Apocalypse or Zion? How Eschatology Affects Attitudes toward Social Peace among Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Chad Ford, Brigham Young University-Hawaii
Boyd Timothy, Brigham Young University-Hawaii
Réka Bordás-Simon
Zach Tilton, Western Michigan University

Abstract. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) hold differing eschatological views in relation to the role of God and His followers in ushering in the Second Coming of Christ and a thousand years of peace. Some emphasize the human responsibility to create peaceful conditions on earth to usher in Christ’s return (Human Action eschatology), others emphasize the role of Christ in creating peaceful conditions on earth upon His return (Divine Action eschatology), and others view peace as the result of both human and divine action with equal emphasis (Co-participation eschatology). In this study, we compare differences in personal attitudes of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace across these eschatologies. Four hundred and five LDS participants completed the Eschatological Attitudinal Survey (EAS), the Congruence Scale, the Prosocial Personality Battery, and the Social Justice Scale. Participants with a Divine Action eschatology scored higher on measures of intrapersonal peace and lower on measures of social peace. Conversely, participants with a Human Action eschatology scored lower on intrapersonal peace and higher on issues of social peace. By contrast, participants with a Co-participation eschatology were more likely to give equal weight to all three measures of peace: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social.

Ford, Chad, Timothy Boyd, Réka Bordás-Simon and Zach Tilton. 2022. “Apocalypse or Zion? How Eschatology Affects Attitudes toward Social Peace among Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association 1, no. 1: 73–92. https://doi.org/10.54587/JMSSA.0103

In Martin Luther King’s seminal work, Strength to Love, King addresses the question about how to change an unjust and wicked world.

How can evil be cast out? There are two ideas that men have usually held about the way evil is to be eliminated and the world saved. One idea is that man must remove evil with his own power. … The other idea concerning the way evil is to be removed from the world says that man must wait on God to do everything  It is not either God or man that will bring about the world’s salvation. It is both man and God (King and King 2010, 134–143).

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), these two dueling notions of how to change the world—Divine Action (the only way to fix the world is through divine intervention) and Human Action (the way to fix the world is through human intervention)—exist within the theology and lived experience of the LDS community.

Mormon Studies scholar Patrick Mason has argued that this tension is rooted in an LDS eschatology, or theological belief about the endtimes, that contains elements of both premillennialism and postmillennialism [1] (Mason 2004). In Mason’s theory, the predominant LDS belief in premillennialism leads to social quietism and a Divine Action approach, while postmillennialism belief would lead to social activism and a Human Action approach. This theory is compelling and worth testing.

This article explores the unique attitudes members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) hold in relation to the role God and His followers play in ushering in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and a millennium of a thousand years of peace and how those eschatological views ultimately define how members engage in intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace (peace as it relates to larger structural and political issues in a community). It shows a complicated view between Divine Action and Human Action, and finds that those with a Divine Action eschatology prioritize intrapersonal and interpersonal peace while those with a Human Action eschatology prioritize social peace. The article further shows that the majority of our LDS respondents hold neither a traditional premillennial nor a traditional postmillennial eschatology. Rather, they espouse a Co- participation eschatology that places responsibility on both parties. When our LDS respondents held a Co-participation eschatology, they were more likely to give equal weight to all three aspects of peace: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social.


In his 2004 article “The Possibilities of Mormon Peacebuilding,” Mason explores the opportunities and challenges of developing a specific brand of LDS peacebuilding (Mason 2004). He sheds light on the great potential the LDS community has in realizing a formidable religious peacebuilding program, specifically the theological, historical, cultural, institutional, and organizational resources that have yet to be marshaled. He asserts, “the resources for a distinctive brand of Mormon peacebuilding are already in place and simply have to be creatively and effectively put to use” (Mason 2004, 14). His assessment gives hope to members of the LDS community looking to draw upon their theology in activating the latent potential for peacebuilding within their religious tradition. However, within Mason’s diagnosis of these possibilities, he highlights challenges that need to be addressed if an LDS brand of peacebuilding is to be realized.

One key obstacle he identifies is related to how LDS members do and do not perceive different conceptions of peace. Mason asserts that when LDS members talk about peace, they discuss it in one of three ways: inner peace, relational peace, or eschatological, or millennial, peace. He argues this poses a problem toward developing a brand of LDS peacebuilding because of a missing perception of peace: a presentist structural approach, or what Mason refers to as peace as social justice (Mason 2004). He explains, “a substantive approach to social justice is simply a blind spot, lying almost entirely outside the realm of their current mindset” (Mason 2004, 26). In this regard, LDS members may not only be ambivalent toward this form of peace, but not cognizant of it altogether. If members are aware of it, they may have rejectionist attitudes, equating social justice with liberal politics and the residue of a “hippie culture” from the 1960s with its associated moral looseness [2] (Mason 2004, 24). Mason suggests this mindset may be fueled and dominated by “conservative religion and politics, a materialist middle-class ethos, and an often-insular devotion to church and family” (Mason 2004, 26). This exemplifies members’ propensity to allow certain socio-political, economic, and cultural worldviews to influence their perceptions of peace. What is left is not a viable or legitimate framework for the possibilities of a substantive peacebuilding approach to structural violence. The word substantive is employed because despite the cultural blind spot, Mason hints that some members use a rudimentary and reductionist analytical framework and approach to peace. He quotes Elder Richard P. Lindsay’s 1992 statement that “war and conflict are the result of wickedness; peace is the product of righteousness” (Mason 2004, 27). This framework does little to address the often-complex factors that contribute to conflict.

A related obstacle, and what Mason maintains as the “primary case” against his argument for developing a distinctive brand of Mormon peacebuilding that accounts for structural approaches, is the prioritization of soul-winning over peacebuilding (Mason 2004, 29). This perception informs that “no great change will happen, either in the world or in individuals’ lives, without first adopting the principles of the gospel” (Mason 2004, 29). Mason’s concern is that a “keep the commandments” mentality can lead to a potential abdication of moral responsibility, a certain “passivity” or “quiescence” on the part of members of the Church. In effect, the notion is that if individuals keep the commandments, they are not “entangled in the sins of a fallen world and particularly in the seemingly distant problem of violence” (Mason 2004, 29). Although Mason alludes to certain socioeconomic factors that may contribute to this mentality (the luxury members of the Church in developed countries have to ignore structural violence), he ultimately asserts this social quietism stems from a predominance of a premillennialist ideology. If members believe that only Christ at his Second Coming can fix the world and its social ailments, therefore the only real impact we can have is to preach the Gospel. This is the Divine Action model.

The interesting aspect of this issue is the fact that, theologically and theoretically, LDS members should have a healthy postmillennialist belief as well, with a view that building Zion (creating a Christian society) is the complementary commandment to bringing people to Zion (conducting missionary work) (Mason 2004). In this sense, LDS eschatology is unique in that it contains elements of pre- and postmillennialism, the latter being drowned out and the former potentially accentuated by a prevailing conservative political persuasion among members of the Church (Lugo et al. 2008; Yorgason 2013).

The impact of these diagnosed issues is far reaching. Because LDS Church members have no substantive framework for addressing social injustices and structural violence, and demonstrate a certain social quietism accompanying an imbalanced eschatology, they are hampered in their ability to practice a main component of their theology: building Zion. This is the Human Action model, associated with postmillennialism.

We are especially interested in Mason’s view that premillennialist attitudes among contemporary LDS members lead to social quietism. Originally, Mormon eschatology emphasized both pre- and postmillennial beliefs. Some teachings reflected that Christ’s Second Coming would begin a thousand-year reign of peace on the earth (premillennialism) while others emphasized that human action in spreading the gospel, specifically the gathering of Zion, would create the peaceful conditions on Earth preparatory to his coming (postmillennialism) (Mason 2004). Both Mason and historian Grant Underwood have attributed the faith’s prioritization of soul-winning over all else to the predominance of premillennial ideology among early believers. These Mormons didn’t necessarily expect to convert the world; their duty was to be a warning voice (Underwood 1999). They were convinced that even the most upright of Christians who did not heed the call of Mormonism would be damned, and that humanity was “differentiated not by race or rank but by its response to the gospel message” (Underwood 1999, 43–44). The hostility and persecution that LDS members experienced as they were driven from place to place also contributed to a sense of alienation from the world.

Doctrinally, this premillennialism was balanced by a postmillennial view. LDS members rejected the prevailing socioeconomic order of the time by establishing communitarian experiments where members gave everything to the Church, which redistributed goods according to the needs of individual families. The emphasis moved to a postmillennial ideal of building Zion, a literal heaven on Earth not unlike the Zion that Enoch helped found, preparatory to the Second Coming of Christ. Said Joseph Smith at the time, “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (Roberts 1930, 3:390–391).

Smith’s balanced vision between pre- and postmillennial beliefs was short-lived. Like many Christian faiths over the last century, LDS culture has increasingly emphasized its premillennial beliefs, “spiritualizing” the building of Zion by stripping its social and material purchase and limiting it to perfecting the saints and proclaiming the Gospel (Mason 2004).

In more recent work, Mason and co-author David Pulsipher have changed out the terms premillennial and postmillennial and instead have substituted “Divine intervention” and “Human intervention” as more accurate ways of describing LDS eschatology (Mason and Pulsipher 2021). In a Divine intervention approach, LDS members believe that God plays the leading role in bringing about end-times scenarios and in ushering in a thousand years of peace. In a Human intervention model, LDS members, by building Zion, create the conditions that lay the groundwork for the Second Coming of Christ.

However, as the LDS community and institution have evolved, it is much harder to classify LDS beliefs as falling into either pre- or postmillennial categories. Further, some scholars have written about the decline of eschatology as an organizing concept in the everyday lives of LDS members through the twentieth and into the twenty-first century as the Church moved from particularism to universalism, Church leaders deemphasized eschatological messaging, and the Cold War ended (Underwood 2000; Millet 2005; Yorgason and Robertson 2006; Yorgason 2013). In 2013, Ethan Yorgason published a paper with similar motivations to ours, putting systematic empirics to theoretical or impressionistic evidence about LDS eschatology. Specifically, Yorgason quantitatively tested whether general Church members subscribed to certain geopolitical elements of popular premillennial LDS eschatology discourse, as manifest in political commentary, apocalyptic literature, and unofficial folklore. He approximated a random sample of 817 students across BYU Provo, BYU-Idaho, and BYU-Hawaii to administer a 117-item Likert scale and calculated weighted means for various questions focused on place and space associated with premillennial beliefs. Ultimately, the study concluded that “respondents did not strongly use the resources offered by their religious tradition to assign eschatological meaning to contemporary places and spaces as they could have” (Yorgason 2013, 69) and that the mapping of geo-eschatologies among student respondents appeared to align more closely with broader political cultures than with theology.

Though Yorgason’s study is likely the closest analogue to our current investigation, there are four key theoretical and methodological distinctions between that study and ours. First, Yorgason focuses on “geo-eschatology,” or mapping the relative geopolitical significance of the places and spaces associated with end-time events. Our study focuses on measuring sociopolitical views and behavioral intentions associated with views about the end times, specifically as they pertain to peace and conflict. Second, Yorgason’s unit of analysis is focused on institutions, like the LDS church, and on nation-states. Our study focuses on the attitudes and intended behaviors of respondents as believers. Third, Yorgason’s study takes “popular” premillennialism as the given contemporary eschatology of LDS members and seeks to map manifest adherence to that view. We, by contrast, acknowledge the perceived dominance of that narrative but also search for postmillennial eschatologies. Fourth, while it’s unclear what validation Yorgason’s instrument received, his scale was tailored for an LDS population and administered among just students at the three main BYU campuses. Our instrument was designed to eventually be used for a broader Christian population (though it was validated among an LDS audience) and administered to a broader demographic LDS sampling frame than just students.

Two findings from this study are particularly relevant to ours. First, Yorgason found that respondents were ambivalent to many main tenets of premillennial eschatology. Yorgason infers this to mean eschatological belief is less operational than in prior generations, but it may also mean LDS members are not as united in which eschatology is operational for them. Second, one item from Yorgason’s scale did pertain explicitly to peace and conflict: “Latter-day Saints should concentrate most strongly on promoting peace among individuals and families because there will be conflict within and among countries that we will be relatively powerless to prevent” (Yorgason 2013, 68). That this question was included in the initial items intended to map the “popular” (premillennial) eschatology, independent of Mason’s paper and our study, [3] suggests that the notion that premillennialist or Divine Action eschatology may lead to social quietism has high face validity. Further, that this item had one of the highest weighted means for agreement from the survey (+1.28 among a +3/-3 scale) suggests this claim is to some extent empirically warranted.

Yorgason’s study asked important questions about the relationship of eschatology and geopolitics among LDS members and is a valuable contribution for the social scientific study of Mormonism. We believe our study complements and extends unexplored lines of inquiry from Yorgason’s. Specifically, we believe it is important to also investigate the degree to which members also subscribe to postmillennial, or Human Action, eschatology as well as how holding to these varied eschatologies may be related to attitudes and behavioral intentions associated with intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace.

Research Question

The purpose of this article is to determine what role LDS eschatology plays in determining LDS behavior associated with pursuing three specific types of peace. Our hypothesis was that LDS members with a Divine Action eschatology would likely pursue intrapersonal and interpersonal peace as the primary ways in which they both feel peace and engage in peacebuilding activities. For those LDS members with a Human Action eschatology, we predicted that they would likely conceive of peace first through the lens of interpersonal and social peace. We feel our findings contribute to the discussion of the possibility of LDS peacebuilding, as well as to larger discussions of religious peacebuilding and religious peace research in general.


Participants and Procedures

Participants were recruited through snowball sampling beginning with undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory peacebuilding class at an LDS university. Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire (implemented using Qualtrics software (https://www.qualtrics.com/) consisting of 13 demographic items and 94 Likert-type rating items from four separate questionnaires, each measuring different dimensions of peace (intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, and eschatological).

Of the initial 911 recruits, 498 participants finished all required portions of the study (completion rate=55%). We excluded participants who either identified as non-LDS (n=41) or did not disclose their religious identity (n=46). We also excluded LDS participants who reported disbelief in the literal Second Coming of Jesus Christ (n=6). That left 405 participants (261 female, 144 male) between the ages of 18 and 83 years (Median=27, Mean=34.28, SD=15.24) who completed the study and met our predetermined inclusion criteria. Qualifying participants identified as White/Caucasian (n=284), Asian (n=42), Pacific Islander (n=41), Hispanic/Latino (n=17), Black/African American (n=2) or did not disclose their ethnicity (n=19). In terms of nationality, 343 participants were from the United States (85%) and 62 were from other countries (15%). Of those from the United States, 113 were from Utah/Idaho (33%) and 230 were from other states (67%).

Measurement and Scales

Intrapersonal Peace .  To measure feelings of inner or intrapersonal peace, a state of psychological calm despite the potential presence of stressors, participants completed the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale (Lee, 2002). This dimension consists of 26 items, measuring how much the individual agrees with statements about themselves based on their experiences in the past week. Example questions include “I am loving towards myself” and “I accept that I have limitations.”

Interpersonal Peace.  To measure the perception of peace with one’s neighbors, or the tendency to have other-oriented empathy and helpfulness, participants completed the Prosocial Personality Battery (Penner, Fritzsche, Craiger, and Freifeld 1995). This instrument consists of 30 items divided into several factors, including social responsibility (one’s sense of personal obligation to benefit others); empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another); moral reasoning (the tendency to focus on the best interests of others when making moral decisions); and self-reported altruism (the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others). Example questions include “No matter what a person has done to us, there is no excuse for taking advantage of them” (a “social responsibility” item) and “My decisions are usually based on my concern for other people” (a “moral reasoning” item).

Social Peace.  To measure attitudes about the balance of equality and justice for all the classes in society on a large scale and intent to engage in social action to create social peace, participants completed the Social Justice Scale (Torres-Harding, Siers, and Olson 2012). This instrument consists of 24 items and measures several factors: attitudes toward social justice (beliefs about the importance of promoting equity and agency for all people); perceived behavioral control (the perception of one’s ability to influence others and affect communities); subjective norms (awareness of other people being engaged in activities that promote social justice); and behavioral intentions (reported intent to engage in activities that promote social justice). Example items include: “In the future, I will do my best to ensure that all individuals and groups have a chance to speak and be heard” and “In the future, I intend to work collaboratively with others so that they can define their own problems and build their own capacity to solve problems” (both “behavioral intentions” items).

Eschatological Attitude.  To measure attitudes about peace as it relates to the millennium, we created and validated a 14-item Eschatological Attitudinal Survey (Brieden and Timothy 2017) for respondents to complete. This questionnaire is divided into items that emphasize human responsibility to prepare for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming by creating peaceful conditions on Earth, and items that emphasize peaceful conditions created by the Second Coming. Example items include: “Christ will not come until his followers are of one heart and one mind” (a “Human Action” item) and “When Christ comes he will make his followers of one heart and one mind” (a “Divine Action” item).


To examine the effect of eschatological attitudes on ratings of differing types of peace, we first categorized responses to the Eschatological Attitudinal Survey as consistent with an emphasis on Human Action, Divine Action, or Co- participation between human and divine action. We summed the responses to all Human Action items (e.g., “We cannot wait until Christ comes to create God’s Kingdom on earth—it will come only as we create it”) and separately summed responses to all Divine Action items (e.g., “When Christ comes He will create the conditions for God’s Kingdom on Earth to be established”). We then subtracted the summed scores of the Human Action items from the summed scores of the Divine Action items, and divided the resulting distribution into three groups according to the 33rd and 66th percentiles. Thus, the lowest 31% of responses (n=127), categorized as Human Action eschatology, was comprised of general agreement with Human Action items and disagreement with Divine Action items. Conversely, the highest 32% of responses (n=130), categorized as Divine Action eschatology, was comprised of general agreement with Divine Action items and  disagreement  with Human Action items. Co-participation eschatology was categorized for the remaining 37% of responses, which was comprised of comparatively similar agreement between both Human Action items and Divine Action items (n= 48).

Using these three categories, we then compared eschatological attitudes across the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale, each subscale of the Prosocial Personality Battery, and each subscale of the Social Justice Scale, using one-way ANOVAs (scores for each inventory were standardized for comparison purposes). There was a mean difference in the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale, F(2, 402)=3.36, p=.04, ηp²=.02, with participants who emphasized Divine Action scoring higher on personal congruence than participants who emphasized Human Action (p<.05).

There was also a mean difference in the Social Responsibility subscale of the Prosocial Personality Battery, F(2, 402)=8.02, p<.001, ηp²=.04. Participants who emphasized Divine Action scored higher on social responsibility than participants who emphasized Human Action or Co-participation (p<.05). There were no significant differences among the remaining subscales of the Prosocial Personality Battery.

Finally, there were mean differences in the perceived behavioral control, F(2, 402)=2.96, p=.053, ηp²=.02, subjective norms, F(2, 402)=4.58, p=.01, ηp²=.02, and behavioral intentions F(2, 402)=5.72, p=.004, ηp²=.03, of the Social Justice Scale. Participants who emphasized Divine Action scored higher on perceived control than participants who emphasized Co-participation (p<.05); participants who emphasized Human Action scored higher on subjective norms than participants who emphasized Co-participation (p<.05); and participants who emphasized Human Action scored higher on behavioral intentions than participants who emphasized either Co-participation or Divine Action (p<.05). There were no significant differences among scores of the subscale measuring attitudes toward social justice.

These results indicate that participants with an eschatological emphasis on Human Action were more likely to report intention to engage in activities that promote social peace compared to those with an emphasis on Divine Action. In contrast, participants with an eschatological emphasis on Divine Action were more likely to endorse concepts of intrapersonal peace and norm- based beliefs about how they should act when compared to those with an eschatological emphasis on Human Action.

We then examined the differences in rating intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace for each of the coded eschatological attitudes (Human Action, Divine Action, or Co-participation) separately, using repeated measures ANOVAs. There were mean differences in ratings for participants categorized with Human Action eschatology, F(8, 1000)=4.07, p<.001, ηp²=.03, and Divine Action eschatology, F(8, 1032)=1.95, p=.05, ηp²=.02, but not for Co-participation eschatology, F(8, 1184)=.49, p=.87. Pairwise comparisons revealed that participants with Human Action eschatological views rated questions pertaining to behavioral intentions to engage in social peace activities higher than they rated the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale, and three of the four subscales from the Prosocial Personality Battery. In contrast, participants with Divine Action eschatological views rated higher on the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale and two of the four subscales from the Prosocial Personality Battery than they did on the behavioral intentions subscale of the Social Justice Scale. For participants with Co-participation eschatological views, there were no significant differences in ratings across the intrapersonal dimension of the Congruence Scale, each subscale of the Prosocial Personality Battery, and each subscale of the Social Justice Scale.

In sum, these results support the hypothesis that conceptions of peace are dependent upon differences in LDS eschatology. First, LDS members with contrasting eschatological beliefs differed from each other in how they rated measures of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace. Participants with a Divine Action eschatology favored intrapersonal and interpersonal peace more than those with a Human Action eschatology. On the other hand, participants with a Human Action eschatology favored social peace more than those with a Divine Action eschatology. Second, such preferences were not only seen in contrast and comparison between different eschatological beliefs, they were also seen within each type of eschatological belief. Participants with a Divine Action eschatology rated measures of intrapersonal peace higher than their intent to engage in activities that promote social justice, whereas the direct opposite was true for participants with a Human Action eschatology. Only for the LDS members with a co-participation eschatological belief was there equal weight for each measure of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social peace.


Our research found that when our respondents showed a proclivity toward a Co-participation model (that both they and God were responsible for eschatological peace), there were no real differences between their scores on scales of intrapersonal peace, interpersonal peace, and social justice. However, there were significant differences when people took a more exclusive Human Action or Divine Action approach.

Respondents that favored a Divine Action approach scored higher on issues of intrapersonal peace and lower on issues of social peace than people who followed a Co-participation and Human Action model. Conversely, respondents that favored a Human Action approach scored lower on issues of intrapersonal peace and higher on issues of social peace than those that followed a Co-participation or Divine Action approach. They did so without regard to gender, nationality, age, ethnicity, education, or socio-economic status. [4] The scores, across all these different demographic groups, were predicted solely on their eschatological orientation.

We believe that this result largely confirms both ours and Patrick Mason’s hypothesis that people with premillennial or Divine Action views would largely reject social peace measures, instead emphasizing personal righteousness or intrapersonal peace as the best way to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. By the same token, people with postmillennial or Human Action views would emphasize social peace measures over intrapersonal peace measures as the most effective way to prepare.

These views reflect attitudes about how people feel about personal righteousness, the atonement, and individual versus collective responsibilities to each other. Taken to one extreme or the other, a major element of peace gets sacrificed in the name of promoting a significant religious value. When peace is all about the individual, or all about God, there are significant ramifications toward how we interact with others and the world. The data we collected confirmed Mason’s view that an overemphasis on Divine Action would result in social quietism. People with this orientation were less likely to show behavioral intentions toward intervening in a broken world on behalf of those who are suffering the most. The view that one can pray away their problems and experience intrapersonal peace, regardless of the outer storms, takes hold to such a degree that Divine Action adherents can believe that there is no positive duty to relieve suffering in the world. Taken to the extreme, this view suggests that to say “thoughts and prayers” is all an individual can really do.

For those that believe that Human Action is solely or primarily responsible for fixing the world, there was a decrease in emphasis on intrapersonal peace. The view that individuals can work their way to peace through alleviating poverty and suffering in the world was associated with a diminished belief that finding intrapersonal peace was important. It also could be argued that valuing social peace presupposes a capacity to be acutely aware of social injustices, which would result in a lack of intrapersonal peace.

However, when respondents held a more balanced view between Divine Action and Human Action, we saw a significant and consistent need to emphasize all three values—intrapersonal peace, interpersonal peace, and social peace. This group sees a connection between being at peace personally and interpersonally and reaching out to the larger world to alleviate suffering. Peace to them is both “thoughts and prayers” and rolling up your sleeves to alleviate conflict at a structural and community level.

Holding an eschatology that focuses too much on one type of peace can undermine efforts to realize the others, which can paradoxically affect the ability to realize the type of peace believers prioritize as the most important. For example, many frontline peacebuilding workers or peace activists working on social peace experience fatigue and even burnout if they are not intentional about minding their own wellbeing, or intrapersonal peace, and this self-neglect can result in a diminished capacity to perform their work for social peace. On the other hand, focusing too much on interpersonal peace, even with highly successful conflict resolution techniques, may risk neglecting other factors or structural drivers that led the conflicting parties into interpersonal strife in the first place, leading to a temporary resolution at best. Finally, focusing solely on intrapersonal peace may have a stifling effect on tending to relationships and transforming contextual conditions that may only heighten the intensity of the stimuli that may undermine inner peace.


We had 405 participants in this study, responding from more than 20 countries. We recruited these participants using a snowball sampling technique that focused on finding members of the LDS Church exclusively. Despite the diversity of our sample in terms of age, geography, and other factors, the sample’s exclusive focus on Latter-day Saints provides limitations in the generalizability of our findings. Whereas we found no relationship between the demographic descriptors of our participants and their eschatological attitudes, such relationships may yet be discovered with other cohorts. Specifically, we found no notable connections between eschatological attitudes and gender, nationality, socioeconomic status, or education level.

Regarding geographic location, we expected a significant number of respondents from all over the world, but the majority of the participants were from the United States, specifically Utah and Idaho. For this reason we decided to compare the Utah and Idaho group with the rest of the world, but to our surprise we didn’t find any significant differences between the “Utah Mormon” and “Non-Utah Mormon” groups.

The demographic for which we especially expected to find significant differences was political affiliation. While we found some interesting connections between conceptions of social peace and political affiliation, unfortunately the number of respondents that reported their political affiliation was not significant enough to report. We believe we erred in making the question “What is your political affiliation?” optional. The majority of respondents chose not to respond or disclose their political identity. We also believe we could have provided a more nuanced political affiliation model that took into account more political beliefs beyond the right-left political spectrum scale that is prevalent in the United States. To facilitate future research, we already have created a different political affiliation scale and made the question mandatory in the hope that it will effectively measure the role that political affiliation plays in LDS eschatology. From our initial study this demographic appears to be very promising and we hope to report meaningful results regarding political affiliation in future research.

Future Research

For this study, a huge majority of respondents self-identified as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While we expected this to happen, for future research we’d like to expand our sampling to other religious traditions—ideally to all Abrahamic religions. We hope to continue to use this model to see if the same results hold true of both other Christian traditions and of non-Christians. We believe it would be instructive to see how other religious traditions conceptualize and engage in their eschatologies and the divide between Human and Divine Action.

We also believe that it is important to continue to explore, in greater depth, the attitudes held by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints. In particular, we are interested in the role that political ideologies and affiliations may play in predicting Human versus Divine versus Co- participation eschatologies. Our initial survey did not adequately capture those views, but we suspect, from some of the initial data that we did collect, that political ideology may help predict which way a member of the LDS Church might lean and how political ideology might influence the interpretation of eschatological doctrine.


[1] Pre- and postmillennialism are long-established terms theologians and scholars have used to describe two main eschatological worldviews (not including a-millennialism) that pertain to literal scriptural interpretations of when the Second Coming of Christ is to occur in relation to the 1,000 years of peace. We are revising Mason’s and Pulsipher’s versions of Human and Divine intervention to Divine-Action and Human-Action as more descriptive and relevant names for pre- and postmillennial eschatologies respectively, as evidence suggests that scriptural literalism among LDS members regarding eschatology is declining (Yorgason 2013).

[2] Indeed, we have changed the term from social justice to social peace in this paper, because of widely held negative attitudes among LDS members to the phrase “social justice.”

[3] We identified this study only after we constructed, validated, and administered our Eschatological Attitudinal Survey

[4] The proportion of subjects who were categorized as Human Action, Diving Action or Co-Participation did not differ by gender, χ2 (1, N=405)=3.40, p=.18, nationality, χ2 (1, N=405)=.32, p=.85, generation, χ2 (1, N=403)=7.56, p=.27, ethnicity, χ2 (1, N=386)=6.93, p=.54, education, χ2 (1, N=269) = 4.24, p=.84, or socio-economic status, χ2 (1, N=351)=5.43, p=.49.


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