It is an amazing time to be a Mormon. It is also a challenging time.
Why is it challenging? Because we are going through a period of inoculation. The Church sees that the Internet is full of information, both true and false, accurate and inaccurate, biased and non-biased. In the last decade, it has brought forth lots of information officially and unofficially, through the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and providing materials for books on Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Recently, they have published official papers online about the First Vision, Temple clothing, Polygamy, etc. Many have probably seen the furor over Joseph’s 40 wives that the media has recently jumped on worldwide, as if it were previously a secret!
Such is challenging, because members are being asked online and in person about why they would belong to a church, where the church founders had so many flaws or did horrendous things? Such occurs during times of inoculation. Member and non-member alike will feel a slight fever come along because of the inoculation against the Unknown Virus. As with a friend of mine who recently told me he spent a couple days struggling with the knowledge of Joseph’s polygamy, the Holy Spirit reminded him of his strong testimony concerning the Restoration through imperfect prophets that were called of God. He breathed a sigh of relief in remembering his testimony, and set these things back on the shelf. He was now properly inoculated.
It is also a great time to be a member. Membership grows. Stakes and wards are being created. We will complete our 170th temple within the next couple years. The Church keeps having a “Mormon Moment” that keeps jumping back up onto the front page: Book of Mormon musical, Mitt Romney, I’m a Mormon campaign, Harry Reid, Meet the Mormons movie, Joseph Smith was a polygamist, etc.
I know many members of the Church who feel we are entering into a particularly interesting moment in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Prophets are telling us to “hasten the work”. Our full time missionary force has almost doubled in the last couple years. Elder Bednar asks us to take the gospel into all the world through social media – “flooding the earth” with the gospel. There’s a temple within 2 hours distance of 85% of the members.
When you consider that 160 years ago, Mormons were being driven from place to place, and a century ago the Church was nearly bankrupted by the federal government, we can say that it is truly a great time to be a member.
Now is our opportunity to share the gospel with the world. They need to not only know that Joseph had several wives, but of the great concepts of the restoration that came through him: eternal marriage, priesthood power, the Book of Mormon, the meaning of Christ’s atonement, the Plan of Salvation, continuing revelation, living witnesses of Christ, family home evening, etc. There are many wonderful things that the Church teaches and does. These are the things that need to be on the front page of the New York Times. Let us share our personal witnesses of the gospel, and how it has answers and solutions for the weary world. For those looking for a living God, ministering angels, miracles, peace and joy, we need to be the ones to tell them they need look no further. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is here upon the earth. And it is magnificent!