the attention of the brethren, first to build the Temple and get
your washings, anointings, and endowments; after that to build up branches
throughout the nations. We must do all we can to build up the Temple, and
after that to build churches. The gathering will continue here until the
Temple is so far finished that the Elders can get their endowments; and
after that the gathering will be from the nations to North and South America,
which is the land of Zion. (HC 6:322.)
After the martyrdom of the Prophet, Brigham Young advised
Some may go away but I want to have the faithful stay here to build the Temple and settle the city...
To those who want to go away from
this place, I would say wait until the time comes. I will give you the
key. North and South America is Zion and as soon as the Temple is done
and you get your endowments you can go and build up stakes, but do
not be in haste, wait until the Lord says go... I give this as a key. You
may go all over North and South America and build up stakes when the time
comes. The whole continent of America must be organized into districts
and presiding elders appointed over each district: the time has come when
all things must be set in order. (HC 7:257-258.)
After being driven from Nauvoo and its newly finished
temple, the Saints had to move west into the Rocky Mountains and begin
settlements afresh. This delayed fulfillment of Joseph Smith's last important
declaration concerning the expansion of Zion to all of North and South
America. Once again the Saints were required to gather, this time to the
Rocky Mountains in fulfillment of prophecy. It took 40 years to establish
the Saints and again raise a temple to the Lord. It was dedicated in 1893
and shortly after we find the prophesied expansion of Zion beginning to
THE OBJECT OF GATHERING:
TO OBTAIN TEMPLE ORDINANCES
One very important reason why the Saints have always been commanded to gather is for the building of temples. Within sacred temples ordinances may be performed to establish the great patriarchal system of sealing families in a patriarchal chain extending back to Father Adam. This is one reason why the Saints were commanded to gather in Kirtland, Ohio, Jackson, and Far West Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. As the Saints increased, additional gathering places were designated and additional temples constructed.
In 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith preached a discourse
to the theme "The Purpose of the Gathering of Israel." He said:
This subject was presented to me since I came to the stand. What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world?...
The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose.
It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them. Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.
It is for the same purpose that
God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord
a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and
anointings, etc. (HC 5:423-424. Compare D&C 124:36.)
It was to receive the ordinances of the Lord's house that
Brigham Young later claimed the people were commanded to gather. Since
there were no temples where the scattered Saints lived, they had to gather
to Zion to receive this blessing. He instructed:
We have been gathered to the valleys
of these mountains for the express purpose of purifying ourselves, that
we may become polished stones in the temple of God, We are here for the
purpose of establishing the kingdom of God on the earth. To be prepared
for this work it has been necessary to gather us out from the nations and
countries of the world, for if we had remained in those lands we could
not have received the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood of the Son of God,
which are necessary for the perfection of the Saints preparatory to His
coming. (JD 12:161.)
George A. Smith had expressed a similar sentiment some
Among the first principles that
were revealed to the children of men in the last days was the gathering;
the first revelations that were given to the Church were to command them
to gather, and send Elders to seek out a place for the gathering of the
Saints. What is the gathering for? Why was it that the Savior wished the
children of Israel to gather together? It was that they might become united
and provide a place wherein he could reveal unto them keys which have been
hid from before the foundation of the world; that he could unfold unto
them the laws of exaltation, and make them a kingdom of Priests, even the
whole people, and exalt them to thrones and dominions in the celestial
world. (JD 2:214.)
While the Saints were struggling to build the Salt Lake
Temple, Brigham Young told them of the great work that lay ahead:
To accomplish this work there will
have to be not only one temple but thousands of them, and thousands and
tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate
for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal. (JD 3:372.
See also 10:254.)
Looking forward to the millennium, Wilford Woodruff said:
When the Savior comes, a thousand
years will be devoted to this work of redemption; and temples will appear
all over this land of Joseph -- North and South America -- and also in
Europe and elsewhere. (Sept. 16, 1877; JD 19:230.)
Thus it was recognized that gathering places (stakes)
would eventually expand beyond the Americas into the whole world.
STAKES AND TEMPLES OUTSIDE OF UTAH
In 1899, the Saints wishing to immigrate were advised
to remain in their own countries.(3) In
1901, stakes began to be established beyond the central gathering location
in Utah. In 1906, at a meeting in Bern Switzerland, Joseph F. Smith reiterated
the above statement of Wilford Woodruff, and prophesied:
...The time will come when the President
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have more leisure
time to visit the branches of the Church in the different countries where
the Gospel is being preached; the time will yet come, perhaps not in my
days or during this next generation, when temples of God, which are dedicated
to the holy ordinances of the Gospel... will be erected in the different
countries of the earth. For this Gospel must be spread over the entire
world, until the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover
the great deep. (As translated from Der Stern, 38:332, November
In 1915 while on a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, President
Joseph F. Smith stated to Elders Reed Smoot and Charles Nibley:
"Brethren, this is the birthday of President Brigham Young, June 1, 1915. I feel impressed to dedicate this ground (Laie, Maui, Hawaii) for the erection of a temple to God, for a place where the peoples of the Pacific Isles can come to do their temple work. I have not presented this to the Council of the Twelve or to my counselors; but if you think there would be no objection to it, I think now is the time to dedicate the ground."
I have heard President Smith pray
hundreds of times. He has thrilled my soul many times with his wonderful
spirit of prayer and his supplications to our Heavenly Father. But never
in all my life did I hear such a prayer. The very ground seemed to be sacred,
and he seemed as if he were talking face to face with the Father. I cannot
and never will forget it if I live a thousand years. (Joseph Fielding Smith,
Life of Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press,
1938, p. 421.)
At the following General Conference of the Church, October,
1915, President Smith gave the reasons for this action:
Now away off in the Pacific Ocean are various groups of islands from the Sandwich Islands down to Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand. On them are thousands of good people, dark-skinned but of the blood of Israel. When you carry the gospel to them they receive it with open hearts. They need the same privileges that we do, and that we enjoy; but these are out of their power. They are poor, and they can't gather means to come up here and be endowed and sealed for time and eternity, for their living and their dead, and to be baptized for their dead.
Now I saw to my brethren and sisters
this morning that we have come to the conclusions that it would be a good
thing to build a temple... upon one of the Sandwich Islands, so that the
good people of those islands may reach the blessings of the House of God
within their own borders, and that the people from New Zealand, if they
do not become strong enough to require a house to be built there also,
by and by, can come to Laie, where they can get their blessings and return
home and live in peace, having fulfilled all the requirement of the Gospel
the same as we have the privilege of doing here. (Conference Report,
October, 1915, p. 809.)
In spite of these teachings, some Fundamentalists have
continued to criticize the Church for establishing stakes beyond the immediate
confines of Church headquarters in Utah. A recent work on the gathering,
by Fundamentalist author Ogden Kraut, ignores the April, 1844 statement
of the Prophet and takes the Church to task for allegedly fostering a program
Not only did the Saints begin to
fail in gathering together, but the Church began to establish stakes outside
of the Rocky Mountains. At the turn of the century a new innovation in
the scattering program began. In June of 1901, a stake was organized in
Oregon. Other began to follow:
1923 Los Angeles Stake
1927 San Francisco
1934 3 more in California
1934 New York
Of the first 68 stakes organized
after the Saints arrived in Utah, none were established outside of the
Rocky Mountains (except for three temporarily for emigration purposes).
From the last 68 stakes organized, there 39 established out of the Rocky
Mountains.(5) (Ogden Kraut, The Gathering
of Israel, Salt Lake City, Utah: Pioneer Press, 1974, p. 127.)
However, expanding the stakes of Zion geographically appears to be the program envisioned by the Prophet Joseph Smith at that conference in April of 1844. The work of establishing gathering centers (stakes) all over the world is fulfilling the Lord's program, not thwarting it.
Of course we might quote several statements from the early period of Church history when the work required all faithful Saints to gather to a single location in order to erect one temple. Nonetheless, it would not necessarily apply to the conditions of an expanding Church which is destined to "fill the whole earth." (D&C 109:72).
Following the great mission of the
Church in all the world, President David O. McKay announced in answer to
the faithful Saints "in Europe and elsewhere" who wondered whether or not
they should immigrate to "Zion":
Some day we shall have temples built
for them which will be accessible to all, so that the desired temple work
can be done without uprooting families from their homelands. (Church
News, Sept. 13, 1958, p. 16.)
In July, 1952, at the conclusion of an historic tour of the missions in Europe, President McKay announced the decision to build the first temple on European soil near Bern, Switzerland.(6) He later explained that many Saints in Europe and also in Australia would never be able to receive the higher ordinances of salvation unless the Church built temples in their lands. "There are many of these people who are worthy of the privilege of doing temple work." He therefore indicated that "The church could bring temples to these people by building smaller edifices for this purpose and more of them."(7)
The reason given earlier by Brigham Young and George A. Smith (that the Saints must gather to the Rocky Mountains to enjoy the benefits of a temple) is no longer a restriction. As the Saints multiply in the world, temples are built to accommodate them in their established locations. This expanding program is under the Lord's direction and is fulfilling prophecy as it relates to the last days. The Church is beginning to rapidly take on world wide proportions but this is only the beginning of a destiny to fill the whole earth with righteousness.
To restrict the Saints to conditions that prevailed in the early days when the Lord's work was a mere beginning is to thwart the culmination of the Lord's program. The early prophets and apostles of this dispensation had a vision of this work that Fundamentalists do not seem to grasp.
An early apostle, Orson Pratt, in
speaking of the changing role of the Church in Brigham Young's day said:
Because God confined His servants to certain duties in the early rise of this Church, that is no proof or evidence that He will always work in the same channel. He will enlarge the borders of this kingdom; He will stretch forth the curtains of Zion; He will lengthen her cords and strengthen her Stakes and will multiply them not only throughout this mountain Territory, but throughout the United States, this land of Joseph: and they will be called the Stakes of the great City of Zion...
We cannot suppose, as I was saying,
that when the Lord shall thus enlarge the borders of Zion and multiply
her Stakes, that He will be obliged to confine Himself to those circumstances
and that condition of things that existed when we were a little handful
of people. We are swelling out, we are becoming numerous upon the face
of the land; and the day will come when Isaiah's prophecy, as contained
in the 60th chapter, will be literally fulfilled, that is, a little one
shall not only become a thousand, but the small one a strong nation. Are
we then to be governed in all respects by those limited things that we
were governed by in our childhood? Will there be no change of circumstances?
Yes, as there is in the growth of grain, we have first the blade, then
the ear, then the full corn in the ear, but these will all be in accordance
with the development made by the progress of the kingdom... (JD 22:35-36,
Oct. 10, 1880.)
President Spencer W. Kimball explains
how the Lord is guiding and directing the course of Zion's ever increasing
world wide mission:
When in a Thursday temple meeting,
after prayer and fasting, important decisions are made, new missions and
new stakes are created, new patterns and policies initiated, the news is
taken for granted and possibly thought of as mere human calculations. But
to those who sit in the intimate circles and hear the prayers of the prophet
and the testimony of the man of God; to those who see the astuteness of
his deliberations and the sagacity of his decisions and pronouncements,
to them he is verily a prophet. To hear him conclude important new developments
with such solemn expressions as "the Lord is pleased"; "that move is right";
"our Heavenly Father has spoken," is to know positively. (Spencer W. Kimball,
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft,
1982, p. 457-458.)
The divine guidance received in these temple meetings is surely consistent with the basic function of the temple as a place of revelation.
If the Saints are to be a leaven
as stated by the Savior then when sufficient leaven is assembled, it must
be dispersed if it is to leaven the whole loaf. It is as John A. Widstoe
explained as reported by Fundamentalists:
The time of gathering is past. We
now live in the time of scattering. We want to scatter our people over
the face of the earth that we might leaven the whole lump. (See Truth
After the time of preparation is
past and the final judgements are to be poured out upon the earth then
the final call will go forth to gather the wheat from among the tares and
all the righteous will flee to the two world gathering places which are
yet to be established. The Lord revealed in 1832:
But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender--
Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;
But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
Therefore, let the wheat and the
tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first
gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the
wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth
to be burned. (D&C 86:4-7.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained
the process of gathering as it applies to the growing Church today:
Of this glorious day of restoration and gathering, another Nephite prophet said: "The Lord... has covenanted with all the house of Israel," that "the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God"; and that "they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise." (2 Ne. 9:1-2.)
Now I call you attention to the facts, set forth in these scriptures, that the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church; of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths; and of worshiping him in the congregations of the Saints in all nations and among all peoples. Please note that these revealed words speak of the folds of the Lord; of Israel being gathered to the lands of their inheritance; of Israel being established in all their lands of promise; and of there being congregations of the covenant people of the Lord in every nation, speaking every tongue, and among every people when the Lord comes again"...
In the early days of this dispensation,
in the very nature of things, if the Saints were to survive as a people,
they had to assemble together in chosen places. Otherwise, they would have
been lost among the masses of men and overcome by the world. But now, in
large measure, we are past that stage of our history; we are becoming a
world church -not an American Church, not a British Church, but a Church
for all mankind, for the honest and upright in every nation. The place
of gathering for the Mexican Saints is in Mexico; the place of gathering
for the Guatemalan Saints is in Guatemala; the place gathering for the
Brazilian Saints is Brazil; and so it goes throughout the length and breadth
of the whole earth... With the new world wide stature of the Church
comes a responsibility we have never had before, a responsibility to be
worthy of our high position in the world, and to strengthen the Church
in all nations where it shall be established. (Church News, Sept.
2, 1972, cited by Ogden Kraut in The Gathering of Israel pp 101-102.)
Several months later (April, 1973)
in a General Conference talk entitled "Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,"
President Harold B. Lee quoted Elder McConkie's counsel.(8)
Early in this dispensation Saints were admonished to physically gather together in order to build temples. The primary focus of the gathering in these last days is to allow Church members to obtain their temple ordinances.
Certainly there will be a gathering to Jackson County, Missouri at some point in the future. However, it is incorrect to assert that the Lord now expects us to be gathering there or to Salt Lake City, Utah or to some other location in order to accomplish the final "gathering" prophesied in the scriptures.
The gathering in the latter-days primarily occurs as individuals are "gathered" out from the world into various stakes of the Church located around the globe. To be "gathered," one must receive priesthood ordinances including those of the temple. The recent acceleration of temple building throughout the world is a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is determined to carry out the final gathering according to the pattern the Lord has given.
5. The question arises, if the Church is out of order for establishing stakes in Oregon, California, New York, etc., what about Fundamentalist operations? They have gathering places in Montana, Arizona, Canada, Mexico, etc. Are they complying with the rules of their own making?