ZION IS FLED

MCQ - April 29, 2009

Teaching a church lesson on Zion as it was understood by the early saints got me to wondering about the evolution of this word in our church vocabulary.  We have all kinds of uses of the word, from a physical place (several, actually) to a state of being.

Our usage of the word today seems to be markedly different from that of the early saints in Missouri.  How has that change affected our doctrine about Zion?  Do we still believe in Zion as a physical location?  Do you?  If so, where, of all the possible locations, do you fix the location of Zion, or is there more than one?  If there is no fixed location, is there still a City of Zion?  If so, is it going to be physically located somewhere on Earth in the future, or will it only exist only as a concept? 

What bearing, if any, do non-mormon uses of the word have on your beliefs about Zion?  After all, this is not a word that unique to Mormons.  It is used throughout the Bible and has multiple definitions (even some very negative ones) depending on who you’re talking to.  It has also made its way into pop culture:

What does Zion mean to you? And, more importantly, if and when we get there, will there be dancing?

9 Comments »

  1. I taught this lesson a few weeks ago and am fascinated by the Zion concept. I think we could all use more discussion and practice of it.

    As a physical place: The city New Jerusalem–>North America–>the World in the Millennium

    As a concept: Unity, in the purest sense of the word. Something we must achieve as a people, possibly before the Millennium can start.

    Gentile use: Other than the above reference and a few other scattered uses, I don’t see anyone really talking about Zion, not even the most avid Bible studying groups. It’s usually considered just another word for/describing Jerusalem.

    Also, I am a big fan of Nibley’s “Approaching Zion”

    Comment by Bret — April 29, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  2. For me, the word is forever tainted by the cheesiness that was the movie Legacy: “Wherever you are will be Zion to me!”

    Comment by RCH — April 29, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  3. I don’t know the answer to your questions. All I know is that it’s pronounced “Zye-uhn.” None of this cockamamie “Zye-AWHN” crap.

    Comment by Hunter — April 30, 2009 @ 12:00 am

  4. “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” This is one of my favorite verses of scripture but I am also troubled by it. I love ALL the things that make us different – our different cultures, languages, politics, skin color, height, weight, temperments, etc. I think they add to the spice of life. And so when the Lord says we should be “of one mind” I worry that heaven might be a boring place. But then my gift of rationalization kicks in and I know that He is talking about things of the Spirit when referring to being of one mind.

    I don’t think Zion can exist as a place as long as humans are in charge but I think it can be a state of mind that we might achieve each week in Gospel Doctrine class or maybe at the Temple.

    Comment by lamonte — April 30, 2009 @ 5:56 am

  5. Gospel Doctrine class? Yours must be a lot different than mine.

    Comment by MCQ — April 30, 2009 @ 7:10 am

  6. You’re hilarious MCQ.

    I know The Matrix has “Zion” references in it but your vid clip doesn’t show any of that. Instead, it looks like just another excuse to play some kick ass action scenes. Awesome.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — April 30, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  7. CJ, I was going to post the Zion dance scene from the Matrix Reloaded, but it has a high neckidness and sex quotient. Didn’t want to get anyone riled up.

    If Zion is anything like that, there will be long lines to get in.

    Comment by MCQ — April 30, 2009 @ 11:11 am

  8. The essential parts of Zion are:

    Zion is the Pure in Heart:

    “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion – The Pure in Heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.” D&C 97:21

    Zion is a distinct place:

    “And the nations of the Earth shall honour her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the City of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there; and he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.” D&C 97:19-20

    Zion requires the Celestial Law:

    “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the Law of the Celestial Kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” D&C 105:5 (This refers to The Law of Consecration,
    See also v 4, 29, 32, 34 and D&C 58:19, 82:15, 97:25, 119:1, 3, 5, and 6, D&C 78:4-8.)

    Hugh Nibley a great advocate of Zion stated:

    Zion is any community in which the Celestial Order prevails.
    Zion is the pure in heart,
    But Zion is also a real city or any number of real cities.
    See BYU lecture series 1971/2 ‘Our glory or our condemnation’

    See the study “A scriptural study of Zion at
    http://studiesonzion.com/documents/A_Scriptural_Study_On_Zion.pdf

    Comment by malcolm — July 12, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  9. Thanks, Malcolm, those are all great answers.

    Comment by MCQ — July 12, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

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