Sunday, April 7, 2013

Summary Of 183rd Annual LDS General Conference, Sunday Afternoon General Session: Faith, Fidelity, And A Rebuttal Of Trinitarianism

The Sunday Afternoon General Session of the 183rd Annual General Conference was dominated by the two power hitters in the apostolic lineup, Elders Jeffrey Holland and Dallin Oaks. Elder Holland talked about faith, wanting to drive home the message that all things are possible to those who believe, and Elder Oaks talked about fidelity, condemning "cafeteria Christianity" and political correctness, calling for LDS members to stand tall for our values. But there was also useful counsel given by three members of the Seventy who, as far as I know, gave their first Conference talks ever. Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. delivered a powerful rebuttal of trinitarianism, and we also received useful counsel on how to find acceptance of the Lord and a reminder that we will always find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion no matter how bad things get. For the second time during this conference, a woman gave a prayer: Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, offered the invocation. The Salt Lake Tribune has a good secular-oriented story on the session.

Video and audio archives and written transcripts of the talks are now available HERE. Mormon Newsroom provides a gallery of photos.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

-- Saturday Morning General Session
-- Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session

Summaries of the talks are available through both the LDS Church News Portal Page and the Deseret News. Clicking on the speaker's name will take you directly to the Deseret News story about the speech (after the jump):

-- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Holland stated that all things are possible for those who believe, no matter how small that belief may be, and shared three important observations to strengthen faith: First, when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first, and only then acknowledges his limitation; second, when problems come and questions arise, individuals should not start their quest for faith by saying how much they do not have, leading with their unbelief; and third, when doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. As people humbly and honestly ask, God will always send help from both sides of the veil to strengthen belief. In the final analysis, Elder Holland urges people to honestly acknowledge concerns but first fan the flame of faith, because all things are possible to them that believe. Note that this talk was particularly praised by people on #ldsconf Twitter.

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Oaks cited passages from the four synoptic gospels of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — to teach how members can qualify as followers of Christ, and in the process, condemned political correctness. Elder Oaks decried what some have called "cafeteria Christianity", noting that following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice, but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places. But here's where Elder Oaks hit it out of the park:

"Latter-day Saints understand that we should not be 'of the world' or bound to 'the tradition of men,' but, like other followers of Christ, we sometimes find it difficult to separate ourselves from the world and its traditions...Some model themselves after worldly ways because, as Jesus said of some whom He taught, they 'love the praise of men more than the praise of God.' These failures to follow Christ are too numerous and too sensitive to list here. They range all the way from worldly practices like political correctness and extremes in dress and grooming to deviations from basic values like the eternal nature and function of the family."

Elder Oaks also subtly reminded people of the Church's definition of marriage, and how the Church's global humanitarian service relieves suffering across the world, especially during time of disaster.

-- Elder Christoffel Golden Jr., First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Golden discussed the distinction between the Father and the Son, firmly rebutting the heresy of trinitarianism which has infected the greater Christian community. He noted that in the four Gospels, Christ refers to His Father 160 times, and another 122 times while visiting the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, and said "The Father and the Son are distinctly separate beings, but They are perfectly united and one in power and purpose. Their oneness is not reserved for Them alone; rather, They desire this same oneness for everyone who will, with devotion, follow and obey Their commandments." Elder Golden cited the visions of the disciple Stephen and the Apostle John in the New Testament, and the appearance of the Savior to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, as additional verification. Of course, Joseph Smith's First Vision also showed that the Father and the Son are two distinct personages. NOTE: This may have been one of the shorter talks of the Conference, but was most useful in highlighting core doctrine, particularly for non-members unfamiliar with our doctrine.

-- Elder Enrique R. Falabella, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Falabella shared six lessons he has learned in his home: (1). The temple is the place; (2). To contend, you need two people; (3). A child who sings is a happy child; (4). I need you to hug me; (5). I love the Book of Mormon and my Savior Jesus Christ; and (6). It is not enough to know the scriptures, we have to live them. Number two is important to him because he made up his mind that he would not be one of the two who would contend, making a subsequent argument impossible. Elder Falabella also noted that he got married back in the days when there were few temples, so he traveled 4,000 miles to the Mesa Temple to get married. Impressive dedication -- hope the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley appreciate this since they have four temples in Salt Lake County alone.

-- Elder Erich W. Kopischke, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Kopischke provided counsel on how to be accepted of the Lord. Being accepted by loved ones is considered a basic human need, and those who do not find acceptance from reputable sources will seek it from disreputable sources. Elder Kopischke cited three ways one can find acceptance of the Lord: First, know that our hearts are honest and broken; second, know that our spirits are contrite; and third, be willing to observe our covenants by sacrifice as commanded by the Lord. Obtaining acceptance of the Lord will lead to the knowledge that we are chosen and blessed by Him and give us increased confidence that He will lead us and direct us for good.

-- Elder Bruce D. Porter, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Porter noted that we live today in an era of turbulence and uncertainty, a time the Lord prophesied to Enoch would be marked by days of wickedness and vengeance, but reminded people that the Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times, faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion. Elder Porter added that trials may come — and we may not understand everything that happens to us or around us -- but if we humbly, quietly trust in the Lord, He will give us guidance and strength in every challenge we face. When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace.

-- Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Christofferson spoke about the work of redemption, saying that as disciples of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints must do all they can to redeem others from suffering and burdens. Although missionary work and temple work are important aspects of assisting in the Lord's redemptive work, it's important for us to address people's temporal needs as well. Elder Christofferson said this means befriending the poor and the weak, alleviating suffering, righting wrongs, defending truth, strengthening the rising generation, and achieving security and happiness at home. He noted that being organized in quorums and auxiliaries and in stakes, wards and branches acts as a force multiplier; we can get much more done collectively than individually. He also cited some statistics: Because of LDS humanitarian efforts in 2012, 890,000 people in 36 countries have clean water, 70,000 people in 57 countries have wheelchairs, 75,000 people in 25 countries have improved vision, and people in 52 countries received aid following natural disasters. Acting with others, the Church has also helped immunize some 8 million children and has helped Syrians in refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan with the necessities of life. He also reported that members in need received millions of dollars in welfare goods and services. But in the final analysis, Elder Christofferson insisted that our greatest redemptive service is still to lead people to Christ, which is why we continue to call missionaries to proselyte.

President Thomas S. Monson: "Thanks for coming, hope you were edified, travel home in safety, and see you in six months". O.K., maybe that sounds a bit flippant, but that's how President Monson traditionally closes a Conference, and it is entirely appropriate and natural for the President of the Church to "seal up this semiannual work" with closing remarks. Besides, President Monson leaves us with his testimony: "I bear my personal witness and testimony to you that God lives, that He hears the prayers of humble hearts. His son, our Savior and Redeemer, speaks to each of us: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20). May we believe these words and take advantage of this promise'".

Reaction: Unofficial LDS opinion is reflected in the Bloggernacle, with reaction published in By Common Consent and Times and Seasons and Millennial Star and Feminist Mormon Housewives.

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