Mormonism And The Rise of Western Civilization

Published Date: June 14, 2014

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Professor of Scripture

Brigham Young University

Copyright © 1966 Dr. Hyrum L. Andrus

First Edition, February 1966

Second Printing, September 1969

I — Introduction

Within Mormon thought is a philosophy of history based upon the assumption that spiritual forces sometimes play a primary role in the formation of historical events and are vitally important in the establishment of societies founded upon the ideals of freedom and social union. Some historians conclude that the influence great men exert causes history to develop in a given direction. Others hold that forces within society are more important causative factors. Karl Marx, who, with Friedrich Engels, proposed the theory of dialectical materialism, wrote in defense of this view. “The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life.”1 While Mormonism accepts both the influence of great men and of socio-economic factors in shaping human destiny,2 it holds that, aside from these considerations, deeper and more significant spiritual elements sometimes give primary impetus to the movements of history. This was particularly true in the rise of Western civilization. The Book of Mormon pictures the resurrected Christ as stating to a group in ancient America that “the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles [the Western nations] . . . shall make them mighty above all.”3 Here, according to that volume, was the most influential causative factor involved in the rise of the West.


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