As we look ahead to 2024, we can see several trends from 2023 that suggest ongoing expansion of the Restoration. Here are four that I'm interested in.
1. Temple, BYU Pathway, and Self-reliance. Three elements of establishing Zion are progressing faster than most people anticipated. The Church's self-reliance program is teaching Latter-day Saints to become self sufficient not only financially, physically, and spiritually, but also intellectually. The course on Emotional Resilience includes a section on identifying and handling "thinking errors" that, if widely implemented, would make the Latter-day Saints the most clear-thinking, incisive, and confident people anywhere. BYU Pathway Worldwide offers solid university education to people everywhere, an incalculable blessing for millions of people. And the ever-increasing availability of temple around the world is enhancing spiritual strength and durability.
I discuss these and related topics at howtozion.com.
2. No more contention. I started the blog "nomorecontention" (from Mosiah 1:1) to focus on the pursuit of clarity, charity, and understanding. Those three principles eliminate the sources of contention and enable people, regardless of their differences, to communicate in a productive manner for the benefit of everyone. Clarity eliminates misunderstandings based on obfuscation, word-thinking, censorship, etc. Some people resist clarity, but that becomes apparent when we focus on clarity and comparison. Charity involves giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming they act in good faith. It exposes anyone who does not act in good faith, such as those who make ad hominem arguments. Understanding replaces the fundamental source of contention, which is the urge to seek conformity and compliance. Insecurity and lack of confidence lead people to seek validation through the opinions of others instead of the soundness of their own conclusions and beliefs. Confident people are interested in understanding what others think and why they think it. Clarity, charity and understanding, implemented through the FAITH model, will continue to improve conversations and relationships among everyone interested in the Restoration.
I discuss no more contention at nomorecontention.com.
3. Gospel Topics Essays. The Gospel Topics Essays on Book of Mormon Translation and Geography have always been odd excursions into biased manipulation of historical sources combined with argumentative rhetoric, all in the service of SITH and M2C. They studiously avoid the clear, direct and unmistakable statements by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on these topics, along with the corroborating statements by their successors in Church leadership and the corroborating extrinsic evidence. Rather than educate readers, the essays are dogmatic accommodations of the SITH and M2C agendas of influential intellectuals. But in late 2023, the Church announced a new approach to answering Gospel questions that make the essays obsolete. We can anticipate a revised set of essays that follow the principles outlined in the new guidelines, as discussed here:
4. General Prosperity. I'm naturally optimistic so I'm fascinated to see how world conditions continue to improve. Despite the inevitable conflicts, crime, and controversies, technology, communications, and idealism continue to improve living conditions for people everywhere. This is all setting the table for the continued expansion and development of the Restoration, as I discussed in the book The Rational Restoration and various blogs and podcasts.
All in all, the year 2024 should be awesome!