New Jerusalem of Mormonism

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2005
Official Mormon documents indicate that the “New Jerusalem” was to be built in Missouri by Mormons, but would be joined by the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven! But it hasn’t happened. Why is that a problem for Mormons?

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Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie declared,

In addition to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem of old, the latter-days are to see the initial building of a New Jerusalem on the American continent, a city which like its ancient counterpart will be a holy city, a Zion, a city of God (Book of Mormon, III Nephi 20:22). This New Jerusalem is to be built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Jackson County, Missouri, is the spot designated by revelation for its construction (Doctrine & Covenants [D & C] 28; 42:8-9, 30-42; 45:66-67; 52:2, 42-43; 57:1-5; 58:7, 44-58; 84:2-5)… This New Jerusalem on the American continent will have a dual origin. It will be built by the (Latter-day) Saints on earth and it will also come down from heaven, and the cities so originating will be united into one holy city. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 532)

On the next page McConkie said that the City of Enoch (which LDS believe was caught up to heaven with Enoch) will return to earth and join the New Jerusalem at Jackson County, Missouri. Then he said,

Thus it is that the New Jerusalem shall be built by the (Latter-day) Saints and shall also come down from heaven. Events to transpire after the millennial era and before the earth becomes a celestial sphere have not been revealed. We do have an account, however, of “the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” a second time, that is, after the earth has become a celestial planet. John refers to this celestial city in Revelation 3:12 and then gives a somewhat detailed description of it in the 21st chapter of the same book. (Ibid. p. 533)

In our last article we mentioned why LDS believe the New Jerusalem will de­scend from heaven a second time.

McConkie did not just give his own opinion on these things, but he stated what LDS scripture teaches in the texts he mentioned above in the Doctrine & Cov­enants. All of those LDS scriptures were “revelations” to Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder. One of them dated September 22 & 23, 1832 said,

A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the

finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. (D & C 84:1-5)

There are several things to notice about this “revelation”: The New Jerusalem is to be built by “the gathering” of Mormons in western Missouri. The exact location is identified as Independence, Jackson County, MO, which would become an “ever­lasting inheritance” (D. & C. 57:1-5). The “gathering” of LDS to one place would provide the manpower to build the New Jerusalem and it would be a place of “safety” for them (D. & C. 45:67-71). The early Mormon concept of “gathering” to Independence, MO, has now been replaced with the current teaching that converts to Mormonism are to stay in their own lands and not gather to the USA (Ensign, March 2000, p. 79).

Joseph Smith was in Kirtland, OH, when he said the Lord told him on August 2, 1833, “It is my will that a house (temple) should be built unto me in the land of Zion (MO) like unto the pattern which I have given you. Yea, let it be built speedily by the tithing of my people” (D. & C. 97:10-11). Smith didn’t know that Mormon leaders in Missouri had already signed an agreement to leave Independence two weeks before that revelation because of the conflicts they were having there. Since Mor­mons were expelled from Independence, MO, it was not a place of safety for them nor was it an eternal inheritance as their scripture said it would be.

They left that area 172 years ago and they never returned. So, they did not “speedily build” a temple or the New Jerusalem there. But even if they built a temple there now, it is too late to fulfill Smith’s prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 84:4-5 because Smith said the generation living in 1832 wouldn’t pass away before it was all fulfilled. That was 173 years ago and no one is that old! Brigham Young even said that a generation is 27 to 29 years (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 118), which means that the generation of 1832 ended long ago! Furthermore, the New Jerusalem that is to come down from heaven in Revelation 21:2 & 10 has no temple according to Revelation 21:22.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:3 says the LDS are to build the New Jerusalem, the temple and everything in it. Brigham Young the second LDS Prophet said,

We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold. The angels that now walk in their golden streets, and they have the tree of life within their paradise, had to obtain that gold and put it there. When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves. When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory, it will be when we have built it. If we enjoy the Zion that we now anticipate, it will be after we redeem and prepare it. If we live in the city of the New Jerusalem, it will be because we lay the foundation and build it. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 354-355)

The LDS New Jerusalem is a “do it yourself” project much like Mormon salvation! In the Bible, Hebrews 11:10 says Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” And Hebrews 12:22 says to believers, “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.” That doesn’t sound like something mortal men will build.

Those who want to read more on this subject can do so in the chapter entitled “More LDS Scripture and Revelation” in my book Mormon Claims Answered. Next time we will consider the Jesus Christ of Mormonism.

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