Merging the Secular and the Spiritual

By Roy A. Prete

Roy A. Prete, “Merging the Secular and the Spiritual,” in Window of Faith: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on World History, ed. Roy A. Prete (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 125–42.

Merging the Secular and the Spiritual

Roy A. Prete

The Lord declared to Abraham, “I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences” (Abraham 3:21). This book, consisting mainly of articles by Brigham Young University scholars, represents an approach to world history for Latter-day Saints that acknowledges the hand of God in the historical process. It views the unfolding of modern history within the perspective of Heavenly Father’s plan for the salvation of His children. Its aim is to lay the groundwork for an approach to history that will recognize the Lord Jesus Christ, “the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 11:14), as the guiding force in the historical process. Its purpose, as President Gordon B. Hinckley urged in a magnificent discourse in general conference at the approach of the new millennium, is to help us, as Latter-day Saints,”recognize our place in the great drama of human history,” a history that will culminate in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. [1]

Historiographical Considerations

The idea of the divine role in human history is not a new one. As the study of historiography, or the writing of history over time, demonstrates, nearly all ancient historians, with the exception of a few sophist Greeks and Romans, assumed that the supernatural played a major role in human affairs. During the Middle Ages, God was seen as the ultimate cause of all things, to the neglect of human factors. To the reformers of the sixteenth century, God was viewed as a personal being very much involved in human affairs. While the secularization of urban society began in parts of early modern Europe (1350–1550), only with the rationalism of the eighteenth century was the divine role reappraised and the idea of divine providence invented to conform to the notion of a clockmaker God rather than one intimately involved in human affairs. The drive to put the writing of history on a scientific footing in the nineteenth century and its subsequent professionalization in an increasingly secular society further challenged the divine role, with the result that by the latter third of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of historians had become truly secular. [2] There have remained in the twentieth century but few providential historians on the European scene, [3] a handful of providential American historians, [4] and only small groups, mostly associated with Protestant fundamentalists, who continue to include God directly in the historical process. [5] The exclusion of God from human history in the current age is a reflection of the prevailing secularism of the society in which we live.

The restoration of the gospel had as one of its aims, however, “that faith also might increase in the earth” (D&C 1:21), with the ultimate promise of the triumph of the gospel kingdom over the kingdoms of the world (see D&C 65:2–6). To the extent that historiography is a reflection of the prevailing views of a society, it should not be a surprise that believing Latter-day Saints should wish to inquire about the divine role in history. The quest seems appropriate. The Lord commanded Joseph Smith to not only acquire knowledge of the law of the gospel and the things of the kingdom of God, but to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms” (D&C 88:79). In another revelation, the Lord explicitly instructed the Prophet “to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man” (D&C 93:53). God’s role in the history of the world falls within the scope of these injunctions. The need to see God’s guiding hand in the historical process is imperative, for “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21). Future generations living at a time when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (2 Nephi 21:9) will undoubtedly view our age’s removal of God from the historical process as an expression of its vast want of belief.

Methodology

Latter-day Saints, however, because of the light of the gospel revealed to Joseph Smith, need not share that lack of belief as they apply gospel principles to an ever-widening circle of knowledge. Relying on modern revelation, they may begin to reintegrate the participation of God into the historical process. Such an approach represents a radical departure from the accepted methodology of most secular historians, who base their findings solely on empirical evidence gleaned from research, and who limit their interpretations to a wide array of environmental, cultural, social, economic, intellectual, technological, political, military, and other human factors. [6] With few exceptions, they exclude the interaction of deity in the historical process. [7] By contrast, the historical approach being proposed is faith-based, responding to the divine injunction to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). It is history that relies not only on the material record and empirical research, but on the principle of divine revelation from God and uses statements of His prophetic spokesmen as interpretive texts. It thus draws on the revealed word of God to prophets and apostles as found in scriptures, both ancient and modern, and in their public statements for interpretive aspects of history and an understanding of God’s role in the historical process.

Prophet-historians, as the living oracles of God, have a number of advantages over secular historians. The examples of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, the chief authors of the Book of Mormon, are well known to Latter-day Saints. By revelation, prophet-historians can ascertain what is truly important in historical development (see Alma 7:7). [8] In addition to assessing the works of men and women according to the desires of their hearts, they can discern by the Spirit the purposes of God and also the evil designs of Satan (see Helaman 6:21–31; Ether 15:19; D&C 89:1). They can thus complete the history of man by introducing the role of God and the influence of Lucifer into the equation. They can also peer into the future to see the significance of current and future events (see 2 Nephi 25–30; Mormon 5–10), to the extent that God permits. Knowledge of “things which are past, and also of things which are to come” and things “which otherwise could not be known,” may thus be revealed (Mosiah 8:17; see also verses 15–16).

As special witnesses of Jesus Christ, modern apostles are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators (see D&C 27:12). The statements of the modern prophets, those who by virtue of holding all priesthood keys (see D&C 132:7) stand in the same office as the Prophet Joseph Smith, are particularly authoritative, for, as the Lord instructed, “his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth” (D&C 21:5); and further, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). The current prophet is the only person who is appointed by the Lord at any given moment to receive revelation for the whole Church (see D&C 43:2–7). The statements of the living prophet, when sustained by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the other General Authorities, and the membership, become the official policy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are binding upon the membership (see Official Declaration 2). [9]

Any attempt to integrate the purposes and designs of God into the historical process is of necessity largely theological in nature, because as Jacob reaffirms in the Book of Mormon concerning the ways of God, “no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him” (Jacob 4:8). The distillation of truth in matters of history must thus follow the same rules as matters of doctrine. As in theology one may know very little of the nature, disposition, or purposes of God if He has not revealed them, so in the realm of historical interpretation one cannot ascertain the role of God with reliability unless He has made revelatory statements on the matter.

The historian who wishes to draw on the revealed word for historical interpretation must be as rigorous in his method as the secular historian. President Harold B. Lee cautioned against the reliance on any scriptural interpretation based on a single scripture and asserted that if God wished us to know anything, He would say it several times. [10] As in New Testament times, apostles and prophets, when not acting in the prophetic role, may express opinions that do not have the validity of scripture (see 1 Corinthians 7:6, 25; Alma 40:20), [11] and apostles may differ among themselves, requiring further revelation to resolve the matter (see Acts 15:1–31). [12]

To establish the authority of any line of interpretation, the historian who uses either scripture or prophetic statements for that purpose must rely on the statements of more than just one prophet or apostle, for, as the Apostle Paul stated, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1; see also D&C 6:28). Nephi further affirmed that God would establish His word by the words of three witnesses (see 2 Nephi 11:3; see also D&C 5:11). Words worthy of trust in either theology or historical interpretation must thus be safeguarded by the confirming testimony of two or three prophetic witnesses.

The statements of the living prophets may be deemed the most reliable, as the current prophet is the only one authorized to give new revelation, though apostles, as special witnesses of Christ, when moved upon by the Spirit, can be relied upon to teach matters already revealed. [13] As the secular historian must be critically minded with regard to the reliability of his sources, so the faithful researcher, in his attempt to distinguish among revealed truth, generally accepted views, scholarly opinion, and local or regional culture, must establish a hierarchy in his sources and appraise each critically, considering also in what circumstance each was given.

But our knowledge of divine things is limited, for God reveals things “line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little” (D&C 128:21; see also Isaiah 28:10). The scholar who wishes to interpret every event by the light of revelation will find himself frustrated. Frequently the Lord’s statements on His interaction in the historical process are of a general nature, and He has not seen fit to reveal the details of His interaction in every instance. This should not bar the way, however, to consideration of “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” or all that “He will yet reveal” (Articles of Faith 1:9). His statements relative to His design and intent must be considered, whether they provide overall interpretations, specific illuminations, or no guidance at all on any given matter. The faithful scholar will need to be as well informed on the divine as on the secular. Presumably the appropriate approach is to “render . . . unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21); that is, to identify as closely as we can what has been the role of God and what has been the role of man. To attribute too much to God may be as serious an error as not to attribute enough. [14]

While God has not revealed details on many issues, He has frequently revealed guiding principles that, as Elder Alexander B. Morrison has affirmed, can be of great help in interpreting historical development. [15] To the extent that, as certain postmodernist historians assert, there can be no objective history, only a sound point of view, [16] one might argue that the matrix of the restored gospel provides a frame of reference at least as good as, if not better than, any worldly view. Latter-day Saint historians may also write history that is informed by Latter-day concepts without explicitly acknowledging the source of their inspiration. [17]

In light of what Hugh Nibley terms “the expanding gospel”—that is to say, its application to ever-widening fields [18]—the field of gospel application to history is rich with possibilities. The doctrines and concepts of the gospel have significant explanatory value regarding much of human conduct, and many gospel concepts and symbols appear repeatedly in a wide range of historical settings. [19] For example, the figures of the scriptures, such as Joseph in Egypt as a figure for slavery, King Noah and his worldliness as a figure for current materialism, and many others, have deep interpretive possibilities. [20] As a backdrop of moral and ethical principles, the gospel has relevance for the historical judgments of historians. The Latter-day Saint student of history may thus decry in terms of gospel principles the concupiscence and nudity of the Renaissance, the fanaticism of the Reformation and the atrocities of subsequent religious wars, the ravages of imperialism, the skepticism of the eighteenth century, the materialism of the nineteenth century, and the totalitarianism and violence of the twentieth century. Gospel principles are also germane to teaching and the review process and to the interaction of scholars with their students and colleagues.

However, the risks of trying to link gospel principles with historical events are manifold.

Our knowledge of gospel truths and the interpretation we put on prophetic texts may be defective, and the historical interpretation that we are using may be ephemeral and may represent only a moment in time in the historical interpretation of a period. [21]

Like the great Thomas Aquinas (1225–74), who built his synthesis of world knowledge on the shifting sands of medieval theology and Aristotelian science, one may thus find that his interpretation is subject to the winds of change. How then ought we to appraise the works of gospel scholars? Though valuable for information and interpretation, and often uplifting, their works do not possess the level of authority of apostles and prophets, who may, as inspired, speak for the Lord. Books, it must be remembered, possess only the wisdom of their authors. Revelation of God to His prophets is a surer guide to truth than gospel scholarship. As President Boyd K. Packer has pointed out, “the mantle is far, far greater than the intellect.” [22]

Basic Assumptions

This book rests on three basic theological assumptions. The first is that Jesus Christ, whose life and ministry are depicted in the New Testament, was not only the most important personage of human history but the veritable Son of God, who atoned for the sins of mankind. His was an infinite atonement (see 2 Nephi 9:6–7). As President Hinckley observed, His Atonement was the most important event of all human history. [23] Carrying the seeds of life from His Eternal Father, Jesus Christ was the first to rise from the grave. Through Him all mankind will be resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–26; Alma 11:42–44). Through His redeeming sacrifice, “all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3). But the church that He organized among a small group of followers, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20; see also 4:1–14), although flourishing for a time, was subject to a falling away, or apostasy, with the death of the Apostles. [24]

The second fundamental assumption is that Joseph Smith was a modern prophet of God, called in this dispensation of the fullness of times to be the Lord’s instrument for the Restoration of the gospel and the reestablishment of His Church on the earth. In that most glorious of visions in which the Father and the Son appeared to the boy prophet in the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith learned that there had been a falling away from the teachings and doctrines of the original Church (see Joseph Smith—History 1:17–19) and that “the fullness of the Gospel should at some future time be made known unto [him].” [25] There followed the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the visit of heavenly messengers—John the Baptist to restore the Aaronic Priesthood and the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood—and in 1830 the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ anew on the earth (see Joseph Smith—History 1:27–73; D&C 27:8, 12–13; 21:1–5). These events, followed by subsequent revelations giving the full plan of salvation, were most singular in the history of the salvation of mankind. Joseph Smith was the great prophet of the Restoration. Though he lived but thirty-eight years, he accomplished “more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it,” according to John Taylor, who was present at his martyrdom (D&C 135:3).

The third assumption is concerned with the mission and destiny of the restored Church. As recorded in section 65 of the Doctrine and Covenants, “the keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth” (D&C 65:2). The going forth of the kingdom of God on the earth is to prepare the inhabitants “for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth” (D&C 65:5).

Those events associated with the Restoration of the gospel and its dissemination to all the world are the prophesied “marvellous work and a wonder” that the Lord has pledged in the last days (Isaiah 29:14; see also the rest of the chapter). As God told Enoch, “Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem” (Moses 7:62). The great work of the last days is designed to prepare a righteous people to greet the Lord at His coming and to inaugurate the millennial reign, which will be a major component in the redemption of man on the earth.

The thesis of this volume is that the Lord has shaped modern history for the accomplishment of His purposes. The Lord’s preparation of the world, particularly the United States, for the Restoration of the gospel is the first great theme. The second is how the Lord has been preparing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the world to accomplish the mission of taking the gospel to all the world preparatory to His Second Coming. The treatment thus extends beyond the period of the Restoration to include the ongoing mission of the Church and the Lord’s shaping of world events for the accomplishment of divine purposes.

Scriptural Foundations and Doctrine

From 1830 onward, with the publication of the Book of Mormon, Nephi’s prophetic vision of American development provided the scriptural foundation and set the stage in terms of doctrine on the role of God in the history of the Americas. His prophetic insights, so crucial to this discussion, are worth rehearsing:

 

And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.

And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.

And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them. (1 Nephi 13:10–20)

In prophetic vision, Nephi thus saw the divine hand in several chapters of European and American history, including the discovery of America, its colonization, the liberation of a new nation under divine intervention, and the coming forth of the Bible, so powerful in early American life.

In 1833 it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired as a guarantor of freedom. In August he learned that “that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me” (D&C 98:5). In December of that year, the Lord revealed that

the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, . . . should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (D&C 101:77–80)

The belief in an inspired constitution has been fundamental. Succeeding modern prophets have affirmed to one degree or another the inspired nature of the U.S. Constitution. [26] But, as the Book of Mormon revealed, alternate blessings and cursings are upon this land, “choice above all other lands.” For the inhabitants to be “free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations,” they must “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ.” Should they become evil and sink to “the fulness of iniquity,” they will be “swept off” (Ether 2:10–12).

That set of fundamental ideas, dating from the early days of the Church, has remained part of the Latter-day Saint heritage, informing the accepted view of historical development, and has been amplified in various degrees by Church authorities and scholars. In his Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, first published in 1893, B. H. Roberts of the First Quorum of the Seventy outlined the providential rise of religious freedom in the United States as a preparation for the Restoration of the gospel. Decrying the lack of religious freedom in Europe in the Middle Ages, which he attributed to the dominance of the medieval church, he noted a remarkable rebirth of learning in the Renaissance, the inspired mission of Columbus in the discovery of America, the religious transformation of the Reformation as “the first glimmerings of the dawn which heralded the approaching day,” the coming of the Pilgrim fathers to America to escape persecution, the eventual rise of religious freedom in America, the deliverance of the American revolutionaries, and the establishment of the Constitution under divine auspices, all in preparation for the Restoration. [27]

In 1950, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his Essentials in Church History, briefly reaffirmed the points made earlier by Roberts [28] and in other sermons and writings emphasized the role of technological development in furthering the divine plan. [29] In the second half of the twentieth century, Elder Ezra Taft Benson wrote extensively on the rise of freedom in America as a precursor for the Restoration of the gospel and affirmed the divinely inspired nature of the U.S. Constitution as the guarantor of a free system of government. Speaking out against the evils of communism and socialism, he strongly cautioned Church members to avoid dependency on government and warned of the potential loss of freedom by failure to live righteously. [30] Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, in preparation for the commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a book, The Great Prologue, which elaborated on many of the traditional themes, drawing on additional historical material from secular sources. [31]

The celebration of the rise of freedom in the United States has long been an official part of the heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the one hundredth anniversary of the Church in 1930, the First Presidency issued a statement: “It was not by chance that the Puritans left their native land and sailed away to the shores of New England, and that others followed later. They were the advance guard of the army of the Lord, [foreordained] to establish the God-given system of government under which we live . . . and prepare the way for the restoration of the Gospel of Christ.” [32] For the bicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence in 1976, the Church issued four special home evening lessons for use in the United States. [33]

In addition, a number of articles by Latter-day Saint scholars on the significance of the Constitution appeared in a special edition of the Ensign in June 1976. [34] For the bicentennial of the Constitution in 1987, three special family home evening lessons were prepared for issue in the United States. [35] And two speeches on the inspired nature of the U.S. Constitution by President Benson a notable patriot, were printed in the Ensign in 1987 to mark the same event. [36] Elder L. Tom Perry also gave an address to students at Brigham Young University the same year reaffirming the role of divine guidance in the founding of the United States and the Constitution. [37] Since then, President Hinckley and several Apostles, including Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a noted legal authority, have reaffirmed the divinely inspired nature of the Constitution. [38]

Scholarly Literature

Much has been written about the divine hand in the Lord’s preparation for the Restoration and in the survival and development of the Church in its first 175 years. [39] Indicative of the sustained scholarly interest in constitutional studies, BYU Studies has published several articles exploring the inspired nature of various aspects of the Constitution. Articles by Martin B. Hickman and Noel B. Reynolds appeared in BYU Studies in the 1970s; [40] two more, by Thomas B. McAffee and Lynn D. Wardle, were published in a special issue in 1987 to commemorate the Bicentennial, and another by J. Keith Melville followed the year after. [41] Donald Q. Cannon, in Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution, has compiled the statements of all the Church prophets (up to the date of publication) on the inspired character of the Constitution. [42] The J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU continues to focus on themes of religious freedom and the Constitution, providing expert advice, [43] sponsoring projects and expositions, [44] and hosting an annual conference on international law and religion since 1994, to which foreign guests have been invited. The providential rise of freedom in America as a preparation for the Restoration of the gospel has thus had some attention in the literature, and the subject of religious freedom and the Constitution remains a significant focus of study.

The historical aspect of early American development has been much less well treated. Scholars have taken up some themes in the providential development of American history. A pioneering work by Milton V. Backman Jr. in 1965 traces the development of religious freedom among various religious groups in America as a preparation for the Restoration of the gospel. [45] In 1992, to correspond with the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in America, Arnold K. Garr produced a volume, Christopher Columbus: A Latter-day Saint Perspective, [46] and E. Douglas Clarke published The Grand Design: America from Columbus to Zion[47] Also of note is Arnold K. Garr’s overview article, “Preparing for the Restoration,” printed in the Ensign in 1999. [48] But the scholarly output for a subject so vast has been relatively modest, and the treatment limited to a few studies. There has not been a concerted effort to pursue research in this field of early American history as part of the divine plan, as in the case of constitutional studies.

Moreover, the manifestation of the Lord’s hand did not end with the Restoration of the gospel, which represented only the beginning of His “marvelous work” and not its conclusion. In the recorded history of the Church since the Restoration, there has been considerable writing on the development of the Church in the nineteenth century and its growth and adaptation to modern conditions in the twentieth. [49] Regarding the development of the Church in the twentieth century, of particular note are Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century; a second volume coedited with Donald Q. Cannon, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land; and the proceedings of the 29th Sperry Symposium at BYU, Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century. [50] In 1999 the Ensign published a series of articles under the heading “A Great and Marvelous Work,” which included thematic articles by William G. Hartley, “The Church Grows in Strength,” covering the period from 1898 to 1951, and Bruce A. Van Orden, “Preparing for a Worldwide Ministry,” covering the period from 1951 to 1995. [51] Several very good regional studies of the Church in the twentieth century in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, have also been published. [52]

But the discussion of how God has shaped world events for the accomplishment of His purposes has lagged significantly. Pioneers in their field, nonprofessional historians Dan Hunter and Robert R. Newell have produced multivolume works for Latter-day Saint home schooling and private education that have attempted to see world history from a Latter-day Saint perspective. [53] But no scholarly studies have been written on how the Lord has shaped the history of the world for the accomplishment of His purposes. This volume is intended to fill that gap, with emphasis on the modern period of world history. [54]

The Worldwide Mission of the Church

The exceptional growth of the Church from a small U.S.-based organization of one million members in 1947 to a worldwide movement of 12 million in 2004 has been duly noted. But, as the Church becomes international with a global mission, perhaps it is time to see Latter-day Saint history in a broader perspective. God is not just the God of the Latter-day Saints but the God of the whole earth, and as such, He is mindful of all His children everywhere. Is it not now time, as we begin the next millennium, to see ourselves in the context of the broader plan of the divine purpose and to take into account God’s interaction with other peoples?

As we attempt to understand the divine intervention in the history of the world to prepare for the accomplishment of the mission of His Church, three themes emerge most strongly as stated by prophets and apostles and which correlate most with the secular history of the modern world. They are the rise of freedom in the world, with a special emphasis on the role of America; the role of modern technology in facilitating the mission of the Church and, simultaneously, the preparation of the world for receiving the gospel, especially since World War II; and the growth and development of the Church for its mission of taking the gospel to all the world. These are major themes developed in this volume.

All of these themes blend together in the statements of that great missionary President Spencer W. Kimball. [55] In the mid-1970s, at a time when much of Europe and Asia was under the control of communism, extension of freedom in the world would follow the efforts of the members of the Church to preach the gospel. “The Lord has indicated that we can expect His power to be with us when we proclaim His word,” he said. “There are no impenetrable ‘iron curtains,’ or ‘bamboo curtains’ or national curtains or neighborhood curtains so far as teaching the gospel is concerned. I see no good reason why the Lord should open doors we are not prepared to enter, but I believe he will open every missionary door we are prepared to enter.” [56]

He also envisaged a wider scope of action through technological development. “We need to enlarge our field of operation,” he said. “I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse. . . . Our Father in heaven has now provided us mighty towers [alluding to the tower of King Benjamin]—radio and television towers with possibilities beyond comprehension—to help fulfill the words of the Lord that ‘the sound must go forth from this place unto all the world.’” [57] In 1970 President Kimball anticipated future inventions like the Internet more than two decades before its development. “We shall use the inventions the Lord has given us to awaken interest and acquaint people of the world with the truths, to ease their prejudices and give them a general knowledge. We shall need to answer specific questions, and perhaps that can be done by two-way radio and TV perfected to a point beyond our present imagination.” [58]

President Hinckley has shared President Kimball’s vision on the rise of freedom and the use of modern technology in hastening the Lord’s work. [59] The miraculous fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the extension of freedom to larger areas of the world, allowing them to hear the gospel, was lauded by President Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, as a manifestation of the divine will. “The Spirit of Christ is brooding over the whole earth,” he said. “We have witnessed miracles undreamed of only a short time ago. Like a glorious sunburst through dark clouds, there is emerging freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression.” [60]

The rise of freedom [61] and the impact of technology [62] are major themes that prominent secular historians have identified in the development of the modern world. These themes blend significantly with a major theme of modern history, which is the rise of Western society and the spread of it political and social values, technology, and economic models—and, in many instances, the Christian religion—across much of the world. What scholars have not recognized is the divine hand in such developments in preparing the Lord’s work of salvation.

BYU’s Contribution

In conception this volume has benefited significantly from the educational philosophy of Brigham Young University (BYU) and has drawn heavily from its pool of scholarly resources for its contributors. BYU, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sustained for the most part by sacred tithing funds, has been closely identified with promoting the acquisition of knowledge from both spiritual and secular sources. John W. Welch and Don E. Norton have noted: “From its inception over a century ago, the goal of Brigham Young University has been to offer ‘a new kind of education’ for Zion, one based on precepts ‘revealed by the Lord,’ as Karl G. Maeser once remarked. Today, BYU is widely recognized for its deep commitments to inspired religious values and rigorous intellectual learning.” [63] The commitment to seek both spiritual and secular learning is embodied in official BYU documents: “The Mission of Brigham Young University” and “The Aims of a BYU Education,” printed in the Undergraduate Catalog. [64] Among the many benefits of such an approach is the development of “historians who write well and whose profound understanding of human nature and of divine influences informs their interpretation of human events.” [65] That same approach is reflected in the honors program, whose core philosophy relies on the “compatibility of rigorous scholarship with faith,” with the aim of seeking learning “by study and also by faith.” [66] BYU Studies, the university’s scholarly review, is guided by a similar philosophy: “that the spiritual and the intellectual can be complementary and fundamentally harmonious avenues of knowledge.” [67]

Nearly all of the authors of the several articles that make up this volume have or have had a connection with BYU. In fact, of the twenty-four contributors, all but two are part of the teaching staff of BYU, emeritus members of faculty, or current or former BYU students. They come from a wide range of faculties, such as Religious Education, the Department of History, the School of Education, the College of Engineering and Technology, and the Law School, bringing their particular expertise and understanding. Of those not directly affiliated with BYU, Elder Alexander B. Morrison, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a pharmacologist by profession and former assistant deputy minister of health and welfare in Canada, is well known for his exceptional qualities of mind, humanitarianism, and gospel exposition, including six books. [68]

One advantage of having contributors from several fields is that each is able to articulate particular insights drawn from his field of study in relationship to gospel principles. Thus, while all, as faithful scholars, function within the broad framework of the restored gospel, they represent a variety of perspectives on the role of God in history. It is intended that the various appraisals, each designed to “stand alone,” will open a discussion and lead to further refinement of methodology and themes.

Given the attempt to merge the secular and the spiritual, this anthology could hardly have been produced at any place other than BYU. Additionally, we hope that it will be of particular value to students in world civilization courses and other classes who want to find out answers, if only tentative, to gospel-related issues raised in their studies. The treatment offers a picture of divine intervention over a broad span of time and space and concerning a wide range of developments. This anthology is not intended to replace world civilization textbooks but rather to serve as a spiritual supplement. The assumption is that the reader has acquired or is acquiring a general knowledge of world history, at least in the modern period.

Though it is seldom possible in an anthology to have a perfect interface of the constituent parts, each paper in this anthology was commissioned or included [69] to show the role of divine providence in a broad sweep of history. Thus, not all of Latter-day Saint history is covered, but we look at the move of the Latter-day Saints to the Rocky Mountains as a crucial development, providing a secure base for the growth of the Church and the further realization of its mission to take the gospel worldwide. Some chapters take a broad view, such as Richard O. Cowan’s discussion of “The Restoration in the Lord’s Plan,” highlighting key events in the Lord’s kingdom from a scriptural standpoint. Others take a more narrow focus, such as Brian Cannon’s “Chastisement of the Nations, 1914–1945,” which reviews the attitudes of prophets and apostles toward the two world wars and the Great Depression. Still other chapters, such as Louis B. Cardon’s trilogy on Britain, France, and the United States as “champions of freedom,” interpret well-studied fields of history from a Latter-day Saint perspective. Like threads in a tapestry, each chapter bears its own hue and interrelationship with the others as it develops the overall theme.

Origins of the Project

My inquiry into the role of God in the historical process was sparked by questions raised in my mind in a historiography class taught at BYU by Dr. Richard Schmutz in fall semester 1968, which I attended while earning my master’s degree in European history. As we were exposed to the Old Testament view of history, which saw the unfolding of history, for good or ill, in relation to the observance of the covenant with God, and the Middle Ages view that God was the sole director of all human affairs, I wondered, what do we as Latter-day Saints think on the matter? I read the Book of Mormon two or three times looking for clues and was surprised to find how much it said regarding God’s intervention in the history of the American continents, the principles that govern His relationship to man, and the cycle of history. [70]

My reflections led me to explore the question, how does God intervene in the historical process? I opened a little file, but the seed remained dormant for many years while I pursued a doctoral degree in modern European and Canadian history at the University of Alberta and a teaching career at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario (1976–present). But the question remained in my mind. Late one night in 1989, while waiting for a son to come home, I wrote a brief preliminary article. Nevertheless, the problem remained of how to raise a team to rewrite the history of the world from a Latter-day Saint perspective, for, unlike Hunter and Newell, I considered it too big a task for one man and decided that I would need the expertise of many faithful scholars to engage in such a project.

In July 1999, while on vacation, I consulted with Dr. Robert S. Patterson, dean of the School of Education at BYU, a friend from my graduate school days in Edmonton, Alberta, who suggested I come to BYU on sabbatical. Dr. Richard Bennett, another Canadian friend, arranged for a presentation to faculty of Religious Education at BYU in October 1999. For that presentation, I developed most of the ideas in the chapter, “How Has God Intervened in History?” which follows, identifying several ways, drawn from scripture and prophetic statements. My original plan was to produce a multiauthor work, The Christian Era, using senior graduate students as contributors, but no avenue for such a graduate course in either religion or history was available at BYU. Nonetheless, Frank W. Fox, acting chair of the History Department, was willing to sponsor a course for me to teach in the honors program (winter 2001) in world civilization since 1500, which combined the secular and divine. That course provided the format for this book, as ten of the contributors graciously first gave their presentations as guest lectures in the course. In addition, noted scholars John W. Welch, Richard O. Cowan, De Lamar Jensen, Milton V. Backman, Jr., Craig J. Ostler, Thomas L. Erekson, Louis B. Cardon, and Douglas F. Tobler agreed to contribute essays on specific topics for the anthology. [71] That such an amazing confluence of talent has arisen from these circumstances is indeed a marvel to me, far exceeding anything I had imagined in my original plan. [72]

Members of the History Department at BYU, in their criticism of my presentation of a version of my initial paper on October 5, 2000, helped me to refine my methodology and develop a broader historiography. The Religious Studies Center gave the project stature and recognition in awarding a grant in 2002, and under the sponsorship of the several groups—Religious Education; the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences; General Education; and the Department of History—a two-day symposium for students and faculty was held at BYU, February 6–7, 2003, preparatory to the publication of the volume. [73]

Limitations

As a groundbreaking, this volume nonetheless has several limitations. The field of world history up to the modern era, as seen from a Latter-day Saint perspective, has not been covered. At least one or two volumes, using the same approach as this one, could be written on the subject, bringing together a synthesis of research that has already been completed in conjunction with additional investigation. Nor is the current volume thematically complete. The Church’s rise from obscurity and the creation of an image favorable to preaching the gospel has not been fully treated, [74] the development of ideas and values in preparing the minds of the people for receiving the gospel has not been studied, and the role of divine inspiration in the cultural arts has not been covered. Only minimal treatment has been given to how social upheaval and transition have prepared the way for preaching the gospel. The role of women in Heavenly Father’s plan has been alluded to but not developed. The contribution of the 750,000 missionaries, ordained servants of the Lord, sent forth in His power to preach the gospel in this dispensation, has not been fully recognized. All of these are huge subjects requiring much more work.

Even more immediately relevant, the principles that govern the rise and fall of civilizations, particularly pertinent not only to the past but to the future of our world, with appropriate warning for our time, have been but lightly touched upon in this study. [75] Nor can the authors claim that the Lord’s mighty power, majesty, and dominion, as manifested in the unfolding of His work or in the history of the world, has been fully comprehended.

Conclusion

President Hinckley affirmed at the turn of the millennium that the Church will not fail in its mission but continue to roll onward, “touching for good the lives of people everywhere.” [76] Joseph Smith’s statement in the Wentworth letter of 1842 underscores that assertion: “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” [77]

God is the God of the whole earth, not just of those who have the mission of proclaiming His gospel. He has worked with His children in every clime and country to prepare for their eternal progression. His purposes will not fail: “For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled” (Mormon 8:22). Indeed, the preparation of the world for the millennial reign—and the subsequent redemption of all previous generations who have died without a knowledge of the gospel—depends upon the realization of His promises. God has shaped the history of the world for the accomplishment of His righteous purposes.

Notes


[1] Gordon B. Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” Ensign, November 1999, 72–74.

[2] See Ernst Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); see also Mark T. Gilderhus, History and Historians: A Historiographical Introduction, 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003). The origins of providential history were brought to my attention by Paul Kerry of the Department of History at BYU.

[3] For example, in the post–World War II era, Christian historians such as Christopher Dawson, Reinhold Neibuhr, and Herbert Butterfield. For the providential views of the last, see the article herein by Malcolm Thorp: “Herbert Butterfield on Tragedies and the Promise in the Twentieth Century Historical Experience: A Reappraisal.”

[4] For recent providential interpretations of American diplomatic history, see Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001); Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since 1776 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

[5] For an introduction to their scholarship, see George Marsden and Frank Roberts, eds., A Christian View of History? (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1975); C. T. McIntire, ed., God, History, and Historians: An Anthology of Modern Christian Views of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977); C. T. McIntire and Ronald A. Wells, eds., History and Historical Understanding (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1984); Ronald A. Wells, ed., History and the Christian Historian (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1998).

For an appraisal of problems associated with the writing of providential history in the absence of continuing revelation, see the article herein, Brian Q. Cannon, “Providential History: The Need for Continuing Revelation.”

[6] For undergraduate manuals on historical methodology, see Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff, The Modern Researcher, 5th ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1992); Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

[7] For an exception, see P. Gallagher and D. W. Cruickshank, eds., God’s Obvious Design: Papers for the Spanish Armada Symposium, Sligo, 1988: With an Edition and Translation of the Account of Francisco de Cuéllar (London: Támesis Books, 1990).

[8] See Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” 73.

[9] For a discussion of the relationship between the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, see Alexander B. Morrison, “The Latter-day Concept of Canon,” in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 8–11.

[10] Paul Allan Cox, “From the Cradle of Creation: The Belief of a Young Botanist,” in Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-day Scholars, ed. Susan Easton Black (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 105.

[11] See Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 278.

[12] For the First Presidency’s resolution of a doctrinal dispute in the twentieth century, see James B. Allen, “The Story of The Truth, The Way, The Life,” in B. H. Roberts, The Truth, The Way, The Life, ed. John W. Welch, 2nd ed. (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 1996), 693–713.

[13] J. Reuben Clark Jr., “When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Deseret News, July 31, 1954, 2.

[14] In that regard, the question arises of to what extent hindsight is useful to the scholar in ascertaining the mark of the divine hand in the historical process. The secular historian eschews the use of hindsight in interpreting historical events (though many fall into the trap), as human participants cannot see into the future. In the case of God, who can see the end from the beginning, one cannot impose the same limitation. The scholar may thus infer that events that accomplish the known designs and purposes of God and bring visibly happy consequences bear the mark of divine intervention. But the degree of certitude can never go beyond that of supposition. Without the confirming witness of the Spirit, such as that possessed by those holding the keys of the knowledge of God, one may suppose but never know for sure.

A second issue as one draws on prophetic sources as interpretative material is that of the validity of repeated statements. Historians tend to downgrade the value of repeated statements by successive historians as indicative of slavish dependence and lack of research. In the case of prophets—each of whom holds the keys of knowledge to learn independently, directly from God—the repetition of similar statements may add further weight to each of them.

[15] See his article, “God in History,” in this collection; also, as an example of this approach, see herein Douglas F. Tobler, “Good from Evil in the Twentieth Century: Transcending Totalitarianism, Wars, and the Holocaust.”

[16] See Georg G. Iggers, From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1997). Postmodernism is concerned with new interpretations of art, literature, and other forms of expression related to the post-industrial phase of society.

[17] See, for example, Frank W. Fox, The American Founding (Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002).

[18] Hugh Nibley, “The Expanding Gospel,” BYU Studies 7, no. 1 (Autumn 1965): 3–27.

[19] Nibley, “The Expanding Gospel.” For more exhaustive treatments, see Hugh Nibley, The Ancient State: The Rulers and the Ruled, ed. Stephen Ricks and Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1991) and Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992).

[20] An idea brought to my attention by David C. Montgomery, BYU Department of History.

[21] See Eric Dursteler, “Inheriting the ‘Great Apostasy’: The Evolution of Mormon Views on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” Journal of Mormon History 28, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 23–59, for a critique of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century Latter-day Saint interpretations of the Apostasy based on the historical literature of the time.

[22] Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect,” BYU Studies 21, no. 3 (Summer 1981): 259–78.

[23] Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” Ensign, 73.

[24] For a recent interpretation of the Apostasy, see Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 1–51. For a traditional classic on the subject, see James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy, Considered in the Light of Scriptural and Secular History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994). For an article reflecting the current scholarly reevaluation, see C. Wilfred Griggs, “Rediscovering Ancient Christianity,” BYU Studies 38, no. 4 (1999): 73–90.

[25] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), “Wentworth Letter,” 4:536.

[26] See Donald Q. Cannon, ed., Latter-day Prophets and the United States Constitution (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1991); “Bountiful Utah Temple Dedicatory Prayer,” Ensign, March 1995, 76; “News of the Church,” Ensign, August 1999, 74.

[27] B. H. Roberts, Outlines of Ecclesiastical History: A Text Book, 5th ed. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1927), 286. The bulk of his treatment focuses on the Reformation. Roberts saw a parallel between conditions in the Roman Empire at the time of the Apostles, facilitating the preaching of the gospel, and that in America at the time of the Restoration. See also 221–22, 284–86, 289–91.

[28] Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979), 13–18.

[29] Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith, comp. Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977–78), 1:175–83. Bruce R. McConkie, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, also developed similar themes in his gospel exegeses. See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966).

[30] See Ezra Taft Benson, Title of Liberty (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1964); Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974); Benson, This Nation Shall Endure (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977); Benson, The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1986).

[31] Mark E. Petersen, The Great Prologue (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975).

[32] Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1833–1964, comp. James R. Clark (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 5:279–80.

[33] “The Great Prologue: A Prophetic History and Destiny of America” (Four Family Home Evenings in Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the United States of America) (United States of America: The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976).

[34] Frank W. Fox and LeGrand L. Baker, “Wise Men Raised Up,” Ensign, June 1976, 27; Arvo Van Alstyne, “Just and Holy Principles: An Examination of the U.S. Constitution,” Ensign, June 1976, 33–38; G. Homer Durham, “The Protection of All Flesh,” Ensign, June 1976, 42–45; Edwin Brown Firmage, “Eternal Principles of Government, A Theological Approach,” Ensign, June 1976, 11–16.

[35] “Bicentennial of the Constitution” (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1987).

[36] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution: A Glorious Standard,” Ensign, September 1987, 6–19; Benson, “Our Divine Constitution,” Ensign, November 1987, 4–7.

[37] L. Tom Perry, “Truth and Liberty,” BYU 1987–1988 Devotional and Fireside Speeches (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1988), 27–35.

[38] See Ralph C. Hancock, ed., Just and Holy Principles: Latter-day Saint Readings on America and the Constitution (Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 1998), 150–201; Dallin H. Oaks, “The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, February 1992, 68–74.

[39] See James B. Allen, Ronald W. Walker and David J. Whittaker, Studies in Mormon History, 1830–1997: An Indexed Bibliography (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000); Chad J. Flake and Larry W. Draper, A Mormon Bibliography, 1830–1930: Books, Pamphlets, Periodicals, and Broadsides Relating to the First Century of Mormonism, 2nd ed., rev., 2 vols., Provo: UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004).

[40] Martin B. Hickman, “The Constitution and the Great Fundamentals,” BYU Studies 13, no. 3 (1973): 255–72; Noel B. Reynolds, “The Doctrine of an Inspired Constitution,” BYU Studies 16, no. 3 (Spring 1976): 315–40.

[41] Thomas B. McAffee, “Perspectives on the Constitution: Origin, Development, Philosophy and Contemporary Applications,” BYU Studies 27, no. 3 (1987): 3–9; Lynn D. Wardle, “The Constitution as Covenant,” BYU Studies 27, no. 3 (1987): 11–28; J. Keith Melville, “Joseph Smith, the Constitution, and Individual Liberties,” BYU Studies 28, no. 2 (1988): 65–74.

[42] Cannon, Latter-day Prophets and the Constitution.

[43] See W. Cole Durham, “The Doctrine of Religious Freedom,” BYU Speeches 2000–2001 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Publications and Graphics, 2001), 213–26.

[44] For example, the Law School jointly sponsored with BYU Studies a Library of Congress exhibition at BYU on the American Founding in January–February 2003. BYU Studies prepared bibliographies: “Selected Publications in the Harold B. Lee Library Relating to Religion and the Founding of the American Republic,” and “Selected Articles in BYU Studies relating to Religion and the Founding of the American Republic.” For lectures given in conjunction with an January–April 2002 exhibition cosponsored by BYU Studies and the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU, see John W. Welch, ed., with Stephen J. Flemming, Lectures on Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2003)

[45] Milton V. Backman Jr., American Religions and the Rise of Mormonism, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1970).

[46] Arnold K. Garr, Christopher Columbus: A Latter-day Saint Perspective (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992).

[47] E. Douglas Clarke, The Grand Design: America from Columbus to Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992).

[48] Arnold K. Garr, “Preparing for the Restoration,” Ensign, June 1999, 34–40.

[49] See Cannon, Prophets and the Constitution; “Bountiful Utah Temple Dedicatory Prayer”; “News of the Church,” Ensign, August 1999.

[50] Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985); Richard O. Cowan and Donald Q. Cannon, Unto Every Nation: Gospel Light Reaches Every Land (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003); Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century, The 29th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000); also see Russell R. Rich, Ensign to the Nations: A History of the LDS Church from 1846 to 1972 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Publications, 1972).

[51] William G. Hartley, “The Church Grows in Strength,” Ensign, September 1999, 32–39; Bruce A. Van Orden, “Preparing for a Worldwide Ministry,” Ensign, October 1999, 32–39.

[52] See R. Lanier Britch, From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851–1996 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998); Bruce A. Van Orden, Building Zion: The Latter-day Saints in Europe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996). The Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU has sponsored regional seminars on a biennial basis at a variety of locations to celebrate the growth of the Church in that region, resulting in the publication of ten volumes of regional history.

[53] Dan Hunter, The World Before Christ: An LDS Perspective (Grantsville, UT: Archive, 1999); Hunter, The World After Christ: An LDS Perspective (Grantsville, UT: Archive, 1999); Hunter, United States History: An LDS Perspective (Grantsville, UT: Archive, 2001); Robert R. Newell, World History for Latter-day Saints (Orem, UT: Granite Publishing and Distribution, 2000).

[54] “Modern” as used here also includes “early modern,” the usual designation of European development from about 1450 onward.

[55] See Spencer W. Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, October 1974, 3–14, Spencer W. Kimball, “It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, October 1977, 3–7.

[56] Kimball, “It Becometh Every Man,” 3.

[57] Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted, 10.

[58] Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 588.

[59] See, for example, Gordon B. Hinckley, “Look to the Future,” Ensign, November 1997, 68; see also Sherilyn Farnes and Roy A. Prete, “The Discovery Process: Spiritual and Secular Parallels,” in the present volume.

[60] First Presidency Christmas Devotional, “News of the Church,” Ensign, February 1990, 75.

[61] R. R. Palmer, Joel Colton, and Lloyd Kramer, A History of the Modern World (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001); John P. McKay and others, A History of World Societies, Volume 2: Since 1500, 5th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000).

[62] William McNeill, A World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); Richard W. Bulliet and others, The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001).

[63] John W. Welch and Don E. Norton, “Foreword,” in Educating Zion, ed. John W. Welch and Don E. Norton (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 1996), vii.

[64] Brigham Young University Bulletin: 2000–2001 Undergraduate Catalog (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2000), xii–xv.

[65] “Aims of a BYU Education,” in 2000–2001 Undergraduate Catalog, xiv.

[66] The University Honors Program Course Guide, Brigham Young University, Winter 2000 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2000), iii.

[67] See BYU Studies 40, no. 2 (2001), “To Our Readers.” For other examples, see Susan Easton Black, ed., Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-day Saint Scholars (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996) and David L. Clark, ed., Of Heaven and Earth: Reconciling Scientific Thought with LDS Theology (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998).

[68] Alexander B. Morrison, The Dawning of a Brighter Day: The Church in Black Africa (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990); Morrison, Feed My Sheep: Leadership Ideas for Latter-day Shepherds (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992); Morrison, Visions of Zion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993); Morrison, Zion: A Light in the Darkness (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997); Morrison, His Name Be Praised: Understanding Christ’s Ministry and Mission (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002); Morrison, Valley of Sorrow: A Layman’s Guide to Understanding Mental Illness (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003). The only other contributor not directly associated with BYU is Robert R. Newell, whose work has been previously cited.

[69] In addition those papers commissioned for the anthology, the editors are grateful for the timely addition of John W. Welch’s “Early Mormonism and Early Christianity: Some Providential Similarities” and Ronald K. Esplin’s “A Place Prepared: Joseph, Brigham, and the Quest for Promised Refuge in the West.”

[70] These concepts, in fact, are not far different from those of the Old Testament. This is to be expected in view of the Latter-day Saint concept of the harmony and consistency of the scriptures, ancient and modern, that comprise the standard works.

[71] Amber J. Seidel later came in as a coauthor with Richard E. Bennett, Dale E. LeBaron was added as coauthor with Robert S. Patterson, and Carma T. Prete became a coauthor with Robert R. Newell and Roy A. Prete.

[72] In the movie The Sound of Music, the Mother Superior counsels Maria, “When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window.” My view is more optimistic. I believe that when He closes a window, He opens a door.

I express indebtedness to several people beyond those who contributed directly to the text of the volume. An earlier section of World Civilization since 1500, taught in the fall of 2000, gave me the opportunity to research and develop some ideas. And most of all I am indebted to the thirty-nine students in Honors History 202, The Secular and the Divine in World Civilization since 1500, whose eager pursuit of the themes developed was most encouraging and in some cases provided further insights. A member of the class, Sherilyn Farnes, as an unpaid researcher, assembled a significant body of material on the parallels between the secular and spiritual discovery processes and has since become coauthor with me of the article “The Discovery Process: Spiritual and Secular Parallels” in this collection.

[73] Brian Q. Cannon of the Department of History was the chief organizer of this event, which was held in the auditorium of the Harold B. Lee Library. Attendance varied from about 50 to 165, with 100 to 120 being the norm.

[74] See Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century, The 29th Annual Sydney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000).

[75] See the epilogue in the present volume for a brief assessment.

[76] Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” 74.

[77] Smith, History of the Church, 4:540.