Toward a Zion Society: Reconciling Faith and Economics in the Modern Age

Explore the profound intersection of faith and economics in this article. Discover a Zion-aligned model based on principles like stewardship, unity, righteous prosperity, and service to others. This essay challenges us to reassess our view of talents, wealth, and societal responsibilities, urging us to use our abilities for common good and build a spiritually-grounded economy where none are in want.

Executive Summary

Here’s what you’ll find in the article below.

Stewardship. I propose that all we possess or earn, materially and talent-wise, is given to us by God and we are merely stewards. This standpoint encourages an attitude of gratitude and responsibility for the resources we are entrusted with, urging us to use them wisely and for the benefit of others, not just ourselves.

Needs vs Wants. My second principle is to focus on fulfilling needs rather than gratifying wants. This promotes simplicity and discourages worldly, materialistic attitudes. This principle can help us evaluate our consumption patterns and become more resilient. 

There are no poor in Zion. The third principle reminds us of the ideal society in which everyone’s needs are met. This principle encourages charity, generosity, and responsibility towards the less fortunate, urging us to use our resources to help those in need.

Prosperity and righteousness. My fourth principle warns against pride and misuse of wealth and resources. It encourages humility, generosity, and righteousness in prosperity. This principle can help us maintain ethical standards in economic activities.

Collective effort and unity. I encourage bringing together people with different skills and resources to work towards common goals. This is reminiscent of the cooperative model, where members contribute their unique talents to create shared value and prosperity.

Consecration and volunteerism. I don’t advocate for mandatory participation but voluntary engagement based on shared values. This promotes agency and personal responsibility, as well as a spirit of service and shepherding.

Holistic view of religion. I argue that religion, politics, and economics are interconnected  which challenges the common notion of separating these domains. I encourage the application of spiritual principles in daily life, including in the economic realm.

Agency and initiative. I urge us not to wait for prophetic declarations, but to take initiative and act according to the teaching’s we have already received, and be anxiously engaged in a good cause in all facets of our lives. 

The Economic Implications of a Zion Society

In a world often caught in the tumultuous currents of consumerism, materialism, and unchecked ambition, it’s essential for Christians to pause, reflect, and realign our approach to work, wealth, and service. How do we reconcile our faith, our commitment to community, and our role in the economic sphere? What does it mean to lead a fulfilling life, not just materially but also spiritually and communally? Is it possible to foster an economy that respects our faith values and creates a prosperous, yet charitable society where no one is left wanting?

In this article, I’ll explore a fresh perspective on these complex questions. I will delve into the harmonious integration of spiritual principles with our economic life, envision a model for a socially responsible and fulfilling work culture, and propose practical ways to nurture a “Zion-like” society. This is not just an exploration of religious philosophy but a call to action: to redefine the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. Join me as we chart a journey towards a more compassionate, loving, and spiritually fulfilling way of life. Whether you’re a believer or not, the insights contained here can revolutionize your perspective on life, work, and community. Let’s together reimagine the world the way God wants it to be.

While there are myriad ways that a group of people can voluntarily unite together to help each another synergistically achieve something greater than they could on their own, an ideal blueprint has already been presented to and approved by the children of God. The Father’s Plan of Happiness, also known as the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God—this is the pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal blueprint which outlines the type of society God wants His children to build, because it is the type of society that He has already built. If we want to return to live with Him in His kingdom, we must learn to live like Him, where He generously shares all He has with us.

Counterfeits of Father’s plan have existed from the very beginning. There are hundreds of different governments, economies, and societies that have been created by men to emulate the kingdom of heaven, but they have all fallen diabolically short, including monarchies, collectivism, meritocracies, totalitarianism, constitutional republics, and democracies. Whenever uninspired people end up in charge of something, it is destined to fail badly because only God is unfailingly good. The only good government is the government of God.

Therefore, whatever we are building during our time on this earth, we should keep in mind that the rock of Jesus Christ is the only rock upon which we should build. We know that our personal testimony must be built there to avoid the shifting sands and sin-drenched storms that assault us at the worst possible times. But we shouldn’t stop building there once we’ve built our testimony. We should build everything on this rock: our families, our occupations, our hobbies, and our advocations. Furthermore, what would happen to the world if on the rock of our Redeemer we also built our economies, governments, institutions, traditions, and social structures? Everything should be built on this rock.

“But,” you may say, “how can I, who inherited this angst-filled world as it currently stands, with all of its shortcomings and imperfections, filled with people who don’t know how to better understand God, as well as some who actively work to undermine Him—how can I, one person out of billions, transform the world into something that is worthy of God’s direct leadership and his direct beneficence?”

Well, you can’t. The only life you can transform and let God have complete control over is your own life. You are your own independent agent and will be unless you delegate or give away your agency to others. You can’t force, coerce, or control anyone else into righteousness, at least not permanently. But if multiple independent people decide to come together and collectively covenant to work together to accomplish something far bigger than themselves, something that is holy enough that it earns God’s blessing and God’s guidance, then something quite different than what we’re presently experiencing is entirely possible. In fact, to those who have faith and conviction, it is highly probable. It is the natural consequence of unreserved righteousness.

In 1620, the sailing ship Mayflower was populated with a small group of pilgrims who were willing to make such a compact and create a New Jerusalem in the New World. On arrival, rather than letting every man, woman and family fend for themselves, they decided to work together. They created some temporary governing laws which would allow them to work for the general good of the colony, even above their own interests. However, like Adam, Mahonri, Abraham, Moses, Lehi, Mulek, Joseph, Brigham, and other prophetic pioneers, things never worked out as well as they hoped.

People, and their perennial proclivities for self-aggrandizement over self-sacrifice, plague their own prospects. The only thing that prevents heavenly plans from being executed successfully in mortality is us: the people presently populating the earth. It is the object and design of our existence, as well as everything else that exists on this planet, to help one another fulfill the measure of our creation and have joy therein. We will never be genuinely satisfied until we reach this happy and blessed state where we can bring joy to God.

Throughout the entire history of the earth, only a relatively small portion of people have used this blueprint to establish not only a religious and social community, but an economic and political one as well. Only a handful have built a society that is deserving of the title of “Zion: the pure in heart, where there are no poor among them.” We saw it briefly in the early days of Christianity, we saw it last for nearly four generations in the Book of Mormon, we saw it in the cities of Zion and Salem, and we saw it in the lives of many saints who were translated into a terrestrial state and temporarily removed from this telestial sphere. Undoubtedly, other lost groups of people have obtained this state where they have united together through Christ and have literally risen above the world.

If they can do it, then why can’t we? Is it because our hearts are so set upon the things of this world rather than on the things of God, including the health and welfare of all of His less-wealthy children? Is it because of our pride and vain ambitions? How do we move from this telestial existence into a higher and holier state? How do we elevate not only our spiritual lives, but our temporal lives as well? How do we become one of the stakes that will support the literal Kingdom of God on earth?

Many of us are patiently waiting for the day when the Lord’s prophet declares: “Now is the day when we should start building cities of Zion. Now is the day we can forsake the economies of the world and combine our resources to build up safe spaces that will rise above the telestial into the terrestrial.” Now that day may yet come, and become official Church policy, but isn’t it already here? Haven’t we already been commanded to build up Zion? Haven’t we made covenants of consecration? Haven’t we made covenants of sacrifice?

“A sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it hurts.”

Every commandment received from the Lord has a dual nature: they are simultaneously physical and spiritual. “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t only mean we are forbidden to take away the physical life of another, but it also means we are forbidden from taking away their spiritual life. We are forbidden to try to kill another’s spiritual spark and divine potential. Because the physical is temporal while the spirit is eternal, enticing or forcing another to choose to disobey the will of God is far more damaging than snuffing out their physical life. If we seek in any way to move people away from God through false teachings, false prophecies, false ideologies, false narratives, and false identities—we are not just wrong, we are evil! Or if we advocate priestcrafts, get-rich-quick schemes, disobedience, dependence, addictions, or any other manipulative or exploitative method to try to control or coerce others, we are damaging—if not outright aborting—our own spiritual progression as well as the spiritual progression of others. If we promote anything that doesn’t bring us closer to God, it will surely bring us closer to the devil.

Satan, the self-proclaimed “god of this world,” who is also known as “Mammon,” has at his disposal all the things of this world which don’t have a choice in how they are used by humans. These are the things that simply want to obey their heavenly Creator and fulfill the measure of their creation. Because they love and obey God, they have offered themselves up as sacrifices to be used in mortality by the sons and daughters of God. They rejoice when they are used for righteous purposes and for good uses; they mourn when they are wasted or used for evil. So precious metals, gems, minerals, forests, rivers, oceans, mountains, oil, and all other natural resources are substances that Satan tries to horde and control, even though he had no part in their creation. He then uses up these resources for wealth, rank, fame, and power. But these things belong entirely to their authentic Creator, not their destroyer. Jehovah, their Creator, has ordained them and set them apart for the righteous use of man. If we use them unrighteously they will surely testify against us. As every child knows, if you take things that are not yours, you are stealing. If you then sell what you have stolen, you are a profiteer. If you are hired to work for those who only seek to steal or swindle limited resources that aren’t their own, then you are a thief as well.

Now I am not saying that working for a lumber company, a cattle ranch, or an oil company is an evil thing—all natural resources were created by God for the use of humanity—all humanity. If you’re doing something to replenish those resources so that future generations can also benefit, that is good. If you’re converting raw resources into something that is far easier to use or consume, that is also good. If you make a modest profit from that venture, that is wise, because you are proving to be an industrious steward who knows how to turn a single talent of precious resources into more.

Furthermore, if you are blessed to be a child of the covenant, you have promised to tithe your income and consecrate your time, talent, and treasure to building up the kingdom. Not your own kingdom, mind you, but the kingdom of God. With those talents you can expand your business and invest in more workers. With your excesses you can be more philanthropic and save those who need saving. With those profits you can build enterprises which profit others. Or you can use them to damn your soul.

One of the greatest temptations in life is to spend most of our surpluses on things that are nice to have, rather than on essential things. It is a short-sighted fallacy to think that your earnings are the result of your own labors and that you deserve full credit. Everything you have and everything you are is a gift from God to everyone—not just you. There are some who cannot do what you have been given the ability to do; we must remember them too. They have talents of their own that they are willing to share and consecrate, but those talents will lie elsewhere. Their assets will make up for your massive deficits. But everyone’s talents combined still come up short when we consider what the Savior has done and is still doing to save us from ourselves.

At the end of the Savior’s parable of the talents, absolutely everything is returned to the Lord and none of it is kept by the laborers. It appears that no one died before the Savior called for the return of the talents, which makes it sound like this all happened in mortality (although I believe this pattern continues long after death). Those who were wise, used their talent to generate more. Or those who became invested with it, were able to return it to the Lord, often with interest. As a result, they entered into the joy of the Lord. The others, the ones who buried their gifts, were dismissed as being unwise and unprofitable. Borrowing from another parable, they have already spent their reward and squandered their inheritance, and the rich shall be made poor in the world to come.

With regards to understanding terrestrial and celestial economics, one of the first principles is that everything belongs to the Lord and we are mere stewards of these things. This includes life, liberty, property, skills, potential, etc. One of our grand objectives in a terrestrial or celestial life is to give absolutely everything back to Him and unconditionally trust He will spend it wisely.

This takes us to another principle. The Lord invites us to spend our resources on things that are genuinely needful for us and our families. Therefore, we are commanded to focus our attention on satiating needs rather than gratifying wants. What is needful for one may be entirely unnecessary to another, but only God has the ability to discern the difference. If we are in doubt whether or not we truly need something, don’t trust the arm of flesh, seek truth from God.

Which leads us to a third principle: there are no poor in Zion. Whether they are poor in spirit, poor in health, or poor in pocketbook, there are none who lack within those walls. The prime directive in Zion is to ensure that all God’s creations have sufficient for their needs. It isn’t a government mandated program where the wealthier are taxed or mandated to take care of the poor, but where everyone individually, of their own accord, desires to benefit the poor. Again, we’re not just talking about money here, we’re talking about any talent, spiritual gift, skill, or resource that could lift another from poorness.

A fourth principle may apply here as well. The scriptures are clear that as a people becomes increasingly righteous, they, as an entire people, begin to prosper and acquire more wealth. But if they use that wealth to set themselves apart from one another, or puff themselves up in pride, or use it to oppress or harm others, or use it to fulfill their lusts and appetites, that prosperity is quickly lost and replaced with destitution and despondency.

The scriptures are filled with many other righteous principles that govern the economics of God, but given only these four, how might we answer this particularly pertinent question: “How do we build a Zion amongst ourselves?”

In every ward in every stake of Zion there is a collection of men, women, and children who have been endowed with sacred talents and gifts that they alone can bring to the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul called these contributions “gifts differing.” We each bring something unique to the world, be it spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, musical, etc. We all have tiny loaves and little fishes in our backpack that we can contribute to feed the flocks of the Lord who are assembling at His marriage feast. Together, as a collective, we likely have all of the resources we need to overcome every obstacle Satan and his miserable minions can throw at us. Furthermore, endowed with priesthood authority and priesthood ordinances, if the Holy Spirit concurs, we have the power to act in the name of Almighty God when we are engaged in His work of salvation. And if God desires to do a miracle among His children, and make up for our lack, He will.

Now, let’s perform a little thought experiment to see where this could lead. Let’s suppose we find ourselves in a time of economic challenges, when inflation is high, jobs are scarce, debts are out-of-control, and too many people are indentured to unrighteous masters who create products or services that destroy that which is good and sacred. What is a person of faith to do? Should he or she continue to earn lucre if you know it comes from a filthy source? Should we keep our nose to the grindstone and straddle the fence and keep one foot in Babylon and one foot in Zion? How do we help the unemployed, the underemployed, the poor, the needy, the desperate, the widow, the orphan—and not simply with short-term funds that come from fast offerings, but with long-term solutions that promote the principles of self-reliance?

Now suppose we had two or more people in a stake, ward, quorum, or family who needed to find a source of income that supports their needs but doesn’t compromise their values, and one that seeks to build up Zion rather than tear it down. What if we took a census of the talents, gifts, and strengths of each member of the stake, ward, quorum, and family as it pertains to economics? We will likely find that some members may have need of better employment, some may have need of people to sell products from off their shelves, some may need others to create new products or deliver services, some may need to switch to occupations that bring more happiness and security—that take better advantage of their God-given “good gifts.” Furthermore, let’s assume our census reveals that other members have experience, capital, or surplus resources and understand how to make a business profitable yet non-exploitative, fair, and principled.

Is it possible to gather together this pool of talent and skill and create opportunities that promote some of the benefits of a Zion society: where all are of one heart and one mind, and where there are no poor among them? Is there a single project or a group of projects that will benefit everyone in the group, reduce suffering, lift burdens, and improve the health and well-being of God’s children? It doesn’t matter what the specific project may be as long as it is based on righteous principles, or “is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy.” Wouldn’t that be of more worth than something that only benefits yourself or your household?

Of course, no individual would be forced to join such an enterprise. We aren’t forming a commune, a united order, a kibbutz, or even a cooperative mercantile institute. It isn’t a Church-sponsored enterprise. This is simply a group of like-minded people working together to achieve terrestrial and celestial goals that are worthy of God’s higher blessings.

Just like we find in the Lord’s Church, participants treat each other with kindness, compassion, and good will. No one uses compulsion, force, manipulation, peer pressure, or any other Satanic method to achieve results. You are simply given a stewardship that suits your skills and abilities, while others accept stewardships that suit their capacities. Ideally, you will find yourself doing something that you enjoy, but you are always willing to do whatever needs to be done for the welfare of everyone. Stewardships come and go as needs require. Profits are distributed fairly after seeking direction from the Lord, the only one who know our thoughts, intentions, and needs. Perhaps the legal entity could be a non-profit organization, where no one owns anything.

Participation does not require the full-time efforts of anyone. It may be limited by time or by project. It can start off slowly, starting with small investments of time or labor but later growing into a full-time employment. Such a collaboration would certainly be blessed if Christian principles are adhered to with charity, patience, and long-suffering. Mistakes will be certainly be made, bad judgment will likely occur, feelings may be hurt, but if everyone humbly repents and consistently tries to do the Lord’s will, rather than their own self-interests, the power of the Lord will be made manifest.

In the Church, I believe it a terrible mistake to think that everything we do in the Church is merely spiritual in nature and should be relegated to reflective religiosity. It is a myth to say that religion, politics, and economics are not related and should remain in their own spheres—they are wholly interdependent! God has never done anything that only has a spiritual aspect to it. We simply need to apply His spiritual laws to our physical world to find temporal success and enable seemingly impossible miracles. Not as simple as it could be, but it truly is the way.

“Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” — 3 Nephi 13:28-34:

In conclusion, if we want to build up Zion, then let’s do it. Time’s a-wasting. We don’t have to wait for more prophetic declarations—we already have them. We are allowed to be creative and take our own initiative as long as we stay within the bounds the Lord has set. He told us that we shouldn’t need to be commanded in all things, but should be agents unto ourselves, being anxiously engaged in a good cause. Those good causes don’t start and stop at our chapel doors, or in the living rooms of those we minister to, but in everything we do—including how we spend our days working by the sweat of our brows. We don’t have to bow down and grovel at the feet of false gods and play by the rules of telestial economics that have been established by the world’s Mammonites; we can link arms with our covenantal brothers and sisters and work in a new way, in a new order, with a new heart and new mind. Imagine what can happen when our daily interests are found working on projects that please the Lord, in ways that please the Lord, in ways that gather and support Israel, bringing us together in financial, political, social, cultural, and intellectual ways. Maybe the New Jerusalem is nearer than we thought.

A Call to Action

I’ve laid out the principles of celestial economics and the path towards creating a Zion society. Now, it’s time for each of us to step up and start the journey. Each one of us has unique gifts and talents that can serve the collective good. It’s time to harness these resources, whether they be time, talent, or treasure, and contribute to building a Zion among ourselves.

Start by re-evaluating your personal and financial priorities. Align them with the principles of celestial economics and see the difference it makes in your life and the lives of those around you. The road may be challenging, but remember, we are in this together. We all have a role to play in building a society that is worthy of the Lord’s presence at His second coming. When we unite and work collectively, we make the impossible possible.

Don’t wait for the return of the city of Zion to earth. Let’s start building our own city of Zion now, one action at a time. Together, we can create a community where everyone thrives, both spiritually and temporally. This is not just our responsibility—it’s our divine calling. Let’s rise to the challenge and create a better world, for us, for our children, and for generations to come.

Leave a Comment