Saturday, October 6, 2012

Elder Marlin K. Jensen Released; Elder Neil Andersen Discusses Trials Of Faith During Saturday Afternoon Session Of 182nd Semiannual General Conference

Special Note: All posts on the October 2012 Semiannual General Conference can be simultaneously displayed HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.

Audio and video archives of conference talks now being made available HERE; written transcripts to follow later this week.

The Saturday Afternoon General Session of the 182nd Semiannual General Conference kicked off with a call from one of our most senior apostles, L. Tom Perry, for more godly parenthood, after the announcement of the honorable release of six General Authorities. One of the General Authorities released was Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elder Jensen was particularly highly-regarded by progressive Church members. But the red-letter address, in my opinion, came from another apostle, Neil Andersen, who discussed how to deal with trials of faith and cautioned Church members against becoming disaffected just because one 100-year-old line in the Journal of Discourses differs from what General Authorities say today. The mission of Church members is to acquire a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, NOT a testimony of the history of the Church.

But first, Elder Perry led off by vigorously asserting the Church's position on marriage, saying "The joining together of a man and a woman to be legally and lawfully wed not only is preparation for the future generations to inherit the earth, but it also brings the greatest joy and satisfaction that can be found in this mortal experience". Elder Perry warned that Satan is attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society — the family. In clever and carefully camouflaged ways, Satan attacks commitments to family life throughout the world, and undermining the culture and covenants of faithful Latter-day Saints. Thus teaching in the home is the parents' primary and sacred responsibility which can never be fully delegated to school or church. Elder Perry also shared five things parents can do to create stronger family cultures.

Other speakers, and links to their accounts:

-- Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve: "Be anxiously engaged". Used the beehive as an example of how a community can thrive when all hands are "anxiously engaged". Commended Church members for humanitarian service around the world, but urged people not to neglect opportunities to perform small compassionate acts daily to show heartfelt Christian love for others. A mark of true Christian conversion is service to others on other days besides Sundays.

-- Elder Larry Echo Hawk, First Quorum of the Seventy: "Come Unto Me, O House of Israel". This was Elder Echo Hawk's first Conference address since his appointment as Seventy was announced on March 31st, 2012. He spoke of his introduction to the Book of Mormon, and how he was impressed that it was about his American Indian ancestors. He issued a special call to all those who are the descendants of Lehi (Lamanites) to read and re-read it.

-- Elder Robert C. Gay, First Quorum of the Seventy: "What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?". The title of the talk reflects a personal anecdote from Elder Gay's childhood, but the message is that we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father's reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts and doing things our way. We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness, and take upon us the image of God in our countenances. Taking upon the countenance of God is more then just not doing bad things; it also means serving each other. There are sins of commission and sins of omission, and we are to rise above both.

-- Elder Scott D. Whiting, First Quorum of the Seventy: "Temple Standard" Elder Whiting called upon the congregation to apply the temple standard to everyday life. Like our temples. we are each made of the finest materials, and we are the miraculous result of divine craftsmanship. However, as we move past the age of accountability and step onto the battlefield of sin and temptation, our own temple can become in need of renovation and repair work. Still, the standard isn't perfection, but our best efforts to keep the commandments and live as disciples of Jesus Christ.

-- Elder Neil L. Andersen, Quorum of the Twelve: "Trial of Your Faith". This impressed me as the red-letter address of the day. Reminded us that we will all experience trials. This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to remember; LDS Church membership does NOT exempt you from trials, but gives you the support and tools necessary to overcome them. To remain steadfast and immovable during trials, Elder Andersen recommends exercising faith in Christ, praying, pondering the scriptures, repenting as needed, keeping the commandments, and serving others. He warns us against stepping away from the Church while facing a trial of faith, saying "Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes to view."

Elder Andersen also noted that some question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with Church doctrine. In response, he cited an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church; namely, that the doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is NOT hidden in a obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find. Church leaders are imperfect but honest men.

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve: "Protect the Children". This may well be another red-letter address. Elder Oaks declared that while all are under the Savior's command to love and care for each other, the importance of this becomes exponentially magnified when it comes to the weak and defenseless -- particularly our children, who have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves. Elder Oaks decried the abuse of children worldwide, not only the millions of children victimized by evil adult crimes and selfishness, to include children being abducted to serve as soldiers in contending armies, but also the nearly 2 million children victimized each year through prostitution and pornography.

Elder Oaks also strongly condemned elective abortion, noting that worldwide there are an estimated 40 million abortions per year. He reminded the audience that from the perspective of the Plan of Salvation, one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth in the first place. In addition, Elder Oaks pointed out that children are at a significant disadvantage" when raised by single or unmarried parents. "We should assume the same disadvantages for children raised by couples of the same gender", said Elder Oaks.

On a personal note, one way LDS members can take a public stand against elective abortion is to participate in the nationwide 40 Days For Life campaign; information about this campaign is available in this previous post.

LDS personal blogs discussing the Saturday Afternoon Session:

-- Feast Upon The Word: Well-summarized with bullet points.
-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: Live-blogging format, over 170 comments so far.
-- By Common Consent: Live-blogging format, over 230 comments so far.

No comments: