Thursday, October 27, 2016

Zionomics: Conclusion


As I consider the currently known economic models related to the gospel, I think I might rank them as follows:
  1. Zion.
  2. The United Firm (which was also expected to live the law of consecration).
  3. The law of consecration.
  4. Have more - give more; have less - give less; have none - receive (e.g. Mosiah 18:27). (Without further details about their functioning, it’s unclear whether this referred to the same law as the one we refer to as “consecration,” or a similar but differing law.)
  5. Tithing as found in D&C 119.
  6. Tithing as altered and marginally practiced in the LDS church. (Though this model isn’t in harmony with scripture, it is included because it is where we are, and we claim it as gospel truth.)
Numbers 2-5 all have types and portions of the highest law in them, pointing upward toward Zion. Number 6 is the sole exception, likely due to being a fabrication of man rather than God. It seems we’ve got some ground to cover before we can claim the title of “Zion.” Not to say we will be required to hit each and every intermediate step, but there remains a large gap between sitting at "6" and rising to be "1."


To summarize this long-winded series, I agree wholly with Moses 7:18 when considering Zion:
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.
Zion’s people will be of one heart and one mind—specifically, the Lord’s mind. Or in other words, the Holy Spirit (Lectures on Faith 5:2).

They will dwell in righteousness, keeping all the economic commandments the Lord sees fit to impose upon them, whether in scripture or through covenants, that Zion might be holy (Moses 7:62).

No poor will be among them, because they will be equal in their temporal things (D&C 70:14).

Equality in their temporal things will ultimately come about through their holding all things common. (4 Nephi 1:3) Other preparatory steps will pave the way, such as learning to be free with our substance (Jacob 2:17).

All in Zion will esteem their fellow man as themselves, and show it (D&C 38:24-25).

Covetousness, compulsion and control of substance will be gone. Those in Zion will fully recognize that it is all the Lord’s, and at best, we become joint-heirs with Him (D&C 104:14-18, 55-57; Romans 8:16-17).

Zion’s people will be industrious, laboring for the benefit of everyone, in an economy where money simply has no place. (2 Nephi 26:31)

The people of Zion, being one, will have no compulsion one over the other (D&C 121:34-46), to enforce or keep the economic laws. The Lord will handle breaking of laws and covenants (Acts 5:1-10). The people will choose to participate in the economy of Zion by voluntarily covenant, of their own free will.

And the Millennial success of this model will be due to its status as a byproduct of hearts and minds being united in love for one another and the Lord. The initial establishment of the economy may function as a final refinement of the people, but it will be that successful refinement, making their hearts pure (D&C 97:21), which will maintain the economy through the Millennial reign of Christ, as a natural manifestation of how they are within.

Zion will be God's work, established by His hand, through His invitation. Until it is established, we have plenty of preparatory laws to work on, to refine our hearts and bring our minds in sync with His. As we do this, hopefully we can learn to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead on the straight and narrow path, and be numbered among those blessed to participate in the fulfillment of one of the greatest prophecies in Creation: the final appearance of ZION.

Zionomics, part 7: Without Compulsory Means


"Authority" is a word that has suffered some redefining, to the detriment of both church and state. It is readily viewed as "power over something or someone else," and includes privileges such as the right to compel and control others. This has become the accepted understanding of the word, and therefore all our churches and states function accordingly. Those who have such "authority" are viewed not as oppressors, but as "benefactors" (Luke 22:25). The Lord evidently finds this understanding offensive, and would have His people act otherwise (Luke 22:26-27).

I think a better understanding of the word "authority" in scripture would be "power to correctly serve." For example, to have authority from the Lord, one must receive from the Lord a commandment, so they might "serve" Him by executing it. They must have a correct understanding of that commandment, or they may take some course of action which actually doesn't align with the commandment. Having the commandment, and the proper understanding of how to accomplish it, they are empowered to act as an authorized servant, so long as they respect the parameters they've been given. When they act accordingly, the Lord takes responsibility for the performance, as the "author" who "authorized" the servant to perform it.

If an "authorized" servant performs their duties incorrectly, those performances are considered unauthorized, being out of harmony with the bounds of their authorization. Then the servant, rather than the Lord, is accountable for what they've done, potentially even surrendering the "authority" of the one they claim (D&C 121:34-37).

If the Gentile version of authority will not be welcome in Zion, then the economy of Zion will not function through compulsion, enforced by some police force. The people will not be living the law merely out of fear of some external consequences. Instead, their hearts having been refined and found worthy, they will have accepted the covenantal law as a matter of personal conviction, stemming from their inner desire to care for and serve man and God. They will be self-governing in a fashion, as Joseph Smith sought to inspire among his people.

This is not to say that there will be no punishment or consequence for the breaking of laws. When a people are under an actual covenant with the Lord, the Lord certainly brings about punishment unto the unrepentant. Consider the story below, in which Ananias and his wife had covenanted to live with the people under the law of "all things common" (established in Acts 4:31-37):
"BUT a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband." - Acts 5:1-10
Zion will have laws, and laws are nothing without consequences (2 Nephi 12:3; 2 Nephi 9:25-27). But this does not mean men will have and exercise power over one another, or create institutions to engage in such behavior. Instead, we would be living under the Lord as our Governor and Judge, who will be free to bring punishments to bear where repentance is absent.


In my view, some of the greatest fears of ultimately shifting away from private property to common property are derived from observations of the failed efforts in this world. Not just failed, but corrupted.

For example, both Socialism and Communism, two of the dirtiest words you can say to many Americans, were built upon foundations of fear and compulsion. Government was given tyrannical power, which they wielded (and still wield) like a hammer and sickle against their own people. In these brutal forms of government, they teach a theoretical embracing of some form of common property, while practicing something else entirely.

In practice, the government effectively owns all the property, and is "gracious" enough to allow the rest of the people some small portion for their use, so long as the people don't offend the government. The people have never really owned the property. If you offend the government or are perceived as a threat to their power, then fear, pain and death are used to try and get you back under their thumb. The more friendly you are with the government, the greater portion they might allow you to hold, in their behalf.

What Socialist and Communist regimes have done is pollute the idea of "common property" by association; association with brutal force, lying, corruption, oppression, murder, and every other vice found in man's societies. The regimes have spoken of the people being one, while they have always been definitively two or more: governmentand the rest. That is not "one," and therefore it is not Zion.

As this is pretty much the only way most people have seen a government attempt "all things common" or something like it, the idea becomes enmeshed with fear, oppression and death, and nobody wants to participate in such a society.

But seeing as no versions of these societies has ever actually practiced "all things common," in spite of lip-service to the contrary, what if that concept can be extracted from entanglement with those societies? What if those corrupt societies were designed as they were precisely to make a mockery of that principle, to convince us by association with evil that "common property" must be bad? What if they represent Satan's best efforts to mock the model of Zion, saddling it with all his worst compulsion and fear, to convince us not to consider "all things common" divorced from fear and compulsion?

What if "common property" isn't actually the problem, but the lack of refinement and preparation of the hearts and minds of those who attempt it? What if in such corrupt societies, neither the governing nor the governed were sufficiently righteous and prepared to adopt such a weighty idea? As evidenced further by the fact that the Lord never invited them to enter into that model?

What if a people were prepared sufficiently in their hearts and minds before attempting such an endeavor, could it be possible to live such a law? Just because we haven't had the opportunity to directly observe such a model in this world, doesn't mean it is impossible for it to come forth. Our scriptures point to it having happened in the past, and happening again in the future, among a prepared people. But it will be unlike any of the models we currently see.
"The government of the Almighty has always been very dissimilar to the governments of men, whether we refer to His religious government, or to the government of nations. The government of God has always tended to promote peace, unity, harmony, strength, and happiness; while that of man has been productive of confusion, disorder, weakness, and misery." - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 248
We cannot expect that the government or economy of Zion will be anything like the governments and economies of men.

Zionomics, part 6: Covetousness

Covetousness is worthy of noting directly, as it is a sin which directly conflicts with the economy of Zion. It has been a factor in the downfall of many efforts to ascend toward Zion. It has power to thwart Zion's return if we don't put it in check. But to put it in check requires we have a clear understanding of exactly what it is.

The word is generally understood as being synonymous with “desire,” but with a bit of a "bad" connotation, essentially desiring things that you shouldn’t. While there is truth to that, I don't think it is the whole truth, and I think the devil is in the details. If you look into the etymology, there are at least two other facets present that I would point out. One is emotional entanglement, and the other is territorialism.


“Covetousness” is always defined with strong emotional attributes. It is a “passionate” desire, it includes “eagerness,” we “long” for something. These terms indicate an emotional investment in the securing of the thing that is desired. We would have a strong, positive emotional response to gaining it, and similarly a negative emotional response to not having it.

When we attach our emotions to the securing of something, we enslave ourselves to it. We do not subject ourselves to the Lord’s will, being content with what He sees fit to appoint to us in the present moment (Job 1:21). Instead, our happiness becomes dependent upon what we hold. 

It is possible to have desires without becoming emotionally entangled with them. We can desire a thing and ask it of God, and be content to wait until He sees fit to bestow it, appreciating what He has given us in the interim. This isn’t to say such a state is easy, especially in a consumerist world, but it is possible.


The second part of covetousness I want to point out is territorialism. It is the desire to “possess” the thing that is desired. It is not enough to have partial claim upon it, to be able to use it for your benefit. It is the desire to have it all to yourself, with the right to withhold it from others.

A man who covets his neighbor’s wife, property, etc. isn’t seeking to merely have access to these things, to "enjoy" the benefits of these things while sharing them with his neighbor. He desires to take them from his neighbor, for his neighbor to lose all claim upon them. He desires to make these things subject to himself, and none else. He wants them for his territory, to be protected and guarded from all other unpermitted access.

This is what the early Mormon saints were embroiled in when the Lord condemned them for their covetousness (D&C 98:19-20; 101:6).  This is how covetousness broke the covenants of the United Firm (D&C 104:4, 52). He had given the church the law of consecration, requiring they surrender private property up to become common property of the whole church, but the church members simply weren’t interested in doing that. The idea was offensive to them and they wouldn’t engage in it. So workarounds were created, scriptures were altered, and the people were condemned and finally given a lesser law of tithing (D&C 119), which permitted them to hold onto some of their property exclusively and privately, while only surrendering a small portion to become the common property of the church. (This law of tithing has been replaced by another, manufactured by man.)

One reason that “covetousness” cannot be understood merely as a desire for something is found in D&C 19:26:
And again: I command you, that thou shalt not covet thine own property…”
A person cannot desire to lay hold on that which they already hold. However, a person can become emotionally entangled with the property they hold, desiring to retain it as their territory, to be withheld by right from others who may need it more. A person can be afraid to lose exclusive claims on property. I think these are far more fitting understandings of what the Lord means when speaking against “covetousness.”


Now, there are two verses in all of scripture which appear to use the word “covet” as a positive thing, both from 1 Corinthians:
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” - 1 Corinthians 12:31
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.” - 1 Corinthians 14:39
However, if you look into the translations from which these verses are derived, something interesting emerges. In both verses, the word “covet” is translated from a Greek word that simply means “desire” or “have warm feelings for.” This particular Greek word has no inherent connotation, it can be used positively or negatively, depending on context.

But when Paul writes about coveting in his other epistle to the Romans—where he warns them not to covet, treating it as a sin—Paul uses a different Greek word.  He saw fit to distinguish between the desire for gifts of God on the one hand, and covetous desires on the other. But the KJV translators chose to eliminate Paul’s distinction between the two, applying “covet” for both Greek words. 

Numerous newer translations of the Bible have seen fit to correct this, translating the 1 Corinthians words to “desire” rather than “covet,” separating the desire for spiritual gifts from the sin of covetousness. I think this is wisdom on their part.

Zionomics, part 5: Equal = Equitable?

nevertheless in your temporal things you shall be equal in all things & this not grudgeingly otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit shall be withheld” - D&C 70:14
This scripture, and others like it, have been thorns in the side of many, for declaring that the Lord’s people are to be “equal” in their substance. This is apparently unbearable and/or incomprehensible, and so the rationalization machine begins its work to explain away this statement.

Beyond those simply unable to emotionally handle such ideas (due to covetousness), there are those who see the Lord’s injunction to be “equal” as an apparent impossibility when juxtaposed with the difference in numbers between people and resources. It seems paradoxical. Paradoxes must be addressed, and many can be handled by either finding an unexpected or hidden harmony, or recognizing errors which can be corrected to establish harmony.

In this case, many seem to believe the “fix” to the paradox is to determine that, when the Lord says “equal,” what He really means is “equitable.”

The first problem is that this argument relies upon correcting God’s word choice. He screwed up, repeatedly saying “equal” when He should have said “equitable” (both words existed at the times of the revelations/translations). The Almighty God screwed up, but we can “fix” that, by redefining the word “equal.” Perhaps later we can alter the text itself, if necessary. (This kind of thinking hasn’t ever bitten anybody in the ass before, right?)

Sure, the definitions of “equal” and “equitable” are similar, but that doesn’t create grounds for altering what God says. They are different words with different meanings. I don’t think the similarity between the two words should be used as a salve for a tweaked conscience, offended by the decision to alter God’s words to our flawed liking in the first place.

The next problem is that in an “equitable” model, it is inescapable that when property cannot be equally divided, someone must go without, and who goes without will be decided upon a basis of something like “fairness.”

For example, take a small marina with 20 boats, and a community of 30 people (or families, depending on how you want to view the divisions). To be “equitable,” circumstances would be examined to see who of the 30 most needs a boat. The 20 most in need get the 20 boats to call their own, while the remaining 10 simply go without. Sure, they can ask permission to use a boat belonging to one of the 20 owners, but they are reliant upon their whims for a boat to use, and definitively do not have the same privileges as those who own the boats. Therefore, slice it any way you like, stratification has occurred and the people are absolutely not “one,” as the Lord requires, but two—boat owners, and the boatless. And if they are not one, the Lord denies they are His (D&C 38:27).

It seems the reason for attempting this rationalization is deep-seated preference for a “private property” model economy, built on the fear of going without, and the insistence that this model never be abandoned. It is only the concept of “private property” which creates the insurmountable problem of incongruent quantities. So these two forces—God’s words and the concept of private property—are brought into conflict, and it is evidently the Lord’s word that people would prefer to see defeated.

However, if a people eventually moves away from a privatized economy, and enters into the covenant of having all things common, “equal” is suddenly the proper word.

In the marina of 20 boats, the community of 30 finds that they all have claim on 20 boats. This guy, that guy, that lady, all have claim on 20 boats. Meaning they are in fact exactly equal, as there is literally no difference in the 20 boats one has claim upon, and the 20 boats another has claim upon. Then anyone in the community who needs to use a boat has 20 in the marina to go down and choose from. If some are in use, they still have others to choose from. If all are in use, they merely need to wait, and one or many boats will return and be made fully available in due time. The people are all “one.”

As far as I can tell, “equal” is the word that best fits in with the greater economic designs of the Lord that I find in scripture. I think He meant what He said, and said what He meant. “Equitable” perhaps functions as a stepping stone in preparatory economic laws, but it would ultimately be swallowed up by the word “equal.”

Zionomics, part 4: Inclusive vs. Exclusive Ownership

It has been said that if you want to see what Zion looks like, look in the family. I agree. In a family, ask yourself, which family member exclusively owns the couch? Which member owns the box of crackers in the pantry? Which member owns the walls? When the other family members benefit from use of these, what do they pay the owner in compensation? What do you charge your children or spouse for an hour of couch time? Or a handful of crackers?

Or do these resources all belong to “the family,” being freely used by all members of the family, according to their needs?

I think a good way to describe this approach to resource management is "inclusive ownership." I think this is a core concept which needs to be considered, as I believe it helps with understanding the model of having “all things common.” If you can understand the concept of inclusive ownership at a micro level, then the idea of “all things common” only becomes a matter of scale, and inclusive ownership is infinitely scaleable.


In both inclusive and exclusive ownership, the “owners” have a right to freely use and benefit from what is owned. The sole difference between the two can be summed up as a right to withhold.

In exclusive ownership, once the claim of ownership is established, their rights and privileges are not limited to benefitting from what they own, but extend to making sure nobody else does. If they have more food than they can eat and another is starving, it is their right to allow their fellow man to die because only the “owner” has claim upon it. Their rights even extend to punishing their fellow man, even unto death in cases, for benefiting from those resources without permission. This is evidently the overwhelmingly preferred model for Babylon and her economies (which, in and of itself, should be worthy of note).

If exclusive ownership were a principle of heaven, extended down here to earth and recognized similarly, we run into the problem of death. In death, a person is separated from all property, even the body they dwelt in. If the body and property were actually owned by a man, then God would necessarily be a thief, for separating a man from his rightful property through death. And He would be a liar for claiming all is His, if some things are exclusively owned by men down here. Is God a thief and a liar (Ether 3:12)?

In a model of inclusive ownership, all can rightfully hold property, but no party can rightfully withhold property from another; because those from whom they would withhold it have exactly as much rightful claim upon it. Inversely, none has the right to take from another any property which they are holding, because the one holding it has as much right to it as the one who would take it. All control and compulsion concerning property is simply brought to an end. This could be summed up as inclusive ownership being built on respecting usage rights.

In such a system, the only correct way to resolve any form of dispute over the use of a resource is by mutual agreement, which necessitates that all parties be sufficiently satisfied with the outcome. That might look a number of different ways, but when all parties involved are honestly interested in the benefit of their fellow man it is actually easy to accomplish, as all involved are willing to cheerfully bear some sacrifice to benefit the rest.

Logistically speaking, there is no way to fulfill the injunction to be equal in all our temporal things (D&C 70:14; 78:5-6; 82:17), as a state of being, other than to all have equal claims on all the substance in question. Every other effort to redistribute substance and claims upon substance would necessarily suffer from differences in quality and/or quantity, preventing the “equal” status the Lord expects His people to achieve.

As a greater consideration of the “no poor among them” requirement of Zion, beyond simply eliminating poverty by shuffling private resources around, it actually nullifies poverty among a people if they all share equal claim on all property. Not one soul can be lifted economically above another, when they all “own” the exact same stuff. Economic disparity is simply unable to exist, until the people decide to switch away from inclusively owning all things, which our scriptures point to being a road to disaster (4 Nephi 1:24-49).

Look at the example of our Father. From whom does He seek the right to withhold His abundance? When a person chooses to surrender their blessings by disobedience to the laws upon which those blessings are predicated (D&C 130:20-21), is that the Father choosing to withhold those blessings from them? When one person takes advantage of or robs another, is that the Father choosing to withhold or remove property from them? Or are these instances of the Father respecting the agency of man (D&C 93:30-31)? Does the Father choose to send sunshine or rain only upon the righteous or upon the wicked (Matthew 5:45)? Or does he pour out blessings upon us all, liberally (James 1:5), regardless of whether we “deserve” or “have earned” them? 

If the Father blesses us all with His abundance, and invites us to become like Him, and one with Him in that abundance, then are we accomplishing that by seeking to retain the right to take or withhold substance from another?


According to the prophets, Christ is the rightful heir of all that His Father has (Matthew 28:18; John 3:35; Hebrews 1:2; King Follett Discourse). And yet, Christ extends this invitation to us:
and he that receiveth me receiveth my father, and he that receiveth my father, receiveth my fathers kingdom, therefore all that my father hath shall be given unto him” - D&C 84:37-38
But isn’t that all Christ’s? How can it be ours if it is to be His?

Paul makes an interesting observation in Romans 8:16-17.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
A joint-heir is one who inherits something in union with others. When we become joint-heirs with Christ, we inherit with Him that which He inherits from His Father. 

When Christ inherits this all from the Father, does the Father surrender all claim upon it? Leaving the Father with nothing, displaced, as Christ takes His Father’s throne and honor upon Himself (2 Nephi 24:12-15; Moses 4:1)? Or does Christ join Him, the two becoming one, as He would have us join them and also become one?

But wait, what about the inheritances God gives man in scripture? For example Lehi and Abraham (Genesis 15:7)? Well, the Lord seems to certainly intend for these to be inclusive or joint inheritances, if you just read the scriptures concerning the matter. Let’s look at Lehi.

Lehi is promised a land as an inheritance, for him and for his seed (1 Nephi 5:5, 13:30). So out of the gate, the words concerning this inheritance already point to non-exclusivity. Then, once Lehi has this promised inheritance, what does he do? He turns around and pronounces the selfsame inheritance upon his son Joseph, and his children, in tandem with his brothers (2 Nephi 3:2), including Nephi, who already received a promise from that Lord that he was to inherit the land for himself (1 Nephi 2:20).

But hey, maybe it’s exclusively for his family. They hold it inclusively, but exclusive of anyone else. Well, after promising the land to Lehi and his family, what does the Lord do? Send a bunch of other people over, who aren’t part of Lehi’s family, and expects them to be able to inherit the land too (e.g. Omni 1:15-16). And this isn’t some later alteration of the deal given to Lehi, this shared inheritance was evidently a prospect known to Nephi’s family from the outset (2 Nephi 1:5-6).

Furthermore, after God has promised these inheritances to Lehi, Abraham and others, He still thinks He can claim that all the earth and the fullness thereof is His (1 Corinthians 10:26; D&C 104:14).

All these people—and God—having claim on the same inheritance and being expected to learn to work together to benefit from it? It’s like the Lord and these people just don’t get how ownership is supposed to work!


A major fear of inclusive ownership and the “all things common” model is the idea of lazy asses coming along and feeding off the hard work of others. If you look to the scriptures, and do a little pondering, these concerns should be mollified.

The laborer in Zion will labor for Zion (2 Nephi 26:31). Those in Zion will evidently be expected to labor, to whatever degree they are capable.

The idler will not be granted the privilege of taking from the laborers (D&C 42:42). Lazy folks will not be permitted to gratify their appetites on the backs of others, and must either become laborers or depart.

The sick, the infirm, and others who are limited in their ability to labor, and therefore are a “drain” on resources, are still to be taken care of, as an always-present aspect of the gospel (e.g. Alma 1:27). But this sacrifice and care in their behalf is to one of two ends: either their recovery and resuming of labor, or granting them final comfort until their death. (But also remember, in a people of God, tending to the sick and afflicted may have a different look than how we currently think of it - 4 Nephi 1:5).

The above scriptural injunctions must be met by the individuals who make up Zion prior to their being called “Zion” by the Lord. These things are commandments, and as those in Zion must “dwell in righteousness” (Moses 7:18), then these commandments must be lived, or the people will not be dwelling in righteousness and simply will not be “Zion.”

Some also fear that if people can’t claim property as their own, they won’t take care of it, allowing it to fall into disrepair. Well, inclusive ownership isn’t nobody owns the property, but instead all own the property collectively, and should therefore have an interest in caring for the property, as it is “theirs” as much as it is everyone else’s. 

But beyond that, these fears are based on the observation of how Babylon operates. Zion is about escape from Babylon, and will be peopled by those who are interested in becoming more God-like, leaving Babylonian vices behind. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zion is populated by people who not only take care of the property they use so they can use it later, but who take care of property specifically so others can benefit from it after them.

Zionomics, part 3: All Things Common

Some people have attempted to explain that “all things common” cannot really mean “all things common,” that the straightforward understanding of that phrase is just the devil’s Socialism or Communism corrupting our reading of the scriptures, rather than “all things common” being a true principle that Socialism and Communism have corrupted. Their explanations require more mental gymnastics and cherry-picking avoidance of scripture than I am capable of doing. So in spite of some people’s disagreement, I accept the Lord’s use of it at face value. I think He knows what He’s talking about.

In both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, we have accounts of Christ performing a ministry to a people, and of the people’s attempts to implement His teachings upon His departure. In both of these accounts, we see the people engaging in this practice of having “all things common.”
And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another. And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.” - 3 Nephi 26:19-20
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” - 4 Nephi 1:3
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” - Acts 2:44-45
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common…Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” - Acts 4:32, 34-35
It is evident from these scriptures that the Lord imposed this requirement at some point on those who would be called “His” people, as part of His ministry to them. They were expected to let go of their need to own and control property (i.e. covetousness), and recognize it is all the Lord’s, intended to benefit the people as He designs.

When people are of one heart and one mind, they actually esteem their brothers and sisters as themselves (Mark 12:30-31; D&C 38:24-25). In this state, they desire for the needs of their fellow men to be fulfilled, so much so that they are willing to sacrifice of themselves, if possible, to make that happen. To such a person, the notion that they should withhold their substance from another through claims of “ownership” is offensive. It is an idea which appeals to the natural man, which they have sought to cast off and would prefer not to regain.

This idea we should sacrifice “all” our substance to the Lord should not be surprising. Joseph taught such a principle as being directly tied to salvation itself (Lectures on Faith, 6:5). Our substance is actually only a portion of this “all things” Joseph mentioned.

A portion of this law of “all things common” is also found in the law of consecration, the United Firm, and even the law of tithing (as found in D&C 119, not the altered version that is erroneously taught and practiced today). This further points to “all things common” being a law present in Zion, swallowing up the lesser preparatory laws.

  • The law of consecration requires a man to initially turn over “all” their substance to the Lord. Any substance beyond what is used to fill everyone’s needs is kept in a storehouse as the “common property” of the church. 

  • The United Firm was to consider their additional specified properties “common” among them, with “equal claims,” including upon any gains made with those properties. And “all” generated revenue went into the commonly held treasuries (D&C 104:68-70).

  • In the law of tithing, a man is required to give an initial offering of “all their surplus” (D&C 119:1). This offering goes into the hands of the Bishop, who would place it into the storehouse which holds the “common property” of the church (D&C 72:9-10; 82:18).

In all three cases, those involved are required to give a sacrifice of “all” of something, specifically pertaining to their substance. In all three cases, private property became “common property” through individuals voluntarily sacrificing claims of ownership, turning it over to the Lord’s rightful ownership. Yet the property was still available if necessary to fulfill their needs, as they were all part of the “common” body. In sacrificing ownership claims on “all” this substance, they have actually lost nothing, save the claims to rightfully withhold substance from others.

Now, some might argue that the principle of “all things common” isn’t spoken of as an express, direct qualification of Zion in scripture. That is true, as far as my scriptures show. However, it has already been established that Zion is made up of those who “dwell in righteousness,” meaning they are obedient to God’s commandments. If God commands those aspiring to be His people to hold “all things common,” as appears to be the pattern in scripture, then it should be expected that this commandment will come into play for those seeking to become Zion in our day. Should it not be expected? If expected, should it not be obeyed when it arrives?

Interestingly, 4th Nephi reveals to us the reasons behind the demise of the Nephites’ aspirations to become Zion after Christ’s visit. It began with pride, which first manifested itself among individuals in the form of interest in the “costly” and “fine” things of the world (4 Nephi 1:24). Then, the first repercussion to hit the body of believers, the community, was the end of holding “all things common,” returning to privatized property (4 Nephi 1:25). And from this tipping point, the entire civilization began the collapse toward its final demise (4 Nephi 1:26-49).

Why is this account, with all its details, in the Book of Mormon? If not to inform us?


This does not mean I am endorsing an immediate attempt to create an economy of “all things common” among any people. The scriptures appear to point to the Lord being the one to personally impose this commandment, through a covenant He offers, at the time and in the way that He ordains. If history has taught us anything, it’s that attempts to live according to the outward economy of Zion, or even preparatory economies, without fully tackling our inner vices, only ends in ruin and despair.

The Lord evidently considers the content of Moses 7:18 as a litmus test, by which He will determine whether a people is worthy of being called “Zion.” In a literal litmus test, you take a piece of litmus paper and place a solution upon it. Depending on the solution, the litmus paper will turn shades of red or blue, to show the observer how acidic or alkaline the solution is.

If a person doesn’t correctly understand the purpose of a litmus test—evaluating the solution—they might believe that the goal is to simply get the litmus paper to be red or blue. With this misunderstanding, they might just pull out a marker and color the paper. The paper then appears red or blue, but fails to tell you anything about the solution.

Similarly, I think that “all things common” works better when understood as a litmus test, than as the direct goal. If it is seen as a goal, then people might seek to initiate such a community immediately, without being prepared and without the Lord's instruction. Many such attempts have surfaced throughout history, and failed.

Instead, I believe people should seek to connect with God and obey His commandments, purifying their hearts and minds. They will become familiar with sacrifice, labor, uplifting their poor and struggling neighbors and esteeming their brothers and sisters as themselves. Their understanding of substance, and their relationship with it, will become more closely aligned with the Lord’s view. 

Then, when enough people have done this sufficiently, they might be gathered by the Lord. And being gathered, they will continue to refine themselves. As part of that process, when the Lord sees fit, He would extend a covenant to the people, inviting them to have all things common. And having been prepared, they might be able to live according to the covenant.

Living according to the covenant may be a struggle at first, but with time and experience, it might become a natural state, even a preferred state for them, as they would not desire to withhold from their fellow man, and they find their own needs are entirely fulfilled as well. Then it is no longer an effort or goal for the people to have all things common. It is instead a natural byproduct of pure hearts and minds, united as one. A litmus test. Then when Christ returns and dwells among those He calls “Zion” (Moses 7:16-18), the inhabitants will find that they are like Him (1 John 3:2).

Zionomics, part 2: Stewardship = Ownership?

“Stewards” and “stewardships” are a matter that needs addressing. These words are thrown around and used in the church in ways that go precisely against their definitions, causing a shit storm of confusion that has ripple effects into our understanding of the Lord’s economy. This isn’t to say these words are always used incorrectly. Sometimes they are used properly, which then further creates confusion as the correct and incorrect versions battle for primacy, and get saddled with ridiculous contextual nuances that were never meant to exist.

For example, the word “steward” is often treated as synonymous to “leader” in Mormonism, specifically as one who delegates out duties to others as their “stewardships.” But then “leader” is also deemed synonymous with “master,” as those “leaders” and “stewards” at the top are taught to be infallible (e.g. Official Declaration 1; The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], p.533). They are to be obeyed in all things, even if those things are wrong (e.g. Conference Report, October 1960, p.78). Never mind that Joseph Smith and the scriptures teach precisely the opposite (e.g. TPJS, pp. 237-238; 2 Nephi 28:31). So we find ourselves saddled with steward/leader/masters who sit at the top, enjoying the titles of “stewards,” but the lifestyles of “masters” (Luke 22:25). This is the type of doublethink which currently afflicts the Gentile LDS church.

Understanding of what “stewardship” means is varied, from a set of duties, to a body of people ruled over by a “steward,” to a collection of property owned or cared for by a “steward.” Some such stewardships are treated as “belonging” to the steward who takes care of them, while others are not. In LDS doublethink, the term is simultaneously taught as being only applicable in a model that follows the Law of Consecration (“Doctrine and Covenants 72: More on Stewardships and the Duties of a Bishop,” D&C and Church History Student Study Guide,, and as being applicable any time someone is given a responsibility (Priesthood Manual, Lesson 22,

When defining a stewardship as “property,” the doublethink simultaneously teaches that the property belongs to the Lord while we are just caretakers (Priesthood Manual, Lesson 22,, and conversely that we are the actual, private owners of the property (“True Disciples and Faithful Stewards Lesson 18,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, “Steward” is apparently synonymous with “owner,” except when it isn’t at all.

Further, stewardships of property largely entail maintaining the quality of the property, above seeing that the property is used in its designed purposes: to fulfill actual needs. For example, kitchens in churches cannot be used to actually cook food, and the space in the cultural hall cannot be used to shelter the homeless, due to concerns about damage to the property and ultimately damage to the Church’s bottom line through insurance liability concerns. That which has no life definitively receives priority (Mormon 8:37-39).

In tandem with this misunderstanding and misapplication of these two terms, we use the term “accountability” like it’s going out of style. Accountability is a correct and true principle, but we focus far more on accountability to men—fellow stewards—rather than to God, the Master of the stewards. We demonstrate this whenever a steward seeks to fulfill the responsibilities of their stewardship according to scriptural instructions which conflict with Church Handbook instructions. Man’s Handbook trumps God’s Handbook (the scriptures) every time, to the point where you may lose not only your stewardship, but your good standing and even membership in the Church. Truly, the stewards have supplanted their Master in His own house, lip-service to the contrary aside.


So let’s try and sort out what “stewards” and “stewardships” really are, and how we ought to understand them. First, look up the word “steward” in the dictionary, any dictionary.  I’m going to use the 1828 Webster’s, as that gives us the clearest idea of the understanding Joseph Smith and his contemporaries had at the time they were receiving revelations concerning “stewards” and “stewardships”.  (Joseph didn’t operate according to fabricated, cultural, exclusively-Mormon definitions of words; no such things were created yet. He used English, the language he spoke.) The 1828 Webster’s dictionary gives many variations on a single, clear idea. Definitions include “butler” and “chamberlain”; one employed to manage the affairs and accounts of great families; officers in service to the state or an institution, especially those in charge of tending to the food and provisional needs of others… Do you see the theme?

A steward is a servant, answerable to a master. They have no inherent power or authority in the execution of their duties. Their power and authority is derived entirely from their Master, who may strip them of it at any time for unfaithfulness. When a steward sees themselves as a ruler or an owner, rather than a servant to a master who holds those titles, they forget their place.

A steward also understands that it is their master—not the stewards “above” them—to whom they are ultimately accountable. A wise steward will obey the master, even if it means disobeying the steward who oversees them. Only an unfaithful steward would require or engage in loyalty to another steward over loyalty to their master, and such stewards deserve to be removed from their position in the Master’s house. 

A “stewardship” is the office one fills as a steward. For example, a man might fill the office of “butler.” He receives the title “butler” while filling that stewardship as a steward. But that office, the “stewardship,” doesn’t belong to the steward.  It belongs to the master, who fills it by appointment. This is why the master can strip a steward of their stewardship without becoming a thief.

Now, a stewardship can evidently also be described in terms of what powers, responsibilities, properties, etc. fall under the umbrella of that stewardship. For example, when the Lord appoints men of the United Firm to stewardships in D&C 104, He refers to stewardships in terms such as “the tannery” and “the printing office.” But as they are stewards, these are not gifts for them to do with as they please. They come with the expectation that those properties will be used in accordance with the Master’s will. He expects the tannery to tan skins, and the printing office to print, in accordance with His desires to bless the people with leather and books. Should they fail, the Lord is theoretically free to fire the steward and strip him of his stewardship, and appoint another in his stead. Such things could never occur where the stewards were in fact owners, rather than stewards.

The differences may seem subtle (though I don’t know how), but its precisely the confusion of subtleties that create the necessary disarray which opens the door for abuse of power and other wickedness.  It is important to understand and use the correct definitions of words or else edification between parties is impossible, because they understand the same vocabulary as having different meanings. If the scriptures rely on one definition of a term, but a person or church uses another, can the person or church claim to be in actual harmony with scripture? If they are not in harmony with scripture, can the Lord be pleased?

Let’s finish with some very clear words on the part of the Lord, concerning stewards and any claims to ownership.
I the Lord stretched out the heavens, & builded the earth as a verry handy work, & all things therein are mine, & it is my business to provide for my saints, for all things are mine; but it must needs be done in mine own way: & behold, this is the way that I the Lord hath decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted in that the rich are made low…And again, a commandment I give unto you concerning your Stewardship which I have appointed unto you, behold, all these properties are mine, or else, your faith is vain, & ye are found hypocrites, & the covenants which you have made unto me are broken, & if these properties are mine, then, ye are stewards, otherwise ye are no stewards. But, verily, I say unto you, I have appointed unto you to be Stewards over mine house, even stewards indeed” - D&C 104:14-16, 54-57 (emphasis added)
I don’t think the Lord could be any more direct in declaring His thoughts concerning who owns the property we use, and our place in relation to such property. It’s all His stuff (e.g. Psalms 24:1). But He appoints men to be stewards, in roles known as stewardships, which may involve men holding and using His stuff, with the expectation they do so according to His will.

But being stewards—servants—isn’t the end of the one for us. The faithful move on from being mere stewards, becoming “friends” (John 15:15; D&C 93:45-46), and even sons and daughters and “joint-heirs” with Christ (Moses 6:27, 68; Romans 8:17). But until a person has received such blessings and promises from the Lord, it is good to remember we are stewards, and should serve faithfully in that calling.

Zionomics, part 1: The Law of Consecration, United Firm, and Zion

This series is an effort to address the economy of Zion. There are a number of opposing theories floating around out there, some more prevalent than others, and I wanted to evaluate some of the most common against the scriptures.

That said, the economy of Zion has limited importance, in that the refining of the hearts and minds of men is not only more important and necessary, but will naturally lead to the economy which will be present in Zion. But if people have false expectations about what it will look like, then they may be fooled into rejecting Zion when she comes because she doesn't look as expected.

If we entertain some false ideas about Zion, or anything, they may be difficult to eject. Our human capacity for holding to a preferred idea, and rationalizing away any contrary legitimate information, is staggering. We shouldn't become so entangled with any idea that we can't simply let it go when newer, better information warrants an adjustment. Hopefully this series gives you some information worth chewing on and taking to the Lord, to help bring clarity to the topics, even if it means adjusting understanding and beliefs.

All scriptures I use from the D&C will be from the EET version, unless otherwise noted, being a more accurate representation of exactly what the Lord initially gave to/through Joseph. (Joseph’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the editing of these revelations before publication, is a different but worthwhile discussion.) Unfortunately, this means I cannot directly create links to those particular verses, as it has not yet been published online in a manner that would permit this. You will need to download a copy and look up the referenced verses yourself.

With that, let's dive into what I think is the most common understanding of Zion's economy, as found in the LDS church. For some reason, a lot of people seem to mash together Zion, the law of consecration, and the United Firm (aka United Order), as though they are speaking to essentially the same thing.


The law of consecration can, unfortunately, be a bit confusing. Speak of it now, and it’s understood as a temple covenant. Speak of it historically, and it was an economic law the whole church was instructed, yet largely neglected, to engage in. When taught or discussed, it gets a hazy treatment like “we give everything but don't actually give everything, we share everything but we don’t actually share everything, we covenant in the temple to keep this law but don't actually have to keep it right now…” So let’s look into it.

Concerning the temple covenant, if it is meant to be the covenant pertaining to the law of consecration as discussed in the D&C, there is a problem. it doesn't match the covenants found there, and therefore, according to Isaiah, the covenant is broken by alteration (Isaiah 24:5). If it isn’t meant to be that covenant, but another one, then it conflicts with the D&C covenants by requiring you consecrate everything to the LDS church, rather than to God. Therefore, God must excuse Himself for one of these covenants, which He definitively cannot do (D&C 1:38). So the modern temple covenant creates an irreconcilable paradox.

The scriptural law of consecration given to the early church can be found in D&C 42:30-39, and 53-55, as part of a greater revelation originally referred to as The Law. Additional instructions concerning this law can be found elsewhere in the D&C, notably Sections 51 and 70. Below is an outline of what these scriptures commanded.

  • The people were to consecrate “all thy properties that which thou hast,” by “a covenant and deed,” unto the Lord (D&C 42:30; 51:2), thereby surrendering all claims of ownership, as it all becomes His property.

    • The scriptures and teachings have since been altered, to allow reduction of what was consecrated (D&C 42:30 & 33, modern version), and to redirect our consecrated offerings to the institutional (eventually corporate) church (via the temple ceremony), rather than to the Lord, through those appointed (D&C 51:2 EET).

  • The consecrated property was to be collected and redistributed through appointed servants (Bishops and Elders). (D&C 42:31)

  • Those servants would redistribute the property to people, making them a “steward” over the property. Once everyone had stewardships, with property “amply” sufficient for “their wants & their needs,” remaining property was used to address any additional standing needs, and the final remainder was placed in the storehouse. (D&C 42:31-34; 51:3, 7-8, 13; 70:7)

  • Those who received stewardships were to be given written, secure “holding” of the property they were stewards over. It was still the property “of the church,” and the writing only secured their holding of it “until he transgress and is not counted worthy by the voice of the church,” at which point the property was to be reclaimed by the church (D&C 42:37; 51:4). Those cast out “shall not receive again that which he hath consecrated” unto the Lord (D&C 42:37), being “all thy properties” (D&C 42:30).

    • Back then, “the church” was understood to mean the body of people themselves, not the fictitious entity of pen and paper now understood as an institution.

    • Our modern teachings and D&C have been altered, in part molding “stewardship” into “ownership” and deeding property to stewards. The church could no longer reclaim property from transgressors, dissenters, or apostates (D&C 51:5, modern version), having given them ownership of the property rather than “holding” on the behalf of the church.

  • The “benefits” of the storehouse are to belong to all the inhabitants of Zion, as “common property” of the people. (D&C 70:8-9; 82:18)

  • The storehouse properties were to be used to aid the poor and needy, and then to purchase land and build up the New Jerusalem. (D&C 42:34-35)

    • Alterations added provisions for using funds to purchase general use lands, not only those for New Jerusalem, as well as building houses of worship. (D&C 42:35, modern version)

  • Once property has been initially consecrated, collected, and redistributed to stewards, the stewards were then free to engage in trade, so long as neither took advantage of the other, and they respected the rights of an appointed steward to hold their appointed property (D&C 42:54).

  • If anyone obtained excess—anything beyond what was necessary for their support—they were to give it to the storehouse (D&C 42:55).

  • The people are to become “equal” “in [their] temporal things,” “be alike” and “receive alike”, or they fail to be “one” as the Lord requires. (D&C 51:9; 70:14)

So it seems the law of consecration was an outward law, designed to eliminate poverty, help people begin to detach from the notion of “ownership” of property (seeing as it is all owned by God anyway, Exodus 19:5; Mosiah 4:22; D&C 104:14, 55-57; Moses 1:35), and to require the people to hold no more property than was necessary to sustain them, the rest becoming “common property,” that all needs might be met and all people blessed equally.

In the use of the word “consecration,” it can be understood that we are taking the property and setting it apart from Babylon’s property, making it “sacred,” or in other word’s, the Lord’s. But if you think about it, we aren’t actually surrendering property to Him, because He’s told us repeatedly that it is His already. What we are actually surrendering is our false claims to own what we merely hold, property which already, rightfully belongs to God.


The United Firm was established in 1832, to be “permanent and everlasting” (whoopsies). It was a small group that received additional laws, atop the law of consecration given to the whole church. Even then, it was still only referred to as a “preparation” (D&C 78:13), meaning they still wouldn’t be living the endgame, even with the combined forces of the law of consecration and the United Firm.

The United Firm had a brief and tumultuous existence, lasting only about two years until 1834, when it fizzled out of existence and into memory. Rather than their history though, I want to focus on the economic instructions to the Firm found in our scriptures, so we can get a picture of the model they were supposed to build.

  • Some certain business properties (later including dwelling places), as well as all revenue generated through those properties, were to be held as common property by “all” members, each having “equal claims on the properties”. (D&C 82:17-18; 104:62, 70)

  • The stated intent was to help make them “equal in earthly things,” that they might better obtain “heavenly things,” even “a place in the celestial world” (D&C 78:5-7).

  • Though the members had “equal claims” upon the property, these were evidently usage claims, not ownership claims. The Lord directly and repeatedly claims ownership of all, and reminds them of their position as “stewards,” holding and using His property, which was to be handled in accordance with His instructions, serving His ends. (D&C 104:13-17, 54-59, 86)

  • Stewardships were to be appointed to each member (D&C 104:11-46). Stewardships came with property to hold, and commandments concerning the use of that property (D&C 104:11-18, 58-86). 

  • The appointed stewardships needed to be approved by the united voice of the Firm (D&C 104:21).

  • The property tied to stewardships was intended to provide for the Firm members (D&C 104:71-73), and help fill the storehouse to benefit others (D&C 82:18).

  • A sacred treasury was to hold any sacred funds (tithes and offerings, etc.), only accessible by the Firm’s common voice or by the Lord’s commandment. (D&C 104:60-66)

  • All non-sacred funds generated through the stewardships were to be held in a common treasury, which was to be equally accessible to all the Firm membership for their needs, through the treasurer, and none were to claim any part or portion of the treasury as their own. (D&C 104:67-73)

  • Transgression could cause stewards to be cursed, and lose their stewardships and claims on the property held commonly by the Firm. (D&C 82:21; 104:3-9, 74-77)

  • In 1834, the Lord commanded they split the Firm into two, according to locality - one body in Kirtland and one in Missouri. Both bodies were to function the same way, but independent of one another. (D&C 104:47-53)

The United Firm evidently had more required of them than the regular church, moving them deeper into common property territory, asking for greater surrender of ownership notions, greater cooperation, and greater personal sacrifice for the temporal benefit of others.


Now that we’ve taken a look at the law of consecration and the United Firm, we’ll take a look at some attributes and qualifications for the latter-day people that would be “Zion,” and see how they compare.

  • There cannot be any poor among Zion (Moses 7:18

  • For a people to be Zion, they must be “of one heart and one mind” (Moses 7:18)

  • The latter-day Zion will be a “Holy” city (Moses 7:62), because they dwell “in righteousness” (Moses 7:18), keeping all the commandments of God.

Zion has not only outward qualifications, but express internal measurements by which the Lord assesses whether to grant that title. This already creates a clear and important distinction between Zion and the other two. While there may be outward laws involved in governing the economies of all three bodies, the commandments given to govern the inner man must also be obeyed before a people can be acknowledged as “Zion.” This is not required of the other two bodies, where they are to be working on developing those inner virtues.


The only obvious economic requirement is that there cannot be any poor among Zion. While eliminating poverty among the people was a goal of both the law of consecration and the United Firm, it is a prerequisite for Zion. It is so important to the Lord that He will not call a people “Zion” until they have already succeeded in this.

If Zion can have no poverty, then things must change, as the status quo is economic disparity with plenty of poverty. To try and bring about the change, the Lord frequently gives people lesser economic laws that are within reach of the people, while being a reasonable stretch. These lesser, preparatory laws both contain a portion of the greater law, and point to that greater law.

These preparatory laws are generally designed around a core concept of those who have more give more, those who have less give less, and those who lack are to receive (e.g. Mosiah 18:27; Alma 1:27; D&C 104:15-18). A storehouse through which the offerings pass to the poor is a common logistical feature (e.g. Malachi 3:10; D&C 42:55, 70:7; JST Genesis 14:36-38).

If the law of consecration and United Firm’s commandments had been readily and consistently followed, they would have eliminated poverty among the people. This qualification of Zion could have been fulfilled. Then, in time, they would have received the greater law, requiring more of them and swallowing up the lesser laws within a greater fulness.

But the higher law of Zion evidently requires still more than the elimination of poverty.


The Father and Son are one, and desire for us to become one with them, even as they are one (John 17:20-23; 3 Nephi 19:23; D&C 35:2). We are also expected to become one with each other (Romans 12:5; Mosiah 18:21; D&C 38:27). 

This concept is internal, but when present, it has external manifestations which do affect the people’s economy. Those external manifestations can be used as one measure to evaluate whether the internal growth is occurring. An example of this is found in Acts 4:32:
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
The Lord Himself also ties this “oneness” of the people to their economy in D&C 38:25-27:
And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
These scriptures appear to draw direct connections between the oneness expected of those who would be the Lord’s people, and the way they managed their substance. Specifically, according to Acts, surrendering the concept of sole ownership to instead have “all things common.” This concept will be addressed in another post.


This is the largest umbrella of a qualifier for Zion, in that, if the people are called “Zion” because they “dwell in righteousness,” then they must already be obedient to the Lord’s commandments. This means that any commandment pertaining to economics (and anything else), which is not exclusively designated for a different body, is a commandment Zion heeds. The scriptures give us plenty to consider. Here are just a few more examples:
But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” - 2 Nephi 26:31
nevertheless in your temporal things you shall be equal in all things & this not grudgeingly otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the spirit shall be withheld” - D&C 70:14
And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another. And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.” - 3 Nephi 26:19-20
While the details of how the Lord would have us initially approach our economic situation may vary slightly by generation or location—to meet us where we stand—the principles those variations are founded upon are unchanging, and so is the goal.

The scriptures reveal a great deal about what to expect with Zion’s return. No more money. “Equal” in their temporal things. No poor among them. All things common. Of one heart and one mind. Dwelling in righteousness. These are the things of heaven. If they seem radical to us, it is only because we’ve gone radically off the reservation, and invested heavily in rationalizations to stay off the reservation, rather than repenting and returning.

The law of consecration and United Firm were preparatory efforts in the direction of Zion, but the final economy of Zion will require people to move beyond such preparations. Both of these efforts failed, as do most, and while the Lord may have called places “Zion” in Mormonism’s early days, the people failed to become “Zion.” This failure is the historical norm. But one of these days, a people will finally rise up and live the preparatory laws they are given, and qualify to receive and become something more. 

Zion will return.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Another D&C EET Update

We've completed a new update of the D&C EET version, and all links have been updated accordingly.

We addressed an issue that apparently wiped out a random bunch of the strikethrough formatting, so all of that should now be proper. Hopefully that will be the last of that issue.

We also added a small supplement, which includes the entirety of the letter from which Sections 121-123 were pulled, and a letter to the church from Hyrum Smith during his tenure as Patriarch.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What If We're Being Tested?

What if we’re being tested, to see what it might take to convince us to willfully choose evil? To see what price we might sell our conscience for? (Matthew 4:1-10)

What if we’re being tested, to see if we might choose evil under enough peer pressure? (1 Nephi 8:26-28) What if other people and their choices are not a sound foundation upon which to make our own choices? (Revelation 17:1-2, 15)

What if we’re being tested, to see how susceptible we are to accepting man’s reasoning over God’s? (Isaiah 55:9)

What if we’re being tested, to see whether we will let fear convince us to ally ourselves with one evil against another? (Isaiah 30:1-5)

What if we’re being tested, to see how far we will allow our rationalizations to take us into the darkness? (2 Nephi 28:8) What if the Lord doesn’t accept rationalizations for willfully choosing evil? (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

What if we’re being tested, to see if we will still choose good, even when the rest of the world argues we must choose only of evil? What if the tests aren’t at all about how the world responds to our choices, but are entirely about how we choose to respond to the world? (Abraham 3:24-25)

What if we’re being tested, to see if enough people can be convinced to willfully choose evil, that we might thereby justly warrant destruction? (2 Nephi 28:16)

I hope not to test poorly, if such tests are occurring…even in an election cycle…

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Auditing Spirits

We have been warned that there are deceiving spirits among us, as there were at the time of Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, deceiving spirits are usually treated as one of those problems “somebody else” suffers from, and we therefore fail to identify those working on us.

On that note, I’ve been thinking about how they might expose themselves, so we might identify them and drive them off from ourselves. it is our responsibility to test what we receive, and verify that it is of God. Some indicators are more obvious, some are more subtle. Thinking of the current social climate we live in, here are some considerations I think can help us.

  • Is the revelation, experience, etc. you receive from the other side scriptural? Is it found there? Is it in perfect harmony with what is there? Or does it contradict scripture? Or, is it not even found in scripture at all? If you receive revelations unbound from scripture, what might that point to?

  • Most if not all of us have spiritual theories and notions that move beyond what is clearly expressed in scripture. That being the case, do you receive spiritual experiences that tell you your thoughts, hopes, speculations, etc. are right? But without correction, clarification, expansion or corroboration which reveals their connections to or presence in scripture?

  • Have you taken the experience, revelation, etc. directly to God (or back to Him) after the fact, to verify that He indeed was the source? And have you received a confirmation from Him that He was indeed the source? How do you know it came to you from God?

  • When asked how you know a thing revealed to you is true, is the only answer you can offer something to the effect of “I just do”? If you can only answer “I just know,” do you really know? What exactly is it that you know? Do you know that what you received in an experience or revelation was true? Or only that you had an experience or revelation, and you merely assume or believe the content is true? In other words, on what do you rest your “knowledge” that the content is true?

  • When someone else questions the validity of what you’ve received through a revelation or experience, what is your response? Are you at peace with your knowledge and their disagreement? Or do you get defensive? Is it possible that deceiving spirits, having managed to plant a seed in a person, have a vested interest in maintaining that seed? And that they would drive away anything that might uproot that seed? Using anger, pride, guilt, etc. to protect it?

  • Does your revelation or experience fill you with pride or vanity? Because you have received something from heaven that others haven’t? Perhaps something even the prophets haven’t received? Or spoken of receiving?

  • Are you emotionally attached to the content of the revelation or experience? Meaning, if it were from a deceiving spirit, could you let go of it? And let go of the idea that God sent it? Or is the thing you’ve received so meaningful to you that you could not bear to let go of it, now that you have it? Thereby preventing you from critically examining it, due to the risk of losing it?

There are many more indicators than these, but again, these are the ones that struck me to consider specifically in our current social and cultural environment. Some may be more or less fitting in certain situations than others. 

I don't think we should just trust anything and everything we receive from the other side. Investigation is not doubt, and blind trust is not faith. We need to find the deceiving spirits among us, and cast them off before they thwart or destroy us. And it doesn’t matter what deceiving spirits you identify in others if you fail to identify those afflicting your own soul.

For further (and better) discussion of this topic, you should also consider reading this immensely solid post written by Denver Snuffer on his blog years ago, which, if anything, is even more relevant now than it was at the time he first published it.