2009: Latter-day Saint Leadership on LDS as "Christian-Faith Denomination" / Steve St.Clair

Get the PDF File at this link

The Brethren have determined that we will be a Christian-Faith Denomination, rather than a fourth Abrahamic religion. We should remember that the interests and growth of the Church in the future are more tied to building relationships with other committed Christians and less with marginal religious-pluralism Christians and “World Religions”.

 


1820 (1832 Account): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Account of First Vision – All Things Bear Testimony and Bespeak an Omnipotent and Omnipresent Power; a Being Who Filleth Eternity; Who Was and Is and Will Be from All Eternity to Eternity; I Cried Unto the Lord for Mercy:

Joseph Smith Jr an account of his marvelous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Christ the son of the living God of whom he beareth record … my mind become exceedingly distressed for I became convicted of my Sins and by Searching the Scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatized from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own Sins and for the Sins of the world for I learned in the Scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their majesty through the heavens and also the Stars Shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in majesty and in the Strength of beauty whose power and intelligence in governing the things which are so exceeding great and marvelous even in the likeness of him who created him them and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man Said the it is a fool that Saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power a being who maketh Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity and when I considered all these things and that that being Seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a pillar of fire light above the brightness of the Sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the Spirit of God and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I Saw the Lord and he Spake unto me Saying Joseph my Son thy Sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my Statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucified for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life behold the world lieth in sin and at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned aside from the Gospel and keep not my commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them according to this ungodliness and to bring to pass that which hath been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Apostles behold and lo I come quickly as it written of me in the cloud clothed in the glory of my Father and my Soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the heavenly vision nevertheless I pondered these things in my heart.

1820 (1835 Account): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Account of First Vision:

Being wrought up in my mind respecting the subject of Religion, and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong, but considered it of the first importance to me that I should be right, in matters of so much moment, matter involving eternal consequences. Being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and there bowed down before the Lord, under a realizing sense (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, seek and you shall find, and again, if any man lack wisdom, let of God who giveth to all men liberally & upbraideth not. Information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called on the Lord for the first time in the place above stated, or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray My tongue seemed to be swollen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me. I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer, I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. I kneeled again, my mouth was opened and my tongue loosed; I called on the Lord in mighty prayer. A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with unspeakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee. He testified also unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I saw many angels in this vision. I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication.

1829: Letter, Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery: May God’s Infinite Mercy Keep and Preserve us Spotless until His Coming:

We want to hear from you and know how you prosper in the good work. Give our best respects to father and mother and all our brothers and sisters, to Mr. Martin Harris, and all the company concerned. Tell them that our prayers are put up daily for them that they may be prospered in every good word and work, and that they may be preserved from sin here, and the consequence of sin hereafter. And now, dear brother, be faithful and the discharge of every duty, looking for the reward of the righteous. And now, may God of his infinite mercy keep and preserve us spotless until His coming, and receive us all with rest with him in eternal repose through the atonement of Christ our Lord, amen. (Joseph Smith Letterbook, 1:9; Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 1:7)

1829 (November): Letter, Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith: When I Begin to Write of Mercies of God I Know Not Where to Stop:

My Dear Brother, When I think of the goodness of Christ I feel no desire to live or stay here upon the shores of this world of iniquity only to serve my maker and be if possible an instrument in his hands of doing some good in his cause with his to assist me When I consider and try to realize what he has done for me I am astonished and amazed. Why should I not be? For while I was rushing on in sin and crowding my way down to that awful gulf he yet strove with me and praised be his holy and Eternal name. He has redeemed my soul from endless torment; and not for any thing that I have merited or any worthiness there was in me for there was none. But it was in and through his own mercy wrought out by his own infinite wisdom, by preparing from all Eternity a means whereby man could be saved on conditions of repentance and faith on that infinite atonement, which was to be made by a great and last sacrifice; which sacrifice was the death of the only begotten of the Father, yea the eternal Father of Heaven and of Earth; that by his resurrection all the Family of man might be brought back into the presence of God. If therefore we follow Christ in all things whatsoever he commandeth us, and are buried with him by baptism into death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Eternal Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. And if we walk in newness of life to the end of this probation at the day of accounts, we shall be caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. But I need not undertake to write of the goodness of God; for his goodness is unspeakable neither tell of the mysteries of God. For what is man that he can comprehend and search out the wisdom of deity for great is the mysteries of Godliness? Therefore my only motive in this writing is to inform you of my prospects and hopes and my desires and my longing to be freed from sin and to rest in the Kingdom of my Savior and my redeemer. When I begin to write of the mercies of God I know not where to stop but time and paper fails. (Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith, 6 November 1829, in Anderson and Faulring, Documentary History of Oliver Cowdery, 1:78—79)

1829 (December): Letter, Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith: I Feel Almost as Though I could Quit Time, Fly Away, be at Rest in Bosom of My Redeemer:

Be assured; my changing business has not in any degree, I trust, taken my mind from meditating upon my mission which I have been called to fulfill; nor of slacking my diligence in prayer and fasting. But some times I feel almost as though I could quit time and fly away and be at rest in the Bosom of my Redeemer, for the many deep feelings of sorrow and the many long strugglings in prayer of sorrow for the sins of my fellow beings and, also for those who pretend to be of my faith; almost as it were separating my spirit from my mortal body. Do not think by this, my Brother, that I would give you to understand that I am freed from sin and temptations. No, not by any means. That is, what I would that you should understand is my anxiety at some times to be at rest in the Paradise of my God, is to be freed from temptation &c. (Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith, 28 December 1829, in Anderson and Faulring, Documentary History of Oliver Cowdery, 1:80—81)

1829: Revelation, Oliver Cowdery: Articles of the Church of Christ (Clearly a source for D&C 17, 18, & 20): May Grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ be & Abide with You All; Save You Eternally in His Kingdom through Infinite atonement in Jesus Christ:

A commandment from God unto Oliver, how he should build up His Church & the manner thereof- Saying: Oliver, listen to the voice of Christ your Lord & your God & your Redeemer & write the words which I shall command you concerning my Church, my Gospel, my Rock & my Salvation – Behold the world is ripening in iniquity & it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance, both the Gentiles & also the House of Israel. For behold I command all men everywhere to repent & I speak unto you even as unto Paul mine Apostle for ye are called even with that same calling with which he was called. Now therefore whosoever repenteth & humbleth himself before me & desireth to be baptized in my name shall ye baptize them. And after this manner did he command me that I should baptize them. Behold ye shall go down & stand in the water & in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold these are the words which ye shall say calling them by name saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost. Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water & come forth again out of the water & after this manner shall ye baptize in my name. For behold verily I say unto you that the Father & the Son & the Holy Ghost are one & I am in the Father & the Father in me & ‘the Father & I are one.: And now I speak unto the Church. Repent all ye ends of the Earth & come unto me & be baptized in my name which is Jesus Christ & endure to the end & ye shall be saved. Behold Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father & there is none other name given whereby men can be saved. Therefore all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father for in that name shall they be called at the last day. Therefore if they know not the name by which they are called they cannot have place in the Kingdom of my Father. Be hold ye must walk uprightly before me & sin not & if ye do walk uprightly before me & sin not my grace is sufficient for you that ye shall be lifted up at the last day. Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. I am the same which came unto my own & my own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness & the darkness comprehendeth it not. These words are not of men nor of man but of me. Now remember the words of him who is the first & the last the light & the life of the world. And I Jesus Christ your Lord & your God & your Redeemer by the power of my Spirit have spoken it Amen– And if I have not authority to write these things judge ye behold ye shall know that I have authority when you & I shall be brought to stand before the judgment seat of God. Now may the grace of God the Father & our Lord Jesus Christ be & abide with you all & save you Eternally in his Kingdom through the Infinite atonement which is in Jesus Christ Amen– Behold I am Oliver. I am an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father & the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold I have written the things which he hath commanded me for behold his word was unto me as a burning fire shut up in my bones & I was weary with forbearing & I could forbear no longer Amen—(Written In the year of our Lord & Saviour 1829 —A true Copy of the articles of the Church of Christ O.C.)
1830 (March): Book, Joseph Smith, Translator: The Book of Mormon:

Preface:
Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

Mosiah 3:
And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

Mosiah 27:
For, said Alma, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off. Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

Moroni 10:
And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.

1830 (April): Revelation, Joseph Smith: Articles and Covenants of the Church (D&C Section 20): God in Heaven, infinite and Eternal, from Everlasting to Everlasting Same Unchangeable God; Sanctification through Grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Just and True:

The arise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April— Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church; And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand; And this according to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory, both now and forever. Amen. After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world; But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness; And gave unto him commandments which inspired him; And gave him power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon; Which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also; Which was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to others by the ministering of angels, and is declared unto the world by them— Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old; Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen. Therefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work. And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation— For the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them; And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship. But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man. Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father; That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved— Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life, As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son; Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen. And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also. And we know that these things are true and according to the revelations of John, neither adding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of his book, the holy scriptures, or the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, the voice of God, or the ministering of angels. And the Lord God has spoken it; and honor, power and glory be rendered to his holy name, both now and ever. Amen.

1830 (August): Letter to Colesville Saints, Joseph Smith and John Whitmer: May Grace of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Be and Abide with You from Henceforth and Forever:

We are under necessity to disappoint you this time for reasons which I shall mention hereafter, but trusting that your meeting may not be an unprofitable one, may you all realize the necessity of getting together often to pray and supplicate at the throne of grace that the spirit of the Lord may always rest upon you. Remember that without asking we can receive nothing; therefore, ask in faith, and ye shall receive such blessing as God sees fit to bestow upon you. Pray not with covetous hearts, that ye may consume it upon your lusts, but pray earnestly for the best gifts. Fight the good fight of faith, that ye may gain the crown that it laid up for those that endure faithful unto the end of their probation. Therefore hold fast that which ye have received liberally from the hands of God, so that when the day of refreshing shall come, ye may not have labored in vain, but that ye may rest from all your labors and have fullness of joy in the kingdom of God. May the grace of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be and abide with you from henceforth and forever, amen. (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 1:13)

1831 (March): Revelation, Joseph Smith: A Prophecy Given to the Church of Christ (D&C 45): Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, light and life of world:

HEARKEN, O ye people of my church to whom the Kingdom has been given: Hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth; who made the Heavens and all the host thereof, and by whom all things were made which live and move and have a being. And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you: in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved. Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your case before him; saying Father behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; wherefore Father spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. Hearken O ye people of my church, and ye Elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called to-day and harden not your hearts; for verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world, a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; I came unto my own and my own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God, and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life. And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people and for the Gentiles to seek to it; and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me. (A Prophecy Given To the Church of Christ, March 7, 1831., Evening and Morning Star, vol. 1 (June 1832-May 1833), Vol. I. June, 1832. No. 1., p.2)

1832 (February): Revelation, Joseph Smith: Degrees of Glory (Section 76): From Eternity to Eternity He is Same; His Years Never Fail; Merciful and Gracious unto Those who Fear Him:

Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no savior. Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out. His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand. From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail. For thus saith the Lord — I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught

For by my spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will — yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man … By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God – Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father — That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God

And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us — That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness” (D&C 76).

1832 (August): Letter, Joseph Smith: To the Honorable Searchers for Truth:

We, in a spirit of candor and meekness are bound by every tie that makes man the friend of man, by every endowment of heaven, that renders intelligent beings seekers of happiness to show you the way to salvation. In fact, we are not only bound to do thus for those that seek the riches of eternity, but, to walk in the tracks of our Savior, we must love our enemies; bless them that curse us; do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us, or else you and the world may know that we are not the children of God. Therefore to be obedient to the precepts of our divine Master, we say unto you—Search the Scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory, nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how he will save them. (History of the Church, 1:282–83; see also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 11–12).

1832 (June): Letter, Joseph Smith to Emma: I Desire to be with Christ:

God is my friend. In him shall I find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will. (letter to Emma Hale Smith, 6 June 1832, as quoted in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee, 239; spelling and punctuation modernized)

1833 (January): Revelation, Joseph Smith: The Process of Sanctification and Characteristics that Lead to it (D&C 88):

And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you … This is the glory of God, and the sanctified; and they shall not any more see death Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings. Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace … Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen … And ye shall not receive any among you into this school save he is clean from the blood of this generation; And he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted. And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church. It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of bread and wine, he is to gird himself according to the pattern given in the thirteenth chapter of John’s testimony concerning me. Amen.

1833 (January): Letter to the Editor, Joseph Smith: first principles of the Gospel of Christ: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost Will Make You Neither Barren Nor Unfruitful in Knowledge of Lord Jesus Christ:

And now what remains to be done under circumstances like these, I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people high and low, rich and poor, male and female, ministers & people professors of religion, and non-professors in order that they may enjoy the holy spirit of God to a fulness, and escape the Judgments of God, which are almost ready to burst upon the nations of the earth-Repent of all your sins and be baptized in water for the remission of them, in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance of the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may receive the holy spirit of God, and this according to the holy scriptures, and of the Book of Mormon; and [p.16] the only way that man can enter into the Celestial kingdom. These are the requisitions of the new Covenant or first principles of the Gospel of Christ; then add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity (or Love) and if these things be in you and abound, they make you to be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.272 – 273)

1833 (November): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Thank Thee for Thy Mercy unto Thy Servant; Save Me in Thy Kingdom for Christ’s Sake:

I was awakened at 4 a.m. by Brother Davis, who invited us to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfilment of the word of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, and a sure sign that the coming of Christ is close at hand. In the midst of this shower of fire, I was led to exclaim, “How marvelous are Thy works, O Lord! I thank Thee for Thy mercy unto Thy servant; save me in Thy kingdom for Christ’s sake. Amen.” (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times , p.367 – 368)

1833 (November): Letter to Moses Nickerson, Joseph Smith: Joseph’s Teachings in Accord with Bible, Ancient Apostles and Prophets:

You remember the testimony which I bore in the name of the Lord Jesus, concerning the great work which he has brought forth in the last days. You know my manner of communication, how that in weakness and simpleness I declared to you what the Lord had brought forth by the ministering of his holy angels to me, for this generation. I pray that the Lord may enable you to treasure these things up in your mind, for I know that his Spirit will bear testimony to all who seek diligently after knowledge from him. I hope you will search the scriptures, to see whether these things are not also consistent with those things that the ancient prophets and apostles have written. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.304)

1833 (November): Letter, Joseph Smith: Reflections on the Holiness and Perfections of Our Great Master:

When we reflect upon the holiness and perfections of our great Master, who has opened a way whereby we may come unto him, even by the sacrifice of himself, our hearts melt within us for his condescension. And when we reflect also, that he has called us to be perfect in all things, that we may be prepared to meet him in peace when he comes in his glory with all the holy angels, we feel to exhort our brethren with boldness, to be humble and prayerful, to walk indeed as children of the light and of the day, that they may have grace to withstand every temptation, and to overcome every evil in the worthy name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For be assured, brethren, that the day is truly near when the Master of the house will rise up and shut the door, and none but such as have on a wedding garment will be permitted to enjoy a seat at the marriage supper! [See Matthew 22:1–14.] (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smit, Chapter 3- Jesus Christ, the Divine Redeemer of the World; original source is a Letter from Joseph Smith and high priests to the brethren in Geneseo, New York, Nov. 23, 1833, Kirtland, Ohio, Church Archives)

1834 (January): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: God have mercy on my Brethren in Zion for Christ’s Sake:

This night at Brother Jenkins Salisbury came from home. Oh Lord keep us and my Family safe until I can return to them again. Oh my God have mercy on my Brethren in Zion for Christ Sake Amen. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.25)

1834 (February): Newspaper Article, Evening and Morning Star, Joseph Smith: God Great Source and Fountain from whence Proceeds All Good; Perfect Intelligence; Wisdom Alone Sufficient to Govern and Regulate Mighty Creations and Worlds:

All well established and properly organized government have certain fixed and prominent laws for the regulation and management of the same. If man has grown to wisdom and is capable of discerning the propriety of laws to govern nations, what less can we expect from the Ruler and Upholder of the universe? Can we suppose that he has a kingdom without laws? Or do we believe that it is composed of an innumerable company of beings who are entirely beyond all law? Consequently have need of nothing to govern or regulate them? Would not such ideas be reproachful to our Great parent, and an attempt to cast a stigma upon his glorious character? Would it not be asserting, that we had found out a secret beyond Deity? That we had learned that it was good to have laws, and yet He, after existing from eternity, and having power to create man, had not found out the fact, that it was proper to have laws for his government? We admit that God is the great source and fountain from whence proceeds all good; that he is perfect intelligence, and that his wisdom is alone sufficient to govern and regulate the mighty creations and worlds which shine and blaze with such magnificence and splendor over our heads, as though touched with his finger and moved by his Almighty word. And if so, it is done and regulated by law for without law all must certainly fall into chaos. If, then, we admit that God is the source of all wisdom and understanding, we must admit that by his direct inspiration he has taught man that law was necessary in order to govern and regulate his own immediate interest and welfare. For this reason, it is beneficial to promote peace and happiness among men. And as before remarked, God is the source from whence proceeds all good; and if man is benefitted by law, then certainly, law is good; and if law is good, it, or the principle of it emanated from God; for God is the source of all good; consequently, then, he was the first Author of law, or the principle of it, to mankind. (The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad, Evening and Morning Star, February, 1834, p.136)

1834 (March): Newspaper Article, Evening and Morning Star, Joseph Smith: God Prepared Sacrifice in Gift of His Own Son, Sent to Prepare way through Which Man Might Enter Into Lord’s Presence:

God … prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son, who should be sent in due time to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord’s presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience. From time to time these glad tidings were sounded in the ears of men in different ages of the world down to the time of Messiah’s coming. By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith; he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man, for this was the plan of redemption, and without the shedding of blood was no remission. And as the sacrifice was instituted for a type by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin. But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts [see Hebrews 11:4]. Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type, or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself—and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins … We cannot believe that the ancients in all ages were so ignorant of the system of heaven as many suppose, since all that were ever saved, were saved through the power of this great plan of redemption, as much before the coming of Christ as since; if not, God has had different plans in operation (if we may so express it), to bring men back to dwell with Himself. And this we cannot believe, since there has been no change in the constitution of man since he fell; and the ordinance or institution of offering blood in sacrifice was only designed to be performed till Christ was offered up and shed His blood—as said before—that man might look forward in faith to that time … That the offering of sacrifice was only to point the mind forward to Christ, we infer from these remarkable words of Jesus to the Jews: ‘Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad’ [John 8:56]. So, then, because the ancients offered sacrifice it did not hinder their hearing the Gospel; but served, as we said before, to open their eyes, and enable them to look forward to the time of the coming of the Savior, and rejoice in His redemption. … We conclude that whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins. And this they have done, thousands who have gone before us, whose garments are spotless, and who are, like Job, waiting with an assurance like his, that they will see Him in the latter day upon the earth, even in their flesh [see Job 19:25–26].We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their m inds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation, as contained in His law. ((The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad, Evening and Morning Star, March, 1834)

1834 (March): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Blessing His Family for Christ’s Sake:

We intended to start on our journey east, but concluded to tarry another day. O may God bless us with the gift of utterance to accomplish the journey and errand on which we are sent, and return safe to the land of Kirtland, and find my family all well. O Lord, bless my little children with health and long life, to do good in their generation, for Christ’s sake. Amen. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:,41)

1834 (April): Newspaper Article, Joseph Smith: Who Among all the Saints in these Last Days Can Consider Himself as Good as Our Lord?:

Who, among all the saints in these last days, can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is as perfect, who is as pure, and who as holy as he was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven-no deceit was in his mouth, neither was guile found in his heart! … Where is there one like him? He cannot be found on earth. (The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, To Their Brethren Abroad., Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2 (June 1833-September 1834), Vol. Ii. April, 1834. No. 19., p.152)

1834: Journal Entry, Edward Stevenson, Latter-day Saint in Pontiac, Michigan (1886 Account): As the Day of Pentacost; Spirit of Lord Filled House; I was as one born again, regenerated, converted:

Fifty-three years ago, when I was but thirteen years of age, I first met with Joseph Smith, the prophet of this generation and of the nineteenth century. I shall never forget the impression made upon me by his presence and voice. He was accompanied by the three witnesses, and at public meetings all of them in turn bore testimony, and to us it was indeed a day of Pentacost. First the prophet related how he was alone in the woods in secret prayer, when a bright light began to shine around him (like unto Paul’s vision) the brightness of which at first alarmed him, but his fear was soon dispelled by the voice of the Father introducing his Only Begotten Son to him, who spoke for the young man, and instructed him (see Zechariah, 2nd chapter.) He also described the visit of the angel (three times during one night to his bed-chamber) who instructed him in the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which was to be established and preached to every nation, kingdom, tongue, and people, as spoken of in Revelations 14:6-7) also quoting Isaiah, 2nd chapter). While relating those visions, the countenance of the Prophet shone, and the spirit of the Lord filled the house, and for one, I can bear my testimony that I was as one born again, regenerated, converted; for “there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32). My mind was so enlightened, that I felt to exclaim, as did the Prophet Isaiah: “Sing, o heavens, and be joyful. O earth, and break forth into singing, O mountain! For the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:15). (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 1:37-38)

1834 (September): Letter, Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps: Description of Restoration of Aaronic Priesthood:

On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!—What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world were racked and distracted—while millions were grouping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld—our ears heard. As in the “blaze of day;” yes, more—above the glitter of the May Sun beam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, “I am thy fellow servant,” dispelled every fear. We listened—we gazed—we admired! ‘Twas the voice of the angel from glory—’twas a message from the Most High! and as we heard we rejoiced, while his love enkindled upon our souls, and we were rapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? No where: uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!64 (Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, 7 September 1834, in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:420)

1834 (December): Letter, Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery: Without Assisting Grace of Savior, Joseph Subject to Passions, Deviates from Perfect Path Commanded to All Men:

During this time, as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies; but as my accusers are, and have been forward to accuse me of being guilty of gross and outrageous violations of the peace and good order of the community, I take the occasion to remark, that, though, as I have said above, “as is common to most, or all youths, I fell into many vices and follies,” I have not, neither can it be sustained, in truth, been guilty of wronging or injuring any man or society of men; and those imperfections to which I allude, and for which I have often had occasion to lament, were a light, and too often, vain mind, exhibiting a foolish and trifling conversation. This being all, and the worst, that my accusers can substantiate against my moral character, I wish to add, that it is not without a deep feeling of regret that I am thus called upon in answer to my own conscience, to fulfill a duty I owe to myself, as well as to the cause of truth, in making this public confession of my former uncircumspect walk, and unchaste conversation: and more particularly, as I often acted in violation of those holy precepts which I knew came from God. But as the “Articles and Covenants” of this church are plain upon this particular point, I do not deem it important to proceed further. I only add, that (I do not, nor never have, pretended to be any other than a man “subject to passion,” and liable, without the assisting grace of the Savior, to deviate from that perfect path in which all men are commanded to walk!) (Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834-September 1835), Vol. 1 December, 1834 No. 3, p.40)

1834 (November): Addresses to School For the Elders, Kirland, Ohio, Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon: Lectures on Faith:

Lecture 1:
We here understand that the sacred writers say that all these things were done by faith. It was by faith that the worlds were framed-God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in him. So with men also, they spake by faith in the name of God and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions’ mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in them. Had it not been for the faith which was in men, they might have spoken to the sun, the moon, the mountains, prisons, lions, the human heart, fire, armies, the sword, or to death in vain! Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things. By it they exist; by it they are upheld; by it they are changed; or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence!

Lecture 2:
We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fulness and perfection dwell. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, without beginning of days or end of life. In him every good gift and every good principle dwell, and he is the Father of lights. In him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers for life and salvation. In order to present this part of the subject in a clear and conspicuous point of light, it is necessary to go back and show the evidences which mankind have had to believe in the existence of a God and also to show the foundation on which these evidences are and have been based since the creation.

Lecture 3:
From the foregoing testimonies, we learn the following things respecting the character of God: First, he was God before the world was created, and the same God he was after it was created. Secondly, he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and he was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting. Thirdly, he does not change, neither does he vary; but he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday, today, and forever; and his course is one eternal round, without variation. Fourthly, he is a God of truth and cannot lie. Fifthly, he is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. Sixthly, he is love. An acquaintance with these attributes in the divine character is essential so the faith of any rational being can center in him for life and salvation. For if, in the first instance, he did not believe him to be God, that is, the creator and upholder of all things, he could not center his faith in him for life and salvation, for fear there should be a greater one than he who would thwart all his plans, and he, like the gods of the heathen, would be unable to fulfil his promises. But seeing he is God over all, from everlasting to everlasting, the creator and upholder of all things, no such fear can exist in the minds of those who put their trust in him, so that in this respect their faith can be unwavering. But secondly, unless God was merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness, such is the weakness of human nature and so great the frailties and imperfections of men that unless they believed that these excellencies existed in the divine character, they could not have the faith necessary to salvation. For doubt would take the place of faith, and those who know their weakness and liability to sin would be in constant doubt of salvation if it were not for the idea which they have of the excellency of the character of God, that he is slow to anger, long-suffering, and of a forgiving disposition, and does forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. Having an idea of these facts does away with doubt and makes faith exceedingly strong. But in order to have faith in him, it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who does not change as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long-suffering. For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he does not change, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that his course is one eternal round. And again, the idea that he is a God of truth and cannot lie is equally as necessary to the exercise of faith in him as is the idea of his unchangeableness. For without the idea that he is a God of truth and cannot lie, men could not have the confidence in his word necessary to exercise faith in him. But having the idea that he is not a man who can lie gives power to the minds of men to exercise faith in him. But it is also necessary that men should have an idea that God is no respecter of persons, for with the idea of all the other excellencies in his character, and this one wanting, men could not exercise faith in him. Because if he were a respecter of persons, they could not tell what their privileges were, nor how far they were authorized to exercise faith in him, or whether they were authorized to do it at all. All must be confusion. But no sooner are the minds of men made acquainted with the truth on this point, that he is no respecter of persons, than they see that they have authority by faith to lay hold on eternal life, the richest boon of heaven, because God is no respecter of persons, and every man in every nation has an equal privilege. And lastly, but not less important to the exercise of faith in God, is the idea that he is love. For without this one characteristic to influence all the other excellencies in his character, they could not have such powerful dominion over the minds of men. But when the idea is planted in the mind that he is love, who cannot see the just ground that men of every nation, kindred, and tongue have to exercise faith in God so as to obtain eternal life? From the above description of the character of the Deity which is given him in the revelations to men, there is a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him among every people, nation, and kindred, from age to age, and from generation to generation. Lecture 5: There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things, by whom all things were created and made, whether visible or invisible, whether in heaven, on earth, in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space. They are the Father and the Son: the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fulness. The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, is a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after his likeness and in his image. He is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fulness of the Father, or the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name. He is called the Son because of the flesh. And he descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, he suffered greater sufferings and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God and remained without sin, showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, that all who walk not in the law of God may justly be condemned by the law and have no excuse for their sins. He, being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father, possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit that bears record of the Father and the Son. These three are one; or, in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things, by whom all things were created and made. And these three constitute the Godhead and are one. The Father and the Son possess the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fulness-filling all in all. The Son, being filled with the fulness of the mind, glory, and power, or in other words, the spirit, glory, and power, of the Father, possesses all knowledge and glory and the same kingdom, and sits at the right hand of power in the express image and likeness of the Father. He is a mediator for man, being filled with the fulness of the mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father, which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments. And all those who keep his commandments shall grow from grace to grace and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They will possess the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all, being filled with the fulness of his glory and becoming one in him, even as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one.

1835 (August): Letter, Joseph Smith: Rail Not Against Sects, Neither Talk Against their Tenets; Preach Christ and Him Crucified:

Therefore-let us be wise in all things, and keep all the commandments of God, that our salvation may be sure; having our armour ready and prepared against the time appointed; and having on the whole armour of righteousness, we may be able to stand in that trying day. We say also that if there are any doors open for the Elders to preach the first principles of the gospel: let them not keep silence: rail not against the sects, neither talk against their tenets. But preach Christ and him crucified, love to God, and love to man, observing always to make mention of our republican principles, thereby if posible, we may allay the prejudice of the people, be meek and lowly of heart, and the Lord God of our fathers shall be with you for evermore; Amen. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.347 – 348)

1835 (September): Journal entry, Joseph Smith: May God Continue to Grant Mercies for Christ’s Sake:

This day Joseph Smith, Jr. was at home writing blessings for my most beloved brethren. I have been hindered by a multitude of visitors but the Lord has blessed our souls this day. May God grant to continue his mercies unto my house, this night for Christ’s sake. This day my Soul has desired the salvation of Brother Ezra Thayr. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.xv)

1835 (October): Letter, Oliver Cowdery: We believe that All Men must Repent (if They are Saved), for All have Sinned, and that Salvation is Free for All:

Kirtland, Ohio, October 22, 1835. To Dr. S. Avord Beaver, Pennsylvania. Dear Sir: By requesting, my friend has given me the opportunity of occupying a space. I cannot, in justice, let an occasion pass unimproved when I see a prospect, or think I see one, of benefitting my fellowmen. I must apologize for the short space occupied by my friend, as to answer every communication with a lengthy letter would be impossible, we therefore, when requested, forward our paper, which develops in short, our principles, or at least, our views with regard to the first principles of the gospel: when we do this, generally, we can do no more except our friends from abroad, as many do, visit this society, and learn from what they here see, etc., more extensively, our faith

We believe, in short, in God, and in a Saviour Jesus Christ; We believe that all men must repent (if they are saved) for all have sinned, and that salvation is free for all. We believe that when we please God he will manifest the same to us by his Spirit, the ministering of angels, or his own voice. We believe if we endure faithful to the end we shall be saved. We believe in the scripture of the Old and New Testaments, and the Book of Mormon. We believe that God never had a church on earth without manifesting his will to that church, and we believe that the salvation of men was never left in that vague way that we must grope our way through this life upon uncertainties and doubts. We know that we are built upon the Rock, the word of truth, and that God has called upon his creatures in the last days preparatory to the time when he will come in the clouds of heaven. (Source: Oliver Cowdery to Mr. Wm. [William] Frye, Esq., December 22, 1835, Huntington)

1835 (November): Magazine Articles, Joseph Smith: To Elders of Church of Latter Day Saints; Joseph Relies Entirely on Principles Inculcated in New Testament:

And now to show our doctrine on this subject, we shall commence with the first principles of the gospel, which are repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands. This we believe to be our duty, to teach to all mankind the doctrine of repentance … But to proceed, in the letter alluded to, the principles of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, are not only set forth, but many passages of scripture, were quoted, clearly elucidating the subject; let me add, that I do positively rely upon the truth and veracity of those principles inculcated in the New Testament. (Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2 (October 1835-September 1836), Vol. 2 November, 1835 No. 14, p.209)

1836 (January): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: May God Grant Blessings for Christ’s Sake:

But I am determined that nothing on my part shall be lacking to adjust and amicably dispose of and settle all family difficulties, on this day, that the ensuing year, and years, be they many or few may be spent in righteousness before God, and I know that the cloud will burst and Satan’s kingdom be laid in ruins with all his black designs, and the saints come forth like gold seven times tried in the fire, being made perfect through sufferings, and temptations, and the blessings of heaven and earth multiplied upon our heads which may God grant for Christ sake Amen. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.121 – 122)

1836 (March): Dedicatory Prayer for Kirtland Temple (D&C 109), Joseph Smith: Sovereign and Eternal God:

O Lord God Almighty, hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting.

1836 (April): Revelation, Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon (D&C 110): We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the breastwork of the pulpit:

The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father (D&C 110:1–4).

1836 (March): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Preach Jesus Christ and Him Crucified; Do Not Contend with Others on Account of their Faith or Systems of Religion:

I made the following remarks: that the time that we were required to tarry in Kirtland to be endowed, would be fulfilled in a few days, and then the Elders would go forth, and each must stand for himself, as it was not necessary for them to be sent out, two by two, as in former times, but to go in all meekness, in sobriety, and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified; not to contend with others on account of their faith, or systems of religion, but pursue a steady course. This I delivered by way of commandment; and all who observe it not, will pull down persecution upon their heads, while those who do, shall always be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:431 – 432)

1836 (January): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: We Differ From Other Christian denominations only in Relying on Bible More:

This morning, a minister from Connecticut, by the name of John W. Olived, called at my house and inquired of my father: “Does the Prophet live here?” My father replied he did not understand him. Mr. Olived asked the same question again and again, and received the same answer. He finally asked: “Does Mr. Smith live here?” Father replied: “O yes, sir, I understand you now.” Father then stepped into my room and informed me that a gentleman had called to see me.

I went into the room where he was, and the first question he asked me, after passing a compliment was: “How many members have you in your Church?” I replied that we had between fifteen hundred and two thousand in this branch. He then asked: “Wherein do you differ from other Christian denominations?” I replied, that we believe the Bible, and they do not. However, he affirmed that he believed the Bible. I told him then to be baptized. He replied that he did not realize it to be his duty. But when I laid before him the principles of the Gospel, viz: faith and repentance; baptism, for the remission of sins; and the laying on of hands, for the reception of the Holy Ghost, he manifested much surprise.

I observed that the hour for school had arrived, and I must attend. The man appeared astonished at our doctrine, but by no means hostile. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:378 – 379)

1836 (October): Newspaper Article, Messenger & Advocate Editor: Meetinghouses of Other Denominations have been Furnished our Elders while Travelling among Strangers to Proclaim Gospel; Kirtland Temple Now Open for Preachers of Other Denominations to Preach Whatever They Think to be Gospel:

Such is the love that common religion creates, that it is a matter of difficulty that any of the elders of the church of Latter Day Saints, can obtain liberty to deliver a lecture upon the principles of their faith in a building owned, or occupied, by the different sects, or one over which they hold influence.

Aside, however, from the general course pursued by the different religionists toward us, we are happy to say, there are many honorable exceptions, as we are informed by elders from the east. Many houses, owned or occupied by other denominations, have been gratuitously furnished our brethren while travelling among strangers to proclaim the gospel; and so far as we have been able to learn, when ever such has been the case, a general expression of good feelings has been manifested.

Our readers may say, that we ought not to expect favors from others, that we will not grant ourselves. To which we answer: since our meeting house [the Kirtland Temple] has been finished suitable to convene a congregation, but two persons have made application to occupy it, to our knowledge, one a Campbellite, (so called,) and the other a Methodist. And we believe, that it was more from the solicitation of some members of the church to preach in our house, than from a request from them, first. The Campbellite did not preach, the other did. Previously to the finishing the house, a Universalean; made application, and attained a hearing-we know of no others.

(But for any preacher of respectable character, and in fellowship, with his society, or of respectability if he is joined to no sect, almost any day of the week, except the Sabbath, our doors will be opened, and he or they may preach whatever they call or think to be the gospel. There may be times or seasons when our house will be occupied by the society here; but generally, not. So far as regards propriety and decency; we do not intend there shall be rudeness or improper conduct in the house on any occasion. We have made these remarks, and given this general invitation to all or any professed teacher of religion, at the request and suggestions of several of the brethren, and proprietors in our house; and also in perfect accordance with our own feelings.

1838: (July): Elder’s Journal Publication, Joseph Smith: What are the fundamental principles of your religion? Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.

But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3:30)

1838 (November): Letter to Emma, Joseph Smith: Prisoners in Chains for Christ’s Sake:

My Dear Emma: We are prisoners in chains, and under strong guards, for Christ sake and for no other cause, although there has been things that were unbeknown to us, and altogether beyond our control, that might seem, to the mob to be a pretext, for them to persecute us, but on examination, I think that the authorities, will discover our innocence, and set us free, but if this blessing cannot be done obtained, I have this consolation that I am an innocent man, let what will befall me.

I received your letter which I read over and over again, it was a sweet morsel to me. Oh God grant that I may have the privilege of seeing once more my lovely Family, in the enjoyment, of the sweets of liberty, and societal life, to press them to my bosom and kissing their lovely cheeks would fill my heart with unspeakable great gratitude, tell the children that I am alive and trust I shall come and see them before long, comfort their hearts all you can, and try to be comforted yourself, all you can.

We are in good spirits and rejoice that we are counted worthy to be persecuted for Christ’s sake, tell little Joseph, he must be a good boy, Father loves him with a perfect love, he is the Eldest must not hurt those that are smaller then him, but comfort them. Tell little Frederick, Father, loves him, with all his heart, he is a lovely boy. Julia is a lovely little girl, I love her also She is a promising child, tell her Father wants her to remember him and be a good girl, tell all the rest that I think of them and pray for them all, little baby Alexander is on my mind continually Oh my affectionate Emma, I want you to remember that I am a true and faithful friend, to you and the children, forever, my heart is entwined around yours forever and ever, oh may God bless you all amen you.

I am your husband and am in bands and tribulation. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.367 – 368)

1939 (March): Letter to Isaac Galland, Joseph Smith: Regarding Baptist Religion, Only Difference is We Believe More Firmly in Bible, Prophets, Apostles, Christ:

Now sir, the only difference between their religion, and mine, is, that I firmly believe in the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ, being the chief corner stone. And speak as one having authority among them, and not as the scribes, and am liberal in my sentiments towards all men, in matters of opinion, and rights of conscience, whereas they are not.

The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or any where else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.420 – 421)

1839 (July): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Being Born Again:

Being born again comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 348; Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3:392).

1840 (March): Newspaper Article, Times and Seasons: There are many Sincere, Zealous, Moral Persons Enjoying Spirituality in Every Denomination:

His Kingdom is not divided against itself; and for this reason we have no confidence in the sects, parties, systems, doctrines, creeds, commandments, traditions, precepts, and teachings of modern times, so far as they are at variance with each other, and contrary to the Scriptures of truth. We have, therefore, withdrawn from all these systems of error and delusion, and have endeavored to restore the ancient doctrine and faith which was once delivered to the saints, and to build society upon the truth, in its purity and fullness, hoping thereby to enjoy the peculiar gifts and blessing which were so abundantly bestowed upon the church in ancient times.

In saying this we do not call in question the morality, the sincerity, or the spiritual enjoyment of individuals belonging to any religious system. On the contrary, we feel assured that there are many sincere and zealous persons in every denomination. It is the Principles we reject, not men. It is the System that we wish to see established in purity, that those who are builded upon it may be pure also. It is the fountain that should be pure, and then the stream is easily kept so. But if any persons prefer their own doctrines to those which we consider to be true, and we cannot by reason and argument convince them of the correctness of ours, we wish them to have the privilege of enjoying their religious rights unmolested. We have no disposition to persecute them. (Friends and Fellow-Citizens:, Times and Seasons, vol. 1 (November 1839-October 1840), Vol. 1 No. 5 March, 1840, p.68)

1840: Letter in Newspaper Article, M. L. Davis, Washington correspondent for the New York Enquirer: Joseph Smith on Mormonism’s God with Christian God’s Attributes:

My Dear Mary:-I went last evening to hear “Joe Smith,” the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I, with several others, had a desire to understand his tenets as explained by himself. He is not an educated man; but he is a plain, sensible, strong minded man.

Everything he says, is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. He is apparently from forty to forty-five years of age, rather above the middle stature, and what you ladies would call a very good looking man. In his garb there are no peculiarities; his dress being that of a plain, unpretending citizen. He is by profession a farmer, but is evidently well read.

He commenced by saying, that he knew the prejudices which were abroad in the world against him, but requested us to pay no respect to the rumors which were in circulation respecting him or his doctrines. He was accompanied by three or four of his followers. He said, “I will state to you our belief, so far as time will permit.”

“I believe,” said he, “that there is a God, possessing all the attributes ascribed to Him by all Christians of all denominations; that He reigns over all things in heaven and on earth, and that all are subject to His power.” He then spoke rationally of the attributes of Divinity, such as foreknowledge, mercy &c., &c.

He then took up the Bible. “I believe,” said he, “in this sacred volume. In it the ‘Mormon’ faith is to be found. We teach nothing but what the Bible teaches. We believe nothing, but what is to be found in this book. I believe in the fall of man, as recorded in the Bible; I believe that God foreknew everything, but did not foreordain everything; I deny that foreordain and foreknow is the same thing. He foreordained the fall of man; but all merciful as He is, He foreordained at the same time, a plan for redemption for all mankind. I believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and that He died for the sins of all men, who in Adam had fallen.”

He then entered into some details, the result of which tended to show his total unbelief of what is termed original sin. He believes that it is washed away by the blood of Christ, and that it no longer exists. As a necessary consequence, he believes that we are all born pure and undefiled. That all children dying at an early age (say eight years) not knowing good from evil, were incapable of sinning; and that all such assuredly go to heaven.

“I believe,” said he, “that a man is a moral, responsible, free agent; that although it was foreordained he should fall, and be redeemed, yet after the redemption it was not foreordained that he should again sin. In the Bible a rule of conduct is laid down for him; in the Old and New Testaments the law by which he is to be governed, may be found. If he violates that law, he is to be punished for the deeds done in the body. I believe that God is eternal. That He had no beginning, and can have no end. Eternity means that which is without beginning or end. I believe that the soul is eternal; and had no beginning; it can have perfectly comprehend him. But the idea seemed to be that the soul of man, the spirit, had existed from eternity in the bosom of Divinity; and so far as he was intelligible to me, must ultimately return from whence it came.

He said very little of rewards and punishments; but one conclusion, from what he did say, was irresistible-he contended throughout, that everything which had a beginning must have an ending; and consequently if the punishment of man commenced in the next world, it must, according to his logic and belief have an end.

During the whole of his address, and it occupied more than two hours, there was no opinion or belief that he expressed, that was calculated, in the slightest degree, to impair the morals of society, or in any manner to degrade and brutalize the human species. There was much in his precepts, if they were followed, that would soften the asperities of man towards man, and that would tend to make him a more rational being than he is generally found to be. There was no violence, no fury, no denunciation. His religion appears to be the religion of meekness, lowliness, and mild persuasion.

Towards the close of his address, he remarked that he had been represented as pretending to be a Savior, a worker of miracles, etc. All this was false. He made no such pretensions. He was but a man, he said; a plain, untutored man; seeking what he should do to be saved. He performed no miracles. He did not pretend to possess any such power.

He closed by referring to the Mormon Bible, which he said, contained nothing inconsistent or conflicting with the Christian Bible, and he again repeated that all who would follow the precepts of the Bible, whether Mormon or not, would assuredly be saved. Throughout his whole address, he displayed strongly a spirit of charity and forbearance.

The Mormon Bible, he said, was communicated to him, direct from heaven. If there was such a thing on earth, as the author of it, then he (Smith) was the author; but the idea that he wished to impress was, that he had penned it as dictated by God. I have taken some pains to explain this man’s belief, as he himself explained it. I have done so because it might satisfy your curiosity, and might be interesting to you, and some of your friends.

I have changed my opinion of the Mormons. They are an injured and much-abused people.

Of matters of faith, you know I express no opinion.

Affectionately your husband, M. L. Davis, Washington correspondent for the New York Enquirer (Ehat and Cook, eds., Words of Joseph Smith, 32-34)

1840: Journal Entry, Elder Orson Pratt, Apostle: Sketch of the Faith and Doctrine of the Church (The Orson Pratt Journals, comp. Elden J. Watson (Salt Lake City: Elden Jay Watson, 1975), pp. 7-96):

We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, who bears record of them, the same throughout all ages and forever.

We believe that all mankind, by the transgression of their first parents, and not by their own sins, were brought under the curse and penalty of that transgression, which consigned them to an eternal banishment from the presence of God, and their bodies to an endless sleep in the dust, never more to rise, and their spirits to endless misery under the power of Satan; and that, in this awful condition, they were utterly lost and fallen, and had no power of their own to extricate themselves therefrom.

We believe that through the sufferings, death, and atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, without one exception, are to be completely, and fully redeemed, both body and spirit, from the endless banishment and curse, to which they were consigned, by Adam’s transgression.

We believe that all mankind, in their infant state, are incapable of knowing good and evil, and of obeying or disobeying a law, and that, therefore, there is no law given to them, and that where there is no law, there is no transgression; hence they are innocent, and if they should all die in their infant state, they would enjoy eternal life, not being transgressors themselves, neither accountable for Adam’s sin.

We believe that all mankind, in consequence of the fall, after they grow up from their infant state, and come to the years of understanding, know good and evil, and are capable of obeying or disobeying a law, and that a law is given against doing evil, and that the penalty affixed is a second banishment from the presence of God, both body and spirit, after they have been redeemed from the FIRST banishment and restored into his presence.

We believe that the penalty of this second law can have no effect upon persons who have not had the privilege, in this life, of becoming acquainted therewith; for although the light that is in them, teaches them good and evil, yet that light does not teach them the law against doing evil, nor the penalty thereof. Therefore they have been ignorant of, but by the law of their conscience, the penalty thereof being a few stripes.

We believe that all who have done evil, having a knowledge of the law, or afterwards, in this life, coming to the knowledge thereof, are under its penalty, which is not inflicted in this world, but in the world to come. Therefore such, in this world, are prisoners, shut up under the sentence of the law, awaiting, with awful fear, for the time of judgment, when the penalty shall be inflicted, consigning them to a second banishment from the presence of their Redeemer, who had redeemed them from the penalty of the first law. But that same Jesus, who hath atoned for the original sin, and will redeem all mankind from the penalty thereof, hath also atoned for thy sins, and offereth salvation and deliverance to thee, on certain conditions to be complied with on thy part.

We believe that

The first condition to be complied with on the part of sinners is, to believe in God, and in the sufferings and death of his Son Jesus Christ, to atone for the sins of the whole world, and in his resurrection and ascension on high, to appear in the presence of his Father, to make intercessions for the children of men, and in the Holy Ghost, which is given to all who obey the gospel.

The second condition is, to repent, that is, all who believe, according to the first condition, are required to come humbly before God, and confess their sins with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and to turn away from them, and cease from all their evil deeds, and make restitution to all they have in any way injured, as far as it is in their power.

The third condition is, to be baptized by immersion in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for remission of sins; and that this ordinance is to administered by one who is called and authorized of Jesus Christ to baptize.

The fourth condition is to receive the laying on of hands, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the gift of the Holy Ghost; and that this ordinance is to be administered by the apostles or elders, whom the Lord Jesus hath called and authorized to lay on hands.

All who comply with them receive forgiveness of sins, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost. Through these conditions, they become the adopted sons and daughters of God. Through this process, they are born again, first of water, and then of the spirit, and become children of the kingdom–heirs of God–Saints of the Most High–the Church of the First-born–the elect people, and heirs to a celestial inheritance, eternal in the presence of God. They are then required to be humble, to be meek and lowly in heart, to watch and pray, to deal justly; and inasmuch as they have the riches of this world, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, according to the dictates of wisdom and prudence; to comfort the afflicted, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to do all the good that is in their power: and besides all these things, they are required to meet together as often as circumstances will admit, and partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the broken body, and shed blood of the Lord Jesus; and, in short, to continue faithful to the end, in all the duties enjoined upon them by the word and spirit of Christ. It is the duty and privilege of the Saints thus organized upon the everlasting gospel, to believe in and enjoy all the gifts, powers, and blessings which flow from the Holy Spirit. Such, for instance, as the gifts of revelation, prophecy, visions, the ministry of angels, healing the sick by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus, the working of miracles, and in short, all the gifts as mentioned in scripture, or as enjoyed by the ancient Saints.

We believe that inspired apostles and prophets, together with all the officers as mentioned in the New Testament, are necessary to be in the Church in these days.

We believe that there has been a general and awful apostasy from the religion of the New Testament, so that all the known world have been left for centuries without the Church of Christ among them; without a priesthood authorized of God to administer ordinances.

We believe that there are a few, sincere, honest, and humble persons, who are striving to do according to the best of their understanding; but, in many respects, they err in doctrine, because of false teachers and the precepts of men, and that they will receive the fulness of the gospel with gladness, as soon as they hear it.

We believe that the gospel in the “Book of Mormon,” is the same as that in the New Testament, and is revealed in great plainness, so that no one that reads it can misunderstand its principles. It has been revealed by the angel, to be preached as a witness to all nations, first to the Gentiles, and then to the Jews, then cometh the downfall of Babylon.

We believe that many revelations and prophecies have been given to this church since its rise, and that God will continue to give revelations by visions, by the ministry of angels, and by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, until the Saints are guided unto all truth, that is, until they come in possession of all the truth there is in existence, and are made perfect in knowledge.

We believe that wherever the people enjoy the religion of the New Testament, there they enjoy visions, revelations, the ministry of angels, and etcetera.

We believe that God has raised up this church, in order to prepare a people for his second coming in the clouds of heaven, in power, and great glory; and that then the Saints who are asleep in their graves will be raised, and reign with him on earth a thousand years.

1840 (May): Letter / Newspaper Article, Joseph Smith: May grace of God the Father, and Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Rest Upon You All, Abide with You Forever:

Your humble servant Joseph Smith jr. prisoner for Christs’ sake, and the saints, taken and held by the power of mobocracy under the exterminating reign of his excellency Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, in company with his fellow prisoners and beloved brethren, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Hyrum Smith, and Alexander McRae, send unto you greeting: May the grace of God the Father, and the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, rest upon you all, and abide with you for ever; and may faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity dwell in you and abound, so that you may not be barren or unfruitful. (Times and Seasons, vol. 1 (November 1839-October 1840), Vol. 1 No. 7 May, 1840, p.99)

1840 (July): Newspaper Article, Times and Seasons: Mormons as Well as Presbyterians, Every Other Denomination have Equal Rights to Religious Freedom:

We believe, that from the experience of the saints in times past, they will henceforth be always ready to obey the truth, without having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage, we ought to be aware of those prejudices, (which are so congenial to human nature) against our neighbors, friends and brethren of the world, who choose to differ with us in opinion, and in matters of faith: our religion is between us and our God; their religion is between them and their God: there certainly is a tie to those of the same faith which is peculiar to itself, but it is without prejudice, gives full scope to the mind, and enables us to conduct ourselves with liberality towards those who are not of our faith; this principle, in our opinion, approximates the nearest to the mind of God and is God-like.

There is a duty, which we in common with all men, owe to Governments, laws, and the regulations in the civil concerns of life; these guarantee to all parties and denominations of religion equal, and indefeasible rights, all alike interested; and they make our responsibilities one towards another in matters relating to temporal affairs, and the things of this life; the former principles do not destroy the latter, but bind us stronger, and make our responsibility, not only one towards another, but unto God also: hence we say, that the constitution of the United States is a glorious standard, it is founded in wisdom, it is a heavenly banner, and is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of its liberty, like the cooling shade and refreshing water of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land: it is like a great tree under whose branches, men from every clime, can be shielded from the burning rays of an inclement sun, we are deprived of the protection of this glorious principle, by the cruelties of those who only look to the time being for pasturage; and who forget that the Mormons, as well as the Presbyterians and every other denomination, have equal rights to partake of the fruits of the great tree of our national liberty; yet notwithstanding,- we see what we do, and feel the effects of the cruelty of the enemies of freedom; that fruit is no less precious and delicious to our taste, we cannot be weaned from the milk, neither can we be drawn from the breast, nor will we deny our religion because of the hand of oppression, but we will hold on until death.

We say that God is true, that the constitution of the United States is true, that the bible is true, the book of Mormon is true, that Christ is true, that the ministering of angels is true. (A History of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri., Times and Seasons, vol. 1 (November 1839-October 1840), Vol. 1 No. 8 June, 1840, p.134)

1840 (October): Letter, Joseph Smith: Saints to be Prepared to Meet Lord Jesus Christ When He shall Appear in Great Glory:

Beloved brethren, you must be aware in some measure of my feelings, when I contemplate the great work which is now rolling on, and the relationship which I sustain to it, while it is extending to distant lands, and thousands are embracing it. I realize in some measure my responsibility, and the need I have of support from above, and wisdom from on high, that I may be able to teach this people, which have now become a great people, the principles of righteousness, and lead them agreeably to the will of Heaven; so that they may be perfected, and prepared to meet the Lord Jesus Christ when He shall appear in great glory. Can I rely on your prayers to our heavenly Father on my behalf, and on all the prayers of all my brethren and sisters in England, (whom having not seen, yet I love), that I may be enabled to escape every stratagem of Satan, surmount every difficulty, and bring this people to the enjoyment of those blessings which are reserved for the righteous? I ask this at your hands in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ … The purposes of our God are great. his love unfathomable, his wisdom infinite, and his power unlimited; therefore, the Saints have cause to rejoice and be glad, knowing that “this God is our God forever and ever and he will be our guide unto death.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 178; History of the Church, 4:230).

1840 (December): Letter, Joseph Smith: To the Twelve: Father in Heaven by Whose Grace You have been Called to so Holy a Calling:

Beloved Brethren. May Grace, Mercy, and Peace rest upon you, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having several communications laying before me, from my Brethren the “Twelve” some of which have ere this merited a reply, but from the multiplicity of business which necessarily engages my attention I have delayed communicating to them, to the present time.

Be assured my beloved brethren, that I am no disinterested observer of the things which are transpiring on the face of the whole earth and amidst the general movements which are in progress, none is of more importance, than the glorious work in which you are now engaged, and consequently, I feel some anxiety on your account, that you may, by your virtue, faith, diligence, and charity, commend yourselves to one another, to the Church of Christ and to your Father which is in heaven, by whose grace you have been called to so holy a calling, and be enabled to perform the great and responsible duties which rest upon you

Beloved brethren, you must be aware in some measure of my feelings when I contemplate the great work which is now rolling on, and the relationship which I sustain to it; while it is extending to distant lands, and islands, and thousands are embracing it, I realize in some measure my responsibility and the need I have of support from above, and wisdom from on high; that I may be able to teach this people, which have now become a great people, the principles of righteousness, and lead them agreeably to the will of heaven so that they may be perfected and prepared to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall appear in great glory.

Can I rely on your prayers to your heavenly Father in my behalf? and on the prayers of all my brethren & sisters in England? (whom having not seen yet I love … I ask this at your and their hands in the name of Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.480)

1841 (January): Newspaper Article, Don Carlos Smith, Times and Seasons: Of Various Denominations of Christians, Are not Mormons, Citizens of the United States, Entitled to Same Protection Under Our Constitution and Laws, as Any Other Sect of Christians?:

The paragraph above quoted declares that all sects of religion were arrayed against the Radicals and Agrarians who were the chief supporters of Van Buren in the late political contest through which we have just passed. The assertion is in the main correct – it is not of that I complain – but it is that out of all the various denominations of Christians which the Democrat admits were arrayed against the Van Buren party, the Mormons should alone be made the special objects of their abuse. Are not the Mormons, citizens of the United States, entitled to the same protection under our Constitution and Laws, as any other sect of Christians? Does not the Constitution guarantee to them, as well as the Baptist, the Methodist, or the Presbyterian, the unquestionable right of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own conscience? (Times and Seasons, vol. 2 (November 1840-October 1841), Vol. 2 No. 5 January 1, 1841, p.266)

1841 (February): Newspaper Article, Don Carlos Smith, Times and Seasons: My Dear Brothers, Sisters of All Denominations That are Sincere Desirers after Truth, Worshipers of True and Living God:

Now I do not wish to cast censure upon any of the various orders of ministers, for I believe as far as they have endeavored to discharge their duty faithfully in the fear of God, according to the light they have had, God has accepted and blest them. But now when God requires them to make a sacrifice, and humble their hearts before him, and embrace the fulness of the Gospel … The Methodist as a people have read the bible and while reading the precious promises therein contained have believed it to be their privilege to enjoy greater blessings and have strove to attain to it. And as far as they have been more humble, more dilligent, and more faithful, they have enjoyed greater manifestation of the love of Christ. But they could not get a victory over sin, and for some reason, they were continually brought into bondage … And now my dear brothers and sisters, of all denominations, that are sincere desirers after truth, and worshipers of the true and living God, I tell you at the time of this ignorance God winked at, but now he commandeth all men every where to repent. Now I beseech you to come to Jesus in a child-like manner and earnestly continue in prayer to God, that your understanding may be opened to search the scriptures

1841 (April): Letter, First Presidency: The Saints’ Toils and Afflictions for Christ’s Sake and the Gospel’s:

We contemplate a people who have embraced a system of religion, unpopular, and the adherence to which has brought upon them repeated persecutions. A people who, for their love to God, and attachment to His cause, have suffered hunger, nakedness, perils, and almost every privation. A people who, for the sake of their religion, have had to mourn the premature death of parents, husbands, wives, and children. A people, who have preferred death to slavery and hypocrisy, and have honorably maintained their characters, and stood firm and immovable, in times that have tried men’s souls.

Stand fast, ye Saints of God, hold on a little while longer, and the storm of life will be past, and you will be rewarded by that God whose servants you are, and who will duly appreciate all your toils and afflictions for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. Your names will be handed down to posterity as Saints of God and virtuous men. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:337)

1841 (August): Non-LDS Letter to Editor, Times and Seasons: Why Have So Many Professing Christianity, Slandered and Persecuted This Sect of Christians?

It has been a matter of astonishment to me, after seeing the prophet, as he is called, Elder Rigdon and many other gentlemanly men, any one may see at Nauvoo, who will visit there, why it is that so many professing Christianity, and so many professing to reverence the sacred principles of our constitution, which gives free religious toleration to all, have slandered, and persecuted this sect of Christians?

There can be no danger in the United States from any denomination. If they are in an error. (and who is to decide that) let freedom of opinion combat it, and nothing is to be apprehended from such error I know the time when the “Methodist’s were said to be a deluded ignorant set.” What sect now equal them in the United States? For the honor of our State I hope no such degrading brutish persecutions, will be got up in Illinois as was in Missouri, against the Mormons. (City of Nauvoo, Monday Aug. 2 1841., Times and Seasons, vol. 2 (November 1840-October 1841), Vol. 2 No. 19 August 2, 1841, p.498)

1841: Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: The Prophet’s Estimate of the Book of Mormon as Most Correct Book on Earth, Keystone of Our Religion:

I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:461)

1842: Sermon, Joseph Smith: No Other Way Beneath the Heavens Whereby God hath Ordained for Man to Come to Him to be Saved:

Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter into the kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is in vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:555)

1842 (August): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Thou Eternal Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent Jehovah-God:

There are many souls whom I have loved stronger than death. To them I have proved faithful-to them I am determined to prove faithful, until God calls me to resign up my breath.

O Thou, who seest and knowest the hearts of all men – Thou eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Jehovah-God – Thou Elohim, that sittest, as saith the Psalmist, “enthroned in heaven,” look down upon Thy servant Joseph at this time; and let faith on the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, to a greater degree than Thy servant ever yet has enjoyed, be conferred upon him, even the faith of Elijah; and let the lamp of eternal life be lit up in his heart, never to be taken away; and let the words of eternal life be poured upon the soul of Thy servant, that he may know Thy will, Thy statutes, and Thy commandments, and Thy judgments, to do them.

As the dews upon Mount Hermon, may the distillations of Thy divine grace, glory, and honor, in the plenitude of Thy mercy, and power, and goodness, be poured down upon the head of Thy servant, O Lord, God, my heavenly Father, knoweth (Joseph Smith, “Reflections,” 23 Aug. 1842, as quoted in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 536).

1842 (March): Correspondence, The Wentworth Letter, Joseph Smith: Great Jehovah shall say the work is done; Very Christian Articles of Faith:

Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.

We believe in God the eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

We believe that the first principle and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz.: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.

We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes: that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying honoring and sustaining the law.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, “We believe all thing, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (History of the Church, 4:540).

1842 (April): Newspaper Article, Times and Seasons, Joseph Smith: Great Parent of the Universe looks upon Whole of Human Family with Fatherly Care, Paternal Regard; Views Them as His Offspring:

The great designs of God in relation to the salvation of the human family are very little understood by the professedly wise, and intelligent generation in which we live; various and conflicting are the opinions of men concerning the plan of salvation; the requisitions of the Almighty; the necessary preparations for heaven; the state and condition of departed spirits; and the happiness, or misery that is consequent upon the practice of righteousness and iniquity according to their several notions of virtue, and vice.

The Mussulman condemns the Heathen, the Jew, and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition.

The Jew believes that the whole world that reject his faith, and are not circumcised, are gentile dogs, and will be damned.

The Heathen are equally as tenacious about their principles, and

The Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed and submit to his ipse dixit.

But while one portion of the human race are judging and condemning the other without mercy, the great parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care, and paternal regard; he views them as his offspring; and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes “his sun to rise on the evil and the good; and sends his rain on the just and unjust.” (Baptism for the Dead., Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 12 April 15, 1842, p.759)

1842 (September): Revelation (128th Section D&C), Joseph Smith: Baptism for the Dead: Let dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison:

Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!

Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.

“Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever!” (D&C 128:22–23.)

1843 (January): Discourse at Temple Grounds, Joseph Smith: We Don’t ask People to Throw Away any Good they Have; We Only Ask Them to Come and Get More:

In these remarks, I have no allusion to the kingdoms of the earth. We will keep the laws of the land; we do not speak against them; we never have, and we can hardly make mention of the state of Missouri, of our persecutions there, &c., but what the cry goes forth that we are guilty of larceny, burglary, arson, treason, murder, &c., &c., which is false.

We speak of the kingdom of God on the earth, not the kingdoms of men.

Again Jesus says. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;” and, “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. “If a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he can get into the kingdom of God. It is evident the kingdom of God was on the earth, and John prepared subjects for the kingdom, by preaching the Gospel to them and baptizing them, and he prepared the way before the Savior, or came as a forerunner, and prepared subjects for the preaching of Christ.

Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged either by God or angels.

I know what I say; I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield; and what can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely. All flesh is as grass, and a governor is no better than other men; when he dies he is but a bag of dust. I thank God for preserving me from my enemies; I have no enemies but for the truth’s sake.

I have no desire but to do all men good. I feel to pray for all men. We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more. What if all the world should embrace this Gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul. Amen. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5: 259)

1843 (April): Conference Address, Joseph Smith, reported by Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards: Those Who Have Died in Jesus Christ:

Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy when they come forth, which they possessed or anticipated here.

I am glad I have the privilege of communicating to you some things which, if grasped closely, will be a help to you when earthquakes bellow, the clouds gather, the lightnings flash, and the storms are ready to burst upon you like peals of thunder. Lay hold of these things and let not your knees or joints tremble, nor your hearts faint; and then what can earthquakes, wars and tornadoes do? Nothing. All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.

God has revealed His Son from the heavens and the doctrine of the resurrection also; and we have a knowledge that those we bury here God will bring up again, clothed upon and quickened by the Spirit of the great God; and what mattereth it whether we lay them down, or we lay down with them, when we can keep them no longer? Let these truths sink down in our hearts, that we may even here begin to enjoy that which shall be in full hereafter. (History of the Church 5:361-62)

1843 (May): Newspaper Article, Times and Seasons, Samuel A. Prior: A Methodist Minister’s Positive Reaction to Joseph Smith’s Preaching in Nauvoo:

Mr. Editor:-I feel somewhat unwilling to go from this city, until I have returned my sincere thanks for the kind treatment I have received from all with whom I have had any intercourse, since I first came into this place …

At 11 o’clock, I had the honor for the first time in my life, to hear the prophet preach; a notice of which had been circulated the evening before. I will not attempt to describe the various feelings of my bosom as I took my seat in a conspicuous place in the congregation, who were waiting in breathless silence for his appearance.

While he tarried, I had plenty of time to revolve in my mind, the character and common report of that truly singular personage. I fancied that I should behold a countenance sad and sorrowful, yet containing the fiery marks of rage and exasperation-I supposed that I should be enabled to discover in him some of those thoughtful and reserve features, those mystic and sarcastic glances which I had fancied the ancient sages to possess. I expected to see that fearful faltering look of conscious shame, which, from what I had heard of him, he might be expected to evince.

He appeared at last-but how was I disappointed, when, instead of the heads and horns of the beast, and false prophet, I beheld only the appearance of a common man, of tolerable large proportions. I was sadly disappointed, and thought, that although his appearance could not be wrested to indicate any thing against him, yet he would manifest all I had heard of him, when he began to preach. I sat uneasy and watched him closely.

He commenced preaching, not from the Book of Mormon, however, but from the Bible; the first chapter of the first of Peter, was his text. He commenced calmly and continued dispassionately to pursue his subject, while I sat in breathless silence, waiting to hear that foul aspersion of the other sects, that diabolical disposition of revenge, and to hear that rancorous denunciation of every individual but a Mormon.

I waited in vain-I listened with surprise-I sat uneasy in my seat, and could hardly persuade myself but that he had been apprised of my presence, and so ordered his discourse on my account; that I might not be able to find fault with it, for instead of a jumbled jargon of half connected sentences, and a volley of imprecations, and diabolical and malignant denunciations heaped upon the heads of all who differed from him, and the dreadful twisting and wresting of the scriptures, to suit his own peculiar views, and attempt to weave a web of dark and mystic sophistry around the gospel truths, which I had anticipated, he glided along through a very interesting and elaborate discourse, with all the care and happy facility of one who was well aware of his important station, and his duty to God and man, and evidencing to me, that he was well worthy to be styled “a workman rightly dividing the word of truth,” and giving without reserve, “saint and sinner his portion in due season”-and I was compelled to go away with a very different opinion from what I had entertained when I first took my seat to hear him preach.

In the evening I was invited to preach, and did so.-The congregation was large and respectable-they paid the utmost attention. This surprised me a little, as I did not expect to find any such thing as a religious toleration among them.-After I had closed, Elder Smith, who had attended, arose and begged leave to differ from me in some few points of doctrine, and this he did mildly, politely, and affectingly; like one who was more desirous to disseminate truth and expose error than to love the malicious triumph of debate over me.

I was truly edified with his remarks, and felt less prejudiced against the Mormons than ever. He invited me to call upon him, and I promised to do so. (A Visit To Nauvoo., Times and Seasons, Vol. 4 No. 13 May 15, 1843, p.197 – 198)

1843 (July): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: The Cause of the Prophet’s Success: Love for His Fellow-Man, Including Other Christian Denominations:

Joseph remarked that all was well between him and the heavens: that he had no enmity against any one; and as the prayer of Jesus, or his pattern, so prayed Joseph-“Father, forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me,” for I freely forgive all men.

If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends.

Sectarian priests cry out concerning me, and ask, “Why is it this babbler gains so many followers, and retains them?” I answer, It is because I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand. The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a “Mormon.” I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul-civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. Love of liberty was diffused into my soul by my grandfathers while they dandled me on their knees; and shall I want friends? No.

The inquiry is frequently made or me, “Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?” In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles or “Mormonism” is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may. We believe in the Great Elohim who sits enthroned in yonder heavens. So do the Presbyterians.

If a skilful mechanic, in taking a welding heat, uses borax, alum, etc., and succeeds in welding together iron or steel more perfectly then any other mechanic, is he not deserving of praise?

And if by the principles of truth I succeed in uniting men of all denominations in the bonds of love, shall I not have attained a good object? If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation which He revealed? So do I. Christians should cease wrangling and contending with each other, and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst; and they will do it before the millennium can be ushered in and Christ takes possession of His kingdom.

“Do you believe in the baptism of infants? “asks the Presbyterian. No. “Why?” Because it is nowhere written in the Bible. Circumcision is not baptism, neither was baptism instituted in the place of circumcision. Baptism is for remission of sins. Children have no sins. Jesus blessed them and said, “Do what you have seen me do.” Children are all made alive in Christ, and those of riper years through faith and repentance.

So far we are agreed with other Christian denominations. They all preach faith and repentance. The gospel requires baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, which is the meaning of the word in the original language-namely, to bury or immerse. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5:498)

1843 (July): Address, Joseph Smith: Have Presbyterians Any Truth? Yes. Have Baptists, Methodists, Others, Any truth? Yes:

Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism”; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers. Even the wolf and the lamb shall dwell together; the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf, the young lion and the fatling; and a little child shall lead them; the bear and the cow shall lie down together, and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall play on the cockatrice’s den; and they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountains, saith the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah.)

It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love-show forth our kindness unto all mankind, and the Lord will reward us with everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold.

Friendship is like Brother Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence. I do not dwell upon your faults, and you shall not upon mine. Charity, which is love, covereth a multitude of sins, and I have often covered up all the faults among you; but the prettiest thing is to have no faults at all. We should cultivate a meek, quiet and peaceable spirit.

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, &c,, any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 5:, p.517)

1843 (August): Willard Richards Journal Entry, Speech by Joseph Smith: Salvation by Jesus Christ:

Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, p.244)

1843 (August): Newspaper Article, John Taylor: Thou Great Eternal of Eternity! Thou Omnipresent One!:

Thou great eternal of eternity! Thou God of Abraham, I look to thee: Thou Omnipresent one! incline thine ear, And me, a child of dust, vouchsafe to hear. Wisdom and knowledge, light and truth are thine- Let thy intelligence around me shine: Give pow’r of thought, this matter to indite- Instruct me what, instruct me how to write. (Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 19 August 15, 1843, p.304)

1843 (September): Newspaper Article, John Taylor: Baptism; We Propose to Hold Forth No Doctrines that are Not Clearly Provable by the Bible:

For as Paul says, so say we: Gal., I: 8; ‘Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’ Let us see then, what the apostles say relative to baptism. We are going to let them have it their own way, without the interference of spiritualizing machines, modern humbugs, or popular dogmas.

1844 (March): Address at Temple, Joseph Smith: LDS Beliefs on Election between Presbyterian and Methodist:

Wilford Woodruff Diary:
Here is the doctrine of Election that the world have quarreled so much about, but they do not know any thing about it, The doctrine that the Presbyterians & Methodists have quarreled so much about once in grace always in grace, or falling away from grace I will say a word about, they are both wrong, truth takes a road between them both. For while the Presbyterian says once in grace you cannot fall the Methodist says you can have grace to day, fall from it to morrow, next day have grace again & so follow it, but the doctrine of the scriptures & the spirit of Elijah would show them both false & take a road between them both for according to the scriptures if a man has receive the good word of God & tasted of the powers of the world to come if they shall fall away it is impossible to renew them again, seeing they have Crucified the son of God afresh & put him to an open shame, so their is a possibility of falling away you could not be renewed again, & the power of Elijah Cannot seal against this sin, for this is a reserve made in the seals & power of the priesthood, I will make every doctrine plain that I present & it shall stand upon a firm basis.

James Burgess Notebook:
Now we come to talk about election a great deal is said about it, one way or another. The Presbyterian says once in grace always in grace, the Methodist says once in grace can fall from grace and be renewed again. there is some truth in both of these statements Paul says in the 6 chap of Hebrews that after arriving at a certain knowledge and then fall away it is impossible to renew them again, well Paul the Presbyterian says once in grace always in grace I say it is not so the Methodist says once in grace can fall from grace and be renewed again I Paul say it is impossible seeing that they crucify to themselves the son of God afresh and put him to an open shame. Make your calling and election sure go on from grace to grace untill you obtain a promise from God for yourselves that you shall have eternal life. this is eternal life to know God and his son Jesus Christ, it is to be sealed up unto eternal life and obtain a promise for our posterity. (Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 344)

1844 (January): Letter: D. S. Hollister to Joseph Smith: Points of Difference Between Faith of Latter-day Saints and Other Professors of Christian Religion:

Dear Brother Joseph.-From the time of my departure to that of my arrival here on Saturday last, I was blessed with prosperity. The feelings manifested by the passengers on the boat to St. Louis were quite favorable.

At St. Louis I embarked on board the steamer Valley Forge, with about 125 cabin passengers. I gradually introduced myself to those whose faces gave indications of honest hearts and intelligent minds. On Sunday I was invited to give, in a public discourse, the points of difference between faith of the Latter-day Saints and other professors the Christian religion. There was a Methodist preacher on board, with whom arrangements were made, to follow me and blow Mormonism to the four winds. Well, I led off in a discourse of an hour and a half. After dinner the Methodists tried to rally their preacher; but he could not be induced to undertake the fulfillment of his engagements. I spent the time in conversing with groups of inquirers, and giving further information to those who sought it.

After tea, the Methodist priest was, by much persuasion, induced to preach; but, to the astonishment of all, never once mentioned “Mormonism.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 6:, p.417)

1844 (June 26, Night Before the Martyrdom): Journal Entry, Joseph Smith: Reading and Testifying of Book of Mormon:

Hyrum Smith read and commented upon extracts from the Book of Mormon on the imprisonments and deliverance of the servants of god for the Gospel’s sake. Joseph bore a powerful testimony to the guards of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the gospel the administration of angels and that the Kingdom of God was again established upon the earth. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:600)

1845 (July): Magazine Editorial: Holiness, Without Which No Man Shall See the Lord:

Many good intentioned brethren, who have come out from different sectarian bodies, express their fears sometimes that we do not make holiness of life a sufficient topic of discourse in our public addresses, but this arises in a great measure from ignorance of the true state of things.

The Saints of the last days are as conscious of the necessity of holiness of life in order to meet the approbation of heaven, as any other people, and well know that there is no principle or precept in their religion that is not perfectly compatible therewith.

But the minister of the Lord, who has received a mission to proclaim the gospel and the way of salvation unto the children of men, does not spend his time in exhortations to holiness, &c., as is the manner with many of those who have not entered into covenant with God; but like the apostles of old, instead of sending them to prayer or to the penitent form, commands them to arise, to repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, promising unto them according to their faithful obedience, the gift of the Holy Ghost, knowing well that, if in possession of the spirit of God, they will have a continual monitor to all manner of righteousness, and which will prompt them to do all things well pleasing in the sight of God, and they cannot sin (willfully), because they have been born of God.

The spirit of man in his natural state is prone to evil, but if he receives of the spirit of God to control his natural spirit, and lives under its influence and guidance, he will be continually conscious that all evil is grieving unto that spirit, and he will seek to walk in all manner of holiness before the Lord. (The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, Volume VI.)

1845 (October): Newspaper Article, Millenial Star: Elder Wilford Woodruff, Apostle and President of the British Mission: The Rationality of the Atonement:

We are informed by the Saviour himself, what object his Father had in view in his coming into the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” [John 3:16–17.]

The revelations that God has given to man, abundantly prove that God and the eternal worlds are governed by a celestial law; and in order that man might endure the same glory with himself, it was requisite that he should keep the same law, “that which is governed by law is also preserved by law, and perfected and sanctified by the same.” [D&C 88:34.]

But man, having transgressed the law of God, justly entailed upon himself the curse of disobedience, from which he was incapable of redeeming himself, neither could any less than an infinite sacrifice atone for his fall. The effect of his disobedience, it is well known, was death, and this curse has been hereditary to all the posterity of Adam. Let it be borne in mind that man, while submitting to this punishment, does so without any inherent power, independently, in himself to accomplish his resurrection and restoration to the presence of God and his glory.

He is now under the jurisdiction and within the dominion of death, and to achieve a victory over death it was necessary that some one more holy and pure than the being who had become the transgressor should enter into his dominion, in order that he might thereby have that dominion destroyed; and unless this be done, the control which death will hold over mankind must be eternal.

It will require little argument to prove that the Son of God was, in every way, competent to perform this task, being pure, holy, and unspotted; and that he was the individual appointed to accomplish this, is fully substantiated by the testimony of John concerning him—“Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” [see John 1:29]—that “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” [1 Corinthians 15:22.]

It [has] been fully established beyond all controversy, from the flood of testimony … from the revelations of God, given in various dispensations and ages of the world, and in different parts of the globe, that the object of Christ’s mission to the earth was to offer himself as a sacrifice to redeem mankind from eternal death, and that it was perfectly in accordance with the will of the Father that such a sacrifice should be made.

He acted strictly in obedience to his Father’s will in all things from the beginning, and drank of the bitter cup given him. Herein is brought to light, glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life, with that charity which is greater than faith or hope, for the Lamb of God has thereby performed that for man which [man] could not accomplish for himself … Justice in the first place has had its claim, and the words of God have been verified—“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [See Genesis 2:17.]

So, on the other hand, mercy has been extended, and the love of God manifested in breaking the bands of death, whereby the spirits and bodies of men are re-united. The spirits of the just receive an exaltation in the presence of God and the Lamb—in the same tabernacles [physical bodies] in which they toiled, laboured, and suffered while on earth, without which union it is impossible for the souls of men to receive a fulness of glory. There is a glory connected with this, that will be an eternal source of joy to every citizen of the celestial kingdom.

The spirits, on the other hand, of those who reject the Gospel of Christ and slight his proffered mercies, must return to their bodies in the last resurrection to receive a fulness of their punishment in the same tabernacles in which they dwelt while warring against God. We would hereby warn all men who may hear the sound of these words, to repent of their sins and obey the Gospel of the Son of God. (The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star,Volume VI)

1856 (April): Conference Address, Elder Orson Pratt, Apostle: We are Commanded to Search Scriptures; Early Saints Condemned for Neglecting Book of Mormon:

It is my belief that if this people more carefully read the oracles of the ancients, they would be directed more diligently to attend to the Living Oracles.

We are commanded to search the Scriptures for instructions, but I fear that we neglect this counsel too much, and become careless. In consequence of such neglect, the Lord reproved this Church some years ago, and said that the whole Church was under condemnation, because they had neglected the Book of Mormon; and He told them that unless they would repent, they should be held under condemnation, and should be scourged, and judgments should be poured out upon them.

If you would read these things in the Spirit, and call upon God to give you His Spirit to fix the sayings of the Prophets upon your minds, you would do good and derive benefit therefrom. If the Saints will give most earnest and diligent heed unto the instructions given in those books which have been preserved, and especially to the instructions which are given by our President, they will prosper and be blest in all things. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 3:, p.347)

1857 (December): Conference Address, President Heber C. Kimball, First Presidency: President Kimball’s Version of the Fundamental Principles of Our Religion:

The Gospel of salvation is very simple; but everything is constituted therein; everything is comprehended in the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. We have preached a great many times and used the words of Paul, where he tells us to leave the first principles of the doctrine of Christ and go on unto perfection. But if we do that we shall slide off the foundation, and would have to return and do our first works.

There is the Father, and the Son, who was given up, that his blood might be shed upon Calvary, that our sins might be forgiven, on condition that we repent and forsake them.

“Well,” you say, “I believe: what shall I do to be saved?”

Repent, every one of you, and then go and be buried in water, like unto Jesus Christ’s burial in the sepulchre, and you shall receive the remission of your sins.

What next?

Receive the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These are some of the first principles of the Gospel.

Now, can we live our religion unless we are in possession of the Holy Ghost all the time?

We cannot. First, there is the Father, then the Son, and then the Holy Ghost; and then come faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Do you not see, then, that it is just as necessary to lay aside the any other principle of the Gospel? No man can please the Lord God, only as he is dictated by the Holy Ghost; and he will not stay with you unless you keep in view the Father and the Son.

We partake of the sacrament every Sabbath to bear in remembrance the Son of God.

Then, shall I say, leaving all these principles, go on unto perfection?

No. They are the fundamental principles of our religion, the same as the 26 letters of the English alphabet are the roots of the written and printed form of our language.

Are these principles the celestial law?

I know no other.

And how can you keep the celestial law without the Holy Ghost?

You cannot.

When you partake of the sacrament, you do it in remembrance of Jesus Christ, and of the Father, and of the Holy Ghost, and in remembrance that you have forsaken your sins and been baptised for the remission of them. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 6:, p.122)

1859 (July): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Influence of God’s Spirit Upon Mankind; John Wesley as Good as Ever Walked This Earth; He Has Obtained Rest Greater than Ever Entered his Mind; as have Thousands of Others of Various Religious Denominations:

It is the Lord’s privilege to give the Holy Ghost to whom he will, and it is not for us to question him in his right, power, and privilege-in the extent of his doings. He blesses the human family; he raises up nations, kingdoms, and governments, and controls in the armies of the world. He rules in the heavens, and makes the wrath of man praise him, and gives his Spirit when and to whom he pleases.

Shall I say that he has given it to his Saints all the day long? Yes; for I know that he has. Have they enjoyed the light of the Spirit of revelation? Yes; and so, more or less, has every being that has been born upon this earth.

I never passed John Wesley’s church in London without stopping to look at it. Was he a good man? Yes; I suppose him to have been, by all accounts, as good as ever walked on this earth, according to his knowledge. Has he obtained a rest? Yes, and greater than ever entered his mind to expect; and so have thousands of others of the various religious denominations.

Why could he not build up the kingdom of God on the earth: He had not the Priesthood; that was all the difficulty he laboured under. Had the Priesthood been conferred upon him, he would have built up the kingdom of God in his day as it is now being built up. He would have introduced the ordinances, powers, grades, and quorums of the Priesthood; but, not holding the Priesthood, he could not do it.

Did the Spirit of God rest upon him? Yes, and does, more or less, at times, upon all people. Christ is the light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into it. (Journal of Discourses Vol. 7: 5-6)

1860 (April): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Brigham’s Familiarity with Many Christian Denominations When Young:

You have heard the brethren state their experience before they received this Gospel. I was not disposed to attach myself to any Church, nor to make a profession of religion, though brought up from my youth amid those flaming, fiery revivals so customary with the Methodists, until I was twenty-three years of age, when I joined the Methodists.

Priests had urged me to pray before I was eight years old. On this subject I had but one prevailing feeling in my mind-Lord, preserve me until I am old enough to have sound judgment, and a discreet mind ripened upon a good solid foundation of common sense. I patiently waited until I was twenty-three years old. I do not know that I had ever committed any crime, except it were in giving way to anger, and that I had not done more than two or three times. I never stole, lied, gambled, got drunk, or disobeyed my parents.

I used to go to meetings-was well acquainted with the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, New Lights, Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Wesleyan and Reformed Methodists,-lived from my youth where I was acquainted with the Quakers as well as the other denominations, and was more or less acquainted with almost every other religious ism. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 8:, p.38)

1860 (April): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Faith and Belief:

The subject presented to you this morning I explained two weeks ago in a manner to be satisfactory to persons of good understanding: it is the subject of faith and belief. Perfection in conveying ideas is not yet given to the children of men. Our language is altogether inadequate for always conveying our ideas with unmistakable precision, and the same ideas are generally advanced in different words by different persons.

This peculiarity has been observable to-day. It has often been told you that all people, sects, and denominations have more or less truth. None of the religious sects have a perfect system of salvation, though all of them have a portion of true doctrine, and suppose they have a perfect plan. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 8:, p.259 – 260)

1862 (July): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Jesus Came to Introduce Himself as Saviour of World; Shed His blood upon Altar of Atonement; Open Up Way of Life to All Believers:

Jesus came to establish his spiritual kingdom, or to introduce a code of morals that would exalt the spirits of the people to godliness and to God, that they might thereby secure to themselves a glorious resurrection and a title to reign on the earth when the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ. He also came to introduce himself as the Saviour of the world, to shed his blood upon the altar of atonement, and open up the way of life to all believers. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 9:, p.311)

1862 (August): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Joseph Told Us that Jesus was the Christ, Mediator Between God and Man, and Saviour of World:

For argument’s sake I will say, if we should be mistaken as to the legality of Joseph Smith’s calling, we still bear the same relationship towards the heavens as any other portion of mankind, and have the same chance of salvation, standing on equal grounds with them.

Joseph told us that Jesus was the Christ, the Mediator between God and man, and the Saviour of the world. He told us that there was no other name in the heavens nor under the heavens, neither could there be, by which mankind could be saved in the presence of the Father, but by and through the name and ministry of Jesus Christ, and the atonement he made on Mount Calvary.

Joseph also told us that the Saviour requires strict obedience to all the commandments, ordinances and laws pertaining to his kingdom, and that if we would do this we should be made partakers of all the blessings promised in his Gospel. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 9:, p.365 – 366)

1863 (February): Conference Address, President John Taylor: Reflections on the Sacrament:

I do not know why Jesus should leave his Father’s throne and be offered up a sacrifice for the sin of the world, and why mankind have to be put through such an ordeal as they have to pass through on this earth; we reason upon this, and the Scriptures say that it is because man cannot be made perfect only through suffering.

We might ask why could not mankind be saved in another way? Why could not salvation be wrought out without suffering? I receive it in my faith that this is the only way, and I rejoice that we have a Savior who had the goodness to come forth and redeem us. (Reflections on the Sacrament, Discourse by Elder JOHN TAYLOR, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 22, 1863; Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 10:, p.120)

1865 (April): Conference Address, President Heber C. Kimball: Do Not be Condemned for Neglect of Book of Mormon, as were Early Saints:

Thirty years ago the whole Church was under condemnation because they had neglected the new and everlasting covenant, even the Book of Mormon and other revelations God had given to them, and they were driven by their enemies, for they were under condemnation at that early day of our history.

How is it with us now? There are scores of this people who never look at those books.

The Book of Mormon is the ensign which God has lifted up to the nations in the last days, and we are not justified when we in our feelings neglect or forsake it. I take much comfort in reading those books which the Lord has given us through Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon was written by the Spirit and power of God; the man that will read it faithfully will be filled with light and with truth. We should hold everything in reverence that God has revealed in the latter-day and in former days; but that which is revealed for us more nearly concerns us. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 11:, p.147)

1867 (February): Conference Address, Elder Joseph F. Smith: The Different Religions:

When I look at and think of myself I do not know that I now entertain or have ever entertained a thought which I would be ashamed of my friends or the servants of God knowing. I desire so to live continually that my thoughts and feelings may be right before God, that my heart may be pure and open to the influences and dictations of the Holy Spirit, that I may be led wholly by the truth, and in the path that leads to eternal life.

These should be the feelings of every Saint; if they are not mine, they should be, and when I look at and think of myself, I feel that this is the case.

Yet we are all fallible and all liable to err, susceptible of prejudices and assailed by good and bad influences. In every condition of life we are more or less liable to be influenced and controlled in our thoughts and actions by the circumstances by which we are surrounded; the result is we are sometimes alive to the truth and faithful before the Lord, full of kindness, of friendship and love towards our brethren-the servants of God-and towards the work in which we are engaged; and sometimes we are luke-warm and indifferent about these things.

I would love to see the time when we could so live in the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit, every moment of our lives, that no circumstance nor influence could be brought to bear against us that would change that even tenor which is inspired and called forth by the influences of the good Spirit. Will this time ever be? While surrounded by so many imperfections, clothed in mortality, and subject to the weakness and failings of the flesh, will the time ever be when we as a people, with such glorious promises, privileges and rights, and with such inestimable blessings, shall enjoy the Spirit of God to the exclusion of every other influence that exists? Will we ever be able to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, while in mortality, to such a degree that we can govern ourselves and not give way one moment to an evil thought or passion?

I do not know; but this I do know, that we now have all that is necessary to enable us to attain to this perfection in the truth and the knowledge of God. If we have it not now, I do not believe we ever will.

“Why,” inquires one, “what have we now? We have the promise of Almighty God that he will give his Spirit to guide, strengthen and assist every individual to accomplish all the good in his heart, if he will only come up to the standard he has established. Besides this promise which the Lord has made, we have the holy priesthood, a powerful auxiliary in our hands if used properly, to enable us to overcome the evils that surround us in the world.

But when engaged in our daily avocations, or tried by poverty, sickness, enemies, false friends, or when we are spoken evil of, we too often forget that we hold the priesthood, that we are Elders in Israel-the servants of God-chosen to accomplish his great work in the last days. The result is we regard ourselves simply as men mixed up with and surrounded by sin, and we are apt to drink into the spirit around us, forget God, our callings and the responsibilities resting upon us, and become like others, through giving way to evils which they practice.

I have seen individuals, of whom we might expect better things, give way to evils of this kind until I have heard them say “What is religion?” “In what is one religion better than another? Mormon, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, or any and all religious denominations in the world are all after the same thing, and there are good and bad in all, and there is about as much evil among the Latter-day Saints as among any other religious denomination.” “Why,” say they, “look at the Methodists, some of them are as pious, good and faithful and are as good citizens, neighbors and friends as any you will find among the Latter-day Saints or any other denomination; or go among the Catholics and you will find some as honest, virtuous, upright and charitable as any you will find among the Latter-day Saints.” This being their opinion they decide that one is just as good as another.

Now it is true that, so far as moral worth is concerned, we may find hundreds of thousands in the world who are honest, moral and upright to the best of their knowledge. I believe that among the inhabitants of the earth to-day, notwithstanding the vast amount of corruption and sin and the almost universal moral degradation, there are thousands of good, honest, well-meaning people. So far as they have light and knowledge and earth to-day honor them in their lives.

But that does not constitute them the people of God, neither does it argue that they have the holy priesthood, nor that the Gospel in its purity and fulness has been revealed to them; nothing of the kind. Then I say that they are wanting.

Although I feel liberal in my heart towards mankind, and willing to accord this truth to the benefit of the honest in heart; yet I am compelled to acknowledge that they are lacking. And because there are good people out of this Church as well as in, that does not argue that we have not the priesthood, that God is not in communion with us, that we are not in fellowship with him, nor that we are not the people he has chosen, through whom to accomplish his great work in the latter days.

It simply proves what the prophets and the servants of God have often said, that there are honest people in the world who are not in this Church, and for that reason the Gospel is preached to the nations, that the honest may be gathered into the fold and family of God, that they may take a part in the building up of his kingdom in the last days. When you compare the systems, creeds, and governing principles among the sects and religious denominations in the world, where will you find one that is perfect, or that is calculated to lead men back to a unity of the faith and to God? Where will you find a system or a denomination of religious people in the world who have such principles embodied in their faith? You cannot find such a system, if you go beyond the pale of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 11:, p.308 – 309)

1867 (April): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: The Truth and Sound Doctrine Possessed by Sectarian World, and They Have a Great Deal, All Belong to This Church; As for Their Morality, Many of Them are Morally Just as Good as We are:

Now, my brethren, you who have sinned, repent of your sins.

I can say to you in regard to Jesus and the atonement (it is so written, and I firmly believe it), that Christ has died for all. He has paid the full debt, whether you receive the gift or not. But if we continue to sin, to lie, steal, bear false witness, we must repent of and forsake that sin to have the full efficacy of the blood of Christ. Without this it will be of no effect; repentance must come, in order that the atonement may prove a benefit to us.

Let all who are doing wrong cease doing wrong; live no longer in transgression, no matter of what kind; but live every day of your lives according to the revelations given, and so that your examples may be worthy of imitation.

Let us remember that we never get beyond the purview of our religion-never, never! “Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.”

The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this church. As for their morality many of them are morally just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this church and kingdom. Death, hell, and the grave only are outside of “Mormonism.” “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fullness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods.

What is the difference, then, what we are called to do? Let us do it with a cheerful heart and a willing mind, that we may receive the blessing which the Lord has for the faithful. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 11:, p.375)

1868 (August) Newspaper Article, President Wiford Woodruff: Our Father in Heaven has done All He Could for Salvation of Human Family:

We should, as a people, be awake to the fact that our Father in Heaven has done all he could for the salvation of the human family. He has made known the laws necessary for the exaltation and glory of man and has done all that can be done by law.

Jesus has died to redeem all men; but in order that they may be benefitted by His death, and that His blood may cleanse them from all actual sin committed in the flesh, they must abide the law of the gospel. The sins done through Adam we have been redeemed from by the blood of Christ; and in order to obtain salvation we must be obedient and faithful to the precepts of the gospel.

I feel as though we as a people ought to rejoice; and we should prize these gifts and blessings God has put into our hands, and we should seek to magnify our callings, and as a people fulfill the expectation of our Father in Heaven, and the expectation of those who have gone before us.

The Gospel of Christ is one of the greatest blessings that can be bestowed upon man. Eternal life, the Lord says, is the greatest gift of God [see D&C 14:7]. We can obtain that, only through obedience to this Gospel. This, brethren and sisters, is our blessing. (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, August 11, 1868, 2.)

1870 (May): Conference Address, President Brigham Young: Take Away Atonement of Son of God and Scriptures Fall Useless to Ground; Have You Any Proof that Jesus did Not Die for Sins of World? No:

But foolish and absurd as is such an idea, it is not so ridiculous as that of the infidel. The Christian world, while virtually declaring that God is nothing, also declare that the world was created by him; but the infidel says the world had no creator, it is the result of chance. Now I defy any infidel, or any other person on the face of the earth, to prove that anything can be made or exist without a maker. The world and all its various grades of organized denizens, from the lowest forms of vegetable or animal life, up to man, the lord of creation, were framed and made, or they would not have been here.

I just want to say with regard to infidelity, it means nothing more nor less than to disbelieve anything we have a mind to. If we disbelieve in the existence of the Eternal, as an embodiment or personage, we are infidel on that point. If we disbelieve in the efficacy of the blood of the Savior and his atonement, we are infidels on that subject.

I wish to say, however, to the Christian world, that the moment the atonement of the Savior is done away, that moment, at one sweep, the hopes of salvation entertained by the Christian world are destroyed, the foundation of their faith is taken away, and there is nothing left for them to stand upon. When this is gone all the revelations God ever gave to the Jewish nation, to the Gentiles and to us are rendered valueless, and all hope is taken from us at one sweep.

What proof have you, Infidels, that Jesus is not the Christ? What proof have you of the negative of the existence of God the Father, or of Jesus as the Mediator, or of the Holy Ghost as God’s minister, or of the gifts and graces that God has bestowed upon his people? None at all, not the least thing in the world.

Is there anybody living on the earth that has the proof of the affirmative? Yes; we have. We have proof that God lives and that he has a body; that he has eyes, and ears to hear; that he has arms, hands and feet; that he can walk and does walk. He has declared himself to be a man of war-Jehovah, the great I Am, the Lord Almighty, and many other titles of a like import are used in reference to him in the Scriptures.

But take away the atonement of the Son of God and the Scriptures fall useless to the ground.

How is it, Infidel, have you any proof that Jesus did not die for the sins of the world? No; not the least, any more than you have proof that there was no need to go to the mountains to cut the timber used in building this house, or to quarry the rock of which the pillars of this house are composed. How is it, Mr. Infidel, have you any proof of the non-existence of Him who rules and reigns in heaven, and who controls the destinies of the earth? No; not the least. But you say, “I do not believe it.” That is your affair only, nobody cares about that. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 14:, p.42)

1870 (April): Conference Address, President George A. Smith, First Presidency (Joseph’s Cousin): Salt Lake City is Visited by Great Numbers of Clergymen of the Various Denominations- Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, and others; Occupied our Pulpit in Tabernacle; We were Glad to Hear Them; Many Good Reasons for Wishing Them to Preach to Us:

It was my lot, during the past season, to be present much of the time in this city, which was visited by great numbers of men, from nearly all parts of the earth. Many of them were clergymen of the various denominations-Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, and others. Some of these men occupied our pulpits in this and the New Tabernacle. We were glad to hear them.

We had many good reasons for wishing them to preach to us. Many of the younger members of our community have not been conversant with the religions of the age. The elder members of our body have been, for most of us were raised in some one or other of the religious denominations, and have felt and realized the effects of their principles, and are fully acquainted with their doctrines. Thousands of our Elders have traveled abroad in the earth preaching and have been observant of their workings and progress.

But the young and rising generation among us have not had this opportunity. It is therefore very desirable to us, whenever ministers of standing in their own denominations visit us, to have them set forth their doctrines and sentiments before us, that the young persons among us may understand all other religions as well as ours, and be able to compare the doctrines that are taught or held in Christendom with those which we have been introducing under the revelations given to Joseph Smith.

It was on this and other grounds that the general spiritual liberty, so marked among us in the days of Joseph Smith, had been constantly continued. We all remember, who lived in the days of Joseph, that every clergyman of any prominence who visited Nauvoo was invited to preach to our congregations. This has ever been our course. It was so at Kirtland. They preached in our Temple and in other localities, and it has been continued up to the present time.

During the long years that we were in a manner isolated from the rest of the world, ministers passing across the continent by stage or in emigrant companies have spoken in our tabernacles … A freer people do not exist on the earth, nor any who have greater opportunities for free thought and understanding. Elders are going forth to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, preaching the Gospel and gathering up the poor and needy; and their going and returning keep us posted thoroughly in relation to the progress and improvements made by and going on in the religious, scientific and mechanical world.

These are the facts, and every man has the privilege of exercising his own will and freedom; and the privilege of preaching in our congregations is extended through all our settlements to ministers and men of standing in other religious bodies. I saw recently invitations published to the learned of all denominations, to occupy the halls of Brigham city; and the same is true of other settlements. All that we desire of our fellow men, when they visit us, is to tell the truth about us. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 13:, p.333)

1870 (May): Address in New Tabernacle, President George A. Smith, First Presidency: Honest Persons in All Denominations; God has Respect to Every Man Honest of Heart and Purpose, though Deceived; Lord in Abundant Mercy Looks with Allowance Thereon:

The work commenced by preaching faith in the Lord Jesus, repentance and the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was an innovation upon the creeds and practices of every other religious sect; I am not aware that any one denomination believed in and practiced all the principles that were introduced at the organization of this Church.

The first three of these principles were faith in the Lord Jesus, repentance, and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. The next principle was the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, precisely as it was pointed out by the Savior and practiced by his disciples in Judea.

There were denominations who believed in baptism by immersion, but not for the remission of sins, they believed that remission of sins was necessary previous to baptism; but they were ignorant of the possibility of the reception of the Holy Ghost, and, consequently, of the doctrine of the laying on of hands.

The Church of England, it is true, would confirm by the laying on of the hand of the bishops, but not for confirming the gift of the Holy Ghost on the heads of the believers; and while all the professed believers in the doctrine of Christ had some portions or fragments of his Gospel as revealed and established by him and his Apostles, it was the Church of Latter-day Saints which introduced and established, complete, the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance towards God, baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These principles were all important, and the moment the Bible was brought forth everybody could find that they coincided exactly with the principles set forth by the Savior, and it required to be spiritualized and changed to make it appear otherwise. But the Christian world had gone astray from these things, and when they were restored they rejected them.

There were, however, honest persons in all of the denominations, and God has respect to every man who is honest of heart and purpose, though he may be deceived, and in error as to principle and doctrine; yet so far as that error is the result of their being deceived by the cunning craftiness of men, or of circumstances over which such have no control, the Lord in His abundant mercy looks with allowance thereon, and in His great economy He has provided different glories and ordained that all persons shall be judged according to the knowledge they possess and the use they make of that knowledge, and according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 13:, p.346 – 347)

1871 (March): Conference Address, Elder Orson Pratt: Reformers Built Up Denominations which They Called Christian; Forsook Much Corruption of Mother Church:

Some two or three centuries ago there was a great reformation in Europe-a protestation against this wicked, corrupt and abominable power that had held sway under the name of Christian.

They did reform from many of their corrupt practices, and they had power given to them, although perhaps they did not understand it fully, and the God of heaven did give power to these reformers to bring about more liberal principles; but they had to do it through great persecution.

They succeeded, however, in building up denominations which they called Christian, that had forsaken, in some measure the corruption of the mother church. These reformers followed the mother church in regard to limiting their faith to ancient Scripture; they would tell the people that there was to be no more revelation. John Calvin and Martin Luther held the view, that there was to be no more revelation from heaven; that the canon of Scripture was full. They received this false dogma from the mother church; they could not find it in the New Testament; but it was a tradition handed down by the mother church that such was the fact. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 14:, p.140)

1871 (December): Conference Address, Elder George Q. Cannon: The New Birth:

There is an expression of the Savior’s to Nicodemus, which I think I will read; it is found in the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel.

There was a man of the Pharisees, John writes, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; the same came to Jesus by night and said unto him, Rabbi, we know thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.Now here is a definite doctrine laid down by the Savior, that unless a man is born again he can not see the kingdom of God, and unless he is born of the water and of the Spirit he can not enter into the kingdom of God; he can not even see the kingdom without the new birth, and he can not enter that kingdom without being born of the water and of the Spirit.

This doctrine is exceedingly positive, it leaves no room for doubt; there is no chance to evade the fact of this doctrine if there is to be any reliance placed upon the words of Jesus. Then, we are forced to the belief that no man can enter into the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and of the Spirit.

Well, taking these passages into consideration, a large class of people have come to the conclusion that unless a man is born again, or, as they term it, experience a change of heart, he is consigned to endless misery; and there are those who believe that all the heathen who have died in ignorance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are thus punished, and, in fact, there are those who profess to have faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, who believe that in hell, that place of torment from which they declare there is no escape, there are infants by scores, and hundreds and thousands, and I may say by millions, enduring inconceivable and endless torment because they have died before receiving the ordinances which they consider necessary to salvation.

I do not thus understand the Scriptures, I do not thus understand the plan of salvation; I do not thus view the character and dealings of God our heavenly Father with his creatures. One of the most prominent attributes which we ascribe to our Father in heaven is mercy. The Scriptures declare most emphatically that he is a God of mercy, and a God of love.

Can we, even in our degraded condition, consider a being endowed in the least degree with the attributes of love and mercy, or even of justice, who would consign millions of his creatures to endless torment because they do not believe and obey a doctrine which they never heard? Why such an idea is unworthy of intelligent beings.

Suppose that any of us who have families should pass a law or prescribe a rule for their government, and at the time it is passed or prescribed, a portion of our children are not within hearing, and while still in ignorance of it, they unconsciously violate it, and because of this the father punishes them. What would you say of such a father? Would you not say that he was unjust, harsh and cruel? Why, certainly this would be our verdict, if we pronounced any, we could not pronounce otherwise. We would be compelled to come to the conclusion that the father who would act in this manner would neither be kind, just or wise. And shall it be said of our heavenly Father, who is the fountain of love, mercy and justice, that he will act with less justice than man, and that he will punish, curse and consign to eternal misery, his children, because they have failed to obey the laws he has never made known to them?

Certainly not; and it is on account of these doctrines, which have been propounded and circulated so widely in Christendom, that skeptics are numbered by hundreds of thousands and it may be said by millions. The feelings of the people recoil, humanity revolts at such monstrous doctrines, and the growth of skepticism and infidelity may be traced to the fact that such hideous principles are advocated by those professing to be servants of the living God and the ministers of Jesus Christ.

But do the Scriptures, the words of eternal life, as recorded in the Bible, inculcate such ideas? Certainly not. There is in the plan of salvation, which God our heavenly Father has revealed, perfect love, mercy and justice, and every other attribute which pertains to the character of Deity are perfectly illustrated in the plan of salvation which he has revealed for man’s guidance.

The words of Jesus which I have read to you, contain an immutable truth: that except a man be born again he can not see the Kingdom of God. It is an immutable truth that, except a man be born of the water and of the spirit, he can not enter the Kingdom of God. These words proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, the Son of God, the author of our salvation, the founder of our religion. He was perfectly acquainted with the laws necessary to be obeyed in order to effect an entrance into his Father’s kingdom; and being thus acquainted, he had the right as well as the knowledge necessary to advance and proclaim this doctrine to the children of men.

While we are upon the subject we may as well make a few remarks upon the nature of this new birth of which Jesus speaks. As I have told you, and as you well know, there is a large class in Christendom who believe that this new birth consists of what they term a change of heart; if the heart undergoes a change they say the creature is born again.

Now, I do not so understand the Scriptures. I do not think that the change of heart thus referred to, is the new birth to which the Savior refers; on the contrary, it says here in great plainness, that they must be born of the water as well as of the Spirit. Not for the putting away the filth of the flesh, as I read to you in the passage from Peter, but for the answer of a good conscience towards God.

Jesus, as you will recollect, on the occasion when John the Baptist, as he was called, was baptizing in Jordan, went and offered himself to John as a candidate for baptism. John, having received a testimony from the Father that Jesus was his beloved son in whom he was well pleased; knowing also that he, himself, was the forerunner of Jesus spoken of by the Prophets, declined to baptize him, saying, in effect, it is better for me to submit to thee than thee to submit to me. Jesus replied, Suffer it to be so now, to fulfil all righteousness. Then John took Jesus and baptized him.

Here we have an example on the part of our Savior of obedience to a certain ordinance. Some say that in this ordinance Jesus had water poured upon him, others say he was sprinkled, and a great many of the popular pictures represent him standing in the Jordan with his arms folded across his breast and John the Baptist pouring water on his head; but a careful perusal of the writings of those who have described this event will leave but one conclusion on the unprejudiced mind, and that is that Jesus went down into the water and was baptized by John, and came up out of the water; and that if pouring or sprinkling had been the method of administering the ordinance of baptism, there would have been no necessity for John and the people of Jerusalem and the regions round about, to have gone the distance that intervened between the river Jordan and Jerusalem to attend to it, and in fact there are other passages in the Scriptures which go to prove that immersion was the method of baptism, and that John so administered the ordinance.

In one passage of Scripture it is said that John was baptizing at a place near Enon, because there was much water there, showing that an abundance of water was necessary for its correct administration. This was the ordinance that Jesus submitted to. He was the Son of God, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world; he was spotless and sinless in the sight of his Father, yet he considered it necessary to attend to this ordinance that he might fulfil all righteousness; and it is a remarkable fact that we have no account in the Scriptures of Jesus acting in his ministry until he had attended to this ordinance.

This, as I understand the Scriptures, and as the Latter-day Saints testify, was the new birth. He went down into one element, was buried in that element, and, emerging therefrom, was born again, in other words was born of the water. Can you imagine a new birth more perfectly represented than by this act which I have described, performed by John upon Jesus?

After this birth of the water had taken place, the birth of the Spirit followed, for as soon as he came up out of the water, the Holy Ghost, in the likeness of a dove, descended upon him, and a voice was heard from heaven testifying that he was the beloved son in whom the Father was well pleased. Jesus was enveloped in that spiritual element, and was born of the Spirit as he had been born of the water. Thus, in his own case, he illustrated, by his obedience and humility to the will of his Father, the doctrine which he taught to Nicodemus, and which he declared was necessary to prepare not only him but all the children of men to enter into the kingdom of God.

Paul, also, in one place, speaks of being buried with Christ in baptism in the likeness of his burial, in the likeness also of his resurrection; the burial in the liquid grave being symbolical of the death and burial of the Son of God, and the coming forth therefrom of his resurrection. Now here were the two births of which I have spoken. They already believed that Jesus was the Christ, and they were told to repent, and be baptized for the remission of their sins; not, I repeat again, for the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but for the remission of their sins, that they might be born of the water, that they might become suitable candidates to receive the Holy Spirit. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 14:, p.311)

1874 (July): Conference Address, Brigham City: President Brigham Young: The Latter-day Saints are believers in the atonement of the Savior:

The Latter-day Saints are believers in the atonement of the Savior, and I would like to have the Elders of Israel understand as far as they can all the points of doctrine in regard to the redemption of the human family, that they may know how to talk about and explain them. No one who believes in the Bible and in the mission of the Savior believes that the wicked are going to possess this earth; but they believe that when it is prepared it will be given to the Saints and they will inherit it.

The Savior has requested us and all of his disciples to remember him as oft as we meet together, and to break bread in remembrance of his body which was broken for us, and to drink from the cup in remembrance of the blood that was shed for us. We meet, as we are doing to day, and partake of the bread and the water in compliance with this request of the Redeemer. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 17:, p.118)

1876 (April): Conference Address, Elder Joseph F. Smith: New Birth; Something Still Beyond, which is Just as Necessary as This, which must be Observed and Honored by Those of this New Birth, in Order to Obtain Full Salvation After Which They Seek:

If we are in the line of our duty, we are engaged in a great and glorious cause. It is very essential to our individual welfare that every man and every woman who has entered into the government of the Gospel, through repentance and baptism, should feel that as individuals it is their bounden duty to use their intelligence, and the agency which the Lord has given them, for the promotion of the interests of Zion and the establishment of her cause, in the earth. Those who are not faithful in the discharge of these duties cannot be wholly acceptable to God; for they are more or less in the condition of the Church which was complained of by the angel to the Apostle John, as being neither hot nor cold, but luke-warm, and therefore only fit to be “spewed out,” or to be disowned of God.

Manifoldly more deserving of this rebuke and chastisement are those who are not only indifferent to the interests of the cause of God, and its growth in the earth, but who murmur and find fault and who, instead of putting their shoulders to the wheel, actually try to retard its progress by using what little influence and means they possess to obstruct the onward march of the kingdom. It was said by the Son of God, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This was said to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, who evidently believed that Jesus was sent of God, but who went to him by night, being ashamed to be seen seeking so humble a person in the day time, having, no doubt, that feeling of worldly pride which animates the bosoms of many of the present generation, he dared not identify himself with the Savior of the world, because his reputation and standing in society would be sacrificed.

But he marvelled at the saying of Christ, and upon further inquiry the Savior explained by declaring that, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And I may say still further, that being born of the water and the Spirit alone, will not enable a man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There is something still beyond, which is just as necessary as this, the first ordinance of the Gospel, which must be observed and honored by those of this new birth in order that they may obtain the full salvation which is sought after.

On this particular occasion the Savior was speaking of Baptism, and in order to impress it upon Nicodemus, that it might be understood then, as well as to be in force in all future time, so that people need not be deceived, he spoke thus emphatically on this point of doctrine. It therefore matters not how devout, honest, or sincere we might be in the profession of our faith in God, or in the system of religion we might have adopted, and which we believe to be the everlasting Gospel, without this ordinance of baptism we cannot be saved-but first having repented of our sins with that repentance which needeth not to be repented of, in other words, putting away from us every evil, and shunning even the appearance of sin, then to be baptized by one authorized of God for the remission of those sins, and for the reception of the Holy Ghost, we thus becoming heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; true branches, having been grafted into the true vine, bearing fruit of the good seed, bringing forth and hundred fold to the honor and glory of God.

I repeat, it matters not how honest we may be or profess to be in our convictions, without this repentance and baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost, which constitute the new birth, we are not the family of Christ, but are aliens, estranged from God and his laws, and in this fallen condition we shall remain, whether in the body or in the spirit, for time and for eternity, unless we render obedience to the plan devised in the heavens for the redemption and salvation of the human family. The Latter-day Saints may say, We were taught this doctrine by the Elders in our native lands, and we believed it and repented of our sins, and were baptized, and we received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was a testimony to us that we had done the will of the Father, and since then our testimonies have often been confirmed through the manifestations of the power of God, and the renewal of his spirit in our hearts. Why, therefore, say they, is it necessary to refer to these things now?

Perhaps a reason may be found for so doing in the fact, that, judging from the actions of many who profess to be Latter-day Saints, it would seem that they had come to the conclusion that they had completed their work, that the requirements of the Gospel were all complied with, and nothing now remained but for them to enter upon the inheritances promised to the faithful. We perhaps forget, in consequence of the things of time, which so tempt our fallen nature, that, having been born anew, which is the putting away of the old man sin, and putting on the new man Christ Jesus, we have become soldiers of the cross, having enlisted under the banner of Jehovah for time and for eternity, and that we have entered into the most solemn covenants to serve God and to contend earnestly for the establishment of the principles of truth and righteousness on this earth continually while we live.

And having been “bought with a price,” that is, having been redeemed from the power of sin through the atoning blood of the Savior, as the Apostle says, “We are not our own;” we are his, and we are dependent on him, not only for the light and knowledge which we have received by virtue of that Gospel restored in this dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, but for all temporal blessings, and even for our very earthly being.

Therefore, it is not consistent with our high and holy calling to allow ourselves to become careless and indifferent to the interests of the cause we have espoused, lest we fail through our inconsistency, and return “like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” and peradventure be found traitors to the sacred cause in which we have enlisted, and forfeit the gift of eternal life to which we have been made heirs.

There is a course marked out for us to walk in-it is that strait and narrow path which leads back to the presence of God; the lamp to light our onward march is the Holy Ghost, which we received on or after our new birth. If we falter and turn aside, our lamp will burn dim and finally go out, when lo, the Comforter, the source of revelation, will leave us, and darkness will take its place; then how great will be that darkness! In proportion to the light we possessed will darkness overpower us, and unless a speedy repentance is made the darkness will increase within us, until we lose sight of our calling and forget Him who redeemed us and claimed us for his own.

The Apostle Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, says: “Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.” His language is applicable to us as Latter-day Saints, and destruction must overtake us, which is as certain as it is that God is a just being, if we render ourselves unworthy of the calling and name we bear by failing to perform the duties devolving upon us …

The office of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten the minds of the people with regard to the things of God, to convince them at the time of their conversion of their having done the will of the Father, and to be in them an abiding testimony as a companion through life, acting as the sure and safe guide into all truth and filling them day by day with joy and gladness, and a disposition to do good to all men, to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, to be kind and merciful, long suffering and charitable. All who possess this inestimable gift, this pearl of great price, have a continual thirst after righteousness. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit no mortal can walk in the straight and narrow way, being unable to discern right from wrong, the genuine from the counterfeit, so nearly alike can they be made to appear.

Therefore it behooves the Latter-day Saints to live pure and upright, in order that this Spirit may abide in them; for it is only possessed on the principle of righteousness. I cannot receive it for you, nor you for me; every one must stand for him or her self, whether of high or humble birth, learned or unlearned, and it is the privilege of all alike to be made partakers of it. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 18:, p.273 – 274)

1877 (September): Conference Address, Elder Joseph F. Smith, Apostle: First Principles: Faith in God’s Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence; Man Being Born Again and Becoming as Little Child:

We have reason to rejoice and to be exceeding glad, for we possess the testimony of Jesus, the spirit of prophecy, which the world know nothing about, nor can they without obedience to the Gospel. Jesus thoroughly understood this matter, and fully explained it when he said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

On first reflection, it would seem that anything so clear, reasonable and tangible could be easily made plain to the understanding of all men. Hence the feeling that has prompted many of the Latter-day Saints to believe, after their minds have been enlightened by the Spirit of God-everything being made so plain and clear to them-that they had only to tell their friends and kindred what they had learned and they would gladly receive it. But how disappointed, after they had presented to them the truths of heaven in simplicity and plainness, to hear them say “We cannot see it!” or “We do not believe it!” or perhaps bitterly oppose it, which is by far the most common practice of the world.

They cannot understand it. Why? Because, as Jesus has said, no man can see the kingdom except he is born again. You may preach the Gospel to the people, but unless they humble themselves as little children before the Lord, acknowledging their dependence upon him for light and wisdom, they cannot see or sense it, although you may preach to them in as great plainness as it is possible for the truth to be conveyed from one person to another.

And should any believe your testimony it would only be belief. They would not see as you see-nor comprehend it as you do-until they yield obedience to the requirements of the Gospel, and through the remission of their sins receive the Holy Ghost. Then they, too, can see as you do, for they have the same spirit; then will they love the truth as you do, and may wonder why they could not comprehend it before, or why it is that there can be anybody with common intelligence that cannot understand truth so plain and forcible.

First, then, it is necessary to have faith in God, “faith being the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness.” Faith in God is to believe that he is, and “that he is the only supreme governor and independent being, in whom all fullness and perfection and every good gift and principle dwells independently,” and in whom the faith of all other rational beings must centre for life and salvation; and further, that he is the great Creator of all things, that he is omnipotent, omniscient, and by his works and the power of his Spirit omnipresent.

Not only is it necessary to have faith in God, but also in Jesus Christ, his Son, the Savior of mankind and the Mediator of the New Covenant; and in the Holy Ghost, who bears record of the Father and the Son, “the same in all ages and forever.”

Let us treat with candor the religious sentiments of all men, no matter if they differ from ours, or appear to us absurd and foolish. Those who hold them may be as sincere as we are in their convictions. It is well to prove all things, so far as we can, and be sure to hold fast to that which is good, no matter where we find it. Ridicule is not likely to convince a man of his error, or if it does, it may destroy his respect and love for its author, and if he has truth, his victim will most likely spurn it.

I desire to say that my faith in this work is as firm or firmer than ever. My heart is in it, and I know truly it is the kingdom of God. These things of which I have been so imperfectly speaking, I know to be the truth,-Bible truth, Gospel truth, and are essential to the salvation of mankind. I am not deceived in this but know whereof I speak.

My religion teaches me to do good, to be at peace with my neighbors, at least not to infringe upon their rights nor trespass upon their property, and even to endure wrongs from them rather than do them wrong, or even demand from the trespasser what I might deem full justice. It teaches me to trust in the justice of the Almighty, and to rest my cause in his hands.

It enjoins honesty, sobriety and industry. It forbids profanity, lying, adultery, deceitfulness, and vile cunning. It gives true enlightenment to the mind and exalts the low and debased who will hearken and obey it. The observance of the Gospel will make good men of bad ones, and better men of good ones. It will make good citizens, good fathers, husbands, wives and children, good neighbors, a good people, an enlightened, pure and high minded community, a blessed state and a prosperous nation.

Obedience to the Gospel will save the world from sin, abolish war, strife and litigation, and usher in the millennial reign. It will restore the earth to its rightful owner, and prepare it for the inheritance of the just. These are all principles of that same Gospel of Christ, and the effects which will flow from their acceptance and adoption by mankind. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 19:, p.189 – 190)

1881 (January): Conference Address, Elder Charles W. Penrose, Apostle: The Spirit of Revelation and Its Operations:

I have listened attentively to the remarks made to us by Brother Bywater, this afternoon. He has presented to us a great many things that are true and profitable for us to reflect upon. I always take pleasure in listening to my brethren when they say something. I take pleasure in reflecting upon the ideas which they present and in carrying them to their legitimate conclusion.

When we hear a truth presented to us by the Spirit of the Lord, it is of this nature, that we are not only instructed in that particular truth for the time being, but it leads us to reflect upon truths that grow out of or are connected with it. One truth seems to lead to the contemplation of other principles, and they to others, until the great field of truth is open to our view, and we see that we know but very little, but that there will be an opportunity afforded us to advance and learn that of which we are now ignorant.

Brother Bywater has to some extent this afternoon drawn the line of distinction between the faith of the Latter-day Saints and the creeds of the various denominations, expressing himself to the effect that whereas each of them take in but a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as declared in the Scriptures, in their creeds, the Latter-day Saints embody in their faith the whole of it; that whereas the different Christian denominations are founded upon some few peculiar ideas and tenets, the faith of the Latter-day Saints is based upon a broader foundation-that we take in the whole of the Gospel, the whole of the revealed will of God to man. This is correct so far as it goes.

But the faith of the Latter-day Saints is not comprehended alone in that which God has revealed and is placed on record. The creed of the Latter-day Saints is not comprised by a certain number of tenets; we are not limited to a certain number of articles of faith; we are not confined to the things which are laid down in the book called the Bible, which all the professing Christians of the times declare they believe. We are not bound up by the Old Testament, nor the New Testament, nor by both combined. We have received certain principles that can be found within the lids of the Bible. A great many of our principles can be found existing among the various Christian denominations. One sect believes in some things which we believe in; other sects believe in other things in which we believe.

But there are principles connected with our faith which go over and beyond and above all that which is comprehended in the Christian world, and all that which is contained within the lids of the Bible. And yet at the same time there is nothing in our faith, there is nothing in our creed, which contradicts that which is in the Bible. There is no principle in our faith which contradicts anything that can be demonstrated by known truth. Truth always harmonizes with itself. And when a person grows in the knowledge of the truth and advances to higher principles, he does not receive anything that contradicts any truth he had previously learned, for truth is never discordant with itself. Truth is eternal; truth, as we have been told this afternoon is indestructible and never contradicts itself.

The great distinction, as I view it, bringing it down to a small point, existing between the people called Latter-day Saints and all other bodies of professing Christians is this: That our creed is founded upon doctrines and principles and a spirit which have come from heaven in our own times. The doctrines of our faith, most of them, can be found laid down in great plainness in the books of the Bible and were revealed aforetime. Yet we have not received our training, our ideas concerning them, from the Bible. They have come to us from heaven direct. Every doctrine and principle of our faith has been sent down to us in our own times. These doctrines have come by present revelation.

Now in that there is a marked difference between us and the rest of the people who profess to believe in the Christian religion. The various sects of modern times draw their creed-or profess to do so, from the Bible; they take it from the written books; they do not profess to have received any direct communication from the heavens. Take all these various sects of modern times and examine into their different creeds and the foundation of their belief in them, and you will find that it rests upon the hypothesis of the divinity of the Old and New Testaments. They trace their doctrines-or profess to do so-to these books, and they believe in the various doctrines which exist among them, because they consider that they can find them in these books. The book is the foundation. The Bible the written word, the dead letter, is the foundation of all their creeds.
Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church, as it is commonly called, is the only exception in that respect. But even the Roman Catholic Church, who look to the Pope as the great earthly head of the Church, do not believe in present revelation, they did not obtain their creeds through direct communication with the heavens. Although the Pope professes to be the direct descendant of St. Peter, he does not even profess to have that great gift which made Peter a veritable Apostle-that is, the gift of revelation. Peter received communication from on high; so did his brethren of the Apostleship. This was the real source of their light, this was the real power by which they instructed the people. They were filled with the Holy Ghost, the spirit of revelation; they were in communication with the great unseen Head of the Church, Jesus, who was crucified, and had departed from their midst.

But all the various sects that compose modern Christendom more or less repudiate the idea of present revelation. They do not believe that in these times man can commune with his Maker. They believe, to use one of their favorite expressions, that ‘the awful voice of prophecy is closed forever; that the canon of scripture is full;’ and they believe that when John the Apostle wrote the book of Revelation, that was the last sacred record committed to man.

Now you see there is a great difference between the whole Christian world and the Latter-day Saints. Whereas we also believe in the Bible; whereas we also believe that God inspired holy men of old and that they wrote as well as spoke by the Holy Ghost: while we believe in the merits of Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, believe in his atonement, believe in the work he wrought out for the salvation of mankind; and believe in the teachings of his inspired Apostles, yet we do not found our faith upon that which is recorded in the sacred book called the Bible. But our faith is founded upon communications received in our own times, in the nineteenth century by living Prophets and living Apostles-by men who to-day hold that authority which the men held who wrote the things contained in that book. In that, then, is a great distinction between us and all the rest of the Christian world.

And there is another distinction, as I remarked just now; that whereas these various Christian sects are confined within certain narrow limits of faith, tied up within a certain number of articles or principles, our faith is not tied up by any number of tenets. The revelations which have been given to us at the present time do not constitute the whole of our creed. True, they constitute our creed so far as we have advanced today, but we stand ready to receive still further communication from the same source; the way is still open for us to receive still further light, further principles, further admonitions, further counsels, and further plans for the rolling forth of the great work of God on the face of the earth. So that our creed-although it is true it can be likened to the blossoming of that flower which Brother Bywater has so beautifully pictured before us, but which will fade and fall away-is to me more like the tree of life, which shall never perish, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, whose fruit bears the flavors and the juices of immortality, whose leaves never crumble or decay, whose roots are grounded in eternal soil, and that shall never wither and never die. This everlasting Gospel which we have received is the tree of life that shall flourish forever.

And the same power which has revealed faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands, and the holy Priesthood, and has made known unto us the plan for the redemption of the living and the dead, and has inspired us to our works up to the present time, is still ready to communicate line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, that we may be ready for every emergency, prepared for every event in the work of our God as it rolls forward on the earth.

And when we, as individuals, depart behind the vail, we shall find the same opportunities there. We shall not lose the power to receive revelation. Our Priesthood will go with us. We will continue to grow in the knowledge of correct principles. That same Holy Spirit which has revealed a few things to us on the earth, and stamped the truth of them upon our hearts, will continue to open unto us the great things of the boundless universe; for it is the spirit of truth, and it will guide into all truth. This is the condition that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in, and in that respect it stands distinct from all other bodies of so-called Christians now extant upon the face of the earth. But in this respect it is exactly the same as the old Church we read about in the Bible. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 22:, p.71

1881 (July): Newspaper Article, President Wilford Woodruff: Made Perfect Through the Blood of the Lamb:

My earnest prayer is that the blessings of our God may be over us in time, that when we get through and shall pass behind the veil, we shall have done all that was required of us, and be prepared to dwell with the sanctified and the just made perfect through the blood of the Lamb. (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, July 26, 1881, 1)

1882: Book, President John Taylor: The Mediation and Atonement:

In the event of man having his free will and being subject to the power of temptation, the weakness of the flesh, the allurements of the world, and the powers of darkness, it was known that he must necessarily fall, and being fallen, it would be impossible for him to redeem himself, and that, according to an eternal law of justice, it would require an infinite, expiatory atonement to redeem man, to save him from the effects and ruin of the Fall, and to place him in a condition where he could again be reinstated in the favor of God, according to the eternal laws of justice and mercy; and find his way back to the presence of the Father.

… And hence, as Jesus Himself said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:46–47.] In the economy of God and the plan proposed by the Almighty, it was provided that man was to be placed under a law apparently simple in itself, yet the test of that law was fraught with the gravest consequences. The observance of that law would secure eternal life, and the penalty for the violation of that law was death.

… If the law had not been broken [through the Fall], man would have lived; but would man thus living have been capable of perpetuating his species, and of thus fulfilling the designs of God in preparing tabernacles for the spirits which had been created in the spirit world? And further, could they have had the need of a mediator, who was to act as a propitiation [or atoning sacrifice] for the violation of this law, which it would appear from the circumstances was destined to be broken; or could the eternal increase and perpetuity of man have been continued, and his high exaltation to the Godhead been accomplished, without the propitiatory atonement and sacrifice of the Son of God? We are told that “without shedding of blood is no remission” of sins [Hebrews 9:22]. This is beyond our comprehension. Jesus had to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, the just for the unjust.

… As He in His own person bore the sins of all, and atoned for them by the sacrifice of Himself, so there came upon Him the weight and agony of ages and generations, the indescribable agony consequent upon this great sacrificial atonement wherein He bore the sins of the world, and suffered in His own person the consequences of an eternal law of God broken by man. Hence His profound grief, His indescribable anguish, His overpowering torture, all experienced in the submission to the requirements of an inexorable law.

The suffering of the Son of God was not simply the suffering of personal death; for in assuming the position that He did in making an atonement for the sins of the world He bore the weight, the responsibility, and the burden of the sins of all men, which, to us, is incomprehensible. As stated, “the Lord, your Redeemer, suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffereth the pains of all men;” [see D&C 18:11] and Isaiah says: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” also, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and again, “He hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sins of many;” [see Isaiah 53:4, 6, 12] or, as it is written in the Second Book of Nephi: “For behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam;” [2 Nephi 9:21] whilst in Mosiah it is declared: “He shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be the anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people.” [See Mosiah 3:7.] …

… As a God, He descended below all things, and made Himself subject to man in man’s fallen condition; as a man, He grappled with all the circumstances incident to His sufferings in the world. Anointed, indeed, with the oil of gladness above His fellows, He struggled with and overcame the powers of men and devils, of earth and hell combined; and aided by this superior power of the Godhead, He vanquished death, hell and the grave, and arose triumphant as the Son of God, the very eternal Father, the Messiah, the Prince of peace, the Redeemer, the Savior of the world; having finished and completed the work pertaining to the atonement, which His Father had given Him to do as the Son of God and the Son of man. As the Son of Man, He endured all that it was possible for flesh and blood to endure; as the Son of God He triumphed over all, and forever ascended to the right hand of God.

… The Savior thus becomes master of the situation—the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all power is now given into the hands of the Son of God—the power of the resurrection, the power of the redemption, the power of salvation, the power to enact laws for the carrying out and accomplishment of this design. Hence life and immortality are brought to light, the Gospel is introduced, and He becomes the author of eternal life and exaltation. He is the Redeemer, the Resurrector, the Savior of man and the world.

… The plan, the arrangement, the agreement, the covenant was made, entered into and accepted before the foundation of the world; it was prefigured by sacrifices, and was carried out and consummated on the cross. Hence being the mediator between God and man, He becomes by right the dictator and director on earth and in heaven for the living and for the dead, for the past, the present and the future, pertaining to man as associated with this earth or the heavens, in time or eternity, the Captain of our salvation, the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession, the Lord and Giver of life. Is justice dishonored? No; it is satisfied, the debt is paid. Is righteousness departed from? No; this is a righteous act. All requirements are met.

Is judgment violated? No; its demands are fulfilled. Is mercy triumphant? No; she simply claims her own. Justice, judgment, mercy and truth all harmonize as the attributes of Deity. “Justice and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” [See Psalm 85:10.] Justice and judgment triumph as well as mercy and peace; all the attributes of Deity harmonize in this great, grand, momentous, just, equitable, merciful and meritorious act. 9 It may here be asked, What difference is there between the Son of God, as the Son of God, the Redeemer, and those who believe in Him and partake of the blessings of the Gospel?

… One thing, as we read, is that the Father gave Him power to have life in Himself: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;” [John 5:26] and further, He had power, when all mankind had lost their life, to restore life to them again; and hence He is the Resurrection and the Life, which power no other man possesses. Another distinction is, that having this life in Himself, He had power, as He said, to lay down His life and to take it up again, which power was also given Him by the Father. This is also a power which no other being associated with this earth possesses. Again, He is the brightness of His Father’s glory and the express image of His person. Also, He doeth what He seeth the Father do, while we only do that which we are permitted and empowered to do by Him. He is the Elect, the Chosen, and one of the Presidency in the heavens, and in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, which could not be said of us in any of these particulars.

Another thing is, that all power is given to Him in heaven and upon earth, which no earthly being could say. It is also stated that Lucifer was before Adam; so was Jesus. And Adam, as well as all other believers, was commanded to do all that he did in the name of the Son, and to call upon God in His name for ever more; which honor was not applicable to any earthly being. He, in the nearness of His relationship to the Father, seems to occupy a position that no other person occupies. He is spoken of as His well beloved Son, as the Only Begotten of the Father—does not this mean the only begotten after the flesh? If He was the first born and obedient to the laws of His Father, did He not inherit the position by right to be the representative of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world? And was it not His peculiar right and privilege as the firstborn, the legitimate heir of God, the Eternal Father, to step forth, accomplish and carry out the designs of His Heavenly Father pertaining to the redemption, salvation and exaltation of man?

And being Himself without sin (which no other mortal was), He took the position of Savior and Redeemer, which by right belonged to Him as the first born. And does it not seem that in having a body specially prepared, and being the offspring of God, both in body and spirit, He stood preeminently in the position of the Son of God, or in the place of God, and was God, and was thus the fit and only personage capable of making an infinite atonement?

…… Though others might be the sons of God through Him, yet it needed His body, His fulfilment of the law, the sacrifice or offering up of that body in the atonement, before any of these others, who were also sons of God by birth in the spirit world, could attain to the position of sons of God as He was; and that only through His mediation and atonement. So that in Him, and of Him, and through Him, through the principle of adoption, could we alone obtain that position which is spoken of by John: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Thus His atonement made it possible for us to obtain an exaltation, which we could not have possessed without it. (John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, Excerpts in Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Ch. 10)

1882 (January): Funeral Sermon, President John Taylor: Atonement of Lord Jesus Christ is Medium Whereby We can be Restored to Bosom and Presence of Father:

If it were not for the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice he made, all the human family would have to lie in the grave throughout eternity without any hope. But God having provided, through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, the medium whereby we can be restored to the bosom and presence of the Father, to participate with Him among the Gods in the eternal worlds – he having provided for that has also provided for the resurrection. He proclaimed Himself the resurrection and the life. Said he, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” By and by the tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 22:, p.356 – 357)

1882 (May): Conference Address, Elder Wilford Woodruff, Apostle: : What is Gospel as Taught by Jesus Himself?

What is the gospel as taught by Jesus himself? The very first principle was faith in the Messiah; this was the first principle ever taught to man. When Adam, after being driven from the garden of Eden, went to Adam-ondi-Ahman to offer sacrifice, the angel of the Lord asked him why he did so. Adam replied that he did not know, but the Lord had commanded him to do it. He was then told that the blood of bulls and goats, of rams and lambs should be spilt upon the altar as a type of the great and last sacrifice which should be offered up for the sins of the world. [See Moses 5:4–7.]

The first principle, then, ever taught to Father Adam was faith in the Messiah, who was to come in the meridian of time to lay down his life for the redemption of man. The second principle was repentance. And what is repentance? The forsaking of sin. The man who repents, if he be a swearer, swears no more; or a thief, steals no more; he turns away from all former sins and commits them no more. It is not repentance to say, I repent today, and then steal tomorrow; that is the repentance of the world, which is displeasing in the sight of God. Repentance is the second principle. I have heard many men say no ordinances are necessary, that belief only in the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary to be saved. I have not learned that myself from any revelation of God to man, either ancient or modern.

But on the contrary, faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins were taught by patriarchs and prophets and by Jesus Christ and His apostles. Baptism for the remission of sins is an ordinance of the gospel. Says one, baptism is not essential to salvation. Jesus not only taught it, but rendered obedience himself to that requirement, not that he was baptized for the remission of sins —but, as he said, “to fulfil all righteousness,” thus in this, as in all other respects giving the example for all who follow [see Matthew 3:15]. When these principles of the gospel are complied with, a man is then a fit subject to receive the Holy Ghost; and this holy gift is bestowed today as it was anciently, by the laying on of hands by men possessing the authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel. These are the first principles of the gospel which we Latter-day Saints believe in and teach to our fellow men. (12. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 18–19)

1882 (June): Newspaper Article, President Wilford Woodruff: What Shall We Do to be Saved?

All the children of men who [have arrived] at the years of accountability are guilty of sin, all being inclined to do evil as the sparks are to fly upwards. “What shall we do to be saved” was the cry of the people who heard the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost [see Acts 2:37], and the same may be said to be applicable to all men in every generation. The answer would be, obey the law of the Gospel. This is the safe means given for the salvation of the human family. (Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, June 13, 1882, 1)

1882 (November): Conference Address, Elder Charles W. Penrose: All Good that Men and Women do in Every Sect, in Every Nation and Among Every Race, Will be Accounted for Good When They Stand Before Great Judge:

Now, I do not desire to speak against any of the individuals who compose those various denominations. I do not wish to say anything against their preachers. That is not my design or my desire. What I wish to point out this afternoon is the fact that they have not been set up by the Lord. That being the case-and I presume there can be no dispute about it, for they do not pretend to have received any communication from heaven-they are only the churches of men, they are called after the names of men, a great many of them, and in that they are consistent.

One church is called after John Wesley. In that they are consistent. It is not the Church of Christ, it is not God’s Church, it is the church of Wesley, and I believe he was a very good man and accomplished a great deal of good. All the good that men and women do in every sect, in every nation and among every race, will be accounted for good when they stand before the Great Judge to be judged for the deeds done in the body. But these churches are the churches of men …

Now, then, what we should study is the word of the Lord. Never mind about the word of man. Never mind about the abuse of man. Never mind about the threats of man. Never mind about the governments of man, and what they will do. Of course they are mighty and we are a little handful. This nation of fifty millions is a tremendous host when compared with the people of these mountains. The kingdoms of this world are great and powerful. They have their armies and navies. They are organized after the fashion of man to plunder and lay waste.

But all the nations of the earth are in the hands of the Great Eternal. He setteth up and casteth down at will. He watches over the affairs of nations as well as individuals. And in His hand they are like the drop in the bucket. They are as nothing before His eyes. He can speak and they will be destroyed. In a moment He could withdraw the breath of life from among them, and they would perish: and when people imagine that by putting their heads together and concocting some scheme for the destruction of the Lord’s people, the Lord’s anointed, they can overthrow them, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh and shall have them in derision.” As Brother Abraham Cannon has told us this afternoon, the hand of God is in all these things. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 25:, p.338)

1883 (May): Conference Address, Elder Charles W. Penrose: The Reformers:

The inhabitants of the earth, as I have remarked, have been without any direct communication from God, and therefore they have been measurably in the dark. They have been able to read some of the books which were written by the servants of God, who were inspired by Him in ancient times; but they have had no revelation for themselves.

They can read what Isaiah said, or Jeremiah, or Peter, or Paul, or Luke, or other writers of the Old or New Testament; but they have had no personal revelation. The light which they have obtained is a borrowed light, like the light of the moon. They have been in a sort of moonlight or twinkling star-light.

There have been a great many preachers who have claimed to be the servants of God, ministering among the people in Christendom; some in the ancient church called the Church of Rome, some in the Episcopal Church, some in the Methodist Church, others in the Baptist Church, and so on through all the various denominations that compose modern Christendom. No doubt many of them were good men, men who strove to the best of their ability, and the best of their knowledge to enlighten the minds of their fellow-men. Some of them, perhaps, were mere hirelings, “preaching for hire and divining for money;” but others were sincere in their hearts, sincere in their worship, sincere in the religion which they taught to others. But they had not a knowledge of the truth.

They had a faith of some kind. They believed in certain principles. They believed in the things which they read in the Bible so far as they could comprehend them, but they had no positive knowledge in regard to the things which they believed in and which they taught. The men who were called the Reformers, who came out from the Church of Rome, and introduced a little more truth than the people previously had, and reformed several errors that were existing-were, some of them, most excellent men, and they performed a great and a good work in the earth. But they were not called of God in the way that His servants were called in ancient times who wrote the things contained in the Bible. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 25:, p.42 – 43)

1883 (July): Conference Address, President Wilford Woodruff: Freedom of Religion Should Belong to All Mankind; A Man Must be Born Again Before He Can Understand the Things of God:

As Latter-day Saints we respect the rights of all men. We believe that all mankind, men and women, in this and every other dispensation and generation, have certain rights; that God has created all men with an agency, I care not in what kingdom, empire, republic or place they dwell. They have a right to enjoy their religion. They have a right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

“But,” says one, “do you mean that in empires where an emperor holds the rights and destinies of his subjects in his hands?” Yes. I mean there is no emperor who breathes the breath of life who has the right to deprive one of his subjects of the freedom of his religion. I will tell you why. No emperor, no king, no president, no ruler of any nation under the heavens has ever given his subjects life. Their life has come from God, and God has granted them their agency and the right to worship Him according to the light and knowledge they have.

This is the view entertained by the Latter-day Saints. And I have heard Joseph Smith say that if he were emperor of the whole world, holding the destinies of all men in his hands, he would defend the religious rights of every man, whether his religion was right or wrong.

And especially ought this to be the case in this American nation, the constitution of which guarantees to all people the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. This is the broad platform upon which our government has been founded. I have looked upon the Constitution of the United States as one of the best instruments ever devised by man for the government of the inhabitants of the earth. I look upon it as such to-day.

And while we are willing to allow the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Catholics, and every sect under heaven, the right to enjoy their religion undisturbed … The Saints are acquainted with our history as a people. They have a testimony to bear that the world knows not of. A man must become acquainted with the Lord, acquainted with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and receive them before he is qualified to understand the work of God, or the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

We read of a man named Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night. Said he: “We know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” This is the principle that has been connected with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every dispensation of the world. (Journal of Discourses 24)

1884 (February): Conference Address, President Joseph F. Smith: Sovereignty of God and Dependency of Man:

God has His eye upon the world; He over-rules and controls all things, notwithstanding He is shut out from the councils of men by their unbelief. His authority is not admitted by the world. The children of men ignore His right to govern and control, to dictate or to counsel in the earth. Nevertheless, He governs and controls the nations of the earth and individuals, and all things are subject to His power.

I do not mean that all mankind are obedient to His will; I do not mean that they are willing to acknowledge Him, or that they know Him. I am rather inclined to the opinion that they are ignorant entirely of Him and of His power, and that they do not conceive it possible that He governs and controls the affairs of the nations of the earth.

Nevertheless, He does so, and while “man proposes, God disposes;” while the leaders of the nations of the earth plan and scheme, and seek to govern according to their ideas, yet God Almighty over-rules their acts and brings forth results which, in accordance with His wisdom, are designed to hasten and ultimately consummate His grand and glorious purposes in the earth. And I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty to-day, is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgement, on their part, of God, and His right to govern and control.

We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe his great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores Him altogether, and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world.

In all the great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanism, and in all the material advancement of the age, the world say: “We have done it.” The individual says, “I have done it,” and he gives no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth, but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge His hand in all things. I am inclined to acknowledge the hand of God in all things.

If I see a man inspired with intelligence, with extraordinary ability and wisdom, I say to myself he is indebted to God for that wisdom and ability, and that without the providence or interposition of the Almighty, he would not have been what he is. He is indebted to the Lord Almighty for his intelligence, and for all that he has; for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

God originated and designed all things, and all are His children. We are born into the world as His offspring; endowed with the same attributes. The children of men have sprung from the Almighty, whether the world are willing to acknowledge it or not. He is the Father of our spirits. He is the originator of our earthly tabernacles. We live and move and have our being in God our Heavenly Father. And having sprung from Him with our talents, our ability, our wisdom, we should at least be willing to acknowledge His hand in all the prosperity that may attend us in life, and give to Him the honor and glory of all we accomplish in the flesh.

We are particularly dependent upon the Almighty for everything we possess of a worldly character. There is not a man on the earth possessed of the wisdom or power of himself to cause even a spear of grass to grow, or to produce a kernel of wheat or of corn, or any fruit, vegetable, or any material whatever which is essential for the sustenance, the happiness and the well-being of a human creature in the world. It is true we can go to the earth, we find it prepared to a certain extent, and we cultivate, plow and plant, and we reap the harvest; but God has ordained that the fruits of our labor shall be in subjection and in obedience to certain laws which He Himself controls, and which He has kept out of the power of man.

Man may boast of having a great deal of wisdom; of having accomplished a great deal in this 19th century; but, if he did but know it, he derives the ability by which he accomplishes these things from God his Father, who is in heaven. He does not possess the power in and of himself. (Journal of Discourses, vol.25)

1884 (February): Conference Address, Elder Francis M. Lyman, Apostle: There are Many Good, Honest People among Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics:

When we know what the truth is, we cannot fail to tell it; and there are people in the world to-day, that look upon us, perhaps, with no degree of allowance and consider us a very wicked people, that, if they had the same testimony that we have, would be as valiant in defense of the truth as we are. There are many such people in the world to-day-good, honest people. Are they Methodists? I presume so. Are they Presbyterians and Catholics and people belonging to many other denominations? Yes; and there are honest men, perhaps, who do not profess Christ at all-who claim to be infidels and close their eyes to the mission of Christ-that if they had the knowledge we have, they would be just as valiant as we are to-day. They could not help it; for that testimony would make them valiant, and they would be as difficult to turn from the truth as the Latter-day Saints (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 25:, p.64 – 66)

1889 (August): Newspaper Article, President Wilford Woodruff: God Gave His only begotten Son to Die to Redeem the World — A Sacrifice Such as Only God Himself Could Give:

I believe that the Almighty knew what He was going to do with this world before He made it. He knew what kind of spirits were going to occupy it, and what kind of work would have to be performed in order to save His sons and daughters who should come upon the earth. And in reading the history of the dealings of God with men, from the creation of the world to this dispensation, we see the Father has labored to bless His sons and daughters. He gave His only begotten Son to die to redeem the world—a sacrifice such as only God himself could give. And in these last days He has commenced the organization of the great and last dispensation—the greatest of all dispensations. (Deseret Weekly, August 17, 1889, 225)

1895 (July): Conference Address, Salt Lake Stake: President Joseph F. Smith: Christ Our Exemplar:

I do not expect to ever feel toward myself or any of my brothers just as I feel toward my Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. I have absolute confidence in Him. My whole heart and soul goes out with love for him. My hopes are built upon His glorious character and His word. He was without sin; He was spotless, and possessed power unto life eternal; He opened the way from the grave to everlasting life for me and all the children of men. My confidence in Him is boundless. My love for Him surpasses all else on earth, when I possess the Spirit of the Gospel as I should, and He to me is first and foremost.

He is the greatest of all that has ever sojourned in this world of ours, and He came to be our beacon light, our guide and exemplar, and it is our business to follow Him, and no other man that lives or ever did live in this world, only so far as others may lead us in following Him. God help this people to follow Christ, and to obey Him, and love God with all their hearts, mind and strength, and to learn to love their neighbor as themselves, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols., 5:)

1895 (October): Conference Address, Elder Francis M. Lyman, Apostle: I Have Same Profound Respect for Every Denomination that I Ask them to Grant Me; I am Pleased to Have People Christian in their Feeling and to Have Them Believe in Jesus Christ:

There is no other people that has the gospel. All of them have some truth. It would be a miserable system of salvation if no truth were in it. But I say if you were to take nine-tenths of the truths and try to make up man’s salvation, you would fail. You must have the whole truth or the system is not complete and perfect. I speak with all due respect of the religious denominations of the world. I have the same profound respect for every denomination that I ask them to grant me: for I am pleased to have people Christian in their feeling and to have them believe in Jesus Christ. It is much better than to have them infidel. (Collected Discourses, Vol. 4: Francis M. Lyman)

1897: Conference Address, President George Q. Cannon, First Presidency: Who are the children of God?

Some religious societies, you know, believe altogether in faith as the only essential to salvation. On the other hand, I have heard some of our Elders go to the other extreme and almost look upon work as being all that is necessary, because of the saying of James.

But the word of God which we have teaches us that we must be born again, and our hearts must be changed, and every evil desire crushed out. Our whole natures should be changed by the operations of the Spirit of God and the principles of the Gospel. I think it was Brother Cowley who spoke concerning some apostates whom they found while laboring in the mission field in Missouri. When they belonged to the Church they had not received and enjoyed the Spirit of God. There are some probably here today who have never had their hearts changed, never had new desires, never been converted from their old desires, and the “old man” is with them still. There have been people whom, probably, we have all known, who would cheat, and lie, and get drunk, and do other evil things, just as much as if they never had been brought into the Church of Christ. Are these the children of God? No; God does not own such people.

When men and women join the Church in sincerity, they repent of their sins, and they have new desires. The desire to do evil is taken from them. The Spirit of God will not dwell in a man that has evil desires and does not try to quench them. We as a people should seek to be converted in this respect, if we have not been. If we are as wicked and have as wicked inclinations since our baptism and our association with the Church as we had before, then we need to be converted and be born again.

1898 (March): Conference address, President Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency: What About All these Numerous Christian Sects, and All the Good People That have Belonged to Them? Are They Lost? By No Means:

Well, what about all these numerous Christian sects, and all the good people that have belonged to them? Are they lost? By no means. They wandered into darkness and error. We might ask the question, What has become of all the heathen who have died and never heard the name of Jesus? We are told in the Scriptures that there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved but the name of Christ Jesus. What has become of all of them, then?

Some of the answers of modern ministers to this question are almost too horrible to repeat. I was reading the confession of faith of one of the churches the other day, in which it was declared that there was no warrant anywhere in Scripture that any of these heathen could be saved, because they had never heard the name of Jesus. God has revealed in these days His plan of salvation, and there is only one, because He is one. That looks to me almost like a self-evident proposition, that God, the Eternal Father, the Creator of the universe, who is one, has but one religion. Is it conceivable that that Great Being would reveal half a dozen or three or four hundred different religions, to perplex and divide mankind and to darken their understanding? He is a God of truth. His ways are the ways of truth, and they are one eternal round. “I am the Lord: I change not,” is His own word.

There is but one true religion. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life,” said Jesus, the Son of God, the Great Teacher, “and few there be that find it; while broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.” There cannot be more than one true religion; that is God’s religion. Men have no right to invent religions; and if they do, then they are only men’s religions. Jesus came to teach God’s religion. He said: “I speak nothing of Myself; but that which I hear, that I speak.” “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of Myself.”

He laid down a very simple proposition to Nicodemus, who came to Him by night, as we read in the third chapter of John, 5th verse. Said He: “Verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus could not understand this, so he explained it further: “Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John iii:3, 5). Here is a plain proposition from the Savior. Here is the narrow way. He was the way, the truth, and the life. He set the example.

He went into the river Jordan, and a man who was a Prophet of God, whom God had ordained and appointed, baptized Him. He was born of water. He came forth from the liquid grave, and He was born of the Spirit. Here is the pattern! …

But what about all these other churches? Why, the time will come when all persons, whether they belong to a church or not, whether they live in a Christian land or not, will hear this one Gospel. I know that modern teachings are to the effect that when a man dies, that is the end of his chances. It is a most absurd proposition, and it is contrary to scripture, if we are to be guided by that. “The tender mercies of God are over all His works.” When people depart out of the body, they have just as much power to believe, to repent, to reform, according to the sphere in which they move, as they have in the body. They are intelligent, responsible beings just the same out of the body as in the body.

As Christ went to preach to the spirits in prison who were disobedient in the days of Noah, as recorded by the Apostle Peter in the 3rd chapter of his first Epistle, 18-20 verses, so in the good time of the Lord everyone who has breathed the breath of life and has departed out of the body into the spirit world, will have an opportunity of receiving God’s truth and accepting God’s religion. But they must all come to the truth, come to the life and to the light. Those that have done things worthy of stripes will be beaten, some with a few stripes, some with many; some will have to pay “the uttermost farthing” for their corruption, wickedness and abominations. Eternal justice will surely claim its own.

But mercy will step in when justice is satisfied; and the time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Christ will gain the victory, Satan will be overcome, evil will be driven away, and this earth, which God created for His children, will be purified and made glorious, like a sea of glass mingled with fire, as John saw in the Revelation. Christ will bring forth all from the grave. The sea will give up the dead which are in it; death and hell will deliver up the dead which were in them, and all will be judged according to their works. Eternal justice will point out where and what place they shall have in the “many mansions” that God has prepared for His children. He has a place for all things, and He will put all things in their place. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols., 5)

1899 (October): Conference Address, President George Q. Cannon: We Need to be Born Again and Have New Hearts Put in Us:

We need to be born again, and have new hearts put in us. There is too much of the old leaven about us. We are not born again as we should be. Do you not believe that we ought to be born again? Do you not believe that we should become new creatures in Christ Jesus, under the influence of the Gospel? All will say, yes, who understand the Gospel. You must be born again. You must have new desires, new hearts, so to speak, in you. But what do we see?

We see men following the ways of the world just as much as though they made no pretensions to being Latter-day Saints. Hundreds of people who are called Latter-day Saints you could not distinguish from the world. They have the same desires, the same feelings, the same aspirations, the same passions as the rest of the world. Is this. how God wants us. to be? No; He wants us to have new hearts, new desires. He wants us to be a changed people when we embrace His Gospel, and to be animated by entirely new motives, and have a faith that will lay hold of the promises of God. (Conference Report, Oct. 1899)

1899 (October): Conference Address, President Joseph F. Smith: Eternal Life and Salvation:

Every man that is born into the world will die. It matters not who he is, nor where he is, whether his birth be among the rich and the noble, or among the lowly and poor in the world, his days are numbered with the Lord, and in due time he will reach the end. We should think of this.

Not that we should go about with heavy hearts or with downcast countenances; not at all, I rejoice that I am born to live, to die, and to live again. I thank God for this intelligence. It gives me joy and peace that the world cannot give, neither can the world take it away. God has revealed this to me, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it to be true. Therefore I have nothing to be sad over, nothing to make me sorrowful. All that I have to do with in the world is calculated to buoy me up, to give me joy and peace, hope and consolation in this present life, and a glorious hope of salvation and exaltation in the presence of my God in the world to come. I have no reason to mourn, not even at death.

It is true I am weak enough to weep at the death of my friends and kindred. I may shed tears when I see the grief of others. I have sympathy in my soul for the children of men. I can weep with them when they weep; I can rejoice with them when they rejoice; but I have no cause to mourn, nor to be sad because death comes into the world. I am speaking now of the temporal death, the death of the body. All fear of this death has been removed from the Latter-day Saints. They have no dread of the temporal death, because they know that as death came upon them by the transgression of Adam, so by the righteousness of Jesus Christ shall life come unto them, and though they die they shall live again.

Possessing this knowledge, they have joy even in death, for they know that they shall rinse again and shall meet again beyond the grave. They know that the spirit dies not at all; that it passes through no change, except the change from imprisonment in this mortal clay to freedom and to the sphere in which it acted before it came to this earth.

We are begotten in the similitude of Christ himself. We dwelt with the Father and with the Son in the beginning, as the sons and daughters of God, and at the time appointed we came to this earth to take upon ourselves tabernacles, that we might become conformed to the likeness and image of Jesus Christ and become like him; that we might have a tabernacle as He has a tabernacle; that we might pass through death as He has passed through death; that we might rise again from the dead as He has risen from the dead. As He was the first fruits of the resurrection of the dead, so shall we be the second fruits of the resurrection from the dead; for as He came forth, so shall we come forth.

What is there therefore to be sad about? What is there to make us heavy of heart or sorrowful in this matter? Nothing at all. Sorrowful, indeed, to think that we shall live forever! Is there any cause for sorrow to know that we shall rise from the dead, and possess the same tabernacle that we have here in mortality? Is there cause for sorrow in this great, glorious Gospel truth that has been revealed to us in this dispensation? Certainly there can be no sorrow connected with a thought like this. There must be only joy connected with this knowledge-the joy that springs from the ten thousand feelings and affections of the human soul; the joy that we feel in association with brethren, with wives and children, with fathers and mothers, with brothers and sisters. All these joyous thoughts spring up in our souls at the thought of death and the resurrection. Wherein should we be sad or sorrowful?

On the contrary, it is cause for joy unspeakable, and for pure happiness. I cannot express the joy I feel at the thought of meeting my father, and my precious mother, who gave me birth in the midst of persecution and poverty, who bore me in her arms and was patient, forbearing, tender and true during all my helpless moments in the world. The thought of meeting her, who can express the joy? The thought of meeting my children who have preceded me beyond the veil, and of meeting my kindred and my friends, what happiness it affords!

For I know that I shall meet them there. God has shown me that this is true. He has made it clear to me, in answer to my prayer and devotion as He has made it clear to the understanding of all men who have sought diligently to know of Him. We are not dependent for this upon the written word, nor upon the knowledge possessed by the ancient Prophets and Apostles. We depend only upon God as He reveals Himself today and administers unto men by the power of His Holy Spirit.

And all men in the world, not only the Latter-day Saints, but those who have never embraced the Gospel, have the same privilege that we have, if they will take the course which God has marked out. It is their privilege to come to the knowledge of this truth and to understand these things for themselves. We have derived this knowledge from the Lord, not from man. Man can not give this knowledge.

I may tell you what I know, but that is not knowledge to you. If I have learned something through prayer, supplication, and perseverance in seeking to know the truth, and I tell it to you, it will not be knowledge unto you. I can tell you how you can obtain it, but I cannot give it to you. If we receive this knowledge, it must come from the Lord. He can touch your understandings and your spirits, so that you shall comprehend perfectly and not be mistaken. But I cannot do that.

You can obtain this knowledge through repentance, humility, and seeking the Lord with full purpose of heart until you find Him. He is not afar off. It is not difficult to approach Him, if we will only do it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, as did Nephi of old. This was the way in which Joseph Smith, in his boyhood, approached Him. He went into the woods, knelt down, and in humility he sought earnestly to know which church was acceptable to God. He received an answer to his prayer, which he offered from the depths of his heart, and he received it in a way that he did not expect.

1904: Conference Address, Elder Richard W. Young, Stake President: Noble Examples of Christian Fortitude:

We may look among the Christian churches of today and we will find many noble examples of Christian fortitude and sacrifice, which we might very well emulate as Latter-day Saints.

1905: Conference Address, Elder B. H. Roberts: Views of the whole of Christendom with reference to the subject of revelation:

I count myself happy that in consequence of the recent interest awakened on the subject of revelation we have in our city an utterance of the Christian belief upon this subject. A prominent minister of our city has set forth, not only the views of the particular church of which he is the pastor, but also the views of the whole of Christendom with reference to this subject of revelation. I do not refer to his discourse with any intention of entering upon a controversy. Far be that from me. I would not for the world, if I can help it, challenge the correctness of anything that may have been said by our fellow Christians. I do not feel antagonistic toward them. I am a man of peace. But this particular discourse has afforded a good opportunity of placing in contrast our beliefs on the subject of revelation with the beliefs of the world, and I use it merely for this purpose. Sometimes, you know, we can appreciate things better when we see them in contrast than in any other way.

1905: Conference Address, Elder Elder Joseph E. Robinson, President, California Mission: Preach Jesus Christ and Him Crucified:

I have learned that the interesting people in California have a great many different ideas of religion. During the last summer it was my privilege to attend some lectures that were delivered before the Venice Assembly-a society resort near Los Angeles. I came away from those gatherings with a fixed and firm determination to preach Christ and Him crucified whenever opportunity offered; for I found there that the men who stood up as social reformers, as ecclesiastical leaders, as philosophers of all the ologies and isms of the day, seem to have lost sight of the fact that Jesus is the very Son of God.

Many of them mouthed the same sentiment as Lyman Abbot bad expressed, wherein he said, “My God is an ever-present energy, manifesting itself in all the activities of human life and in all the workings of nature. I believe,” said he, “in a God that is in all things, and through all things, and of all things” pantheistic wholly in its nature. I heard one of the most eminent clergymen offer a prayer just before the great Baba Bhareta delivered his address upon the mission of the old world to the new-the mission of the Buddhists of the eastern world to the Christians of the western world; and in his prayer he said something like this:

“O Thou Great and Infinite One, from whom we emanate, and from whence all things come, who is of all things and through all things and by all things, let Thy Spirit rest down upon these Thy children this day, that whether the message be from Moses or Job, of Christ or of Bhudda, or of Krishna, that all shall know that it emanates from Thee the Fount of Love alone.”

I heard some of them say, in speaking of the Master, that although He was one of the greatest leaders, ethically and morally, that the world has ever produced, that He was endowed with miraculous gifts, that He was the greatest Prophet the world had ever known, yet they could not regard him as the Son of God as do orthodox Christians.

1906 (April): Conference Address, Elder B. H. Roberts, First Council of Seventy: The Latter-day Saints’ Relationship to the Religious World:

Among the things important for the Saints of God to understand, and among the things important for the world to understand respecting the Latter-day Saints, is the relationship that we sustain to the religious world; and I do not know that there is anything to which I could devote the few minutes at my disposal to better advantage than pointing out that relationship, if I can obtain, through your faith and mine, the liberty that comes from the possession of the Spirit of the Lord.

The first revelation that the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith had a bearing upon this subject. You remember that the Prophet went to the Lord to ascertain which of all the sects of religion was His church, desiring, of course, to unite himself with that church which the Lord would designate as His. In reply to that question the Lord, in substance, said that they were all wrong; that He did not acknowledge them as His church; and told the Prophet he must join none of them, but promised that in due time He would use the Prophet as His instrument in the establishment of His Church in the earth.

Because of this great revelation, by which the errors of ages were swept aside and the ground cleared for the re-establishment of the Church of Christ among men, it has placed us in a way in an attitude of antagonism to the religious world. We have been resisted to some extent because of this attitude of antagonism; and it is quite possible that we ourselves have not understood the true relationship in which we stand to the religious world, by more or less of misapprehension respecting this great revelation.

I rejoice in the plainness and emphasis of this revelation, because from it I am made to realize that there is a very important reason for the existence of the work with which we are identified. I am, glad to know that “Mormonism” did not come into existence because its founders chanted to disagree with prevailing notions about the form or object of baptism; that it did not come into existence through a disagreement as to the character of the government of the Church. From the revelation referred to I learn that “Mormonism” came into existence because there was an absolute necessity for a new dispensation of the Gospel, a re-establishment of the Church of Christ among men. The Gospel had been corrupted; its ordinances had been changed; its laws transgressed, its truths so far lost to the children of men that it rendered this new dispensation of the Gospel of Christ-miscalled “Mormonism”-necessary.

I say that I rejoice in the fact that “Mormonism” came into the world, and exists in the world today, because the world stood in sore need of it. But does this re-establishment of the Church of Christ, his new dispensation of the Gospel, which we have received, make our relationship to the children of men one of unfriendliness? I answer, No. On the contrary our relationship to men is one of absolute friendship and anxiety to do the world good. We ought to understand that. We do understand it. And it is important that the world should understand it, that they may come to regard us in our true light, as friends of humanity, and not enemies.

If you will look through some of the revelations given in the early history of the Church, you will find that from time to time the Lord was under the necessity of correcting the ideas of the brethren respecting their attitude towards religious world. The Lord said to Martin Harris, by way of correction: “Thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see. And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sin by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.”

The prophet also from time to time found it necessary to correct the Elders of the Church in respect of their attacking other churches. At Kirtland, in 1836, when many of the Elders were upon the eve of taking their departure for their fields of labor he instructed them as follows: “While waiting [for the Sacrament] I made the following remarks: The time that we were required to tarry in Kirtland to be endowed would be fulfilled in a few days, and then the Elders would go forth, and each stand to go in all for himself meekness, in sobriety, and preach Christ and Him crucified; not to contend with others on account of their faith or systems of religion, but pursue a steady course. This I delivered by way of commandment; and all who observe it not, will pull down persecution upon their heads, while those who do, shall always be filled with the Holy Ghost; this I pronounced as a prophesy.” (History of the Church, vol. II, p. 431.)

In other words, because the Lord has opened the heavens and has given a new dispensation of the Gospel, it does not follow that His servants or His people are to be contentious; that they are to make war upon other people for holding different views respecting religion. Hence this caution to the Elders of the Church that they should not contend against other churches, make war upon their tenets, or revile even the revilers.

At an earlier date still, the Lord had said to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer: “If you have not faith, hope and Charity, you can do nothing. Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil. Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness.” (Dec. & Cov. Sec. 18, 19-21.) “The church of the devil” here alluded to I understand to mean not any particular church among men, or any one sect of religion, but something larger than that-something world-wide-something that includes within its boundaries all evil wherever it may be found; as well in schools of philosophy as in Christian sects; as well in systems of ethics as in systems of religions-something that includes the whole empire of Satan-what I shall call “The Kingdom of Evil.”

This descriptive phrase, “the church of the devil,” is also used in the Book of Mormon; and while in attendance at a conference in one of the border stakes of Zion, a question was propounded to me in relation to its meaning. The passage occurs in the writings of the first Nephi. An angel of the Lord is represented as saying to Nephi, “Behold, there are save two churches only: the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil.” The question submitted to me was, “Is the Catholic church the church here referred to-the church of the devil?” “Well,” said I, in answer, “I would not like to take that position, because it would leave me with a lot of churches on my hands that I might not then be able to classify.”

So far as the Catholic church is concerned, I believe that there is just as much truth, nay, personally I believe it has retained even more truth than other divisions of so-called Christendom; and there is just as much virtue, and I am sure there is more strength in the Roman Catholic church than there is in Protestant Christendom. I would not like, therefore, to designate the Catholic church as the church of the devil.

Neither would I like to designate any one or all of the various divisions and subdivisions of Protestant Christendom combined as such church; nor the Greek Catholic church; nor the Buddhist sects; nor the followers of Confucius; nor the followers of Mohammed; nor would I like to designate even the societies formed by deists and atheists as constituting the church of the devil. The Book of Mormon text ought to be read in connection with its context-with the chapter that precedes it and the remaining portions of the chapter in which it is found-then, I think, those who study it in that manner will be forced to the conclusion that the Prophet here has in mind no particular church, no particular division of Christendom, but he has in mind, as just stated, the whole empire of Satan; and perhaps the thought of the passage would be more nearly expressed if we use the term “the kingdom of evil” as constituting the church of the devil.

I understand the injunction to Oliver Cowdery to “contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil,” to mean that he shall contend against evil, against untruth, against all combinations of wicked men. They constitute the church of the devil, the kingdom of evil, a federation of unrighteousness; and the servants of God have a right to contend against that which is evil, let it appear where it will, in Catholic or in Protestant Christendom, among the philosophical societies of deists and atheists, and even within the Church of Christ, if, unhappily, it should make its appearance there.

But, let it be understood, we are not brought necessarily into antagonism with the various sects of Christianity as such. So far as they have retained fragments of Christian truth – and each of them has some measure of truth – that far they are acceptable unto the Lord: and it would be poor-policy for us to contend against them without discrimination.

Wherever we find truth, whether it exists in complete form or only in fragments, we recognize that truth as part of that sacred whole of which the Church of Jesus Christ is the custodian; and I repeat that our relationship to the religious world is not one that calls for the denunciation of sectarian churches as composing the church of the devil. All that makes for untruth, for unrighteousness constitutes the kingdom of evil-the church of the devil. All that makes for truth, for righteousness, is of God; it constitutes the kingdom of righteousness-the empire of Jehovah; and, in a certain sense at least, constitutes the Church of Christ.

With the latter-the kingdom of righteousness-we have no warfare. On the contrary both the spirit of the Lord’s commandments to His servants and the dictates of right reason would suggest that we seek to enlarge this kingdom of righteousness both by recognizing such truths as it possesses and seeking the friendship and co-operation of the righteous men and women who constitute its membership.

Running parallel with these thoughts, I may be pardoned if I call your attention to a remark I made in one of these general conferences some time ago, to the effect that when misrepresentations are made of us, or our faith, or when persecution arises against us, it must not embitter our minds, or make us feel hateful toward our fellowmen, or lead us to regard the whole world as our enemies. We must keep the sweetness of our own disposition. The language of the Savior wherein He says, “Marvel not if the world hate you: it hated me before it hated you, if you were of the world, the world would love its own,” etc., I contended then and believe now that the truth of that declaration will be more plainly seen if we read it in this way: “Marvel not if the worldly hate you.”

If the ungodly, if those who make and love a lie-if such classes as this hate you, marvel not; for they were the classes that hated the Christ and the light and truth that He brought into the world, because their deeds were evil, and His light and truth were a reproof to their evil ways. And as we say concerning the “kingdom of evil,” so we say with reference to those who hate the truth and make war upon the righteous, they are not of any one class, or confined to any one sect or division of the religious world, but, unhappily, are found here and there among all classes of people, among all Christian sects, among all religions and sects of philosophy.

We ought to rightly divide, not only the word of truth, but the wicked and the ungodly from those who in common with us are seeking to know God and to keep His commandments. And there are millions who are hungering and thirsting for that knowledge; and we from time to time shall find them and lead them into God’s temple of truth, where they shall be satisfied at the feast that the Lord is preparing for all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

The purpose of the Lord in instituting His Church in the earth is very beautifully set forth in one of the revelations in the D&C, as follows: (I discover that I do not readily find the passage, and so I pass it for the moment.) The thought that I desire to express and leave with you, however, is this, that as in the matter of physical warfare so also in the matter of theological contention, I believe it is proper for the Latter-day Saints to renounce war and proclaim peace; not to take such a course as would excite the antagonism of the world, but seeking rather such ground-work of truth as may be held in common between them and ourselves; for the Lord has brought forth His work in the last days, not for the purpose of Subtracting from such truth as men may possess, but to add to that truth, to increase it, to enlarge it, until at the last God, through the agencies He has appointed, shall gather together in one system all truth.

“If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my Church among them. “Now I do not say this to destroy my Church, but I say this to build up my Church. “Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my Church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. “But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments, but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil; yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center.”

I read this in confirmation of the word I spoke, saying that the purpose of God in the introduction of the Dispensation of the fulness of Times was not to destroy any truth that existed in the world, but to add to that truth, to increase it, and to draw together all truth and develop it into a beautiful system in which men may rest contented, knowing God and their relationship to Him, knowing of the future and their relation unto it. We should present our message to the world in the spirit of peace, charity and longsuffering; and avoid contention; for as our Book of Mormon tells us, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of God.

I would the world could understand the unselfishness of our motives in presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them; if they could only know that our only desire was that they should come to a knowledge of the great principles of truth that are so comforting to us; that we desire their repentance and acceptance of the fulness of the truth, only that they might find favor with God, and share in our hopes of that eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world was-if our fellowmen could be made to understand that this was our only purpose it seems to me that many of the barriers that now separate us from our fellowmen would be broken down, and we would be able to reach the hearts of the people.

I believe that as time passes and we become wiser in the methods of work we adopt, we will do that more and more, causing yet, not only hundreds of thousands but millions of our Father’s children to Partake of those great blessings that the Gospel has brought to us. To make known these truths and to make the children of men Participate in the blessings that we ourselves enjoy, we yearly send hundreds of our Elders to the various nations of the earth. They sacrifice the fond associations of home, the society of wives and children, parents and friends; they sacrifice Professional advantages and business opportunities; and sometimes sacrifice health and even life itself to proclaim to the world the truth which God has made known to us – enduring the world’s reproach and contumely, because the world does not understand them nor their message; and there is still need, of the Prayer on our part, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

For the benefit of those who have passed away from the earth without a knowledge of the great truths and saving power of the Gospel of Christ, we rear costly temples, whose spires Pierce the skies of our beloved Utah; and within them at great sacrifice of time and means the saints of God assemble to apply the principles of the everlasting Gospel to those who have passed away without the privilege of accepting them while upon the earth. A more completely unselfish work than this does not exist among men. On every hand the work Of God bears the stamp of unselfishness upon it.

Our Book of Mormon says: “The laborers in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money, they shall perish.” So through all the communications of God to His people shines the glorious principle of absolute unselfishness. Not only is it to be found in the words of our books, but a like testimony is written in the works of the Latter-day Saints-in their actions. Everywhere unselfishness abounds in the Church of Christ, both in theory and Practice. Now, if we can only get the people of the world to understand this fact of unselfishness-this very genius of Mormonism-if they could be made to know that Mormonism is here to do good, to raise mankind from the low levels on which they walk to the higher plains where God would have them walk, that they might have sweet fellowship with God, much of our difficulty in preaching the gospel would disappear.

That the Lord may hasten the day when the world shall know the Saints and the work of God better, is my prayer. (Elder Brigham H. Roberts, Conference Report, April 1906, Afternoon Session., p.13)

1906 (August): Improvement Era Article, President Joseph F Smith: Testimony of Jesus Christ Inspires Us to Do Things He has Commanded:

We speak of the Savior, of Jesus the Son of God, and we feel safe and solid in him, and that our feet have rested on the very foundation of eternal truth when the spirit of Christ is in our hearts.

I want to say to my brethren and sisters, that if there is a man in all the world who has received more deeply and more keenly in his soul the love of Christ than I have, I would love to see him, I would love to be associated with such a man.

Christ is indeed the Savior of my soul, the Savior of mankind. He has sacrificed his life for us that we might be saved, he has broken the bands of death, and has bid defiance to the grave, and bids us follow him. He has come forth from death unto life again, he has declared himself to be the way of salvation, the light and the life of the world, and I believe it with all my heart. I not only believe it, but as I know that the sun shines, so I know that belief in him inspires to good and not to evil; and as I know that his spirit prompts to purity of life, to honor, to uprightness, to honesty and to righteousness, and not to evil, so I know by all the proofs that it is possible for me to grasp that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Savior of mankind.

Yet with all this, with this assurance in my heart, with this knowledge that I have received, if I stop here, what good will it do me? Of what good will this knowledge be to me? What will this knowledge alone avail? It will avail this, that having received that testimony in my heart, having received in my soul the witness of the spirit of the living God, that Jesus is the Christ, and I stop there and go not any further, that very witness in my soul will add to my eternal damnation.

Why? Because it is not only our duty to know that Jesus is the Christ but to keep the influence of his spirit in our souls. It is not only necessary to have his testimony in our hearts, but it is necessary that we should do the things that he has commanded, and the works of righteousness that he did, in order that we may attain to the exaltation that is in store for his children who do as well as believe; and those who stop short of this will most assuredly fail. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 7:21.]

The Savior said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” [Matthew 7:22–23.]

And why? Because you profess to love me, with your lips, you professed to receive me, with your mouths, or with your words, but you did not the things that I commanded you to do; you did not repent of your sins, you did not love God with all your heart, mind and strength, you failed to love your neighbor as yourself, you failed to be baptized by one having authority to baptize for the remission of sins; you failed to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; you failed to identify yourselves with my people; you did not come into my fold; you are not numbered with my chosen ones, and I do not know you, “depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

To know to do good and not do it is sin. (James 4:17). This will be the case with those who simply believe. Believing, why don’t you do the things that he requires? … It will not do for you to assume that you are Latter-day Saints while in your practices, in your course of life, in your deeds or acts, you are imitating … the unbeliever in God and in the divine mission of Jesus Christ. It will not do. The devil will take advantage of you, he will mislead you, and destroy you if you do not repent of deeds or acts that are not in harmony, or are inconsistent, with the gospel that you have received.

1908 (April): Conference Address, Elder German E. Ellsworth, President, Northern States Mission: Condemnation on Saints for Not Using Book of Mormon:

As most of you know, in the past three years, we have turned our attention more to the distributing of the Book of Mormon. We find that the dissemination of the Book of Mormon has more than doubled the distribution of other books and tracts.

Three years ago we disposed of 1,000 Books of Mormon in our field, and something like 12,000 small books. In 1906, the Books of Mormon increased to 5,000 and our other books to over 20,000. Last year the Elders increased the Book of Mormon distribution to something like 12,500, and increased the ten-cent books to about 58,000.

It has opened the door to the homes of hundreds of people, and our Elders feel that the Lord has been with them and has magnified them in their labors. They feel that in taking the Book of Mormon to the doors of the people that they have something important enough to take to the biggest men of the nation.

The Lord, speaking to the Prophet Joseph and some of the Elders, in the eighty-fourth section of the D&C, seems to have chided them because they had neglected the things they had received, and speaks particularly of the Book of Mormon,-beginning with the fifty-fourth verse, He says: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole Church under condemnation, and this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.”

The Book of Mormon has been given to the people of this dispensation to bring them nearer to Christ. It is a witness that the Bible is the word of God, and that God has established His Church in this day and time. There is something remarkable about the Book of Mormon, it is a great missionary book. You can open it any place, and the Spirit of the Lord, which accompanies the book, comes upon the people, and they are at once interested. (Elder German E. Ellsworth., Conference Report, April 1908, Second Day—Morning Session., p.42)

1909 (September): New Era Article, President Joseph F. Smith: A Testimony:

My brethren and sisters, I know that my Redeemer lives. I know, as I know I live, that in person he has visited man in our time and day, and that we are not now dependent alone on the history of the past for the knowledge that we possess, of which record is borne by the Spirit of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all who enter into the covenant of the gospel of Christ. But we have the renewed and later witness and manifestation of heavenly visions and of the visitation of God the Father and Christ, the Son, to this their footstool; and they have in person declared their entity, their being, and they have manifested their glory. They have stretched forth their hands to accomplish their work-the work of God, and not the work of man-and while those who have been faithful shall be crowned with glory and honor in the presence of God, the honor and the glory, the credit and the praise, for the continuance and for the advancement and growth of the kingdom of God in the earth, will be due to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, whose power and whose agency, whose influence and purpose, have been behind the work of God every moment since it was first given to man. It is by this power that it has grown and continued, and has become what it is, and it will continue to grow and spread, until it shall fill the earth with the glory of God, and with the knowledge of the Father and of the Son, whom to know is life eternal. This is my testimony to you, my brethren and sisters, and I bear witness of it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Improvement Era, Sept. 1909)

1910 (October): Conference Address, President Joseph F. Smith: I Know that My Redeemer Lives:

I have not time, neither have I strength, this morning, to enter into details or to undertake to preach a lengthy discourse. I do not feel able to do it, physically. The spirit is willing, but just now the flesh is not very strong; but I want to bear my testimony to you Latter-day Saints. I know that my Redeemer lives. We have all the testimony and all the evidence of this great and glorious truth, that the world has, that is, all that the so-called Christian world possesses; and, in addition to all that they have, we have the testimony of the inhabitants of this western continent, to whom the Savior appeared, and delivered His gospel, the same as He delivered it to the Jews. In addition to all this new testimony and the testimony of the holy scriptures from the Jews, we have the testimony of the modern Prophet, Joseph Smith, who saw the Father and the Son, and who has borne record of them to the world: whose testimony was sealed with his blood, and is in force upon the world today. We have the testimony of others who witnessed the presence of the Son of God, in the Kirtland temple, when He appeared to them there, and the testimony of Joseph and Sidney Rigdon, who declared that they were the last witnesses of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I say again, I know that my Redeemer lives; for in the mouths of these witnesses this truth has been established in my mind. (President Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1910,, p.4)

1912: Conference Address, Elder Joseph F. Smith, Apostle: Jesus Christ is Indeed Only Begotten Son of God; through His Grace, Grace of His Father, hath Redeemed Us from Sin:

These words were delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith, through revelation from the Lord. Throughout the Christian world, this morning, the people are celebrating the anniversary of the resurrection of the Son of God.

Many who have assembled to do homage unto Him do not accept Him as the Redeemer of the world; but with us there is no reservation; He is indeed the only begotten Son of God, and through His grace, and the grace of His Father, hath redeemed us from sin on condition of our repentance. We know that He has risen from the dead,that He has ascended on high, taking captivity captive, and has become the author of salvation unto all who will believe, who will repent of their sins and accept Him as the Redeemer of the world. Latter-day Saints are not left in doubt regarding these things. (Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Conference Report, April 1912, Third Day—Morning Session, p.67)

1912: Conference Address, Elder James E. Talmage, Apostle: Mormonism Pre-eminently a Christian church:

Strange, is it not, that some have said, in their ignorance, that this Mormon Church is not a Christian church. Not Christian when it bears by authority the name of Christ, who is the author of all that is best in Christianity? Not Christian-when its great mission is the preparing of the earth for the coming of its King, that same Lord, Jesus Christ? Not Christian-when it is setting before the world an example of self-sacrifice never before known, and all in the interest of Christ and His work?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is preaching the same doctrine that was preached in the church of old, and is proclaiming the same great message, Repent, repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. We say that Christ will return to the earth, and literally reign here in Person, that it is His right to reign; and that the church is preparing for His coming. The testimonies to which we have listened, the testimonies to which we do listen in smaller gatherings than this, in the various stakes and wards in the Church, all have the same sound, the same truth and divinity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the work of the man who was the instrument, in the hands of God, in establishing this Church on the earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times; for this is that dispensation, to which the prophets of old have been looking, for which they have yearned, toward which their desires have gone forth.

1912: Conference Address, Elder German E. Ellsworth, President, Northern States Mission: Christian Sects have Not accepted All the Truth, but They have Accepted a Great Deal of it; Those who Have Accepted a Part have been Made Better, Elevated to Higher Standard:

The members of sectarian churches of the world do not know they are right, neither do they know that they are not right. The people belonging to each church are willing to go on in their way, generally speaking, and willing to let all other churches do the same. The Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists and all others concede that ministers of all the so-called Christian churches have the right to make their living by preaching. In doing this they feel that they are doing some good, and, in a general way, the Christian world certainly has been benefited, for we know that all Christians are elevated much above those who have not accepted Christianity. The Christian sects have not accepted all the truth, but they have accepted a great deal of it, and we know that those who have accepted a part have been made better and elevated to a higher standard.

1914: Conference Address, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, President, Northwestern States Mission: My Brothers of Other Christian Denominations:

What has become of the vital power of Christianity that would convert pagan men, teach them to love God, to love their brethren, to learn to control their own feelings and desires, master their members and their passions so that they might when smitten on the one cheek turn the other, if sued for their coat, give their cloak also? What has become of the religion that would produce these fruits?

Anciently it was possible to discover among the Christian men and women who accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, fruits of this character, men who could willingly, cheerfully face death itself without murmuring, without resenting, leaving vengeance in the hands of God. I proclaim to you my brethren and sisters, that in thunder tones, there is ringing forth over the world the evidence that Christianity is not the vital Gospel, nor has it the power and force that Jesus Christ endowed it with in the beginning.

I do not speak of this to rejoice over the weakness or the failures of my brothers of other Christian denominations, who are struggling against great odds, trying to make the religion of itself effective. I sorrow for them; I do not rejoice at their failures. I grieve, because among them are thousands of honest workers who are handicapped because they do not have the truth; and from this day forward their struggle will be a struggle against great odds, because there will be thrown in the face of all appeals for me to be Christians, the present failure of Christianity to mellow the hearts of men, to soften them towards their fellows.

1915: Conference Address, Elder Andrew Jenson: Mormonism the True Christian Religion:

The Latter-day Saints are by no means a perfect people, but whatever may he said in regard to the “Mormons” on the one hand and the non-“Mormon” element on the other, the facts are these that at such times when the “Mormons” have been almost the sole inhabitants of these mountain valleys and have lived according to the religion of the Latter-day Saints-the principles or creed known as “Mormonism,” which we call the true Christian religion-they have excelled in purity, honesty and sobriety. We have, in other words, fostered a practical Christian civilization whenever we have been let alone and given liberty to show our real characteristics.

1918 (September): New Era Article, James E. Talmage (rare Book of Mormon Quote): Now I Say unto You, that Ye Must Repent, and be Born Again:

When will men awaken to the imperative yet persuasive summons to repentance? Are not the awful vicissitudes of these days of war and death sufficient to arouse us to some realization of the solemnities of eternity? As a nation we are valiantly waging war for the vindication of the rights, privileges, and liberties of men. As individuals we are summoned by the call of God to resist iniquity, and to make peace and reconciliation with Him through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Only through active, vital faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, effective repentance of wrong-doing, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost or the higher baptism of the Spirit, can salvation be attained in the Kingdom of God, for so the Holy Scriptures aver.

The pleading call of the ancient prophet is yet in force. Hear ye, and heed: “Now I say unto you, that ye must repent, and be born again: for the Spirit saith, If ye are not born again, ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” (Book of Mormon, Alma 7:14) (Improvement Era 1918)

1919 (June): Conference Address, Elder German E. Ellsworth, President, Northern States Mission: Book of Mormon Distribution; Saints Condemned if Neglecting:

Shortly after going to the Northern States Mission I received an impression of the Lord concerning the Book of Mormon, of which I would like to bear testimony before the Latter-day Saints. It came to me as strong as if someone of my fellow missionaries had told it to me, that the Book of Mormon had been given of the Lord as a witness to this generation and that if we would remember it, that we would come out from under the condemnation that, as we are told, rested upon Zion.

Then I recalled reading in the D&C in the 84th section, beginning with the 54th verse, where-in the Church and some of the early leaders of the Church, because of their unbelief in the Book of Mormon, I take it, were under condemnation and would needs remain so until they repented and remembered the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.

It was not long after that until, with the cooperation of two other missions, we published 10,000 Books of Mormon in Chicago, followed the next year by 12,000, and the following year by 27,000. The interest had so grown that bids were secured from New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, London and Japan for a 100,000 edition, with Chicago the lowest bidder. This perhaps is the largest number of that sacred record to be printed at one time. In all, 250,000 Books of Mormon were printed in Chicago before it was taken over by Zion’s Printing & Publishing Co. We have distributed 130,000 Books of Mormon in the Northern States mission, 90,000 of which have been sold, and it is my testimony that every man and woman who has taken to heart the distribution of the Book of Mormon, taken to heart the teaching of the Book of Mormon, and the pointing out of the gems in that record to the people of the earth, have made a more wonderful growth than any other missionaries in the field.

I can look back now over the mission and Call to mind the young men who have taken hold of it with a vim and gone before the people, bearing witness of it, that the Lord was with and blessed them above all other missionaries. (Elder German E. Ellsworth, Conference Report, June 1919, Afternoon Session., p.95)

1920 (April): Conference Address, President Anthon H. Lund, First Presidency: Mormons Are Christians:

Ever since I can remember, almost, I have had a testimony of the truth of that which the world calls “Mormonism.” I know it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that men upon the earth hold the power of the holy Priesthood, which enables them to perform the ordinances that are given for the salvation of men. How thankful we ought to be that the Lord has given us this knowledge concerning his will and what he wishes us to do. We have not been recognized by the world as being a Christian people; but we do claim that if there be any people upon the earth who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, it is the Latter-day Saints. How strange it is, when men have read our articles of faith, that they can believe that the “Mormons” are not Christians! When I say “Christians” I mean those who believe in Jesus Christ. (President Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report, April 1920, First Day—Morning Session, p.16)

1921 (April): Conference Address, President Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency: They are three individuals, one in spirit, one in mind, one in intelligence, united in all things that they do, and it takes the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, to make the perfect Trinity:

There is the oneness of Deity, the three in one; not as some preachers try to expound it, in the doctrines of the outside world … making them one immaterial spirit-no body, no real personage, no substance. On the contrary, they are three individuals, one in spirit, one in mind, one in intelligence, united in all things that they do, and it takes the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, to make the perfect Trinity in one, three persons and one God or Deity, one Godhead. (CR, Apr. 1921, pp. 13-14.)

1922 (April): Conference Address, President Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency: In Book of Mormon God, the Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son, and the Holy Ghost, are held up as the three persons in the Trinity-the one God, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, all three being united and being one God:

We are told that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel, that those who like to get up a dispute, say that the Book of Mormon does not contain any reference to the work of salvation for the dead, and there are many other things pertaining to the gospel that are not developed in that book, and yet we are told that book contains ‘the fulness of the everlasting gospel.’ Well, what is the fulness of the gospel? You read carefully the revelation in regard to the three glories, section 76, in the Doctrine and Covenants, and you find there defined what the gospel is. [Sec. 76:40-43.] There God, the Eternal Father, and Jesus Christ, his Son, and the Holy Ghost, are held up as the three persons in the Trinity-the one God, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, all three being united and being one God. When people believe in that doctrine and obey the ordinances which are spoken of in the same list of principles [Sec. 20:17-28], you get the fulness of the gospel for this reason: if you really believe so as to have faith in our Eternal Father and in his Son, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, and will hear him, you will learn all about what is needed to be done for the salvation of the living and the redemption of the dead. (Charles W. Penrose, CR, April 1922, pp. 27-28.)

1927 (April): Conference Address, Elder David. O. Mackay, Apostle: Are Mormons True Christians? Does Church Contain Elements of World-Wide Christian Religion?

However, a more important question for us today is this: “Are the so-called ‘Mormons’ true Christians and does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contain the elements of a world-wide Christian religion?”

It is my sincere belief and testimony that the Latter-day Saints commonly called “Mormons,” are Christians in the truest and fullest sense of the term, and that this Church is world-wide in its comprehensiveness, in organization, and in its blessing and salvation of the human family. As true Christianity should and as it did in the days of the Savior, “Mormonism” combines the essential elements in the teachings of Israel’s prophets, priests and sages; and in accepting the Jehovah of the Old Testament as the Savior of mankind, it fulfils the noblest aspirations of the Hebrew race, thereby indicating a world-wide scope so far as Israel’s people and Israel’s God are concerned. (Elder David O. Mckay, Conference Report, April 1927, Afternoon Meeting, p.104 – 105)

1928 (April): Conference Address, President Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency: It takes the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, to make the Perfect Trinity in One, Three Persons and One God or Deity, one Godhead:

There is the oneness of Deity, the three in one; not as some preachers try to expound it, in the doctrines of the outside world, in the Articles of Faith that they have, making them one immaterial spirit, no body, no real personage, no substance. On the contrary, they are three individuals, one in spirit, one in mind, one in intelligence united in all things that they do, and it takes the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, to make the perfect Trinity in one, three persons and one God or Deity, one Godhead. (Charles W. Penrose, CR, April 1928, pp. 13-14.)

1928 (April): Conference Address, Elder Orson F. Whitney, Apostle: Lord Needs Some People Outside His Church as Auxiliaries:

Anxious for his soul’s salvation, young Joseph Smith went into the woods near his father’s home, and inquired of the Lord which of all the churches then extant was the true Church of Christ, in order that he might join it. While praying he was seized upon by an evil power, which strove to destroy him; but he was delivered by a vision of light, in the midst of which stood two glorious personages, one of whom, pointing to the other, said: “This is my beloved Son-hear him.”

In answer to his inquiry as to the churches, the boy was told, to his astonishment, that none of them was the true Church of Christ, and that he must not connect himself with any of them; but await the coming of the true Church, in the rounding of which he was destined to play an important part … Well, doubtless there were good reasons for it; and I will venture to advance one. Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of his Church, to help it along. They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. And the same is true of the priesthood and its auxiliaries inside the Church. Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the Truth; while others remain unconverted-for the present; the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in his own due time. God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of his great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people. (Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1928, Second Day—Morning Meeting, p.59)

1929 (October): Conference Address, Elder Richard R. Lyman, Apostle: Men Must Have the New Birth:

“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, how can a man be born when he is old? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:1-7) … While praising and commending this strenuous and vigorous life, we impress upon our young folks ever to bear in mind these words of the Master: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” What does this mean? That we must be touched with religion; that we must have in our hearts and souls the satisfying conviction that comes as a testimony from a life of righteous living. Our chief aim in religion is to bring up a generation of young people who have character and honor. (Elder Richard R. Lyman, Conference Report, October 1929, Second Day—Morning Meeting, p.82)

1937 (May): Memorial Day Address, President Heber J. Grant: Jesus Christ a Resurrected Being; in His Pattern Everyone that Ever Lived shall Come Forth from Grave a Resurrected Being:

How bitter must be the suffering and grief of those who see nothing beyond the grave except the beginning of eternal night and oblivion. For them that thus believe, death hath its sting and the grave its victory. To them, even the glory of this earth is but the last flickering of a candle in unending blackness.

But, to the man of faith, death is but the taking up again of the life he broke off when he came to this earth.

We of this Church have been told of the Lord that before we came to this earth we had a life running back to the remotest stretches of eternity; that as spirits we lived out an existence before we came here, in which we prepared ourselves for life on the earth; that then, having kept our first estate, we came to this earth to obtain knowledge, wisdom, and experience, to learn the lessons, suffer the pains, endure the temptations, and gain the victories of mortality; that when our mortal bodies give up life, our spirits return to take up again the spirit life which we left to come to earth life, and we thereafter go on, building upon the achievements of our first spirit-life, our first estate, and of our mortal life, or second estate, progressing through the endless eternities that follow, until we reach the goal the Lord set: “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

But somewhere in this after eternity of life, the body and the spirit will be re-united as an immortal soul in a glorious resurrection after the exact pattern of Him who was the first fruits of the resurrection. For we believe in Christ as the Messiah, the Creator and Redeemer of the world, the very Son of God, the First Fruits of the Resurrection. We enthrone Christ in first place as a moralist, a teacher, a perfect earthman, but we add to this that he was God’s Son.

We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Third Article of Faith)

We believe that Christ, divinely begotten, was born of woman, that He lived a mortal life, that He was crucified upon the cross, that He died, His spirit leaving His body, and was buried, and was on the third day resurrected, His spirit and body re-uniting.

We testify that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, to whom Jesus came as He was rounding out the establishment of His Church left this record of that glorious vision:

“And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father and received of His fulness; And saw the holy angels and them who are sanctified before His throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship Him for ever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of Him: That He lives! For we saw Him, even on the right hand of God and we heard the voice bearing record that He is the only begotten of the Father — That by Him, and through Him, and of Him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” [D&C 76:19–24.]

We add our own humble testimony: that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that He is a resurrected being, and that in His pattern, every man, woman, and child that ever lived, shall come forth from the grave a resurrected being, even as Christ is a resurrected being, the righteous to lives of glorious joy and eternal progression. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 6:, p.32)

1939: Conference Address, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., First Presidency: A Nation With Christian Standards:

This is a Christian nation. Before the Revolution it was so in accord with law; since the Revolution it has remained so in fact. We, the people of the United States, guarantee full religious freedom to all within our jurisdiction, whether they be non-Christian or Pagan. But the nation itself is a Christian nation. Our standards and principles are Christian. Other creeds we protect, that all may be free. These facts must never be lost sight of.

For us of the Church this fact cannot be challenged, for the Lord has declared in modern revelation:

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (Ether 2:12)

The penalty of disobedience to these principles has been declared to be that the people shall “be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them,” and that “The fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.” (Ether 2:8, 9.) These principles have been repeatedly declared.

Thus we of America can stand for no cause which would dethrone Christianity here and put in its place any other creed, whether non-Christian or Pagan; nor can we as Christians support a cause designed to set up non-Christian or Pagan states elsewhere in the world. Our duty, divinely imposed, is clear on this.

Furthermore, for more than a hundred years this Church has declared this principle of government, which is based upon divine commands and the revelations of God’s will, namely: We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property and the protection of life. (D. and C. 134:1-2).

Thus we can stand for no cause and can support no state fostering a cause that would seek to compel the consciences of men, that would set up the state as deity, that would destroy private property, that bulwark of a peaceful, stable ordered society, indeed of civilization itself, that would make men slaves of the state to the destruction of all safety, due protection of life and limb, and all individual liberty, that would blot out the Christian home.

1941: Conference Address, Elder Marion G. Romney, Assistant to the Twelve: Alma’s Born Again Experience:

Mormon speaks of Alma and the sons of Mosiah as still being “brethren in the Lord” after having been separated for fourteen years. In Alma’s words, “Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death”. He was then granted forgiveness. His pain left and he was harrowed up by the memory of his sins no more.

The light of the Gospel broke in upon his vision and joy entered his soul. His statement to those who stood around him was, “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”

From the time of this experience to the end of their lives Alma and the sons of Mosiah not only refrained from their former evil activities, but never again could they remain passive toward the progress of the truth.

Alma near the close of his life, recounting this experience to his son Helaman, said, “But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

The experience of each individual who is really born again is similar to this experience of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, although it may not be so dramatic. The effect upon each person’s life is likewise similar. No person whose soul is illuminated by the burning Spirit of God can in this world of sin and dense darkness remain passive. He is driven by an irresistible urge to fit himself to be an active agent of God in furthering righteousness and in freeing the lives and minds of men from the bondage of sin.

1944: Conference Address, Elder George F. Richards, Apostle: Born Again by the Power of the Holy Ghost:

We are not only to receive the Holy Ghost, being born again, the way the Lord has designed that it should be and has been in the days of the primitive Church, but we are to live and labor so as to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and he will not dwell in unholy tabernacles. There is a difference between the natural man and those who understand the things of the Spirit of God. One has been born again and the other has not.

The rich man, Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night professing belief in him, saying that he knew he must be a teacher sent of God for no man could do the work that he did, except God be with him, received this reply: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus not understanding how it would be possible for a man to be born again, the Savior replied: “Verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” That is the explanation of being born again There is no other way prescribed by the Lord of heaven by which we may have the Holy Ghost, by which the scriptures have been given, by which they can be interpreted and understood.

1947: Conference Address, Elder Harold B. Lee, Apostle: Ye Must be Born Again:

That revelation given to us in our day makes more understandable the answer the Master made to Nicodemus who came to him asking what he must do to be saved. In answer the Master replied, “Ye must be born again,”-born of the water and of the spirit, or he could not see nor enter the kingdom of heaven. Baptism by immersion symbolizes the death and burial of the man of sin; and the coming forth out of the water, the resurrection to a newness of spiritual life. After baptism, hands are laid upon the head of the baptized believer, and he is blessed to receive the Holy Ghost. Thus does the one baptized receive the promise or gift of the Holy Ghost or the privilege of being brought back into the presence of one of the Godhead, by obedience to whom and through his faithfulness one so blessed might receive the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in his daily walks and talks, even as Adam walked and talked in the Garden of Eden with God, his Heavenly Father. To receive such guidance and such direction from the Holy Ghost is to be spiritually reborn.

1949 (April): Conference Address, Elder Marion G. Romney, newly-called Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve: Book of Mormon will Hold Us as Close to Spirit of Lord as anything I Know; Saints Under Condemnation for Neglecting it:

In 1832, in what is designated a revelation on priesthood, the Lord spoke rather sharply, referring to the whole Church as being under condemnation because of their unbelief and because they had treated lightly the things they had received; and this condemnation he said,. . . resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written. (D. & C. 84:56-57.)

Gospel Fundamentals
Brother Merrill’s statement this morning that he was not going to teach anything new, recalled to my mind a conversation he and I had on the way home from a conference assignment a few weeks ago. I said, “Brother Merrill, have you a subject for me to discuss at the general conference?” “Well, Brother Romney,” he answered, “I can tell you this, that neither you nor I are under any responsibility to teach any new doctrine. I am going to talk about some fundamental principle of the gospel.”

In thinking over the fundamentals of the gospel, the fundamentals of the restoration, I remembered that in point of time the first great fundamental received was the vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Following that vision came the Book of Mormon, given to the world as a revelation from God.

I remembered, too, that six months ago President George Albert Smith, speaking to the General Authorities of the Church and mentioning some subjects that might be discussed at conference time, referred to the Book of Mormon.

It is about the Book of Mormon I want to talk today. I do so with just one objective in mind: To get you to read it. I have read it a little, I believe in it, and I love it. I recommend that every person within the sound of my voice read the Book of Mormon. I can testify, as did Nephi, that the things written therein persuadeth all men to do good. It will enrich the life of every person who will read it, unless he is in rebellion against the truth; and in that event it will advise him of his awful fate unless he changes his ways.

Very early in my life I became somewhat acquainted with the Book of Mormon. The other day while going through some old records, I found a notebook I had used while in high school in one of the Church academies. In it I had written a short outline of each chapter in the Book of Mormon. I appreciate that training.

The Book of Mormon:
A few years ago as I began to practice law, members of my family were a little uneasy. They were afraid I would lose my faith. I wanted to practice law, but I had an even greater desire to keep my testimony, and so I decided upon a little procedure which I recommend to you.

For thirty minutes each morning before I began the day’s work I read from the Book of Mormon-I read also from all the other standard works of the Church, but I am talking now about the Book of Mormon-and in just a few minutes a day I read the Book of Mormon through, every year, for nine years.

I know that it kept me in harmony, so far as I did keep in harmony, with the Spirit of the Lord.

Now I want to tell you a few reasons why I think you and I should read the Book of Mormon. I hope that while doing so, I shall enjoy the spirit of the Book of Mormon.

I do not know any single verse which impresses the spirit of the Book of Mormon on me more than the first verse of the last chapter of Second Nephi. As that great prophet approached the close of his record, he said: And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; My, how I would have enjoyed hearing him speak! When I read his writings, they well-nigh overcome me. In the following words he gives the key to his powerful speaking:. . . for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (II Nephi 33:1.)

I pray that while I speak I shall have the spirit of the Holy Ghost, and I pray that you will have the same spirit, that we may all be edified.

The first reason for reading the Book of Mormon which I want to mention is that it is approved by the highest authority in the universe, the Lord himself. He said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Behold, thou wast called and chosen to write the Book of Mormon.” (D. & C. 24 1.) Later on, when the Prophet Joseph Smith received the record, the Lord said that he was given. . . power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon. (Ibid., 1:29.) After the Prophet Joseph had translated that part of the record which he had been told to translate, the Lord said: “. . . and as your Lord and Your God liveth it is true,” (Ibid., 17:6) and. . . contains the truth and the word of God.” (Ibid., 19:26.)

Here are some more things the Lord said about it
. . . a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also. And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction. (Ibid., 33:16.). . . the elders, priests and teachers of this Church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. (Ibid., 42:12.)

Witness for Bible
Another reason I like the Book of Mormon and want you to read it is that it will sustain you against attacks being made by the modernists against that other great scripture, the Bible. The Book of Mormon is not only a new witness for God; it is also a witness to the truth of the Bible. If I had the time, I could give you many specific instances on that point. The Book of Mormon accepts the Bible unreservedly as the word of God. It accepts the five books of Moses as having been written by Moses. This the modernists deny. It accepts the great prophecies of Isaiah as the prophecies of the son of Amos. The resurrected Lord himself said, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, “Great are the words of Isaiah,” and he advises us to read them. Further, this Book of Mormon, the doctrines in it will sustain you against many false doctrines that are current in the world today

Man’s Moral Responsibility
About two weeks ago, I sat in a group where a learned man was directing a discussion. He presented the modern doctrine that there is no personal responsibility for wrongdoing. I have heard that doctrine pressed so far as to hold that if a man commits a crime-lies, steals, commits adultery, or even murders-he has no personal responsibility for his act, but that it is the responsibility of society. I compared that evil doctrine with the teachings Lehi gave to his sons as he was about to go down into his grave. I remember how he taught his sons that men were placed upon the earth between good and evil, that they were sufficiently taught to know the difference between them, that they were endowed by their Creator with power to act for themselves, and that they are held responsible for their decisions and actions. And as the Lord liveth, that doctrine is true. Lehi carefully instructed his sons on these important principles under which they were to live and under which all people on the earth are to live. He tauht them that there was an opposition in all things, as Brother Merrill explained this morning, the power of evil and the power of good. He told them that they were. . . free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life; . . . or to choose captivity and death. (II Nephi 2:27.) This doctrine that man is not morally responsible for his own acts, which is gaining wide acceptance in the world today, is the doctrine of the evil one. If you will read the Book of Mormon, you will be convinced of that, and you will have a defense against it if you will accept the Book of Mormon.

Great American Book
Now, I like the Book of Mormon, and you will like it, because it is a great American book. It was written in America, by Americans, for Americans. It has peculiar application to America It is not full of foreign ideologies and uninspired interpretations of men. I believe that I am within the mark when I say that between the pages of that great book there is more ultimate truth about the overall history of America than there is in any other book and, I will go so far as to say, more than in all the libraries of the world where there isn’t a Book of Mormon. In it the history of this great land of America is foretold Up until 420 A.D. the coming to pass of the history as it was foretold was faithfully recorded by the historians who witnessed it. We who are acquainted with the Book of Mormon know that the history of America from 421 A.D. to the present time is clearly foretold therein-the long withholding of the knowledge of the land from the Gentiles, the coming of Columbus as referred to by President Levi Edgar Young this morning, the coming of the Pilgrim fathers, the establishment of this great nation, the ushering in of this great last dispensation. All these things are there foretold as clearly as anyone can write them now after they have transpired. The coming to pass of these great prophecies of the Book of Mormon is an evidence of its divinity which the world cannot destroy. Of the future of America the Book of Mormon gives some wonderful views. I have not time to go into them in detail, but I would to our Father in heaven that the people who have the management of this nation would become acquainted with them. The Book of Mormon advises us that Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, is the God of this land and that he has said some very definite things about the future of America. Our own nation has a great stake in that future. If we will live the laws that the God of this land teaches in the Book of Mormon, we can participate in the realization of the marvelous promises made for the future of America. Here the New Jerusalem shall arise, and Christ shall come and bring peace to the earth.

Inspiration of Teaching
Now, I like the Book of Mormon, and you will like it, too, for the courage and the strength it inspires in times of discouragement and stress. Consider as an example a few incidents from the life of Nephi, whom I love and whom you will love, too, I’m sure, if you become well acquainted with him. You will recall how, when he came down from the mountain where he had been praying to the Lord, he found his elder brothers whining because the Lord had told them to go up to Jerusalem and get the brass plates. He did not join in their whining. When he learned of the commandment, he said unto his father:. . . I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them. (1 Nephi 3:7.) When they reached Jerusalem, Laman was chosen to go into the city and get the record from Laban. He did not get it, however, because he knew he could not get it. When Laban said to him, “You are a robber, and I will slay thee,” he ran. Arriving outside the city walls, Laman, with Lemuel, wanted to go down into the wilderness to their father without the record, but Nephi said:. . . As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. (Ibid., 3:15.) Yielding to Nephi, they went to their former home and gathered up their precious possessions which they offered for the records. Pursued by Laban’s guard, they abandoned their wealth and fled for their lives. Again the elder brothers desired to return to their father in the wilderness. They spoke harsh words to Nephi and so severely whipped him that an angel came and corrected them. After the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel continued to murmur, saying: . . . How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? And it came to pass that I [Nephi] spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands. (Ibid., 3:31; 4:1.) Nephi finally went in alone and came back with the plates. He had faith; he had courage; and with the help of Almighty God he accomplished the thing which he had been sent to do. One of the most outstanding faith-promoting statements of Nephi was made when they reached the border of the sea after they had been in the wilderness for eight years. The Lord told him to build a ship. He did not have any ore or tools or material with which to build the ship but, nothing daunting, he went into the mountain and dug out the required ore. From the skins of animals he made a bellows with which to blow the fire, which he started by striking two stones together. As he made preparations to build the ship, his brothers said of him: . . . Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. (Ibid., 17:17.) Mistaking his sorrowing over their misconduct for discouragement, they taunted him. He then stood up in the power of the spirit and said unto them: . . . If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. (Ibid., 17:-50.) Here is an example of faith and courage which, if we can emulate, will do much to help us through our doubting and discouragement, for we serve the same God that Nephi served, and He will sustain us even as he sustained Nephi if we will serve him even as Nephi served him.

Reading Enjoined
I urge you to get acquainted with this great book. Read it to your children; they are not too young to understand it. I remember reading it with one of my lads when he was very young. On one occasion I lay in the lower bunk and he in the upper bunk. We were each reading aloud alternate paragraphs of those last three marvelous chapters of Second Nephi. I heard his voice breaking and thought he had a cold, but we went on to the end of the three chapters. As we finished he said to me, “Daddy, do you ever cry when you read the Book of Mormon?” “Yes, Son,” I answered “‘Sometimes the Spirit of the Lord so witnesses to my soul that the Book of Mormon is true that I do cry.” “Well,” he said, “that is what happened to me tonight.” I know not all of them will respond like that, but I know that some of them will, and I tell you this book was given to us of God to read and to live by, and it will hold us as close to the Spirit of the Lord as anything I know. Won’t you please read it?

1949: Book, President Joseph Fielding Smith: The Way to Perfection, Chapter “The New Birth”:

Having read all this, do you wonder what it has to do with the question of the second birth? It is related to our subject because the new birth is also a matter of obedience to law. It is one of the strange things that so many human minds will grasp the fact that every thing on the earth, in the earth, or above the earth, is governed and controlled by immutable law; but when it comes to the consideration of the kingdom of God, these same minds see no need of law. To obtain salvation, we are frequently told, we need comply with no ordinance; no regulation except that we live in peace and respect the rights of others. “It matters not what I do, as long as I obey the laws of my country, as long as I do not take advantage of my neighbor, as long as I am truthful, as long as I am honest, as long as I am sincere and do not harm any man or infringe upon his rights, then all will be well with me.” Such an expression has been made to me. “It is not necessary for me to accept any religious doctrines, or, if I do, the doctrines of one organization are just as good as those of another, if I do what I think is right.” Have we not all heard remarks akin to these? “I believe in God,” said one individual, “but I do not believe in creeds. God would not ask a man to be baptized in order to be saved. A righteous life is all that is required.” But the word of the Lord is sure. No man has the right to set it aside. No man has the right to dictate to the Father how his kingdom shall be governed. There are immutable laws that have been given for the government of this kingdom as there are for every other. If we do not accept these laws and in obedience conform to the order, we cannot have claim upon the blessings. This is a universal law. We find it in our daily lives, in everything with which we come in contact. Baptism in water for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, constitute the birth of the water and of the Spirit. This is essential to salvation. It is more than a symbol; it is a reality, a birth in very deed. How could a man get into this mortal world without being born as other men are born? Has anyone ever done so? It has never been done because there is a law controlling mortal birth. No man can obtain the second birth except by complying with the law of that birth, which is to be born of the water and of the Spirit in the way the Lord has prescribed. No man can come unto God without repentance. Unforgiven sinners could not dwell in his presence. To gain entrance there we must be sanctified, or cleansed from sin, and the law governing this matter has been unalterably fixed. We may rebel; we may protest and think this method a very foolish one; a very unnecessary one; but it is in the wisdom of One who knows all things that this commandment has been given. Who is man that he should question God? “Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood?” (Isaiah 10:15). We all have been taught that baptism is for the remission of sins, but the Lord has given us further explanation as to the purpose and efficacy of this ordinance. Baptism dates from the fall of man. Adam was cast out of the presence of the Lord because of his transgression, and thus was banished from the presence of the Father. This banishment is called the “first” or “spiritual” death. All who are unrepentant, who have not accepted the Gospel, are spiritually dead. That is, they are subject to the “first” death which is banishment from the presence of the Lord. Death is banishment. Explaining this matter the Lord said to Joseph Smith: “Wherefore it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation. Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from tèe Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed: (D&C 29:40-41). This same banishment has been pronounced on all those who do not repent and accept the ordinances of the Gospel, “For they cannot be redeemed,” said the Lord, “from their spiritual fall because they repent not.” Now, how can we overcome this death? How can we get back from that banishment? By being born again of the water and of the Spirit. To be brought back we must comply with certain laws which have been eternally fixed and which are as immutable as the heavens. These laws are those of the water burial, or birth, and the birth of the Spirit of God by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. So we see baptism is the means by which we come back into the presence of the Lord after being shut out of his presence. For this reason it is a burial in the water and symbolizes both a death and a birth into a new life, and is in the similitude of the death of Jesus Christ as well as of birth into this world. John understood this and has said: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (1 John 5:5-7). This doctrine was not introduced by John; evidently he was taught it from earlier prophets, for we read in the Book of Moses :”That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 6:59-60). The significant likeness between birth and baptism, and between death and baptism, with the symbolism found in the expression of the witnesses in heaven and on earth, is very apparent to those who understand the order of heaven in relation to the second birth. (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 1949, p.189 – 190)

1950: Conference Address, Bruce R. McConkie, First Council of Seventy: The Atonement of Christ:

Joseph Smith was asked: “What are the fundamental principles of your religion? He replied: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (DHC 3:30.)

The atonement of Christ is the most transcendent and important event that has ever occurred, or ever will occur, in the history of this world. Everything pertaining to life and salvation, all that the aunts have or that they may obtain, center in that most glorious event.

Christ came into the world chiefly for the purpose of working out the infinite and eternal atonement. He said: “ … I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … (3 Nephi 27:13-14.)” That was to the Nephites.

To the Jews, while in his mortal ministry, he said: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep … I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:11, 17, 18.)

Adam had come into the world; had been the first man, the most noble member, save Jesus only, of the human race; had fallen, as the scriptures recite; and had brought temporal death and spiritual death into the world. Spiritual death is to be banished from the presence of the Lord. Temporal death is the dissolution of the body and of the spirit.

The atonement of Christ came to ransom us from the effects of the fall of Adam. That atonement gives all men temporal life. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

That atonement offers to all men who will believe and obey the principles of the gospel eternal life or spiritual life again in the presence of the Eternal Father.

We Latter-day Saints have the gospel in its fullness and in its perfection. Authorized teachers reveal its doctrines to us; legal administrators are among us to perform the ordinances of salvation. We are on the path to eternal life, and if we endure to the end, we will be saved. Those in the world who will repent, who will come into the Church, believe the doctrines, and receive the ordinances, will have their sins forgiven. They will be washed clean in the blood of Christ because of the atonement.

Those who decline and fail to do this, who will not repent, but who stay outside the reach of mercy, will — in the justice of God — have to pay the penalty for their own sins. They will be required to suffer, even as Christ suffered, which suffering caused himself, ” … even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit … and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.” (See D. & C. 19:15-20.)

There is no more important thing in this world, nor will there be, than the single act of the atonement of Christ; and we can be participators in the blessings of it. We can inherit the glories of eternity, and all the rewards that God has promised the Saints, if we will abide the law that he has given us in this day.

To King Benjamin, a righteous and faithful Nephite, an angel of God said this: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord Seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19.) That we may so do I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. (Bruce R. McConkie, Conference Report, April 1950, p.131)

1955: Conference Address, Elder Harold B. Lee, Apostle: Hosanna to the Son of David:

Today as did they in past dispensations, we declare “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”(Teachings, p. 121.) O that the inhabitants of an unrepentant world would humble themselves and with faith in the Redeemer of mankind join in the chorus of the multitude who welcomed the Master into the Holy City, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

1956: Church News Article, Elder Harold B. Lee, Apostle: Are You Truly a Christian?

As we contrast the convictions and the devotion of these true Christian followers of Jesus’ day with those who were merely professors or pretenders of the truth, we are brought upstanding by the modern definition that the dictionary gives of a Christian. It reads: “One who believes or professes or is assumed to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth as taught by him.” Here is clearly an implied recognition that among us today are those who claim to be, but are, in fact, only pretenders. In all sincerity I ask all of you who profess to be Christians if you do the works of the Master. Do you accept Him as Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God? Do you believe that He alone has the words of eternal life and that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved?

In the year 1805 was born in an obscure country village in Vermont the boy christened by his parents Joseph Smith, who later, by divine revelation and command, became the organizer of the church which bears the sacred name of the Savior of the world. We subscribe fully to the declaration of our prophet-founder with reference to the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Said he: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are but appendages to it.” (History of the Church [DHC] 3:30.) To that conviction, as to the fundamental principles on which the true Christian religion must be founded, I bear solemn witness.

1956 (October): Conference Address, Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of Seventy: Salvation and Exaltation through Grace and Mercy [Elder Hanks was the Mission President of the British Mission when Jeffrey Holland and Quentin L. Cook were missionaries]:

THE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ teaches us that the salvation and exaltation of men are made possible solely through the graciousness and goodness and love of God in his gift to us of his Divine Son, whose life exemplified the Father’s purposeful plan for abundant living and whose sacrificial death made available to us and gave us a vision of our eternal possibilities as children of God. From the record of Nephi we read these impressive words:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to he reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23.)
The records of latter-day revelation, as well as those of former days, attest to the great truth that through the atonement of Christ all men will certainly be resurrected, and that all who are willing and obedient may enjoy the blessing of God’s great gift of eternal life.

The Latter-day Saint understands that through the gift of God, through the great atoning sacrifice of his Divine Son, all that we might achieve is made possible for us, but he understands also that in the plan of God it is necessary that we accept this free gift if we would enjoy all of our eternal possibilities. For the Lord told his people through the Prophet in 1832,

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D & C 88:33.)

What must we do to “receive” his gift? The answer of the prophets has been the same, both anciently and in this dispensation, both in the eastern hemisphere and the western. Brother Clifford Young alluded this morning to the answer given by Peter at Pentecost to those who, having been pricked in their hearts by the witness of Christ born by the apostles, asked what they must do. The answer was clear and unequivocal:

Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38.)

Nephi in his parting testimony expressed his feeling of compassion for his own people, for the Jew, and for the gentile, and said:

But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation. (2 Nephi 33:9.)

And after bearing his witness of the Messiah to his people this same prophet said:

For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. (Ibid., 31:17.)

In 1831 the Lord revealed to the Prophet the following:

. . . he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel-repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. . (D & C 39:5-6.)

There is one other thought companion to these. Testifying that fundamental to everything we believe and hope for and have faith in is the great sacrifice of the Son of the Living God, knowing that he requires of us that we accept his great gift, there is something else necessary if we are to enjoy the high spiritual possibilities which it is within our capacity to achieve. Let me refer to the teachings of Nephi to his people after he had taught them faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, as previously quoted. Said he,

And then are ye in this straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; . . . And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. . . . (2 Nephi 31:18-21.)

We accept with all our souls the absolute efficacy and essentiality of the atonement of Christ. We attest to the words of Peter and of other prophets ancient and modern that it is necessary for us to accept our Heavenly Father’s gift by obedience to what we know as the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. We know also that if we are to enjoy the high possibilities for which we are created and which we might desire as children of God, we must build upon our faith and obedience with right thinking and well-doing. We must press forward with steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.

Through so doing, if we endure to the end, we shall have eternal life. There is no other way. (Elder Marion D. Hanks, Conference Report, October 1956, First Day Morning Meeting, p.13-14)

1957 (April): Conference Address, Elder Hugh B. Brown, Assistant to the Twelve: Are the Mormons Christian?

The one most frequently asked was, “Are the Mormons Christians, and if so, how does the Church differ from other Christian churches?” Now, if to be a Christian means to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, and to follow his teachings; if being a Christian means to live or try to live the Christian life as he directed, then we answer the first part of that question with a categorical, “Yes, we are Christians.”

Time will not permit even the mention of other, and there are many other, differences, but we repeat, we are Christians; we believe in the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the holy scriptures, ancient and modern; we believe in the doctrine of the second coming of the Christ, and we believe that when he comes he will be as the Bible has promised, a glorified, resurrected Being, whose feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives. We look forward to that coming and pray that God will help us and all men to prepare for it, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

1959 (April): Conference Address, President David O. Mackay, First Presidency: Born Again:

A great conversation took place, and they dwelt upon salvation, and Christ’s first statement was, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” That is a sentence well worthy of consideration and contemplation. It is easier to see the temporal things, it is easier to see the lascivious things, it is easier to indulge in anything physical and animal-like. It is the animal world.

But to be born out of that world into a spiritual world is advancement that the Lord requires of us, and the example that Jesus set for us. Except a man be born again, out of that world, he cannot see that spiritual light where love, kindness, self-denial, self-mastery, self-control – all of the spiritual virtues – contribute to the development of the real man. Nicodemus could not understand that, and he spoke literally. “How can a man enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born again?” See the physical interpretation?

Then the Savior was more explicit. He said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.) There is the essentiality of baptism, whether the world thinks it merely a form or not. In those two sentences we have the purpose of life the overcoming of the physical, the animal life, the striving and the living in the spiritual realm. There you have the threefold purpose of baptism. First, it is an entrance into the kingdom of God. It is the doorway, and it is significant that that doorway is by immersion. Sprinkling will not give it. It spoils the symbol. Pouring will not give it. Only by immersion can that birth mentioned by Jesus be properly carried out.

There are three elements in which we are buried-the air, which is our natural element; the earth, in which we can be buried, which takes the physical and ends it; we can be buried in water and come out, and the typical comparison of birth is complete because it means when you get a glimpse of the spiritual you want to leave off the animal life, with its appetites, indulgences, and to develop the spiritual instead of the physical side of your nature.

1960 (April): Conference Address, Elder Marion G. Romney, Apostle: Mighty Power of Book of Mormon in Bringing Souls unto Christ: Saints Under Condemnation for Neglecting It:

One thing I can say about the missions I have visited is that in every one of them I heard fervent testimony to the mighty power of the Book of Mormon in bringing souls unto Christ. In my view, the Book of Mormon is the most effective piece of missionary literature we have. I invite you to pray with me for a rich outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for I would like to stimulate you to resolve to read the Book of Mormon.

As I speak, I shall have in mind particularly this fine group of young men and women who are singing for us and all others of their generation. There are many reasons why we should read the Book of Mormon.

To begin with, the Lord has put us under obligation to do so. He said that he sent Moroni to reveal it (D&C 27:5) and that through his mercy he had given the Prophet Joseph “power from on high . . . to translate [it]” (see ibid., 1:29, 20:8), that it contains “. . . the truth and the word of God-” and “the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also.” (Ibid., 19:26, 20:9.) Nephi tells us that its contents “. . . shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand, . . . and the nations who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.” (2 Nephi 25:22.)

For me there could be no more impelling reason for reading the Book of Mormon than this statement of the Lord that we shall be judged by what is written in it. Moroni says that the very reason the book has been given to us is that we may know the “decrees of God” set forth therein and by obedience to them escape the calamities which are to follow disobedience. (Ether 2:11.)

To the early Saints, the Lord spoke rather sharply about remembering the Book of Mormon. “Your minds in times past,” he said to them, “have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received-Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, . . .” (D&C 84:54-57.)

Prior to this he had already told them that “the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction.” (Ibid., 33:16.) On another occasion he had said, “. . . the elders priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, . . .” (Ibid., 42:12.) It is of course obvious that unless we read, study, and learn the principles which are in the Book of Mormon, we, the elders, priests, and teachers of “this church,” cannot comply with this direction to teach them.

But there is another reason why we should read it: By doing so we will fill and refresh our minds with a constant flow of that “water” which Jesus said would be in us “. . . a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14.) We must obtain a continuing supply of this water if we are to resist evil and retain the blessings of being born again, as we were counseled to do by President McKay.

The great over-all struggle in the world today is, as it has always been for the souls of men. Every soul is personally engaged in the struggle, and he makes the fight with what is in his mind. In the final analysis the battleground is, for each individual, within himself. Inevitably he gravitates towards the subjects of his thoughts. Ages ago the wise man thus succinctly put this great truth: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”: (Proverbs 23:7.)

If we would escape the lusts of the flesh and build for ourselves and for our children great and noble characters, we must keep in our minds and in their minds true and righteous principles for our thoughts and their thoughts to dwell upon. We must not permit our minds to become surfeited with the interests, things, and practices of the world about us. To do so is tantamount to adopting and going along with them, for the experience of the race sustains the conclusion of him who said that

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, and then embrace.” (Pope, Essay on Man epistle 11, line 217.)

If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with and call them back to the things of the spirit. I know of no better way to do this than by reading the Book of Mormon. (Elder Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, April 1960, Afternoon Meeting, p.110)

1963 (October): Conference Address, Elder Richard L. Evans, Apostle: On Common Ground With all Sincere Worshiping Christians, through our Belief in Divinity of Lord Jesus Christ:

I feel a weighty responsibility this morning in speaking to you of some things that are close to my heart and important to my life, and which are vitally a part of the principles and convictions of the Church to which I have the honor to belong-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inaccurately referred to as the “Mormon” Church, whose head and lawgiver is our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, who with his Father-the Father of us all-is the foundation of our faith. It is God the Father and his Son our Savior whom we worship. This places us on common ground with all sincere worshiping Christians, through our belief in the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It places us on common ground with all other men also who believe in God the Father and Creator of us all, in whose image, as scripture testifies, men are made.

1963: Book, Dr. Hyrum Andrus, BYU Philosophy Dept.: Restored Church of Jesus Christ:

The Basic Foundation of the Gospel
To the question, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” Joseph Smith said: The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.

But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth. (Documentary History of the Church, 3:30; hereafter cited DHC.)

This, essentially, is the message that Joseph Smith gave to the World. It consists, first, in attesting the reality of Christ as the God of this earth, who wrought out his perfect atonement for the redemption of men. Second, it consists of the testimony renewed and confirmed through a modern prophet that by accepting Christ in the true exercise of faith, men may be changed from a sinful state to a state of righteousness in which they can enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost with its several gifts or spiritual endowments, as these are given to men by the will of God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine formula designed to give man a remission of sins through the atonement of Christ and endow him with the spiritual truth and power to acquire eternal life. Essentially, it is a plan by which man may attain a true spiritual union with Christ and mature in His divine powers until he receives a fulness of the truth and light of celestial glory. This divine formula has certain constituent principles and ordinances.

Explained the Prophet Joseph Smith: There is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter into the Kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost. (DHC, 4:555.)

Nephi, a great Book of Mormon prophet, whose words were translated for our benefit by Joseph Smith, also said of the way that leads to eternal life … the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye enter in by the way ye should receive. (2 Nephi 31:17-18.)

Here, then, is the gospel: that divine formula by which men can come unto the crucified and glorified Christ, and through him receive a remission of sins and those divine powers of truth and light by which they can acquire eternal life. A revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith therefore declared: And this is my gospel-repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom. (D&C 39:6.)

1964 (October): Conference Address, President Hugh B. Brown, First Presidency: Jesus Christ is Savior and Redeemer of world; His is Only Name Under Heaven Whereby We Must be Saved:

Some have questioned whether the Mormons are Christians. We answer emphatically, yes. We repeat what we have reverently declared since the organization of the Church, that Jesus the Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that his is the only “name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” This has been the solemn testimony of millions who have died and other millions now living. We proclaim his divinity. He is the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race, in short, the Christ.

How do ye know this? Our knowledge comes from the same source as did the Apostle Peter’s. Jesus said to him, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Humbly and reverently, but without equivocation, we solemnly bear this testimony to the divinity of the Christ and the restoration of the gospel, and promise that the Holy Ghost will also bear witness of its truth to anyone who prayerfully seeks divine guidance.

1966 (April): Conference Address, President David O. Mackay, First Presidency: Born Again:

Jesus was the one perfect man who ever lived. In rising from the dead, he conquered death and is now Lord of the earth. How utterly weak, how extremely foolish is he who would willfully reject Christ’s way of life, especially in the light of the fact that such rejection leads only to unhappiness, misery, and even to death! No man can sincerely resolve to apply in his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his whole being.

The phrase “born again” has a deeper significance than what many people attach to it. This changed feeling may be indescribable, but it is real. Happy is the person who has truly sensed the uplifting, transforming power that comes from this nearness to the Savior, this kinship to the living Christ. I am thankful that I know that Christ is my Redeemer.

1972 (July): Ensign Article, President Bruce R. McConkie, First Council of Seventy: The Testimony of Jesus:

Now salvation is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the language of the angel who came to King Benjamin: “… salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:18.) Joseph Smith was asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” He answered: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” That is to say, the atoning sacrifice of the Lord is the center of all things, as far as we are concerned.

God our Heavenly Father created us, without which we would have no existence. And Christ the Son has redeemed us, without which there would be neither immortality nor eternal life. Now the glorious thing that has happened in this day is that the heavens have been opened; that God has spoken again; that he has called living oracles, men who are apostles and prophets, to be his mouthpiece, to declare his mind and his purpose and his will to the world; and his message is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; and it is administered in the Church which bears his name.

1972 (December): New Era Article, Dr. Edward J. Brandt, Church Education System: Prophecies of the Advent and Mission of Christ:

The most important event in the history of mankind upon the earth was the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121.)

The Savior’s advent and mission were spoken of as the meridian of time. This mission was necessary to overcome the effects of the fall of Adam, which introduced temporal and spiritual death. Through the fulfillment of the work of the atonement by Jesus Christ, the certainty of being resurrected and the possibility of obtaining spiritual life was made available to all mankind. The message of the conditions of acceptance of this atonement were called by Nephi the doctrine of Christ; it was spoken of by the resurrected Lord as the gospel. This message is the most important message for all people in all time.

1973 (June): Ensign Article, Dr. William O. Nelson, Assistant to the Director of Institute Curriculum; Symbols from the Scriptures That Testify of Christ:

The primary responsibility of prophets in any dispensation is to bear witness of the divinity, the atonement, and the resurrection of our Savior. This is the unifying message of all the Holy Writ. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” By heavenly commission the prophets of God through the ages have exhorted mankind to give heed to this message. King Benjamin’s great sermon (Mosiah 2–5), Alma’s discourse to the lawyers of Ammonihah (Alma 12–13), Peter’s witness of the Savior’s resurrection (Acts 2), and Paul’s testimony to King Agrippa (Acts 26), all contain examples of direct testimony concerning the Savior’s mission.

1974 (April): Conference Address, President Hartman Rector, Jr., First Council of Seventy: The Strength of Testimony:

We have sustained a new prophet at this conference, which is wonderful and inspiring. It’s necessary, for it is a commandment of God, but of course, the work is yet to do. We must follow him. The response of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the question “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” contains a succinct statement about the importance of testimony. He said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121.) Testimony is a sure knowledge of the truth of the gospel received by revelation from the Holy Ghost, as President Romney outlined this morning. As such, it is vital to the soul who would have communion with the Creator. Testimony is vitally important, but men are not saved by virtue of their testimony alone, although it is the beginning of real spiritual progress.

1974: Article, Dr. Truman Madsen, BYU Philosophy Dept.: Are Christians Mormon?:

For a hundred and fifty years the question has been repeatedly asked worldwide, “Are Mormons Christian?” We have struggled through the semantic tangles to answer that with an unqualified “yes.” In his heart every Mormon knows that this question is much like asking, “Is Hamlet Shakespearian?” It might be said, “After all, Hamlet is a manifestation of Shakespeare. In fact, Hamlet is Shakespeare.” Precisely. And so, the Mormon knows that Mormonism is the most vital twentieth century manifestation of Christ. Unlike Hamlet, it is alive. If it is less than that it is nothing.

Here the plan is to reverse the question and ask, “Are Christians Mormon?” This is not mere word play. In our time there are renowned and influential spokesmen and writers in all the major wings of Christendom–and they are not on the periphery but at the center–who are defending and teaching what, a century ago, Joseph Smith almost alone taught. For teaching it he, and his immediate heirs, gave their lives. No one of these spokesmen has pulled it all together, but there are pieces and fragments everywhere.

Before we outline these in a way that must be at best, a beginning, may I offer just four cautions:

First, tracing trends and movements and shifts is always a selective affair. Just as powerful as the movements I am going to chronicle are counter movements equally influential that could lead one to the conclusion that Christianity today has never been farther away from its original moorings. Moreover, those who have swung towards us have sometimes swung pendulum-like too far the other way.

Second, terminology is deceptive. Men may speak similarly but mean and feel differently. And, as you know, the theological vocabulary is notoriously vague.

Third, the focus on belief–it involves values, commitments, kinds of loyalty, and cultures.

Finally, there is–as our missionaries more than anyone in the world may know–a tremendous chasm between what professional writers may say theologically, philosophically, and what actually penetrates to the grass roots. Between the theoretician and the layman there is an ocean.

But after those precautions, let us proceed with boldness.

1974 (September): Ensign Article, Dr. Chauncey Riddle, BYU Philosophy Dept.: Becoming a Disciple:

From the above we learn that discipleship begins with self-denial. Our lives are much like forested land that must be cultivated. Before the word of the Lord can bear fruit in our lives, we must first clear the ground of all that grows wild or naturally.

What grows naturally in our lives are the things of the world. As any person comes to spiritual self-consciousness, he will realize that his mind, his desires, his habits, his manners, and his politics have all been shaped by the people in his physical environment. What he hitherto thought to be himself he now sees as the encrustations of the world upon his true self, the newly awakened spirit within. His true self delights in being touched by the Holy Spirit with the witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the urgency of faith and repentance. He finds that to believe in Christ is one thing, but to deliver one’s soul to Christ as a faithful, obedient servant is quite another.

That delivery must begin by becoming as a little child. To be born again as a little child is to question all that we have formerly been and accepted, and to see the world with different eyes, heart, and mind. As a little child, we walk through the forest with one hand in that of the Holy Spirit and the other in that of the living prophets of God.

Our mentors, the prophets and the Holy Spirit, literally turn the old world some of us have known topsy-turvy. In that process we are thrilled to see things freshly, as they really are. With their help the scriptures become pure, the word of God; the interpolations, omissions, and interpretations of men no longer cause us to stumble.

We learn the joy of seeing the complete harmony between the teachings of the ancient prophets found in canonized scriptures, the teachings of living prophets found in canonized scriptures, the sweet whisperings of the Holy Spirit. To that harmony the promises of God and the necessities of true faith come alive to us, and with hope and faith we begin to become spiritually alive.

With the help of our new friends, the prophets and the Holy Spirit, we can see in our culture that which is truly virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. These things we treasure and delight in. We are also now able to see what is petty, selfish, and evil in our culture. Carefully we dissociate ourselves from those things, grateful to see plainly that those things we once enjoyed were actually part of our misery.

To love as Christ loves is to have charity, the pure love of Christ. Pure love is a gift of the Holy Spirit reserved for those who love the Lord enough to covenant with him in baptism, and Who receive his spirit to be with them: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6.) The way of Christ is the way of love. It is to visit the widows and the fatherless in their afflictions; it is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit those in prison, to liberate the captive.

But it is to do all this in the Lord’s way, not walking in the ways of the world or following the vain imaginations of our heart as to what is good for others. Pure love is of the Father. Saith our Master: “I can of mine own self do nothing … because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30.) “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5.)

Are we the disciples of Jesus Christ? Are we learning of his ways, of his discipline? Are we doing as he commanded? Do we know we have to overcome the world? No man is saved in ignorance of that knowledge.

To gauge our progress we might ask ourselves three questions: Have I denied myself, all ungodliness? Have I denied myself every worldly lust? Do I keep every commandment the Savior gives me? The future of a person who can give an honest affirmative answer to each of these questions, is not in doubt.

The rest of us should remember that the Lord is mighty to save. Though we cannot overcome the world on our own merits, his are quite sufficient.

If we are learning, then we are disciples. May we learn well and be disciples indeed. Then, instead of the natural forest of worldliness that smothers out all else in our lives, we shall have created a Garden of Eden. As the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory, even so must each individual disciple renew his own personal life in the glory of our God.

1975 (April): Conference Address, President Ezra Taft Benson: Book of Mormon Is Word of God; Saints Under Condemnation for Neglecting It:

I speak to you today on a most vital subject. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we believe … the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” (A of F 1:8.) God has so declared it, so have its writers, so have its witnesses, and so do all those who have read it and received a personal revelation from God as to its truthfulness.

In section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says that he gave Joseph Smith “power from on high … to translate the Book of Mormon; Which contains … the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ … ; Which was given by inspiration.” (D&C 20:8-10.) Nephi, one of the prophet-writers of the Book of Mormon, testifies that the book contains “the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 33:10), and Moroni, the last writer in the book, testifies that “these things are true.” (Moro. 7:35.)

This same Moroni, as an angelic being sent from God, showed these ancient records to three witnesses in our day. Their testimony of the records is contained in the front the Book of Mormon. They state: “We also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”

And Joseph Smith, the Prophet, the instrument whom God used to translate this record, testified that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:461.)

The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book — it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day.

Mormon turned the records over to his son Moroni, the last recorder; and Moroni, writing over 1,500 years ago but speaking to us today, states: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” (Morm. 8:35.)

The purpose of the Book of Mormon is stated on the title page. It is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD.”

Nephi, the first prophet-writer in the Book of Mormon, states: “For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved. “Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world. “Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men.” (1 Ne. 6:4-6.)

The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means.

First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and his gospel. It testifies of his divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.

Now God expects us to use the Book of Mormon in several ways.

We are to read it ourselves—carefully, prayerfully—and ponder as we read, as to whether this book is the work of God or of an unlearned youth. And then when we are finished reading the things in the book, Moroni exhorts us to put them to the test in these words: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moro. 10:4.) I have done as Moroni exhorts, and I can testify to you that this book is from God and so is verily true.

We are to use the Book of Mormon as the basis for our teaching. In section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states: “And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in … the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.” (D&C 42:12.) As we read and teach, we are to liken the Book of Mormon scriptures unto us “that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Ne. 19:23.)

We are to use the Book of Mormon in handling objections to the Church. God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ revealed themselves to Joseph Smith in a marvelous vision. After that glorious event, Joseph Smith told a minister about it. Joseph was surprised to hear the minister say that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days, that all such things had ceased. (See JS—H 1:21.)

This remark symbolizes practically all of the objections that have ever been made against the Church by nonmembers and dissident members alike. Namely, they do not believe that God reveals his will today to the Church through prophets of God.

All objections, whether they be on abortion, plural marriage, seventh-day worship, etc., basically hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation.

Here, then, is a procedure to handle most objections through the use of the Book of Mormon. First, understand the objection. Second, give the answer from revelation. Third, show how the correctness of the answer really depends on whether or not we have modern revelation through modern prophets. Fourth, explain that whether or not we have modern prophets and revelation really depends on whether the Book of Mormon is true. Therefore, the only problem the objector has to resolve for himself is whether the Book of Mormon is true. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was his prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is being led today by a prophet receiving revelation.

Our main task is to declare the gospel and do it effectively. We are not obligated to answer every objection. Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand. “And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye,” said Nephi, “for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things.” (2 Ne. 33:11.)

Every man must judge for himself, knowing God will hold him accountable. The Book of Mormon is to be used “for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel,” the Lord says, and its words “shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth.” (2 Ne. 29:2.) We, the members of the Church, and particularly the missionaries, have to be the “hissers,” or the tellers and testifiers, of the Book of Mormon unto the ends of the earth.

The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ and all other things are secondary. The golden question of the Book of Mormon is “Do you want to learn more of Christ?” The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact. It does not contain things which are “pleasing unto the world” (1 Ne. 6:5), and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve.

Anyone who has diligently sought to know the doctrines and teachings of the Book of Mormon and has used it conscientiously in missionary work knows within his soul that this is the instrument which God has given to the missionaries to convince the Jew and Gentile and Lamanite of the truthfulness of our message.

Now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, etc.

Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are “hissing forth” with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains.

Our Church classes are not as spirit-filled unless we hold it up as a standard. And our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations.

Some of the early missionaries, on returning home, were reproved by the Lord in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants because they had treated lightly the Book of Mormon. As a result, their minds had been darkened. The Lord said that this kind of treatment of the Book of Mormon brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all of the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.” (See D&C 84:54-57.) Are we still under that condemnation?

Reading the Book of Mormon is one of the greatest persuaders to get men on missions. We need more missionaries. But we also need better-prepared missionaries coming out of the wards and branches and homes where they know and love the Book of Mormon. A great challenge and day of preparation is at hand for missionaries to meet and teach with the Book of Mormon.

We need missionaries to match our message. And now grave consequences hang on our response to the Book of Mormon. “Those who receive it,” said the Lord, “in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; “But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation— “For the Lord God has spoken it.” (D&C 20:14-16.)

Is the Book of Mormon true? Yes. Who is it for? Us. What is its purpose? To bring men to Christ. How does it do this? By testifying of Christ and revealing his enemies.

How are we to use it? We are to get a testimony of it, we are to teach from it, we are to hold it up as a standard and “hiss it forth.” Have we been doing this? Not as we should, nor as we must. Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.

Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not.

Over a quarter of a century ago I listened in this Tabernacle to these words: “A few years ago as I began to practice law, members of my family were a little uneasy. They were afraid I would lose my faith. I wanted to practice law, but I had an even greater desire to keep my testimony, and so I decided upon a little procedure which I recommend to you. For thirty minutes each morning before I began the day’s work I read from the Book of Mormon … and in just a few minutes a day I read the Book of Mormon through, every year, for nine years. I know that it kept me in harmony, so far as I did keep in harmony, with the Spirit of the Lord.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1949, p. 36.) “It will hold us as close to the Spirit of the Lord as anything I know.” That was President Marion G. Romney. I echo his counsel.

What, then, are we to say of the Book of Mormon? I bear witness that it is verily true. I know this as I know that I live. We stand with the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.)

May we know and use the keystone and get nearer to God, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. (President Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God, Ensign (CR), May 1975, p.63)

1975 (September): Ensign Article, Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Quorum of Seventy: Failing Never: What the Apostles Teach Us about Love :

The coming of Jesus Christ in the meridian of time was God’s supreme effort to make his love known and effectual among his children. The Father had always acted out of love, but the plan of things required a Savior whose life would be the highest expression of God’s love and whose sacrifice would represent a greater love for his Father and brothers and sisters than could be equalled. He made the sacrifice and finished his mission. He left an equally great lesson when he forgave his persecutors and executioners. Not the least of his gifts was a legacy of examples of what a Christian’s relationship should be with himself, his family and fellowmen, and his God.

It is written of Jesus by one who knew and loved him that he went about doing good. (See Acts 10:38.) Though from the beginning the shadow of the cross was upon him in all the acts and teachings of his life, yet he spent his time doing kind things, teaching, comforting and restoring, making people happy, taking little thought for his own comfort and convenience or his own concerns. He radiated the deep inner assurances that came with knowing who he was and why he was here and what his mission would mean.

His disciples received from him not only the sense of his eternal power and godhood, but clear direction about how a child of God should live. The disciple-writers of the epistles of the New Testament reflect this intense focus. Paul and the others had special reasons for writing as they did: they had something to say, and a commission—and a compulsion—to say it.

“I greatly desire to see you,” wrote Paul in his touching letter to Timothy shortly before his martyrdom. “Please try to come before winter. Bring my cloke … and the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 1:4; 2 Tim. 4:6–8, 13, 21; italics added.) He was cold and alone, he wanted his coat and his friends, he missed his beloved books, but he especially wanted the parchments! He had something he had to say, and since the time was at hand when he was “ready to be offered … the time of departure,” he had to put it in writing for his people and for us.

We have at least some of the letters he wrote, and some written by other inspired disciples. What is the message? What is there for us in the books?

The writers of the epistles testified, with fervency and at highest cost, of the eternal truths associated with Christ’s mission: of God’s gracious love, the Lord’s atoning sacrifice, the divine plan through which his children may accept that glorious gift, the resurrection, and the everlasting nature of life and of love. They explained the relationship of the church, God’s instrument, to both Christ and Christians. And they demonstrated, each in turn, that they had learned from the Lord and through the Spirit the central importance in God’s plan of love and service.

The sacred strains of Christ’s parables of judgment sound throughout the New Testament’s writings. Sins of commission were not even mentioned in that great story of the sheep and the goats, the time when “the Son of man shall come in his glory … and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another … and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matt. 25:31–33.)

Those on the right hand of the king shall be invited to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Who will they be? They who have met the simple, charitable tests—they who have fed the hungry and given drink to the thirsty, cared for the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and have gone to those who were in prison.

They who have not done these things will be rejected from the kingdom, and will go to their own place to suffer the consequences of their failures.

This was the message in the day of Paul and Peter and James and John. It is the same in our time. Those who understand it and give it life are true Christians. I saw one of these Christians recently. In a Junior Sunday School room, I sat watching the youngsters arrive. I was to say a word to them before joining the adult congregation for stake conference. The children came into the room, separated temporarily from their parents, joining an unfamiliar group with new teachers and leaders. A few seemed completely unconcerned, but many were uncomfortable, and some were very much upset. The one who was crying the loudest was being comforted in the arms of a young teacher who I later discovered was 15 years old. The scene I observed was memorable.

The teacher had not quite stilled the sobs and dried the tears of the first child when another little girl appeared, younger and even more frightened and tearful than the first. Instantly the young lady responded. As she went to the new arrival, she said to the first youngster, still in her arms, “That little girl is crying. I think she is frightened. Will you help me make her feel better?” She then knelt for a moment between the two with her arms around them, both still sniffling.

She said, “You know something? We are going to sing two songs today and I have prepared a picture to illustrate each one. I need someone to hold the pictures up when we all sing. Do you think you two could help me?” Both nodded.

The teacher arose, holding each by the hand, and took them to two small chairs at the front of the room on each side of hers. She gave each a picture and sat back smiling with them as the sniffles stopped. I noticed that both children were leaning perceptibly toward their friend. There were no more tears.

It occurred to me that I was involved in a very important experience. The lovely young teacher, still a girl herself, filled with the light of love and of the Lord, calmly set about her sacred work, brought comfort to the frightened child, enlisted her aid for another who was also afraid and weeping, then involved both in a useful task that took their minds off their own problems.

As I joined the large congregation a few minutes later, I told them about that experience, knowing I had learned something more important than I would likely be able to express.

Christianity is not a religion of abstraction nor of unfeeling legalisms.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 14:17.)

Christianity does not contemplate the production, by declaration, of a perfect person or a perfect world but provides the objective, the plan, the motivation, and the power to produce persons who make a difference. Repeatedly the New Testament epistles talk about newness—the new creature who emerges from an honest, confrontation with Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; … all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17.) This new creature, serving “in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom. 7:6), is what is to happen; this is what the disciples learned, and this is what they wanted all Christians to learn, then and now.

We usually sum up the apostle Paul as a preacher and teacher of uncompromising commitment. We do not customarily think of him—or at least I have not—in terms of loving compassion and consideration and concern for others. We may have noticed a growing tenderness and ripening of love in him as he selflessly served the cause of Christ, but it has not seemed to be his chief message. Yet as one reads the epistles carefully and repeatedly, the witness comes through strongly: he knew and gave love.

Paul’s heavenly vision and subsequent revelations turned him completely around from the hostility of the persecutor to the fervor of the disciple. His beautiful and brilliant testimony of Christ, his exposition of Christian theology, and his determined opposition to legalistic teachers who sought to Judaize the Christian converts constitute much of his writing, but woven strongly throughout are his undeviating declarations of love, quality, and service which must characterize Christians. His “noble eulogy” to the Corinthian saints on the value and power and enduring quality of love was spoken to us as well. Without love, he declares, eloquence, prophecy, mysteries, knowledge, and even faith are nothing, nor are charitable works or martyrdom: with love these have meaning. With love we can endure all things. Love never fails.

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he told them that he prayed to God that they might be “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” that they might have Christ in their hearts and be “rooted and grounded in love … and … know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that [they] might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph. 3:16–19.)

In Paul’s teaching the pure love of Christ is more than compassionate condescension, more than sharing goods. The “charity” which is Christ’s love is more understandable in the light, again, of the Lord’s personal identification with the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick, and imprisoned: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,” he teaches us, “ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)

Some years ago in a civic setting I proudly listened to two young men, one, born in Mexico, who had started ninth grade at the age of 19 while still a migrant farm worker, the other, part Indian, born in a small village near the reservation where many of his relatives lived.

Both of the young men were handsome and articulate, exuding strength, sincerity, and a sense of urgency. One had filled a mission—the other was about to go—and each was en route to advanced university training, preparing to serve the special needs of those with whom he shares proud heritage.

A civic committee sought their help in understanding the problems of their people and offering possible solutions. Each answered searching questions knowledgeably, effectively, earnestly. When asked what could be done to help, each responded repeatedly and firmly that what his people needed was not handouts but opportunities, equal opportunities so that through their own efforts they could reach the goal. They would do the rest themselves. Both pointed to faith in God and a religious commitment as basic needs of their people, and each explained that active involvement in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the key to his own development. How had this blessing come about?

It came to the young Mexican-American through a school administrator in a small Latter-day Saint community in Nevada where the verbal answers concerning salvation and redemption through Christ had been personalized into the experience of kindness and concern and contagious love. There the young man had found not only the answers which gave meaning to life, but direction and inspiration and purpose in living it. The love he found came not chiefly from books or lessons, but from persons who were able and willing to give it.

For the Indian, it had been a next-door neighbor, a Latter-day Saint bishop, whose interest and kindness had opened his heart and his home to this youngster. The little boy was not prepared to understand theological answers; loving concern he could readily comprehend. Through the life of a good man he learned to care about and to know Christ.

For these two choice young men, Christ’s love, shining through others, brought newness of life.

Like Paul, the apostle Peter knew the importance of faith. He knew also that enjoying this great gift—in whatever measure—is the beginning of our life in Christ, not the end. Thus, declaring that through knowledge of God and our Savior we “might be partakers of the divine nature,” he said we must “add to [our] faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness”; and in that remarkable construction of qualities and gifts, the apostle continued the crescendo: “… and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Pet. 1:4, 6–7)—the pure love of Christ! Like his brother Paul, with whom he sometimes had controversy, in this central matter Peter had no question: to all the sacred attributes named, a Christian must add love. Without love the others, singly and together, were not enough.

Peter taught the believers that though there were those who were disobedient, who had “disallowed”—rejected—the “chief corner stone,” Jesus Christ, yet the true followers of the Lord were “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” whose duty it was to “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pet. 2:6–7, 9.)

Likewise, the apostle James warned the early Christians that in fulfilling “the royal law according to the scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (James 2:8) they would do well, but not if they showed partiality to the rich. The message was not a slogan but the guiding theme of life, the directing goal and the power by which they were to govern their conduct toward themselves, others, and the Almighty.

If there is a key for resolving the many great social problems of our time it must be in developing homes that are training places for Christian qualities, families in which the relationships between individuals teach the responsibility to be good citizens in the home, in the neighborhood where the force is most effectual, and so in the community and the country.

The instructions of the epistles demonstrate that the apostles taught with conviction this approach to solving the problems of their ancient world. Christians were expected to have sound marriages and strong families, to be good wives and good husbands, good parents and good children. Paul to the Ephesians and Colossians, and Peter and John in their writings, taught the same truths: wives and husbands must love each other and fill their major responsibilities in the home. Children must obey their parents and honor them. To fathers comes an especially significant invitation:

“Provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4.)

Wrath, he adds perceptively to the Colossians, will leave the children “discouraged.” (Col. 3:21.) Peter saluted the strength of the woman to influence her husband through deep intuitive faith—that “quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Pet. 3:4.)

Husbands are enjoined to give honor unto their wives “as being heirs together of the grace of life.” (1 Pet. 3:7.)

How significant these instructions for family love and interdependence was emphasized for me recently. When a convert to the Church and his 12-year-old son arrived early for a stake conference session, they saw water spilling over a basin and into the hall. They stopped the water, obtained cleaning equipment, and, taking off their shoes and stockings and rolling up their trousers, waded in and cleaned up the problem.

Learning of this and feeling that I wanted the privilege of knowing such people, I talked with the man and his boy, and in the course of our conversation learned that the family had suffered a tragedy just a week before. While the father was attending a meeting he was notified of the death of his beautiful little girl whose hospital room he had just left with the assurance that she was going to be well. Distraught, the family struggled through the necessary arrangements of the next day or so with broken hearts.

After the funeral service they gathered for a family home evening. I will never forget the joy shining through the anguish as this wonderful father talked of the feeling for each other as they met that night, and of the resolve they had made. “We looked at each other and our children and they at us for perhaps the first time as individuals, as persons with strengths and needs and beauty and a place in our circle. In the terrible agony of losing our little one we gained a new vision of each other. Words of love and of kindness were spoken, testimonies borne, thanks given, and prayer offered as we knelt together. I don’t anticipate any problem holding family home evening from now on,” he said. “We have learned in a very hard way how much we mean to each other and how important it is to be together to enjoy each other and share with each other and express our love.”

So the message of love and family unity is vital still. The ancient writ rings with personal meaning in the instructions of the apostles and prophets. The major social problems of our time existed in their day. Opportunities for the Christian to exercise the wonderful gifts of the spirit existed then and are all about us now.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Gal. 5:22–23.)

In business the saints were instructed to avoid sloth, to be honest, to produce with their hands, to provide for their own.

The affluent learned that the love of God cannot be thought to dwell in one who “hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth his bowels of compassion from him. … “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” (1 Jn. 3:17–19.)

The apostle James laid the responsibility of being considerate and concerned for others not on the rich alone but on all who follow after Christ:

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:25, 27.)

Has someone been overtaken in a fault? The message of the prophets is that such a one should be “restored” in the spirit of meekness. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2.)

There is another principle of living that the apostles and prophets knew well. They were men, sometimes rather ordinary men, charged with an extraordinary mission and the responsibility to grow into capacity to fill it. There were extraordinary demands made upon them. Having come from different backgrounds they did not always function out of the same base of experience, and it was necessary for them to listen and learn. To them and all who should hear and follow them came the message to the Hebrews:

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb. 12:14–15.)

There would be wrongs done and some mistakes made. Peter knew this special trial well, and we understand when he says:

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:19–20.)

In the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he said that he had heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” (Eph. 1:15), and commended them. Much was expected of them now that Christ had “broken down the middle wall of partition” (Eph. 2:14) between who and what they had been and who and what they had become. Before Christ they were Gentiles, “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” “far off” and walking “according to the course of this world.” (Eph. 2:12–13, 2.) God had brought them “nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13.) They were no more “strangers and foreigners,” but had become “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph. 2:19–20.)

There was no more Jew and Gentile; all who had through the rich mercy and great love of God been brought to Christ were now Christians.

Something had happened! It was to be different now! They were to “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph. 4:17), but would henceforth be expected to put away corrupt communication, lying, anger, stealing, bitterness, wrath, clamour, evil speaking, malice. They would tell the truth, labor with their own hands to earn their own way, and to share, speak that which is edifying, and be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake” had forgiven them. (See Eph. 4:25–32.)

As “children of light” they were to walk in “goodness and righteousness and truth,” being good husbands, wives, parents, and children. (Eph. 5:8–9; see Eph. 5:22–25; Eph. 6:1–4.)

A perusal of the Christian’s passageway seems almost too much. How can ordinary mortals walk it?

If we are to regard our religion as a “packet of beliefs and practices” to be borne, it will indeed be too much. But this cannot be for the Christian. Our religion is “not weight; it is wings.” It can carry us through the dark times, the bitter cup. It will be with us in the fiery furnace and deep pit. It will accompany us to the hospital room and to the graveside. It can assure us of the presence of a captain on the rough voyage. It is, in short, not the path to easy disposition of problems but the comforting assurance of the eternal light by which we may see and the eternal warmth that we may feel. All of this comes to us through the love of Christ. (Marion D. Hanks, “Failing Never: What the Apostles Teach Us about Love,” Ensign, Sep 1975, 74)

1975 (September): Ensign Article, Dr. David H. Yarn, Jr., BYU Philosophy Dept.: Discovering the Holy Ghost:

A person might ask himself, “Why should I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of my sins, be baptized, and receive the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost?”

Carefully and prayerfully, study this answer from the words of the Lord: “all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence. … Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so become of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten, that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten.” (Moses 6:57–62.)

The Lord tells us here that if we receive the principles and ordinances of the gospel in the way we should, even in this mortal life we can enjoy the presence of the Comforter, the record of heaven, and the peaceable things of immortal glory, for they are given to abide in us.

To make these things possible, the Lord suffered incomparably for us. In his own witness in this day he said: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.” (D&C 19:18.) That unique suffering he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, prior to the awful agony of the trials and the crucifixion.

Even earlier, when he beheld Jerusalem, knowing the things the city would have to suffer because of her sins, his great compassion caused him to weep for her. (See Luke 19:41–48.) The Lord wept over the sins of ancient Israel and suffered for the sins of all mankind, including yours and mine. Yet, ask yourself these questions: Have I wept over my own sins? Have I pled for forgiveness? If I have been baptized and had hands laid upon my head to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, am I keeping the commandments, and do I constantly recognize my dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and pour out my heart in loving gratitude for his mercy?

If I have done these things my life will at least begin to reflect that meekness and lowliness of heart that prepare me to enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life. I will recognize that influence even as I recognize the wind. In addition to any particular gift, there are at least five basic manifestations we can discern as we witness the Holy Ghost in our lives: a positive hope of eternal life because of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice; an assurance of the truth of the gospel; his power in righteousness; a peace transcending temporal things; and, in varying degree, the joy that belongs to the eternal.

1976: BYU Fireside, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Assistant to the Twelve, later Apostle: Taking Up The Cross:

In the midst of some of these individualized challenges, however, we may cry out on our small scale as the Savior did on the cross, or as the Prophet did in Liberty Jail. Being in agony, we will pray more earnestly, for cries of agony are not the same as cries of despair.

Our individual experiences may not always be unique, but they are always authentic. God will even take into account our perceptions of, as well as our responses to, our trials. For those of us who do not, for instance, find claustrophobia a challenge, it is difficult to measure the terror that comes to those for whom it is such a challenge.

Thus, a friend may seem to struggle unnecessarily long before finally prevailing with regard to a particular principle of the gospel. But for that individual, the struggle was real enough! We need, particularly, to understand with kindness those who are asked o go out to do battle again on a familiar field–on the very battleground where they have already suffered defeat several times.

Yet some of our most difficult victories will occur on new terrain–like Joseph’s in Egypt–when we do not have the equivalent of a “home court” advantage … When we have that kind of courage, neither will we walk alone in our own “fiery furnace,” for as is recorded in Daniel, there was a fourth form in that fiery furnace with the valiant threesome, and the form was “like the Son of God.”

Peter gave us wise counsel when he said to the disciples, which each of us aspires to be, the following words: “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

When we carry the cross we must expect to share, in some measure, in the sufferings of Christ. But he will be near us even in the “fiery furnace.”

1976: Book, God’s Greatest Gift, Elder Theodore M. Burton, Assistant to Twelve / First Quorum of Seventy: Chapters 14 & 15a – The Atonement:

The disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden brought sin into the world. When they partook of the forbidden fruit, a physical change was brought about in their bodies so that eventually death came upon them.

That they should become mortal was a necessary part of the plan of salvation. In order for man to grow and develop, it was necessary that he be separated from his heavenly parents; only in this way could he be thoroughly tested and proved.

This separation of the children of God from their heavenly parents is referred to as “the fall.” The fall which brought about the mortality of Adam and Eve and their posterity was a necessary and fundamental principle in the plan of salvation.

Adam’s fall brought not only temporal death into the world, but spiritual death as well. The death of the body with its return to the dust of the earth we can all under­stand. This death brings about a separation of the spirit from the body. Spiritual death is a separation of the spirit from the presence of God, and is also referred to as the second death.

From the very beginning, as the plan of salvation was presented, a provision was made to restore those spirits back into the presence of their heavenly parents. The atonement is the restoration of those spirits into the presence of God. It is a reconciliation, propitiation, ransom, restoration, or restitution that involves making such sacrifice or payment that the principles of justice can be satisfied and the mercy of God made possible.

The atonement also is a fundamental principle in the plan of salvation and was to be brought about by the Firstborn Son of God, whose name was Jehovah.

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they enjoyed the companionship of both Father and Son. When they were driven from the Garden of Eden, their direct association with the Father was ended. From that point on, direct contact between Elohim and his now mortal children ceased. A veil was drawn between mankind and Elohim, and his appearances on rare occasions were limited to ac­knowledging Jehovah as his Son.

As Jehovah took upon himself a body of flesh and bone, the Father testified of him that he was his Only Begotten Son in whom he was well pleased. Direct communication with man was limited to the Son, the Creator of this world. Jehovah was the “Only God” of the Old Testament, the Savior or Redeemer who was known as Jesus Christ in the New Testament. He is the only God with whom we as mortals have direct communication.

The atonement that he made for us brought about our reconciliation with God the Eternal Father. Through this atonement, the veil can be removed that presently separates us from our Father. Through the reconciliation made by Jesus Christ, the spiritual death of the fall is replaced by the spiritual life of the atonement. The temporal death of the body is re­placed by that immortality which comes through the atonement and resurrection. As Paul expressed this thought: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:19­-22.)

As natural death brought about a separation of the body and the spirit, so the atonement brings about im­mortality, which is a reconciliation of body and spirit, never again to be separated.

Now, this atonement or reconciliation is a double restoration. There are two parts to the atonement.

The first part we may speak of as universal salvation or im­mortality. Immortality comes as a free gift to all men by the grace of God alone, without any works of righteous­ness on our part. Jacob gave a beautiful explanation of this grace of God in providing for universal salvation. (See 2 Nephi 9:6-13.) It is by the grace and mercy of God that all mankind is saved: For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.- (2 Nephi 25:23.)

When I hear people say, “I am saved by grace” or “I am saved by faith in Jesus Christ,” I have a hard time not to say something that might offend them. It is true that they are “saved,- but they would be “saved” even if they did not believe in Jesus Christ, since this portion of salvation (immortality) applies to everyone who ever lived on this earth. Universal salva­tion of this type comes through the grace of Jesus Christ and is a free gift to all mankind.

Conditional salvation is the second, or more ad­vanced, part of the atonement and makes exaltation possible. Exaltation is conditioned not only by the atone­ment of Jesus Christ, but also by our righteousness and willingness to follow Jesus Christ with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. It also requires completing all the ordinances of the gospel necessary to reach perfec­tion. To attain exaltation, we must not only be hearers of the word, but doers also. (See James 1:22.)

In explaining about the nature of the atonement, Amulek answered a question as to the work to be accomplished as Jesus Christ came into the world:

And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these arc they that shall have eternal life [exaltation is the end result of the conditional atonement], and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it he the loosing of the bands of death [immortality is the end result of the unconditional or universal atonement]; for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works. Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death [universal salvation applies to all mankind]. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but everything shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they he evil. (Alma 11:4(l-44.)

I have heard it said that the sons of perdition who suffer the second death, which is total banishment into utter darkness without contact with any of the Godhead, will have their bodies dissolved so that the resurrection really does not apply to them. This is not true. All man­kind will be resurrected as a result of that universal atonement, and those bodies reunited with the spirit can never die nor see corruption. The spirit will never again be divided from the body. (Alma 11:45.) This will be the true hell of the existence of the sons of perdition — to have a body of flesh and bone and never be able to do anything constructive with it.

The gospel was given so that man could have more than mere immortality. The gospel was given so that man would know what to do to obtain exaltation. It is this lat­ter type of atonement, prepared from the foundation of the earth, that leads to the treasures in heaven to be found in the highest degree of glory. In order to obtain these treasures, we have to meet those conditions which make that existence possible. (Mosiah 4:6-10.)

Moroni makes this clear as he gives us the pattern as to how the atonement can result in the salvation of the children of God: Behold he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man. And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from the eternal band of death, which is a temporal death” (Mormon 9:12-13.)

Then comes the judgment as to what degree of exaltation we shall receive. This reward depends upon what we have done in this life and how we have prepared ourselves to meet that judgment. The object of this book is to hold ever before our eyes the greatest treasure of all — to have not only immortality, hut eternal life” (D&C 29:43-45.)

There is another aspect of the atonement that needs consideration. Let us review the instructions given by Jacob:

“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merci­ful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should he an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless dura­tion. And if so, the flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth to rise no more. 0 the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him [cast out from the presence of God the Father eternally]; and we be­come devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our Cod, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret com­binations of murder and all manner of secret works of dark­ness.” (2 Nephi 9:6-9.)

Through the atonement of Jesus Christ we have been made free, and Satan has no hold on us unless we permit it through disobedience to the commandments of God.

Note that this atonement was to be an infinite atone­ment. That is, it not only affected this world and its in­habitants, but was valid and operative throughout the universe. The atonement applied not only to this earth, but to all the planets of this universe. We might well ask, Why did Jesus Christ come to this earth instead of to some other planet? The answer to this question is also given in the scriptures. The Lord wept when he saw the wickedness of the people of this world, for these were his children and he loved them as only such a great parent could. When Enoch asked him why he wept, the Lord answered: “Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workman­ship of mine hands there has not been so great wicked­ness as among thy brethren.” (Moses 7:36.)

The most frightening thing about this passage of scripture is the prediction Jesus Christ made that in the last days, even as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in these last days as wickedness grows in the earth. (Matthew 24:37-40.) In fact, this wickedness will become so great that for the elect’s sake these days will be shortened. (Joseph Smith 1:20.) “For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall de­ceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.” (Joseph Smith 1:22. Italics added.)

This earth is the most wicked of all the creations of God. It is the only world so wicked that its inhabitants would destroy their Creator. Jesus Christ was sent to this earth instead of to some other planet because if he could withstand the pressure, wickedness, and temptations of this world, he could withstand the wickedness of any other world. Man would then be left without excuse. No creature anywhere in the universe could say, “We had it harder than you. If you had been subject to the trials and temptations we had, you would have cracked up also!”

What a blessing in turn it is for us to be sent to this most wicked of all the creations of God. It is true that we are thus tested with the greatest temptations ever given to the children of God, but if we withstand the tempta­tions here, we can, as a result, receive greater rewards than are given to those who have never had to fight and win such battles. As a result, we can either sink farther into sin or rise to a higher degree of glory, depending on what we desire and are willing to do.

When Satan was cast out of heaven, he was cast down to this earth. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”(Revelation 12:9.) Hence the earth is his bat­tleground, and the battles we win here have far-reaching importance to our exaltation.

There was purpose, then, in sending Jehovah to this earth to take upon himself a body of flesh and bone. Jesus Christ was to become our advocate with the Father. To do so, he had to descend below all things, so that he might rise above all things. When Joseph Smith com­plained about some of the things he had to suffer, the Lord reminded him: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8.)

A more extensive explanation is given in the following scripture: “He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.- (D&C 88:6.)

Through this atonement, then, he was able to understand the needs of all men and thus be better able to become a true advocate for man.

In Chapter 10 reference was made to the preview of the atonement given as Abraham was tested to see if he would be willing to give his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. He was not called upon to make the final offering, for the Lord provided as a sacrifice a ram with his horns caught in a nearby thicket. It was there stated that at the atone­ment of Jesus Christ, no ram was provided. The actual sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father had to be made.

This was most difficult for both the Father and the Son. Jesus was frightened by the weight of this responsi­bility and said to his disciples: “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened [worried, pained, concerned] till it be accom­plished!” (Luke 12:49-50.) When he went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and to prepare himself for the coming ordeal, he expressed his concern to Peter, James, and John, “and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.- (Matthew 26:37-38.)

What caused him to be frightened and concerned? It wasn’t the pain or death that he feared, but the frightful responsibility of knowing that the whole plan of salva­tion, the fate of the whole universe, rested on his shoulders. It was because of this that he asked the Father if it were possible to let this cup pass from him. He asked, “Isn’t there some other way?” This was the man speak­ing, a man frightened by the crushing weight of the task ahead. Three times he asked, “0 my Father, if it be possi­ble, let this cup pass from me!” Three times the godlike nature within him added these words: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39.) There was no answer from the Father, nor could there be, for there was no other way. This was the most vital part of the whole plan of salvation, which was provided for and agreed upon from before the foundation of the world. Prophets had told of it and the voice of God had spoken it. These predictions could not be changed. And so Jesus Christ committed himself to this action.

This commitment was not made without great suffer­ing. We often think of the pain Jesus suffered on the cross, but this suffering on the cross was not as great as that which he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that he suffered so intensely that the blood vessels broke beneath his skin and great drops of blood formed and fell to the ground. Jesus described his agony in these words: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:18-19.) It was there in the garden that he committed himself to action and made up his mind to be willing and obedient.

Jesus was crucified, but so were the thieves on either side of him. They suffered on the cross the same bodily pain that Jesus suffered. The difference was that the thieves had no choice in the matter. They had to die. It was different in the case of Jesus. He could have stepped down at any moment, but had he done so, the plan of sal­vation would have been destroyed. It was this thought that caused him so much anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane — the thought that he might not have the courage to go through with it. But, having made up his mind and having committed himself, both heart and mind, his suffering was now made relatively easier.

The Jews, we ought to mention, did not take his life, but he permitted them to take his life. Jesus said: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18.)

As Jesus hung there on the cross, a legion of angels surrounded him to comfort and encourage him. The presence of his Father was also there to give him strength and support. But as the hours wore on and his body be­came weaker and weaker, the angels began to withdraw until they were all gone. Finally, as the end approached and his agony reached a peak, even his Father withdrew his presence and Jesus was left hanging on the cross just as would any other mortal being, with only his faith to sustain him.

What thoughts must have crossed his mind! Had he imagined all these things? Was all this just the idle imaginings of his mind? Why not test it and step down from the cross? No! To do so would destroy everything. It was at this moment of crisis that he cried out in anguish of body and mind: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sa­bachthani? which means, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34.)

We can almost hear the gentle voice of the Father answering: “My son, my son, you must stoop below all things so that no person can ever say they had it harder than you. Now you know personally how difficult it is to live by faith alone. Now you know how mortals feel who must trust in the justice of God without actually seeing for themselves. Now, having experienced this feeling, you can truly be their advocate and plead their cause before me with greater sympathy, com­passion, and full understanding.”

Jesus understood this, and through his faith and courage he completed the work to which he had been called. This suffering was made easier for him because he had already come to a decision back there in the Garden of Gethsemane. Having firmly and conclusively made up his mind, he was able to muster the necessary faith and strength to complete his stewardship and thus become the Savior of the world.

There is another aspect of the atonement that needs to be fully understood. The atonement had to be infinite in na­ture. Jesus Christ had to have that infinite or godly power within himself to be able to take up his body again as the first fruits of the resurrection. He held the keys of this ministry and received them from the Father as he was born into this world. He had the power to lay down his life (to die), which he received from his mortal mother, Mary. He also had the power to live forever, or to take up again that body which he received from his Eternal Father. Jesus was not fathered by Joseph nor by the Holy Ghost, but was the actual begotten child of God the Eternal Father. He was the Only Begotten of God in the flesh. Thus he had the seeds of mortality and the seeds of immortality within his body. Only in this way could he possibly bring about an atonement or a reconciliation of our souls with God, the Father.

Jesus Christ is the only person ever to be horn on this earth who had the power to bring to pass the resurrec­tion from the dead. He was the only person who was able to pass this power on to others. This came about because he was the literal son of God the Eternal Father in the flesh. His Father was an immortal personage, and his mother a mortal woman. This is a fundamental or basic truth of the gospel that makes possible his atonement for the sins of others.

Amulek gave a clear and positive state­ment to this affect: “And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of a beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; hut it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world. Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be a stop to the shedding of blood….” (Alma 34:8-13.)

This infinite sacrifice was the Son of God.

1977 (March): BYU Address / Ensign Article, Jeffrey R. Holland, then LDS Commissioner of Education, now Apostle (probable address based on which he was called as Apostle): Born of God: Alma Son of Alma:

The lessons we learn from his life give us hope for the future and teach the personal reality of Christ’s atonement. There are multitudes of men and women — in and out of the Church — who are struggling vainly against obstacles in their path. Many are fighting the battle of life—and losing. Indeed, there are those among us who consider themselves the vilest of sinners.

We have all known such people. We have all spoken with someone who does not think he has been forgiven—or worse, who does not think he can be forgiven. How many broken hearts remain broken because those people feel they are beyond the pale of God’s restorative power? How many bruised and battered spirits are certain that they have sunk to a depth at which the light of redeeming hope and grace will never again shine?

To these the story of the younger Alma comes like water to a parched tongue, like rest to a weary traveler. From the depths of hellish iniquity, from rebellion and destruction and utter wickedness the younger Alma returned—and therein lies again the “miracle of forgiveness.” It is a miracle. In fact, it is the greatest of all miracles. It is the miracle at the heart of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Surely that is the “good news” of the gospel—that there is a way back, that there is repentance and safety and peace because of Christ’s gift to us. The good news is that the nightmares—large ones, little ones, every fear and concern—can end, and a safe loving light can shine in that “dark place, until the day dawn[s],” clean and clear and gloriously bright, and “the day star arise[s] in your hearts.” (2 Pet. 1:19.) That is the message all the world must hear.

The process of repenting, of course, is not an easy one. The experience of young Alma is a frightening testament of that. Wrongs must be made right, and there is no painless way to accomplish it. But it must be done, and with Alma we can all thank our Heavenly Father that it can be done. However weary or wicked we may feel, the story of the younger Alma is an open invitation to every child of God. It is the promise that, with the psalmist, we too may sing: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. … He restoreth my soul. … Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. … Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Ps. 23:1, 3–4, 6.)

The sons of strong fathers provide many of the messages given in the Book of Mormon: Nephi and Jacob, sons of Lehi, recorded almost all of the material given on the small plates of Nephi. Moroni, son of Mormon, concluded his father’s work and some 1,400 years later delivered it to the young prophet Joseph Smith. Other sons who learned great lessons from their parents provide commentary throughout this sacred scripture.

Perhaps no son, however, captures our imagination like the younger Alma. More pages are devoted to the span of his life and ministry than to any other person in the Book of Mormon, and the book that bears his name is nearly 2 1/2 times longer than any other in the record. He strides with prophetic power onto the great center stage of the Book of Mormon, appearing near the precise chronological midpoint of the record—500 years after Lehi leaves Jerusalem, 500 years before Moroni seals up the record.

The centrality of Alma’s life is not limited simply to chronology or pagination, however. The significance of his life is in the course that it took. The gospel of Christ is literally “the glad tidings … that he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved.” (D&C 76:40–42.)

The life of the younger Alma portrays the gospel’s beauty and reach and power perhaps more than any other in holy scripture. Such dramatic redemption and movement away from wickedness and toward the permanent joy of exaltation may not be outlined with more compelling force anywhere else. In him is symbolized the task of the whole human family, which must, as Paul commands, “leave your former way of life, … lay aside that old human nature which, deluded by its lusts, is sinking towards death. You must be made new in mind and spirit, and put on the new nature. …” (Eph. 4:22–24, New English Bible.)

The first mention of young Alma tells us of a difficult time. (Mosiah 27:8.) We might wish to know more of the causes for such difficulties, but we are told little of his early life. Was he born in the land of Nephi? If so, was it before or after his father’s conversion? Or was he born in Zarahemla, in the presence of third- and fourth-generation Christians? What training did he have? Who influenced him? What were his hopes and fears and aspirations?

We do not have the answers to these questions; but we know something went very, very wrong. Unlike most other father and son relationships noted in the Book of Mormon, the bond between the two Almas is characterized, when we first learn of it, by anguish and opposition. The elder Alma had not been born into church activity (see Arthur Bassett, “Alma the Elder,” Ensign, Feb. 1977), and had it not been for the dramatic message of Abinadi before the court of Noah, perhaps the light of the gospel would never have penetrated the darkness of his world. But that light had come, and Alma the Elder immediately chose to walk by it.

He began to build the church despite the threat of danger to his own life and the lives of those who followed him. With great difficulty he led his little group of followers out of the then-apostate land of Nephi and established them with the faithful body of the church in Zarahemla. (See Mosiah 23–25.) Surely only those who have paid such a price for the gospel can appreciate what deep meaning the Church has in their lives.

Of course, the emotion of that commitment is often intensified when others do not recognize that same meaning or sense the same importance. So it was with the elder Alma. As he now directed the affairs of the church in Zarahemla (see Mosiah 26:8), he found that “there were many of the rising generation that … did not believe the tradition of their fathers. … And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.” (Mosiah 26:1, 3–4.)

This group brought great difficulty and deep heartache to the elder Alma, and he was “troubled in his spirit.” (Mosiah 26:10.) He labored faithfully, however, inviting such young people to repent as he himself had done. Some did number themselves among the people of God. Others, however, “would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity” (Mosiah 26:36), and the names of these were stricken from the records of the church. An ecclesiastical problem became a personal tragedy when the elder Alma found that his own son, “called Alma, after his father,” was numbered among these unbelievers. (Mosiah 27:8.)

Perhaps no anguish of the human spirit matches the anguish of a mother or father who fears for the soul of a child. Through this travail the elder Alma, and undoubtedly his beloved wife, waded—and waited. We do not know how sinful the young Alma really was, but the scripture records he was “a very wicked and an idolatrous man” (Mosiah 27:8), who, with the sons of Mosiah, was “the very vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4). We know he conscientiously worked at destroying the church of God, “stealing away the hearts of the people” and causing dissension among them. (Mosiah 27:9.) He was in every way “a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God.” (Mosiah 27:9.) Years later, the younger Alma recounted these events in order to save his own sons from walking such a painful path: “I had rebelled against my God, and … had not kept his holy commandments. Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, … so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence Of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.” (Alma 36:13–14.)

Yet Alma returned from such terrible sin and its consequences to become a noble example of faith, service, and righteousness. How did he do it? Can we do it? What can we learn?

We learn that there is majestic; undeniable power in the love and prayer of a parent. The angel who appeared to Alma and the sons of Mosiah did not come in response to any righteousness on their part, though their souls were still precious in the sight of God. He came in response to the prayers of a faithful parent. “The Lord hath heard the prayers … of his servant, Alma, who is thy father,” declared the angel with a voice of thunder that shook the earth, “for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.” (Mosiah 27:14.) Parental prayer is an unfathomable source of power. Parents can never give up hoping or caring or believing. Surely they can never give up praying. At times prayer may be the only course of action remaining—but it is the most powerful of them all.

We learn that there is great power in the united faith of the priesthood. It is not only the elder Alma who prays when his son is laid helpless and insensible before him, but also the priests and, we might assume, other faithful friends and neighbors. With the support of more private prayers, the priesthood assembled and “began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.” (Mosiah 27:22.) Here is a majestic example of Christlike love. No one in this group seems delighted that devastating recompense has finally come. No one here seems pleased to imagine the torment of this young spirit. Yet this is the young man who has despised their faith, harmed their lives, attempted to destroy the very church of God which they hold dearer than life itself. But their response is the response of the Master: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44; italics added.) These saints are wise enough to know that they and every other human soul are wholly dependent on the merciful gift of God’s forgiveness, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23.) What we all need we cannot in good conscience or integrity deny another. So they prayed for him who had despitefully used them.

We learn that repentance is a very painful process. By his own admission Alma says he wandered “through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death,” that he was consumed with an “everlasting burning.” (Mosiah 27:28.) “I was in the darkest abyss,” he says. “My soul was racked with eternal torment.” (Mosiah 27:29.) “My soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. … I was tormented with the pains of hell. … The very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.” (Alma 36:12–14.) Then this most appalling cry: “Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.” (Alma 36:15.) For three seemingly endless days and nights he was torn “with the pains of a damned soul” (Alma 36:16), pain so real that he was physically incapacitated and spiritually terrorized by what appeared to be his ultimate fate. No one should think that the gift of forgiveness is fully realized without significant effort on the part of the forgiven. No one should be foolish enough to sin willingly or wantonly, thinking forgiveness is easily available. Repentance of necessity involves suffering and sorrow. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not read the life of the young Alma, nor tried to personally repent. In the process of repentance we are granted just a taste of the suffering we would endure if we failed to turn away from evil. That pain, though only momentary for the repentant, is the most bitter of cups. No man or woman should be foolish enough to think it can be sipped, even briefly, without consequence.

Remember the words of the Son of God himself of those who don’t repent: “Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. … Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” (D&C 19:15, 18.)

We learn that when repentance is complete we are born again and leave behind forever the self we once were. To me, none of the many approaches to teaching repentance falls more short than the well-intentioned suggestion that “although a nail may be removed from a wooden post, there will forever be a hole in that post.” We know that repentance (the removal of that nail, if you will) can be a very long and painful and difficult task. Unfortunately, some will never have the incentive to undertake it. We even know that there are a very few sins for which no repentance is possible.

But where repentance is possible and its requirements are faithfully pursued and completed, there is no “hole left in the post” for the bold reason that it is no longer the same post. It is a new post. We can start again, utterly clean, with a new will and a new way of life. Through repentance we are changed to what Alma calls “new creatures.” (Mosiah 27:26.) We are “born again; yea, born of God, changed from [our] carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.” (Mosiah 27:25; see also Mosiah 5:1–12.) Repentance and baptism allow Christ to purify our lives in the blood of the Lamb and we are clean again. What we were, we never have to be again, for God in his mercy has promised that “he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.)

We learn that the teachings and testimonies of parents and other good people have an inevitable, inexorable effect. Those lessons are not lost on even the most wayward soul. Somewhere, somehow, they get recorded in the soul and may be called upon in a great moment of need. It was in such a moment that the young Alma “remembered also to have heard my father prophesy.” (Alma 36:17.) That prophecy may have been uttered in a day when Alma was taunting his father, or jeering at those who believed, or willfully denying the reality of revelation. It may have come at a time when his father assumed Alma did not care or hear or understand. Or it may have come so early in life that his father might think he had forgotten. We do not know when the lesson was taught. But somewhere, sometime, one or more or a dozen of those teachings had been heard and had been implanted somewhere in his heart. Now it was being called forth for the very protection it had intended to give.

Like Enos, who was haunted by “the words which I had often heard my father speak” (Enos 1:3), Alma also remembered—and believed. Parents, friends, teachers—none must ever stop teaching and testifying. There will always be great power—even latent, delayed, residual power—in the words of God we utter. We learn above all else that Christ is the power behind all repentance. We have noted above that Alma had been touched by the teaching of his father, but it is particularly important that the prophecy he remembered was one regarding “the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” (Alma 36:17.) That is the name and that is the message that every man must hear. Alma heard it, and he cried out from the anguish of a hell that kept burning and a conscience that wouldn’t heal, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.” (Alma 36:18.) Perhaps such a prayer, though brief, is the most significant one that can be uttered in this world. Whatever other prayers we offer, whatever other needs we have, all somehow depends on that plea: “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.” He is prepared to provide that mercy. He paid with his very life in order to give it. The least we can do is ask for it and be worthy of it and love it and appreciate the magnitude of its meaning. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12.)

If Alma’s may be the central human story in the Book of Mormon, surely Christ’s is the central name to the story within the story. It is in exactly this way that the Book of Mormon testifies that Jesus is the Christ—not only in terms of theology and doctrine and precept, which are important, but also in the very power of his name, the reality of his life, and the reach of his priesthood, which are even more important. We learn, then, that through repentance the earlier sorrow and darkness are transformed into joy and light. Calling out to Christ for salvation from the gall of bitterness and the everlasting chains of death, Alma found his pain being lifted. Replacing it were peace and new possibilities. “And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! … There can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:20–21.)

With that wonderful transformation comes another intriguing, even more revealing, change. This young man who was so tormented and horrified at the thought of coming back into the presence of God—who literally wished to be annihilated so he would not have to face the great Judge of the quick and the dead—now has opened to him a vision of God sitting upon his throne, and with his newly cleansed soul he cries, “My soul did long to be there.” (Alma 36:22.) Not only does our spiritual record change and our physical life become clean, but also our very desires are purified and made whole. Our will quite literally changes to receive His will. We may have avoided Church attendance, the sacrament, the bishop, our parents, our worthy companions—avoided anyone we had sinned against, including God himself—but now that repentant heart longs to be with them. That is part of the joy and light of the atonement—the “at-one-ment”—which not only binds us back to God but also brings us back to a special unity with our best natural self and our most beloved human associates.

We learn last of all that the ultimate proof of our repentance is in its permanence. (See D&C 58:43.) Its blessings should be in our memories constantly, compelling us to continue in the cause of truth and to lend our best efforts to the work of God. Alma’s testimony is that from the very hour of his conversion “until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. … Because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God. And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me. And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever.” (Alma 36:24, 26–28.)

And so he lived. From the depths of sin Alma repented and became a prophetic model of virtue and valor, becoming one of the greatest missionaries of any dispensation of the world. There is so much that should be said of him: his political role, his high priestly power, his missionary trials, his concern for his own sons. He saw people repent at great social and political cost. Some paid with their very lives. He met others, even anti-Christs, who would not repent, and he testified boldly against them. He saw faith as a seed that will grow if we nourish it and he wished he were an angel that all could hear his word. He taught deep doctrines, he lived by sublime personal values, and he rejoiced in his own missionary success and the success of his brethren.

But these all came after—and finally only because of—his willingness to undergo what one twentieth-century writer has called “the ordeal of change”—movement from night to day, from pain to peace, from sin to the joy of salvation—that monumental process of the soul called repentance. “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me” is the cry that changed Alma’s world forever. Then one day he was taken home. He left to join his brethren, men like Adam, Abraham, Nephi, and Jacob. But surely he went first to seek the companionship of his Savior, who had made it all possible and so perfect. After a long and beautiful life of service, the great desire of his soul was finally granted to him: he “did long to be there” with his Master. Perhaps no personal journey gives more encouragement to you or me that peace and joy are possible, that it can — and must — be so.

1977 (April): Conference Address / Ensign Article, Elder Boyd K. Packer, Apostle: The Mediator:

What I shall say I could say much better if we were alone, just the two of us. It would be easier also if we had come to know one another, and had that kind of trust which makes it possible to talk of serious, even sacred things. If we were that close, because of the nature of what I shall say, I would study you carefully as I spoke. If there should be the slightest disinterest or distraction, the subject would quickly be changed to more ordinary things. I have not, to my knowledge, in my ministry said anything more important. I intend to talk about the Lord, Jesus Christ, about what He really did—and why it matters now. One may ask, “Aside from the influence He has had on society, what effect can He have on me individually?”

To answer that question I ask, have you ever been hard-pressed financially? Have you ever been confronted with an unexpected expense, a mortgage coming due, with really no idea how to pay it? Such an experience, however unpleasant, can be, in the eternal scheme of things, very, very useful. If you miss that lesson you may have to make it up before you are spiritually mature, like a course that was missed or a test that was failed. That may be what the Lord had in mind when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24.) Those who have faced a foreclosure know that one looks helplessly around, hoping for someone, anyone, to come to the rescue. This lesson is so valuable because there is a spiritual account, with a balance kept and a settlement due, that no one of us will escape. To understand this spiritual debt we must speak of such intangibles as love, faith, mercy, justice.

Although these virtues are both silent and invisible, surely I do not need to persuade you that they are real. We learn of them by processes that are often silent and invisible as well. We become so accustomed to learning through our physical senses—by sight and sound and smell, by taste and touch—that some of us seem to learn in no other way. But there are spiritual things that are not registered that way at all. Some things we simply feel, not as we feel something we touch, but as we feel something we feel. There are things, spiritual things, that are registered in our minds and recorded in our memories as pure knowledge. A knowledge of “things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass.” (D&C 88:79; see also D&C 93:24, and Jacob 4:13.) As surely as we know about material things, we can come to know of spiritual things. Each of us, without exception, one day will settle that spiritual account. We will, that day, face a judgment for our doings in mortal life and face a foreclosure of sorts. One thing I know: we will be justly dealt with. Justice, the eternal law of justice, will be the measure against which we settle this account. Justice is usually pictured holding a set of scales and blindfolded against the possibility that she may be partial or become sympathetic. There is no sympathy in justice alone—only justice! Our lives will be weighed on the scales of justice. The Prophet Alma declared: “Justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22.) I commend to you the reading of the 42nd chapter of Alma. It reveals the place of justice and should confirm that the poet spoke the truth when he said, “In the course of justice [only,] none of us should see salvation.” (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, IV. i. 199–200.)

Let me tell you a story—a parable.

There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt. He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later. So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didn’t worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important. The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come. But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full. Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well. “I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so,” he confessed. “Then,” said the creditor, “we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced.” “Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt?” the debtor begged. “Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy?” The creditor replied, “Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice?” “I believed in justice when I signed the contract,” the debtor said. “It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well.” “It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty,” the creditor replied. “That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice.” There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other. “If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy,” the debtor pleaded. “If I do, there will be no justice,” was the reply. Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also? There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended — but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time. The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer. “I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.” As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, “You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just.” And so the creditor agreed. The mediator turned then to the debtor. “If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?” “Oh yes, yes,” cried the debtor. “You save me from prison and show mercy to me.” “Then,” said the benefactor, “you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.” And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken. The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied.

Each of us lives on a kind of spiritual credit. One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded. However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent, we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us. And, by eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption. Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing. But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5.) Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice. This truth is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. The extension of mercy will not be automatic. It will be through covenant with Him. It will be on His terms, His generous terms, which include, as an absolute essential, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. All mankind can be protected by the law of justice, and at once each of us individually may be extended the redeeming and healing blessing of mercy. A knowledge of what I am talking about is of a very practical value. It is very useful and very helpful personally; it opens the way for each of us to keep his spiritual accounts paid up. You, perhaps, are among those troubled people. When you come face to face with yourself in those moments of quiet contemplation—that many of us try to avoid—are there some unsettled things that bother you? Do you have something on your conscience? Are you still, to one degree or another, guilty of anything small or large? We often try to solve guilt problems by telling one another that they don’t matter. But somehow, deep inside, we don’t believe one another. Nor do we believe ourselves if we say it. We know better. They do matter! Our transgressions are all added to our account, and one day if it is not properly settled, each of us, like Belshazzar of Babylon, will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent, for “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” (2 Ne. 2:7.) Already He has accomplished the redemption of all mankind from mortal death; resurrection is extended to all without condition. He also makes possible redemption from the second death, which is the spiritual death, which is separation from the presence of our Heavenly Father. This redemption can come only to those who are clean, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. If justice decrees that we are not eligible because of our transgression, mercy provides a probation, a penitence, a preparation to enter in. I have carried with me a great desire to bear testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I have yearned to tell you in as simple terms as I can, what He did, and who He is. Although I know how poor mere words can be, I know also that such feelings are often carried by the spirit, even without words. At times I struggle under the burden of imperfections. Nevertheless, because I know that He lives, there is a supreme recurring happiness and joy. There is one place where I am particularly vulnerable—when I know that I have abused someone, or caused them hurt, or offended them. It is then I know what agony is. How sweet it is, on those occasions, to be reassured that He lives, and to have my witness reaffirmed. I want, with fervent desire, to show you how our burdens of disappointment, sin, and guilt can be laid before Him, and on His generous terms have each item on the account marked, “Paid in Full.” I claim with my brethren of the Twelve to be a special witness of Him. My witness, and theirs, is true. I love the Lord, and I love the Father who sent Him. Eliza R. Snow, with deep spiritual inspiration, wrote these words, with which I close. How great the wisdom and the love; That filled the courts on high; And sent the Savior from above; To suffer, bleed, and die! His precious blood He freely spilt; His life He freely gave, A sinless sacrifice for guilt, A dying world to save. How great, how glorious, how complete, Redemption’s grand design, Where justice, love, and mercy meet; In harmony divine! (Hymns, no. 68.) In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1978 (October): Conference Address, President Spencer W. Kimball: An Eternal Hope in Christ:

My dear brothers and sisters, we came together to wait upon the Lord, to be cleansed and edified by his Spirit, and to know in our hearts the spirit of true worship.

Let us conclude in a tone of testimony and in the spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving to him whose we are, who has given us all that we have, and in whose work we are engaged.

Our beloved brother Paul, after acclaiming “that Christ died for our sins … And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” then said: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:3–4, 19).

Then he taught and testified that even as Christ is risen from the dead, so will all men come forth from the grave; each will then be judged according to his works, and each will receive his appointed place in the mansions which are prepared.

In that resurrected state, Paul said, there are “celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, and bodies telestial; but the glory of the celestial, one; and the terrestrial, another; and the telestial, another” (JST, 1 Cor. 15:40).

Now this system of revealed religion which has come to us by revelation is a very practical religion. It deals with flocks and herds and properties; it teaches us how to get along with each other here and now; it is a way of life that turns a dreary and drab mortal existence into a glorious and exhilarating experience.

But it is much more than this. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the eternal plan of salvation. It is the plan devised and announced by God, the Eternal Father, for the salvation of all who will believe and obey.

We are eternal beings. We have no way of comprehending how long we dwelt in the presence of God as his spirit children. We are here in mortality for a moment of testing and trial. Then we will come forth in the resurrection, receive an inheritance in whatever kingdom we deserve, and go on living the commandments to all eternity.

This life consists of a brief yesterday, a few short hours of today, and a few moments tomorrow. The oldest men among us scarcely live longer than a hundred years. But the life that is to be is forever. It will have no end. Men will rise from the grave and not die after. Life is eternal, unending; never after the resurrection will the children of our Father taste death.

We have a hope in Christ here and now. He died for our sins. Because of him and his gospel, our sins are washed away in the waters of baptism; sin and iniquity are burned out of our souls as though by fire; and we become clean, have clear consciences, and gain that peace which passeth understanding. (See Philip. 4:7.)

By living the laws of his gospel, we gain temporal prosperity and maintain health of body and strength of mind. The gospel blesses us today.

But today is just a grain of sand in the Sahara of eternity. We have also a hope in Christ for the eternity that lies ahead; otherwise, as Paul said, we would be “of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

How great would be our sorrow—and justly so—if there were no resurrection! How miserable we would be if there were no hope of life eternal! If our hope of salvation and eternal reward should fade away, we would certainly be more miserable than those who never had such an expectancy.

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Now the effects of his resurrection shall pass upon all men, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Now “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Now provision has been made whereby “this corruptible shall … put on incorruption, and this mortal shall … put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).

Then shall all men stand before the bar of the great Jehovah to be judged according to the deeds done in the flesh.

Those who have lived after the manner of the world shall go to a telestial kingdom whose glory is as the stars.

Those who have been decent and upright and who have lived respectable and good lives will go to a terrestrial kingdom whose glory is as the moon.

Those who have believed in Christ, who have forsaken the world, who have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide and been willing to lay their all on the altar, those who have kept the commandments of God—they shall go to a celestial kingdom whose glory is as the sun.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Paul asks. There is no victory in the grave, for death is replaced with life. Immortality is a free gift for all men through the atoning ransom paid by the Son of God. But, Paul says, “The sting of death is sin,” meaning that if men die in their sins, they will suffer the prescribed penalty and gain a lesser glory in the realms ahead. “But thanks be to God,” the ancient apostle continues, “which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

If we are true and faithful, we shall rise, not alone in immortality but unto eternal life. Immortality is to live forever in an assigned kingdom. Eternal life is to gain exaltation in the highest heaven and live in the family unit.

And so Paul exhorts the Saints:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 15:58; 1 Cor. 16:13.)

We have an eternal hope in Christ. We know this life is given us to prepare for eternity, “and that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).

We believe, and it is our testimony, and we proclaim it to the world “that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).

We know, and it is our testimony, and we also proclaim it to the world that to be saved men must “believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).

Thus, with Nephi, “we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Ne. 25:23, 26; italics added.)

Also, with Nephi, we know the course all men must pursue to gain an eternal hope.

“The right way,” he said, “is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Ne. 25:29).

We glory with Paul in these words spoken of our beloved Lord: in him “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” (Col. 1:14–19.)

And again with Paul we say:

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philip. 2:9–12.)

Now, relive with me this beautiful testimony of Peter:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:13–18.)

To the testimonies of these mighty men and apostles of old—our brethren in the ministry of the same Master—I add my own testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

He is my friend, my Savior, my Lord, my God.

With all my heart I pray that the Saints may keep his commandments, have his Spirit, and gain an eternal inheritance with him in celestial glory.

My beloved brethren and sisters, as we come to the final moments of these glorious two days together, my heart goes out to you in love and gratitude. Everywhere I go, there is a great outpouring of love and kindness, and for that I am humbly thankful. It is manna to my soul. Your prayers and your love sustain me. The Lord hears your prayers and blesses me and my Brethren with health and strength and directs us in the affairs of his kingdom here upon the earth. For this all of us are deeply grateful.

In return, I extend to you my love and grateful thanks. As you return to your wards and stakes, your missions, and to your individual homes around the world, I pray our Heavenly Father to bless you and your families. Let the messages and spirit of this conference radiate and find expression in all that you do henceforth—in your homes, in your work, in your meetings, and in all your comings and goings. Let us be better Latter-day Saints now than we have ever been before. I pray the Lord to bless you; and as his servant, I bless you and bid you a fond farewell.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1978 (October): Conference Address, Elder Howard W. Hunter, Apostle: True Religion:

The word religion has no one generally accepted definition. Sometimes it is used in reference to worship, whether it be public or private, and sometimes to distinguish between things sacred and those that are profane or worldly. Belief in the immortality of the soul is a concept that is looked upon by some as religious, and one of the most common uses of the term is the belief in deity or deities—a worship of God. The word religion is often associated with the pursuit of what is commonly called salvation, and sometimes with revelation from a divine source. Not long after the organization of the Church, Joseph Smith published answers to a long list of questions that had been asked of him. One of the questions was this: “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” To that question, Joseph Smith replied: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (History of the Church, 3:30.)

1979: Book, Dr. David H. Yarn, Jr., BYU Philosophy Dept.: The Gospel: God, Man, and Truth: God’s Knowledge, Character, and Other Attributes:

The Prophet Joseph Smith in describing the Father’s knowledge and character said: “God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift and every good principle dwell; and that he is the Father of lights; in him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation.” (Lectures on Faith [Salt Lake City: N. B. Lundwall, compiler and publisher, no date] Lecture 2, para. 2.) . . . Without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him. (Lec. 4, para. 11.) After enumerating and briefly discussing some of God’s attributes, the Prophet summarized in these words: Let the mind once reflect sincerely and candidly upon the ideas of the existence of the before-mentioned attributes in the Deity, and it will be seen that, as far as his attributes are concerned, there is a sure foundation laid for the exercise of faith in him for life and salvation. For inasmuch as God possesses the attribute knowledge, he can make all things known to his saints necessary for their salvation; and as he possesses the attribute power, he is able thereby to deliver them from the power of all enemies; and seeing, also, that justice is an attribute of the Deity, he will deal with them upon the principles of righteousness and equity, and a just reward will be granted unto them for all their afflictions and sufferings for the truth’s sake. And as judgment is an attribute of the Deity also, his saints can have the most unshaken confidence that they will, in due time, obtain a perfect deliverance out of the hands of their enemies, and a complete victory over all those who have sought their hurt and destruction. And as mercy is also an attribute of the Deity, his saints can have confidence that it will be exercised towards them, and through the exercise of that attribute towards them comfort and consolation will be administered unto them abundantly, amid all their afflictions and tribulations. And, lastly, realizing that truth is an attribute of the Deity, the mind is led to rejoice amid all its trials and temptations, in hope of that glory which is to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and in view of that crown which is to be placed upon the heads of the saints in the day when the Lord shall distribute rewards unto them, and in prospect of that eternal weight of glory which the Lord has promised to bestow upon them, when he shall bring them in the midst of his throne to dwell in his presence eternally. (Lec. 4, para. 17.) Inasmuch as these are some of the attributes of your Father, to what extent are you developing these attributes in yourself? Do you really want to become as he is?

1979: Book, Dr. David H. Yarn, Jr., BYU Philosophy Dept.: The Gospel: God, Man, and Truth: What It Means to be Born Again:

That the spiritual rebirth involves more than the mere acceptance of an ordinance (laying on of hands) and requires a change in the man is evident from the words of Alma. In one place he says (note that he was addressing his remarks to the “brethren of the church”) : “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Speaking of the judgment when men will have been raised from their graves, he adds: “I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5 :14, 19.) The necessity of this change is stated emphatically by Alma as follows: And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27 :25-26.) Alma’s language seems to be plain enough that his meaning cannot be mistaken. He is speaking of a real change in which men become “new creatures.” In another passage, again addressing himself to the members of the Church, he says: And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again. (Alma 5 :49.) This suggests that there were members of the Church who were aged, and middle-aged, as well as those of the rising generation who still had not been born of the Spirit.

1980: BYU Devotional, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Presidency of the Seventy, later Apostle: True Believers in Christ:

Becoming a true believer, however, means trusting not only in the Lord’s plan for all of mankind but especially trusting in His unfolding and particularized plan for each of us. This means much more than merely acknowledging that God is in charge. Alma’s warning that living without God in the world is “contrary to the nature of happiness” was not just for agnostics but also for passive believers. Putting first things first is vital, as these eloquent words of Malcolm Muggeridge attest: “When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised, ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, exploring and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called “licking the earth.” They are diversions designed to distract in this world, which is, quite simply, to look for God, and, in looking, to find Him, and, having found Him, to love Him, thereby establishing a harmonious relationship with His purposes for His creation.”

1981: Conference Address, President Marion G. Romney, First Presidency: Except a Man be Born Again:

By receiving the Savior’s message and accepting him for what he was and is, the Apostles obtained eternal life. This knowledge of “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3) is the most important knowledge in the universe; it is the knowledge without which the Prophet Joseph Smith said no man could be saved. The lack of it is the ignorance referred to in the revelation wherein it is written: “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131:6.) We should keep in mind that there is more than one source of knowledge. There is the knowledge obtainable through man’s normal sensory organs. Such knowledge should be sought after. The Lord has commanded us to get all such knowledge we can in this manner. There is also knowledge of divine things which comes through direct revelation—religious knowledge, it is sometimes called. And there are two aspects to religious knowledge. One of them concerns the great store of religious knowledge which we have in the scriptures. Ever since the beginning, from Father Adam’s time until now, the Lord has given through his prophets, by revelation, religious knowledge. Such knowledge concerns the verities of life. It deals with God and his Beloved Son, the great gospel plan, and the mission of Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. The other aspect to religious knowledge is the personal witness available through inspiration, a form of revelation that comes to each individual.

1981: Ensign Article, Dr. Gerald N Lund, Church Education System, now Second Quorum of Seventy: Salvation: By Grace or by Works?:

In summary then, there is no need to go to extraordinary lengths to apologize for Paul, or try to explain away his statements on salvation by grace. We are saved by grace—saved by Christ’s love from physical and spiritual death; saved by Christ’s love from Adam’s fall and our own; saved from sin and transgression by the grace or gifts of God. The atoning power of God unto salvation is a freely available gift from him—but our works of righteousness are essential to bring the gift into power in our lives. Sin brings alienation from God. The more we sin, the greater the alienation and the more difficult it becomes to effectively tap the power of God, which alone is sufficient to save us from our sins. President Joseph Fielding Smith has summarized the relationship between grace and works as follows: “So Paul taught these people—who thought that they could be saved by some power that was within them, or by observing the law of Moses—he pointed out to them the fact that if it were not for the mission of Jesus Christ, if it were not for this great atoning sacrifice, they could not be redeemed. And therefore it was by the grace of God that they are saved, not by any work on their part, for they were absolutely helpless. Paul was absolutely right. And on the other hand, James taught just as the Lord taught, just as Paul had taught in other scripture, that it is our duty, of necessity, to labor, to strive in diligence, and faith, keeping the commandments of the Lord, if we would obtain that inheritance which is promised to the faithful. … So it is easy to understand that we must accept the mission of Jesus Christ. We must believe that it is through his grace that we are saved, that he performed for us that labor which we were unable to perform for ourselves, and did for us those things which were essential to our salvation, which were beyond our power; and also that we are under the commandment and the necessity of performing the labors that are required of us as set forth in the commandments known as the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 2:310–11.) Thus, we can with Paul fervently exclaim that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We should continue to stress the importance of obedience, of repentance, of faith, and strive with all our hearts to demonstrate good works in our lives. But we should never lose sight of the great overriding fact of the grace of God and the wholly central part it plays in our atonement and salvation. Moroni, in the closing words of the Book of Mormon, teaches the relationship between the grace of Christ and the need for our righteous efforts. Note how he keeps distinctly clear what it is that perfects us, and yet what must happen in our lives to bring that about. “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.” (Moro. 10:32–33.)

1981: Conference Address, Elder Marion D. Hanks of First Council of Seventy: My Specialty is Mercy:

One cannot live long with the scriptures without recognizing that God our Father and his holy Son have specialties also. The specialty of the Father is mercy. He waits to be gracious! He loves to be merciful! The prophets call him the Father of mercies. They speak of his abundant mercy, and declare that whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy They declare his wisdom … mercy, and grace. And crowning all of this is the testimony that our Father delighteth in mercy. The specialty of the Savior is mercy. And he requires that we be specialists in mercy. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

1981: Conference Address, Elder Hartman Rector, Jr, of First Council of Seventy: Our Witness to the World:

We are Christians. We want the whole world to know that we are. Sometimes we are accused of not being Christians, but such is not the case. In the words of the great prophet Nephi, we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. We look to Christ as the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is our Redeemer … We are not Protestants, because we are not protesting against any person or group or organization. We have no quarrel with other churches. We do not write tracts nor propaganda against other churches, and we never will, because we are not in the business of tearing down men’s faith and belief, but rather of building it up. To our Protestant friends, and we have many, who believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone, we say, We understand your emphasis on faith. We believe it too. Without faith it is impossible to please God, but there is more to it than just faith. There are certain ordinances you must receive, and certain authority that you must possess, and there are certain works that you must perform, so come, let us reason together. Let us share with you the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ … To our Catholic friends who believe in salvation by grace through the sacraments of the church, we say, We understand your emphasis on the sacraments or the ordinances of the church. We believe it too. Did not the Master say, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God? Baptism by one who holds authority to act is essential to salvation. But there is more to salvation than just the ordinances of the gospel. There are certain acts of faith that you must manifest. There are certain works you must perform, and certain authority that you must possess that gives you the right to act in the name of the Lord, which can come only through a living prophet. So come—let us share with you the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We won’t take anything from you that you have that’s true; we will just add to what you have, and we will do it in love, with no compulsion, no force; only love and sacrifice can bring people to a knowledge of the truth.

1982: Conference Address, Elder Robert E. Wells, First Council of Seventy: Be a Friend, a Servant, a Son of the Savior:

This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are Christians. We know additional details about the Savior’s role in the premortal existence before we came here: we have new information about His part in the creation of the world under the direction of our Father; we can identify Him as Jehovah of the Old Testament, communicating with the prophets of Israel. We have the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ, which has great illuminating doctrines and information about the Savior. Our modern prophets have given revealed explanations, doctrines, light, and knowledge on the Christ as the Redeemer to whom we look for the remission of our sins. We have a wealth of information of tremendous value to all Christian churches. We do not diminish or tear down the faith others have in Christ, but seek only to share with them our additional knowledge of the Lamb, the Shepherd, the Holy One of Israel)—for their benefit and salvation … I believe it to be the responsibility of every member of the Church to so live and teach and preach that there will never be any doubt on the part of our friends, associates, and casual acquaintances as to our being Christians, having the desire to receive redemption through Him; to be the kind of person that is a friend of the Savior, a servant of the Savior, and a son or a daughter of the Savior.

1982: BYU Devotional / Ensign Article, Elder Theodore M. Burton, Assistant to the Twelve: To Be Born Again:

Even if all the ordinances were carried out properly and with authority, we still could not be saved. The grace of Jesus Christ is also necessary. Mankind cannot be saved solely by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Only those ordinances coupled with the atonement of Jesus Christ and conditioned upon obedience to gospel truths can bring us back into the presence of God the Eternal Father. Thus, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, together with the proper ordinances performed in the proper manner by proper authority and coupled with obedience to the laws and commandments of God, we can be saved from spiritual death and can be exalted to live in the presence of God the Eternal Father. That is why all three of these concepts—atonement, ordinances, and obedience—are mentioned in the third article of faith, which we accept as truth.

1983: BYU Devotional, Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, First Council of Seventy: The Atonement and our part in it: [This is Elder Tuttle’s address giving concepts handed on to Elder Henry P. Eyring]

On one occasion President Joseph Fielding Smith was my teacher for two weeks on board ship traveling to South America. He was reading this very verse to me. Instead of stopping, however, with the word repent, he added, “if they would have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, etc., etc.” “President,” I asked, “where are you reading? My scripture does not say that.” He got that twinkle in those beautiful blue eyes and with a smile on his face said, “That is what it means; it is supposed to say that.” I now have a corrected version! What is the gospel of repentance? Surely it is not just repentance, is it? Can you see what is beginning to develop? What is the plan of mercy? Be thinking of another name for the plan of mercy as we continue. But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit. [D&C 19:17–18]Most of you know already that it was in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Lord suffered so greatly and brought about the atonement. Later He was taken to Caiaphas, to the San-hedrin, to Pilate. During most of the night He was scourged, tortured, beaten; was sentenced and then taken and hung on the cross to die that excruciating death. Other men had been crucified, but they had not atoned for man’s sins. Do you see the difference? He did more than any man has ever done, or all men together. He suffered the pains of all men that He might bring about the atonement. And would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink– Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. [D&C 19:18–19] Now, in summary, let us read from 3 Nephi. Here we have a record of the Savior’s visit to this hemisphere. The Savior was instructing His disciples and all the righteous people. He talked about the atonement, and he defined the gospel.Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you–that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil– And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. [3 Nephi 27:13–16] He emphasized the theme again: And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. [3 Nephi 27:19] The Savior paid for our sins through His atonement. We do not need to suffer on condition of our repentance. Question: What do we owe Him? Can you see that we owe Him everything–love, service, obedience? Do you see why we do a lot of the things that we do? We are commanded to do certain things. We are invited to do many things of our own free will and choice. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel. [3 Nephi 27:20–21] Let me ask you that question again. What is another name for the plan of mercy? The plan of mercy is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is that not what we have been talking about all evening?

1983: BYU Devotional, Dr David H. Yarn, Jr., Who Then Can Be Saved?:

As I reflect upon the mortal life, teachings, and works of the Lord Jesus Christ in ancient Palestine, it seems appropriate and not inaccurate to describe them with two familiar terms, ministry and mission. I think of the word ministry as applicable to the great parables; sermons; sometimes seemingly incidental teachings that arose out of various events, situations, or circumstances; and the wonderful manifestations of his compassion when he healed the sick, caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, when he cast out evil spirits, and raised the dead, when he changed the water into wine, fed the multitudes with a few loaves and a few fish, and on and on, including his cursing of the barren fig tree, demonstrating that he had the power to destroy as well as the power to heal and bless. As marvelous as were all of those things, both the teachings and the works or miracles, through his power similar teachings and works or miracles have been performed by his prophets and apostles or others among his authorized servants, both before he was born and since his ascension into heaven. However, I think of the word mission as applicable to the atoning sacrifice, described by the prophets as “infinite and eternal.” His ministry was much greater, but not altogether dissimilar from those of his authorized representatives. However, his mission was altogether unique. Although prophets and/or apostles, both before and after his coming into the world anciently, suffered torturous forms of persecution and even death, they had no power through their suffering and death to redeem even one soul from sin and the grave, not even their own. “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). The Lord Jesus Christ declared: I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine . . . . I lay down my life for the sheep . . . . No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. [John 10:14­15, 18] His unique mission from before the foundations of this earth were laid was to come into the world and freely give his life, no man having the power to take it from him; to die and be raised again, that all mankind would be raised from their graves and can be forgiven of their sins upon the merciful conditions established by Heavenly Father and his Holy Son, the Only Begotten, and our Redeemer, even Jesus Christ.

1984: BYU Devotional, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Apostle: What Think Ye of Salvation by Grace?

We cannot resurrect ourselves anymore than we can create ourselves. We cannot create a heavenly abode for the Saints, nor make provision for the continuation of the family unit in eternity, nor bring salvation and exaltation into being. All these things are ordained and established by that God who is the Father of us all. And they all came into being and are made available to us, as free gifts, without works, because of the infinite goodness and grace of Him whose children we are. Truly, there is no way to overstate the goodness and grandeurs and glories of the grace of God which bringeth salvation. Such wondrous love, such unending mercy, such infinite compassion and condescension–all these can come only from the Eternal God who lives in eternal life and who desires all of his children to live as he lives and be inheritors of eternal life.

1984: Elder Russell M. Nelson, Apostle: Call to the Holy Apostleship:

Now, I understand fully that the call to the Holy Apostleship is one of witness to the world of the divinity of the Lord Jesus the Christ. I know that salvation is centered in Him! Said the angel to King Benjamin: “Salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:18.) The Prophet Joseph Smith was asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” He answered: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” The creation of the earth and all that dwell therein, the necessary fall that enabled man to be, and the atonement of the Lord are three fundamental components of God’s eternal plan. Without that atoning sacrifice, there would be neither immortality nor eternal life. His message is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; and it is administered by the Church that bears His name. He directs the affairs of His church by the power of the priesthood and by revelation through prophets who proclaim His doctrine to all people of the world.

1985: Conference Address / Ensign article, President Ezra Taft Benson, First Presidency: Born of God:

When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. Can human hearts be changed? Why, of course! It happens every day in the great missionary work of the Church. It is one of the most widespread of Christ’s modern miracles. If it hasn’t happened to yo u—it should. Besides the physical ordinance of baptism and the laying on of hands, one must be spiritually born again to gain exaltation and eternal life. Alma states: “And the Lord said unto me; Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” The “change of heart” and “born again” processes are best described in the keystone of our religion, the Book of Mormon. Those who had been born of God after hearing King Benjamin’s address had a mighty change in their hearts. They had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”

1985 (April): Conference Address, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Apostle (Last Address): The Purifying Power of Gethsemane:

I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. Through it are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Through it, all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. And through it, all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory. In speaking of these wondrous things I shall use my own words, though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets. True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word. Two thousand years ago, outside Jerusalem’s walls, there was a pleasant garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and his intimate friends were wont to retire for pondering and prayer. There Jesus taught his disciples the doctrines of the kingdom, and all of them communed with Him who is the Father of us all, in whose ministry they were engaged, and on whose errand they served. This sacred spot, like Eden where Adam dwelt, like Sinai from whence Jehovah gave his laws, like Calvary where the Son of God gave his life a ransom for many, this holy ground is where the Sinless Son of the Everlasting Father took upon himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance. We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be. As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours. After this—his body then wrenched and drained of strength—he confronted Judas and the other incarnate devils, some from the very Sanhedrin itself; and he was led away with a rope around his neck, as a common criminal, to be judged by the arch-criminals who as Jews sat in Aaron’s seat and who as Romans wielded Caesar’s power. They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. Their foul saliva ran down his face as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. Blood ran down his face as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow. But above it all he was scourged, scourged with forty stripes save one, scourged with a multi-thonged whip into whose leather strands sharp bones and cutting metals were woven. Many died from scourging alone, but he rose from the sufferings of the scourge that he might die an ignominious death upon the cruel cross of Calvary. Then he carried his own cross until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. Finally, on a hill called Calvary—again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls—while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross. With great mallets they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Then the cross was raised that all might see and gape and curse and deride. This they did, with evil venom, for three hours from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Then the heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 p.m., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred. And, finally, when the atoning agonies had taken their toll—when the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled the will of his Father in all things—then he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and he voluntarily gave up the ghost. As the peace and comfort of a merciful death freed him from the pains and sorrows of mortality, he entered the paradise of God. When he had made his soul an offering for sin, he was prepared to see his seed, according to the messianic word. These, consisting of all the holy prophets and faithful Saints from ages past; these, comprising all who had taken upon them his name, and who, being spiritually begotten by him, had become his sons and his daughters, even as it is with us; all these were assembled in the spirit world, there to see his face and hear his voice. After some thirty-eight or forty hours—three days as the Jews measured time—our Blessed Lord came to the Arimathaean’s tomb, where his partially embalmed body had been placed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. Then, in a way incomprehensible to us, he took up that body which had not yet seen corruption and arose in that glorious immortality which made him like his resurrected Father. He then received all power in heaven and on earth, obtained eternal exaltation, appeared unto Mary Magdalene and many others, and ascended into heaven, there to sit down on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and to reign forever in eternal glory. His rising from death on the third day crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave. As Adam brought death, so Christ brought life; as Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality. And without both, mortality and immortality, man cannot work out his salvation and ascend to those heights beyond the skies where gods and angels dwell forever in eternal glory. Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement. We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth. We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation. As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state—without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences. We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall. We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth. Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin. Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall. And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave. Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life. If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life. And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

1985: Book, Thomas S. Monson, comp., Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S. Monson:

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets concerning Jesus Christ: that He died, was buried and rose again the third day and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it (Joseph Smith).

1986 (April): Conference Address, President Howard W. Hunter, An Apostle’s Witness of the Resurrection:

Among the chosen witnesses are the Lord’s Apostles. Indeed, the call to the holy apostleship is one of bearing witness to the world of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” (History of the Church, 3:30.)

1986 (August): Ensign Article, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, then President of BYU, now an Apostle: I Stand All Amazed:

So how do we make sure that we never ignore or slight or forget his greatest of all gifts unto us? We do so by showing our desire for a remission of our sins and our eternal gratitude for that most courageous of all prayers, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. We do so by joining in the work of forgiving sins. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ, Paul commands us. The law of Christ, which it is our duty to fulfil, is the bearing of the cross. My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward situation and circumstance .… but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it. … Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship). Surely the reason Christ said Father, forgive them was because even in that terrible hour he knew that this was the message he had come through all eternity to deliver. The entire plan of salvation would have been lost had he forgotten that not in spite of injustice and brutality and unkindness and disobedience, but precisely because of them, he had come to extend forgiveness to the family of man. Anyone can be pleasant and patient and forgiving on a good day. A Christian has to be pleasant and patient and forgiving on all days. Is there someone in your life who perhaps needs forgiveness? Is there someone in your home, someone in your family, someone in your neighborhood who has done an unjust or an unkind or an unchristian thing? All of us are guilty of such transgressions, so there surely must be someone who yet needs your forgiveness.

1986 (January): Book, Dr. Hyrum Andrus, BYU Philosophy Dept.: God, Man, and the Universe:

As long as man remains in his fallen state, he is alien to God. Regardless of how moral or how pure he may be respecting those practices that are designated as carnal, sensual, and devilish, personal and social morality are not enough to extricate him from his fallen state. He must be a recipient of divine mercy and power. Having been absolved from responsibility to divine law by the power of the atonement, he must be regenerated and made a new creature in Christ. Otherwise, in the final analysis, all human efforts to attain the righteousness of God and return to His presence are useless. As a fallen being in a corrupt state, man must recognize his dependence upon Christ if he is to be transformed to a state of spiritual life and if he is to develop in the attributes and powers of God’s divine nature until, eventually, he is glorified in Christ. Having explained that He gives mortal “men weakness that they may be humble,” Jesus declared to Moroni: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me.” Man alone is not sufficient to cope with his fallen nature and state, but by receiving the mercy and power of Christ he may come unto righteousness and attain immortal glory in the resurrection. Having observed apologetically that because of the fall, man’s nature had become evil continually, the brother of Jared stated: “Nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.” With this view of the matter, King Benjamin exhorted his people: “As ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come.” Nephi expressed the same view of man’s need to rely upon Christ. While mourning as a result of the weaknesses of his mortal flesh, he explained: “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support.” In true recognition of his dependence upon Christ, Nephi then prayed “O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin? May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road! O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way-but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.” True and lasting righteousness can be attained only in and through Jesus Christ and the divine power He extends to man. This point was emphasized by Joseph Smith when he corrected the Apostle Paul’s famous statement on man’s struggle with his flesh and the corruption therein to read: “I seek to subdue that sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find not, only in Christ.” (Hyrum L. Andrus, God, Man, and the Universe, p.477)

1987 (October): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: The Message: The Light and the Life:

Some who profess to be followers of Christ insist that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christians. Indeed, there are those who make their living attacking our church and its doctrines. I wish all of them could have the experience I shared … A friend who was making his first visit to Salt Lake City called on me in my office. He is a well-educated man and a devout and sincere Christian. Although we have not discussed this with each other, we both know that some leaders of his denomination have taught that members of our church are not Christians … As we emerged and beheld this majestic likeness of the Christus, arms outstretched and hands showing the wounds of his crucifixion, my friend drew a sharp breath. We stood quietly for a few minutes, enjoying a reverent communion of worshipful thoughts about our Savior. Then without further conversation, we made our way down to the street level. On the way we walked past the small diorama showing the Prophet Joseph Smith kneeling in the Sacred Grove … As we left Temple Square and took our leave of one another, my friend took me by the hand. “Thank you for showing me that,” he said. Now I understand something about your faith that I have never understood before. I hope that every person who has ever had doubts about whether we are Christians can achieve that same understanding.

1988 (October): Conference Address, Elder Marion D. Hanks Presidency of First Quorum of Seventy: The Royal Law of Love:

It would be difficult to find anyone offering resistance in principle to the virtue of giving service to others, yet there may be some who do not understand the place of vital importance in the fundamentals of our faith that Jesus gave it. For him, in his life and teachings, it was not an option. Indeed, he declared that without it one could not qualify for the greatest of eternal blessings—eternal life). The scriptures consistently so teach—acts of Christian service are expressions of Christian love. My observation and experience confirm the truth of it for me .. It is a continuing marvel to me how well and with what grace and unselfish goodness so many live this sacred commandment. And it is sad to think that some may, in a joyless version of “the gospel,” miss the special blessings waiting on the path established by our Savior and leading to the highest joy through Christian service and sacrifice.

1988 (October): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: What Think Ye of Christ?:

A young Latter-day Saint enrolled in a Midwestern university and applied for a scholarship only available to Christians. Both the applicant and the university officials were unsure whether a Mormon was eligible. After consulting a panel of theologians, they concluded that this Mormon was a Christian. When I first heard of that event, I was shocked that anyone, especially a member of our church, would entertain any doubt that we are Christians. I have come to a better understanding of that confusion. I think we sometimes thoughtlessly give others cause to wonder.

1988 (December): New Era Article, Elder Gene R. Cook, First Quorum of Seventy: The Grace of the Lord:

“know Christ’s role is to save us from our sins,” my friend said. “But what about all the other troubles in my life?” As I tried to console him, I told him that Christ was sent not only to help us heal the wounds of transgression and iniquity, but also to bear our grief and sorrow and guilt (see Mosiah 14:4–5, 11; Alma 24:10); that in addition to “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” he also took upon himself the “sicknesses of his people,” “death, that he may loose the bands … which bind his people,” and “infirmities, that … he may know … how to [strengthen] his people” (see Alma 7:11–12). As this young man and I read the scriptures together, he was thrilled to realize that somehow Christ is able to take upon himself, not only sin in a general sense, but also grief, sorrow, death, sickness, lack of peace, guilt, and pain. What a glorious thought that, in truth, Jesus Christ is capable of bearing the problems and challenges that we each face in our daily lives. He will not only help us to be saved at the Judgment Day, but he and his Father will be involved with us on a regular basis if we will find access to them. A scriptural word used to define this ability to overcome the trials of the world through the love of God is grace. The word grace is not an easy term to define. Perhaps the best definition I know is “enabling power,” the power the Lord has given us to accomplish all things (see Bible Dictionary). We know that the Lord is willing not only to have us involved in his grace, but that he has commanded us to grow from grace to grace (see D&C 93:1–20). I am impressed with a passage of scripture that talks about “the loving kindness of [the] Lord, and all that he has bestowed upon us according to his goodness, and according to his loving kindness, forever and ever.

1988 (December): Book, Elder Bruce C. Hafen, BYU Provost, now First Quorum of Seventy: The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences:

The Savior himself was not concerned that he would give aid and comfort to backsliders or that he would seem to be soft on sin. Said he, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.) He spoke these words of comfort in the overall context of his demanding teachings about the strait and narrow way and the need to develop a love so pure that it would extinguish not only hatred, but lust and anger. He said his yoke is easy, but he asked for all our hearts. His words do not describe an event or even simply an attitude, but a process; not the answer to a yes or no question, but an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience. Along that trail, he is not only aware of our limitations, he will also in due course compensate for them, “after all we can do.” That, in addition to forgiveness for sin, is a crucial part of the Good News of the gospel, part of the Victory, part of the Atonement. For such a purpose each of us needs to take the Atonement more fully into the deep parts of our consciousness, even if there are some good reasons not to stress the role of grace excessively. I wish now to summarize the elements of doctrine that apply the holy Atonement and its enabling grace to our lives. In this way I hope to illustrate how fully each of us needs the Lord’s power and how earnestly he seeks to turn our mourning to joy, our blindness to sight, and our ashes to beauty.

1989 (October): BYU Devotional, Elder Henry B. Eyring, Presiding Bishopric, now First Presidency: Come Unto Christ:

As if he knew my concern, and yours, to discern whether we were moving toward Christ, Elder A Theodore Tuttle took me to a scripture. The reference was written in the margin next to the beginning of the fifteenth verse. Here is all it says: “Alma 5:14-15.” And then these words, written very small: “Born again and retaining remission. How do you know?” How do you know? That was whispered to me by a woman after a stake conference, with tears running down her cheeks, when she said: “I’ve tried so long. I’ve done everything I know how. Why don’t I feel the peace of forgiveness? I want to feel forgiven. I want to feel clean again. I want to feel I can stay that way. How do I know?” It was asked in a letter that came to my desk recently. It was asked the other night on the phone in what began as a call about business. And with tears in his voice, a young man asked, “Well, how will I know? How do you know?” Alma the high priest raised that very question, and he answered it as he taught the people in Zarahemla. Here is the reference: “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?’ (Alma 5:14­-15)

1989 (October): Ensign Article, C. Richard Chidester: Christ-Centered Teaching:

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” The Lord Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world, and faith in him is the unifying principle of the gospel. All we teach should be connected to him as the branch is to the vine. “Abide in me, and I in you,” said the Savior. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

1989: BYU Studies Article, Dr. Robert L. Millet, BYU Religion Dept.: Joseph Smith and Modem Mormonism: Orthodoxy, Neo-orthodoxy, Tension, and Tradition:

From Kendall White’s perspective, Mormonism emerged in the midst of restorationism, with a theology not terribly unlike other Protestant faiths of the day. White believes, however, that in time, Joseph Smith and the Mormons, especially as a result of such teachings as the king Follett sermon, reached beyond their primitivist roots and developed into a progressive and expansive faith characterized by such beliefs as – and we note the contrast to reformation thought – a finite God, the innate goodness of man, and exaltation by works. But with the expansion of the church in the modem world, White proposes that a crisis in faith has taken place in the lives of many modem Mormons, particularly as they have engaged a growing secularization. He suggests that a form of Mormon Neo-orthodoxy has begun to develop an attempt to return to a tighter redemptive theological system based primarily upon a belief in the sovereignty of God, the moral depravity of man, and salvation by grace. Because Joseph Smith’s progressive brand of Mormonism ingeniously linked the other-worldly with the here and now, because it pointed man in a positive and lifting direction away from the pessimistic worldview of traditional Protestantism, White fears that few things portend a more ominous future for the Church than the growing trend toward a redemptive theology what he calls Mormon Neo-orthodoxy. Kendall White is correct in detecting a movement afloat in Mormonism in the latter part of the twentieth century it is a movement toward a more thoroughly redemptive base to our theology; but a movement that is in harmony with the teachings of the book of Mormon and one that may be long overdue. These recent developments may represent more of a retrenchment and a refinement than a reversion. I believe that few things portend a more ominous future for us than to fail to take seriously the Book of Mormon and the redemptive theology set forth therein. The only real crisis to fear would be attempts to build Mormonism upon any other foundation.

1990 (October): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: Witnesses of Christ:

But our duty to be witnesses of Jesus Christ requires more than this, and I fear that some of us fall short. Latter-day Saints can become so preoccupied with our own agendas that we can forget to witness and testify of Christ. I quote from a recent letter I received from a member in the United States. He described what he heard in his fast and testimony meeting: “I sat and listened to seventeen testimonies and never heard Jesus mentioned or referred to in any way. I thought I might be in [some other denomination], but I supposed not because there were no references to God, either. The following Sunday, I again attended church. I sat through a priesthood lesson, a Gospel Doctrine lesson, and seven sacrament meeting speakers and never once heard the name of Jesus or any reference to him.”Perhaps that description is exaggerated. Surely, it is exceptional. I quote it because it provides a vivid reminder for all of us. In answer to the question, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

1990 (January): Ensign Article, Dr. Gerald N. Lund, currently in the Second Quorum of Seventy: The Fall of Man and His Redemption:

Adam and Eve didn’t catch heaven by surprise. The Fall and Redemption had always been part of the plan. One of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity is the doctrine of the Fall of Adam. Elder James E. Talmage said: “It has become a common practice with mankind to heap reproaches on the progenitors of the family, and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude for their legacy to posterity—the means of winning title to glory, exaltation and eternal lives.” The LDS conception of the Fall as a necessary part of the overall plan of redemption is based heavily on doctrine taught in the Book of Mormon.

1990 (April): Ensign Article, Elder Bruce C. Hafen, then BYU Provost, now First Quorum of Seventy: Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ:

Some Church members feel weighed down with discouragement about the circumstances of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts. Frequently, these feelings of self-disappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may not be fully to blame. The Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to these experiences because it applies to all of life. The Savior can wipe away all of our tears, after all we can do … The Savior himself was not concerned that he would seem too forgiving or soft on sin. Said he, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” He spoke these comforting words in the context of asking his followers to develop a love pure enough to extinguish hatred, lust, and anger. His yoke is easy—but he asks for all our hearts.

1990 (March): Book, The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective: Editors Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr.: Dr. Rodney Turner: God Is Unchanging:

For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith (LF 3:21). God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (1 Nephi 10:18; Heb 13:8). He “changes not”; he is ever the same, and “his course is one eternal round” (D&C 3:2). That course is centered in his never-ending work: “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Mormon testified: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity” (Moroni 8:18). Consequently, the principles of life and salvation emanating from him are likewise unchanging. It is because God is unchanging that men must change. They must repent and put off “the natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) if they are to achieve sanctification and become one with God’s unchanging nature. Because God is ever the same, his government-wherever it may be found in the eternities-is ever the same. It is government by unchanging principles-government by priesthood. The plan of salvation reflects heaven’s government and is likewise ever the same. As there is but one God, so is there but one priesthood, and one plan of salvation. Favoritism is not shown one eternity or one world over another anymore than it is shown one person over another. Since God’s fundamental nature cannot be improved upon, it follows that his nature must remain what it has always been if he is to remain a perfect God (see Alma 42:15; 3 Nephi 12:48). To modify or abandon any essential attribute of that nature would inevitably diminish him and alter the very meaning of God. He would forfeit perfection. Not that he would cease to exist as an organized intelligence, or that he would be dethroned (for who or what could dethrone him?), but he would no longer be the God he has always been. He would be transformed into a new and different deity ruling over new and different realities. Such an eventuality would have an unimaginable impact on the moral character of eternity. The very nature of truth and law would be altered. Certitude would be lost, because a god who abandoned one attribute could abandon another. Shock-waves of uncertainty would rumble from world to world destroying the very foundation of faith as we know it. Applying this purely theoretical argument to the aggregate of the gods in eternity, if one of them were to modify or discard even a single attribute, the perfect unity that makes all gods one god would be violated (see D&C 38:27). To restore that unity, such a fallen being would, like Lucifer, have to be cast down (see Isa 14:12-15).

1990 (March): Book, The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective: Editors Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr.: Dr. Rodney Turner: A God of Mercy:

For without the idea of the existence of this attribute [mercy] in the Deity, the spirits of the Saints would faint in the midst of the tribulations, afflictions, and persecutions which they have to endure for righteousness’ sake (LF 4:15). God is a merciful God: gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, patient, and long-suffering. If he were not, human nature-a relative compound of ignorance, immaturity, instability, and impotence-would render the hope of eternal life an impossible dream. The gulf between divinity and humanity, holiness and unholiness, is so vast that any faith we might muster would eventually be swallowed up in paralyzing doubt. How could we ever become acceptable to a flawless God with his “all-searching eye” (Mosiah 27:31)? How could we ever be at ease, much less happy, in his presence? But because of our faith in the redemptive power of Christ, we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help [us] in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Without divine mercy, heaven would be hell. Moroni understood this point: “Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you” (Mormon 9:4-5; compare Alma 12:14-15; Mosiah 27:31). Paradoxically, it is his very holiness which makes mercy essential if we are “to be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens” (3 Nephi 28:40). For salvation depends far more upon what God is and does, than upon what we, of ourselves, are or can do. Hence, Nephi’s words: “It is by grace [mercy] that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). We are hopelessly lost unless a higher nature overwhelms and transforms our fallen natures. This higher nature-with its attendant powers-is found in Jesus Christ. Elder James E. Talmage wrote: Without Him mankind would forever remain in a fallen state, and as to hope of eternal progression would be inevitably lost. The mortal probation is provided as an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came. The need of a Redeemer lies in the inability of man to raise himself from the temporal to the spiritual plane, from the lower kingdom to the higher (26-27). When we have demonstrated all of the faith, repentance, and obedience required of us, it will still be insufficient; we must still rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s indispensible mercy. The Father can be merciful only because the Son atoned for the sins of his fallen brothers and sisters. Divine mercy is not limited to those moral and spiritual issues which dictate our destiny in some future life; he is merciful in the here and now. His invisible hand is extended to us far more often than we realize. Only at the last judgment when the full account of God’s dealings with mankind-collectively and individually-are revealed, will we learn the full extent of his providential care. But that this care is available to us all is unquestionable. Alma testified: “I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day (Alma 36:3; compare 38:5). We are never alone, even when we feel abandoned. God is not some remote, disinterested “force” in the universe. Jehovah, in the person of Jesus Christ, left his high mountain and joined his people in the low valley of mortal trials, temptations, and suffering (see Mosiah 3:7; Alma 7:11-12; Heb 4:15). Human nature being what it is, there is a danger that God’s mercy will be interpreted as divine weakness or indifference (see Rom 2:4-6). This would be a fatal error. We must not be slothful simply because God is merciful. The Almighty has infinite patience, but he will not extend it to us infinitely. “For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction” (2 Nephi 26:11). There comes a day when-where repentance is concerned-there is “time no longer” (D&C 88:110). We are given adequate opportunity to reveal our true selves to ourselves, to establish what we everlastingly are. God can do no more; he will not coerce us into being what we do not choose to be. The last judgment is the finish line. When we reach it, the race with ourselves is over, and “the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed” (Alma 34:33) will descend upon mankind’s day of probation.

1991 (March): Book, Dr. Gerald N. Lund, Church Education System: Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation:

Thus, the frequent conclusion runs, we are saved (resurrected) by grace, but we are exalted (redeemed) by our works. This is a neat and attractive explanation. The only difficulty is that it has four major doctrinal problems. The first doctrinal problem in this explanation is assuming that salvation is different from exaltation. With very few exceptions, the scriptures almost always use the words salvation and exaltation synonymously. For example, in Doctrine and Covenants 6:13, the Lord says, “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (Italics added.) Resurrection, wonderful as it is, is not the greatest gift of God; eternal life, or exaltation, is. (See D&C 14:7.) To imply that salvation means only resurrection cannot be supported by scripture. The second doctrinal problem is the idea that the cross covered only the effects of physical death and that the suffering in the Garden covered only the effects of spiritual death. Such an explanation is not justified by scripture either. The agony in the Garden and the suffering on the cross were both integral parts of the atoning sacrifice. Nowhere do we find indications that the cross alone overcame physical death or that the Garden alone overcame spiritual death. The third problem is the idea that our works exalt us. As we have seen, one of Lehi’s fundamental points is that no man can be justified, or saved, on the basis of works alone. Only by the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah (see 2 Ne. 2:8) are we saved. Righteous works do exalt us, but they are the Savior’s works, not our own (by the simple fact that we cannot fully satisfy the law by our works alone). This is what Nephi meant when he said, “For we know that it is by grace [which quality the Messiah is filled with-see 2 Ne. 2:6] that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.)The fourth problem is the idea that overcoming that part of spiritual death (which resulted from the fall of Adam) is conditional upon how we live. Our second Article of Faith states, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” To make coming back into the presence of God (overcoming spiritual death) conditional, when the fall of Adam originally caused our separation from him, would mean we suffer punishment for Adam’s transgression; and such is not the case

1991 (July): Church News Article, Michael Otterson, Public Affairs Spokesperson: Two-Way Window on the World:

LDS involvement in community service has led to greater acceptance of the Church as a Christian denomination.

1992 (March): Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Elder Ed J. Pinegar, s.v. Born of God:

Mormon explains the “mighty change” that must occur if one is to be born of God. The first fruit of repentance is the baptism of water and fire, which baptism “cometh by faith unto the fulfilling of the commandments.” Then comes a remission of sins that brings a meekness and lowliness of heart. Such a transformation results in one’s becoming worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, who “filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer” (Moro. 8:25-26). LDS scriptures teach that spiritual rebirth comes by the grace of God to those who adhere to the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, namely, faith, repentance, baptism, and reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the process to be genuine, however, one must be diligently engaged in good works, for as James says, “faith without works is dead; … by works is faith made perfect” (James 2:20, 22). A mere confession of change, or receiving baptism or another ordinance, does not necessarily mean that one has been born of God. Other Christian faiths also emphasize the importance of being “born again.” Unlike many of these, Latter-day Saints do not believe this experience alone is sufficient for salvation. Instead, the process of spiritual rebirth signals to Latter-day Saints the beginning of a new life abounding with faith, grace, and good works. Only by enduring to the end may the individual return to the presence of God. Those who receive the ordinance of baptism and are faithful in keeping the commandments may enjoy the constant presence of the Holy Ghost who, like fire, will act as a sanctifier, and will witness to the hearts of the righteous that their sins are forgiven, imparting hope for eternal life. Persons who have experienced this mighty change manifest attitudinal and behavioral changes. Feeling their hearts riveted to the Lord, their obedience extends beyond performance of duty. President Harold B. Lee taught, “Conversion must mean more than just being a ‘card-carrying’ member of the Church with a tithing receipt, a membership card, a temple recommend, etc. It means to overcome the tendencies to criticize and to strive continually to improve inward weaknesses and not merely the outward appearances” (Ensign, June 1971, p. 8). Latter-day Saints believe that individuals who are truly born of God gladly give a life of service to their fellow beings-they share the gospel message, sacrifice their own time, energy, and resources for the benefit of others, and in general hold high the Light of Christ, being faithful to all the commandments.

1992 (March): Article, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Stephen R. Covey, s.v. Discipleship:

Like many other Christians, Latter-day Saints believe that only the transformational discipleship of those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ leads to a fulness of joy and peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. Hence, true disciples are those who make the resurrected, revealing Christ the center of their lives, as did the faithful referred to in the New Testament who sat at the feet, followed in the footsteps, mourned the death, and rejoiced in the resurrection of Christ. “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”-the first principle of the gospel as stated in the fourth article of faith-is the explicit foundation of discipleship. From this principle all other principles and ordinances of the gospel derive their efficacy, power, and harmony. Through his perfect earthly life and infinite atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ became not only the model and mentor but also the Savior and Redeemer and mankind’s advocate with the Father. The Atonement, meaning “at-one-ment,” empowered the plan whereby all men and women can eventually become like father in heaven and Mother in Heaven. Through the Atonement, Christ took upon himself not only the original transgression of Adam and Eve but also the personal sins of mankind, as well as the consequences of weaknesses and mistakes-including those transmitted through the generations-that are manifested in the lives even of individuals trying to follow in his footsteps. As the savior of mankind, Jesus sets the example and lovingly makes the blessings of the Atonement and personal guidance available to anyone who comes to him with a broken (teachable) heart and a contrite (repentant) spirit (3 Ne. 9:20-22; 12:19-20). The commitment to become a disciple of Christ is an unconditional one of “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2). It centers a person’s life on Christ, making Jesus the supreme law-giver, the frame of reference through which all else is viewed. Christ’s influence then begins to direct a person’s words, acts, and even thoughts, enabling that individual to become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), line upon line, precept upon precept.

1992 (March): Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Elder Bruce C. Hafen, s.v. Grace:

Grace is the source of three categories of blessings related to mankind’s salvation. First, many blessings of grace are unconditional-free and unmerited gifts requiring no individual action. God’s grace in this sense is a factor in the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. Specifically regarding the Fall, and despite death and other conditions resulting from Adam’s transgression, Christ’s grace has atoned for original sin and has assured the resurrection of all humankind: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 2). Second, the Savior has also atoned conditionally for personal sins. The application of grace to personal sins is conditional because it is available only when an individual repents, which can be a demanding form of works. Because of this condition, mercy is able to satisfy the demands of justice with neither mercy nor justice robbing the other. Personal repentance is therefore a necessary condition of salvation, but it is not by itself sufficient to assure salvation (see Justice and Mercy). In addition, one must accept the ordinances of baptism and the laying-on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which one is born again as the spirit child of Christ and may eventually become sanctified (cf. D&C 76:51-52; see also Gospel of Jesus Christ). Third, after one has received Christ’s gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism unto forgiveness of sin, relying “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save,” one has only “entered in by the gate” to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:17-20). In this postbaptism stage of spiritual development, one’s best efforts-further works-are required to “endure to the end” (2 Ne. 31:20). These efforts include obeying the Lord’s commandments and receiving the higher ordinances performed in the temples, and continuing a repentance process as needed “to retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12).

1992 (March): Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Dr. Roger R. Keller, s.v. Protestantism:

While Latter-day Saints share with Protestants a conviction of the importance of the scriptures, an extensive lay priesthood (but given only by the laying on of hands by those having proper priesthood authority), and the primacy of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as the first principle of the gospel, they differ from them by affirming a centralized authority headed by a latter-day prophet and by a number of other doctrines unique to the Church, i.e. temple ordinances for the living and the dead, and the eternal nature of the marriage covenant. Despite some important differences, Latter-day Saints actually share much in doctrine, heritage, and aspiration with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants. Even so, they view themselves as embodying an independent Christian tradition standing on its own apart from these other traditions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a reformation of a previously existing ecclesiastical body but is instead a restoration through heavenly ministrations of authority and of truths, structures, and scriptures that God returned to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.

1992 (April): Ensign Article (and September 1992 book), Dr. Stephen Robinson, BYU Religion Dept.: Believing Christ:

To have faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe that he is who he says he is. It is not merely to believe in Christ; we must also believe Christ. Both as a bishop and as a teacher, I have heard several variations on a theme of doubt. Some have said, “Bishop, I’ve sinned too horribly. I’ll be active in the Church, and I hope for some reward. But I couldn’t ever hope to be exalted after what I’ve done.” Others have said, “I’m weak and imperfect. I don’t have all the talents that Brother Jones (or Sister Smith) does. I’ll never be the bishop (or the Relief Society president). I’m just average. I expect my reward in eternity will be a little lower than theirs.” All of these are variations on the same theme: “I do not believe Christ can do what he claims. I have no faith in his ability to exalt me.” I once counseled a man who said, “Bishop, I’m just not celestial material.” Well, I’d heard those words once too often, so I said, “You’re not celestial material? Welcome to the club. Not one of us is! Not one of us qualifies on our own for the presence of God. So why don’t you admit your real problem? Why don’t you admit that you don’t believe Christ can do what he says he can do?” He got angry. “I have a testimony of Jesus!” I said, “Yes, you believe in Christ. You simply do not believe Christ. He says that even though you are not celestial, he can make you celestial—but you don’t believe it.

1992 (June): Ensign Article, Dr. Robert L. Millet, BYU Religion Dept.: Putting Off the Natural Man: An Enemy to God:

We recognize that putting off the natural man is possible only through the grace and atonement of Christ. That is why the scriptures refer to the process as being born again. Having had our sins remitted, we die to the things of unrighteousness and are born of God to a new and higher spiritual life. We begin to enjoy what Paul called the fruit of the Spirit, namely love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. We are humble and submissive — eager to know and carry out the will of the Savior, eager to have our own wishes swallowed up in the will of a Higher Being … In the words of C. S. Lewis, this animation and renovation of human character is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.

1992 (June): Ensign Article, David W. Hellem: Putting Off the Natural Man: How to Be “Spiritually Born of God”:

The Lord told Alma that those who are born of God are “changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, … and thus they become new creatures.” (Mosiah 27:25–26.) This mighty change involves a cleansing and purging, “as if with fire” (Hel. 5:45), of the evil desires of the heart. Thereafter, one so changed begins to walk, as Paul described it to the Romans, “in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4.) There is a burning desire within the soul to be “zealous for keeping the commandments of God” (Alma 21:23) and to serve the Lord with all your body, mind, and spirit. If we are thus born of the Spirit, “we are made alive in Christ. … We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ.” (2 Ne. 25:25–26.) We are willing to obey God’s commandments “in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days.” (Mosiah 5:5.) In short, our conduct is characterized by obedience, service, and sacrifice. Another question Alma asked the people of Zarahemla also deserves our attention: “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26.) Let us recognize that to be spiritually born of God and receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is, as the scriptures attest, a glorious and wonderful event that prepares us to pursue eternal life. But it does not immediately translate us into perfect beings ready for celestial glory. It does not mean that we will never make a mistake or sin again. Hence, we see the great need to apply the principle of repentance continuously as we strive daily to serve God and keep his commandments. We must also recognize that sanctification is something we cannot achieve on our own. The Lord must be our companion, and his Spirit our guide: “I am the vine,” the Lord declared to his disciples, “ye are the branches: … for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5.) Ammon told King Lamoni: “And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.” (Alma 18:35.) It is that Spirit that is the true source of our power to resist evil and live righteously. And that Spirit is strengthened in us through our continual repentance. It is the Spirit that leads us to Christ and gives us guidance, comfort, encouragement, and strength to endure in our new life until we receive the promise of eternal life.

1993: BYU Devotional, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: Another Testament of Jesus Christ:

To understand why President Benson has exhorted us to reemphasize the Book of Mormon and why this is necessary to remove us from condemnation, we need to remember the major theme of that book. In his many messages about the Book of Mormon, President Benson has taught us that the major significance of the Book of Mormon is its witness of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father, who redeems and saves us from death and sin. Of related and equal importance is its explanation of our Savior’s atonement, which is the most fundamental doctrine of our faith. In his conference address in October 1981, President Benson emphasized that the “major purpose” of the record that became the Book of Mormon “is to convince a later generation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (“Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation,” Ensign, November 1981, p. 61). Two years after he became President of the Church, he repeated that characterization in a marvelous talk titled “Come unto Christ.” There he declared that “the major mission of the Book of Mormon. . . is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ'” (Ensign, November 1987, p. 83). In the General Authority meeting I mentioned earlier, President Benson distributed some materials to assist us in carrying his Book of Mormon message throughout the world. Included in that distribution were copies of the talk he gave in the 1975 April conference, titled “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God.” I underlined these words from that important talk: Now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. . . . Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains. [“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God ,” Ensign, May 1975, p. 65] President Benson has frequently reminded us of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s declaration that the Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (HC 4:461). In a landmark address during the first year of his service as President of the Church, President Benson explained these two ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. . . . Its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. . . . The Book of Mormon is also the keystone of the doctrine of the Resurrection. [“The Book of Mormon–Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, November 1986, pp. 5­6] Note that both of these ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion focus on our relationship to Christ–our witness of him and our testimony of his atonement and resurrection. In addition, President Benson has often reminded us of the Lord’s declarations through the Prophet Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth” (HC 4:461) and that it “contains . . . the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:9). This does not mean that the Book of Mormon contains a full explanation of every principle of the gospel. What it means, President Benson has explained, is that “in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation” (Ensign, November 1986, p. 6). Most significantly, he notes, “It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement” (Ensign, November 1986, p. 5). We can clearly see the harmony in all of this. The Book of Mormon is Christ-centered. That is its essential feature, and that is the reason we are commanded to study it continually. We must use the Book of Mormon to bring us to Christ. President Benson has tried to drum that message into our consciousness and into our conduct during his entire tenure as President of the Church. We are not directed to read the Book of Mormon primarily to learn history or geography or politics or ethics or culture or social or educational policy, though it contains valuable teachings on all of those subjects. President Benson has teachings on many of those subjects, but he has stressed one vital idea above all others: “All truths are not of the same value,” he said. “The saving truths of salvation are of greatest worth” (“Worthy Fathers, Worthy Sons,” Ensign, November 1985, p. 36). He also said: The Book of Mormon was written for us today. . . . The purpose of the Book of Mormon is stated on the title page. It is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” [Ensign, January 1988, p. 3] We can easily see things in our own day that could cause the Lord to call us to “repent and remember the new covenant” and cause his prophet to declare that the Lord’s condemnation has not yet been lifted. In our own time we are seeing a great increase in the visibility and influence of those who deny or doubt the divinity of Jesus Christ and the need for his atonement. Noting this trend over twenty years ago, President Harold B. Lee declared: Now, . . . our greatest responsibility and anxiety is to defend the divine mission of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, for all about us, even among those who claim to be professors of the Christian faith, are those not willing to stand squarely in defense of the great truth that our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was indeed the Son of God. So tonight it would seem to me that the most important thing I could say to you is to try to strengthen your faith and increase your courage and your understanding of the place of the Master in the great Plan of Salvation. [Quoted in Robert J. Matthews, “What the Book of Mormon Tells Us About Jesus Christ,” in The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, ed. Paul R. Cheesman, from the First Annual Book of Mormon Symposium (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988), p. 23] In my opinion, one of the principal reasons our Heavenly Father had his prophet direct us into a more intensive study of the Book of Mormon is to help us counteract this modern tendency to try to diminish the divinity and mission of our Savior. Are we as Latter-day Saints doing what we should to counteract this modern trend? Are we aware that our knowledge and testimony of the literal divinity, resurrection, and atonement of Jesus Christ are more distinctive and more needed with each passing year? I suggest that many Latter-day Saints are not yet aware of our unique position and our special responsibilities to testify of Christ. I suggest that we are not yet doing all we should. I believe this is a sufficient explanation for the condemnation President Benson described and the call to repentance he issued. Here are some illustrations. A few years ago I received a letter from a man who said he had attended an LDS testimony meeting and listened to seventeen testimonies without hearing the Savior mentioned or referred to in any way. He also wrote that the following Sunday he listened to a priesthood lesson, a Gospel Doctrine lesson, and seven sacrament meeting speakers without hearing any reference to Jesus Christ (see “Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, November 1990, p. 30). Some may have considered that report an exaggeration or an extreme case. The similar accounts I have received in subsequent letters persuade me that this was not an isolated experience. In too many of our classes, in too many of our worship services, we are not teaching of Christ and testifying of Christ in the way we should. This is one way we are failing to “remember the new covenant.” To cite another example, I believe that for a time and until recently our public talks and our literature were deficient in the frequency and depth with which they explained and rejoiced in those doctrinal subjects most closely related to the atonement of the Savior. A prominent gospel scholar saw this deficiency in our church periodicals published in a twenty-three year period ending in 1983 (Daniel H. Ludlow observation, cited in Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1989], pp. 3­4). I saw this same deficiency when I reviewed the subjects of general conference addresses during the decade ending in the mid-1980s. Another illustration is provided by some Latter-day Saint funerals. I attend some funerals and hear reports of many others. Worthy tributes to the deceased are appropriate and so are family memories. But such matters must not dominate an LDS funeral service to the exclusion or neglect of those gospel truths that review the purpose of life and testify of our Creator and Redeemer. At a funeral service–of all places–we must not neglect to testify of him whose gospel gives meaning and purpose to life and whose resurrection and atonement give hope for the deceased and comfort to the bereaved. Yet I know of some LDS funerals in which there was no mention of the Resurrection and no mention of the Savior. Isn’t this an example of “treat[ing] lightly the things [we] have received”? Isn’t this another cause for some of us to “repent and remember the new covenant”? Isn’t it possible that we also neglect “the new covenant” and treat the gospel lightly in the daily activities of our lives? Consider this application to campus life. Do some teachers and students create the impression or acquiesce in the impression that salvation is unimportant or that salvation is to be found in academic disciplines? Salvation is in Christ, not in most of the things we do on the BYU campus or anywhere else. In view of that reality, isn’t it appropriate to ask how LDS students and teachers conduct themselves toward the sacred name of Jesus Christ, or his servants, or the scriptures, or his Church, or his commandments when their necessary day-to-day activities interface with those subjects? All of our important and interesting debates about politics, academic subjects, and educational policy are insignificant by comparison with this. All of our efforts at ethical improvement, desirable as they are, are not sufficient for the salvation that is exaltation. Have we “treated lightly the things [we] have received” (D&C 84:54)? If we have, I say in soberness that we have need to “repent and remember the new covenant” (D&C 84:57), putting the Savior uppermost in our minds and hearts and showing a higher level of concern for his gospel, his commandments, his Sabbath, his work. Fortunately, we are doing better. For more than a decade we have more consciously and more effectively presented ourselves in our true light as followers and servants of Jesus Christ. In 1982, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve reminded us on the title page of the Book of Mormon that this great book is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” The First Presidency has requested that we not refer to ourselves as the “Mormon Church,” but by the name the Lord gave his Church by revelation: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (D&C 115:4). Our Young Women theme uses a familiar Book of Mormon scripture to pledge that daughters of our Heavenly Father will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). Recent LDS gospel scholarship clearly shows a greatly increased emphasis on the Savior and his atonement. Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s multivolume work on the Messiah and his earlier three-volume Doctrinal New Testament Commentary are landmarks in this effort. We have all benefited immeasurably from the BYU Religious Studies Center’s annual Book of Mormon Symposia, which have placed appropriate emphasis on this scripture’s preeminent position as a witness of Christ. Individual Latter-day Saint scholars, principally in religious instruction at BYU, have published brilliant and inspired books that have made important additions to our literature on the Savior and his atonement (e.g., Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ [Deseret Book Company, 1992]; Robert L. Millet, Life in Christ [Bookcraft, 1990]; Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart [Deseret Book Company, 1989]). I hope such books are read and pondered, not just purchased and possessed. President Benson’s emphasis on reading and rereading the Book of Mormon is a heaven-sent refining of emphasis in the lives and gospel study of individual members of the Church. His challenge has been accepted by multitudes of Latter-day Saints and is blessing lives everywhere. Following the prophet, our General Authorities and auxiliary officers and local leaders have given more frequent and more in-depth attention to our sacred mission of testifying of Christ and explaining the doctrines of his atonement. President Benson and his counselors have set the example in this, and many have followed. Our fine seminary and institute teachers have likewise been inspired to more effective teaching and witnessing of the Savior. As a result of President Benson’s teachings, all Latter-day Saints are more conscious of the vital importance of the Book of Mormon in this effort. We are more aware of our duty and privilege to use this book to testify of Christ and to explain the new covenant, the principles and covenants of his gospel. Our Church leaders and scholars have identified important facts we can use in this effort. For example, the word atonement appears only once in the entire New Testament, but twenty-eight times in the text of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is clearly the most profound treatment of this supremely important subject found anywhere (see Boyd K. Packer, “Atonement, Agency, Accountability,” Ensign, May 1988, pp. 69­70). The Book of Mormon has nearly one hundred names for the Savior, each expressing some nuance of meaning that enriches our understanding of his divine nature and his mission (see Matthews, “What the Book of Mormon Tells Us,” pp. 32­33). Finally, as President Benson noted in one of his conference talks, “Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament” (Ensign, November 1987, p. 83; also see Matthews, “What the Book of Mormon Tells Us,” p. 33). Fortunately, there are still many God-fearing Christians who join us in testifying of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ. For some years I have enjoyed sharing one such testimony. In many ways it is a model for each of us who has a duty to testify of Christ. These are the words of the late Malcolm Muggeridge, British author, journalist, and television commentator: I may, I suppose, regard myself, or pass for being, a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets–that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the higher slopes of the Internal Revenue–that’s success. Furnished with money and a little fame even the elderly, if they care to, may partake of trendy diversions–that’s pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently heeded for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time–that’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you–and I beg you to believe me–multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing–less than nothing, a positive impediment–measured against one draught of that living water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are. [Sally S. Wright, “The Pilgrimage of Malcolm Muggeridge,” Chronicles, December 1992, p. 29, quoting from Muggeridge’s Jesus Rediscovered] Men and women unquestionably have impressive powers and can bring to pass great things. But after all our obedience and good works, we cannot be saved from death or the effects of our individual sins without the grace extended by the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon makes this clear. It teaches that “salvation doth not come by the law alone” (Mosiah 13:28). In other words, salvation does not come simply by keeping the commandments. “By the law no flesh is justified” (2 Nephi 2:5). Even those who try to obey and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength are unprofitable servants (see Mosiah 2:21). Man cannot earn his own salvation. He cannot be cleansed by personal suffering for his own sins. The Book of Mormon teaches: “Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14). “There can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:12; see also 2 Nephi 9:7; Alma 34:8­16). “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah. . . . He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Nephi 2:6­7). Consequently, “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). And so we “rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, . . . that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). These teachings obviously stand in opposition to the belief or assumption of some mortals (perhaps even some members of our Church) that they have no need of Christ because they can save themselves by their own works. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we testify with the Book of Mormon prophet-king Benjamin that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For behold . . . salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ. [Mosiah 3:17­18] And so we say to all, in the words the prophet Moroni wrote as a conclusion to the Book of Mormon: Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; . . . And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. [Moroni 10:32­33] This is the new covenant, as explained in the Book of Mormon. May we follow the commandment to give diligent heed to these words of eternal life; may we follow our prophet’s challenge to remove the condemnation that comes from treating this new covenant lightly; may we be true to our sacred responsibilities, I pray, even as I testify to the truth of these things, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

1993 (April): Conference Address, Elder Gene R. Cook, Of the Seventy: Receiving Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord:

I bear witness this afternoon of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and specifically of the doctrine of grace that He extends to all mankind. In so doing, I humbly recognize the great gift the Father has bestowed upon us because He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” .. Perhaps some of us have not received or known how to use the great gift of grace the Father has given to us through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” The prophet Zenock even said, Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.

1993 (December): Ensign Article, Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Formerly BYU Provost, currently First Quorum of Seventy: The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement:

As Adam’s and Eve’s descendants become accountable for their own sins at age eight, they all taste sin to one degree or another because of their experiences in a free environment. Those who come to love Satan more than God will to that degree become carnal, sensual, and devilish by nature — natural men. On the other hand, those who accept Christ’s grace by their faith, repentance, baptism, and continued striving will ultimately put off the natural man and become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord. They will then be good by nature … In LDS theology, then, grace is the absolutely indispensable source of three categories of blessings. First are the unconditional blessings — gifts requiring no individual action on our part. God’s grace in this sense includes the very Creation, as well as making the plan of salvation known to us. It also includes resurrection for all from physical death and forgiveness for Adam and Eve’s original transgression. Second, the Savior has atoned for our personal sins on the condition of our repentance. Personal repentance is a necessary condition of salvation but is not by itself sufficient to assure salvation. Without the Atonement, our repentance will not save us. One must also accept the ordinances of baptism and receive the Holy Ghost, by which one is born again as a spiritual child of Christ. Third comes the bestowal of grace after baptism along the path toward a Christlike nature. Once we have repented and are baptized unto forgiveness of sin, we have only “entered in by the gate” to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.” This post-baptism stage of spiritual development does not require perfection in mortality, but it does require our good-faith effort to “endure to the end” and to become perfect, “even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect” This effort includes the ordinances of the temple and an ongoing repentance process as needed to retain a remission of our sins from day to day.

1993: Book, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apostle: Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

In this, the most recent addition to the approved missionary personal library, Elder M. Russell Ballard explains the Church and LDS beliefs in a clear and inoffensive way. Elder Ballard discusses the Apostasy, the need for the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, the priesthood, the plan of salvation, the Articles of Faith, the Word of Wisdom, temples, missionary work, and benefits of living the gospel. Through personal experiences he reveals how the gospel has benefitted him and concludes by bearing his testimony. You can feel confident in giving this book to nonmember–or less active–friends and family. (With the republishing of the Missionary Lessons, this outstanding book is now one of only four books on the required reading list for full-time LDS Missionaries.

1993 (April): Conference Address, Elder D. Todd Christopherson, of the Seventy: I know in whom I have Trusted: [This was the first Conference address by Elder Christofferson as a General Authority]

As I have agonized in recent hours over the acceptability and adequacy of my offering upon the altar of him who gave his all, it has come to me that I must focus outwardly, that as I seek the interest of his flock and lose myself in their service, his grace shall be sufficient for me. I so commit myself unreservedly. I readily attest to the reality and greatness of our God, to his goodness and grace, to his justice and mercy, to the truth of his gospel and the power of his priesthood and the authenticity of the calling of his latter-day seers. At the outset of this ministry, I acknowledge that anything I may achieve will be by virtue of the power and the grace and the gift of God. I am not, in Isaiah’s words, the axe that shall “boast itself against him that heweth therewith”; I am not the saw that shall “magnify itself against him that shaketh it.” (Isa. 10:15.) With Nephi, I know in whom I have trusted. (See 2 Ne. 4:19.) I am particularly gratified, and it is of great significance to me, that I may at any moment and in any circumstance approach through prayer the throne of grace, that my Heavenly Father will hear my petition, that my Advocate, him who did no sin, whose blood was shed, will plead my cause. (See D&C 45:3-5.) I rely heavily on that access to God, which he gives to all his children, for he is indeed no respecter of persons, and he that asks shall receive. I so witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1993 (April): Ensign Article, They Know Him: Latter-day Prophets Testify of Christ:

Joseph Smith: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Brigham Young: “Can all the wisdom of the world devise means by which we can be redeemed, and return to the presence of our Father and Elder Brother, and dwell with holy angels and celestial beings? No, it is beyond the power and wisdom of the inhabitants of the earth … to prepare or create a sacrifice that will pay this divine debt. But God provided it, and his Son has paid it.” John Taylor: “As the Son of Man, He endured all that it was possible for flesh and blood to endure; as the Son of God He triumphed over all, and forever ascended to the right hand of God.” Wilford Woodruff: “When they led Jesus to the cross, the very moment that spirit departed from that sorrowful tabernacle, it held the keys of the kingdom of God in all of its strength and power and glory the same as he had done while in the body.” Lorenzo Snow: “The spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, … dispelling forever, so long as reason and memory last, all possibility of doubt or fear in relation to the fact handed down to us historically that the ‘babe of Bethlehem’ is truly the Son of God.” Joseph F. Smith: “Christ is indeed the Savior of my soul, the Savior of mankind. He has sacrificed his life for us that we might be saved, he has broken the bands of death, … he has declared himself to be the way of salvation, the light and the life of the world, and I believe it with all my heart.” Heber J. Grant: “Not only did Jesus come as a universal gift, He came as an individual offering with a personal message to each one of us. … And His blood will conditionally save us. Not as nations, communities or groups, but as individuals.” George Albert Smith: “I have been buoyed up and, as it were, lifted out of myself and given power not my own to teach the glorious truths proclaimed by the Redeemer of the world. I have not seen Him face to face but have … felt His presence in a way not to be mistaken. I know that my Redeemer lives.” David O. McKay: “Members of the Church of Christ are under obligation to make the sinless Son of Man their ideal. He is the one Perfect Being who ever walked the earth; the sublimest example of nobility; Godlike in nature; perfect in his love.” Joseph Fielding Smith: “Who should we love above everything else in the world? … The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Love him more than we do our own lives, or our own fathers and mothers or children; … because without his blessings we would have nothing.” Harold B. Lee: “By the power of the Holy Ghost and in deep humility I solemnly bear testimony to the world that God lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ, was born in the flesh; that He was crucified and was raised from the dead with a body of flesh and bones, and sits today on the right hand of the Father as our judge and advocate.” Spencer W. Kimball: “In quiet, restrained, divine dignity he stood when they cast their spittle in his face. He remained composed. They pushed him around. Not an angry word escaped his lips. They slapped his face and beat his body. Yet he stood resolute, unintimidated … He had said ‘Love your enemies.’ Now he showed how much one can love his enemies. He was dying on the cross for those who had nailed him there.” Ezra Taft Benson: “With all my soul, I love Him. I humbly testify that He is the same loving, compassionate Lord today as when He walked the dusty roads of Palestine. He is close to His servants on this earth. He cares about and loves each of us today. Of that you can be assured.”

1994 (September): Conference Address, President Howard W. Hunter:1994: President Howard W. Hunter:1994: President Howard W. Hunter: 1994: President Howard W. Hunter: Come to the God of All Truth:

Our hearts are subdued as we gather at this place where a lawless mob took the lives of these two noble and valiant men, Joseph and Hyrum Smith. They were servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate their memory by magnifying the message of their Master. Soon after the organization of the Church, Joseph Smith was asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” He replied, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (History of the Church, 3:30). The resurrection of Jesus Christ broke the bands of mortal death. Our Savior’s atonement paid the price for the sins of all who will repent and seek eternal life. Our testimony of Jesus Christ also includes His teachings. By what He said and what He did, He taught us how to live. This world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The gospel provides the only way the world will ever know peace. We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and more forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution. In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.

1994 (June): Ensign Article: The Great Jehovah: Statements from the Prophet Joseph Smith about the Savior of the World — “My Friend,” “Our Divine Master,” the “Lord Jesus Christ”:

From his boyhood to his thirty-ninth and last year, Joseph Smith centered his life on the person and latter-day work of the Lord Jesus Christ. “I realize in some measure my responsibility, and the need I have of support from above, and wisdom from on high, that I may be able to teach this people, which have now become a great people, the principles of righteousness, and lead them agreeably to the will of Heaven; so that they may be perfected, and prepared to meet the Lord Jesus Christ when He shall appear in great glory.”;” “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended unto heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”

1994 (July): Farms Review of Books, Dr. Louis Midgeley, BYU Philosophy Dept: A Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy Challenges Cultural Mormon Neglect of the Book of Mormon: Some Reflections:

To take the Book of Mormon seriously is to be confronted with the question of whether it and Joseph Smith’s prophetic claims are true. And it seems difficult if not impossible to confront Mormonism without reaching some conclusion about the truth of the Book of Mormon.28 But White affects at least a surface neutrality on the question of whether the Restoration is true or false. Hence, for the most part White simply ignores the Book of Mormon, and neglects to consider its prophetic truth claims or the account of its coming forth. Instead, he sees the Book of Mormon as inimical or at least irrelevant to what he imagines as the optimistic contents of “traditional Mormonism” as he understands such things. Hence, it should not be surprising that he, like McMurrin, reacts to signs of serious attention being given to the teachings found in the Book of Mormon as an indication of the emergence of a movement bent on foisting on the Saints a presumably malevolent, dark, negative, pessimistic, life-denying “neo-orthodoxy.”

Two related developments — a concern with the historicity and also the teachings of the Book of Mormon—are logically linked from the perspective of genuine faith.30 Hence, if there really is a post-World War II movement among the Saints that constitutes a revival or rejuvenation of Mormon “orthodoxy,” it flows from and is to be identified with the growing emphasis on the content of the Latter-day Saint scriptures, and especially the content and historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. It necessarily includes the increasing scholarly attention given to the Book of Mormon since Fawn Brodie got the attention of the Saints in 1945 with her attack on the historical foundations of the faith.31 Those involved in this movement, unlike those White thinks constitute a “neo-orthodox” movement among Mormons, actually know each other, communicate back and forth, debate issues, publish essays and books, hold conferences, and so forth. White could have at least endeavored to explain how Latter-day Saints, from the moment they started following Joseph Smith, could believe that the Book of Mormon is both true and that it contains truths for them, and yet not have genuinely found sustenance in the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Saints have quoted from the Book of Mormon in their sermons; read it as part of their devotion to God; consulted it for consolation, instruction, and moral guidance; found in it a message that allowed them to face the terrors of life—including death—with equanimity; and offered it to the gentile world as evidence that the heavens have been opened. Cultural Mormons may have jettisoned the Book of Mormon, but it has been and still is the keystone of the faith of genuine Latter-day Saints. If there is currently a renewed interest in the Book of Mormon, and in that sense a Mormon neo-orthodoxy, and I believe that there is,98 then we must look at whatever came after that initial theophany, translation, and offering of the Book of Mormon to the world as the elaboration by God, through additional revelations, of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And those who take the Book of Mormon seriously begin with the assumption that what was added to the understanding of the Saints by further revelation was not essentially discontinuous or inconsistent with what was taught at the very beginning of the Restoration, but came line upon line, as part of the restoration of all things. Now, of course, Latter-day Saints, including the Brethren, have been given to speculations, some of which has not necessarily been consistent with what went before. The Saints, though, are not bound by such speculation. Hence, the way to achieve a sound understanding of Mormonism is to look for continuities and not just assume inconsistency between what is found in the Book of Mormon and what came later through divine special revelations and inspired teachings. After all, the Book of Mormon is the canon—the primary measuring rod. And, if an angel actually had something to do with it, it is then not a mere human invention or an instance of “theological” speculation by Joseph Smith. .If there is a revival of an orthodoxy within the community of Saints, it is a result of more careful attention to the actual contents of the scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon that has been growing since World War II,57 rather than a continuation of an earlier tendency to capitulate to the latest fads and fashions of enlightenment and post-enlightenment modernity. And this emphasis on the authentic teachings found in the Latter-day Saint scriptures has nothing much in common with developments in continental Protestantism, nor has it borrowed anything from more recent developments in either European or American Protestant theology.

1995: Aaronic Priesthood Lesson Manual: 1995: Aaronic Priesthood M1995: Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3: 1995: Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3: Lesson 7: The Atonement Brings Victory over Death and Hell:

On one occasion Joseph Smith explained, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”

1995 (April): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: Apostacy and Restoration,:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. I wish to speak about some of the important additions our doctrines make to the Christian faith. In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. However, we testify that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings. We also testify that God the Father is not just a spirit but is a glorified person with a tangible body, as is his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. Like other Christians, we believe in a heaven or paradise and a hell following mortal life, but to us that two-part division of the righteous and the wicked is merely temporary, while the spirits of the dead await their resurrections and final judgments. The destinations that follow the final judgments are much more diverse. Our restored knowledge of the separateness of the three members of the Godhead provides a key to help us understand the diversities of resurrected glory. It is the reality of these glorious possibilities that causes us to proclaim our message of restored Christianity to all people, even to good practicing Christians with other beliefs.

1995 (April): Ensign Article, Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Seventy; perhaps the Article based upon which he became an Apostle: The Joy of Becoming Clean:

As memorable as that experience was, there are wonderful feelings far surpassing the physical feelings I felt on that cold winter night. I speak of marvelous spiritual feelings that come through the gift of the Savior’s atonement as the layers of sin are washed away and we come to feel spiritually clean. Jesus taught forcefully of the joy of this redeeming power. One of his most poignant parables is that of the prodigal son. Humbled by the emptiness of his “riotous living,” the son “came to himself” (Luke 15:13, 17). He realized his wrong; he knew he must change. He said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:18). He was repenting. The scriptures then report: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Do we understand our Heavenly Father’s anxiousness at our every effort to return to him? Even when we are still a great way off, he welcomes our return.

1995 (August): Liahona Article on Life of New Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, Don L. Searle: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

He looks back on his service in the British Mission as “the major spiritual turning point of my life — the beginning of my beginnings” in mature gospel growth. Under President T. Bowring Woodbury, he gained experience and seasoning as a missionary. Then, with the arrival of a new mission president — Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Seventy — Elder Holland’s future changed forever. “President Hanks taught me to love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon,” Elder Holland says. “He had a profound influence on my life.” Before his mission, Elder Holland had intended to become a medical doctor. But, he explains, “I came home from my mission believing that God intended me to be a teacher.” “Jeffrey Holland is by nature a teacher,” says Elder Hanks, now an emeritus member of the Seventy. “He is a gentleman, a scholar, and a diplomat—but in all those things he is a teacher.” As his mission president, Elder Hanks saw some exceptional qualities in young Elder Holland and made him part of a traveling team of trainers. Their assignment was to help other missionaries become disciples of Jesus Christ. Elder Hanks says Jeffrey Holland “blossomed into a discipleship, even then centered in Jesus Christ,” and responded diligently to his mission president’s call to teach from the Book of Mormon. Elder Hanks says that Elder Holland’s love for that book and his ability to teach from it have grown continuously stronger through the years.

1995 (October): Conference Address, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Apostle: Perfection Pending:

If I were to ask which of the Lord’s commandments is most difficult to keep, many of us might cite Matt. 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Keeping this commandment can be a concern because each of us is far from perfect, both spiritually and temporally. Reminders come repeatedly. We may lock keys inside the car, or even forget where the car is parked. And not infrequently we walk intently from one part of the house to another, only to forget the reason for the errand. When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing. My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life. We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips! 2 We also need to remember that the Lord gives no commandments that are impossible to obey. But sometimes we fail to comprehend them fully.

1996: Sunday School and Missionary Training Church History Manual: Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Introduction:

The central message of this book is the message declared by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since its beginning. Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this dispensation, taught: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Every prophet who has succeeded Joseph Smith has added his personal witness of the divine mission of the Savior. The First Presidency affirmed: “As those who are called and ordained to bear witness of Jesus Christ to all the world, we testify that He was resurrected on that Easter morning nearly two thousand years ago, and that He lives today. He has a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones. He is the Savior, the Light and Life of the world.” Millions of faithful Saints have also had testimonies of the divinity of Jesus Christ. This knowledge has motivated them to make the sacrifices necessary to build The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the kingdom of God on the earth. The story of the establishment of the Church is one of faith, consecration, and joy. It is the story of living prophets who taught the truths of God to the modern world. It is the story of men and women from all walks of life who sought for the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and, upon finding it, were willing to pay the price of becoming the Savior’s disciples. These stalwart Saints pressed on through sufferings and hardships, witnessing even in their darkest hours of the goodness of God and the joy of his love. They have left a legacy of faith, courage, obedience, and sacrifice. The heritage of faith continues today. Latter-day Saints throughout the world are modern pioneers in their own homelands, where they live with faith and courage in a time fraught with new challenges and opportunities. There are pages of history yet to be written. We each have an opportunity to leave a heritage for generations to follow that will help them understand the joy of living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we learn more about the faith of those who have gone before us, we can better understand those with whom we have joined hands in bearing witness of the Savior and helping to establish his kingdom. We can determine to live more righteously as faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1996 (January): Ensign Article, Elder Spencer J. Condie: The Fall and Infinite Atonement:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,… The prophets of the Book of Mormon teach us of two different kinds of restoration: a spiritual restoration, and a physical restoration.

1996 (August): BYU Devotional, Dr. David H. Yarn, Jr.: My Age of Preparation: The Purpose of Life:

As I see it, the second great endeavor to which our preparation for eternal life might be reduced is stewardship. Fundamentally, that means that each person is a steward and has a stewardship. The generic meaning of steward is “one who acts as a supervisor or administrator, as of finances and property, for another or others.” Some persons in their pride of self, pride of position, or pride of possessions might resent being thought of as stewards, but nonetheless we are all stewards. If one pauses to consider what he brings into this life with him and what he takes when he leaves, he will be brought to a keen awareness of how temporary his so-called possessions and positions are. Several years ago some wealthy wit declared, “If I can’t take it with me, I’m not going.” But we are all going, and the material things of this world will not go with us. We are stewards of our lives–the years of mortality we have; stewards of our minds–how we use our intellects; stewards of our talents–what we do with them; stewards of our energy–what we do with it; stewards as husbands or wives–what we make of those relationships; stewards over our families–the influence we exercise upon them; stewards in our occupations–responsible for what we do with our opportunities, responsible for whatever influence we may exercise upon others; and stewards over our so-called possessions–what we do with them and the purposes to which we use them. In short, our lives constitute vast complexes of stewardships, opportunities to manage a host of affairs. Doubtless the reason Jesus on several occasions spoke of the difficulty of the rich man’s entering the kingdom of heaven is because of the magnitude of his earthly stewardship and his responsibility to use his riches for wise and righteous purposes. But, as I have indicated, it is not only the rich man who is a steward. Every human being is a steward entrusted with what we call his own life and all of the personal, family, social, religious, political, economic, and other relationships in which he finds himself. Basically, what is our responsibility as stewards? Earlier we discovered that the answer to the question “What is the purpose of life?” or “What is our work?” was found by examining the Lord’s statement concerning his work. Likewise, in this case, in order to determine our responsibility as stewards, let us reverently ask the question “What do gods do?” As we think of Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and what they do–as revealed in the revelations they have given mankind–and as we contemplate our prayers and other communications with them, perhaps there is no better way to summarily describe what they do than to say simply, they bless. However else their work might be itemized, detailed, or listed, fundamentally, their great powers are used to bless mankind. With the example of our Celestial Sire, our Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost, we are now able to answer the question “What is our responsibility as stewards?” Essentially, as stewards of all the circumstances and things entrusted to us, as previously described, it is our responsibility to so administer, manage, and use these things that we bless the lives of all with whom we associate. Certainly that is the sense of King Benjamin’s declaration “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). We should not confuse serving with exploiting, profiteering, preying upon, taking advantage of, etc. We are to serve one another. The Lord said, “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). He also said, “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:43­44). Obviously, greatness is equated with service.

1996 (November): Conference Address, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Apostle: Autn:ID – 134012Christians in Belief and Action:

Some people erroneously believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members are not Christian. How We Live Our Lives: To repeat, by definition a Christian not only professes belief in the Savior, but a Christian lives and acts according to the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ.

1996 (November): Conference Address, Richard C. Edgley, Presiding Bishopric: We Care Enough to Send Our Very Best:

Some outside our Church may feel that a mission is a great and unreasonable sacrifice. Our missionaries do not view it as a sacrifice. They view it as an opportunity to manifest their love to the Savior, who charged, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”. They see it as an opportunity to express their love to all mankind. They see it as an opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of the world. They see it as an opportunity to build faith in Christ and to teach His saving and comforting doctrine. I see it as truly one of the distinguishing characteristics of true Christianity. I see these young missionaries as true Christian servants exemplifying the highest Christian principles by testifying of and serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

1997 (April): Conference Address, President Gordon B. Hinckley: Our Testimony to the World:

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. This is our primary declaration of faith. We speak unabashedly of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. We declare without equivocation the fact of His great act of Atonement for all mankind. That act brought assurance of universal resurrection and opened the way to exaltation in our Father’s kingdom. This is the burden of our declaration to the world. It is the substance of our theology. It is the wellspring of our faith. Let no one ever say that we are not Christians.

1996: Sunday School and Missionary Training Church History Manual:
1996: Sunday School and Missionary Training Church History Manual:
1996: Sunday School and Missionary Training Church History Manual:
1997 (April): Ensign Article, Larry E Dahl: “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee”

Of all the truths of the “everlasting covenant, even the fulness of [the] gospel” (D&C 66:2) restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the most fundamental yet profound are those concerning Jesus Christ. “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

1997 (October): Conference Addess, Elder Neal L. Maxwell, Apostle: Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ:

In bringing to pass the beneficent Atonement, certain things were utterly unique to Jesus. These cannot be replicated by us, the beneficiaries of the glorious Atonement with its gift of universal resurrection but also its proffer of eternal life (see Moses 6:57-62). Obviously, unlike our precious Savior, we surely cannot atone for the sins of mankind! Moreover, we certainly cannot bear all mortal sicknesses, infirmities, and griefs. However, on our smaller scale, just as Jesus has invited, we can indeed strive to become “even as He is”. This process of developmental repentance occurs when we truly take His yoke upon us, thus finally qualifying for God’s greatest gift—eternal life. It is this latter dimension of the Atonement—now more appreciated by me—on which my brief focus will fall. Mortality presents us with numerous opportunities to become more Christlike: first, by coping successfully with those of life’s challenges which are “common to mankind”. In addition, there are also our customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera. If endured well now, “all these things” can be for our good and can “greatly enlarge the soul,” including an enlarged capacity for joy. Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging! My admiration goes to my many spiritual superiors who so exemplify for us all. In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give “all that He hath” (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isn’t any more!

1997 (October): Conference Address, Elder Robert D. Hales, Apostle: In Remembrance of Jesus:

Jesus is the great Mediator. Through omnipotent and omniscient, all-powerful and all-knowing, He is our friend. O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow’r thru-out the universe displayed; Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, How great thou art! How great thou art! May we follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, and always remember Him in all that we do and all that we say and in all of the acts of charity given one to another, that we may know that these things are done in remembrance of Him. I testify that our Lord Jesus Christ lives and guides and directs His Church by revelation through His prophet this very day and time. “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26). We believe in Christ, we remember Him, and we testify of Jesus Christ our Lord and our Redeemer with the knowledge that He will come again to earth to reign in glory as King of Kings. May all who profess to be Christians, all who know and testify of Jesus, come unto Him and follow His teachings and example, being one as Heavenly Father and Jesus are one in purpose, to unite ourselves, to lift and strengthen each other, and take upon us one another’s burdens as our Savior has taken our burdens upon Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1997 (December): Ensign Article, Don L. Searle, Assistant Managing Editor: Major Curriculum Changes in Priesthood and Relief Society:

The new Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum being introduced in January 1998 is a tool to help members come unto Christ by helping them further learn and apply gospel principles and doctrines. Beginning in January, Melchizedek Priesthood holders and Relief Society sisters will be participating in new course work designed not only to increase their knowledge but also to bring them greater growth in gospel study, spirituality, service, and leadership. The objective is to help members and leaders put gospel truths to work more effectively in their lives. To meet this goal, the new curriculum format gives a specific focus to each Sunday of the month. On the second and third Sundays of the month, priesthood quorums and Relief Society members will each study teachings of Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For 1998–99, these will come from a new book, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. On the fourth Sunday of the month, the subject of study for priesthood quorums and Relief Society members will be Teachings for Our Time—lessons based on contemporary subjects and resources designated by the First Presidency. These resources include current articles and addresses by the current President of the Church, other members of the First Presidency, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The assignment to develop the new curriculum came from President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust. The two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were most immediately responsible for overseeing its development say it is based on the principle that when teaching is effective and leaders show the way, members are motivated to action. “Application could be its theme,” says Elder Dallin H. Oaks. “It stresses the application of gospel principles, especially in and through the priesthood quorums and the Relief Societies.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says it is hoped that the new curriculum will strengthen priesthood leaders and Relief Society presidencies in their roles as teachers and leaders. “We would like the quorum presidencies or group leaders and the Relief Society presidencies to see instruction as an extension of their leadership.” While the priesthood brethren and Relief Society sisters will be studying the same lessons from the same resources on the second, third, and fourth Sundays of the month, instructions on implementing the new curriculum call for them to maintain separate meetings. This separation is to strengthen the quorums and the Relief Societies in their individual and unique work. President Hinckley has spoken of the kind of strengthening that may be expected to occur in priesthood quorums and groups. Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum Instructions, a booklet sent to local priesthood leaders with materials about the new curriculum, quotes this statement from 1977, when President Hinckley was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “It will be a marvelous day, my brethren—it will be a day of fulfillment of the purposes of the Lord—when our priesthood quorums become an anchor of strength to every man belonging thereto, when each such man may appropriately be able to say, ‘I am a member of a priesthood quorum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I stand ready to assist my brethren in all of their needs, as I am confident they stand ready to assist me in mine. Working together, we shall grow spiritually as covenant sons of God. Working together, we can stand, without embarrassment and without fear, against every wind of adversity that might blow, be it economic, social, or spiritual’ ” ([1997], 2). In a similar way, it is expected that Relief Society sisters will grow by learning and applying gospel principles in the strength and unity of their organization. “Sisters enjoy and benefit from the opportunity of meeting separately,” Elder Oaks says. “This is particularly important in the case of single sisters. There is something in sisterhood that is lost when they do not have this opportunity.” In retrospect, it is clear that the new curriculum was developed with inspired direction. When Elder Oaks and Elder Holland received the assignment to improve the course of study for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society, both had just finished rereading Discourses of Brigham Young, something each had independently felt moved to do without knowing why. Both felt that Brigham Young’s discourses would be desirable for current study. Later, as these members of the Twelve and several of the Seventy assigned to the new task began their labors, there was one particularly inspiring meeting that Elder Holland recalls as “the day it came together.” They were discussing possible approaches to a new curriculum when Elder Oaks stepped to a blackboard and began outlining a proposed format for various Sundays of the month. Ideas from others in the meeting quickly fleshed out the proposal. When they were finished, it was not any one person’s plan, Elder Holland says, but all knew it was what should be recommended The First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approved the concept before work began on compiling Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young and on other materials for the first, fourth, and fifth Sundays in the month. Then the General Authorities “turned to a remarkable committee of men and women who worked to get the Brigham Young material ready,” Elder Oaks says. “They did a superb work.” This Church-service committee not only produced the Brigham Young book for use on the second and third Sundays of the month but also helped with materials for the first Sunday’s Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum. The fourth-Sunday curriculum was largely the work of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who determined the contemporary subjects they wanted covered, then selected materials from recent Church magazines and publications as resources. Both Elder Oaks and Elder Holland express gratitude for the support of the two Relief Society general presidencies who have been deeply involved in planning and supporting this change in curriculum. “The former Relief Society general presidency (Sisters Elaine L. Jack, Chieko N. Okazaki, and Aileen H. Clyde) were deeply committed to this, wanting to leave that gift as they left office. Their hearts and souls were in it,” Elder Holland says. “They sent some superb women to help in the preparation of the materials,” Elder Oaks comments, adding that the new Relief Society general presidency (Sisters Mary Ellen Wood Smoot, Virginia Urry Jensen, and Sheri L. Dew) have been equally committed and diligent in preparing for the introduction of this new curriculum. Second and Third Sundays: The teachings of Church Presidents have been included in this new curriculum at the direction of President Hinckley. “He himself is a great teacher and a master historian, one who loves the substance found in the teachings of earlier Presidents of the Church,” Elder Holland says. President Hinckley often shares the words of the Presidents with members of the Twelve and other General Authorities and is eager to see their teachings shared with the general membership of the Church as well. The 1998–99 manual for study, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, will be distributed to every Latter-day Saint 18 years of age and older and is meant to become part of the member’s gospel library for personal gospel study. Teachings of other Presidents will be covered over the next several years but not necessarily in order of their Presidency. Why start with the teachings of Brigham Young? In practical terms, “Brigham Young was the most accessible to us,” Elder Oaks explains. “President Young’s teachings are so extensive and have been so thoroughly examined and fully catalogued that it was comparatively easy to compile them into one volume that will serve us for two years.” Work on the teachings of other Presidents, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, is now going forward for use in future years. Elder Holland points out that in addition to magnifying his remarkable gifts as a prophet, President Young spent decades teaching members how to put the principles of the gospel revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith to work in their lives. The second President of the Church was a master of application—one of the purposes of the new curriculum. Members may be surprised, in fact, at how applicable his teachings are to life in the 1990s and beyond. “There has been an inclination on the part of members, and those outside the Church as well, to see Brigham Young as the great colonizer, the great, practical American Moses—all of which he was. But I am awed by the profundity of his mind. He is brilliant and inspired, by every standard. You only have to read what he wrote to understand that his words still speak to us today,” Elder Holland says. Elder Oaks concurs strongly. “I’d like to promise every member of the Church that if you will read these teachings you will be profoundly taught and exhilarated by the truth and beauty and value of the principles of the gospel taught by this great prophet. They are powerful!” Then Elder Oaks quotes from the teachings of President Brigham Young: “Many imbibe the idea that they are capable of leading out in teaching principles that never have been taught. They are not aware that the moment they give way to this hallucination the Devil has power over them to lead them onto unholy ground” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1978], 77–78). That, Elder Oaks says, is still a valuable caution for any who would take it upon themselves to disseminate gospel principles beyond what the prophets have taught. Might teachers use other resources? Applicable scriptures would be appropriate. But teachers are not encouraged to seek out other sources. “We are satisfied that we are providing sufficient material for a stimulating and edifying lesson,” Elder Oaks says. “Additional efforts might better be focused on improving our teaching methods.” “We’re a worldwide Church,” Elder Holland explains, “and in many areas perhaps all they will have available to teach is what we put in their hands. We felt an obligation to do a good job of that so teachers would have ample resources even where they do not have access to large libraries or such things as computer databases of LDS materials. We’ve been very conscious of tapping material we know they already have.” In areas where the Church is still very new and translated materials are limited, a set of guidelines for using the more limited materials available to members in those areas is being provided. “We could not implement this new curriculum without the Church magazines,” Elder Oaks says. The Ensign and the International Magazines will continue to be the major sources of material used in the fourth-Sunday lessons for the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Sunday curriculum. All members and leaders are encouraged to subscribe to the Church magazines as part of their Church curriculum study materials. Nourishing Members: Both Elder Oaks and Elder Holland see high-quality teaching as a way to retain new members and bring back old ones who are not currently enjoying all the blessings of the gospel. Elder Oaks points out that converts come into the Church after intensive but basic gospel instruction by missionaries, during which they feel strong spiritual confirmations; in the ward or branch, they need to find doctrinal instruction that continues to touch their spirits. Less-active members desiring to come back must find teaching that reinforces their resolve with gospel substance. “All members of the Church need to deepen their doctrinal understanding of the gospel and thereby strengthen their testimonies,” says Elder Holland. This cannot happen for new converts if they are left without strong reinforcement after only six brief missionary discussions, and it will not happen even for lifelong members if they do not continue to study and ponder gospel principles throughout their lives. President Hinckley often emphasizes nourishing members “by the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4), Elder Holland says. “We believe this new curriculum is going to nourish them.”

1998 through 2009: Priesthood and Relief Society Curriculum, Teachings of Presidents of the Church:

Brigham Young (1998–1999); Joseph F. Smith (2000–2001); Harold B. Lee (2002); John Taylor (2003); Heber J. Grant (2004); David O. McKay (2005); Wilford Woodruff (2006); Spencer W. Kimball (2007); Joseph Smith (2008–2009).

1998 (February): BYU forum address, Dr. Robert L. Millet, BYU Religion Dept: What We Believe:

Are we then “saved Christians”? Whereas the ultimate blessings of salvation do not come until the next life, there is a sense in which people in this life may enjoy the assurance of salvation and the peace that accompanies that knowledge. True faith in Christ produces hope in Christ–not worldly wishing but expectation, anticipation, assurance. That is, the Spirit of God operating in our lives is like the Lord’s “earnest money” on us–his sweet certification that he seriously intends to save us with an everlasting salvation. Thus, if we are striving to cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are living in what might be called a “saved” condition … As to whether we worship a different Jesus, we say again: We accept and endorse the testimony of the New Testament writers: Jesus is the Promised Messiah, the resurrection and the life, literally the light of the world. Everything that testifies of his divine birth, his goodness, his transforming power, and his godhood, we embrace enthusiastically. He has broken the bands of death and lives today. All this we know. But we know much more about the Christ because of what has been made known through latter-day prophets.

1998 (April): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: Have You Been Saved?

Good Christian people sometimes attach different meanings to some key gospel terms like saved or salvation. If we answer according to what our questioner probably means in asking if we have been “saved,” our answer must be “yes.” If we answer according to the various meanings we attach to the terms saved or salvation, our answer will be either “yes” or “yes, but with conditions.” As I understand what is meant by the good Christians who speak in these terms, we are “saved” when we sincerely declare or confess that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior … To Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation in this teaching signify a present covenant relationship with Jesus Christ in which we are assured salvation from the consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every sincere Latter-day Saint is “saved” according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we have experienced repentance and baptism, and we are renewing our covenants of baptism by partaking of the sacrament.

1998 (May): New Era Article (and 1998 Book), Dr Stephen Robinson, BYU Religion Dept.: Are Mormons Christians?

Of course we are Christians. Why would anyone say otherwise? Here are the facts. If you live in Utah, you may be surprised. If you live where Latter-day Saints are a minority, you’ve probably heard it before—perhaps many times. But there are sincere people out there who believe the Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians. In fact, the accusation that we are not Christians is probably the most commonly heard criticism of the LDS Church and its doctrines today. Why would anyone say such a thing? Isn’t the name of our church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Do we not worship Christ? Is not the Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ? How could anyone seriously doubt that Latter-day Saints are Christians? There are a number of arguments used supposedly to “prove” that we are not Christian. It is important to recognize that none of them have anything to do with whether or not Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ. Rather, what they basically boil down to is this: Latter-day Saints are different from the other Christian churches. (We understand that these differences exist because traditional Christianity has wandered from the truth over the centuries, but other denominations see things otherwise.)”

1998 (June): Ensign Article, President James E. Faust, First Presidency: A Second Birth:

Our individual reaching toward a second birth, a reawakening, is followed by an eternal searching for that which is noble and good. Like Nicodemus, many will inquire, how can this second birth be? (see John 3:4). The answer is still the same: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). To be spiritually born of God means that we must be able to answer affirmatively the query of Alma, “Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). To be born again means that we must exercise a faith that does not waver and is not easily distracted. The Savior set the compass: we must be born again in spirit and heart.

1998 (June): Ensign Article, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apostle: Building Bridges of Understanding:

What we want most of all is for Christian and non-Christian alike to understand that we love the Lord Jesus Christ. We revere His name. We count it a great honor and privilege to take upon ourselves the name of Christ as Christians and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … Further, just because people of other faiths don’t believe everything that we believe about Jesus Christ and His eternal ministry, we don’t deny that they are Christian. They are simply different from us in some of their beliefs. Although we may differ in points of doctrine, and although we may wish to share with the marvelous truths that we believe the Lord Himself has revealed in these last days, we will and must respect their Christianity and ask only that they likewise respect ours .. It is only through the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ that people can overcome the consequences of bad choices. Thus Nephi teaches us that it is ultimately by the grace of Christ that we are saved even after all that we can do (see 2 Ne. 25:23). No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it would not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. On our own we cannot earn the kingdom of God—no matter what we do. Unfortunately, there are some within the Church who have become so preoccupied with performing good works that they forget that those works—as good as they may be—are hollow unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Christ. A third area of misunderstanding that I’d like to discuss for a moment has to do with our relationship to Christ. We occasionally hear some members refer to Jesus as our Elder Brother, which is a true concept based on our understanding of the premortal life with our Father in Heaven. But like many points of gospel doctrine, that simple truth doesn’t go far enough in terms of describing the Savior’s role in our present lives and His great position as a member of the Godhead. Thus, some non-LDS Christians are uncomfortable with what they perceive as a secondary role for Christ in our theology. They feel that we view Jesus as a spiritual peer. They believe that we view Christ as an implementor for God, if you will, but that we don’t view Him as God to us and to all mankind, which, of course, is counter to biblical testimony about Christ’s divinity. Let me help us understand, with clarity and testimony, our belief about Jesus Christ. We declare He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Creator, the Savior, the Captain of our Salvation, the Bright and Morning Star. He has taught us that He is in all things, above all things, through all things and round about all things, that He is Alpha and Omega, the Lord of the Universe, the first and the last relative to our salvation, and that His name is above every name and is in fact the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.

1998 (August): BYU Education Week Devotional, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Apostle: Gratitude for the Mission and Ministry of Jesus Christ:

His mission was the Atonement. That mission was uniquely his. Born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father, he was the only one who could voluntarily lay down his life and take it up again.10 The glorious consequences of his Atonement were infinite and eternal. He took the sting out of death and made temporary the grief of the grave.11 His responsibility for the Atonement was known even before the Creation and the Fall. Not only was it to provide for the resurrection and immortality of all humankind, it was to enable us to be forgiven of our sins–upon conditions established by him. And his Atonement opened the way by which we could be united with him and with our families eternally. This prospect we esteem as eternal life–the greatest gift of God to man. No one else could effect the Atonement. No other person, even of the greatest wealth and power, could ever save one soul–not even his own.13 And no other individual will be required or permitted to shed blood for the eternal salvation of another human being. Jesus did it “once for all.” Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, even as many as will, shall be redeemed. The Savior began shedding his blood for all mankind not on the cross but in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he took upon himself the weight of the sins of all who would ever live. Under that heavy load, he bled at every pore.20 The agony of the Atonement was completed on the cross at Calvary. The importance of the Atonement was summarized by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said: The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.

1998 (August): Book, Dr. Robert Millet and Dr. Noel Reynolds: Latter-day Christianity: 10 Basic Issues:

1. Are Latter-day Saints Christian? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always accepted Jesus of Nazareth as testified of in the Bible: the divine Redeemer and Son of God who atoned for the sins of all mankind and ensured our universal resurrection. The church has never ceased to affirm that there is no other name given whereby man can be saved (see Acts 4:12). Another book that the church reveres as scripture, the Book of Mormon, declares on its title page that it was written “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” In LDS belief, Joseph Smith is the prophet through whom God restored the Church of Christ and named it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He stated that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”1 Members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ gratefully rejoice in Christ’s atonement, confidently anticipate his glorious return, expect to be brought before him when he judges the entire human race, and hope to dwell with him for all eternity. Surely all who profess such beliefs can lay claim to being called Christians. Obviously there are doctrinal differences between Mormons and people of a variety of other Christian denominations. But Latter-day Saints believe that it must be possible for people to have different points of view and still be Christians. Given the large number of Christian denominations, all of whom disagree on points large and small, this conclusion is inescapable. Latter-day Saints embrace as fellow Christians those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. In the same vein, they believe that no doctrinal difference or variation in practice can loom so large as to cancel out their own sincere belief in and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Redeemer.

1998 (November): Ensign Article, President Gordon B. Hinckley: What are People Asking About Us?:

Are we Christians? Of course we are Christians. We believe in Christ. We worship Christ. We take upon ourselves in solemn covenant His holy name. The Church to which we belong carries His name. He is our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer through whom came the great Atonement with salvation and eternal life.

1999 (April): New Era article: Questions and Answers: Some of my friends say I don’t believe in the real Jesus Christ because I’m a member of the Church. Nothing I say makes a difference. What can I do?

There are lots of reasons why some people think that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians. Some people say that because we have different ideas about Christ than they do, we’re not Christians, or we believe in a “different” Jesus than they do. Other people are confused and believe things about us that simply aren’t true: that we worship idols, that we worship Joseph Smith, or that we are a cult.

1999 (December): New Era Magazine Article, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Apostle: Christ’s Mission and Ministry:

The Mission of Jesus Christ His mission was the Atonement. He said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”

2000 (April): Ensign Article, All the Living Apostles and Prophets: The Living Christ:

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts … We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

2000 (April): Conference Address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apostle: Resurrection:

I wonder if we fully appreciate the enormous significance of our belief in a literal, universal resurrection. The assurance of immortality is fundamental to our faith. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” Of all things in that glorious ministry, why did the Prophet Joseph Smith use the testimony of the Savior’s death, burial, and Resurrection as the fundamental principle of our religion, saying that “all other things … are only appendages to it”? The answer is found in the fact that the Savior’s Resurrection is central to what the prophets have called “the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death” (2 Ne. 11:5).

2000 (October): Ensign Article, Elder Bruce D. Porter, of the Seventy: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel:

Without faith in Jesus Christ, remission of sins would not be possible, for it was through His suffering and infinite sacrifice that the price for our sins was paid. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. The prophet Enos had a similar experience after praying all day and night for forgiveness of his sins. The voice of the Lord spoke unto him and assured him that he was forgiven, after which his “guilt was swept away” (Enos 1:6). “Lord, how is it done?” he asked, and the Lord replied, “Because of thy faith in Christ whom thou hast never before heard nor seen” (Enos 1:7–8). The Atonement of Jesus Christ, wrought by His infinite suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary, makes possible forgiveness of sins and reconciliation between God and man. There is no doctrine more vital to our salvation than this. As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

2000 (October): Conference Address, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Presidency of Seventy: Living Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

In this dispensation of restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” In keeping with this divinely mandated responsibility to bear certain witness of the name of Jesus Christ to all the world, the living Apostles of our day have given their testimony. In the proclamation “The Living Christ,” they declare the restoration of His priesthood and Church, testify of His Second Coming, and “bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God.

2001 (April): Conference Address, President James E. Faust: Born Again:

The full benefit of forgiveness of sin through the Savior’s Atonement begins with repentance and baptism and then expands upon receiving the Holy Ghost … All of us need to be born spiritually, from 8 to 80 … Our first birth takes place when we are born into mortality. Our second birth begins when we are baptized by water by one holding the priesthood of God and is completed when we are confirmed, and “then cometh a remission of our sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” .. As I have lived so many years since my baptism by water, I have come to savor the spiritual gifts of the Holy Ghost that come through baptism of the Spirit. I humbly pray that the Spirit of the Lord will put His seal upon the importance of the things about which I have spoken. I witness that we cannot be fully converted until we “walk in newness of life and are at heart a new person, “purged from our old sins. This can only come about by being born again of the water and of the Spirit through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. In this way we receive divine forgiveness, by which we can know in our hearts that our sins are remitted. I know this to be true and so testify in the name of Jesus Christ.

2001 (October): Ensign Article and August 1999 Missionary Training Center Address, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Apostle: Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement:

In summation, the Atonement of Jesus Christ blesses us in so many ways. Through it and it alone, a remission of our sins, bringing the needed emancipation discussed earlier, can occur. Likewise, the Atonement makes significant personal progress possible by what the Book of Mormon calls “faith unto repentance” in Jesus, in the Atonement, and in the Father’s plan of salvation (see Alma 34:15–17). Otherwise, individuals who do not have faith unto repentance will wrongly reason, “Why bother to repent?” Little wonder the scriptures say that human “despair cometh because of iniquity” (Moro. 10:22). The Atonement, instead, can bring us a “brightness of hope” even amid our losses, crosses, sorrows, and disappointments (2 Ne. 31:20). The spiritual submissiveness which is central to the blessings of the Atonement was well exemplified by Melissa Howes as she led her family in prayer a short while before her father died of cancer. Melissa was only 9 and her father 43. Consider unselfish Melissa Howes’s pleading, in her own words as reported to me by her mother: “Heavenly Father, bless my daddy, and if you need to take him and need him more than us, you can have him. We want him, but Thy will be done. And please help us not to be mad at you” (letter from Christie Howes, 25 Feb. 1998). How many individuals, bereft of such an understanding of the plan of salvation, are angry with God instead of being grateful to Him and to Jesus for the glorious Atonement? Not only is the Atonement the grand expression of Heavenly Father and Jesus’ love for us, but through it we can come to know of Their personal love for us.

2001 (November): University Convocation, BYU-Hawaii, Elder M Russell Ballard, Apostle: Prelude to the Restoration:

Now, I want to talk to you about something we must never, ever, forget. As we walk through this process of mortality as members of the Church, we must appreciate that there has been a terrible price paid for the privilege you and I have to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I pray with all the power that I have, as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there would not be one of you students that would ever take this privilege casually or lightly. I would pray that you would focus some of your study on what price has been paid, by those who have gone before us, to give us the privilege of walking in the light and knowledge of the gospel. For example, when we study the Apostasy and Restoration, after the resurrection of Christ, we must never lose sight of those heroic reformers of Christendom. You need to study the life of John Wickliff. You need to know how much courage it took, in the 1300’s, for him to take the position he did about religious freedom and religious thought. He died and was so hated that in the name of the church he was declared a heretic. They dug his body up 41 years later and burned the bones.

2001 (June): Ensign Article, Elder D. Todd Christopherson, Seventies Presidency, now an Apostle, perhaps selected as an Apostle to implement the concepts in this address: Justification and sanctification:

Justification and sanctification are at the center of God’s gracious plan of salvation and are the essence of our witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. While justification and sanctification may be viewed as distinct topics, in reality I believe they are elements of a single divine process that qualifies us to live in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ … Justification and sanctification are the fruit of the Atonement’s “infinite virtue,” which virtue we also refer to as mercy or grace. A verse in the Book of Mormon lays a helpful foundation: “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (2 Ne. 2:13).

2001 (and November 2004 Ensign): BYU Convocation, Elder David Bednar, then President of BYU-Idaho, now an Apostle, clearly selected for Apostleship to implement the principles in this address: In the Strength of the Lord:

If I were to emphasize one overarching point this morning, it would be this: I suspect that you and I are much more familiar with the nature of the redeeming power of the Atonement than we are with the enabling power of the Atonement. It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us. That is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us–not only to direct us but also to empower us. I think most of us know that when we do things wrong, when we need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has paid the price and made it possible for us to be made clean through His redeeming power. Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints–for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. I frankly do not think many of us “get it” concerning this enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.

2001 (March): Address to Harvard Divinity School, Dr. Robert L. Millet, BYU Religion Dept.: What do Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ? (permanent reference on LDS Newsroom):

We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh (John 3:16). We accept the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament that refer directly and powerfully to the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of all humankind. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the fulfillment of those prophecies.

2001 (April): New Era article: Idea List: Do They Know We’re Christians?

If you were to read 2 Nephi 25:26 [2 Ne. 25:26], you would know “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ.” But how would someone who is not familiar with the Book of Mormon or the Church know you are Christian? New Era readers contributed many ideas on how Latter-day Saints can show they believe in Jesus Christ.

2001 (October): Children’s Friend Article, Myrna Hoyt: Call from the Prophet:

The fundamental [most important] responsibility of prophets … is to bear certain testimony of the name of Jesus Christ to all the world. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven.” … Secondly, prophets teach the word of God in clarity, in a way easy to understand that all His children may be blessed through obedience to their teachings.

2001 (September): Commentary, LDS Newsroom: The Church’s Emphasis on Jesus Christ:

To the Editor of Newsweek Dear Sir, By suggesting that Mormons’ emphasis on Jesus Christ is driven by concerns about “image” and public relations, Ken Woodward cheapens the real motivation of most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; their deep personal conviction that Christ is the divine Son of God. Joseph Smith himself declared in 1838 that “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

2002 (January): Children’s Friend Article, Christina Hoskin: I’m a Christian!

“What is a Christian?” Lisa asked Mom. They were in the car, driving to piano lessons. “What religion is that?” “A Christian is someone who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Mom glanced at her. “What’s this about?” Lisa sighed. “Some kids asked me if I was Christian, and I told them that I was Mormon.” “Mormon is a name some people call our Church members because we believe in the Book of Mormon as well as in the Bible.” Mom smiled at her. “Do you know the full name of our church?” “Yes—it’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” “Right! It has Jesus’ name in it because it’s His Church, and we worship Him and obey His commandments. So we are definitely Christians.”

2002 (March): Farms Review of Books article, Dr. Kent P. Jackson, BYU Religion Dept.: Am I a Christian?:

Am I a Christian? Of course I am. Like you, I believe in Jesus as described in the New Testament and in the fact that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent”. As yours has, my life has been changed through his saving power. But I believe more than this because I also believe the tremendous things that God has done in modern times. I believe that in 1820 the Lord called a new prophet, Joseph Smith, through whom he restored to the earth the fulness of the Christian gospel. This fulness of Christianity includes Jesus’ restored church—a community of people who have come to Christ in the manner described in the New Testament and who endeavor to do his will. The fulness of Christianity also includes the restoration of both the authority and the inspiration of living apostles. Thus the Lord’s church in our day has the same relationship to Jesus that the ancient church had under the ministry of men like Peter, James, and John. And thus the channel of revelation found among ancient apostles is open again among modern apostles. The restored fulness of Christianity also includes the restoration of the Book of Mormon, an ancient record that, like the Bible, contains the word of God. It is a second witness of Jesus Christ that teaches in plainness the truths of his gospel and bears a clear and consistent testimony of him. Other books of scripture have been revealed as well. Is this not good news? Should not all Christians everywhere receive these blessings with eagerness and joy?

2002 (March): FARMS Review of Books Article, Benjamin I. Huff: Of Course Mormonism Is Christian:

To be a Christian, in the most important sense, is to repent and come to Christ. One might also say that one becomes a true disciple of Christ by being reborn, being converted, or, as Blomberg says, “by sincerely trusting in the Jesus of the New Testament as personal Lord (God and Master) and Savior and by demonstrating the sincerity of that commitment by some perceivable measure of lifelong, biblical belief and behavior” (p. 329).1 I take these expressions as essentially equivalent when properly understood.2 For an institution, to be Christian in the most important sense is presumably to bring persons to become Christians. In this sense, then, is Mormonism Christian? Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring its adherents to repent and come to Christ? Or, in other words, does Latter-day Saint belief and practice involve accepting the Jesus of the New Testament as one’s Lord and Savior and showing one’s commitment to him by some perceivable measure of lifelong, biblical behavior? Of course it does. Of course Mormonism is Christian.

2002 (April): Conference Address, Elder Gene R. Cook, of the Seventy: Charity: Perfect and Everlasting Love:

The Lord’s response to us is always filled with love. Should not our response to Him be in kind, with real feelings of love? He gives grace (or goodness) for grace, attribute for attribute. As our obedience increases, we receive more grace (or goodness) for the grace we return to Him. Offer Him the refinement of your attributes, so that when He does appear you will be like Him. As a man first immerses his thoughts in love and conveys those feelings to God, man, or self, a magnified portion of that attribute will surely follow from the Spirit. That is true of all godly attributes. Righteous feelings generated by a man seem to precede the increase of those feelings from the Spirit. Unless you are feeling love, you cannot convey true love to others. The Lord has told us to love one another as He loves us, so remember: to be loved, truly love.

2002 (October): Conference Address, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Apostle: Encircled in the Arms of His Love:

True disciples will also maintain faith in His atoning Son, Jesus Christ, and, by being “converted unto the Lord”, will be steadily undergoing a happy and “mighty change”. Actually, brothers and sisters, Jesus is already victorious in the greatest battle anyway: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. The Atonement was accomplished, bringing a universal resurrection to billions and billions, lifting all from the grave—regardless of how and when we got there! Therefore, on a clear night, though we see stars of incomprehensible longevity, they are not immortal. But, thankfully, we are!

2002 (October): Ensign Article, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Seventies Presidency, now in First Presidency: Making Choices for Eternity:

As Church members, most of us have the ultimate goal of achieving immortality and eternal life. The Savior has already made provision for part of this goal to be achieved: immortality has been brought to pass for all of God’s children here on earth. Now we are working on achieving the second part of that goal: eternal life, God’s greatest gift to us (see D&C 14:7). We read in the Book of Mormon the necessary preconditions to reach this lofty goal: “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; … and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. … Then are ye sanctified in Christ” (Moro. 10:32–33). Each precondition for this transition to perfection and sanctification is no small task. The things we are required to do are challenging. But they are worth the effort. The process is based on the law of the harvest: “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). That law, however, will be divinely influenced to our advantage by our loving and caring Heavenly Father. We are promised uplifting sunshine and nourishing rain in times of slower growth or serious setbacks, if only we stretch out our hand, mind, and heart to receive renewing energy and strength through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Repentance is the handle and forgiveness is the window that will open up the heavens so we may receive nourishing rain and uplifting sunshine. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The fundamental principles of our religion are testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” What Our Testimony Needs to Include To build the foundation for your own personal testimony, you have to use material recommended by the greatest character builder there is: Jesus Christ.

2002 (October): Conference Address, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Seventy: That they may be One in Us:

Becoming at one within ourselves prepares us for the greater blessing of becoming one with God and Christ. Jesus achieved perfect unity with the Father by submitting Himself, both flesh and spirit, to the will of the Father. His ministry was always clearly focused because there was no debilitating or distracting double-mindedness in Him. Referring to His Father, Jesus said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). These statements reveal that the Savior’s overarching ambition is to glorify the Father. The Father is “in” the Son in the sense that the Father’s glory and the Father’s will are the all-consuming occupation of the Son. What form our own trials may take, what sacrifices it may entail, we probably cannot know in advance. But if with the rich young ruler we were to ask, “What lack I yet?” the Savior’s answer would be the same: “Come and follow me”; be my disciple as I am the disciple of the Father; become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon you, even as a child doth submit to his father.” Surely we will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire. Such submissiveness is not reached in a day, but through the Holy Spirit, the Lord will tutor us if we are willing until, in process of time, it may accurately be said that He is in us as the Father is in Him. At times I tremble to consider what may be required, but I know that it is only in this perfect union that a fulness of joy can be found. I am grateful beyond expression that I am invited to be one with those holy beings I revere and worship as my Heavenly Father and Redeemer.

2003 (October): Ensign Article, Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. of the Seventy: Words of the Early Apostles: Grace:

Many believers in Jesus Christ consider the Apostle Paul’s teachings on grace among the most profound and sublime in all Christian literature. They know this fundamental doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ gives Christians hope of a better life through the grace of a merciful and just God. Yet members of the Church sometimes have difficulty understanding Paul’s teachings in light of the restored gospel’s emphasis on individual effort and righteousness as requirements for eternal life.

2004 (April): Conference Address, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Apostle: Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been:

In later years, I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses. You will see some of that. By the way, do not expect the world’s solutions to the world’s problems to be very effective. Such solutions often resemble what C. S. Lewis wrote about those who go dashing back and forth with fire extinguishers in times of flood. Only the gospel is constantly relevant, and the substitute things won’t work. Brethren, as you submit your wills to God, you are giving Him the only thing you can actually give Him that is really yours to give. Don’t wait too long to find the altar or to begin to place the gift of your wills upon it! No need to wait for a receipt; the Lord has His own special ways of acknowledging. I testify to you that God has known you individually, brethren, for a long, long time names of all the stars; He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys! By the way, you have never seen an immortal star; they finally expire. But seated by you tonight are immortal individuals—imperfect but who are, nevertheless, trying to be like Jesus! In His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

2004 (April): Conference Address, Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy: The Atonement: All for All:

In recent years, we Latter-day Saints have been teaching, singing, and testifying much more about the Savior Jesus Christ. I rejoice that we are rejoicing more … As we “talk more of Christ,” the gospel’s doctrinal fulness will come out of obscurity. For example, some of our friends can’t see how our Atonement beliefs relate to our beliefs about becoming more like our Heavenly Father. Others mistakenly think our Church is moving toward an understanding of the relationship between grace and works that draws on Protestant teachings. Such misconceptions prompt me to consider today the Restoration’s unique Atonement doctrine … We grow in two ways—removing negative weeds and cultivating positive flowers. The Savior’s grace blesses both parts—if we do our part. First and repeatedly we must uproot the weeds of sin and bad choices. It isn’t enough just to mow the weeds. Yank them out by the roots, repenting fully to satisfy the conditions of mercy. But being forgiven is only part of our growth. We are not just paying a debt. Our purpose is to become celestial beings. So once we’ve cleared our heartland, we must continually plant, weed, and nourish the seeds of divine qualities. And then as our sweat and discipline stretch us to meet His gifts, “the flowers of grace appear,” like hope and meekness. Even a tree of life can take root in this heart-garden, bearing fruit so sweet that it lightens all our burdens “through the joy of his Son.” And when the flower of charity blooms here, we will love others with the power of Christ’s own love … We need grace both to overcome sinful weeds and to grow divine flowers. We can do neither one fully by ourselves. But grace is not cheap. It is very expensive, even very dear. How much does this grace cost? Is it enough simply to believe in Christ? The man who found the pearl of great price gave “all that he had” for it. If we desire “all that the Father hath,” God asks all that we have. To qualify for such exquisite treasure, in whatever way is ours, we must give the way Christ gave—every drop He had: “How exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” Paul said, “If so be that we suffer with him,” we are “joint-heirs with Christ.” All of His heart, all of our hearts … Christ’s Atonement is at the very core of this plan. Without His dear, dear sacrifice, there would be no way home, no way to be together, no way to be like Him. He gave us all He had. Therefore, “how great is his joy,” when even one of us “gets it”—when we look up from the weed patch and turn our face to the Son. Only the restored gospel has the fulness of these truths!

2004: Article in Meridian Magazine, Dr. Brent L. Top, BYU Religion Dept.: Have you been Born Again?:

At a large gathering of Latter-day Saints several years ago, something was said to me by one of the guests that both surprised and troubled me. The speaker was addressing the important doctrinal topic of salvation by grace and spiritual rebirth–being “born again.” After the talk was completed, one of the people in attendance approached me with this question, “We don’t believe that stuff, do we?” The “we” in his question meant Latter-day Saints, and the “that stuff” obviously referred to the doctrine of spiritual rebirth that we had just heard addressed. Of course we do, I responded. “Why would you even ask?” His response was, “Because that is what the ‘born-agains’ believe.”

2004: New Missionary Reference Manual: Preach my Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service.

It formalized the current teachings in the Church on Jesus Christ, Salvation, grace and works, mercy, being born again, the cross, and lowering the level of confrontation with other Christians. The Reformers, for example, are presented as great heroes of religious history. President Hinckley ensured that Elder M. Russell Ballard was the Missionary Department Chairman who initiated the process, and Elder Ballard’s book “Our Search for Happiness” remains on the greatly-reduced approved reading list for full-time missionaries, along with the simultaneously-developed pamphlet for Youth and New Members, True to the Faith. Elder Quentin L. Cook as a Seventies Presidency member was the Director of the Missionary Department who completed the project, and his call to the Apostleship a short time later means that its approach will be permanent.

2004: Institute of Religion Student Manual: Doctrines of the Gospel.:

No doctrine in the gospel is more important than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If the gospel were compared to a wheel, the Atonement would be the hub and all other doctrines would be the spokes emanating from the hub. As the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”

2004 (September): BYU-Idaho Devotional, Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy: The Gospel: A Pearl of Great Price:

I’ll close with mention of the greatest pearl of all. The Prophet Joseph described it as succinctly and powerfully as it can be done. In answer to the question, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion? He said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” I am grateful beyond words to belong to a Church that is Christ-centered in its doctrines and practices. He is the substance of our scriptures, our temples, and hopefully our homes and our hearts. I know He is the light, life, and hope of our world and that no one will come to the Father but by Him. Aided by the restoration scriptures, our understanding of the Atonement is clear. We know what He has done for us and what we must do. We are free to repent and prepare for the day when He who was the Beginning will also be the End.

2004 (November): Book, Sidney B Sperry Symposium, BYU: Prelude to the Restoration: From Apostasy to the Restored Church:

Elder Ballard’s talk at BYU Hawaii and the spirit that inspired it have impressed many, including contributors to the volume, to study the men and women who labored largely in the dark in anticipation of the glorious restoration. They helped make a world in which the Prophet Joseph Smith could function … Elder Ballard’s emphatic hope is that we will become better acquainted with what ”had to happen in order for the Lord in 1830 to take a boy in Palmyra into a grove of trees where he communicated with God the Father and his Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2004 (November): BYU-Hawaii University Devotional, Dr. Kent P. Jackson, BYU Ancient Scripture: Grace, Mercy, Repentance and Spiritual Rebirth:

Each Sunday we commemorate the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ with the ordinance of the sacrament, and each day of our lives we remember Him in prayer, in thanks, and in the way we live. Today I invite you to join with me in directing our thoughts to Jesus, to remember His mission and what He has done for us. As King Benjamin taught, “There shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” On this occasion, I would like to share some thoughts with you about why we need a Savior, about how we can be saved only through His grace, mercy, and merits, and how we can become spiritually reborn through Him. My message today is one of both bad news and good news. The bad news is that despite all our efforts and all our good works, we cannot save ourselves. We cannot save even a particle of ourselves. The good news is that Christ is able to save us, and He is anxious for us to come to Him so He can apply His saving power in our behalf.

2005: Pamphlet for Youth and New Members: True to the Faith: a Gospel Reference,:

Published to explain our beliefs in great detail. It corresponds with the Missionary Reference manual precisely, and is a major portion of Gospel study for full-time missionaries. I have excerpted on my blog sections on subjects related to our beliefs about salvation, Jesus Christ, grace, mercy, and being born again at this link. Here are some excerpts: You may sometimes be asked if you have been born again. The principle of spiritual rebirth appears frequently in the scriptures. The New Testament contains Jesus’s teaching that we must be “born again” and that unless we are “born of water and of the Spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. This teaching is affirmed in the Book of Mormon: “All mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God”. This rebirth is a process that occurs after we have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It comes as a result of our willingness “to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days”. Then our “hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, we are born of him”. If you have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the covenant to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you can say that you have been born again. And you can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when you partake of the sacrament.

2005: BYU Studies Article, Dr. David Paulsen: Are Christians Mormon? Reassessing Joseph Smith’s Theology in His Bicentennial:

Harold Bloom, the self-proclaimed “unbelieving Jew” and distinguished scholar, recently characterized Joseph Smith as “a religious genius,” stating that the religion Smith founded “is truly a biblical religion.” More recently, Carl Mosser has written concerning the doctrine of that religion: “Mormonism’s heresies are legion; they are also very interesting and often unique in the history of heresy.” Biblical or heretical? Of these two reactions, the charge of heresy has been far more common, especially among conservative Christian critics, who consistently draw a circle that leaves Joseph’s Mormonism out. No wonder, then, the interest in 1974 when Truman Madsen published an article in BYU Studies with the half-jesting title “Are Christians Mormon?” The title was an obvious play on the often repeated and too familiar question “Are Mormons Christian?” It was only a half-jest because, as Madsen puts it, “In our time there are renowned and influential spokesmen.” Now that Latter-day Saints and others have commemorated the two-hundredth birthday of Joseph Smith (1805–1844), founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is time to reassess how far Christian thinkers have come in appropriating theological insights once owned uniquely, or nearly so, by Smith and his followers.

2005 (March): BYU-Idaho Devotional, Dr. Kevin Brower: Power to Become Sons and Daughters of God:

I also praise the Lord, Jesus Christ and express my gratitude for his support and implementation of the plan of our salvation. As we read in the History of the Church, one of the many things we learn from the Prophet Joseph Smith is that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Perhaps recalling this experience years later, Alma the Younger asked this question in Alma 5:14: “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” I find it interesting that in this case, Alma was not speaking to unbelievers. These people had already entered the waters of baptism. He was speaking to those who had made a physical commitment to show obedience but perhaps had not yet allowed the power of Christ to change their spirit and create a ‘new creature.’ This great change of heart and nature requires the combination of individual commitment and heavenly power.

2005 (August): New Era Article, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Apostle: Your Right to Choose the Right:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”

2005 (August): Ensign Article, E. Richard Packham: My Maturing Views of Grace:

As a young missionary, I countered this view of grace by quoting James 2:14–26, which concludes, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (v. 26). Divine Grace As I have studied the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of grace has become even clearer to me … Recent teachings from our living prophets and apostles have also helped solidify my understanding. For example, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said: “No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it would not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. On our own we cannot earn the kingdom of God, no matter what we do. Unfortunately, there are some within the Church who have become so preoccupied with performing good works that they forget that those works—as good as they may be—are hollow unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Christ.”

2005 (November): Conference Address, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Apostle (now First Presidency): Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings:

The scriptures describe a number of Christlike attributes we need to develop during the course of our lives. They include knowledge and humility, charity and love, obedience and diligence, faith and hope. These personal character qualities stand independent of the organizational status of our Church unit, our economic circumstances, our family situation, culture, race, or language. Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They cannot be developed without His help. The one help we all need is given to us freely through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. Christlike attributes come into our lives as we exercise our agency righteously. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action. When we have faith in Christ, we trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments—even when we do not completely understand the reasons for them. In seeking to become more like the Savior, we need to reevaluate our lives regularly and rely, through the path of true repentance, upon the merits of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement.

2005 (November): BYU-Hawaii Devotional, Dr. Robert L. Millet, BYU Religion Dept.: The Christology of Joseph Smith After Two Hundred Years:

Several of the doctrines concerning Christ that are found in the revelations and translations of Joseph Smith seem to have received increased emphasis in recent decades. Two that have been particularly commented on by Christian observers are the saving efficacy of the cross and the magnificent grace of God. One of my Christian friends asked me about what he called our “changing views on the role of the cross.” He suggested that if a group of one hundred Latter-day Saints had been asked the question, “Where did the Atonement of Jesus Christ take place?” probably eighty to ninety persons would have answered “in the Garden of Gethsemane.” I think his assessment is probably accurate; most Mormons were brought up on the idea that while the Protestants and Catholics taught that the Atonement took place on the cross of Calvary, Latter-day Saints believe the greater suffering took place in Gethsemane. My friend suggested that if that same query were posed to a hundred Mormons today, sixty to seventy would answer that the Atonement took place in Gethsemane and on the cross, that what began in the Garden was culminated, climaxed on Golgotha. My experience teaching hundreds of students at Brigham Young University corroborates this trend. Most observers would agree that the Latter-day Saints seem to be focusing more and more as a church upon those scriptural passages that highlight the reality of man’s weakness, his mortal limitations, and at the same time attending to God’s infinite and ever-available power to lift, to liberate, to lighten our burdens, and to change our nature. As church leader Bruce C. Hafen pointed out, “In recent years, we Latter-day Saints have been teaching, singing, and testifying much more about the Savior Jesus Christ. I rejoice that we are rejoicing more. As we ‘talk [more] of Christ’ (2 Nephi 25:26), the gospel’s doctrinal fullness will come out of obscurity.”

2005 (December): Ensign Article (Visiting Teaching Message): Rejoice in the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

The Prophet Joseph Smith: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (History of the Church, 3:30). Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Jesus’ glorious Atonement is the central act in all of human history!

2006 (May): Ensign Article, Elder Henry B. Eyring, Apostle, now First Presidency: As a Child:

Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” We are safe on the rock which is the Savior when we have yielded in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have, by that experience, become as a child in our capacity to love and obey, we are on the sure foundation. From King Benjamin we learn what we can do to take us to that safe place. But remember: the things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey and we resist temptation by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In time our natures will change. We will become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change, if we do all we must to keep it, will qualify us to enjoy the gifts which come through the Holy Ghost. Then we will be safe on the only sure rock.

2006 (March): Book Exploring Mormon Thought, Vol. 2, Dr. Blake Ostler: God, the ETERNAL Father:

However, there is a fundamental question which is unsettled in LDS thought regarding the eternal existence of the Father: Has the Father always existed as a divine person from all eternity without beginning? This question makes a distinction between at least the following two possibilities: (1) There was an interval of time from T2 through T3 during which the Father was mortal and not fully divine, but the Father was fully divine eternally prior to T2 and forever after T3. (2) There was a time T2 at which the Father first became fully divine, but he was not fully divine prior to T2; however, the Father has always existed without beginning and will always exist without end. The difference in these two views is that according to (1), the Father was divine from all eternity before experiencing a mortality. According to (2), the Father was not divine until after his mortality, and thus became a divine person at some time. I first want to note that both (1) and (2) are consistent with Lorenzo Snow’s aphorism: “As man now is, God once was, and as God now is, man may become:’ In either view, there was a time when the Father was once mortal as we are now and also a time during which he is divine-as this aphorism affirms. What is at issue is whether the Father was divine only after his mortality and less than divine before his mortality. In what follows I defend (1).

2006 (October): Conference Address, Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy: The Great and Wonderful Love:

Satan is the “enemy to all righteousness”; thus he plants doubts about the nature of the Godhead and our relationship with Them. Jesus Christ prophesied that in the last days even the very elect would be deceived. Consider three examples of how Lucifer is “laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God.” The snare of false inadequacy. A faithful young person feels unable to meet the expectations of others. At home and school, she is rarely praised and often criticized. The popular media tells her she is not beautiful enough or smart enough. Every day this righteous sister questions whether she is an individual worthy of Heavenly Father’s love, the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, or the Spirit’s constant guidance. The snare of exaggerated imperfection. An outstanding missionary feels incapable of meeting the expectations of God. In his mind, this worthy elder imagines a stern Heavenly Father bound to irrevocable justice, a Savior capable of cleansing others’ transgressions but not this elder’s own, and a Holy Ghost unwilling to accompany an imperfect person. The snare of needless guilt. A middle-aged woman is a devoted mother, a loving friend, a faithful Church servant, and a frequent temple patron. But in her heart, this sister cannot forgive herself of sins committed years ago that she has repented of and fully resolved with priesthood leaders. She doubts that her life will ever be acceptable to the Lord and has lost hope of eternal life in Heavenly Father’s presence.

2007: PBS Interview, Elder Jefrey R. Holland, Apostle: PBS interview related to their Program about the Mormon:

Doctrinally, what separates Mormons from the rest of the Christian world?
… I am deeply hurt when I am called anything but a Christian. … The thing that defines me is my love of God, my commitment to Christ, my Christianity. And for people to tell me that I am not a Christian is wrenching, as much a punch in the solar plexus as anything you can say to me. … What is different about Mormons, and why would anybody say you’re not a Christian? The two most distinguishing characteristics that come to mind that would separate us from other institutional religions, including institutional Christianity, are these: One is our view of the godhead. We believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost are three separate, distinct individuals. We believe they are united in every other conceivable way: in purpose, in majesty, in duty, in love, in glory, in mercy, in communication, in whatever, … except personal being. They are separate. … That’s one distinguishing characteristic. The other is priesthood authority and the keys, if you will — the right to speak and act in the name of God, … to have a baptism authorized, to have a marriage authorized in the eyes of God. I’m not talking about the civil law; I’m not talking about the goodwill of the Christian brotherhood; I’m talking about the right to speak or act for God. … One of these foundational pieces … is the restoration of the holy priesthood, whereby actual authority is conveyed from heaven to us on earth to perform this ordinance, “us” being the Latter-day Saints.

Turning the question around, do Mormons feel that Christians are Christian?
… It is absolutely incumbent upon us and our solemn obligation to acknowledge every good thing and every good act and every good truth of anybody on the face of this earth, including — and especially, in terms of a brotherhood and sisterhood — Christians and Christian churches. Somehow there has evolved this chasm, this decisive distinction. … That seems to me absolutely wrong. It’s wrong on the face of it; it’s wrong in my experience; it’s wrong doctrinally. … As an institutional response, it seems to me that past, present or future, it is not our call to damn or deny or vilify anybody else. Our call is to extend the fruits of His ministry and the benefit of what we know. Our universal cry, as I understand it, is to say, “Bring any good thing you have, bring any truth you’ve ever known, every Gospel principle you’ve ever embraced, every non-Gospel, civil, humanitarian impulse you’ve ever had,” which, by the way, would be part of the Gospel in our definition — and our only duty is to add to that. We do believe we can give value added. There’s something we can contribute that … was not available prior to the restoration, the Gospel and Joseph Smith. … I’m in the good-news business. It is to no advantage and to no purpose for me to desecrate or decry. I would do that against evil. I would speak out against child molesters and pornographers. There are things that I’m not going to equivocate on. But I’m not talking about individual people’s religious belief and their quest for the best that’s within them. …Now, in saying that, that is not some mournful plea from the gallery about wanting to be mainstream in 21st-century Christianity. That is not an issue for me. I don’t have any particular desire to have anybody say whether we’re mainstream or whether we’re not. … I have no particular wish to in any way be seen as another Protestant religion. We are adamantly not another Protestant religion. But what I don’t like, and what I don’t want to perpetuate, is the personal antagonism and the personal cleavage where otherwise wonderful people can go to dinner together and have their kids on the soccer team together and carpool to the PTA together, and then, when it comes to religion, just start throwing fists. That does not seem to me right. …

2007 (April): Conference Address, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apostle: The Miracle of the Holy Bible:

I am sure many of you have had the experience of hearing people say that Mormons are not Christians because they have their own Bible, the Book of Mormon. To anyone harboring this misconception, we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and the author of our salvation and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible.

2007 (April): Conference Address, Elder David Bednar, Apostle: Ye Must Be Born Again:

We are instructed to come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny ourselves of all ungodliness, to become new creatures in Christ, to put off the natural man, and to experience a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. Please note that the conversion described in these verses is mighty, not minor — a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are. Indeed, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. As we choose to follow the Master, we choose to be changed — to be spiritually reborn … I witness the reality and divinity of a living Savior who invites us to come unto Him and be transformed. I testify His Church and priesthood authority have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Through faith in Christ, we can be spiritually prepared and cleansed from sin, immersed in and saturated with His gospel, and purified and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise — even born again.

2007 (April): Conference Address, Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, who grew up as a member of a Protestant denomination: Mom, Are we Christian?:

I am a devout Christian who is exceedingly fortunate to have greater knowledge of the true “doctrine of Christ” since my conversion to the restored Church.

2007 (May): Student Devotional, BYU-Idaho, Elder Steven C. Wheelwright of the Seventy and President of BYU-Hawaii: Receiving the Blessings of the Atonement:

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”. To this Elder Bruce R. McConkie has added, “[the atonement] is the foundation upon which all truth rests, and all things grow out of it and come because of it. Indeed, the atonement is the Gospel”. Knowing that the atonement is the essence of the gospel, and that the gospel is the “good news”, it follows that the blessings of the atonement must be grand indeed. And that they are. We don’t need to be perfect before the Savior steps in, we just need to be striving and He’ll make up the difference – however great that might be. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught that neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the atonement would be available to mankind except through the grace and goodness of Christ. “Obviously the unconditional blessings of the atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are also not fully merited. They are always and ever a product of God’s grace.” (“The Atonement of Jesus Christ”, by Jeffrey R. Holland, and included in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.) As we put our trust in the Lord and rely on Him, we turn from the world’s presumption of self sufficiency and mortal perfection, and receive the blessings of Grace – the blessing of knowing that when we do our best and follow Him, He will make up the inevitable shortfalls.

2007 (June): Book, Elder Robert S. Wood, Second Quorum of Seventy: The Complete Christian:

As Aslan in the myth of Narnia, so in life: Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation, our one and only sure foundation. Jacob and Alma, looking forward to the great redemptive act to be performed by the coming messiah, put the issue not only to their people but to us as well: Wherefore there must needs be an infinite atonement – save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption Alma went on: Wherefore, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. Or as Mosiah put it: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindred, tongues, and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the Kingdom of God.

2007 (June): Student Devotional, BYU-Idaho, Elder Alexander B. Morrison, Emeritus member of the Seventy: Are Mormons Christians?

I assert again that there is much more which unites us than divides us from others. Perhaps of greatest importance is the reality that we are all the children of God and thus, in the most profound sense, brothers and sisters … I end where I began: Are Mormons Christians? The answer, to me, is simple. Yes, indeed we are Christians, though our views on many important doctrines differ from numerous of our brethren, whose Christianity we in turn do not dispute.

2007: Journal Article, Dr. David Paulsen and Brett McDonald, BYU Philosophy Dept:: Reassessing Joseph Smith’s Theology in his Bicentennial: A Social Model of the Godhead:

In the following, we argue that Joseph’s model of the New Testament Godhead is a clear instance of social trinitarianism. As such, many contemporary Christian theologians are asserting views exactly similar, or nearly so, to what Joseph asserted. Furthermore, we argue that Joseph’s ideas offer valuable insights into some of the current issues surrounding social trinitarianism. Lastly, as proponents of social trinitarianism we will offer a defense of the model against attacks made against it by Brian Leftow at the Trinity Summit held in New York (12-15 April 1998).

2007 (October): Conference Address, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apostle: Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits,:

People need to know something of our faith as committed Christians with strong traditional values … We believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, and we try to model our lives after Him and His teachings. We commemorate Christ’s atoning sacrifice in our Sunday worship services, similar to taking communion in other churches. We accept as fellow Christians all who believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind. Many Christians do not understand that we have much common ground with them. Joseph Smith taught that Jesus Christ is the core of our belief, and everything else is an appendage to it … The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … We are the fourth-largest Christian denomination in America and one of the fastest-growing Christian faiths in the world.

2007 (October): Conference Address, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apostle: The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent:

Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life.

2007 (October): Conference Address, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Apostle: Scriptures of the Restoration do not Compete with the Bible; they Complement the Bible:

The Bible and the Book of Mormon are both witnesses of Jesus Christ. They teach that He is the Son of God, that He lived an exemplary life, that He atoned for all mankind, that He died upon the cross and rose again as the resurrected Lord. They teach that He is the Savior of the world. Scriptural witnesses authenticate each other. This concept was explained long ago when a prophet wrote that the Book of Mormon was “written for the intent that ye may believe the Bible; and if ye believe the Bible ye will believe the Book of Mormon also.” Each book refers to the other. Each book stands as evidence that God lives and speaks to His children by revelation to His prophets. Love for the Book of Mormon expands one’s love for the Bible and vice versa. Scriptures of the Restoration do not compete with the Bible; they complement the Bible.

2007 (December): Article at Washington Post “On Faith” forum, LDS Spokesperson Michael Otterson: Are Mormons Christians?:

The question, “Are Mormons Christian?” is a good starting point for this discussion. When some conservative Protestants say Mormons aren’t Christian, it is deeply offensive to Latter-day Saints. Yet when Latter-day Saints assert their Christianity, some of those same Christians bitterly resent it. Why? Because both sides are using the same terms to describe different things. When someone says Mormons aren’t Christian – and I’m trying not to break Stendahl’s first rule here by interpreting conservative Christian thought incorrectly – he or she usually means that Mormons don’t embrace the traditional interpretation of the Bible that includes the Trinity. “Our Jesus” is somehow different from “their Jesus.” Further, they mean that some Mormon teachings are so far outside Christian orthodoxy of past centuries that they constitute almost a new religion… But for Mormons, these belief differences have nothing to do with whether or not they are Christian in the true meaning of the word. Mormons believe in the Jesus of the Bible, the same that was born at Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, preached His gospel in Galilee and Judea, healed the sick, raised the dead, and finally offered Himself as a sinless ransom for the sins of the world. They believe that Jesus Christ was literally resurrected, that He lives today, and that He is the only name under heaven by which mankind can be saved. This is the Jesus whose name is depicted on the front of every Mormon place of worship. This is the Jesus in whose name every Mormon prays and every sermon is preached. This is the Jesus whose body and blood are commemorated in weekly worship services by Latter-day Saints from Nigeria to New Zealand, from Michigan to Mongolia. For Latter-day Saints who try to live their lives as they believe Jesus taught, assertions that they aren’t Christian are as bewildering as they are wounding.

2007 (May): Article on LDS.org Newsroom: Approaching Church Doctrine:

Much misunderstanding about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revolves around its doctrine. Based on the scriptures, Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted. …. Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.

2007: Ensign Article: Jesus Christ, The Son of God – His Life and Teachings – We Believe:

Do you believe that Joseph Smith is somehow as important as Jesus Christ in helping save people? No. Joseph Smith was a prophet important to the history of humankind. The work he did under divine direction brought to earth blessings and knowledge that had been given to prophets of God and their followers in Old and New Testament times but that had been lost. Joseph Smith was, like those ancient prophets, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ who taught that salvation and all the blessings of eternity could come only through our Savior: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”1 On another occasion the Prophet taught, “When we reflect upon the holiness and perfections of our great Master, who has opened a way whereby we may come unto him, even the sacrifice of himself, our hearts melt within for his condescension.”

2007: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith Chapter 3: Jesus Christ, the Divine Redeemer of the World:

Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, all mankind will be resurrected. “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth.” “ ‘As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;’ all shall be raised from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:22]. The Lamb of God hath brought to pass the resurrection, so that all shall rise from the dead.” “God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and this He has given an assurance of in that He raised up His Son Jesus Christ from the dead—the point on which the hope of all who believe the inspired record is founded for their future happiness and enjoyment; because, ‘If Christ be not risen,’ said Paul to the Corinthians, ‘your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished’ [1 Corinthians 15:17–18]’ “Christ Himself has assuredly risen from the dead; and if He has risen from the dead, He will, by His power, bring all men to stand before Him: for if He has risen from the dead the bands of the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory. If then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey His teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into His glorious kingdom; for, He Himself says, ‘Where I am there also shall my servant be’ [John 12:26].”

2008 (March): Ensign Article, President Henry B. Eyring, First Presidency: Come Unto Christ:

Another wonderful thing will happen. When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed. You will be doing His work for Him. You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service. You will come to know Him. And in time you will come to be like Him and “be perfected in him.” By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself. If you want to be near Him, to feel His peace, you can do it best in His service. He is the one who said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I testify that He will keep that promise to those we invite for Him. And He keeps that promise to those who serve Him by doing the inviting.

2008 (October): Ensign Article, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, First Presidency: Developing Christlike Attributes:

The one help we all need is given to us freely through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. Christlike attributes come into our lives as we exercise our agency righteously. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action. When we have faith in Christ, we trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments—even when we do not completely understand the reasons for them. In seeking to become more like the Savior, we need to reevaluate our lives regularly and rely, through the path of true repentance, upon the merits of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement. Developing Christlike attributes can be a painful process. We need to be ready to accept direction and correction from the Lord and His servants. Through the Church’s regular worldwide conferences, for example, with their music and spoken word, we feel and receive spiritual power, direction, and blessings “from on high” (D&C 43:16). It is a time when the voice of personal inspiration and revelation will bring peace to our souls and will teach us how to become more Christlike. This voice will be as sweet as the voice of a dear friend, and it will fill our souls when our hearts are sufficiently contrite.

2008 (March): Ensign Article, Elder Boyd K. Packer, Apostle: Who Is Jesus Christ?

He is the Mediator (see 1 Timothy 2:5), the Savior (see Luke 2:11), the Redeemer (see D&C 18:47), the Head of the Church (see Ephesians 5:23), its Chief Cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:20). At the last day, “God shall judge … men by Jesus Christ according to [the] gospel” (Romans 2:16; see also Mormon 3:20). “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16); “wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Nephi 2:6). The Prophet Joseph Smith was often asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

2008 (April): Conference Address, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apostle: My Words … Never Cease:

In general conference last October, I said there were two principal reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused, erroneously, of not being Christian. At that time I addressed one of those doctrinal issues—our scripturally based view of the Godhead. Today I would like to address the other major doctrine which characterizes our faith but which causes concern to some, namely the bold assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture. Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles. Imputing no ill will to those who take such a position, nevertheless we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity.

2008 (April): Ensign Article on Newly-Called Apostle Quentin L. Cook, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Elder Quentin L. Cook:

From 1960 to 1962 Elder Cook served in the British Mission, the same mission to which I would be called. We were profoundly affected by our mission president, Elder Marion D. Hanks, then of the First Council of the Seventy. To all of his missionaries, he emphasized discipleship and determination. He taught us to love the Savior, to cherish the Book of Mormon, to be true to the Church and the gospel for the rest of our lives. Now, more than 45 years later, it is a rare occasion to have two former missionary companions serving together in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

2008 (April): Conference Address, newly-ordained Apostle Elder D. Todd Christofferson: Born Again:

I know Jesus Christ as the living, resurrected Son of God. I know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; and I know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. I rejoice that for the balance of my life I shall be able continually to offer Christ, to offer the good news of Christ in all the world.

2008 (June): Ensign Article, Elder Keith Hilbig of the Seventy: Experiencing a Change of Heart: [This article considers biblical and Book of Mormon references and statements by LDS leaders.]

The challenges of being born again and experiencing a mighty change of heart are challenges we all must face. Some in the Christian community believe they can be born again merely by acknowledging Christ as the Savior of the world, independent of any previous or subsequent personal behavior. Some assert that the simple recognition of Christ’s role, combined with the single expression of belief in Christ, will suffice to bring us ultimately back into the presence of the Father and the Son. As well-intentioned as this position may be, it is not accurate. The New Testament provides numerous references to the concept of being born again but, as it is translated, does not always explain exactly how it is achieved. For example, the Savior (see John 3:5–7), John the Baptist (see Matthew 3:11), and Paul (see Romans 6:2–6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 4:29; Ephesians 4:24) proclaim the principle, but they do not clarify its meaning. By contrast, the Book of Mormon is a wonderful resource to better understand the process of experiencing a mighty change of heart and of being born again. Its prophets provide a fuller doctrinal declaration of the process. Both phrases are explored more fully by Alma the Younger, who posed three questions to members of the Church: “I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14).

2008 (October): Conference Address, Elder Richard G. Scott, Apostle: Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship:

We have gathered together as one, we have taken upon us the name of Jesus Christ, and we are Christians. One of the questions we would ask: why then, if we have that love of the Savior, would someone want to be an antagonist or to attack us? This is especially important in our interactions with members of other Christian denominations. Surely our Heavenly Father is saddened—and the devil laughs—when we contentiously debate doctrinal differences with our Christian neighbors.

2008 (October): Article at First Things blog, Elder Bruce D. Porter, First Quorum of the Seventy, by assignment by the Brethren for this dialog with Evangelical scholar Gerald MacDermott: Is Mormonism Christian?:

Are Mormons Christian? By self-definition and self-identity, unquestionably so. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that it is a Christian-faith denomination, a body of believers who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who witness that salvation is possible only by his atoning blood and grace. By the simple dictionary definition of a Christian as one who believes in or worships Jesus Christ, the case is compelling. To the title Christian a critic of Mormonism may add any modifiers he deems appropriate—unorthodox, heretical, non-Nicene, different—but blanket assertions that we are not Christian are a poor substitute for informed argument and dialogue.

1996 – 2009: Use of Protestant Hymn “Amazing Grace” in Latter-day Saint Settings:
Amazing Grace was CD title and featured song of Mormon Tabernacle Choir recording that included many traditional Protestant hymns in 1996.

Former BYU Football Coach Lavell Edwards has CDs that consist entirely of different versions of “Amazing Grace” (Judy Collins does his favorite version) and “A Closer Walk with Thee;” he has another CD of Scottish bagpipe music which includes “Amazing Grace.”

LDS Seventy and BYU Professor Stephen D. Nadaud’s 2001 book Justified by Faith has a chapter called “Amazing Grace” that encourages LDS use of the words and the hymn.

LDS composer and pianist James T. Davis’s 2003 CD “A Peaceful Afternoon” includes his arrangement of “Amazing Grace.”

At President Hinckley’s funeral, what the Church News called “one of the Church President’s favorite songs,” “Amazing Grace” was performed on the bagpipe.

A rendition of “Amazing Grace” by LDS performer Daniel Beck was included in the 2008 CD “Especially for Youth” which was heard in EFY meetings around the Church.

“Amazing Grace” and other Protestant and Black Protestant hymns are the entire content of the 2009 Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.

Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing (and bagpipes play) “Amazing Grace” on Youtube at this link.

2009 (January): Ensign Article, Elder 2009: Ensign Article, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander: Joseph Smith: An Apostle of Jesus Christ:

Our own testimonies of the Savior are framed by the testimony and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Is it any wonder then that the Prophet taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.

2009 (April): Conference Address, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, First Presidency: The Way of the Disciple:

The one help we all need is given to us freely through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. Christlike attributes come into our lives as we exercise our agency righteously. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action. When we have faith in Christ, we trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments—even when we do not completely understand the reasons for them. In seeking to become more like the Savior, we need to reevaluate our lives regularly and rely, through the path of true repentance, upon the merits of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement. Developing Christlike attributes can be a painful process. We need to be ready to accept direction and correction from the Lord and His servants. Through the Church’s regular worldwide conferences, for example, with their music and spoken word, we feel and receive spiritual power, direction, and blessings “from on high” (D&C 43:16). It is a time when the voice of personal inspiration and revelation will bring peace to our souls and will teach us how to become more Christlike. This voice will be as sweet as the voice of a dear friend, and it will fill our souls when our hearts are sufficiently contrite.

2009 (April): Conference Address, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Apostle: The Power of Covenants:

[Speaking of Latter-day Saints] We need strong Christians who can persevere against hardship, who can sustain hope through tragedy, who can lift others by their example and their compassion, and who can consistently overcome temptations. We need strong Christians who can make important things happen by their faith and who can defend the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism.

2009 (April): Conference Address, Elder Quentin L. Cook, newly-called Apostle: Our Father’s Plan: Big Enough for All His Children:

Notwithstanding the significance of our doctrinal differences with other faiths, our attitude toward other churches has been to refrain from criticism. They do much good. They bless mankind. Many help their members learn of the Savior and His teachings. Our leaders have consistently counseled us to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies.”

2009 (April): Conference Address, Elder Neil L. Andersen, newly-called Apostle: Come unto Him:

We must remember, my dear brothers and sisters, who we are and what we have in our hands. We are not alone in our desire to do good; there are wonderful people of many faiths and beliefs. We are not alone in praying to our Heavenly Father or in receiving answers to our prayers; our Father loves all of His children. We are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause; there are others who are unselfish. Others share our faith in Christ. There are loyal and decent fathers and mothers in every land who love each other and love their children. There is much we can learn from the good people all around us. Yet we must not shrink from what is uniquely and singularly found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … Our knowledge of the divine mission of the Church should not bring feelings of superiority or arrogance but should take us to our knees, pleading for the Lord’s help that we might be what we should be. But in humility we need not be timid in remembering the Lord’s words: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it.

2009 (April): Conference Address, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. of the Seventy: What does the Atonement mean to You?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” I cannot recall ever E a person who professed strong faith in Jesus Christ and who was very worried about the Resurrection.

Because eternal life is conditional and requires our effort and compliance, most of us struggle from time to time, perhaps regularly—even constantly—with questions related to living the way we know we should. As Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has asked, Do we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline”? If our salvation were only a matter of our own effort, we would be in serious trouble because we are all imperfect and unable to comply fully in every way all of the time. How, then, do we achieve the help and assistance we require? Nephi clarified the dilemma of the relationship between grace and works when he testified, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The Bible Dictionary reminds us that grace means a divine mechanism or device that brings strength or help through the mercy and love of Jesus Christ made available by His Atonement.4 Thus, it is through the grace of Christ that we are resurrected, and it is His grace, love, and Atonement that help us accomplish the good works and make the necessary progress that otherwise would be impossible if we were left solely to our own capacities and resources.

2009 (October): Gospel Principles Manual revised edition, on LDS.org at this link.

It will immediately be put into use in missionary and new member settings; one post indicated that the Church would discard 24,000 copies of the prior manual rather than distributing them. The Brethren have also indicated that, for the next two calendar years, all the Priesthood and Relief Societies in the Church will use it as their course of instruction. The most noticeable change has been addition of the figure of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in fifteen locations.

According to one LDS Scholar’s evaluation on the Green Oasis blog, the following ideas have been eliminated or drastically downplayed:

· Faithful members will become “a god” (it now says “LIKE GOD”)
· God was not always a god
· God became a god the same way members of the LDS church can become gods
· Jesus Christ is our eldest spiritual brother; Satan is also our brother, and that means Jesus and Satan brothers
· We are the children of “heavenly parents” i.e. we have a Mother in Heaven.
· Adam and Eve were the “parents of the human race” (they are now simply called “our first parents”)
· The church in Jesus’ time had exactly the same organization as the current LDS church.
· The organization of the church in Joseph Smith’s time was completed within “several years” and not substantially changed since then (the new edition says that the church is still developing, and the faithful members must expect change)
· A number of places that described Exaltation or the Celestial Kingdom as being EARNED now say RECEIVED or OBTAINED, and indicated that they are received through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
· Faithful members must be obedient to all of the commandments in order to gain Exaltation; it now says they receive exaltation by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I have yet to find official LDS announcements in the press. It is available online at Deseret Book at this link. An article about it appears here on the Deseret-News-owned Mormon Times website, in these words:

New manual: The 2010-2011 manual for the second and third weeks in Relief Society/Melchizedek Priesthood will depart from the prophet course of study and instead be the “Gospel Principles (Revised) Manual.” You can purchase it at the above link or they will hand them out in December. And one blogger has already purchased it and provided a “Review: Gospel Principles (revised) Chapters 1- 10.” He notes changes in the format, content and presentation, but explains “90% of the book is unchanged.” Click to read his thorough analysis.

There is not yet a PDF file to download.

Besides the above, blogs where scholarly comments and actual content comparisons are at these links:
BYU Education Week post on Livingstons Love at Home blog, which indicates that BYU Professor David Ridges is very favorable to the new edition, and wants everyone to use it rather than previous editions

Review: Gospel Principles (revised) Chapters 1 – 10 post on New Cool Thang blog
A Comparison of the “Gospel Principles” Atonement Chapter post on “Life on Gold Plates”
Changes to Gospel Principles post on Mormonism Research Ministry blog (by far the largest amount of actual content of the changes, but on an anti-LDS site).

 

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Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ

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