I know I’m a little late to the party, but I thought it would be appropriate to weigh in on the somewhat recent debate about the Church’s extremely large investment portfolio. If you haven’t heard, in an attempt to injure the Church, someone leaked to the media that the Church’s total holdings were somewhere around 100 billion dollars—an enormous amount of money. While there are myriad issues associated with that to many people, I am not going to go into those here; but I will offer a positive way to look at this startling figure. In fact, I’m going to submit that our Church’s $100B is a fulfillment of prophetic utterance.
The year was 1868. The place was the School of the Prophets. Brigham Young addressed those attending the meeting and declared, “We shall be able to build temples, yes, thousands of them, and build temples in all countries of the world.”
I had heard this quote before, and it always puzzled me. Would there really be “thousands” of temples on the earth before the end comes and everything is rolled up like a scroll (see 3 Nephi 26:3)? That’s a bit much, isn’t it? I mean, we joke about how some Utah cities have an LDS meeting house on every corner–it would be like that, but with temples!
But there’s a key phrase that Brigham uses here that, once I recognized, changed my whole understanding of his statement. He doesn’t say we will build thousands of temples, he says we’ll “be able to build” thousands of temples. It’s not that we’ll have that many—it’s that we could have that many… if we wanted to. Time for some math.
According to someone’s estimate on the internet, a large temple costs the Church around $50M to construct. $100B divided by $50M is 2,000. If the Church cashed out that controversial $100B and spent it all on new temples, it could build a whomping two THOUSAND of them. Literally, the Church is able to build thousands of temples, just as Brother Brigham predicted.
Considering the Church started small and had a couple million dollars of debt by 1898, this is a pretty awesome accomplishment. So, no matter what your feelings are about the Church having so much money, just remember that it was prophesied to be so over 152 years ago.
Sources and Notes
- Church finances
- “Best-kept secret in the investment world”–WSJ
- Big temple estimated to cost $50M
- Map of temples operating worldwide in 2016