Saturday, October 4, 2014

Elder Dallin H. Oaks Calls For Rejection Of Persecution At Saturday Afternoon General Session Of The 184th Semiannual LDS General Conference

The Saturday Afternoon General Session of the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off with the normal spate of "housekeeping announcements" by President Henry B. Eyring, who announced key personnel changes. Among prominent General Authorities released from their positions included Carlos H. Amado and William R. Walker, who have retired from the First Quorum of Seventy (see this Deseret News article for a complete list of changes). Elder Dallin H. Oaks led off with a powerful condemnation of persecution of all kinds, including against those of a non-standard sexual orientation. Elder Neil L. Anderson warned us against uncritical acceptance of information posted on the Web. But most speakers focused upon the need to get closer to Christ, with Elder L. Tom Perry delivering a strong pitch for the family unit.

Sources of Information:

-- Official LDS Conference Archive Page: Video and audio to be available in 24 hours; written transcripts by mid-week.

-- LDS General Conference YouTube Page: Videos to be posted within 24 hours; these have less buffering than the Church's version.

-- KSL Channel 5 General Conference Page.

-- Deseret News Conference Page.

-- Deseret News Photo Gallery.

Summaries of Other Conference Sessions:

-- General Women's Meeting, September 27, 2014
-- Saturday Morning General Session
-- Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
-- Sunday Morning General Session
-- Sunday Afternoon General Session

Summaries of talks based upon the Deseret News reports and Twitter feeds provided below; click speaker's name to go directly to the Deseret News report.

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Elder Oaks noted that love is the very essence of the Gospel, and Jesus Christ our Exemplar. So although we live in the world, we need not be of the world, because we need to raise the whole mass by our influence. But although we must teach the truth plainly and thoroughly, we must speak the truth in love, reviling not against revilers. Disagree without being disagreeable. Elder Oaks called for the rejection of all persecution of any kind, to include race, ethnicity, religious belief, and differences in sexual orientation, and challenged the youth to reject bullying.

-- Elder Neil L. Andersen, Quorum of the Twelve: Spoke about the role opposition unwittingly plays in growing faith. Opposition against the things of God can send seekers of truth to their knees for answers, which firms up the relationship between man and God. Elder Andersen cited the experience of the Prophet Joseph Smith as a classical example; even before the Father and the Son appeared to him, the adversary sought to destroy him as he was praying. Elder Anderson also cautioned against uncritical acceptance of information about the Church presented on the Internet, warning that the Internet contains no "truth filter". He further stated that studying the Church through the eyes of its detractors is like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Don't discard truth merely because we do not yet understand it fully.

-- Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President: Brother Callister called upon parents to be prime Gospel teachers and examples to our kids. The home is the ideal forum for the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which makes sense since we spend so much of our time at home. Even if one does not live in a community with enough Saints to from a congregation, one can always have a Gospel-centered home. Sometimes parents may have to step in and supervise and restrict their kids' time with TV and other electronic devices, even though the kids' gratitude may be deferred, perhaps for years. Brother Callister also made an interesting remark about the role of the Church, saying that although he does not know if titles like Bishop or Relief Society President will be used in the world to come, titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered in worlds without end.

-- Elder Jorg Klebingat, First Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Klebingat wasted little time in issuing a clarion call for increased personal responsibility, calling upon people to stop blaming others and outside circumstances for their failures, and stop making excuses for failure to strive for obedience. He suggested we cannot fully love God without loving his commandments, and that selective obedience merely brings selective blessings. Elder Klingebat also noted that trials and tribulations may come into our lives because of what we're doing right, as a wise Father believes we can handle them, and we should accept trials, surprises, and setbacks as a part of the mortal experience.

-- Elder Eduardo Gavarret, First Quorum of the Seventy: This is the second Conference talk delivered in a language other than English, being given in Spanish. The theme of Elder Gavarret's talk was "Follow the Savior"; the invitation to follow Him is the most simple, direct, and powerful invitation we can receive. But it is not a passive invitation; it is an invitation to act. Five steps we can take to walk closer to Christ: First, feed the desire to be a better follower of Christ; second, pray for this desire that your faith in Him may grow; third, obtain knowledge from the scriptures; fourth, make the decision today to act; and fifth, persevere.

-- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Holland addressed the growing economic disparity throughout the world. He noted that, from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus Christ showed special love and concern for the impoverished and disadvantaged. He reminded us that the Lord has commanded us to look to the poor and needy, and administer to their relief so they shall not suffer. Relief not only should include action, but should also be followed up with prayer. At the same time, we are expected to help ourselves before we seek help from others. Elder Holland also reminded us of the Law of the Fast, bearing witness of the spiritual and temporal miracles received by those who live it.

-- Elder L. Tom Perry, Quorum of the Twelve: Another appeal to follow Christ more closely. Elder Perry cited a quite by Charles Jefferson, saying "To be a Christian is to admire Jesus so sincerely...that the whole life goes out to Him in an aspiration to be like him". As members of the Church, we have the responsibility to protect and preserve the family as the basic unit of society, since we believe that our homes must be holy places in order to stand against the pressures of the world. The continued disintegration of the family will bring only more sorrow and hopelessness upon an already-troubled world. Elder Perry also cited numerous examples of how both fathers AND mothers can uplift a family and prepare it to receive the greatest of all the blessings of the Lord.

From the Bloggernacle:

-- Millennial Star: Good summaries of the talks, little editorial commentary yet.

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: The original poster is extremely incensed over Elder Oaks' talk, but does not explain why. But not all commenters share this antipathy. The talks by Elders Holland and Perry got positive props.

-- By Common Consent: More serious reaction about this session. Some thought Elder Anderson was glossing over critical information about Joseph Smith which is found on the Internet, but is considered true by some sources.

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