Saturday, October 2, 2010

LDS 180th Semiannual Conference, Saturday Afternoon General Session; Agency, Faith, And Obedience To Counsel

NOTE: Audio and video archives, as well as written transcripts of the 180th Semiannual Conference in English, are now available HERE. For any other language, first go HERE and select the language of your choice.

The Saturday afternoon session of the 180th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought forth wisdom about moral agency, faith, and obedience to counsel. Not blind obedience, but knowledgeable and voluntary obedience based upon faith. In addition, one Apostle cautioned us against being "offended" or "ashamed".

Visit my static Conference page for information regarding times and broadcast options for all Conference sessions.

-- Summary of Saturday morning session HERE.
-- Summary of Saturday evening session HERE.
-- Summary of Sunday morning session HERE.
-- Summary of Sunday afternoon session HERE.

To lead off the afternoon session, five members of the Quorums of the Seventy were released and designated emeritus general authorities. Elders Spencer J. Condie, Bruce C. Hafen, Kenneth Johnson, Glenn L. Pace and Lance B. Wickman — all serving in the First Quorum of the Seventy — were released and given emeritus status. Others released Saturday afternoon were Elders Spencer V. Jones and Wolfgang H. Paul of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and two Area Seventies, Elders Fernando Maluenda and Jose L. Torres.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke at length about the ongoing this assault on morality and religious freedom, and how it's actually perpetrated only by a minority of people. He suggested we black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth, particularly pornography. Religious observance in the home must also increase. The faithful must also be a source of light in protecting communities, and exemplify leadership to the majority of people in the world who are respectful of basic moral values. The moral foundation of gospel doctrine can be a beacon of light to the world and a unifying force for both morality and faith in Jesus Christ. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve: Moral agency was the substance of his address. Agency is the ability and privilege God gives His children to choose and to act for ourselves and not to be acted upon, but it includes accountability and responsibility. Agency is an essential element of Heavenly Father's plan of salvation; without agency, we would be unable to make right choices and progress. Yet, with agency we could make wrong choices, commit sin and lose the opportunity to be with our Heavenly Father again. For this reason, a Savior was be provided to suffer for our sins and redeem us, if we would repent. By His infinite Atonement, He brought about the plan of mercy to appease the demands of justice. Elder Hales held up the example of Jesus Christ as a model for the proper use of agency; the Savior's mortal life offers a perfect example of how one should use his or her agency. Jesus taught us that when we choose to do the will of our Heavenly Father, our agency is preserved, our opportunities increase and we progress. Deseret News story HERE.

Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric: Bishop Edgley spoke out on the need to choose faith. He suggested a single choice — a choice of peace, protection, and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith; choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen and choose faith over pessimism. Faith is a choice that must be sought after and developed. Because faith is a choice, individuals are responsible for their own faith — or lack thereof. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the First Quorum of Seventy: Elder Duncan stated that the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God. Because the world is full of so many self-help books, so many self-proclaimed experts, so many theorists, educators and philosophers who have advice and counsel to give on any and all subjects, it is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the 'arm of flesh' for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness, which oftentimes can lead people into a maze of contradictions. As members of the Church, we have access to the source of pure truth, even God Himself, thus we would do better to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the First Quorum of Seventy: Elder Gong spoke about how gospel conversion and temple covenants can help us see rich blessings in each generation of our forever families. Not only does he see a succession of generations but a succession of family relationships. "In one direction, I saw myself as son, grandson, great-grandson, back to First Dragon Gong. In the mirrors in the other direction, I saw myself as father, grandfather, great-grandfather", said Elder Gong. The bottom line: When Latter-day Saints enter the everlasting covenant, they open the way for ancestors to be sealed AND for posterity to be born in the covenant. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Neal L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Anderson spoke about the adversity and challenges that we as members of the Church will face. Approached in a worldly way, these experiences can cloud our view and weaken our resolve. But Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. The important thing to remember is that perfection in this life is not possible; we will not understand everything, we will not always be treated fairly, and we will be astonished to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church, and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak. But Elder Andersen reminds us that this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should avoid being "offended" or "ashamed"; those two words can signal danger for Church members. Deseret News story HERE.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Scott also spoke out about faith, encouraging those who have determined to live righteously to not become discouraged. He noted that faith and character are intimately related, and outlined several empowering principles; trust in God, obedience to his commandments, sensitivity to the Spirit, implementation of spiritual promptings, and patience and understanding when answers are ambiguous or slow to come. Deseret News story HERE.

Several unofficial LDS bloggers continue to live-blog the event, including By Common Consent, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Faith Promoting Rumor. Useful summaries by Times and Seasons.

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