Church History


    Hearing the Gospel in France, circa 1850

    In the 1840s and ’50s, many French reformers became interested in helping humanity through reorganizing society. When John Taylor arrived to start a Latter-day Saint mission in France, several reformers were struck by the Church’s pursuit of similar goals—though they didn’t know what to think about its spiritual emphasis. “Mr. Taylor,” asked one, “do you perhaps know [of any] other way than baptism to save and redeem the world, to renovate the human family?” When Elder Taylor emphasized that baptism is the first step in building up God’s kingdom on earth, the reformer was only more confused. How had Mormons created a society out of words and water? “You [have] got independent territory, [the] means to gather the poor [and] possess the spirit of philanthropy,” the man noted with awe, “but your baptism, etc., is [a] mystery to me.”

    John Taylor, October 10, 1852: Reflections on Government and War,”