The Virtues of Hard Work and Self-Reliance Rooted in Biblical versus Latter-day Saint Worldviews -- By: Ross J. Anderson

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 27:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: The Virtues of Hard Work and Self-Reliance Rooted in Biblical versus Latter-day Saint Worldviews
Author: Ross J. Anderson


The Virtues of Hard Work and Self-Reliance Rooted in Biblical versus Latter-day Saint Worldviews

Ross J. Anderson

Ross J. Anderson is Senior Pastor at Wasatch Evangelical Free Church in Roy, Utah.

I. Introduction

I have never found more sound and wholesome personal habits than among the Mormons. I have never mingled with people who showed fewer signs of dissipation. I have never studied groups of people who seemed better nourished and more healthful. I have never known people who took more pains to educate their children. This gives a clue to the success of the Mormons as colonizers and nation-builders.1

So says a former Harvard professor of Political Economy, as trumpeted in a book published by the Latter-day Saints (commonly known as LDS or Mormons) to extol the virtues of their own people. The Mormons are indeed a worthy people, well known for their upright way of life. Mormon virtues such as industry, education, progress, self-reliance, and charity are admirable, and are practiced by biblical Christians as well. Because of these common values, many Christians would assume a fundamental commonality between Mormons and themselves. But the two groups practice these virtues for vastly different reasons, based on radically incompatible worldviews. The worldview of any people consists of the shared assumptions about reality that underlie that group’s values and commitments.2 Surface level behaviors are ultimately rooted in and spring forth from the depths of a society’s worldview.3 In a day of increasing civic cooperation and theological dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons, we would be wise to remember that, in dramatic contrast to a biblical worldview defined in terms of creation, fall, and redemption, the values of hard work and self-reliance

practiced by Latter-day Saints are rooted in the humanistic core principle of exaltation.

II. Mormon Virtues

Hard work and self-reliance are two of the most widely recognized virtues of the Mormon people.

Work has become a Mormon trademark. We are known throughout the world as a highly motivated, industrious people. Eric Hoffer once cautioned, “Put a Mormon in a hopper and out comes a tycoon.” (Quoted by C. Brooklyn Derr in Ensign, Feb. 1978, p. 3). This intense commitment to the work ethic is our tradition.4

This ethic of hard work is enjoined upon Latter-day Saints in their standard scriptu...

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